Left to Tell

Left to Tell

In 1994, I remember sitting in church listening to our associate pastor speak about the horrible genocide happening in a country called Rwanda. I had never heard of the country of Rwanda. And I didn’t understand what he was talking about. I don’t remember hearing anything about this horrendous episode on the news or in my high school classes. As a teenager, I didn’t read the newspaper much, so I know I never read anything about it either. It is sad that my only recollection of hearing about the brutality that took place in that country 15 years ago was from my associate pastor. And when he talked about it, the whole thing went right over my head. (Ahh, but at least he talked about it, right?)

It shocks me to think that such a horrific tragedy took place in my lifetime. And it upsets me to think that I didn’t know more it. Was I that naive? Was I that self-absorbed? Was I just not paying attention to anything other than graduating from high school and going off to college? Or was this devastating holocaust really being ignored by the entire world? Perhaps it was all of the above.
Fast forward 15 years. Last week, I checked out a book from the library about the Rwandan holocaust, which left me overwhelmed with numerous questions, emotional heartbreak and amazing inspiration.
Left to Tell is the story of Immaculee Ilibagiza. I am sure many of you are familiar with her story. If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to check it out at your library, order it on amazon.com, do whatever it takes to get your hands on this book. It is a must read!
I won’t go into the details of the story here, but throughout the book, there is experience after experience of God protecting Immaculee from the evil that surrounded her, and just how much she trusted and surrendered to God completely. The book is also filled with the message of forgiveness and the essential nature of forgiveness in everyone’s life.
In addition to this book I recently saw a very good movie about the Rwanda genocide called Beyond the Gates. And just last week, I rewatched Hotel Rwanda, because my mom had not seen it but had wanted to for a long time.
I don’t know why this book and these movies are all coming into my life now. Is it because I knew nothing about this holocaust 15 years ago when it was actually taking place? So I’m now catching up? Yes.
But I also think God is using Immaculee’s story in particular to encourage me to ask myself how the lessons she learned relate to my own life:
First, to be completely grateful for the life He has given me, especially for those things that I often take for granted. And to have that attitude of gratefulness more often. Also, to put my own “hardships” in perspective from time to time … and try to learn from them, rather than just complain about them.
Second, to ask myself, what seems to be impossible for me at this very moment? What in my life have I not surrendered completely to the Lord? Why? What is holding me back? What am I afraid of, that I don’t trust God completely with?
These are the lessons and questions I have been pondering lately. And I will continue to ponder them in my prayer time with the Lord …
(Immaculee has two more books: Led by Faith, which I have just started, and Our Lady of Kibeho: Mary Speaks to the World From the Heart of Africa, which is on my to-read list, too.)
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8 thoughts on “Left to Tell

  1. I have her book, but haven't had time to read it yet. She also spoke at the 2008 Fargo Marian Eucharistic Congress … my mom and I split the cost of the conference CD set because we weren't able to attend. I plan to listen to her talk; friends who attended said it was an amazing story of faith in hardship that we cannot begin to imagine.

  2. You don't need time to read this book, because you won't be able to put it down once you start!!! Time stops while you read it, right?

    I was just telling my ultrasound tech today about this book!! I was amazed at it too, I think for the reasons you mentioned also for the fact that they lived a normal life before that, similar to us, going to college, getting jobs, shopping, etc…

    I have seen Hotel Rwanda and after reading this book, it made so much more sense. I'll have to check out that other movie you mentioned!

    Melissa's baby is home with her, I visited on Saturday with my girls, he was out of NICU, he swallowed fluid and got fluid in his lungs during the delivery. (c-section) I haven't been on the computer much, sorry to not update, my husband and son left for Canada early yesterday and life is very busy by myself with the girlies!

    I'll have to update soon!

  3. Immaculee spoke at the Catholic Women's Conference in Columbus this year. It was an incredible speech. I think she is making the rounds, so if she is speaking near you, be sure to go!

  4. I am impressed by how much introspection you have undertaken after reading the book and watching the movies. I could use a little more of that wake up call type of influence to help me see how I can help to change the world. I fear that most of the time, I am so overwhelmed and feel so useless and unable to help that I simply end up shrugging my shoulders, clucking my tongue and walking away without doing anything to make a change in the world. You've inspired me!

  5. Jamie borrowed this book to me and I was unable to put it down.

    It is so awful what happened.

    Teen-agers are funny people. I remember when the space shuttle blew up in 1986 and I remarked in class, "…and a teacher was on it!!"…why would I say that??

    Last summer I was reading everything on the Holocaust.

    I always wonder why some people get saved by Gods protection and others are probably praying for it and die.

  6. I read Left to Tell last summer. What an incredible story! I saw Immaculee interviewed recently on EWTN, and she said there was a film planned based on the book. I don't know why we weren't aware of the genocide when it happened, either. It may very well be that I just wasn't paying attention, but I think many people in politics and the media just looked the other way.

  7. Her book is a wonderful testimony. I read it about 18 months ago and also watched Hotel Rwanda shortly after reading the book. We certainly take a lot for granted here in the bubble that is suburban America.
    Thanks for your post.

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