Remembering the Rwandan Genocide: A Review of Left to Tell

imageTwenty-two years ago this month, one of the worst ethnic crises occurred during three months in Rwanda. This tragedy has been documented in many forms (Sixty Minutes, Hotel Rwanda, Sometimes in April, etc). Last summer, however, I read Immaculee Ilibagiza’s memoir of the Rwandan genocide, Left to Tell. In her memoir, she chronicles, with specificity, the impact that the Rwandan genocide had on her, her family, the Rwandan community, and even the world. She grew up in a devout Catholic family where she learned to have faith in Jesus through prayer. In 1994, her country experienced the genocide of approximately one million Tutsis in response to an ethnic war with the Hutus. Her family raised her to not value others based on artificial classifications, but on their actions. Unknowledgeable about her own cultural classification for many years, when she did come to learn about the classification system, she experienced discrimation to a high degree. Highly regarded in their community, her parents taught her that faith in God and service to others were the answers to life’s problems. Never did she fathom, however, that her faith would be tested and subsequently sharpened. Given the opportunity to attend college away, Ilibagiza did not hesitate to take advantage of an excellent opportunity. While attending college, there was an exacerbation of the conflict in Kigali, the Rwandan capital. Not realizing the conflict’s severity, she came home to celebrate Easter with her family. While home, the death of Rwanda’s Hutu president ignited a machete driven slaughter of Tutsis for the next three months. Ilibagiza lost her entire family except for one brother who was away from home at the time. Thanks to a Hutu pastor who covertly hid Ilibagiza and seven other women for ninety-one days in a tiny bathroom (hidden and unknown to most), she survived. During this time they experienced the following harrowing conditions: limited food, limited toilet use, no contact with the outside world, anger, and no bathing (they could not run the water because visitors would hear the water or the toilet flush). They also experienced severe emaciation, dehydration, and despair as they heard of the death of loved ones.image

Throughout this time, however, Ilibagiza learned to call upon the name of the Lord. She prayed, without ceasing, that God would deliver her and the others during this crisis. At the time, she did not imagine that God would take ninety-one days to deliver them. Day by day, her faith grew. God sustained her and developed her faith to the extent that He could use her to minister to hurting people everywhere, and to teach reconciliation to the Hutus and the Tutsis. The entire time, God’s hand was upon her and the others. After her rescue and learning of the deaths of family members, God began restoring her manifold, although the process was not easy. The horrors of the conflict and the conditions under which she lived during those three months and after  would likely cripple most, but God revealed himself to her and strengthened her faith. Her life was spared and now she is left to tell the world about how God “delivered her out of the mouth of the lion’s den.” Reconciliation through forgiveness for most Rwandans has been difficult, but Ilibagiza is committed to putting a fractured people together. She travels throughout the world giving people hope from sorrow and encouraging forgiveness. Several years ago, she appeared on Sixty Minutes. That is when I first heard her story. Her message of faith is timeless. As difficult as her experience was, the Bible tells us in Romans 8:28, that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose.

Most of us might never be in such horrific situations similar to Ilibagiza’s; nevertheless, our God is waiting on us to call upon his name. Sometimes it takes a mountain to realize who God is. God uses life’s situations to urge us to seek his face. He is waiting for us to pray, to ask him to meet our needs and to deliver us from situations; however, it is through these situations that we learn true faith. Many of us have difficult situations that rob us of joy and weigh us down. All we have to do is relinquish control, and give God the situation. If we ask anything in God’s name, we know he hears us and will grant our petition ( John 15:7). Furthermore, the Bible tells us that our weapons of warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4,). God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6). And, eyes have not seen, nor ears heard, what God has in store for those who love him (1 Corinthians 2:9). God has great things in store for us. Let him use us in a great capacity.

I encourage you to read Left to Tell. Giving hope in the midst of life’s difficulties, is a major benefit to reading this memoir. It will strengthen your faith. I pray that God’s purpose in your life will be revealed to you and that your faith in him will increase. Let’s remember to be fishers of men.

For personal growth and development, read: John 15; Colossians 1.

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Faith in Action

What is Faith in Jesus Christ?

What is Faith in Jesus Christ?

Often many of us confess that we believe in Jesus Christ. We even may share our faith with others. But how do we truly know whether we have faith? How do we get faith? Is it something that we have because we believe in Christ? What is faith? According to the Bible, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. The Bible also says that without faith it’s impossible to please God and that we must believe that he exists and is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. Faith also come by hearing the word of God.

In my early days of being a Christian, I desperately wanted to believe God for some great things, but I did not know how to have faith. I nonetheless knew that I needed to pray to ask the Lord to have a closer walk with Him. I began spending more time in His word. He reminded me often in his word that He is the vine and that we are the branches. He said that if we abide in Him and His word abides in us, anything we shall ask for, we shall receive. Thus, I knew that if I asked God for faith that would move mountains, he would give it to me as long as I was abiding in Him.

Over the years, Jesus has proven himself faithful. Twenty years ago, I started my law practice. I previously had jobs in which I received a steady paycheck for a set amount. Suddenly, I had to totally rely on Jesus Christ daily. For four consecutive years, I learned to trust in Him. During that time period, I seldom had more than I needed, but I had sufficient money to take care of my bills and the basic necessities. Whenever my supply was almost gone, miraculously a paying client would come through the door with just enough money to supply what I was lacking.image

Was it easy living by faith? No, but I learned to trust in Jesus and to take Him at His word. I thank God that He orchestrated my path by teaching me to abide in His word and to live by faith and not by sight. I’m now at a point in my walk with the Lord in which I trust Him for even greater things.

Lord help us all to commune with you, to sup at your table so that we are like trees planted by the rivers of water that bear fruit in its season.

Faith produces action in the believer. God will begin to use us in incredible ways as we reach out to other believers and nonbelievers encouraging them to believe that there is nothing too hard for the Lord. Do you love bragging about God? Do you love telling people of the great things He has done? Let’s encourage one another daily in our walk with Jesus Christ and remember to share our faith with others while we still have time. Let’s remember to be fishers of men! Be encouraged, God is still on the throne.

Scriptures to meditate on: Hebrews 11; John 15: 1-8; Habakkuk 2: 1-4; Psalm 1