On more than one occasion, I had the privilege of hearing Immaculée Ilibagiza speak about forgiveness. She is uniquely qualified to address this topic, having spent 91 days in hiding during the spring 1994 Rwandan genocide against the Tutsis. The author of Left to Tell and other books, she was our January 2008 cover story (available in our archives at StAnthonyMessenger.org).
Several times during those 91 days, she recognized the voices of Hutus engaged in genocide—in some cases, former classmates whom she considered friends. After mentioning the hateful words directed against Tutsis before the genocide began, she urged her audience that evening to be careful about their words, which can sow seeds of hate or of love. Once a word is spoken, it has a life of its own. No one can guarantee what it will foster.
Immaculée lost her parents and three brothers during this genocide. Her brother Aimable survived because he was studying outside the country; he continues to live in Rwanda. The siblings have turned their family home into a place of prayer and reconciliation. Healings have been reported. Visit immaculee.com for more information about her.
May we remember the saving power of God’s word and the power of our own.
Photo: Konstantin Tavrov/PhotoXpress