“Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set my free. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me” Psalm 118:5-7
Facts are facts until there is a face, name and story to them. I’ve experienced this first hand the past few years as God has opened our eyes to see hurting people all over the world. There are hurting people in our neighborhood, in our churches, and in the third world country I’m currently visiting. We all have a story to tell, and everyone’s story is important. It doesn’t matter if we were born in Waco, Texas or Kigali, Rwanda. You matter, we matter. Your story and your life matters and your story is just waiting to be told. I’ve seen so much brokenness and pain the past few days, but I’ve also seen the other side of that pain – I’ve seen hope! Getting to know our Noonday seamstresses and IJM clients, I’ve seen restoration in progress, and I’ve seen the broken parts of peoples lives being turned into something beautiful. It’s my prayer that this week, you can see too. Even if you never get the opportunity to visit beautiful Rwanda, that you could see it through my lens.
This week, my heart has been stirred towards eradicating the everyday violence that is relentlessly threatening the poor. Everyday violence can mean anything from rape, trafficking, to police violence. As Gary Haugen writes in his latest book, The Locust Effect, “everyday violence is devastating the developing world and and undermining our efforts to end poverty.” This is a new concept that I am just starting to understand, and it’s blowing my mind y’all. Y’all know how passionate Stephen and I have become to bring clean water to people who have no access all over the world, and our desire to see every child who has no opportunity to get the education they deserve. But everyday violence is threatening those efforts! Education for girls is so important, but sexual assault in schools and as they walk on the way to school is one of the main barriers keeping girls from getting an education. If we give widows a micro loan to grow crops, but stronger people can take her land by force, that micro loan investment is made useless. Ending everyday violence is foundational to supporting other good investments like water, education and micro loans.
IJM‘s vision is to rescue thousands, protect millions, and prove that justice for the poor is possible. They are not only transforming lives (which they are!), but transforming entire justice systems. Their staff on the ground is 95% local leaders–leaders in their own countries making the justice system work for the weak and vulnerable around them (and they are amazing, yall!). My friend Jen did such a fabulous job explaining why these developing countries need a group like International Justice Mission and I’ld love it if you read her words here: http://jenhatmaker.com/blog/2014/07/17/are-you-taking-my-message
This week we had the opportunity to meet with a client of IJM, we’ll call her Jamie. Jamie’s story is one of great pain but truly she has risen from the ashes with the help of IJM. As she spoke of her after care workers at IJM around the lunch table, she said she “loved Bridgett and Barakka like she loves her parents”. Their work was not in vain. All in the same night, Jamie was sexually assaulted, locked in a house that was caught on fire, and in return lost both of her legs, and was outcasted from her community. NOW she is walking in freedom in her new prosthetic legs and has been received back into her family. The counseling she’s received from IJM, and personal relationships she’s formed with her after care workers have changed the trajectory of her life.
We don’t share Jamie’s story with you to exploit her, we share it so the work of IJM can continue. After a traditional Rwandan meal with Jamie, she wanted to make sure we are going to spread her message. It’s a joy and honor to share her message of raising from the ashes of everyday violence into a life of hope and freedom! Her message to you? She sends greetings, she wants you to know she is praying for you, and she is proud to be doing well in school and walking. This young girl now has hope of a bright future. She’s not a fact. She’s a real person, with a face, a name and a story. I tell you this story so you can see firsthand what the work of IJM is doing in Rwanda and in their 20 communities they work in across the world.
This is where I get excited, are you ready? Maybe because I’m a former non-profit fundraiser, but I love knowing ways that we can TANGIBLY get involved and help. Quite honestly, I thought because I don’t have thousands of dollars to give each month, I wouldn’t be of much support to IJM, but yesterday I learned about the easiest most amazing way for me and my family to get involved for the fight of justice. For a month gift of $24, IJM can show up 24 hours a day to bring rescue where it’s most urgently needed. Twenty four dollars, for the twenty four hours in a day. The exciting thing is, there is a conversation happening to bring good in the developing world through child sponsorship, medic an care and clean water efforts. The scary thing is, everyday violence is undermining all of these efforts. The good news is, justice can become a part of this global conversation – and it starts with becoming a freedom partner.
Our family personally, is on fire with the idea and grateful to have a way to be a part of the groundbreaking work of IJM all over the world. $24 might not sound like much, but IJM needs the investment to keep making change. It says to the millions of people suffering from everyday violence in developing countries across the world, “you matter! I see you. I care about you. YOU are not forgotten.”
what the heck are you waiting for?