It’s funny how the Universe works. When I wrote my second post on forgiveness, I wrote about Immaculée Ilibagiza and then found out that she would be in my home town where I just met her! This extraordinary woman spoke of the unimaginable that she and seven other women endured for 91 days while cramped in a small bathroom hiding from the Hutu tribe during the Rwandan genocide which lead to the deaths of nearly a million Rwandans in 1994. After her incredible survival she learned that her mom, dad, two of her three brothers, and other family members and friends had been killed.
Immaculée had every reason to live her life in bitterness and hate but during the 91 days in the shared bathroom where she spent all day and all night, where she couldn’t make a sound and had scraps for food, she started to pray with the rosary that her dad gave her. She was extremely frightened for her life and angry but started to put her faith in God. She read the Bible that the man who was helping her and the seven women hide (he was actually from the Hutu tribe but was a good man) gave to her. Immaculée found hope in reading the Bible and praying which turned her towards a very strong faith in God and Jesus. She had to remain quiet because the Hutu tribe came several times to the place where she and the other women hid but never found them. She gives thanks to God and Jesus for keeping her and the other women from being discovered in the tiny bathroom. She was able to start understanding how the Hutu tribe could slaughter the innocent Tutsi tribe (her tribe) and was able to start forgiving when she read “God forgive them for they know not what they do.” When freed, she faced the man who killed her family and was able to forgive him. She wrote the book, Left to Tell to tell her story and give many hope and learn what true forgiveness looks like. She turned a truly unimaginable part of her life into lessons for us to learn about hope, faith, forgiveness, and what it means to love. Forgiveness can be one of the hardest things we will ever do, yet Immaculée is a beautiful example of what it means to truly forgive, put your faith in God and to love. I am so grateful for her courage, perseverance, faith, and her willingness to share her incredible story.
Is there anything that you haven’t been able to forgive or let go of? Are you holding on to bitterness and hate? Immaculée’s book Left To Tell can help you learn how to forgive the unimaginable, let go of bitterness and hate and find a way back to true peace and love.
“The love of a single heart can make a world of difference.” ~ Immaculée Ilibagiza
“I came to realize that God never shows us something we aren’t ready to understand. Instead, He lets us see what we need to see, when we need to see it. He’ll wait until our eyes and hearts are open to Him, and then when we’re ready, He will plant our feet on the path that’s best for us…but it’s up to us to do the walking.” ~ Immaculée Ilibagiza
“I believe that we can heal Rwanda-and our world-by healing one heart at a time.” ~ Immaculée Ilibagiza
In Kinyarwanda (native language of Rwanda) Ilibagiza means “shining and beautiful in body and soul.” Immaculée’s dad gave her this beautiful name which is truly fitting for her.