Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson attended a reception in parliament this week to hear the tragic but inspiring story of Gracia Burnham, hosted by Ian Paisley and The Dunbia Group in Westminster.
The event was sponsored by Lisburn based charity ‘Friends in Action’,
Mrs Burnham, a devout Christian, along with her husband Martin worked as a missionary in the Philippines for 17 years prior to being taken captive.
In the ensuing months some of the hostages were killed, but most were set free. From November 2001, only the Burnhams and one other hostage remained in captivity. During the eventual rescue attempt by the Philippine Army on June 7, 2002,
Martin was killed by three gunshots in the chest and Gracia was wounded in her right leg.
Mrs Burnham told stories of how, during their 376 days of captivity they faced near starvation, constant exhaustion, frequent gun battles and “intense soul-searching about a God.”
In an amazing demonstration of forgiveness Mrs Burnham has made contact with her kidnappers, many of whom are serving life prison sentences. She now works with them, teaching them how to read and write.
Speaking of the event, Mr Donaldson commented: “I was delighted to attend this event and hear the story of a remarkable woman and her inspirational Christian faith.