Liberation is Here

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.

Dear Liberation is Here,

Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for highlighting and empowering those who have been silenced to speak up. Lastly, thank you for sharing the voices around the world of women who are taking a stand against sexual violence.

With Love,

P.S. Trigger Warning: Sexual assault

As a social worker who has a certificate in Counseling Sexual Assault Survivors, this book hit home. While it is the story of a non-profit, Freely in Hope, starting, Nikole Lim beautifully ties in the stories of the survivors who lead in her organization. Freely in Hope’s mission is: “Equipping survivors and advocates to lead in ending sexual violence.” And the story she tells stays true to exactly that.

Ascetically, “Liberation is Here” is a gorgeous book. Since the author is also a filmmaker and photographer, her pictures are highlighted in the book, and… oh. my. goodness! It really added to the book. I would stop and marvel at every photograph.

One thing I really appreciated about Lim’s writing and storytelling, was her humility. “As a filmmaker, I sometimes try so hard to be a voice for the voiceless that I forget that they already have a voice; I’m just not listening” (p 64). She admitted when she didn’t know something, or how she grew. She spoke about her own experience and learning to hold the stories she hears. This made me connect with her as a sort of guide through the story. She easily brings in the reader and makes us lean in, eager to learn more about the story. Through my own education, I have learned the power of language. Even something as simple as changing rape “victim” to a “survivor”. At Freely in Hope, they call their participants “scholars”. I love the intentionality of this, because through this simple word, a person’s whole identity is altered. She explains it so well through her eyes and the eyes of the women whose stories she is sharing.

I won’t lie to you, this book is difficult to read during sections (because of the intense emotions surrounding the hurt of sexual assault). Yet, Lim does something incredible. During the intense brokenness and hardship she is sharing, she emphasizes and highlights the resiliency of these women (without dishonoring or skating over their stories). Lim goes beyond what happened and highlights the beauty that rose from the ashes. I really appreciated her framing of the stories, because it felt like it honored the scholars.

This review would be incomplete is I didn’t mention the stories of the scholars: Nekesa, Mara-Anne, Mubanga, Amani, Ruby, and so many more. These women are incredible, strong, and vulnerable. As a reader, we have the privileged to enter into the household of these women and hear their stories told. These women are authentic and real about what is going on, and their healing process. All have an innate drive to pursue something great, provide for their families, and be an inspiration to others in their community.

If nothing else, I would really encourage you to at least look at Freely in Hope’s website. The book is being released on September 22, 2020 and they are having a little online party on September 26, so if you are interested, you can register or learn more here. Honestly, this is probably one of the best books I have read this year. It is definitely one I will reflect on past posting this, and one I will recommend/share. If you are interested in seeing the lives of others, hearing about a pervasive social issue around the wold, and the inspiring stories of resilience and action, I highly, highly recommend this book.

Lim writes a question, “What are you going to do about it?” Her it was supporting women get an education and end sexual assault. As I left this book, I felt challenged with the same question. Only, I am starting at another end, what is my it? What am I going to do about the passions in me, the social issues I want to stand against, and so on. I believe each of us can be change makers, we just have to take the first step.

“But liberation comes as the heart expands, allowing pain and job, grief and hope, brokenness and beauty to coexist. Liberation comes as we recognize our shared humanity, and how dignity cannot be taken away by poverty, violence, or oppression, but it is an inherent gift from God. liberation cones in the collective pursuit of justice, moving the power of my leadership into the hands of those who have been liberated” (p 167-168).

Release Date: September 22, 2020
Thank you to the publisher for providing me with this ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

GoodReads | Book Page | Freely in Hope


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