Forgiving the Unforgivable

I knew I couldn't ask God to love me if I was unwilling to love His children. But what if they were trying to kill me?

Immaculee IlibagizaThe Rwandan genocide is one of history’s most horrific events. In 1994, nearly one million Rwandans were slaughtered over the course of a few months, mainly by militant Hutu groups (tensions between the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups were one cause of the bloodshed).

This holocaust unfolded before the eyes of a young Tutsi woman home from college over Easter break. Immaculée Ilibagiza spent 90 days hiding from killers in her pastor’s 3’x4’ bathroom with seven other women, hearing how her family and many of her countrymen had been slaughtered. Incredibly, she has forgiven the killers and helped Rwandan women entrepreneurs rebuild their communities. In the process, she taught people everywhere how to overcome evil with good. The following is an excerpt from her best-selling memoir, “Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust” (Hay House). For more information, visit


I was deep in prayer when the killers came to search the house a second time.

It was past noon, and I’d been praying the rosary since dawn for God to give His love and forgiveness to all the sinners in the world. But try as I might, I couldn’t bring myself to pray for the killers. That was a problem for me because I knew that God expected us to pray for


and more than anything, I wanted God on my side.

As a compromise, I prayed the rosary multiple times, as intensely as I could, every day. Working through all those Hail Marys and Our Fathers took 12 or 13 hours—and whenever I reached the part of the Lord’s Prayer that calls us to “forgive those who trespass against us,” I tried not to think of the killers, because I knew that I couldn’t forgive them.

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Immaculee Ilibagiza
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