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You’ve probably noticed that over the past month of being here in Bolivia, I haven’t written much about Bolivia itself. Well, that’s because it’s taken me some time to bring myself to write this post. To be honest, it has been difficult to wrap my head around what I’m doing here. Our work at IJM is tough.

During my first week at work, I was walking through the office and caught a glimpse of a young girl and her mother sitting in the waiting room. She couldn’t have been but eight years old. This sweet young girl is one of our clients— a victim of sexual violence here in Bolivia.

It stopped me dead in my tracks. As I walked by again, I lingered and her eyes met mine.

She is no longer a number. 

She is no longer just a pseudonym in a prayer email, or a beneficiary of my non-profit donation.

I cannot fathom the sheer terror that she has experienced. It is all hidden behind those beautiful brown eyes.

A couple days later, a young boy was in the front room of the office. At first I thought maybe he was one of our staff member’s sons, but then I quickly remembered— that is not what he is here for.

He was also a victim. The next day was this sweet boy’s 6th birthday. 

These “victims,” they are flesh and blood. Living and breathing. They have moms and dads. Sisters and brothers. They like to watch cartoons and play with puzzles. They like to build towers out of blocks and then knock them down, giggling with delight.

And then I have flashes of terror— back alleyways, screams heard by no one, clothing torn, the darkness pressing in. And then, a lifetime of nightmares.

I think of what these children have been through… But then I have to stop myself. It is almost too much.

They don’t have that choice. They can’t just stop thinking about it and then move on with their life. This is their life. 

And I realize that I have the choice to walk away. I don’t have to expose myself to this darkness. I don’t have to entangle my life with this mess. I could just as easily walk away.

But then I think of Jesus, and how He entered into this messy world. He didn’t have to. He could have stayed at the right hand of the Father, never having to dirty a finger to the earth for an adulteress, or the hem of His cloak with the unclean hand of a woman.

I think of Him bending down, rolling up His sleeves, and gently washing His best friends’ feet. I think of Him beckoning the little children, because theirs is the Kingdom. I think of Him healing a leper, giving sight to blind man. When He could have remained in pristine perfection, He chose to “empty Himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness” (Philippians 2:7).

I think of Jesus choosing to stay, when He could have fled. I think of Him committing to 30 or so years of life here on earth, when He could have just as easily chosen Heaven. Instead of choosing comfort and freedom, He chose to limit Himself to a humble carpenter. Instead of choosing the easy way, He chose the cross.

I think of my Jesus, my sweet Savior, and the mess of this world that He willingly chose to enter. And then I too, choose to stay.