I heard a real hero speak over the weekend. You may have heard of her although many have not. Her name is Gracia Burnham. You can read about her story HERE! I was excited about the Voice of Martyrs Conference was coming to my church! My husband and I signed up to attend. Then I heard that Gracia Burnham was coming. Several things came up the week before and it would have been understandable (and easy) for me to back out of attending. The Lord prompted my heart that Mike and I needed to be at the conference.
I enjoyed every single speaker. The Lord taught me so much about those who suffer and are persecuted for their faith. The Lord convicted me greatly of how I do not pray often enough for my brothers and sisters in the faith who risk their life to live for Jesus. The Lord gently convicted me I don't thank Him often enough for the freedom I have been given to safely worship and live for Him. It was oh so encouraging to hear reports from those who work in hard places all over this great big world of how many are accepting Jesus. It was encouraging to know that even though the "news" reports of so many bad things that the Light is shining bright!
I discovered that Gracia Burnham would be speaking at a local church the next evening. I wanted to hear more. The most impressive thing about Gracia sharing her story is that she has an amazing ability to use her experiences to challenge and encourage her listeners in the places they may be at the moment.
Gracia was a missionary serving in the Philippines who was taken hostage (along with her husband, Martin) in 2001. They remained in captivity for over a year. Captivity ended after a gun battle where the Philippines military attempted to rescue the hostages. Unfortunately, Martin died in that gun battle and although Gracia was wounded, she survived. I am currently reading her book In The Presence of My Enemies! I also have purchased To Fly Again and can't wait to read it!
Here are some things Gracia shared that are great reminders and encouragement to all believers...
- In every situation, if you look, there is good because there is God. He has not abandoned you!
- Pray for those who spitefully use you.
- Ask God to help your attitude toward your enemies.
- Change is hard and as Mark Twain said - the only person who likes change is a wet baby!
- We can decide to trust ourselves or trust God.
- Do not hang a "Do Not Disturb" sign on your heart's door.
- God takes us in hard situations not to crush us but to show us He is good.
- Keep planting even when you don't see fruit.
- Maybe you are in a dark place due to no fault of your own or totally your fault....maybe you are there to praise Him in that dark place.
- God has not abandoned you. He may have you in this "special" place so you can Praise Him- the one who can take you through any trial. Simply Praise Him where you are.
Gracia Burnham / Tara Waldrop
I was thoroughly blessed by hearing of Gracia's experiences and have her speak into my life! I highly encourage you if you ever have the opportunity to hear her speak - GO! Don't let anything stand in your way. And in the mean time - read her books!