I is for Immaculee Ilibagiza

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    I really didn’t understand what my number one business value (Lead by Faith: Pray for God’s guidance) meant until I had the great privilege to hear Immaculee Ilibagiza speak in person and then read her book called Led by Faith: Rising from the Ashes of the Rwandan Genocide.

    When I first heard of Immaculee’s story, I was immersed right away in who is she and how she’s an incredible example of living in faith. Faith is all she had for the 3 months that she was hid in the bathroom with 7 other women during the Rwandan genocide in the 1994. During this time, they couldn’t talk to each other in fear that they would be found. “As hundred of killers hunted her, Immaculee formed a profound relationship with God that transcended the bloodshed and butchery – a relationship that enabled her to emerge from the slaughter with a spirit purged of hatred and a heart brimming with forgiveness.”

    Before she went into hiding her father gave her a rosary. She used this rosary to keep her sane and safe. She believed that it’s one of the things that provided the miracle that these women survived. Many days she would say the rosary 20 or more times a day. For those of you who don’t know about the rosary, it’s a ritual of praying to the Holy Mother, Mary, asking her to intercede for our prayers. It looks like a necklace as you say prayers for each bead. By the time she was freed, she was able to forgive those who murdered her family and many, many of her friends.

    A couple of years ago, Immaculee came to my alma mater in Minnesota, the University of St. Thomas, to share her journey. My best friend, Julie Wylie who I met at St. Thomas, and I heard her speak. Here is a picture of us with Immaculee. She shared stories from her first book Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust as well as her new book is about how she navigated the world, now as an orphan in her young twenties, with only an “abiding faith in God to guide and protect her.”

    Just being in her presence you could sense her holiness and devotion to God and her love of Mary. She shared the story of how she “accidentally” met best-selling author Wayne Dwyer, which we all know that it was a “God-cidence,” who then knew her story had to be told. Her took her under his wing and helped her get her book published. She then accompanied him on one of his book tours with public TV.

    Here’s how she led by faith, which allowed God to lead the way in regards to her book. She writes, “I picked up the Yellow Pages and began looking for publishing houses in New York City, but I decided that it would be easier and faster to let God to the searching. I place the manuscript in a box beside my Bible and left the rest up to Him. As usual, I took out my rosary to pray — but in keeping with my new vocation, I picked up a pen and wrote this letter.

    Dear Lord,

    Thanks for helping me finish the manuscript. I hope it’s what you had in mind. But now that it’s done, You have to find someone to print it and then put it in the window display at Barnes & Noble. This is really Your story more than mine, and I’m looking forward to reading it it once You have made it into a book.

    Thank You again, God.

    Your loving daughter,


    I put the letter in an envelope, sealed it and placed it in the middle of the manuscript. Three days later, God introduced me to the man who get my book published – Wayne Dwyer.” Amazing, huh?!

    She is so humble and shared how she continues to let God guide her every step. During the time she was in the bathroom, she was forced to rely on God. She realized the power of putting her life in His hands was the only way to live. While it’s harder now that she has the distractions of life to deal with, she continues to lead her life by faith. I encourage you to check out her story and books. Click here. You’ll be inspired by her spirit and love for God.


    For more resources, see our Library topic Spirituality in the Workplace.


    Janae Bower is an inspirational speaker, award-winning author and training consultant. She founded Finding IT, a company that specializes in personal and professional development getting to the heart of what matters most. She started Project GratOtude, a movement to increase gratitude in people’s lives.