“Left to Tell” by Immaculee Ilibagiza is an astounding must read. It is a most powerful story of hope, fortitude and forgiveness. It was so captivating that I simply could not put it down. I finished it in 2 1/2 days, and I’m not an avid reader.
Immaculee does not need any plugs for her book, as it is a New York Times bestseller. I’m simply mentioning this work of nonfiction on the off-chance that you may not have read it yet. It is truly life changing.
Immaculee is a survivor of the Rwandan Holocaust that took place in this small African country in the 1990’s. Her tribe of people, the Tutsis, were being targeted for annihilation by the Hutu government who was in power at the time. Hidden in a bathroom – four feet by three feet – for months with five other women, she miraculously escaped the killers. To beg for safety, to keep her sanity and to pass the time, she prayed night and day. When she and the others emerged from the bathroom, they were emaciated and sickly. They pressed on.
Immaculee learned that while she was in hiding, the Hutu militants has murdered her mother, father and two of her brothers brutally. She forgave her family’s killers. Now Immaculee travels, giving retreats and lectures. She tells about how wonderful and gracious God is and important it is that we forgive. This is truly amazing considering all that she has suffered.
I was blessed to meet Immaculee at a weekend retreat she gave at St. Joseph’s Abbey in Covington, Louisiana the summer before last. I was deeply moved by her story and the prayers in which she led us. I had a very difficult childhood. I was holding onto a lot of anger towards those who had hurt me. After reading Immaculee’s story, I began working on the process of forgiveness. I figured that if she could forgive those who murdered her loved ones in such cruel, horrific ways, then certainly I could forgive.
In cases where wounds run very deep, we may have to ask God to help us to forgive. It may not be something that we are capable of on our own. I know that I was not! God never asks us to do something for which He does not provide the grace to do so – It’s there for the asking. We just need to make that humble request.
Forgiveness is powerful. It has taken the anger inside of me and replaced it with peace. It has helped me to live a full life once again. If you have not yet read this nonfiction treasure, please obtain a copy. It just may change your life!