One of the inconveniences that we abide is that cellphone service is inconsistent on most of Corregidor and very poor at our house. As a result we are unable to take phone calls at the house and have to hope that texts are delivered in a timely manner, which is not always the case. In addition, we have to go to the north beach area to reach the internet, despite living only a few hundred meters from a cell tower on the island. We are convinced that we when we are on the north beach we are communicating with a cell tower on Bataan. There are times when we have a good high-speed connection and at other times, like this past week, when, for whatever reason, we don’t. This past week we have had worse than normal cell service, which we hope explains to you why this newsletter which includes a bit about Veterans Day is late, and also why we may not be answering our correspondence in a timely manner.
For the fifth consecutive year we attended the Veterans Day ceremony held Nov. 11 at the American Cemetery in Manila. Among a number of friends who attended were Leslie Murray of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, and also the Filipino-American Memorial Endowment (FAME), Bob Hudson, an American who recently moved to Bataan and is helping to maintain many of the Death March markers in Bataan, and Mario Magat, who is working to establish a museum near the Balanga Elementary School, site of the General King April 9, 1942 surrender.
Peggy Castagna, whom we had met at the ceremony on Memorial Day, sat with us. Unfortunately we have not yet met her husband, Tim, and may not get to, because they are returning to the U.S. in December for family reasons, not knowing if/when they might return to the Philippines. Tim and Peggy are currently missionaries for New Tribes Mission.
Two of Tim and Peggy’s acquaintances are Ed and Debbie Jurimas, who were with Peggy at the American Cemetery in May. Ed and Debbie came to Corregidor for a few days recently, and we had the privilege of spending a day with them. We did our favorite three-to-four hour hiking route, beginning and ending near the Spanish Flag Pole. During this time we visited four tunnels, (C1, Wheeler, Hannah, and Smith) as well as Batteries Boston, Wheeler, Cheney, Hannah, and Smith. We are always happy to accompany visitors to these and other “out-of-the-way” places, so keep us in mind should you come to the Rock.
Ed and Debbie are Americans who live in Manila and also work for New Tribes Mission. As you will read below, one of their training centers is in Jackson Michigan, where our son Nick works, and less than an hour drive from where we lived for close to 30 years. We asked them to tell us something about their ministry. They also include the true-life story of the kidnapping of two of their missionaries which we are sure many of you will recall as you read about it.
Dear Steve and Marcia,
So glad we have had the chance to spend some time together exploring some of the amazing history of Corregidor Island, we loved every minute of our time together. Corregidor is our favorite place to go in the Philippines. Below is some information on New Tribes Mission, Ed and Debbie, and Gracia Burnham.
New Tribes Mission works among people groups who have had little or no access to the Bible, mostly in remote locations in Africa, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific Region. While providing practical help such as medical care, community development and literacy education, missionaries share Bible lessons that allow the people to choose for themselves whether to believe on Jesus Christ and follow Him.
Those who believe are discipled, and trained as church leaders, teachers and missionaries themselves. The NTM missionaries’ goal is to equip people to lead their own church, while they provide support such as Bible translation and lesson development and advice.
In addition, missionaries train people so they can continue to provide basic medical care, literacy instruction and other practical helps to their own people.
New Tribes Mission was founded in the USA in 1942. We work only among the world’s least-reached people groups, and equip those groups to lead their own churches
NTM is non-denominational, with 2,500 missionaries from a variety of evangelical churches serving in Africa, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific Region. It is international, with missionaries from nearly 30 countries.
NTM USA has missionary training facilities in Waukesha, Wisconsin; Jackson, Michigan; and Camden County, Missouri, and a mobilization center in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania.
Since 2006 we have been serving in the Philippines with New Tribes Mission. Our ministry at the Martin Burnham Mission Center is located in the heart of Manila. The Mission Center is a major hub of mission activity in the Philippines. We have the privilege of serving our missionaries, most ministering in very remote locations. We also host many other mission organizations. There are many reasons the missionaries come to the mission center, such as; arriving or leaving the country, in need of medical/dental care, government paperwork, conferences, training workshops, etc... We also host short term mission teams from all over the World.
Our children have been and continue to be very much a part of the ministry! Currently Eddie is attending Philadelphia Biblical University, Brianna is attending Bible College in WI and Ashley is in the US Air Force.
Along with her jungle-pilot husband Martin, Gracia Burnham served for 17 years with New Tribes Mission in the Philippines. Martin was responsible for delivering mail, supplies and encouragement to other missionaries and transporting sick and injured patients to medical facilities. Gracia served in a variety of roles within the ministry as well as home-schooling their 3 children.
On May 27, 2001, while celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary at Dos Palmas Resort off Palawan Island, Gracia and Martin were kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), a militant group of Muslims. They were taken to Basilan Island, an ASG stronghold. Remaining in captivity for 376 days, the Burnhams faced near starvation, constant exhaustion, frequent gun battles, coldhearted murder and intense soul-searching about a God who sometimes seemed to have forgotten them.
On June 7, 2002, in a firefight between the Philippine military and the Abu Sayyaf Group, Martin was killed and Gracia, although wounded, was rescued.
Since that time Gracia has become a popular speaker at churches, conferences and schools. Traveling across the country, Gracia shares her unique story of faith, forgiveness, and surviving captivity. Gracia has also launched the Martin & Gracia Burnham Foundation, which will support mission aviation and tribal mission work around the world.
Gracia has authored two books. “In The Presence Of My Enemies,” details their captivity experience. In her follow-up book, “To Fly Again,” Gracia reflects on the lessons and spiritual truths she learned in the jungle and how they apply to anyone's life.
The Gracia Burnham website: www.graciaburnham.org
Ed and Debbie www.ntm.org/ed_jurimas
Our thanks to Ed and Debbie for this contribution to our newsletter.
Steve and Marcia on the Rock