Leslie’s Story

Guyana, South America – On November 18, 1978 in a remote jungle settlement named Jonestown, 918 United States citizens died in a suicide-massacre. An estimated 93% of those who died were African American. It was the largest number of civilian lives lost in the United States’. This included United States Congressman Leo Ryan and his entourage. His assassination marked the first and only death of a U.S. Congressman in the history of the United States. After surviving sixteen months in the armed jungle compound and through daily prayer amongst a world of madness, I was then twenty one years old and was still able to hear Spirit of God.

The morning of November 18, 1978, I and nine others and escaped Jonestown walking thirty odd miles through the jungle. Strapped to my back was a 40-pound care package – my son, later to be known as the youngest survivor of Jonestown. After reaching a small outpost that night, we were told that Congressman Leo Ryan and four of his entourage had been assassinated along with a Temple defector. Within the next two days I would be told that all of the residents of Jonestown had died, including my husband, mother, brother, sister, niece, nephew, sister in law, brother in law and friends I had grown up and loved since the age of 13.

After Jonestown, I returned to the U.S. under a veil of secrecy in fear of the death squads, and fought to maintain my faith, even in my darkest hours; suffering Post Traumatic Stress, survivor’s guilt, drug addiction, a family suicide, redemption and finally forgiveness. All the while holding on to the only thing I knew was true-God. Finally after going through psychological and spiritual jungles, I have reached a place of remembrance “to live their love and not their deaths.” It is a blessing to be alive and I am forever grateful for each experience. If I have learned anything it is that we have the power and strength to choose the outcome of our lives. It is with this understanding that I committed myself to share my story of Faith, Love, and Forgiveness to inspire and encourage.

God Bless You,