Article Jul 13, 2015

Who is the new Director of International Justice and Religious Freedom?

Recently, the ERLC was thrilled to announce the opening of an international religious freedom office in the Middle East and the hiring of Travis Wussow as the director of international justice and religious freedom. Travis joins the ERLC team after years of faithfully serving his church and practicing law in Texas. Here are a few more things about Travis that you might not read in a standard bio.

How did you come to know the Lord?

Jesus saved me at the beginning of my freshman year of college at the University of Texas at Austin. In high school, I was an angry young atheist. The summer I left for college, God used two significant things to draw me to himself:

The first was when I stumbled across Park Cities Baptist Church’s homeless ministry in downtown Dallas, Texas. There I met many followers of Jesus that had a joy, peace, and a hope that I knew I lacked. Through the ministry of the men and women at PCBC (and the ministry to me of the homeless in downtown Dallas that PCBC served), God began to show me my sin and reveal the way of redemption.

The second was the Gospel of Mark. I started reading the Scriptures that summer, and when I finished Mark’s Gospel, I had come to actually believe what I had finished reading. The words of the author of Hebrews proved true in my life: his Word is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).

A few days later, a friend invited me to church, and a few days after that, a friend invited me to a Bible study. When the Austin Stone Community Church was planted a few years later, it became my church home.

What are some of your favorite books?

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity - I read this book the summer God saved me, and it remains one of my favorites.

Tim Keller, Ministries of Mercy - Reading this book at the start of my law career, in many ways, initiated a shift that has led me to where I am today. Ministries of Mercy elegantly lays out the biblical mandate to advocate for and minister to the poor.

E.H. Carr, The Twenty Years’ Crisis - This book is a classic in international relations and provides a helpful framework for thinking about foreign affairs. Carr’s assessment of utopianism and realism is as true today as it was in 1939.

Russell Moore, Onward - And if you’ll excuse the shameless plug, I am almost finished reading an advance copy of Dr. Moore’s new book Onward, and it is fantastic. It is essential reading for any believer struggling to understand our role in the world today.

What music is on your iPhone right now?

Austin Stone, “The Reveille, Vol. 2”

Hillsong United, “Empires”

Medeski Martin Scofield & Wood, “Juice”

Sufjan Stevens, “Carrie & Lowell”

Tallest Man on Earth, “Dark Bird is Home”

First Aid Kit, “The Lion’s Roar”

What’s something surprising about you?

When I was in college, I was riding my bike to class and was coming down one of the steepest hills north of campus. Near the bottom of the hill, a young woman was walking to class. Because women are typically impressed by men riding their bikes at high speeds, I decided to eschew my brakes.

A few moments later, I lost control of the bike, launched over the handlebars, broke my wrist and elbow, and separated my shoulder. I still have a screw in my wrist from the surgery that was required a few weeks later.

While I was laying on my back in the middle of the intersection like a dying roach trapped in a bathtub, the young woman ran over to check on me. I told her I was fine. That was not true.

That day—and during the weeks of recovery and physical therapy that followed—I learned an important lesson in humility, self-consciousness and self-forgetfulness.

Tell us about your family

I’ve been married to my wife Katie for eight years this summer. We met at the University of Texas; I was her TA for an undergraduate business class. Don’t worry, we didn’t start dating until three years later, but BA 102 was where the seeds of our love were sown.

My wife is a financial and strategy consultant. She has run her own consulting company for the last four years and is roughly 10 times smarter than me.

Katie and I have two beautiful daughters, Maggie and Jane. I know more about ponies and princesses than I ever thought I would, and I rarely leave the house with at least a little glitter on my clothes.

What do you like to do for fun?

My wife and I both do CrossFit, although you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at me. I think I have said the phrase “that was truly awful” after every workout I’ve done over the last two years. But for some reason, I keep coming back to the gym. I thought that my days of doing pull-ups were long behind me, but today I’m in the best shape of my life.

I work out at a great gym in Austin called CrossFit Renew. It’s operated by a nonprofit called The For the City Network that is doing vital community development and restoration work in Austin.

What excites you most about your new role?

I long for what the prophet Isaiah calls the “latter days,” when

He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples;and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks;nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. (Isaiah 2:4)

Looking around us, it’s obvious that these latter days are not here yet. But my prayer is that we would be used by God as he brings his Kingdom to Earth, on Earth as it is in Heaven.