I just read Left to tell: Discovering God amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza. This is our February title for Cover to Cover, the neighborhood book group that I belong to. This amazing story is a must read. It will have you on the edge of your seat. You will never be the same.
Immaculee was one of a few Tutsi survivors of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. She survived by hiding in a small bathroom with 5 other women for 91 days. Ninety One days; can you even imagine. While in hiding she could sometimes hear the murderous, machete-armed gangs outside the house; sometimes inside the house, just outside of the tiny bathroom. These blood thirsty men were capable of unthinkable violence, and inflicted death in the most hideous ways. Sometimes these scary creatures called her name.
What was I doing in 1994? I don’t recall hearing more than a slight mention that there was anything amiss in Rwanda. Half a world a way, I had no idea that a million innocent men, women, and children were being viciously slaughtered. How could civilized nations stand back and let this terrible thing happen. I feel somehow tainted for not doing something, for not even knowing.
Immaculee lost all her family, except one brother who was studying outside of Rwanda. She lost everything but her faith, which flourished under these awful conditions. She connected with God in a truly amazing way. She found that to hold on to God meant she had to let go of anger and hate. It meant she had to forgive. Forgive? Can you even imagine?
Forgiveness isn’t easy. Even insignificant slights can take up lodging in my heart. I somehow imagine that I am justified in carrying a grudge. Yet no one has ever threatened me with a machete. What is it that sometimes keeps me from forgiving? What is holding me back? What is it costing me?
After reading the words of Immaculee Ilibagiza, I can’t even imagine.