The easiest way to making change in the world is through the law, or at least that is what Lilian thought. However, the Lord showed Lilian Ibarra* throughout her college career just how many different ways she could make an impact on society.
After becoming a believer in high school, Ibarra headed to the University of Texas at Austin where she planned on studying to eventually becoming a federal judge. As a college freshman, she was the youngest fellow in the state office where she worked, and although her experiences there were substantial and educational, is was at school that she saw great potential when she decided to join the on-campus Baptist Student Ministry.
"From the get-go I could see that missions is one of their biggest passions," Ibarra said. "A name commonly thrown around was Go Now. I honestly was intrigued because of the traveling and just the challenge it would be."
Go Now Missions, a ministry of Texas Baptists, creates opportunities for college students to travel and share the love of Christ around the world. Ibarra left her summer internship to travel as a Go Now missionary to Laredo, Texas, where she helped a church plant and where she gained experience in women's ministry, helping out a Christian Life center that counseled women wanting an abortion or women that had already aborted.
"That summer just showed me how much God loved me and His call for me to share His love to others," she said. "I left and returned to UT with a vision. I wanted everyone around me to hear of this love and Savior."
Ibarra spent the semester working in a state office at the capitol, and the following summer, she was able to take off again and serve through Go Now Missions in Southeast Asia where she took up an interest and deep concern for human trafficking. Working in the red light district, she became determined to invest her time and research further into human trafficking, and she took the passion she acquired for the fight against human trafficking home with her.
She then began studying human rights and human trafficking under an honorable professor, soaking up as much information about the matter as possible, and she was transferred to a different legal office because of this passion. Here, as she saw the work being done to fight trafficking in Texas, she realized that the law could only go so far.
A final trip with Go Now Missions led her to service in a safe house in South Asia where she worked one-on-one with victims of human trafficking in the area.
"This just revolutionized me immensely," Ibarra said. "I saw 10 out the 17 receive Jesus and their lives be fully transformed in a summer. I remember that summer saying with tears, 'God I'm all in.'"
Ibarra quit her internship at the capitol and followed God's call to help those in need as she had during her summers with Go Now Missions. She moved back into the dorms on campus, evangelizing and supporting young women, several of whom eventually came to know Christ. After turning down a full-time career, Ibarra decided to become a campus missionary intern and a Journeyman through the International Mission Board for two years, and she hopes to continue to fight human trafficking and share the love of Jesus through missions in Southern Asia and eventually return to her passion in law.
"My experiences throughout college have taught me that no real change happens without Jesus," she said. "Justice without Jesus isn't justice. My summers allowed me to learn how to start listening to the Holy Spirit and follow His lead."
Ibarra's ambition has allowed her to broaden her interests from learning about law and justice, to practicing it and then taking action where the Lord lead her to. Through God's will and Ibarra's passion and Go Now Missions, many lives in Texas and around the world have been changed already.
"I know I could have gotten to where I'm at spiritually eventually, because God is good, but Go Now made it easier and simple," she said. "Following God is simple. It's hard for us, but it's simple. Go Now allowed my walk to be simple. It was definitely hard but it was simple and for that I am truly grateful."
*Name has been changed
Olivia Williams, a journalism student from Baylor, is currently serving as a joint Communications Intern for both the Baptist Standard and the Texas Baptists.
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