Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Left to Tell -- Book Review

Many have heard about Immaculee Ilibagiza’s incredible story of survival during the 1994 Rwandan Holocaust. She spent 91 days hiding with 7 other women in a tiny, closet-sized bathroom while her friends and family were being savagely hunted down. She gives some explanation of what led to the genocide, but it is not meant to be an in-depth history. The book is more about her life, forgiveness, and the grace of God.

The authors are to be commended for their sensitive handling of an event filled with horror. Gory details, which are necessary to accurately convey what the people suffered, are stated in a matter-of-fact manner with little descriptive language. Anyone familiar with the Jewish holocaust of WWII will be well-prepared for this book, which is appropriate for a mature audience.

Readers should be forewarned that there are several Catholic references, the religion that Immaculee was raised up in and remains in as of publication. She placed a high value on her father’s rosary and on Jesus’ mother Mary. However, being one who is aggressively opposed to many Catholic doctrines, I was still able to enjoy the book. Immaculee’s obviously intense love for God and her incredible spiritual experiences far outshine the Catholic trappings, in my opinion. I believe she is one of those people with a heart of gold despite deeply ingrained manmade traditions.

The forward is written by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, who heaps an excessive amount of praise on Immaculee, referring to her as “a uniquely divine woman.” He elaborates on how this book will change the reader’s life forever, how it is the most “moving and poignantly significant” in the vast library that comprises his lifetime, and that it will give a new perspective on what the "field of possibilities" looks like.

I feel that Dr. Dyer’s assertions are grossly exaggerated and provide a perfect example of the human weakness for elevating men to a status we do not deserve. Immaculee, on the other hand, gives no indication of undue pride in her story. I believe she understands exactly Who deserves all the glory. This book was moving (I cried several times) and could prove life-changing for someone with little knowledge of the power of God, but I do not feel it has more potential to be life-changing than other books I have read, particularly those written about missionaries.

Simply stated, Left to Tell is worth reading because it is a wonderful testimony. The historical and cultural information is a bonus, and it can be finished in an evening or two. Here is an excerpt from one of my favorite parts:

    I drifted off to sleep shortly before dawn and had the most intense dream of my life. I saw Jesus standing in front of me, his arms out-stretched as though he were about to embrace me. He was wearing a piece of cloth wrapped about his waist, and his long hair spilled down around his shoulders. I remember being struck by how thin he looked: His ribs protruded, and his cheeks were lean and hollow. Yet his eyes sparkled like stars when he looked at me, and his voice was as soft as a gentle breeze.

    “When you leave this room, you will find that almost everyone you know and love is dead and gone,” he said. “I am here to tell you not to fear. You will not be alone – I will be with you. I will be your family. Be at peace and trust in me, for I will always be at your side. Don’t mourn too long for your family, Immaculee. They are with me now, and they have joy.”


Pam said...

That is a great review. If I ever have spare time for a reading, I will try to find this one.
I mailed your book last week--Thursday, I think. Maybe you will receive it soon. : )

nitewrit said...

Somehow someone else took over my domain address. I have had to switch Night Writing in the Morning Light to a new name which is http://nightwritinglem.blogspot.com/

I am still reconstructing. If you use the old name of www.nitewrit.net you will get some real estate site. I have nothing to do with this site or company.

Larry E.

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing this! You have peeked my interest in the book, and I am going to put it on my list of ones to get! It sounds so inspiring! Hope you are doing well and enjoying Spring!

Andrew Clarke said...

I can see why you shared about this book. It is about utterly horrific things, but also about how they were overcome. That is right at the heart of the Gospel. Some things we are spared from, but certain things must be endured,
since even Jesus prayed "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me." The greatest victory is won when the worst thing you can imagine happens, and yet you are UPHELD through it. I can recall when something that horrified me happened, but even as I heard about it there was a sensation in mind of God saying "Right, now I'm going to achieve something in your life". I can remember the feeling. That being said, I will be grateful if these experiences, such as the Rwandan trauma, do not fall on me. But the victory is that it is overcome.

Tamela's Place said...

Hello Farrah,

First i want to say thankyou for your recent comments on my blog, and BTW I have replied to them. I truly believe we have the same heart on these issues of immorality and the Bible!
it is very difficult in life now-a-days to come across another brother or sister who shares your heart biblically and morally speaking. So thank you for jumping in there with me!

You have given an awesome book review here. I have not read a good book in awhile I might have to check this one out! Blessings to you Farrah and as a sister in Christ i appreciate you deeply!

In Christ Jesus
Tamela :)

Greg said...

Hi, Hon! Interesting that I just saw a headline about the 15th anniversary of the Rwandan holocaust.

How blessed we are to live in a country where we don't need to worry about such things. But maybe we're TOO comfortable... :(