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Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust Paperback – January 6, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In 1994, Rwandan native Ilibagiza was 22 years old and home from college to spend Easter with her devout Catholic family, when the death of Rwanda's Hutu president sparked a three-month slaughter of nearly one million ethnic Tutsis in the country. She survived by hiding in a Hutu pastor's tiny bathroom with seven other starving women for 91 cramped, terrifying days. This searing firsthand account of Ilibagiza's experience cuts two ways: her description of the evil that was perpetrated, including the brutal murders of her family members, is soul-numbingly devastating, yet the story of her unquenchable faith and connection to God throughout the ordeal uplifts and inspires. Her account of the miracles that protected her is simple and vivid. Her Catholic faith shines through, but the book will speak on a deep level to any person of faith. Ilibagiza's remarkable path to forgiving the perpetrators and releasing her anger is a beacon to others who have suffered injustice. She brings the battlefield between good and evil out of the genocide around her and into her own heart, mind and soul. This book is a precious addition to the literature that tries to make sense of humankind's seemingly bottomless depravity and counterbalancing hope in an all-powerful, loving God. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Immaculée Ilibagiza was born in Rwanda and studied electronic and mechanical engineering at the National University. She lost most of her family during the 1994 genocide. Four years later, she emigrated to the United States and began working at the United Nations in New York City. She is now a full-time public speaker and writer. In 2007 she established the Left to Tell Charitable Fund, which helps support Rwandan orphans.
Immaculée holds honorary doctoral degrees from The University of Notre Dame and Saint John’s University, and was awarded The Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Reconciliation and Peace 2007. She is the author, with Steve Erwin, of LEFT TO TELL: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust.
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I suggest every one who doesn't know all that the words "Rwandan Holocaust" entail, to read this book.
I originally thought that this book was about creating awareness for gruesome events such as this, but I began to realize that forgiveness was what it was about.
I opened this book thinking about world issues and how I could help; being young, being a student, being an American. But it did much more than that. Not only did my awareness and world knowledge increase, but my awareness and knowledge of more spiritual things was also increased.
Here is this woman in the midst of death and pain and she can recognize miracles constantly, as well as manifest--from the developed relationship with god within--the miracle of forgiveness.
She is enormously persuasive because she has all elements of great and influential rhetoric: being a victim, she has ethos and pathos embedded in her story, along with the logos of the reasonable coming of faith and forgiveness. Ilibagiza is never manipulative in recounting her story, she is honest and open about her internal struggles and we see the outcome of such earnest prayer and optimism, and it is pure goodness.
I used to say that I hated reading, but with Left to Tell, I realized that it was the only way I could hear what she had survived to tell--I couldn't experience it in a movie the way I could with a book, and the chances of me meeting her and getting such a detailed story was unlikely. Her written testimony was a bridge and a beacon.
How big must a heroic action be? Is sitting cramped in a small bathroom with five plus strangers for two months in order to escape being hunted just because of what tribe they were enough? I consider her a hero. Someone who can forgive the man who brutally slaughtered her family is a hero.
There are hurting people in the world. This book gives those people a compelling voice, changing your perspective on them forever. And if you are a person who has been wronged, it teaches the valuable lesson that no matter what someone has done to hurt you, the only defense is forgiveness - true, lasting forgiveness that comes only from the power of God. This is truly a tale that proves that with all of our faults and failures, there is still hope for humanity if we have love in our hearts for one another.
Reading this book has opened my eyes to the reality of the horrific events happening in the world; events that happened during my lifetime. It makes me wonder why I, like so many other people, am clueless as to what was happening around me.
Ilibagiza’s Left to Tell is a page turner that draws you in as you read. The reader will be in awe as he or she progresses through the details of the story, but will emerge with a sense of hope from Ilibagiza’s ability to forgive and love. It is recommended for those who want to learn what it is like to follow hard after God under all circumstances.