January 26, 2010

In the Presence of My Enemies by Gracia Burnham

I read In the Presence of My Enemies by Gracia Burnham for the Social Justice Challenge. January's theme is religious freedom.

I picked this book because Gracia Burnham lives not far from my home town in Kansas. I remembered when her and her husband's capture happened, as it happened while I still lived in Kansas. I even remember seeing Gracia at a book signing some time ago, though I don't remember why I was there (it wasn't for the book signing).

Still, I had never read the book until now...but I'm so glad I did.

In the Presence of My Enemies is in many ways simply told. It's not a sensational memoir intent to keep you in reading...you know from the beginning that it will end in the death of her husband after over a year of captivity. Yet, it's beautifully told in such a way to bare the hard truths of their captivity. Gracia shares both the blessings of her life as well as the many hardships.

What I appreciate most is that Gracia seems to tell it like it is. She shares her struggles in the jungle, not just with the terrorists that took her and her husband captive, but the inner struggles we all face. Even in the time of persecution, Gracia's greatest battle was internal, against her own sin nature.

What most surprised me about this book (and it seemed to have surprised Gracia a lot as well) is that her captor's never understood why they would have been seen as the "bad guys" in the eyes of Martin and Gracia. While they were doing what they thought was right (to a point...they weren't very true to their own belief system), they seemed to not understand that other worldviews wouldn't think the capture and killing of civilians was okay, just, and necessary.

If you are a Christian, I particularly recommend this book. I think that we can relate to Gracia's struggles with contentment (not that we don't have more reasons to be content in our situation!).


  1. I read this book not long after it was first published. I, too, apreciated the honesty in it. There are stil times when I recall parts of the book and am amazed by our God who daily gives us grace!

  2. This does sounds like book to be read. Interesting to note that Garcia not only struggled with the terrorists but that she also struggled internally with herself...against her own sin nature. I can completely believe that would be true for everyone. I just finished reading the book, Silence, the Father in the book also had internal struggles...ones that produced a lot of questioning that he battled.
    Great review. Thanks for bringing this book back to the forefront. I must keep it in mind for a book to be read.

  3. This sounds fascinating. I really liked your review and what ibeeg said about Garcia's internal and external struggles.

  4. How amazing to have lived by her while they were going through this. I read this book a while back and I was really amazed by what they went through and how strong they were. Great review.


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