Gracia Burnham was born in Cairo, Illinois , January 17, 1959, daughter of Norvin and Betty Jo Jones, a WWII veteran and former pastor and Bible teacher, currently residing in Cherokee Village, Arkansas. She graduated from Calvary Bible College in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1981, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Christian Education.
Gracia was married to Martin Burnham on May 28, 1983 and they graduated together from the New Tribes Mission Training Institute in Durant, Mississippi in1984. In March, 1986, Martin and Gracia left the states for a mission aviation assignment with New Tribes Mission in Aritao, Philippines. They worked as New Tribes missionaries in the Philippines from 1986 to May 2001. Gracia’s responsibilities included flight following, radio net control, home-schooling her children, and assisting Martin in his responsibilities of pilot, mechanic, and field leadership.
Martin and Gracia are the parents of three children, all born in the Philippines, Jeffrey (Jeff) born February 11, 1987; Melinda (Mindy) born October 17, 1989; and Zachary (Zach) born December 13, 1990.
Gracia and her children now reside in Rose Hill, Kansas, near Wichita, Kansas. Gracia is author of the book, In the Presence of My Enemies (Tyndale Publishing House), the story of her and Martin’s year spent as hostages of the Abu Sayyaf in the jungles of the Philippines. Since the rescue attempt by the Philippine military that resulted in Martin’s death and Gracia’s release, Gracia has been adjusting to life in America and life as a single parent. Gracia has launched the Martin & Gracia Burnham Foundation, which will support mission aviation and tribal mission work around the world, seek to find ways to show Christ’s love to the Muslim community, and offer assistance to Christians who are suffering for their faith around the world. The foundation will be funded through money raised by speaking fees, sales of books and by donations.
Martin Burnham Martin Burnham was born in Wichita, Kansas, on September 19, 1959 and grew up in the Philippines, the eldest son of Paul and Oreta Burnham, who have served as New Tribes Mission missionaries in the Philippines since 1969. He graduated from Calvary Bible College and Wichita Aviation Education Center, and completed missionary training with New Tribes Mission. Martin served with New Tribes Mission in the Philippines for 17 years, delivering mail, supplies, and encouragement to other missionaries, and transporting sick and injured patients to medical facilities.
Martin was killed June 7, 2002, in the Philippines during a military action between Abu Sayyaf and Philippine forces. He had been kidnapped along with his wife, Gracia, May 27, 2001, by the Abu Sayyaf Group.