Left to Tell

by Steve Erwin

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What is the role of spirituality in Immaculée Ilibagiza's Left to Tell?

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The spirituality in Left to Tell is distinctly Catholic. Ilibagiza is from a religious family. Her faith in a good, loving God and in the Christian doctrine of loving one’s enemies is sorely tested through her ordeals during the Rwandan genocide. She witnesses excessive cruelty—torture, murder, mutilation, rape, infanticide—and loses the people she loves to the brutality. However, her faith is ultimately strengthened by her suffering.

Ilibagiza’s belief in forgiveness is quite tested. However, she refuses to become consumed by hatred and therefore turn into the people who are persecuting her:

I knew that my heart and mind would always be tempted to feel anger--to find blame and hate. But I resolved that when the negative feelings came upon me, I wouldn't wait for them to grow or fester. I would always turn immediately to the Source of all true power: I would turn to God and let His love and forgiveness protect and save me.

Despite losing her family and despite being forced to hide in a cramped bathroom with several other women for many months, Ilibagiza still forgives the people who killed her family and the man who specifically sought to kill her.

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