Imagine searching for a dangerous rapist in a mega city – without a photograph.
When IJM Guatemala investigators finished gently sifting through the ugly memories of yet another traumatized little girl in Guatemala City, they were left with only one small detail to go on: a description of the suspect’s teeth.
In this city, fewer than 5% of people who commit sexual assaults will see any jail time; and in this case, the odds appeared even lower.
A description of a guy’s teeth was all we had.
But there’s something to be said about persevering when there’s statistically no chance of success. In fact, where we work, it’s the only way we see justice get done.
This particular suspect was rumored to work at a gas station. The plan was to check every gas station in Guatemala City, and then move to gas stations in nearby towns.
Methodically, vigilantly, relentlessly, our investigators searched for the suspect.
And, after four weeks, they had a breakthrough.
At yet another gas station, enduring what felt like another dead end, the gas station security guard came out to tell them to move their vehicle – and they noticed his teeth.
After weeks of seemingly hopeless searching, the IJM Guatemala team realized they had found their guy. And with more, careful, tedious work, this child rapist was properly arrested, convicted and taken off the streets
Everyone celebrated the dramatic end – the chance encounter that led to the positive identification of the suspect. The quick action of the police. The rush and flurry. The danger and suspense.
That’s the powerful, inspiring part of the story.
These are the types of moments that inspire folks to participate in God’s work of justice. We all want to be where the action is.
But the reality is that for every dramatic capture and for every high-profile win, there are untold days of invisible faithfulness and failure – of persevering, when the end of the story is unknown.
Persevering when it’s hard. Persevering when it’s boring.
For every victory in the courtroom, there are days of hearings that are postponed, once, twice, fifteen times. For every suspect arrested, there are days of false leads and dead ends. There is a gas station to check out with just a written description of a suspect in hand. And another. And another. And another.
For every heart-racing moment, there are hundreds of hours of patience-stretching tedium.
Being a part of God’s movement in our work, our homes and out in the world is a great privilege. And sometimes, we get to witness extraordinary moments. But between those glimpses of the miraculous is a mundane reality of daily faithfulness in the seemingly small details.
It’s in the trenches of the small stuff that miracles are born.
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