My original intention was not to have this be a 2 part blog post, but I came across something that so perfectly illustrated the Sovereignty of God that I just had to share.
Most of you will remember the two American missionaries who were taken hostage in the Philippines in 2002. Gracia and Martin Burnham had served as missionaries for 17 years when they were taken hostage, along with 18 other people, from the resort where they were spending one night. They were celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary.
They had been held in captivity for a little over a year, when Martin was killed in a rescue attempt by the Philippine army. During that year, they never stayed in one place. They were kept in squalid conditions with very little food to eat. They witnessed atrocities that were committed by their captors in the name of Allah, including the beheading of the only other American taken hostage.
I think that many of us asked, “why?” when we heard of Martin’s death. Why would God allow that to happen to a man who had so faithfully served Him all of those years? Why did God not answer the prayers of the thousands who asked Him for the Burnham’s safe return?
The next part of the story just blows me away.
Gracia now works with a ministry that ministers to Muslims. She was able to find 23 of her captors in their prison cells in Manilla where they are serving life sentences. Many would have taken out their anger and pain on these men. What did she do when she found them?
Gracia forgave them.
The men that kept her and her husband hostage for over a year. Who killed dozens of people. Who are the reason her husband is dead.
She forgave them.
I would like to think that my faith would be strong enough to do the same in the same circumstances, but I am not sure.
Those men have now been given bibles in their own language. Many are attending bible studies on a regular basis. Three of them have given their lives over to Christ and will someday spend eternity in heaven with the couple they kept in captivity for a year.
God knew. God is sovereign. As heart breaking as it is, he took Martin home that day. Through his death a people group who may otherwise not have heard the gospel of Christ have been reached.
There are so many lessons to be learned from this story.
Lessons on the power of forgiveness in our own lives and the lives of others.
Lessons on the importance of sharing the Gospel with all of the people God puts in our lives, not just the ones that we like or feel comfortable with.
But most importantly lessons on the Sovereignty of God and the importance of trusting him through every difficult situation.
What Satan meant for evil, God used for good.
For more on the Burnham’s amazing story, go here
For another amazing story of forgiveness, go here