When one thinks of Lipscomb Missions, an image of college students serving others across the globe often comes to mind. Whereas some people may have the perception that missions is just about going on the trip itself, it truly takes an army of people behind the scenes to make a mission effort successful. As the Administrative Assistant for the College of Bible & Ministry, Julie Woodroof plays a vital role in helping mobilize the nearly 700 people a year on their mission trips.
Growing up in Iowa, Missouri, and Texas, Woodroof describes her family’s lack of spiritual background, “I grew up in a very moral home but not religious. We were Lutherans but not active churchgoers living in a community that was primarily Lutheran and Catholic.” The solid foundation of morality went a long way for Woodroof as she explains how immensely influenced she was by her tight knit family. “I was very close to my grandmother and my Aunt Janie,” she shares, “When I talk now I can hear my mother, my grandmother and my aunt – their influence was so profound.” Even the seemingly small moments in her early life have remained with Woodroof, “My grandparents had a cabin on a lake in northern Minnesota and that is where we spent our summers. I spent many early mornings putting worms on hooks while fishing with my grandfather and my Dad.”
When asked what experiences in her life have been the most formative, she begins to tell the story of her many moves before high school. While the relocation in sixth grade was “traumatic,” it was the move from Missouri to Texas the night before her senior year of high school that would truly alter the direction of her path. “That move changed my life and introduced me to people who would in turn introduce me to Jesus,” Woodroof says, “I began my relationship with Christ when I was a freshman at Texas A&M University.”
Today, Woodroof and her husband Tim have been married for thirty-four years and have three children. She began working for Lipscomb University in September 2010, a job that proved to be more than balancing spreadsheets and budgets. “What I thought was going to be just another job that paid the bills has proven to be a place that I look forward to coming to because of the spiritual growth I experience doing my work and interacting with my co-workers,” Woodroof shares. Those initial expectations of having a job that lacked passion or purpose have since been wiped away entirely. “This isn’t just a job,” she says, “it’s a ministry because I help people participate in God’s story through efforts in Nashville and all over the world.”
“Julie’s role on our staff is extremely valuable as she helps our teams tremendously be prepared to go serve,” says Mark Jent, Director of Missions Outreach. “She is marvelous at her work in not only paying great attention to detail as she manages nearly a million dollars a year of donations, but also by encouraging and ministering to our students as they come in her office. We often say that a part of Julie goes on every trip.”
Working directly with the intake of missions fundraising has shown Woodroof the true meaning of giving as well. “It is very encouraging to witness the generosity of God’s people and see firsthand how those who cannot ‘go’ find ways to ‘give’,” she explains. Managing finances has opened doors for Woodroof that she could not have imagined when she took the job three years ago. “I never dreamed that I could have a job that so perfectly suits my experience, skills, personality and passion for God,” she articulates, “To put it simply, I get to be ‘me’ at work in a way that blurs the lines between being ‘on the job’ and away from it.”