In The Presence of My Enemies
May 28, 1983 was the day of Martin and Gracia’s marriage. And even from the early year of their marriage Martin and Gracia believed that they were called to serve on the mission field. In response to their “call” to the mission field, they joined New Tribes Mission where Martin would work as a pilot.
The decision to go to the mission field, however, was not something that could be accomplished over night. So in January of 1983 they began NTM’s one year boot camp to prepare them for what they would face in the tropical jungles. Finally in 1986, 3 years after beginning boot camp, Martin and Gracia arrived in the Philippines (Burnham 44).
Martin and Gracia's work in the Philippines was to support the other missionaries. Martin was a pilot, and so would deliver supplies and transportation to the missionaries on the ground. All the while Gracia was working the radio, and raising their quickly growing family.
Things drastically changed when Marting and Gracia were kidnapped and held for ransom. They spent over a year of hardship, terror, and pain in captivity. Yet through it all they were faithful in prayer. Sadly, Martin died when a stray bullet struck him in the chest while he and Gracia were being rescued.
I wish that I could have nearly as faith as Martin and Gracia did. I was challenged to see the love and commitment that Martin and Gracia had for each other even in captivity.It made me reflect on my own character and wonder what I would have done in that situation. Throughout the entirty of the book I had to keep myself from crying. The facts that they were faithful in praying together made me wish that I had a wife I could encourage, cherish, and pray with.
However my desire to go to the mission field and have a family raised another question. Is international missions and serving God worth the risk to my own personal comfort, health, and family? The answer and I am sure Martin and Gracia would agree with me, is a resounding YES!
The cost of serving God is never too great! It was completely worth it! Here is why, God has called me up from death into life. Without Christ I was dead in my trespasses already. Yet God sent His Son [Jesus] down to earth offering himself as the perfect sacrifice conquer death. What more can I do but obey what Christ has given me to do?
Also, when I go to the field is there anyway to prevent me or anyone in my family from being kidnapped, tortured, or even killed? Of coarse it is possibly to be careful yet sadly, there is no way to completely prevent a situation like the Burnham’s faced from arising. As Christians we will face persecution. And no matter what form it comes in, without compromising beliefs it is impossible to rid yourself of persecution.
It is interesting to note that, Martin and Gracia were always praying, singing hymns, and meditating on the scripture the remembered. Part of the reason they were able to survive emotionally and spiritually so long was their knowledge of the bible. Wow! If everyone was as commited to the praise of God, I wonder what the world would look like.
The long and short of the matter is that I greatly enjoyed In The Presence of My Enemies and wholeheartedly believe that every Christian should be forced to read it. Through it I was convicted, encouraged, and challenged to be more like Christ and to everyday live to the fullest I can for Christ.