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Posts Tagged ‘Immaculee Ilibagiza’

Summer is just around the corner. Here are four books that will keep you on the edge of your seat (or lawn chair or beach towel) as you read them. Joanne Shetler, Jackie Pullinger, Immaculate Ilibagiza, and the women of the underground churches were willing to sacrifice their lives if necessary to follow Jesus and to bring His message of forgiveness to others. I pray that your heart will be warmed and your own devotion to Christ will become more extreme as you read their stories.

— Ilibagiza, Immaculee, Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust, (Hay House, Inc., New York City, 2014).

Immaculee  left to tellImmaculee Ilibagiza lost most of her family during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. After bravely hiding for 91 days in a three foot by four foot bathroom where she starved along with seven other women, she was eventually saved and went on to emigrate from Rwanda to the United States in 1998. Immaculee is a woman of extreme devotion. She is now a popular speaker and writer sharing her faith and her message of forgiveness and peace worldwide.

Here is an excerpt from the book:

I heard the killers call my name.

            A jolt of terror shot through me, and then the devil whispered in my ear again: “Now they know who you are … now they know where you are…”

            My head snapped back, and I was thrown completely off guard. Why did they call out my name – how did they know I was here? Were they coming to the bathroom?

            I tried to call on God, but all I could hear was the negative voice blaring in my mind … along with the vicious, sadistic chants of the killers echoing through the house. Clothes soaked in sweat, I fumbled with my faith.

           There were hundreds of them this time. They were yelling at the pastor, accusing and threatening him. “Where is she?” they taunted. “We know she’s here somewhere. Find her … find Immaculee.”

            They were in the pastor’s bedroom right on the other side of the wall. Less than an inch of plaster and wood separated us. Their footsteps shook the house, and I could hear their machetes and spears scraping along the walls.

            In the chaos, I recognized the voice of a family friend. “I have killed 399 cockroaches, “ he boasted. “Immaculee will make 400. It’s a good number to kill.”

           As I cowered in the corner, the devil was laughing at me: “They know your name … they know you’re here. Where is your God now?” (Immaculee Ilibagiza, “Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust”, pg. 129)

 

— Pullinger Jackie, Chasing the Dragon: One Woman’s Struggle Against the Darkness of Hong Kong’s Drug Dens, (Regal Books, Ventura, California, 2006).

Imagine going to work every single day in a slum area. Everywhere you walk you are slushing throughjackie pullinger chasing book the worst imaginable sewage. You walk with your head down in case someone from the tenement above you throws their slop out their window. The streets are filled with homeless men and women and children. Most are lying in a drug-induced stupor. Many of these will die soon. You cannot help them all. You are only one person.

But you can be faithful to your calling and follow where God leads. You can do all you can for even a few people. You can make opportunities for the young, especially, so that they can kick their drug habits and look forward to a totally different life. You accept this call for the long term knowing that poverty and danger from gangs will be your daily lot in life. You have very little outside help.

Who would be willing to do this? A woman of extreme devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ – a woman like Jackie Pullinger.

In this book you will be amazed at how God worked in the slums through Jackie. Many former drug addicts were given a new life thanks to the love and forgiveness of Christ. The ministry has been extended and is still active today in more than one country. You can also go to Jackie’s blog site and the site of the ministry she started – ST. Stephen’s Society – for more information.

 

— Shetler, Joanne, And the Word Came With Power, (Wycliffe, Orlando, Florida, 2006).

joanne shetler word power bookThe Balangao people in the northern Philippines had asked for translators to come and translate the Bible into their language. They were not pleased that two tall women came instead of the men they were expecting. But Joanne Shetler and her friend Anne Fetzer were up to the task.

In remote cultures like Balangao the evil spirits manifest themselves more openly because the people believe in them. And the demons keep the people in tremendous fear and bondage.

Here is an example:

An old woman named Chalinggay, filled with evil spirits came to Joanne’s home one day.

Her body was going stiff in the jerky shakes that accompany spirit possession. “They’re killing me, they’re killing me!” She screamed. “Send them away, they’re killing me!”

I was paralyzed with fear. ‘What have I done? Oh God, now what do I do?’ I started to pray. Chalinggay prayed each word, right on top of mine. Then I stopped in mid-sentence.

“Chalinggay, the trouble with you is, you’re not God’s child. If you would repent of your sins, and ask God to make you his child, then God could protect you.” I knew God had to help us in this battle.

Chalinggay didn’t wait for me to pray this time; she just threw her head back and shouted up at God, “God, it is true, I am wicked.” She looked down and muttered curses at the spirits, threw her head back and continued, “But even though I’m old, just a remnant of me left, make me yours and nobody else’s but yours alone.”

Instantly the shaking stopped ant the pain vanished: the spirits had fled. Wonder and awe filled us all. Fifteen minutes later Chalinggay was slapping her leg and laughing out loud at the news that the angels in heaven were playing gongs and dancing, rejoicing because she had become a child of God. (Pg. 101)

Only the extreme devotion to Christ and His message of hope and salvation would keep Joanne serving in the Philippines for so many years. Joanne translated the Bible into the Balangao tongue so that the people would have the Word of God in their own language. Today Joanne ministers around the world giving seminars. You can keep current with her at her blog site.

 

— Voice of the Martyrs, Hearts of Fire: Eight Women in the Underground Church and Their Stories of Costly Faith, (Thomas Nelson, Nashville, 2003).

These are the stories of eight women who were kidnapped, beaten, starved, and imprisoned becausehearts of fire book they were Christians. They refused to be defeated. They showed strength and the courage of their convictions as they stayed true to their Savior. They went on to “become leaders who have exercised extraordinary boldness and tenacity, refusing to shrink from the needs and opportunities that challenged them. Ironically, only in suffering have they had equal rights with their male counterparts; in some instance, they have suffered even worse.” (From the Introduction.)

Here is an excerpt from one story:

Purnima was only thirteen when she became a Christian. She was from Bhutan, which was mostly Buddhist. She and her sister became refugees. After some time moving around and sharing the Gospel in villages with people who had never heard of Christ, Purnima was arrested. She was sentenced to three years in prison for being a Christian. She was led away to a horrible, primitive prison.

Purnima and the other women were handed a thin straw mat and led into their cell. It was almost pitch black, but gradually their eyes could make out the silhouettes of others sleeping on the floor. An eerie voice rose from the ground, “Welcome. Welcome to hell.”… The floor was cold, damp, and filthy. (Pg. 69)

There is still persecution of Christians going on today, especially in Muslim countries. Pray for these stalwart defenders of the faith. I would also recommend that you send a donation to Voice of the Martyrs and get on their mailing list. You can keep current with what is going on in Christ’s church in other parts of the world.

As we sit around in the comfort of our homes, sipping tea or lemonade, I pray that we will not become too callous. Pray for these and other women all around the world who are suffering poverty, torture, and even death sentences for the love of Christ. Remember those who do not have our freedom and thank God every day that you get up in our free country that you may serve Jesus openly. We are so blessed!

 

 

 

 

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ImmaculeeImmaculee Ilibagiza lost most of her family during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. After bravely hiding for 91 days in a three foot by four foot bathroom where she starved along with seven other women, she was eventually saved and went on to emigrate from Rwanda to the United States in 1998. She is now a popular speaker and writer sharing her faith and her message of forgiveness and peace worldwide.

 

I heard the killers call my name.

            A jolt of terror shot through me, and then the devil whispered in my ear again: “Now they know who you are … now they know where you are…”

            My head snapped back, and I was thrown completely off guard. Why did they call out my name – how did they know I was here? Were they coming to the bathroom?

            I tried to call on God, but all I could hear was the negative voice blaring in my mind … along with the vicious, sadistic chants of the killers echoing through the house. Clothes soaked in sweat, I fumbled with my faith.

           There were hundreds of them this time. They were yelling at the pastor, accusing and threatening him. “Where is she?” they taunted. “We know she’s here somewhere. Find her … find Immaculee.”

            They were in the pastor’s bedroom right on the other side of the wall. Less than an inch of plaster and wood separated us. Their footsteps shook the house, and I could hear their machetes and spears scraping along the walls.

            In the chaos, I recognized the voice of a family friend. “I have killed 399 cockroaches, “ he boasted. “Immaculee will make 400. It’s a good number to kill.”

           As I cowered in the corner, the devil was laughing at me: “They know your name … they know you’re here. Where is your God now?” (Immaculee Ilibagiza, “Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust”, pg. 129)

           

Immaculee Ilibagiza survived the 1994 Rwandan genocide in which nearly one million – or three-Immaculee's familyfourths – of all Tutsis in Rwanda were killed. Even infants did not escape the Hutu marauders once they were found. All of Immaculee’s family were killed except for one brother who happened to be out of the country studying at college. In this picture are Immaculee’s parents (both killed), Amiable (who survived because he was away), Damascene (killed), Immaculee, and Vianney (killed).

Immaculee was born in 1972. At age 23 she was studying electrical engineering at the University of Rwanda when the genocide began. She happened to be at home on Easter break when the killing started. It turned out that this was a blessing from God for her. All of the Tutsi students at the University were massacred a few weeks later.

There had been trouble between the Tutsis and the Hutus before. In 1959 The Hutus massacred 100,000 Tutsis. There was another persecution in 1973. Hatred was seething below the surface for many years.

Then suddenly, the Rwandan president’s plane was shot down. The president was a Hutu and was on his way back to the capital of Kigali. This assassination sparked another genocide. The government seized the radios and told all Hutus to murder every last Tutsi in Rwanda. The slaughter took place throughout the entire country, even in small villages like Immaculee’s.

When it became obvious that the uprising was not going to be small or temporary, Immaculee’s father told her to run to the home of the local pastor for shelter. Though the pastor was a Hutu, Immaculee’s father would not believe that the godly pastor would participate in the killing of innocent people.

This kindly Hutu pastor hid Immaculee and seven other women during the holocaust for 91 days. He had a small bathroom off of his bedroom that was not used much. The bathroom was 3 feet by 4 feet. They had to take turns sitting on the floor. The taller women held the younger girls on their laps. The pastor fed them scraps that were leftover from meals so that his family members would not get suspicious. While in hiding Immaculee lost over 40 pounds and when finally freed weighed only 65 pounds.

The women could not speak or make any noise in the tiny bathroom because it had thin walls. Hutu marauders came by the house often looking for them. They had seen Immaculee and several others go into the house but no one had seen them come out. The brave pastor kept them hidden in the tiny bathroom and tried to steer the killers away whenever the marauders came to his house. Though the pastor was a Hutu he could have been murdered as a traitor for hiding the women. Several members of his family knew the secret of the hidden women, but not all of them. Fear of reprisals was strong and the pastor would not endanger anyone else.

The walls were only 1” thick and often Immaculee could hear the Hutus calling her name as they searched for her. Immaculee turned to God for comfort and strength. Many times she was just sure that they would be found and hacked to death as many others Tutsis were. They could hear the sounds of Tutsis outside begging for mercy only to be brutally tortured and killed. Once the Hutus were infected with the blood lust they went about seeking all Tutsis to kill. Work throughout the whole country was postponed and came to a standstill it seemed until all of the “cockroaches” (Tutsis) were exterminated. It is extremely difficult for us to understand this. It is hard to understand man’s inhumanity to man. We remember the German holocaust against the Jews, Japanese persecution of Chinese and many other events in history. This was tribal warfare. Both were black; both were Rwandan. How could this hatred exist?

The killers never found Immaculee or the other women. Living through that horror the only thing that kept Immaculee going was her faith in God. She knew deep inside that her mother and father and two of her brothers were dead. But she knew that they were in Heaven and she would see them again. They had died brutally, but she would later find out that all had died nobly while protecting others.

left to tell coverWhile in the bathroom, Immaculee had a dream that she would be working for the United Nations
someday. She knew she would need to know English. She had nothing else to do and really no one else to talk to in her situation since utter silence was maintained at all times. She asked the pastor for a French/English dictionary and some books in English. (Immaculee spoke the Rwandan dialect and French. The Belgians had brought French to the educated in Rwanda. Immaculee explains more of this history in her book, which you will not be able to put down once you start reading it.)

What wonderful hope and faith Immaculee had. In just a few weeks Immaculee taught herself English. Though the devil would often tempt her to give up on God, she would always turn to God for strength. She never gave up but actually believed that God had a future for her. There was a purpose for all of this horror, she was sure.

And indeed after the genocide ended Immaculee did get a job at the United Nations. She eventually emigrated from Rwanda to the United States in 1998. She has married and has two children. Immaculee went on to receive five honorary doctoral degrees. She has written a number of books.

Immaculee’s goal has been to promote peace. In fact, Immaculee astonished many people when she returned to Rwanda to find the man who killed her father. He was expecting her to hate him. Instead, she offered him her forgiveness. Immaculee longs for the hatred and killing to end. If one side is able to forgive the other then peace has a chance. But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) Truly Immaculee has followed Jesus.

For a live interview with Immaculee that will touch your heart go to:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7Od6V6Z3ug

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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