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Rwanda survivor teaches forgiveness

forgiveness on Miscellaneous - Immaculée Ilibagiza is a polished motivational speaker, a best-selling author and the recipient of honorary doctorates and humanitarian awards.

But 20 years ago, Ilibagiza was in far different circumstances. When genocide broke out in her home country of Rwanda in 1994, she spent nearly three months hiding in a tiny bathroom with seven other women. The experience tested her faith and her fortitude, but Ilibagiza says she never wavered.

When rebels entered the home she was in, Ilibagiza turned to her Christian faith and prayed for God to send her a sign. Hours later, she learned that rebels had searched every inch of the house, except for the bathroom she was in.

“I just thought, ‘God is real,’” Ilibagiza said Friday during a speech at St. Thomas More Catholic High School. “He heard me, in the bathroom. He had heard my thoughts from within. Prayer can truly change you.”

Ilibagiza later learned that her entire family, as well as friends, neighbors and schoolmates, had been killed. Instead of becoming angry and resentful, she says, she opted for a life filled with forgiveness and gratitude.

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