Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Left to Tell

There are some stories that everyone needs to know about. The book "Left to Tell" is one of those. It is the true story of a Rwandan holocaust survivor. If you don't know about the holocaust, you should. Everyone should.

In her book, Immaculee tells how she survived a genocide that killed 800,000 of her people in 100 days. She was no different from us. She was starting college and had a boyfriend the same time I did. She loved life, her family and her beautiful country. In 100 days, she was robbed of all of that.

What makes the story so amazing was her ability to come out on top. She clung to her faith throughout the entire nightmare and was blessed because of it. For three months she hid in a closet sized bathroom with 7 other women and she prayed. "I found a place in the bathroom to call my own: a small corner of my heart. I retreated there as soon as I awoke, and stayed there until I slept. It was my sacred garden, where I spoke with God, meditated on His words, and nurtured my spiritual self." I learned from her that when things get difficult, and even when they don't, I need to find a place to call my own and speak with God. As we do this, there is nothing that we can't endure.

During these months of praying she developed a bond with God and knew that she was a daughter of a King. "I lifted my heart to the Lord, and He filled it with His love and forgiveness. Being in that bathroom had become a blessing for which I'd be forever thankful. Even if my parents had perished in the bloodshed outside, I would never be an orphan. I'd been born again in the bathroom and was now the loving daughter of God, my Father."

When she was finally able to return to her home, knowing that the murderers were gone, she struggled to forgive the killers. "Seeing my home in ruins and visiting the lonely, forgotten graves of my loved ones had choked the life out of my forgiving spirit...My heart hungered for revenge, and I raged inside myself." She recognized how miserable these feelings were making her and knew she had to once again turn to God. "Take this pain from me and cleanse my heart" she prayed. "A sudden rush of air flooded my lungs. I heaved a heavy sigh of relief, and my head dropped back on the pillow. I was at peace."

She has since used her life to help those who still suffer from the killings and to share her message of faith, forgiveness and hope. Truly she was "Left to Tell" so the rest of us can learn from her. If you want to hear her tell a very shortened version of the story go to

I don't even begin to understand how Satan can get such a strong hold of people. But he can. I also don't understand why I live in a place so sheltered from the sorrows most of the world have to endure. But I do. I can't even begin to grasp the sorrow that is felt in this world. It is so scary to know that the things that happened in Rwanda while I was in college are probably happening somewhere else right now. We won't know about it until those who are "left to tell" decide to share their stories with us. My friend Sarah told me about a show called "On Our Watch". It makes it clear how serious these issues are. Here's the link if you are interested.

There is so much I can't understand but there is one thing that I do know. "Where much is given, of him shall be much required (Luke 12:48)." There are things we can do.


Tami said...

I haven't been blogging for a long time and look, you were blogging today too. I am glad you blogged about our latest favorite read. It was so good! Your blog about Africa made me get excited for you. I will make sure and get some donations to you before you leave.

Stacie Raddatz said...

WOw. I have read this book too and was also touched by her capacity to forgive. It makes me think twice if I hold a petty grudge when she can forgive murderers.

Stephanie said...

I'm so glad I have you to find all my books for me. I'm looking forward to that feeling of change and gratitude you get when reading books like that.

Scott-n-Allison said...

I'm always so grateful to read things that wake me up from the bubble I live in and remind me how aware I need to be of the bigger picture. I'll have to check out the book! She sounds like she is an amazing soul!

hedrad said...

Can't help but ask the question why, then in the same breath understand. So grateful for God's perfect plan and the ability to trust in Him.

vaxhacker said...

It's truly astounding to think that with the incredible things human beings are capable of accomplishing, including great good we've come together to accomplish, that some still choose to use their resources and powers to accomplish great evil. There have been so many holocausts and tyrants inflicting harm on so many of their people in places around the world that most of us are blissfully unaware of.

Thanks for posting this touching story which not only is a reminder to us all to at least be aware, and a bit less complacent, about things going on in the world, but also to see that even amid such turmoil we can see God's hand at work, and people setting about doing good.

These things aren't just vague statistics in news stories we flip past to catch the latest sitcom or reality show. They're happening to real people just like you and I, and but for the grace of God, as the saying goes, it could happen to you or I... still could, the way the world's going.

Tonya said...

Matt and I watched the movie Hotel Rwanda a couple of years ago. It is the true story of a man who owned a hotel and opened it up as a refuge to those fleeing the madness. I would recommend it. It was a great movie. I am looking forward to reading her account of the holocaust as well. Thanks for sharing your thoughts:) There really is alot we can do to make this world a happier and much better place.

Stacie Raddatz said...

You have to read "The Bone Woman" now by Clea Koff. She is a forensic anthropologist and goes to Kibuye (where Left to Tell is set) and digs there. It is facinating. And Hotel Rwanda is also set in Kibuye, but it is real difficult to see (if you haven't already) because it is so visually horrific. I still can't get that movie out of my head even though I saw it so long ago.

brenda said...

You're making me cry. Thanks for sharing this.

Don't forget to check out GOD GREW TIRED OF US, about the exodus of boys from Sudan.

Great comments, great post. I just love you, Heid.

Tricia said...

Hi, I came upon your post in researching whether this book is being made into a movie- a medium which could surely reach others. Thanks for the post- I got a chance to meet Immaculee at a Wayne Dyer event and she exudes such power and there is a sense of instant reverence for her experience and the sense of spirit that comes from her- God shining inside. Thanks again for the post- this book changed my life (and I am also a brown-eyed girl :)