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Law grad wages battle against world slavery

Sept. 18, 2003

By Liz Groh, reporter

Driven to act upon what she calls the 'unfamiliar passions of God,' Shannon Sedgwick travels the world changing - and often saving - lives of the victimized.

Sedgwick, director of public affairs for the International Justice Mission, explained these 'unfamiliar passions of God' to her Chapel audience Wednesday, quoting Isaiah 1:17: 'Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.' (NIV)

Sedgwick, a graduate of Baylor School of Law, left her position as a trial lawyer with a Dallas law firm to join the International Justice Mission, where she has worked to stop human rights violations around the world.

A Christian organization, IJM is comprised of lawyers and law enforcement officials dedicated to saving innocent people from slavery and child prostitution. IJM also works to bring medical care, food and shelter to those in need.

Sedgwick recently organized IJM's participation in the President's White House Conference on Missing and Exploited Children.

At Chapel, students learned that UNICEF estimates 10 million children in southern India alone suffer in slavery.

'We, you and I, are God's plan for seeking justice,' Sedgwick told students.

Sedgwick stressed that her passion to show the afflicted of the world that 'God is good.' Quoting Micah 6:8, she said. ' ... what does the lord require of you? To act justly and love mercy ...'

Sedgwick also challenged students to 'step forward' and share what God has given them. The Center for Christian Ethics Web site said Sedgwick is 'humbled and fascinated' by the 'divine opportunity to bring justice to so many suffering and dying around the world.'

'Shannon is using her law degree for the cause of Christ around the world, and she can show students how they too can serve this way,' Justin Adair, graduate assistant for university ministries, said.

The faces of afflicted children in India and Cambodia flashed across the screen as Sedgwick told of the hardships and injustices they endured.

Students saw pictures of 5- and 6-year-old girls who Sedgwick and IJM worked to save from prostitution.

'It hurts my heart to see that,' Chamine Burton, a Longview senior, said.

As Sedgwick described atrocities girls endured - forced to service as many as 15 different men a night - she delighted in the fact that she was able to help save them.

'It was the closest I have ever come to seeing my savior face-to-face,' she said.

Sedgwick's service for people in developmental countries inspired others as well.

'It's really inspirational to see someone who has not only dedicated her life to Christ but to justice as well,' Burton said.

Sedgwick urged students to take up the crusade to help despairing people of this 'messy, chaotic world.' She assured students that they can be heros and that they can make a difference.

'God is making his appeal to the world through us,' Sedgwick said. 'Sometimes, in the business of living, we lose sight of the business of life.'