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Paperback In the Presence of My Enemies Book

ISBN: 0842381392

ISBN13: 9780842381390

In the Presence of My Enemies

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

In the Presence of My Enemies , the gripping true story of American missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham's year as hostages in the Philippine jungle, was a New York Times best seller and has sold nearly 350,000 copies. Now releasing in trade softcover for the first time, this updated edition has a new look and contains never-before-published information on the capture and trial of the Burnhams' captors; Gracia's secret return trip to the Philippines;...

Customer Reviews

6 ratings

This story has made an impact on me.

I remember as a child of about 9 years and seeing only a brief clip on our local news. Then about 10 years later I found this book in our library and was moved to tears. It was my first glimpse of Muslim beliefs and ways. I now have purchased a copy of my own to share Gracia's amazing story with my family.

You Have Got To Read This Book

During their long struggle in the Phillipine jungles, an entire nation was praying for the Burnhams. I followed their plight and even put their picture on my computer desktop at work to remind me to pray for them. However, this book was absolutely refreshing--first to hear the real story behind the account. (It's amazing how poor our news media is at getting the story right!). Secondly, Gracia writes in a moving, human way that inspires all Christians to love and serve God with all their heart. Gracia is a human being who echoes what all of us would feel were we put in the same position. Furthermore, she doesn't edit out her frustrations and doubts--her internal wrestling matches with God. I'm glad for that. Unlike most books of its type, the editing on the book is superb. Dean Merril manages to tell a compelling story in Gracia's voice. You'll enjoy her sense of humor in difficult times. There are moments where I was tickled to death and moments I was in tears. Gracia also pays a loving tribute to her husband, Martin throughout the book. She really doesn't take any credit for herself, pointing only to God and to her husband. And after reading it, I think all Christian men will aspire to live like Martin--selfless, caring, and devoted to Christ and family. I would strongly suggest picking up this book, especially if you've grown depressed, doubtful, or weary of your calling. You can't help but be thankful for what God has given you and you can't help but grow more committed to His calling.

A story of a courageous woman and her heroic husband

Martin and Gracia Burnham lived a year of hell with an integrity that I would hope I would have if, God forbid, I ever had to go through a similar circumstance. This book is an encouragement to persevere regardless of the circumstances put in our paths. While I do not know Gracia and never met Martin, I did spend a week with Martin's parents in the Ibaloi tribe (Philippines) back in 1983. Based on my short time with Martin's parents, I can see why Martin was as strong of a person as his wife portrays him as being. I also was part of a work team that helped in the construction of a two-story school building at Aritao, a small missionary village/air base located on the main Philippine island of Luzon that was often mentioned throughout the book because it was home to the Burnhams and their children. I also want to commend Dean Merrill for helping make this a book that even a 4th grader could understand and follow. I appreciate the "rosters" of the three dozen characters in the front of the book. This is the map for the reader to understand the personalities and backgrounds of the Abu Sayyaf and the hostages. Without this, the book would have been utterly confusing. The reader ought to keep his finger there for quick reference.Finally, I was tickled to see where Gracia dedicated "In the Presence" to those who prayed for her and Martin during their year-long ordeal. I was one who tried to pray regularly from the time I first heard about the kidnapping. It was ironic for me when I read how Gracia believed that her prayers were almost for naught late in the ordeal. This was probably around the same time (early 2002) that I questioned God about "how much longer do I have to pray" before He would have something happen. The more time that elapsed after the initial kidnapping, the more I began to doubt that either of them would survive, especially because I remembered praying for the three NTM missionaries in South America through many years before finding out that they had been killed. Thanks, Gracia, for sharing your story and being an encouragement for many Christians. My feeling is, if this humble servant can make it through her ordeal and retain her faith, I can make it through whatever the Lord puts my way!

Gracia's story and fitting tribute to Martin

This book is hard to put down. Even though I followed the news about Martin and Gracia throughout their ordeal, I wanted to understand what really happened. This book fills in the blanks between the news reports and brings you inside the hearts and feelings of Gracia, Martin, their fellow hostages and even the thinking and philosophy of their captors. It is truly tragic that what began as a hoped for short kidnapping for ransom turned into over a year of captivity for Gracia and Martin (the two that were held the longest). As one by one, the other hostage were either released, killed or ransomed, Martin and Gracia remained behind, holding out to the hope that they would be freed. They were lied to by their captors, and forced to march and slog through miles and miles of jungle terrain, underfed, ill, and chained to trees at night. The captors became increasingly frustrated and greedy, and failed to free them after a significant ransom was paid, spending the money on trivialities, and then running them off again as the demands continued to escalate.Gracia tells it like it is. There is no sugar-coating her horrifying experience, emotional ups and downs and her own reaction to her captors, as well as the callousness and cruelty of the terrorists. She also captures the human side of the hostages and captors, and the mundane and ordinary moments they all shared together, including a feel humorous moments. They talked about their faiths, Islam, Christianity, and what the requirements of Allah were as contrasted by the mercy of Jesus. At one point, they all agreed that everyone had sinned and needed to be judged. The big difference is who pays for the sins. When Gracia said that Jesus is God who came to earth and paid for her sin, Solaiman (one of the captors) said that he will do his own paying. Later they reflected that he might just get his wish and started praying for their salvation.How did Gracia get through it all? Through the optimism and support of her husband Martin, who stayed calm, was always there for her, and through their faith in the Lord Jesus. They learned to lean on God, their faith was severely tested and tried, but on the day Martin died, he quoted Psalm 100 and vowed to serve the Lord with gladness. Even though sick and emaciated, Martin carried a huge load of provisions, including mortar shells without complaining. Gracia was filled with compassion for an injured teenage soldier who was earlier throwing rocks at her that she washed out his soiled underwear when he could only lay there moaning. Such is true service to the Lord, even to their enemies. Throughout their ordeal, they learned that God's grace is sufficient, His strength is made perfect in their weakness and that the power of Christ rests in them. Otherwise there was no way they could have put one foot in front of another, leaning on, serving and glorifying Him throughout their entire ordeal.

fascinating to read

I had forgotten about this event until I saw Gracia Burnham interviewed by Katie Couric--and then rushed out to buy the book (which I just finished this afternoon). It is a gripping, close up look at what life as a hostage of the Abu Sayyaf was really like. And like the reviewer above, I had to marvel at the matter of fact way she describes her ordeal, and how transparent she is about her own thoughts and feelings toward her captors. That she comes out of it with such graciousness and concern for them is remarkable. I don't think she knows how remarkable, really. The only fault that I could find with the book is some of the unanswered questions that I had; for instance, she never explains why, considering their Christian faith, they never requested, or were sent, a Bible. Even though there are some very plausible explanations that the reader could make on their own, it would have been helpful if she had explained that. Other than that, I found this book to be well worth the money and highly recommend it to everyone.


This is an incredible account of two people who found themselves held against their will for over a year. Not only were they held against their will, but also they were mistreated and lied to on a consistent basis. The story was truly amazing, a demonstration of how love and kindness can be shown in the most adverse of circumstances. Yet the most interesting part of the book was the contrast of the captors? view of God (Allah) and the Burnhams? view of God.I found it absolutely terrifying at how the Abu Sayyaf captors viewed and responded to their concept of God. At the same time, I was amazed at how Martin and Gracia Burnham responded to their concept of God. In the jungles of the Philippines, theory and debate about abstract terms were not important. These two groups of people lived their day-by-day lives based on their views of God. This story is an amazing apologetic for and attestation to the Christian view of God. Every Muslim should read this book and face the questions that the story so obviously brings to the forefront.I read the book in two days. I could not put it down. But I found the last chapter the most remarkable. If nothing else, read this chapter.
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