Sierra Woodard: Pursuing a Passion for International Justice

Sierra

"At the end of the day, the proclamation of Christ is the core focus of my life," says DBU student Sierra Woodard. "Through each new experience I have become more and more enthralled in being Jesus to those who are oppressed, and those who are needing a second chance at life." For Sierra, knowing Christ means sharing in His compassion for the broken and to lift up those who are suffering injustice and oppression all over the world. "Christ poured out His mercy for us, when we were utterly undeserving, and gave us new life. Ever since I came to understand this and stand in the ocean of His mercy, I have wanted nothing more than to relay that mercy to other people."

Sierra's interest in international missions began in her youth. At the age of eleven she participated in her first mission trip to Guatemala and later moved with her family to India for three months to serve, returning there several times since. At the same time, these cultural experiences gave her an up-and-close view of unspeakable poverty and human suffering, developing within her a passion to learn how her faith could be put to work in the law field and help bring transformation.

After graduating from DBU with a double major in Criminal Justice and Intercultural Studies, Sierra plans to attend law school. "I hope to be an asset to a legal team that intends to not only legally help, but also rehabilitate those stuck in human rights violations and global injustice." Speaking of how the international legal field needs the redeeming work of Christ, she says, "My faith drives me to take mercy, grace, and love into a field plagued by sin. I believe we are to reflect the attributes of Christ to everyone, including the oppressed."

In order to help bring more awareness to DBU about issues of global justice, Sierra serves as president of the campus chapter of the International Justice Mission (IJM). "I hope to see the organization become heavily involved with other student organizations on campus and form a partnership that would allow for us to work mutually together to further the advocacy of IJM. I also hope to see community form within the organization and with other organizations by implementing prayer groups and prayer partners."

Sierra views her DBU education not only as a privilege that is unavailable or excluded from many in the world, but as an opportunity to speak out for those who do not share our freedoms. "It seems fitting that we use the gift of our education and freedom to help those who may never get the chance to speak for themselves, by speaking with them and for them." Sierra welcomes those who have little or no knowledge of IJM or what they do but want to know more about becoming involved, and it is her hope that those who participate and attend IJM events will "leave with not only that knowledge, but with new friends to encourage them in their walk with Christ."

Currently, Sierra is gaining legal experience while interning for the City Prosecutors Office in her hometown of Quincy, Illinois, where she has been working on all types of cases, ranging from first-degree murder to child custody battles and traffic violations. Although her calling is ultimately international law, Sierra also believes that caring about global injustice starts with loving the person right in front of us every day. "Love them as Jesus would," she urges. "I think we would look a lot more like Jesus if we loved whoever was standing in front of us at any given moment as best we could."

Written by Dr. Michael Whiting

Dr. Michael Whiting is Assistant Professor of Christian History and Leadership at Dallas Baptist University.

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