A Story of Survival, Hope, and Forgiveness
A young Rwandan woman, studying engineering at the university, is home on Easter break when her country experiences a coup. The president is assassinated and armed marauders take over, and go about murdering men, women, and children by the thousands.
The woman’s father gives her rosary beads and sends her to the local pastor’s home, where she is hidden away with seven other women in a 3x4-foot bathroom. They stay in that tiny room for 91 days while the murderous rampage continues. During this time the woman experiences rage, anger, resentment — and then she finds her faith. Inspired by that rosary, and using a Bible and a dictionary, she teaches herself English and commits herself to a life of peace, hope, and forgiveness, even for those committing the genocide.
But when she emerges from her hiding place, she is faced with a horrific reality: nearly one million of her fellow countrymen have been murdered, including her entire family (except one brother who was studying abroad). Would she still be able to forgive?
The answer is yes. Immaculée Ilibagiza is this woman who hid in a bathroom for nearly three months in 1994, enduring unimaginable physical, mental, and spiritual suffering. After emerging from her hiding place she came face-to-face with the man who killed her mother and one of her brothers, and she was still able to offer the unthinkable: telling the man, “I forgive you.”
In 1998, Immaculée Ilibagiza emigrated to the United States and began her work for peace with the United Nations. She wrote a book — Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust — which became a New York Times bestseller and has been translated into 17 languages. Six other books have since followed; she has appeared on television shows and in numerous publications and has brought her story to conferences and events all around the world. She has been awarded a half dozen honorary degrees and has received numerous humanitarian awards, including the Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Reconciliation and Peace. She is regarded as one of world's leading speakers on faith, hope, and forgiveness.
And now Immaculée Ilibagiza brings her story to Connecticut. She will appear at Christ the King Church in Old Lyme on April 21 at 7:00 pm. All are welcome to come and hear her story of survival, peace, and forgiveness. This event is free and open to the public. (A free-will offering will be gratefully accepted.) A brief reception will follow.