“And if you give yourself to the hungry; and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become like midday.” Isaiah 57:10
Imagine leaving everything behind, moving to a new country, and learning a foreign language.
That is exactly what married duo Miranda and Chris Rudd are doing.
Originally from Lufkin, the couple is currently preparing to move to Bolivia to work with the international organization Word Made Flesh Bolivia, a program “which seeks to find abundant life for those affected by prostitution,” Miranda said.
The first mission trip
It all started in the summer of 2014 when speakers came to the Rudd’s church at Harmony Hill Baptist Church and spoke about their newest commitment to La Paz, Bolivia. That day, church administrators signed a covenant with the speakers that they would send teams at least once a year for missionary work in Bolivia.
It was during that service that Chris said “I’ve never heard God more clearly” to serve a mission in the South America country.
“After the service I told her (Miranda), I think we’re moving to Bolivia,” he said. “We laughed it off and just thought we were excited about this first mission trip.”
It wasn’t until a year later in the fall of 2015 the duo was able to finally serve a week long mission trip in La Paz with others from their church. The group joined other missionaries and assisted in putting together a “Spiritual Emphasis Week,” an annual event at Highlands International School, much like Vacation Bible School, Miranda said.
During the week, Chris assisted in leading praise every morning for the older children and led a group of teenage boys in discussions, while Miranda helped lead the younger children during various activities.
“The whole week we were there, it felt so comfortable to be there. Obviously, you could see the differences between Bolivia and America, but it was really comfortable,” Miranda said. “At the end of the night…you would literally walk through a flat city, you’re in poverty in a way we don’t really experience here in America, but at the same time you’re looking out at the city that is home to three plus million people and beyond that you’re looking at mountains. There is something that is so beautiful and comforting about it. …I just feel that it resonated with the both of us; it just feels like home now.”
Working with Word Made Flesh Bolivia
During that first mission trip, near the end of the week, the church group visited the office of Word Made Flesh Bolivia, and they also participated in a walk through the Red Light District. They walked through brothels and saw areas where underage girls were taken. Businesses advertised with signs that said “free Wi-Fi, cable, or clean bathrooms,” but in reality they were selling sex,” Miranda said.
The couple realized more than ever the work that needed to happen in Bolivia and they wanted to be a part of it.
“The majority of the women have seen and lived through stuff most of us thankfully never will have to, and I think to truly recover from the trauma they have all experienced and to accept and love their selves, they need the healing and restoration only Christ can bring to you,” Miranda said. “I feel only Christ can restore them to the beautiful women he created them to be and restore that sense of hope in them and to help them love their selves more.”
The married couple stayed in separate living quarters during their first trip. Miranda stayed in the home of the director of Word Made Flesh, who later invited Miranda and Chris to “come work with us.”
So, the couple applied for internships with the international organization and returned to Bolivia in February 2016. For 109 days, until June, the couple worked and lived there.
During that time, Chris said it only confirmed “more that Bolivia is the place for us.”
“Our first two weeks of our internship were our last two weeks of a course online – the perspective missionary course. During that time we had to write our final project, which was like a 10-page essay, and in doing that I looked up the statistics, and the tragedies these women are going through,” Chris said. “Nine out of 10 of these women have been abused physically, emotionally, or sexually at some point in their lives. Rape and abuse are common in the field. I think the statistic is, a man is more likely to slip, fall, and die in the shower than he is to be convicted and punished for committing a crime against these women. There is no system in place to protect them.
“And it hit me, when I was talking to our director and getting these specifics – it’s not about statistics, it’s about faces. These are their friends who are coming into the ministry; they’re seeing them almost on a daily basis, they know these women,” he continued. ”And I had to stop, close my computer, and just step away from it. I think I wrote a journal entry to process through it. That’s really when it clicked that I needed to be here and do something to help, to try at least.”
The couple then knew they needed to make a commitment to serve in Bolivia, and not only serve but live there.
“It’s weird to say home now, does that mean Texas or does that mean Bolivia,” Miranda said. “It’s an odd feeling.”
Leaving jobs and families behind in Texas, the couple has decided to make a three-year commitment with Word Made Flesh as missionaries. They will not get paid for their service, so they are currently working on earning enough money to fund their mission trip. Once they have enough saved for one year, they will be able to schedule their departure date for their move.
“It’s been a huge exercise in patience; it’s been a really good teaching time that it’s not in our timing. It’s in God’s timing,” Chris said. “It’s not easy to let go of control of that; no matter how much I know that this is what I’m supposed to do. It doesn’t make it any easier. We’re learning to let go.”
Even though it will be difficult to leave family and friends, including not being there for birthdays and graduations, the duo knows Bolivia is where they need to be.
“God has done everything for me. Why would I not want to want to do the littlest things for him?” Miranda said. “He could send us to some crazy place where we wouldn’t be happy, even with that, he is sending us to Bolivia where we have gone and experienced the community there and how beautiful it is there and how wonderful the country is. Even in his calling for us to walk with him and to work with him, he is still fulfilling our desires. He’s still giving us this beautiful place we love and people we love. That kind of faithfulness he displays in us and his desires to just love us, it’s hard to not be obedient to that and honor that.”
To learn more about the Rudds or to partner with them as they serve in Bolivia, visit discoveringpurpose.net.
- Megan Whitworth is the former creative director of Texas Forest Country Living. Growing up in East Texas, Megan discovered her love of writing at the age of 11, writing song lyrics and poetry, which turned into essays and articles for publications around East Texas. She later added photography into the mix capturing Friday night football games, the latest fashion looks, and portraits of people around the nation. Megan enjoys karaoke, blogging, reading, and road trips. She resides in Lufkin with her husband, Ryan, and two cats, Felix and Lucy.