It was the most difficult, desperate life anyone could imagine.
At various times, Amor Sierra was homeless, addicted to drugs and alcohol, and constantly carrying the scars of a childhood marred by repeated physical and sexual abuse.
“I was someone who attempted to commit suicide on numerous occasions,” Amor says. “I was an atheist for about nine years, and then Jesus came back into my life and radically changed me forever.”
In the years since that recommitment of faith, Amor has worked to serve Christ, making Him known in some of society’s darkest corners.
“I’m finding myself now on a platform, speaking to kids and speaking to abused women,” Amor says. “I’m speaking to so many people.”
In addition, Amor lists among her top priorities a ministry to women who are victims of human trafficking. She is an active member of nearly a dozen anti-trafficking organizations in South Florida.
Amor arranges to remove or cover up tattoos trafficking victims received involuntarily – tattoos meant to mark them as property. She owns and operates Miami Tattoo Company on South Beach. Her studio also helps cutting survivors, breast cancer survivors and former gang members. “Most of what I do is in the aftercare, once the victim has been rescued,” Amor says.
Before opening the studio in 2013, Amor quit a lucrative job to perform this volunteer work. She overcame her difficult background and lack of formal education to emerge a leader in that corporate world, building a professional career that led to a six-figure annual salary.
“Every time I would meet other managers in conference,” Amor recalls, “the first question was always, ‘Where’d you go to school?’”
The questions, although innocent, gnawed at Amor’s insecurities.
“I lived with a big chip on my shoulder,” Amor says. “I didn’t think I was smart enough to go to college. I didn’t think I could do anything like that.”
When Amor met TIU director of operations Patricia (Pat) Colangelo at an anti-trafficking event, it was time to confront all of that doubt.
Pat urged Amor to bolster her ministry work with a Christian ministries degree. Amor recognized the wisdom in that advice, but the thought became frightening.
“All the demons kept coming back: ‘oh you’re not smart enough, you can’t do this,’” Amor recalls thinking to herself in the days before her first TIU class. “I said, ‘Pat, I’m going to drop out.’ And she said, ‘I need you to come in.’ Pat talked me off the ledge.”
Self-doubt is an enemy of adults who return to the classroom after many years to obtain a degree. Amor says she is glad she did not quit before the start of that first class.
“I’m so happy,” Amor says. “I’m learning so much. I just feel so good, and I know that I’m going to be able to use the degree to help people.”
After dropping out of high school many years ago, Amor has a new appreciation for education.
“I don’t want to just know the bible from reading it, I want to know how to talk to people about it,” Amor says. “I want to use everything I’m learning at Trinity on a much broader and greater scale.