Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust

Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust


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Immaculee Ilibagiza grew up in a country she loved, surrounded by a family she cherished. But in 1994 her idyllic world was ripped apart as Rwanda descended into a bloody genocide. Immaculee’s family was brutally murdered during a killing spree that lasted three months and claimed the lives of nearly a million Rwandans. Incredibly, Immaculee survived the slaughter. For 91 days, she and seven other women huddled silently together in the cramped bathroom of a local pastor while hundreds of machete-wielding killers hunted for them. It was during those endless hours of unspeakable terror that Immaculee discovered the power of prayer, eventually shedding her fear of death and forging a profound and lasting relationship with God. She emerged from her bathroom hideout having discovered the meaning of truly unconditional love—a love so strong she was able seek out and forgive her family’s killers. The triumphant story of this remarkable young woman’s journey through the darkness of genocide will inspire anyone whose life has been touched by fear, suffering, and loss.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781401944322
Publisher: Hay House Inc.
Publication date: 04/07/2014
Series: Left to Tell Series
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 12,856
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Immaculée Ilibagiza lost most of her family during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Four years later, she immigrated to the United States and began working at the United Nations in New York City. She now devotes herself full-time to public speaking and writing books that share her message of how faith and forgiveness can heal hearts and change the world. In 2007 she established the Left to Tell Charitable Fund, which helps support Rwandan orphans, and was awarded the Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Reconciliation and Peace.Steve Erwin is a New York Times best-selling author and award-winning journalist. He has co-authored seven books and is currently working his second novel. He lives in New York City with his wife, journalist and author Natasha Stoynoff.

Read an Excerpt


Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust
By Immaculee Ilibagiza Steve Erwin


Copyright © 2006 Immaculee Ilibagiza All right reserved.
ISBN: 1-4019-0896-9

Chapter One

The Eternal Spring

I was born in paradise.

At least, that's how I felt about my homeland while I was growing up.

Rwanda is a tiny country set like a jewel in central Africa. She is so breathtakingly beautiful that it's impossible not to see the hand of God in her lush, rolling hills; mist-shrouded mountains; green valleys; and sparkling lakes. The gentle breezes drifting down from the hills and through the pine and cedar forests are scented with the sweet aroma of lilies and chrysanthemums. And the weather is so pleasant year-round that the German settlers who arrived in the late 1800s christened her "the land of eternal spring."

The forces of evil that would give birth to a holocaust that set my beloved country awash in a sea of blood were hidden from me as a child. As a young girl, all I knew of the world was the lovely landscape surrounding me, the kindness of my neighbors, and the deep love of my parents and brothers. In our home, racism and prejudice were completely unknown. I wasn't aware that people belonged to different tribes or races, and I didn't even hear the terms Tutsi or Hutu until I was in school.

In my village, young children walkedeight miles to and from school along lonely stretches of road, but parents never worried about a child being abducted or harmed in any way. My biggest fear as a youngster was being alone in the dark-other than that, I was an extremely happy little girl in a happy family, living in what I thought was a happy village where people respected and cared for one another.

I was born in the western Rwandan province of Kibuye, in the village of Mataba. Our house was perched on a hilltop overlooking Lake Kivu, which seemed to stretch out forever below us. On clear mornings I could see the mountains on the other side of the lake in the neighboring country of Zaire, now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Some of my warmest childhood memories are of clambering down the perilously steep hill between our house and the lake. I'd go swimming with my dad and brothers as the last of the dawn mist was being chased away by the early-morning sun. The water was warm, the air cool against our skin, and the view of our house high above the shore always thrilling. Heading back home was an adventure because the hill was so steep and the dirt beneath our feet was so loose and treacherous. I often slipped and was afraid that I'd tumble all the way down and into the lake. My father always knew when I was frightened, and he'd bundle me in his arms all the way home. He was a big, strong man, and I felt safe and loved wrapped in those powerful arms. It thrilled me to be lifted up so affectionately, especially since Dad was very reserved in an old-fashioned way and rarely showed his emotions or said he loved my brothers and me-although we knew he did.

When we got home from our swim, my beautiful mother would be busy in the kitchen preparing the hot rice-and-bean dish she fed us every day before packing us off to school. Her energy never failed to astonish me: Mom was always the first to rise and last to bed, getting up hours before anyone else to make sure that the house was in order, our clothes were laid out, our books and lessons were ready, and my father's work papers were organized. She made all our clothing herself, cut our hair, and brightened the house with handmade decorations.

The beans she prepared for our breakfast were grown in our family fields, which Mom tended every morning while the rest of us were still sleeping. She checked the crops and would then distribute tools to the day laborers and make sure that our cows and other animals were fed and watered. And then, after finishing the morning chores and getting us off to class, Mom would walk down the road to start her full-time teaching job at the local primary school.

Both of my parents were teachers, and adamant believers that the only defense against poverty and hunger was a good education. Despite being one of the smallest countries in Africa, Rwanda-which is roughly the size of the American state of Maryland-is one of the most densely populated countries on the continent and among the poorest in the world. Mom and Dad were the first high school graduates in their families, and they were determined that their children would go even further than they had in school. Dad led by example, working hard and studying throughout his life. He received many honors and promotions during his career, rising steadily through the ranks from primary teacher to junior high school principal. He was eventually appointed chief administrator for all of the Catholic schools in our district.

In Rwanda, every family member has a different last name. Parents give each child a unique surname at birth, one that reflects the feelings of the mother or father at the moment they first lay eyes on their new baby. In Kinyarwanda, the native language of Rwanda, my name (Ilibagiza) means "shining and beautiful in body and soul." My dad chose my name, which will always remind me how much he loved me from the moment I was born.

My father's name was Leonard Ukulikiyinkindi, and my mother's was Marie Rose Kankindi, but her friends called her Rose. They met at one of my cousin's homes in the summer of 1963 while traveling to a mutual friend's wedding. As they were introduced, Mom gave Dad the once-over, clucking her tongue at his shaggy hair.

"You're going to a wedding with that hair?"

My father shrugged, claiming that he couldn't find a barber. Mom found a pair of scissors, sat him down, and went to work-right then and there. She must have done a good job, because they became inseparable. They married within the year, and Dad never let anyone but Mom cut his hair again.

My parents managed to save a little money by holding down teaching jobs and farming the land my grandfather had given them (they grew and sold beans, bananas, and coffee). Dad designed and built our house, which, while extremely modest by Western standards, was considered quite luxurious in our village. We had a kitchen, a dining area, a living room, our own bedrooms, a guest room, and Dad even had a study. A gated courtyard led to a small annex where day workers stayed, and-thankfully-we had a separate pen for the animals, so the cows didn't sleep in the house with us. Dad put a cistern on the roof to catch rainfall so that we wouldn't have to haul water up from Lake Kivu, and the solar panels he installed provided us with about an hour of electricity on sunny days.

We had two vehicles, which was practically unheard of in our part of Rwanda. We had a yellow cross-country motorcycle that Dad used to visit schools in the remote mountain villages, and we also had a little car that we used on weekends to go to church and visit relatives. Some villagers thought that we were wealthy, which we weren't, and they called my Dad Muzungu, meaning "white man" or "rich person," which to most Rwandans meant the same thing.

No one else in our village had a motorcycle, and Mom always worried that Dad would be waylaid by bandits on a lonely mountain pass. Fretting about her family was a preoccupation with my mother, to the point that whenever any of us was away from home for more than a night, she'd listen to the obituaries announced on the radio every evening.

"Mom, think of all the good things that could happen to us instead of dwelling on what might go wrong," I urged her unsuccessfully.

"Oh, Immaculee, I couldn't bear it if someone knocked on the door with bad news about one of my children or your father. I just pray that I die before any of you do." She prayed incessantly for our health, safety, and well-being.

My parents were devout Roman Catholics and passed on their beliefs to us. Mass was mandatory on Sundays, as were evening prayers with the family at home. I loved praying, going to church, and everything else to do with God. I especially loved the Virgin Mary, believing that she was my second mom, watching out for me from heaven. I didn't know why, but praying made me feel warm and happy. In fact, it made me so happy that when I was ten years old, I snuck away from school one day with my friend Jeanette to pay a visit to Father Clement, a wise, elderly priest who was a good friend of the family and like a grandpa to me.

Jeanette and I hiked through seven miles of fields and forests and waded across a river to reach Father Clement. He greeted us warmly, but was concerned because we arrived at his presbytery exhausted, panting, soaking wet, and more than a little dirty. He looked like a saint, standing over us in his flowing white robe, his arms opened in welcome, a beautiful rosary hanging from his neck. "What is it, girls? How can I help you?" he asked.

"Father, we want to dedicate our lives to God," Jeanette said solemnly.

"That's right, Father," I agreed. "We have thought it over, and we want to become nuns."

"Nuns? I see," he said, nodding seriously, although I'm sure he must have been hiding a big grin. He placed his hands on our heads and gave us a special blessing: "God, bless these dear children, keep them safe, and watch over them all their days." Then he looked at us and said, "Now, you two go home. Come back to see me after your 18th birthdays, and if you still want to be nuns then, we'll talk."

WHILE MY PARENTS WERE ARDENT CATHOLICS, they were Christians in the broadest sense of the word. They believed in the Golden Rule and taught us to treat our neighbors with kindness and respect. They felt strongly connected to their village and dedicated themselves to creating a prosperous, harmonious community. Dad spent many weekends doing volunteer work, such as building a nondenominational chapel and paying for most of the construction costs out of his own pocket. He also set up a scholarship fund for poorer kids by establishing one of Rwanda's few coffee cooperatives, allowing a dozen coffee growers to plant on his land rent free if they promised to donate a little of their profits to the fund. The program was so successful that he was able to use some of the money to build a community center, a soccer field for teens, and a new roof for the school.

Mom was also known for her many good works. She could never turn away anyone in need, so we often had another family living with us because they'd fallen on hard times and needed a place to stay until they got back on their feet.

After finishing work, my mother often volunteered her time to tutor students, and she was forever buying material to sew new uniforms for local schoolgirls. And once I overheard her talking to a neighbor who was distraught because she couldn't afford to buy her daughter a wedding dress.

"Rose, what kind of mother am I to send my own daughter to her new life in old clothes?" the woman asked. "If only we had a goat to sell, I could dress her in the way she should be dressed on her wedding day."

My mother told her not to worry-if she had faith in God, He would provide. The next day I saw Mom counting out the money she'd saved from her monthly teacher's salary. Then she walked to the village, coming home with her arms full of brightly colored fabrics. She sat up all night sewing dresses for the woman's daughter and all the bridesmaids.

Mom and Dad treated the village as our extended family, and the villagers often treated them like surrogate parents. For example, Dad had a reputation across the region as an educated, enlightened, and fair-minded man. Consequently, people traveled for miles seeking his counsel on family problems, money woes, and business ventures. He was often called upon to settle local squabbles and discipline unruly children.

A crisis in the village was usually followed by a knock on our door and this plea: "Leonard! Can you help us out? We need your advice. What should we do, Leonard?"

Dad invited people into the house at all hours and would discuss their problems until they found a solution. He was a good diplomat and always made people feel as if they'd resolved their own difficulties.

My mother was also sought out for her advice, especially by women having difficulties with their husbands. Over the years, so many of our neighbors had once been Mother's students that most villagers just called her Teacher.

But while they were certainly dedicated to our village, my parents were devoted to their kids, spending as much time with us as possible.

Once in a while, when he worked late and went for beers with his friends afterward, Dad got home well after we'd already gone to bed. "Where are my little ones? Where are my darling children?" he'd ask, a little tipsy but full of affection.

Mother would scold him: "They're sleeping, Leonard, as they should be. If you want to see them, you should come home earlier."

"Well, I can't eat dinner alone," he'd say, and gently get us all out of bed. We'd sit around the table in our pajamas while he ate dinner and told us about his day. We loved every minute of it.

After he finished eating, Dad would make us all kneel down in the living room and recite our evening prayers.

"They've already said their prayers, Leonard. They have school tomorrow!"

"Well, Rose, I have to work tomorrow. And you can never say too many prayers. Right, Immaculee?"

"Yes, Daddy," I'd answer shyly. I idolized my dad and was delighted that he'd ask me such an important question.

Those were magical moments-when my father's stern facade was lifted, his love for us was easy to see.

THERE WERE FOUR KIDS IN THE FAMILY: myself and my three brothers. The eldest was Aimable Ntukanyagwe, who was born in 1965, a year after my parents were married. Even as a child, Aimable was the most serious member of the family. He was so quiet and introspective that we joked he was the family priest. Mom doted on him because he was her firstborn and her favorite, but Aimable was humble, shy, and embarrassed by the extra attention she paid him. He was also sweet-natured and detested violence. When the other boys roughhoused or fought with each other, he would step between them and make the peace.

When Dad was away, Aimable took his place, making sure that we finished our homework, said our evening prayers, and got to bed on time. Then he would stay up late, ensuring that the doors were locked and the house was secure for the night. He seemed so much older than his years, but he was a loving brother to me, never failing to ask about my day, how my studies were going, and if my friends were treating me well. There was a five-year age difference between Aimable and me, which, as kids, made it difficult to get to know each other.

I was only seven when my brother went off to boarding school, and after that, we saw each other only on holidays and special get-togethers. Nevertheless, I developed a terrible stomachache the day he left. Although his school was in a nearby town, as far as I was concerned, my brother was moving to the moon. It was the first time I felt the physical pain of losing someone you love. When my father sat us kids down a few days later to write letters to Aimable, I could think of only two things to say. In large, looping letters, I wrote:

Dear Aimable, I love you, I miss you, I love you, I miss you, I love you, I miss you, I love you, I miss you, I love you, I miss you, I love you, I miss you, I love you, I miss you, I love you, I miss you, I love you, I miss you, I love you, I miss you, I love you, I miss you, I love you, I love you, I love you ... and I miss you!!!!! Love, Immaculee P.S. I miss you!

My father laughed when he read the letter. "You didn't mention anything about visiting Grandma's house, or how your other brothers are doing, Immaculee. Try writing again with a little more news and a few less 'I love yous' and 'I miss yous.'"

"But that's how I feel, Daddy."

I couldn't understand why he wanted me to love my brother less-and Dad never tired of teasing me about that letter.

Two years after Aimable was born, my other big brother came into the world. His name was Damascene Jean Muhirwa, and he was brilliant, mischievous, funny, generous, unbelievably kind, and irresistibly likable. He made me laugh every day, and he always knew how to stop my tears. Damascene ... to this day I can't say his name without smiling ... or crying. He was three years my senior, but I felt as though he were my twin. He was my closest friend; he was my soul mate.


Excerpted from LEFT TO TELL by Immaculee Ilibagiza Steve Erwin Copyright © 2006 by Immaculee Ilibagiza. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword Dr. Wayne W. Dyer xi

Preface xvii

Introduction: My Name Is Immaculée xix

Part I The Gathering Storm

Chapter 1 The Eternal Spring 3

Chapter 2 Standing Up 13

Chapter 3 Higher Learning 23

Chapter 4 Off to University 31

Chapter 5 Returning Home 37

Chapter 6 No Going Back 45

Chapter 7 The Pastor's House 57

Chapter 8 Farewell to the Boys 65

Part II In Hiding

Chapter 9 Into the Bathroom 73

Chapter 10 Confronting My Anger 83

Chapter 11 Struggling to Forgive 91

Chapter 12 No Friends to Turn To 95

Chapter 13 A Gathering of Orphans 103

Chapter 14 The Gift of Tongues 113

Chapter 15 Unlikely Saviors 123

Chapter 16 Keeping the Faith 129

Part III A New Path

Chapter 17 The Pain of Freedom 139

Chapter 18 A Letter from Damascene 151

Chapter 19 Camp Comfort 157

Chapter 20 The Road to the Rebels 169

Chapter 21 On to Kigali 175

Chapter 22 The Lord's Work 183

Chapter 23 Burying the Dead 193

Chapter 24 Forgiving the Living 201

Epilogue: New Love, New Life 205

Afterword: 2014 211

Acknowledgments 227

About the Authors 231

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Left to Tell 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 339 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was a little hesitant to read this book because sometimes these stories can be horrible. But the story of this woman's faith and strength has touched my heart. Immaculee was raised in an educated home without prejudice. Her parents were generous people, helping people of all races and religious beliefs that they came in contact with. Her father was active in seeking out peaceful solutions for Rwanda's political discord. As a youth she was not even aware of a difference in tribal people. The first time she had to stand for an ethnic roll call in her public school she had no idea what tribe she belonged to. As it turned out she was a Titsu. While on Easter Break from her University in 1994 the exiled Titsu rebel army attacked the Hutu tribe in hopes of being able to return to Rwanda and their families. In retaliation the Hutu's formed a killing militia that was soon out of control killing every known titsu they could find. Immaculee lost all of her family members except one brother who was out of the country studying. Imaculee sought refuge with a local Hutu minister. He hid her and 6 other woman in a small bathroom (3ft x 4ft) at the back of his house. He slid an armoire in front of the door to hide it. Many times the killers searched the home, accusing him of harboring Titsu's. These women were able to stay quiet and lived in this state for 91 days. The minister would bring them table scraps to share, this was their only food. Immaculee lost 40 lbs. while she was hidden. The women developed a sign language so they could communicate with each other. To relieve their cramping muscles they worked out a rotation system. I just cannot even fathom surviving such a physical ordeal, never mind the mental duress of being hidden, hunted, and worrying about loved ones. In this book Immaculee acknowledges the horror and atrocities of the holocaust but does not dwell on them. Instead she writes a story of how she strengthened her relationship with God through faith and prayer. She learned to forgive her enemies and gained a profound understanding of mankind. She prayed to know why she had been spared. She was granted a vision to prepare her for her return to the civilized world. During the course of her "captivity" she borrowed all the English books the minister had and learned to speak and read English. She knew from her vision she would one day be working at the UN helping Rwanden victims, and she would be translating for them. She would pray for understanding as she read the words; it is so amazing to me that she could discipline herself to this extent while her world was falling apart. I have been profoundly touched by this woman's story and example.
rockomajor More than 1 year ago
An amazing story! Being a vet of Iraq I can relate with her feelings toward God and her hate for the killers. She is an amazing woman, I love her. I am almost finish with Led By Faith her second book that I also highly recommend.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In 1994, a 22 year old Rwandan native was home from college to enjoy Easter with her family in Mataba. She and her family are devout Catholics and members of a local tribe known as Tutsis. However, the joys of a long awaited visit to home were cut short when the President of Rwanda, born Hutu, was murdered near the capital city of Kigali. Accusations flew as the entire Tutsi population was blamed and punished for the offense. Genocide, prejudice, and racism became preeminent ways of life for the people of Rwanda as the Tutsi civilians were literally hacked into submission by the Hutu extremists. Left to Tell is a first-hand account of Immaculee Ilibagiza who is one of the few survivors of the Rwandan genocide. From news of sadistic torture and murder surrounding her loved ones to her family to realizing an innate connection with an ever-loving God, Left to Tell teaches the reader two very important lessons. Firstly, Ilibagiza¿s description of theatrocities committed towards her people prove how misused governmental influence can drive people of the gentlest nature to hatred and crime. Secondly, her experience with prayer and faith in God proves that we are never alone and that even in the darkest of times you will always have hope. These two elements are perfectly intwined one with another to ultimately prove that unconditional forgiveness can overcome pain and anguish. Through the experiences of this beautiful young women who survived the Rwandan genocide we can learn imperative truths and lessons about life and overcoming adversity.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Every honest person admits that they want to discover God amidst the good and the bad of life. We all ask the questions that Ilibagiza addresses. "Where is God?" "How do I forgive evil?" Few are forced to probe such questions in the midst of such soul-numbing devastation. Humanity is still plagued by groups of people who feel determined to wipe out other groups of people. The spiritual disease is the same, only the names and labels change. Read Left to Tell and you will learn that the only way to go is Love, and the only thing to offer is forgiveness. You will also learn that no matter what travesty hits you, no matter your age or situation in life, through faith in God's power, you can craft the life He intended for you. Left to Tell is indeed a beautiful book that is highly recommended. Many authors try to solve the mystery of suffering by examining it purely through a theological grid. Others attempt to understand evil only through the framework of personal experience. Immaculee Ilibagiza combines both. Her devout faith in a good God along with her hell-on-earth, paradise-in-her-soul approach makes "Left to Tell" a unique and rewarding book.   
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Every honest person admits that they want to discover God amidst the good and the bad of life. We all ask the questions that Ilibagiza addresses. "Where is God?" "How do I forgive evil?" Few are forced to probe such questions in the midst of such soul-numbing devastation. Humanity is still plagued by groups of people who feel determined to wipe out other groups of people. The spiritual disease is the same, only the names and labels change. Read Left to Tell and you will learn that the only way to go is Love, and the only thing to offer is forgiveness. You will also learn that no matter what travesty hits you, no matter your age or situation in life, through faith in God's power, you can craft the life He intended for you. Left to Tell is indeed a beautiful book that is highly recommended. Many authors try to solve the mystery of suffering by examining it purely through a theological grid. Others attempt to understand evil only through the framework of personal experience. Immaculee Ilibagiza combines both. Her devout faith in a good God along with her hell-on-earth, paradise-in-her-soul approach makes "Left to Tell" a unique and rewarding book.   
SabrinaCSC More than 1 year ago
This story truly embodies the tragedy of the Rwandan genocide. While I was reading, I couldn’t help but to think about how I would react in this situation (the genocide) and I came with the conclusion that I wouldn’t have been brave like Immaculee. After reading this book I couldn’t imagine what could have given Immaculee courage, the courage to risk her life for the people she loved and the courage to forgive the person who butchered her family. In the book she narrates how Jesus and God helped her through these dark times. Being an atheist, I couldn’t help but to question the meaning of God. However after reading this book I can’t think of one possible explanation of how she gathered the courage to do such things, especially telling the man, who ruined your life, who killed your family, that you forgive him. I know I could never do that. This book is a must read, I have always been a sheltered person; my parents never want me to be exposed to sadness. However this book isn’t just about the depressing tale of Immaculee, it’s also about hope. This book has a bittersweet ending; you know that she will never forget the horrors of the genocide however she learns to forgive and moves on with her life. I'm not saying that this book has converted me into being a Christian but this book gave me hope that maybe, somewhere, there is a something, god or not, watching over us.
claireakemi More than 1 year ago
This is such a powerful and spiritual book that will not only hook you in, but it will bring you closer in faith to God. I literally started to sob when I read what horrible and gruesome things Immaculee had to undergo. Living in Hawaii doesn't help-we were so isolated from what was going on at the time as well as in many other areas. To know that people witnessed their entire family and children being slaughtered right in front of them secures a strong hatred in my heart. Learning to forgive is a major aspect from the story that all people should follow as an example- including myself. After reading this, I have realized the power of God's love and such mercy He bestows upon us. As the murderers were all around, there was nothing stopping them from killing each Hutu one by one. The Devil whispered in her ear, taunted, and questioned her faith. Immaculee went straight to God and asked for his protection. The fact that she lives today is a powerful reminder of His undying love and compassion. A marvelous book written by a Rwandan woman who has the Holy Spirit's light shining through her.
College_Reading_Teacher More than 1 year ago
I was shocked at the horror and genocide. I was spiritually uplifted to see how God in His Goodness and Grace supported and comforted this woman through her most trying times. It touches your heart.
maestraMG More than 1 year ago
A great introduction on a personal level of the Rwanda atrocities. It is a well written, personal narrative with a sense of urgency. The story moves, compels, and inspires. I have given several copies as gifts, and I think the book would be great for high school readers and older. A must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not stop reading. I was appalled by the disregard for human life, yet encouraged by the overwhelming faith Immaculee had for our God. Even more amazing was her ability to forgive those that committment such a haneous crime against her family, friends, and community. Thank you, Immaculee for sharing your story!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an incredible story! Immaculee's profound encounter with God and growth in faith took place amidst one of the most horrific events in modern history. The reader cannot help but be affected.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This almost unbelievable story really touches on the sad state of the country of Rewanda. You think this kind of genocide would not be possible and yet as we look around us, the same thing is happening in other countries. How the people in this book survived and kept their sanity shows the religious and moral strength of these people.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to read this book for class. It was really interesting.... uplifting to the believer because Gid Lways hears your prayers, and for the nonbelievers light to see the true and living God... He is so real!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A tragedy worth reading. A character is brought through the terror of genocide. She experiences the pain and suffering of a lifetime, and all she has left in her heart is forgiveness. She struggles against death and fear to find that faith is truly stronger than the culprits. Inside a small bathroom with seven other women, she discovers the strength in faith to God. Hunted by weapon-wielding animals, she feels compelled to survive and tell her story to the rest of the world. This book offers inspiration to a cause, an absorbing atmosphere, and the enlightening journey of Immaculee Ilibagiza. She is torn from her family with their violent deaths, and two lasting themes are family and forgiveness. After reading this book, I was compelled by her willingness to forgive and how strongly she felt for her family. The terrors she endured and the pains she withstood formed a kind of realism that kept me coming back. She detailed her thoughts, her actions, why she did what she did with a unique style. This brought out reactions that both enthralled and appalled me. In some instances, the writing was not what it could be. She did well describing her environment, but her dialogue seemed less realistic. Overall, this book was phenomenal. It opened my eyes to the real world, and I hope that any who reads this book comes out with a similar reaction.
62spazz More than 1 year ago
Terrifying, amazing and touching story. Must read for everyone. Opened my eyes to the Rwanda situation. Want my teen and adult children to read it. Inspirational and encourages an attitude of gratitude and forgiveness! Immaculee Ilibagiza was left to tell and we need hear what she has to say!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust written by Immaculee Ilibagiza is a spiritual book about learning forgiveness and how to trust and discover God at the hardest times of your life. This author writes about her heartbreaking journey during the Rwandan genocide and how she lost everything and yet somehow found her faith and strength to forgive those who hurt her and her family through God. This was an amazing and heart breaking story that everyone needs to read regardless of where they are at in their own life. Throughout her journey she has to face subtle discrimination that gets worse the older and older she gets, especially when it comes to school. She over comes this but then the genocide starts and during it she has to come to terms of the deaths of her family, friends, and the loss of her home and everything she owns. Despite all this Immaculee finds God’s grace in the bathroom with seven other women. While dealing with her own personal struggles she also goes out of her way to help others towards the end of the genocide. The absolute most touching part of the book is when she comes face to face with one of the men who had killed her family and even though she is given the opportunity to get revenge she just looks at him and tells him she forgives him. This can be a very tough read when it comes to the actual killing and torture of that who were involved in the genocide of 1994, but is more than worth it when it comes to learning life lessons about forgiveness, strength, faith, and the grace of the Lord.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is great, dont hesitate to buy it. It is such a touching and amazing story. I have learned so much about forgiveness, I cant believe its only been like 200 pages!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An amazing book great read made an impact in my life:)
Sweet_Daisy More than 1 year ago
It's hard to believe that a young woman in her early 20's could have such strong faith in God as Immaculee Ilibagiza did. Back in 1994, she was only 22 year-old college student and having come from a family filled with only love for each other, somehow she survived and managed to cope with all the evil of the genocide in Rwanda without any anger left in her heart. It is sobering to me that in other parts of the world such as in the United States where I was living, our two worlds were as different as white is to black. Our life here in the US consisted on doing menial tasks as planning our family vacation or what to cook for dinner, what shopping sale we need to get to that weekend, etc, when in Rwanda, people's lives were being chopped down by killers with machetes by their own countrymen, teachers and neighbors - all in the name of "ethnic cleansing". I could not help but to realize that similar evil is going on today in 2010 at other parts of the world where killing people by mass destruction is considered actually doing something "good" for their country as we sit here in the United States peacefully sipping coffee and having dinner parties, planning our Florida family vacations, etc. In her book, Immaculee describes very vividly all the details of her time in the little tiny bathroom of the Pastor Murinzi's house who kept several Tutsi women in hiding for weeks and months. Immaculee could see God at work through people like Pastor Murinzi and many other people in her book who showed up at the right time and place just like the "angels" from God. Immaculee never wondered away from her faith in the living God who heard her prayers day and night and answered them according to his own will. It was obvious that she did not get all the "right" answers to her prayers such has her own parents and brothers being saved from the genocide but she knew that God was definitely at work in her life. Although she lost many of her loving family members through the genocide, her life was filled with thanksgivings to God. It seems to me that she truly understood that the final "will of God" and the destination for God's people is not here on earth but on the other side of life called Heaven. She seemed to have found peace knowing that she will seem them some day. This is an amazing book to read. It's an eye opening book to see how she managed to deal with her hurts and anger toward the killers of her family members. It is a book that teaches us how to deal with anger and darkness in our own lives through faith in God and to let God deal with the burdens of our lives. I highly recommend people to read this book no matter where one might be in one's faith journey, it is one book that will change the way one thinks about life's fate and circumstances that it may not be just that but it is God who intervenes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I believe that everyone can learn something of value from Immaculée Ilibagiza's book Left to Tell. It is the very personal story of how Ilibagiza survives the horrific Rwandan genocide in 1994. With her tale comes incredible insight into building a very real relationship with God. It is ultimately this relationship that saves her life. What is it that makes Immaculée Ilibagiza's story so compelling? For one thing, the events that unfold before Immaculée are heart-stopping; I discovered a thorough understanding of the atrocities committed during the genocide of '94. These events were far from joyous (ignorance may be bliss), but it is far more important and enlightening to perceive the world for how it really is. It is arguable that keeping atrocities like this one in the Shadows of Unawareness makes it significantly easier for these events to repeat themselves; Left to Tell shines a light here that helps stop the darkness from spreading. But while awareness may be the book's pearl of great price, its magnum opus is Ilibagiza's enlightening insight into forgiveness achieved through a sincere relationship with God. Reading this book is like witnessing a miracle; the reader watches Immaculée suffer again and again and then immediately put her trust in God to take away all of the pain. Never before has developing complete trust in God been laid out in such a sincere and raw real-life example. I have recently finished this book, and I have no doubt that it has had a profound impact upon my life. Immaculée Ilibagiza believes that God has spared her life with the purpose of telling her story. She has dedicated her life to helping others forgive and learn to rely upon God to heal their own pains. Take a chance on this book. Immaculée Ilibagiza's story Left to Tell is one that has been blessed with real power.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Left to Tell is such a powerful book it is now one of my all time favorites. I think it is so unique because it has such horrible, real, tragic events yet it is very spiritual and uplifting. Immaculee is one of the most divine people I feel like I've ever meet. She is such a strong powerful women not only surviving physically but mentally and spiritually as well. It is quite graphic and doesn't sugar coat the genocide so if that's an issue you might not enjoy this very much. Personally I think that it's great that she tells the horror in such detail the book is so dark that the small light in it is that much brighter. So I think the big contrast is affective. I just can't get over how amazing this woman is, her whole family was so great and kind completely innocent yet horrible events befell them and she still found it in her heart to forgive. I always wondered how some one who experienced and had such horrible things done to them and their family could ever forgive but because of this book I understand now. This book is centered on forgiveness and it is one of the best examples of how to forgive that I have ever read. I want all of my friends and family to read this book it is just so amazing it really touched my heart and opened my eyes to things I couldn't see before.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Picture being separated from absolutely everything you hold dear: family, friends and all your prized possessions; you must leave all your things behind to be treated like an animal. You have absolutely no contact with the ones you love and you fear the worst. How do you deal with such loss when you yourself have nothing to hold onto? How do you forgive those who unjustly and hatefully took what was yours? According to Immaculee Ilibagiza in "Left to Tell," "anyone in the world can learn to forgive those who have injured them, however great or small that injury may be" (p. 209). Set in the war ravaged country of Rwanda, Immaculee tells us her story of survival and determination during the Rwandan genocide of 1994. She is one of few survivors of an unspoken horror in Rwanda; holding onto the one thing no one could take from her: faith. "Left to Tell" is a compelling account of endearing faith in oneself and in one's God to survive the most unimaginable horrors of war and hate and forgiving those who have wronged you. Immaculee's extraordinary ability to remain true to herself even during the most desperate of times is an inspiration to all who read it.
Linds14 More than 1 year ago
Left to Tell was such an inspiring book. Imaculee Ilibagiza's story about her life during the Rwandan Holocaust really opened my eyes to the realities of the world. It was both spiritually moving and mentally awakening as Imaculee informed the world about the vicious things that human beings can do to their fellow men. Imaculee revealed her sad story in a straightforward way. She didn't try to sugarcoat what she saw or heard while living in the midst of a bloodthirsty people. Her frankness was what most left an impression in my mind. Never before had a book illustrated such a strong point in my mind as Left to Tell did. This book was one of the most influential books I have ever read. I finished the book feeling a little less naïve about the world. It made me thankful for the life I have been blessed to live and instilled in me a desire to become aware of what happens in other countries. Left to Tell is really an awesome book. It takes the reader through an unimaginable experience. If you want to become more aware of the world you live in, this is an excellent read. This book was hard stop reading, and left me thinking about it long after I finished.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a book that appeals to all readers. Immaculee's writing style vividly portrays the violence of the Rwandan Genocide, without overwhelming her audience. This historic event is a tragedy in our world's history, and learning about it through her eyes is awakening. We experience the emotions behind the Genocide as we witness the pain of losing family and friends through violence. The most depressing aspect of the Genocide, which she portrayed excellently, is that the people who murdered her family and Tutsi friends, were Hutu neighbors and friends she grew up with. Her faith in God gives her strength in the most stressful situations. She prays continuously for protection and to recognize that all humans are children of God. By praying for this, she learns to forgive anyone inflicting pain or harm to any other. It is humbling to read how she forgives the crazed Interahamwe, while I have a hard time forgiving people of insignificant actions. I learned from her experience the power of our faith, and the power of God's love. The overall theme of forgiveness is an essential lesson that every individual should learn in his or her lifetime. So I highly encourage you, and your friends, to read this inspiring novel.