Columbine Survivors Reach Out, Gracia Burnham & Canada

Columbine Survivors Reach Out, Gracia Burnham & Canada

In Today's Edition:
  • Columbine Survivors Counsel German School Massacre Survivors
  • Burnham Bulletin: Gracia Doing Well
  • Jordanian Widow Promised Solution For Her Children
  • Religious Freedom in Canada Examined at Conference

Columbine Survivors Counsel German School Massacre Survivors ... A group of American Christians visited the East German city of Erfurt June 6 to 9 to support those affected by a massacre at Gutenberg High School, reports the "idea" news agency. On April 26, ex-student Robert Steinhaeuser shot 16 people in a killing spree, before taking his own life. Three years earlier, in April 1999, a similar incident happened at Columbine High School in Littleton (Colorado). Two students shot 12 of their fellow students, including Cassie Bernall, one teacher and themselves.

The visitors from Littleton, among them Cassie Bernall's mother and two students wounded in the Columbine incident, shared with their fellow sufferers in Erfurt that it was their faith in Christ that helped them cope with the traumatic experiences. The delegation is part of the Torchgrab youth movement under the leadership of emergency chaplain Bruce Porter, who is also a fire fighter and was involved in counseling at Columbine and Ground Zero in New York.

According to idea news, showing compassion and respect to others is the mission purpose of Torchgrab, which Porter started after the events in Littleton. At two youth rallies in Erfurt on June 8 and 9, the group paid tribute to Cassie Bernall and her strong Christian faith. According to Porter there were several suicide attempts after the Columbine massacre. Some youngsters had also turned to drugs and alcohol. Similarly, one Gutenberg student took his life June 9.

Burnham Bulletin: Gracia Doing Well ... In an interview given just before she boarded a plane to return to the United States, Gracia Burnham gave the following message to those who have been praying: "We want to thank each and every one of you for every time you remembered us in prayer. We needed every single prayer you said for us during our ordeal in the jungle." She also thanked the military men who risked their lives to rescue her and Martin.

According to a press release from New Tribes Mission (NTM), one of those who was with Gracia the day after her rescue said this about her. "Gracia is a strong woman of deep faith." Her clarity of mind as she testified of how God carried her and Martin through this long ordeal amazed all who heard her."

A memorial service for Martin will be held at Central Christian Church in Wichita, Kansas, at 10 a.m. on Friday. A Martin Burnham Memorial Fund has been established for the benefit of Gracia and their three children. Information is available at New Tribes Mission, 1000 E. First Street, Sanford, FL 32771-1487. Any cards or letters for Gracia should be sent to Gracia Burnham c/o NTM at the same address.

"Gracia has an incredible story to tell to all those that have so faithfully prayed for her and Martin. We have heard that God prepared the hearts of Martin and Gracia for whatever the result might be. God truly has been at work in a mighty way," says NTM.

Jordanian Widow Promised Solution For Her Children ... (Compass Direct) -- A Jordanian Christian widow threatened with loss of the legal guardianship of her two children was assured in late May by representatives of her government that the children will not be removed from her custody, reports Compass Direct.

Siham Qandah was reportedly called in for an interview with the Jordanian intelligence services, who informed her they had been assigned to assist her because of the "international attention" her case had received. "They told Siham they would not let anyone harm her, or take her children from her," a close friend of the widow told Compass, "and they promised they would find a solution to her problem."

During April, Qandah had fled from her home, taking both of her children out of school. Her daughter Rawan, 13, and her son Fadi, 12, went into hiding with her. Under a final ruling issued by Jordan's Court of Cassation, Qandah had been ordered to relinquish custody of her children to be raised as Muslims, based on the alleged conversion of her Christian husband to Islam three years before his death.

In a civil court case unusual for moderate Jordan, Qandah's Muslim brother filed for full custody of his nephew and niece. Although born and raised in the same Christian home with Qandah, her brother had converted to Islam in his youth. Now a prayer leader in his local mosque, he insisted that his brother-in-law's conversion required that Qandah's minor children be raised as Muslims, as dictated by Islamic law.

Qandah and her family questioned the validity of the conversion certificate, which did not even carry her late husband's signature. When he died abroad in 1994, serving in the Jordanian army under U.N. peacekeeping forces, his body was brought home for Christian funeral rites. His wife only learned of his alleged conversion several months later, when she applied for his military benefits for herself and the children.

Religious Freedom in Canada Examined at Conference ... The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) is reportedly pleased with the outcome of the "Keeping the Faith" conference, which was co-sponsored by the EFC and Trinity Western University, June 6-8, in Langley, British Columbia. "This conference makes an important contribution to our understanding of the significance of religious freedom for religious communities in Canada. Speakers identified current trends in judicial interpretation of religious freedom," said Janet Epp Buckingham, the EFC's general legal counsel and Director, Religious Liberty.

"Trinity Western's experience in its recent landmark Supreme Court case illustrates how even in advanced democracies like ours, threats of legal, political, social and educational restrictions exist for people of faith," said Paul Chamberlain, conference chair and director of ACTS Seminaries Institute for Christian Apologetics. "And now, following the September 11 terrorist attacks, religious conflict and persecution have taken on a whole new level of significance."

In the final session of the conference, participants had an opportunity to suggest strategies and projects to further advance religious freedom in Canada. "The EFC is committed to further advancing religious freedom in Canada," says Bruce Clemenger, Director of the EFC's Center for Faith and Public Life. "The conference papers as well as the contributions from participants are a significant contribution to all those who are committed to furthering religious freedom in Canada."