The International Christian Alliance on Prostitution (ICAP) unites, equips and empowers practitioners and advocates who compassionately challenge injustice and offer freedom to people exploited by prostitution, including sex trafficking. In Bolivia, our field works to provide abundant life to those affected by prostitution. Andrea Baker, WMF Bolivia Field Director, attended the 2017 ICAP Conference in May. The following is her reflection on the experience.
As soon as I arrived, I became an emotional wreck for days, feeling the tears well up inside me at any given moment and for no explainable reason. After a sob therapy session, I took some time in the prayer room to quietly reflect – tried to breathe deeply, to quiet my body and mind that had been racing in preparation for this trip.
I began to walk the labyrinth in the center of the room, slowly following the lines set before me.
And as I walked….I realized how very alone I feel.
Although we have friends and family, cheerleaders, all around the world, as well as a beautiful community immediately around us, this life is one where few can fully relate. As a Christian, a missionary, a leader, a woman, a mother… I don´t completely or neatly fit into any one of those groups, and that realization is disheartening sometimes.
So I walked “my line” carefully placing one foot slowly in front of the other. In my peripheral vision, parallel lines came into view on either side of me. And it occurred to me, “I’m really not the only one here. There are others walking a similar path and we’re in this together!”
Throughout the week, we were invited to collaborate in a piece of art. Broken pieces of colored glass, individually placed but then united to form a beautiful reflection of this community. The mosaic we created balances the brokenness and beauty that we collectively hold, shows the undercurrents of the movement of the Spirit in the midst of the darkness we see, and manifests the glorious beauty that transpires when we allow Light to shine through us, together.
ICAP was for me, a safe, sacred space, a group where I felt deeply understood. And thus, the tears fell. Tears of gratitude. Tears because I no longer felt like I needed to be strong. There I found fellow sojourners who shared the same battle scars and longings for the future, friends with similar dreams, fears and frustrations too.
Each of us has a special journey to which we are called. And I doubt I´m the only one who feels isolated at times. But maybe someday when we step back and can see the whole masterpiece, we´ll stand in awe of each one´s contribution to the beautiful whole.
In 1994, Andrea traveled to Bolivia on her first overseas mission trip. There she discovered a passion for missions and a heart for the poor. Following this, she and her husband, Andy, traveled on various short-term trips to China and throughout Latin America. In 2001, they moved to El Alto, Bolivia with Word Made Flesh to begin their service among the poor, focusing on women in prostitution. Andrea is the Field Director of WMF-Bolivia where she lives with her husband and four sons.
Connect with Andrea: firstname.lastname@example.org