Recently, the band, Deas Vail, made a stop in Dallas while on tour with Copeland. They have joined forces with Faceless International to raise awareness about social issues happening throughout the world. One of their goals is to empower people to end modern-day slavery. I had the privilege to sit down with this talented group and talk about their new partnership.
How did you learn about modern-day slavery?
Andy Moore, Guitar: I saw a movie about it, Born in The Brothels and it wasn't about American slavery; it was about Indian slavery. That was the first thing that really woke me up to trafficking.
Justin Froning, Bass: I had been involved with Invisible Children, but I wasn't as familiar with the sex trafficking part until I saw Taken and when I watched Taken that is when I said, "this has got to stop."
The horrors of the sex slave trade was brought to the attention of Laura Blaylock after listening to a relative talk about her experiences visiting downtown Washington D.C. brothels while interning with a humanitarian organization.
How did your lives change after you learned about slavery?
Wes Blaylock, Vocals: I was angry about it. You feel it's more than an injustice. It's not like it is something that is unfortunate for someone. It's another person preying on someone weaker and that really, really makes me mad. It infuriates me that we don't really do much about it. You traffic someone and you're not really punished for it. There is no justice for it right now.
Kelsey Harelson, Drums: I think just hearing it and understanding, like when we sat down with Lori Lenz and Sarah Freeman, everything that is going on. The awareness of (human trafficking) is what changed for me. Now I'm aware of what is around us and know that that flower shop might actually be destroying the neighborhood.
Wes: We also started paying attention to what we buy and what companies we support. We try to talk about that a lot too.
What do you see as the main cause of slavery?
Kelsey: Ignorance and sin. It is a direct way for Satan to overtake other people by them overtaking someone.
Andy: Greed is obviously there too. People can make a quick buck by ruining someone's life. They don't really care, especially in a poor country where it is either become a slave or find a way to be the slave owner, then you do that. It's just an awful choice. So, poverty is part of the issue too.
Kelsey: Part of it is lifestyle. They've never known anything different.
Wes: Who is doing the buying in America? It's educated people driven by greed or lust.
What is going to make slavery stop?
Andy: Hopefully a change of heart. That seems to be the only way to really, really make it stop.
Wes: Make people more aware and change a lot of laws.
Justin: The justice system is ridiculous as far as slavery goes. There needs to be a better system in place to help people who are trying to deal with having been a slave. I mean, how do you process that mentally?
Do you feel your generation is cynical about social justice?
Andy: I don't think cynical, no. I think they're more open to it than previous generations. I think my parent's generation might have been a little bit blind to it, like ignored it, because they didn't know how to deal with it or it seemed too unreal. Our generation is willing to do something for a cause other than just give money. I know a lot of people who are quitting their jobs that pay okay to do something that means more than money.
What should a Christian's response be to slavery?
Justin: It should be pretty intense. I can't think of more evil things that are in the world today. And sitting around isn't going to do anything.
Wes: Start out being intense and swift and end with a lot of compassion. And somehow as Christians we have to remember the people that are are actually doing this to others...
Andy: I've been thinking about this too and we always talk about how mad we get at these people that are doing it, but also, at the same time it's a sin and we all know that the weapons of this world are not carnal, there is a spiritual thing there too. We should probably start praying against those spirits. That is where we can take immediate action.
Justin: Almost anything other than naivety.
Andy: I think these movies are so great. Taken is a blockbuster type movie. I wish it had been a little more real. I don't know if there was a tag on the end saying how many victims there were. It felt so unreal that I hope people still caught that this is really happening.
Justin: We watched a couple of specials on MSNBC and they were doing police busts on these massage parlors that were filled with people who were slaves for the sex trade. The officers couldn't do anything but tell them to stop. One man who was prostituting out two women got a fine. It was ridiculous.
Why have you partnered with Faceless International?
Wes: It kept coming up on the radar. They are people we care about.
Laura, Keys/Synth: We already had a good relationship with them.
Wes: And we had good relationships with others that are involved. After having meetings with Lori and Sarah and understanding more about their goals and what it meant for us to get involved we thought it was a good time and a good fit.
Laura: We have been approached by other organizations and have spent a couple of years praying and haven't been in a hurry to jump into anything. I think that time of thought and prayer has left us open to do something that is not necessarily what everyone else is doing. And it just fit for us.
Kelsey: This gives us an opportunity to use what we do to spark interest and compassion in other people.
Andy: When we found out they are a non-profit group where the internal structure ran well and no one was trying to make a buck we felt there was a lot of freedom there to just go for it and not feel like we have to answer to someone about where the (organization) money is going, because there really isn't any money.
What is one thing you hope to accomplish with your partnership with Faceless?
Wes: Right now we hope that people will start bringing all kinds of stuff for safe houses. Our goals will evolve and become deeper and bigger as we get more and more involved.
Laura: We're excited to be part of something that we can feel good about.
Kelsey: It's something that will spur change in us too. It's so easy to stay stagnant, doing the same routine everyday, especially in this setting. So, it's good to have something else to enrich other people's lives and ours as well.
Justin: It feels good to be doing something practically good for others. I mean, we play music and we hope to inspire people. Wes works really hard on the lyrics to make people think and challenge them and we hear a lot about that and it is an amazing goal to have, but to actually do something practically good in another human's life is something special. If we can do that and inspire others to do the same then that is really sparking change.
Kelsey: That is what we were called to do in the very beginning of this band. We didn't set it up to make money or get famous. We wanted to impact others with what we were experiencing. So, to find this as well, it moves us and it would be nice to also move other people's hearts.
Andy: With our music inspiration is our goal. It has inspired people to want to live a better life, but I think it has been an internal thing. Hopefully this will help make it more external where they start feeling not only confident in themselves, but they know they can go out and do something.
Kelsey: There is a quote that I have on my computer that says something about when someone gives themselves, there's no way they can't feel part of being alive.
The group hopes to take a trip with Faceless International to learn more about how they can bring change to this world.
If you are attending a Deas Vail concert in the future, please take toiletries to be given to safe houses and refugees that Faceless International works with on a regular bases.
To learn more about Deas Vail, visit their website: http://www.deasvail.com
To learn more about Faceless International, visit their website: http://www.facelessinternational.com
"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." Ghandi
"Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile." Albert Einstein
"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself." Ralph Waldo Emerson
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