Thursday, March 20, 2008

surviving a genocide through prayer

For a long time we have had the book Left to Tell, by Immaculée Ilibagiza, listed in the sidebar as a must read.

Read it.

A brief summary from the website:

Immaculée shares her miraculous story of how she survived during the Rwanda genocide in 1994 when she and seven other women huddled silently together in the cramped bathroom of a local pastor’s house for 91 days! In this captivating and inspiring book, Immaculée shows us how to embrace the power of prayer, forge a profound and lasting relationship with God, and discover the importance of forgiveness and the meaning of truly unconditional love and understanding—through our darkest hours.

The story actually begins over her Easter break from college.

I suppose not everyone is as fascinated in stories of genocide as I am (as Kristian says) , but this story is about so much more. It is her story of forgiveness in the worst possible situation. And it really puts things in perspective.

Ever since I read this I have been wanting to hear Immaculée speak. I knew she worked for the UN and lives in NY. I contacted someone through her website a while back to see if she had any speaking engagements coming up. (ok- now you are starting to see what I was talking about with my obsessions.)

Well, last week I was able to attend a luncheon with a board member for the Foundation. It was only after I accepted the invitation that I found out that Immaculée was one of the featured speakers! You cannot even understand my excitement. Beyond words...

She spoke for about 30-45 minutes straight... hundreds of captivated listeners and not a dry eye.

This luncheon was a fundraiser for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of NYC (they were honoring a few authors), but Immaculée spoke about her relationship with Jesus and the forgiveness He had enabled her to have for her families' killers.


So, yes, after the luncheon I ran over to her before she was swept away for photos and thanked her. I told her I had read her book several months ago and was blown away. She held my hands and thanked me so sincerely, as if she couldn't understand why people would take time to read her book.

Additionally, I found out that another one of our board members produced a documentary on the story, The Diary of Immaculee. He just sent me a copy and I'll watch it this weekend.

I don't know if Immaculee and I would see eye to eye on everything theologically, but there is one thing that's for sure:
I so often am wrapped up in my tiny world. My prayers are not big enough and my perceptions are often shallow. Prayer is all Immaculee had while she sat in a bathroom in Rawanda for 3 months straight.
It's important for me to be reminded that God is working in big ways all over the world. It's also important for me to remember that He works in very personal ways in individuals' lives, in every language, in order to make His glory known. Sometimes I think I doubt His presence in other's lives when I can't understand it myself.

So, all this to say- read it! I don't think you will be disappointed.
Immaculee visiting Mother Teresa's orphanage in Kigali, which became a second home after the genocide