Kansas missionary returns following rescue from Philippines terrorists

ROSE HILL, Kansas - More than a year after she and her husband were captured by Philippine extremists, missionary Gracia Burnham returned to Kansas City and was reunited with her three children.

"It's good to be home. Keep praying for me and my kids as we begin to rebuild our lives," said Burnham, 43, who was rescued Friday when Philippine soldiers ambushed her kidnappers, members of the extremist Abu Sayyaf group.

Her husband, Martin, and a Filipino hostage were killed during the two-hour shootout. Burnham was shot in her right leg.

Sitting in a wheelchair with her wounded leg propped up on a pillow, Burnham was greeted Monday first by her youngest child, 11-year-old Zach, who hugged her. She then hugged her other children, 15-year-old Jeff and 12-year-old Mindy, along with other relatives.

Burnham later talked briefly to reporters, saying she supports U.S. efforts to assist the Philippines in fighting terrorists.

"A very bad thing happened to Martin and I when we were taken," she said. "Please know that God was good to us very single day of our captivity. Martin was a source of strength to all the hostages. He was a good man and he died well."

The three children have been living in Rose Hill, Kansas, at the home of Martin Burnham's parents, Paul and Oreta Burnham.

Late Monday, after a three-hour trip by chartered bus, the family arrived in Rose Hill, a small town 15 (24 kilometers) miles from Wichita. Hundreds lined the main street in welcome, clapping and singing "God Bless America."

Yellow ribbons were tied to trees and American flags lined the drive to the house. Well-wishers carried signs that said "We didn't forget" and "Martin and Gracia — heroes of faith."

Burnham waved to the crowd before going inside.

"Today is a day to rejoice with Gracia," sister-in-law Teresa Burnham said before the rest of the family arrived. "We will deal with the loss of Martin, but not today."

The body of Martin Burnham, who was 42, had been flown to a U.S. military base in Japan. A memorial service for him was scheduled for Friday in Wichita, Kansas.