I recently read that a habit of great people is that they spend some time everyday contemplating their models of greatness, so every week I am going to share with you the person that will be the subject of my contemplation. Perhaps when we fill our thoughts with courage and not the stories we see on the news we will have less anxiety. Perhaps we will feel more hope for mankind.
Viktor Frankl psychiatrist and holocaust survivor said, “when we are no longer able to change a situation–we are only then challenged to change ourselves.”
This week I will think about Immaculee Ilibagiza. I will contemplate forgiveness, faith, the ability to change ourselves and the perfect example this young woman offers.
Immaculee was a college student in Rwanda where she studied electronical and mechanical engineering. She came home for the Spring break and walked into a nightmare. There was an ethnic war between the Tutsi and Hutu tribes, Immaculee was a Tutsi. A Pastor hid Immacuee and 7 other woman in a bathroom that was 4 feet long and 3 feet wide. There was a shower at one end and a toilet at the other and a small air vent near the ceiling but there was not enough room for a sink. The women knew they had to remain silent or they would be killed and everyday they heard people they knew threatening to kill all the “cockroach Tutsis” looking for them by name. The genocide lasted for three months and killed almost 1.000.000 Rwandans. While neighbors hunted her with machetes, Immaculee used the French/English dictionary and an English Bible to learn English. When they came out of the bathroom after 91 days they had lost their families, homes, money, nearly everything thought of as important . The rest of this story is: Immaculee forgave the people who destroyed her family and the life she knew. She lived her faith and walked her talk. I will think about Immaculees and remember when I can’t change a situation I will work to change myself and become stronger and braver, walking in faith not fear.
If you have an interest in learning more about Immaculees story of horror, faith and forgiveness her book, “Left to Tell”.
“But I came to learn that God never shows us something we aren’t ready to understand. Instead, He lets us see what we need to see, when we need to see it. He’ll wait until our eyes and hearts are open to Him, and then when we’re ready, He will plant our feet on the path that’s best for us…but it’s up to us to do the walking.
__________Immaculee Ilibagiza, Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust