Service Spotlight: Rana Lehr-Lenhardt
With a particular emphasis on expanding human rights, Rana Lehr-Lenhardt has leveraged her legal education, in tandem with an enduring spirit of Christ-like service, to help the less fortunate.
While Rana’s career has been nothing short of inspiring, her early work experiences weren’t filled with nearly as much hope or resolve for a better future. Prior to her introduction to the legal field, Lehr-Lehnhardt was interested in journalism with an acute desire to expose the injustices of the world through her work. However, having to report on all the negativity in the news, yet not being able to change or improve anything, left Rana with a particular dissatisfaction. It was a conversation with a newspaper in Cairo regarding the human rights violations taking place in Egypt that pushed Rana to pursue a legal degree.
Rana’s dedication to human rights only grew stronger during her time in law school at BYU Law. Rana has been able to channel this passion into a number of service initiatives. One of her recent projects involved a trip to Dilley, Texas, where she, along with other members of the JRCLS and UMKC alumni provided pro-bono legal services to asylum seekers. Rana had the opportunity to work one on one with these individuals, where she witnessed first-hand the persecution and hardships asylum seekers experience as they try to navigate the many complex legal hurdles and dire conditions.
Having to come face to face with so much injustice throughout her service, Rana has had to wrestle with her privilege. Born into a loving family, a country with many freedoms, plenty of food, a strong belief in Jesus Christ, Rana has harnessed her advantage and become an advocate for the less fortunate. As she describes, one of the best ways we can show love for our Heavenly Father is by using our privilege to help those less fortunate. Recently Rana has become involved in a project providing legal service to Afghan refugees. These people were admitted on humanitarian parole rather than refugees, and thus have only one year to change their status. Rana and her team have had 100% approval rates for the Afghans they’ve helped, as they have now all been granted refugee status. By using her voice and fighting for those in need, Rana exemplifies Christ’s call to action in the book of Luke, “To whom much is given, much will be required.”
Rana’s initial frustration with her inability to make a change in journalism is something she thinks is more common than not; people want to help, they want to get involved with service, but often feel intimidated or unsure of how to start combatting something as far-reaching and complex as “injustice.” But as she describes, service, regardless of how big or small, cultivates love for our neighbors, and love for our Heavenly Father. Throughout her experience, Rana has noticed another interesting pattern that comes from serving others. As she describes, that feeling of closeness to our fellow neighbor, and our desire to serve them, is a bit like the chicken and the egg - it is ambiguous which comes first, as they are so intrinsically connected. The desire to serve comes from seeing those around you as your brothers and sisters. As we participate in service, Rana notes, especially for those who are different from us, and begin to see them as Christ sees them, we find ourselves wanting to serve more.
In addition to her love of service, Rana enjoys running, cycling, being in nature, cooking, learning new languages, and traveling. Rana cites traveling as being one of the best things you can do to help you understand and empathize with others who may be different from you. Once we recognize we are all children of God, we can better engage in the fight for a world with more peace and more love for our neighbor.