Published by IVP on September 22, 2020
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life, Memoir
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As a freelance filmmaker, Nikole Lim's career allowed her to step in and out of the lives of marginalized people around the world. But when confronted with the prevalence of sexual violence in Kenyan and Zambian communities, she commits to advocating alongside the courageous survivors whose lives have intersected with hers. These women's powerful stories inspire her to embark on a new vocation, partnering with survivors of sexual violence to launch a nonprofit organization that equips women to lead through the rewritten stories of their lives. But as Lim seeks to help her friends experience healing and liberation, her perspective is altered. Spiritually depleted, she finds herself ministered to by the women she came to serve--the once oppressed become her liberators. Illustrated with dramatic full-color photography from Lim's own camera, Liberation Is Here transports us to forgotten corners of the world. From the slums of Nairobi, hospitals of Lusaka, killing fields of Kigali, and the back alleys of Barcelona, Lim weaves together a narrative of God's grace and healing amid fear and trauma. Her journey proves that liberation is not just near, but it is here--in the eyes of the broken, the hearts of the oppressed, and the untold stories of our global community.
If I had to provide a review of Liberation is Here and convince you read Nikole Lim’s powerfully visual and poetic story of seeking justice and finding hope amid the world’s brokenness, it would be these lines:
All of my life, I was taught that the anger I carried needed to be suppressed. But perhaps anger is not a deadly sin, nor is it the enemy of love. Rather, it is the heart of love showing deep desire for justice through a visceral reaction in the body.
If anger is doing the work of love, then I must allow myself to feel.
To feel anger that causes my bones to shake and my voice to raise.
To feel anger that prepares my heart and mind for a long fight.
To feel anger toward unjust systems that cater toward the privileged.
To feel anger at the sexism of our world that sees women only as objects of exploitation.
To feel anger that women are not safe, even in our own bodies.
To feel anger that does not inflict violence on self or others, but
To feel anger that will allow myself to feel something else: the expansion of my heart.
This sentiment, as well as the story that came before it resonated with me so deeply. In my fight for justice, I’ve been called angry and pessimistic. I’ve lost friends (but made new ones). Bridges have burned. And I’ve struggled with that anger and settled it within myself that—while I must always moderate my expression—my anger over injustice is love. My anger over injustice is just. To hear Nikole Lim say the same was liberating.
Liberation is Here is the story of three African women, all of them victims of sexual assault, and their journeys of survival, redemption, and leadership. Lim is an active participant in the stories, but they are the main characters. She is the thread that weaves these storylines together. It is her efforts, her friendship, her funds, and, eventually, her organization that sheds light on these stories and gives them the means to move forward.
You end up caught in the story of a young activist learning as she goes, doing her best, loving and being loved, outraged and unable to do much about it—but doing everything she could. You see how that conviction grows a movement, gains partners, and becomes a way of life.
*tw: Rape and sexual assault
You also end up in the stories of three different women whose stories are similar, yet unique, and yet unfortunately common. Stories of rape and sexual assault are told plainly—never gratuitously, but never shying away from the end result of poverty, violence, and male-domination. But through the devastation, you see where hope lies. In the shared meals, in the shared lives, in the shared conversations. You see how education and enough money to care for daily needs changes one’s outlook on life. You are challenged to see how it is the systems, not just the individuals within those systems that need to be changed.
Lim’s storytelling—both pictorially and verbally—is stunning. She brings a human face and human emotions to unfeeling and uncaring statistics of nations half a world away that the average American has difficulty seeing. Lim is clear that the solutions are sociopolitical and institutional, but also personal and relational. Her stories highlight the very worst of human sinfulness, but also the very best of human hope.
Liberation is Here is transformative. It invites us into the brokenness, not to be its healers or saviors, but truly into the brokenness to bear the burden of the broken and in this way fulfill the law of Christ.