The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked advance against me
to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.
One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.
Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the Lord.
Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, I will seek.
Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
God my Savior.
Though my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will receive me.
Teach me your way, Lord;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.
Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
spouting malicious accusations.
I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
The vision of WMF Bolivia is to seek abundant life for those affected by prostitution. Since 2001 our staff has been a tangible presence in the red-light district and among our sexually exploited friends. Over the years our staff team has grown and our outreach efforts have increased exponentially, but the daily ministry challenges are much the same. Walking among prostituted women is a very heavy burden – listening to the many accounts of abuse and poverty and attempting to carry our friends’ stories with compassion and grace, all while trying to maintain a posture of hope and light in the face of great darkness and destruction.
The staff of WMF Bolivia is currently comprised of 24 very brave and beautiful, yet very human people. While ministry can be mundane and monotonous as with any job, seemingly out of nowhere the weight of ministry among the sexually exploited can weigh down on our staff like a ton of bricks. The darkness is thick, the challenges overwhelming, and the once great hope we held is very nearly snuffed out completely. It’s because of this very real threat of vicarious trauma and total burnout I am so grateful that WMF as a mission has always recognized the need to care for our staff. The area of Community Care exists because we know our efforts of sharing Christ’s love with our friends in prostitution will always fall short if we neglect our own need for abundant life in Christ. While we seek wholeness for our staff on every level, this holistic wellbeing begins and ends in our relationship with Christ.
In this season I have grown to love Psalm 27, as it shows David’s tangible struggle to hold on to hope in the face of great hardship. David is acutely aware of the darkness surrounding him, yet rather than wallowing in the hopelessness of his situation, he is determined to remember the goodness of the Lord and his eternal promise to be present with his people.
Do not let me fall into their hands.
For they accuse me of things I’ve never done;
with every breath they threaten me with violence.
Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness
while I am here in the land of the living.
In community, our only hope of withstanding the burden of ministry is to maintain the conviction that God is with us, that He is our refuge, and that the Holy Spirit advocates for us before our many adversaries. Our community clings to this hope through staff retreats, weekly devotionals, days of communal fasting, personal retreat days, and ministry accountability partners. This year, as we renovated our ministry center, we discerned whether or not to keep a designated chapel space for our staff. Our coordinators team decided the chapel was a sacred room that we couldn’t sacrifice amidst the many other demands for space. While it’s hard to find times of solitude and prayer in the daily chaos of ministry activities, our staff knows the chapel is a sacred space that’s always available when they need to seek God’s face and remember his constant presence and protection.
Hear me as I pray, O Lord.
Be merciful and answer me!
My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” Psalm 27:7-8
It’s clear to me that as a community and as an entire mission, our only hope of continuing in ministry among the vulnerable is to constantly pursue intimacy with our Father. May this sweet intimacy with our Heavenly Father be the yearning of our hearts and our highest ministry calling.
Ali has served with WMF Bolivia since 2013. She married her Bolivian husband in 2017 and they are expecting their first child any day now. They are excited and freaked out about trying to be the best parents possible. They find great hope in this promise, “Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.” Psalm 27:10
Connect with Ali: firstname.lastname@example.org