NYCUP Story: Liesel Zimmerman

When you support NYCUP, you're not just giving to a day of events, but you're investing in a lifetime of service. Check out Liesel Zimmerman's story as she sets out to law school with a mission to fight sex-trafficking inspired by her NYCUP Spring Break trip. 

"Our group gathered in front of a massage parlor and bowed our heads to pray for the women inside, likely victims of sexual exploitation. We had seen a dozen more places like it along our walk through Chinatown. With each storefront, it became more and more apparent that darkness existed behind their seemingly harmless façades. I had spent my Spring Break learning about social injustice through the New York City Urban Project, or NYCUP, a missions trip with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. We explored several issues over the course of the week, and I found the sessions on human trafficking to be particularly impactful. I became aware that it is much more prevalent than people realize, due to the secretive nature of the industry. Trafficking doesn’t just take place in New York City, but across the country and around the world. In view of this brokenness and injustice, I knew that I needed to act.

When I returned to campus at the State University of New York at Geneseo, I looked for ways to increase awareness for the issue. I used my platform as a Resident Assistant to create programming that educated residents about the pervasiveness and seriousness of human trafficking. As a Small Group Bible Study leader, I mobilized my Small Group members to join me in the fight. We led a fundraiser to draw attention to the issue and support Agape International Missions, an anti-trafficking organization based in Cambodia. The money we raised was used to rescue 3 girls from bondage and to provide them with care and resources to aid in their recuperation.

Though human trafficking stood out within my experience at NYCUP, several other pertinent issues were addressed over the course of the week, and have drastically changed the way I view the world. One such issue was that of poverty. I was trained in “Feed 500,” a program designed to care for the homeless. Each day, our teams were given food and water to take with us as we went to our assigned projects. When we came across a homeless individual, we would stop and offer them food. Not only that, but we would sit and talk with them, and treat them like human beings. In hearing their stories, my heart was broken by the circumstances that brought them to that position. We were able to feed and pray for 11 people over the course of two days, and we also gave them maps of resources within the city. Seeing the poverty and humanity of these people firsthand compounded my frustration at the injustice. It showed me that they are not just statistics, but individuals who have lives, families and aspirations.

The humanity of these statistics translated into our discussions about the plight of illegal immigrants. Due to a lack of documentation, these people are faced with exploitation in their search for jobs, food and shelter. Though I do not condone illegal immigration, I do recognize that they are human beings who deserve to be treated with dignity. Exploring this issue has piqued my interest in the field of Immigration Law.

The versatility of a Juris Doctorate makes it an invaluable asset. Though the field of Social Justice encompasses a wide range of issues, I know that I would be able to apply my law degree successfully to any of the preceding arenas, or a variety of other fields. Women enslaved in the sex trade are not able to defend themselves against the cruelty of their oppressors. The homeless individuals that I met did not have the resources and opportunities that I have been given. Those seeking citizenship in the United States need to be treated humanely while being held to the standards of citizenship. As stated in Proverbs 31: 8-9, I have been called to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” With a law degree and a career as an attorney, that is what I intend to do."

I'm so grateful for alumni like Liesel who desire to see real change happen by the power of Christ. You too can get on board with supporting NYCUP! Here’s an opportunity:

You may have heard that I’m running a marathon on February 22nd! I’m ready to run and here’s why: it’s my hope to raise $26,000 for the 26.2 miles in order to invest in the exciting work God is doing through NYCUP, specifically the LOGOFF movement. To learn more about this work, please click here

If you would like to give, please click here to make your donation! Thank you!