The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Restoring life

Lutheran-run Liberty Center helps survivors of torture win the struggle to survive

Louise's eyes reveal the sorrow she tries so hard to hide — from herself, from her 2-year-old son, from the world. She is a survivor of horrors she can't speak of, haunted by flashbacks and nightmares, left trembling by the sound of a siren outside her Philadelphia apartment.

Legally, she knows she is safe in the United States. She has political asylum and can't be forced to return to Liberia. But emotionally and spiritually, she struggles for absolute knowledge that never again will men in power beat her, brutalize her or murder another family member.

Never again will she become a victim of unimaginable suffering simply because she spoke out against the regime leaders who shot her brother as he bought food in the marketplace. His murder was a message to her stepfather, brother-in-law and uncle, well-known members of the opposition to Liberian President Charles Taylor's brutal regime.

For days she had to walk past her brother's body on her way to high school — police wouldn't allow her mother to bring the boy's body home. When her teacher asked what the students thought of Taylor, she was the only one who stood up and called him cruel and selfish.

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February issue


Embracing diversity