Immaculee Ilibagiza speaking at the 2010 Bringing America Back to Life Symposium: “In the War against Life, having Faith to Survive” The personal account of a woman who survives genocide in Rwanda as respect for human life is abandoned. The story of one Catholic saved by a Protestant Minister; sustained by Faith, Prayer and the Will to Survive.
Immaculée Ilibagiza is a living example of faith put into action. Her life was transformed dramatically during the 1994 Rwandan genocide where she and seven other women spent 91 days huddled silently together in the cramped bathroom of a local pastor’s house. Immaculée entered the bathroom a vibrant, 115-pound university student with a loving family – she emerged weighing just 65 pounds to find most of her family had been brutally murdered.
Immaculée credits her salvage mostly to prayer. Anger and resentment about her situation were literally eating her alive and destroying her faith, but rather than succumbing to the rage that she felt, Immaculée instead turned to prayer. Immaculée found solace and peace in prayer and began to pray from the time she opened her eyes in the morning to the time she closed her eyes at night
Immaculée’s strength in her faith empowered her to stare down a man armed with a machete threatening to kill her during her escape. She also later came face to face with the killer of her mother and her brother and said the unthinkable, “I forgive you.” Immaculée knew, while in hiding, that she would have to overcome immeasurable odds without her family and with her country destroyed. Fortunately, Immaculée utilized her time in that tiny bathroom to teach herself English with only The Bible and a dictionary; once freed she was able to secure a job with the United Nations.
Today Immaculée is regarded as one of world’s leading speakers on peace, faith, and forgiveness. She has shared her universal message with world dignitaries, school children, multinational corporations, churches, and at many conferences. Immaculée works hard to spread her message and to raise money for her Left to Tell Charitable Fund which directly benefits the children orphaned by the genocide.
Immaculée’s first book, Left to Tell; Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust (Hay House) was released in March of 2006. Left to Tell quickly became a New York Times Best Seller. To date it has been translated into fifteen languages worldwide.