UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

Rescuing Regina

Tale about a Congolese refugee shows the best and worst of human behaviour

By Debbie Cowling

Rescuing Regina:
The Battle to Save a Friend from Deportation and Death
By Josephe Marie Flynn
(Lawrence Hill Books) $29.99

Reading Rescuing Regina was like having a front-row seat inside someone else’s nightmare. The book tells the story of a courageous woman who escaped Congo in the 1990s after being tortured and raped because of her fight for democracy. Regina Bakala settled into a somewhat normal life in the United States, where she was reunited with her husband, David (also a victim of violence in Congo), and had two children.

After about 10 years in the United States, however, the pyjama-clad Regina was abruptly arrested at home one evening by immigration officials as her family looked on. Whisked off to prison, she faced deportation and its risk of death. The author, a tireless nun named Sister Josephe Marie Flynn who was also a friend and advocate of the family, describes what happens in Regina’s struggle for freedom.

Rescuing Regina is not an easy book to read emotionally. The story shows both the worst and the best of human behaviour, from the abuse and cruelty of the soldiers in Regina’s homeland to the loving compassion of those who volunteered their money and time to help her. My eyes were opened to the overwhelming frustration that Regina faced as she dealt with many levels of bureaucracy and the mismanagement of her case. But despite the difficult topic, the author provides some much-needed comic relief and wit throughout the pages.

Some books simply tell a story, but Rescuing Regina can change lives. The author includes a powerful quote from her pastoral minister, Mary Matestic: “All prophetic insight begins in grief, but it does not stay there. It moves to righteous anger, which seeks to change systems. It moves toward setting many captives free.” Let this book be the catalyst that results in many captives being set free.

Debbie Cowling lives in Cavan, Ont., and attends Dunsford United. 

Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!


Courtesy Aurora Coulthard

To those who said I'll only be respected as a minister because I'm pretty

by Aurora Coulthard

A young ministry student says Christians, both within and outside of the United Church, have discouraged her from following her call.

Promotional Image


Editor/publisher of The Observer, Jocelyn Bell.

Sharing a meal with friends is a radical act of gratitude

by Jocelyn Bell

"I’ve begun to consider that regardless of how I’m feeling on Thanksgiving Day, the very act of preparing and enjoying a feast is an expression of gratitude in and of itself."

Promotional Image


Meet beloved church cats Mable and Mouse

by Observer Staff

They're a fixture of Kirk United Church Centre in Edmonton.

Promotional Image


September 2018

Period poverty is a serious issue in Canada

by Angela Mombourquette

The high cost of menstrual products means many Canadians go without. Activists are seeing red.


October 2018

My church was literally dying, until we returned to prayer and confession

by Connie denBok

"No magic formulas. Just grace emerging through weakness."


October 2018

4 Canadians with disabilities on the challenges they've faced in the workforce

by Diane Peters

Of the 14 percent of people in Canada with a disability, only half are employed. Companies are losing out.

Promotional Image