Monthly Archives: July 2011

Sonshine Festival- MN

We have wrapped up our last big festival of the summer! This past week at Sonshine brought many unexpected blessings! It would be impossible to summarize this past week and how significant it was to me without giving God all of the credit for His work in the Movement.

 

Ha ha my brother is asleep

We were lucky enough to be neighbors with Rock For Life (check them out on Facebook, great group!). They helped me get through the week smiling and they even added to the Red Thread merchandise line with our new custom-made buttons!

We got to spend some time with supporting members Love Out Loud, that had just joined at Cornerstone but was already ready to be restocked this week!

I started out Friday morning talking with one of the other vendors who told me she had hardly slept at all the night before because she was feeling very spiritually attacked and she felt the need to read Romans 10 which talks about salvation. God had put it on her heart to talk to someone specifically but she hadn’t seen them yet that morning.

A couple hours later, she stopped by our booth with a huge smile. The person had come up to her looking really confused and said that she wasn’t sure what had just happened but she thought that she now believed in God! My friend was then able to sit and mentor her for a while. It was incredible to witness and I left the conversation feeling very inspired.

Later in the day, something else happened that was a huge blessing. I received a message from another friend in the Movement who had read  my Warped Tour blog post and had some much-needed feedback for me. He said, regarding secular festivals vs Christian ones, “What you’ve done, by taking RTM to guys wearing f*** t-shirts and to girls who are confused about the sacred nature of their sexuality is –IMHO- infinitely, infinitely, infinitely more evangelical and –dare I say it- apostolic than speaking to people of like mind. Please continue to do BOTH.”

His words were so true, and I knew it the moment I read them because God had been speaking the same thing to my heart. I’d had this strange longing to return to the tour, and I’m thankful we get another chance. You can bet my attitude will be much changed going into this second round!

Our good friends in Flatfoot 56 played that night. You will never see a more bizarre or beautiful display of Christian  love and fellowship than in the circle pit at a Flatfoot concert. Watching those kids going out of their way to take care of each other, barricading a fallen person to give them a chance to get up without being trampled, inventing new moves together, risking their lives to retrieve someone else’s shoe, making a human cage around the woman with a baby stroller who somehow got stuck in the middle of the pit (I must admit, this was pretty comical… I did laugh), etc. brought a huge smile to my face.

The last few hours of Sonshine absolutely blew me away. It had already been a week full of displays of genuine Christ-like love, but God threw one unexpected twist after another at me as we finished off those last hours. I knew, by then, that this was our last big festival of the summer and that we still had some goals we hadn’t met. I had hoped to raise $900 for Bibles and we were still a couple hundred short. However, that night, we saw a flood of donations. One guy dropped a $100 bill into the donation bucket and several more kids dropped in $20s! Another couple donated $80 for the girls. Still, we exceeded our goal for the Bibles! Praise God! We also had a guy come up and buy 40 stickers (to make a poster Ha ha) and a woman came and bought 10 bracelets and returned half an hour later to buy 20 more to hand out to people she knows! Lots of kids were returning to buy several more for their friends and family back home. Around 5:00 pm, vendors were already leaving, complaining that it was a slow day, but we stayed up until 11 pm, when they were picking up the tables around us, and we were still making last-minute sales even after our merch was loaded! We ended up selling out of bags and all of our shirts except for a few larges!

I feel like the last night only reaffirmed our need to go to Warped, since I know we will be fine even if it is financially a poor choice. We are supposed to be there. I’ve felt so peaceful all day because I know that I am exactly where I need to be.

We might not be bringing in as much money as other non-profits and we do get excited about some pretty small success, but we are taking care of the flock, however small, that God has entrusted to us and that will keep me going every day.

Also, I’ve come to see just how incredible the people that support us are. Our supporting bands help because their hearts are in it, I’ve seen it over and over with them. They aren’t doing it because it makes them look good, but because they have a genuine desire to use their voices and influence for good. Several have made the observation that sometimes it seems like they sell more bracelets than their own merch and, when I tell them to stop selling bracelets for a while, they absolutely refuse. They collectively display so much humility, even though they are in the spotlight, and I feel blessed to know them and to be able to work alongside them. I don’t care how demanding my job can be, I will always feel like I am blessed more than I could possibly deserve because I have the honor of working with some of the most inspirational people I have ever met.

Some band promos

We have a couple days off in Wisconsin before our next, and final, run. I’ll be sad to see this summer end!

A.G. representing

-S


Warped Tour- IN, MI, IL, and MN

My brother and I just finished up our fourth day of Van’s Warped Tour. It’s been an incredible change of scene from the Christian fests we’ve been at up until now. It’s quite interesting to see the different reaction that we get in a secular setting.

A majority of the girls walked around in bras, literally, and most of the guys sported shirts with the f-word somewhere on it in bold letters. The reception was, as you can imagine, quite different for a cause there. We met up with our friends in the Got Your Back movement and their feelings of discomfort paralleled ours.

 We didn’t do nearly as well in sales and it was more difficult to talk to people as they passed by our table. I did find it pretty amusing to see how they expressed their anger at the attrocities of trafficking. It hit me, when I was talking to a girl with an “I love sex” sticker on her shirt with her jean shorts rolled up and unzipped to reveal her swimsuit, that perhaps the horrors of sex trafficking is the perfect cause to introduce in this kind of setting. I watched as one girl read our flier and, with each sentence that described the graphic reality those girls face, her face creased in disgust and horror. A lot of these girls don’t realize that they are making themselves the objects of exploitation and are degrading themselves by conforming to the over-exposed image that society tells them is acceptable. They need to love and respect themselves and know that they are worth it. They are all so truly beautiful and valuable that it hurt me to see them drop their standards so they can feel a shallow excuse for love. They deserve real love and real respect and I wish the world didn’t make them feel so insecure about the way they were made.

Boys would come up to the table with offensively suggestive things written on their chest and would buy a t-shirt that says they are against sex trafficking. Something about it is unsettlingly hypocritical. If anything, I think that the sex industry and the things that happen to these girls is a direct consequence of perverted love that is displayed for all to see.

We only did four days of Warped back to back.

We didn’t do so well the first couple of days, but Chicago offered a nice change. We showed up late and ended up getting the best spot in the festival, right next to main stage. We nearly quadrupled our sales because of the location and because of our wonderful sales team:

We would load in at 9:30 am and work until 6:30 pm. Then we would load up, eat our only meal of the day, and drive all night to the next location. We were lucky and were able to stop and sleep some for 2 of the 4 nights, but otherwise we ran on whatever sleep we were able to get during the drive.  At some points, we definately began to question if the tour was worth it, but stayed surprisingly motivated. I don’t know how God managed to keep us going, but we never reached a snapping point.

 Our next festival, Sonshine, begins tomorrow in Minnesota. I’m looking forward to seeing some familiar faces of some of the other vendors and bands again. We join back up with Warped afterwards and I’m still working on booking some more festivals for us after that.

I love being on the move, we have been so very blessed by the people we’ve met on the road and have found safe havens in each city we’ve gone to where people have opened their homes to us. We met Pip and Ginger in Detroit, hung out at Citizen Skate Cafe in Chicago (and learned how to skateboard!), and are at B’s house in MN now. I love her family so much! They took us on a full-out tour of Minnesota our first day here and have blessed us with so much great food and experiences (not to mention sleep)!

 

God is good, and He never ceases to surprise me!


HELLO my name is…Liz Jessop!

Liz is on the right

Before I began my work with the Red Thread Movement, I knew very little about sex slavery and human trafficking. I was ignorant to the fact that it actually existed. But it does. And it is very real. If you have not seen the film, “The Day My God Died,” I would highly recommend it.

I knew Brittany Partridge from the Coca Cola Scholars Foundation where we were scholars together in 2009. When I received an email from her last fall 2010, I instantly knew I wanted to be involved. There was something that intrigued me about the idea. I spent a few days researching sex slavery and what was being done to combat this issue. I was disappointed to find that there are very few services or movements that have been organized to help these victims. I jumped on the opportunity to serve! However, I’ll admit, the idea of selling a simple red bracelet, that many suggest they could make in merely 5 minutes, to combat sex trafficking, seemed rather…silly. But it is simple and I was optimistic.

I have loved introducing the Red Thread Movement to the University of Utah! Everyone is so enthusiastic and supportive. Immediately, the students LOVED the bracelets – especially when they learned they were handmade by victims and at-risk girls in Nepal. I have spent a lot of time going from one class to another to spread the word. I have planned and run two events on-campus with forum speakers and a filming of “The Day My God Died.”

Barbara Szweda, Director of the Utah High Road for Human Rights, speaking at a Red Thread event

One of my most successful activities to promote the Red Thread Movement was tabling. I spent numerous hours setting up a table in our university’s union building or outside on the lawn during spring events to promote these beautiful bracelets. Once we had one student come up to us, within minutes, there would be at least five more asking what we were all about.

We wear their freedom on our arms. It’s a simple beautiful message that not only changes the lives of victims in Nepal and India but helps our community to grow stronger, united in purpose and more aware of this issue. We can help to prevent it in our own communities as well.

As a representative of the Red Thread Movement, I have been privileged to meet with many prominent leaders of human trafficking, particularly those that are involved in combating this issue in Utah. I have grown to further love my community. I was shocked to find that the numbers of victims in the sex slave trade in Utah are rather staggering. Each year, Utah estimates there are over 20,000 victims within our community. Who would have guessed? You never know what you will learn.

The Red Thread Movement is POWERFUL. It changes lives. By wearing a red bracelet, we make a stand for freedom.


Working the Underground- Cornerstone Festival, Illinois

What an incredible week!

After leaving Alive Festival, K and I met up with Red Thread supporting members, Sound the Ruin and Harp and Lyre, in Urbana, IL and joined them for the last couple nights of their tour to Cornerstone.

This year at Cstone, Red Thread sponsored the Underground Stage. We set up the booth the second day of the festival and it was pretty slow-moving at first.

Cornerstone welcomed us warmly

 However, there were a lot of supporting bands playing that I was able to finally meet and it was a blessing to get to know them all! We truly have an incredible group of supporters that stand behind us with everything they have. I can’t even describe their passion and kindness towards this cause! It was fun being able to hang out with them all week.

The last two days we saw a drastic change, and it served as proof that effective marketing can make all the difference. I spoke with some good folks at Frontgate media, who were organizing part of the festival, and they gave me some onstage time. I spoke on the mainstage after our buddies in Seabird played and before Blindside came on. We also had G speak for us on the Underground before a few sets and, that night, we more than doubled our sales!

Underground packed for the Chariot

I asked to speak again the next night and they put me on mainstage before the headliner. I also spoke three times on the Underground and was allowed to go up before the Chariot, the big Encore show of the final night, when the tent was packed, and tell people a little about the situation in Nepal. God provided so faithfully and we pulled through with a strong ending. The final day we welcomed 5 new bands on the spot and I got to meet and watch many other supporting bands.

River James

This week we added Sheridan, Love Out Loud, Cardboard Cutout, Mouth of the South (is back!), Red Morning Voyage, Heavy Hearts, With Tempest, and Adelaine among others still coming in!

We had some interesting people stop by our table, including a missionary from Portugal who organizes music festivals and is going to begin selling Red Threads over there!

Batwoman took over the booth for awhile

God was definately moving throughout the week. We had a blast, and ended up becoming good friends with the stage crew at the Underground. When we came to Chicago after we got to look around the JPUSA facility, it’s such a cool place!!

Today, we begin the first day of our Warped Tour marathon. My brother is joining me on the road and we drove through the night to Indiana. Can’t wait for round 2 of the summer tour!

-S