Before you sit down to read “Tested to the Limit: A Genocide Survivor’s Story of Pain, Resilience and Hope,” (Balboa Press, 218 pages, $15.99), make sure you are in a positive frame of mind.
This book is a grim reminder of an extremely sad chapter in the world’s history that, if you are not prepared, could definitely further depress you–the genocide committed on the Tutsi people in Rwanda.
But amazingly, what you will continue to marvel at as you continue to read this story, written by Consolee Nishimwe, who was only 14 years old at the time, is the lack of animosity or hatred that her surviving family seems to feel toward the Hutu (known as “the killers”) who senselessly decimated the Tutsi ranks.
But there is a reason for that. Throughout the entire horrible ordeal Nishimwe, her mother, aunt, sister and cousin focused on praying to God and asking him to spare them. The faith that God would put people in place who would help them survive sustained them through the killing of Nishimwe’s father, and three younger brothers, including 18-month-old Bon-Fil. It even sustained her through the violent loss of her own innocence and the discovery that she had been infected with HIV/AIDS.
Even at the end of their ordeal, Nishimwe and her family, did not seem to harbor bitterness that the world seemed to have forgotten their plight, and that the French soldiers who came, initially arrived to help the “the killers” flee the country, after Tutsi forces returned to stop the carnage.
As you continue to read, the book shows that their faith was rewarded with survival. Additionally, although there were no real resources to help the Tutsi cope with the aftermath of the tragedy, Nishimwe’s family, particularly her mother, were able to reach deep within themselves–past the hurt, anger and horror–to find the tools to begin the self-healing process. They even learned how to share that with others.
While the circumstances that “Tested to the Limit” details are disheartening and tragic, the outcome reaffirms the power of unwavering faith in God. One caveat, it would have been nice to add some historic context about how the conflict between the tribes began.