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Meet Madisson Barnett, President of IJM: App State

Name: Madisson Barnett

Hometown: Elizabethton, Tennessee

Year: Senior (Graduating December 2013)

Major:  International and Comparative Politics (Spanish Minor)


Q: So, tell me about IJM.

 A: International Justice Mission is an international human rights agency that works to bring rescue to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. They’re headquartered in Washington, D.C. but have 15 field offices in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. IJM employs investigators, lawyers, and social workers, usually natives of the country they’re doing work in, and partners with local authorities to intervene in individual cases of abuse. Not only do they investigate and prosecute perpetrators, they also employ aftercare professionals to help victims rehabilitate and work to promote rule of law in these developing countries (rule of law = making sure the laws are legitimate and enforced!). As a campus chapter, IJM:App State exists to raise awareness of the realities of modern-day slavery, educate our peers, and fundraise for the International Justice Mission.

Q: What’s your first memory of hearing about IJM?

 A: I first heard of IJM my freshman year at Appalachian, so in either 2009 or 2012 – I can’t remember which semester! A speaker from IJMHQ came to I.G. Greer and a friend invited me. IJM has been on my radar ever since, but I didn’t take action or get involved until the Summer of 2011.

Q: What made you want to get involved?

 A: When I first heard that there are more slaves today than at any other time in history, I was shocked. Sometimes it’s difficult to believe that such horrific things occur, but I never want to be a person who lives in comfortable ignorance of hard realities. As a Christian, I believe that God, by his grace, uses his people to fulfill his eternal purposes. I know that the injustice that IJM works to end break God’s heart. For that reason, I pray they’ll always break my heart. My life may be one tiny dot on the timeline of eternity, but I want to use my time, energy, and whatever skills I may possess in this way: “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” (Isaiah 1:17)

Q: Would you consider this one of your passions?

 A: Absolutely. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what you’re passionate about – I think a really simple way to define your passions are to ask yourself, “What makes your heart beat fast?” Every time I watch a new documentary, read a new statistic, or learn anything new that deals with issues of violent oppression, it fires me up. I would love to pursue a career in international human rights.


Q: Can you explain what IJM does at ASU and around the world to help end slavery?

 A: Many young people are passionate about ending modern-day slavery. However, as college students, it can sometimes to be difficult to know how to make a difference. Obviously, not everyone can fly to Cambodia and literally remove girls from brothels, but there is plenty we can do. IJM:App State is all about educating our campus on the realities of modern day slavery and supporting IJMHQ both financially and by empowering students to use their voice. I believe (and IJM’s stud

ent mobilization department also believes!) that the college years are a perfect time to engage people in work against injustice. Earlier this year, IJM founder, Gary Haugen, along with Louie Giglio, delivered over 73,000 signatures to the White House asking President Obama to give an Executive Order to end slavery in U.S. government overseas contracts. This action was largely fueled by the IJM Student Movement, and was answered on September 25th when the President gave his first major address on human trafficking and announced the Executive Order. Kaity Ruhland, a May 2012 graduate of Appalachian and co-founder of IJM: App State, was invited to the President’s speech and was able to meet President Obama as a representative of the IJM Student Movement. THAT is what students can do with their voice. Amazing. Also, it’s just true that work to end slavery costs money. The average rescue mission for one enslaved individual costs about $4,500. Therefore, any funds we can raise in support of IJM casework is a big help!

Q: What do you wish other people knew about IJM?

A: One thing I really love about IJM is their four-fold purpose. Their first priority is immediate relief for the victim of the abuse being committed. However, they don’t stop there! IJM also seeks to make sure perpetrators are held accountable in local justice systems – that they rightly pay the consequences of their abuse. Thirdly, they work with local aftercare professionals to help victims rebuild their lives and address complex physical and emotional needs that are a result of abuse. Finally, they work to strengthen local judicial systems to prevent future crimes from being committed. I think all of these steps are vitally important and love the well-rounded approach they have that supports sustainability in these developing nations.

Q: Have you ever gotten to meet anyone set free through IJM?

 A: I have not. IJM works internationally, and victims that are rescued find freedom in their home countries and hopefully have a family or loved ones to return to. It would be an honor to have this opportunity one day!


Q: What is your favorite thing about being a part of this organization?

 A: I love seeing students selflessly committing themselves to a cause that is so much bigger than themselves, and often very difficult to dwell on/face on a daily basis. It takes courage. Some of the people on our leadership team absolutely blow me away with their energy and passion. It really is inspiring. It’s also awesome to be an IJM Prayer Partner – anyone can sign up, and they send you specific things to pray for pertaining to their work around the world. We’ll pray about something for months, and often receive e-mail that our prayers have been answered; that justice has been done in the situation we’ve been praying for specifically. It is a great feeling and something that unites IJM workers and IJM supporters all around the world in a really powerful way.

Q: If you could sum up IJM in one sentence, what would it be?

 A: “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” (Isaiah 1:17)

Q: How would someone go about getting involved with IJM?

 A: As far as our campus chapter goes, we are always taking new members! Our meetings are every other Monday at 7:00PM. We’re currently in Anne Belk 011, but will be back in MacRae Peak in the Student Union when construction is finished next semester. If you’d like to join our e-mail list, just shoot an e-mail to ijmappstate@gmail.com and let us know! You can also find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ijmappstate and Twitter @ijmappstate. We welcome people of all levels of involvement – as stated above, anyone can start coming to our meetings at any time and we’ll have officer elections for next year at the end of the Spring semester.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

 A: No, just thanks so much for the opportunity to do this interview!


Laura Maddox is a Senior at Appalachian State University. Laura was born and raised in Charlotte, NC but loves the mountain air in Boone. She is one of four kids and has an identical twin sister. Laura enjoys reading, fashion, blogging, traveling, chocolate, lots of coffee and riding in the car with the windows down. She has a knack for creative writing, doodling and procrastination. Laura plans on moving to Boston after graduation to pursue a career in the advertising industry as a copywriter. Laura loves APP and will always be a Mountaineer fan!
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