Rock ‘n’ roll ‘n’ saving souls

LEZIGA BARIKOR, Copy Editor

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Before this weekend I never really made the connection that children being forced into militias was also a form of human trafficking.

The topic came up at what some might consider an unconventional scenario – a rock concert.

The show featured the alternative rock band, Remedy Drive. This particular show was as much of a typical night for lead singer David Zach, but it also featured a lot more attention to the topic of human trafficking, an issue near to the band’s heart. They wrote their entire album “Commodity” to tackle the topic.

Zach and his band spoke about the slow, but natural transition their group made to pursuing human rights activism. The most notable thing about their message is the fact that they do more than just talk about it – Zach actively helps bring human traffickers to justice through operative work with The Exodus Road.

“We help find and free slaves through strategic action with ordinary people,” states the Exodus Road’s official website.

Zach’s work as an operative means he goes into these brothels and night clubs posing as a buyer, and he collects information with equipment used by agencies like the NSA and turns them into the local authorities to build cases against trafficking rings.

Zach’s passion for human rights doesn’t stop there. He went on to take time between songs to discuss other forms of human rights violations occurring that he either works against or knows other people who are.

The particular issues of children being forced into militias hit home for me recently like it never had before.

A good amount of my family, grandparents, aunts and uncles, still live in rural Nigeria. My mom’s home village has always been mostly peaceful until this summer.

In the early hours of the morning, my mother received a call from her brother about the terrors they were dealing with. Local rebel armies were taking young boys, handing them guns and turning them loose onto villagers. He and my grandparents spent their nights in the local Catholic church, which had become the safest place to escape the gunfire.

There are no winners in fights like that – only survivors, of which I am fortunate to still count my family as such.

But what some people may not be aware of is that you don’t need to look to the next country over to find human trafficking; Iowa is one of the biggest states for human trafficking because of Highway-35 and Interstate-80, as well as being near many large cities.

That fact and more were put on full display Monday at the UNI International Justice Mission (IJM) Steps into Action event.

The goal of UNI’s IJM is to spread more awareness to these issues on campus and also supply them with ways to help further the fight like writing to your law enforcement or legislators.

Many human trafficking organizations are Christian led, according to Zach. He also has his faith as a big motivator for his passion to fight human trafficking.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,” said Zach, quoting Isaiah 61:1 from memory before the band’s final song.

“Because the Lord had anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted,” he yelled as the drums picked up speed.

“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,” hands he now stretched high. “To proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners.”

And with a crash of cymbals and roar of guitars the show went on, ending soon after, but the fight for freedom – that rages on.

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