La Paz, Bolivia, is a vibrant city full of colorful textiles, bustling streets, craggy mountainsides, and a rich culture. A city contrasted by high rises and shanty towns. A city pulsing with light and darkness.
There is a dark underbelly to life in La Paz: the plague of sexual violence that runs rampant throughout this beautiful city. Sadly, a man is more likely to slip and die in the shower than be convicted of a crime of sexual violence.
Something is terribly wrong, and International Justice Mission is trying to do something about it. That’s why I’m here. I am spending a year working for IJM, a nonprofit organization that seeks to free the poor from injustice.
I serve as the assistant to the investigations and church mobilization teams, so I am exposed to the light and the darkness of our work every day. It is the job of the investigations teams to know the perpetrators whom we are pursuing. We must know their names, their faces, their jobs—every detail about them. Unfortunately, that means knowing the nature of their crimes too.
On the other hand, my work with the church mobilization department shows me the hope that’s nestled into this city. The body of Christ is here and thriving. There are people who deeply care for this broken city and want to be part of God’s kingdom coming.
There is not one way to fix this problem of sexual violence—change must come from a holistic, patient, and dedicated approach. Like a gardener tending to a plot of land, we must walk with tenderness, remove weeds with discernment, and plant new life with purpose.