November 27, 2013
The following is from my colleague Karen Dillaman. When she read this in our staff meeting last week, I knew I had to share it as a Thanksgiving post for your reading enjoyment. Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers and may God use this testimony to encourage you toward thankfulness this holiday.
The past year at Alliance Council, I had the opportunity to go to a seminar in which Gracia Burnham was speaking. I actually thought she was someone else, so I was there purely by accident. The message she gave over the next hour was incredible. She and her husband Martin were New Tribes missionaries in the Philippines. On their anniversary they took a holiday to a resort area. At the resort, they were taken captive by terrorists, the Abu Sayyaf. They thought their release would be imminent, but they spent more than a year in captivity. Read the following excerpts from In the Presence of My Enemies by Gracia Burnham about their holidays spent in the jungle.
I went back to where Martin was just being unchained from the tree after a night of sleep. “Martin, a box came in for us last night. They’re going through it right now. Maybe you’d better go over there and claim it, or there is going to be nothing left!”
He immediately headed that way. When he got close, Sabaya said, “Oh, don’t come over here; we’ll bring the box to you.”
“I just want to make sure that we get it,” Martin said, standing his ground. Sure enough, he saw items starting to be removed from the box. One of the guys was already holding a package of Snickers bars.
In time, Sabaya finally brought us the box. “I had to take out the Cheez Whiz, because I really like that stuff,” he said with a smile. “But the bulk of everything is still here for you.”
…We began making piles of all the wonderful things. But at the same time, we couldn’t stop thinking about those Snickers bars. The bounty we had wasn’t quite enough somehow. And then we looked at each other and said, “You know, this box has arrived from our mission out of nowhere—and we’re complaining about what the Abu Sayyaf took? We should be rejoicing in the Lord’s goodness.”
We decided we needed to share. Martin began going from group to group, giving out spices, soup mixes, and cookies. I gave one of the two deodorants to Ediborah (another prisoner), plus some peanuts. She was very happy, and so were the others.
All of a sudden, Martin and I looked at each other again, and realized something incredible: It was Thursday, November 22—Thanksgiving Day! We had asked the Lord earlier that month to send us something nice for Thanksgiving, and he had done it.
Of course, I had asked for things before—a gift for Martin on his birthday—and been disappointed. So I hadn’t really expected God to do anything this time. But here was a whole box of food, and it was so humbling. The Lord showed us he could bless us even when we didn’t have any faith. How we enjoyed that package!