By Anna Bengel
In his music, friendships and faith, Derek Mount thinks often about connections and impact. He imagines his music carries with it a “little trail of peace.” He sees the freedom in his life, the chance do what he loves. Then he looks outside himself, at the 40 million men, women and children enslaved around the world.
“It’s a very sad state when we realize those are our brothers and sisters,” Mount says. “I think we all deep down know that justice is essential and right. There are opportunities like never before to be generous.” He supports Free the Slaves because he believes a life not lived for others is not a life.
When Mount thinks about the world of modern slavery—where traffickers target the vulnerable, global economics drive human suffering and survival is all that matters—he is both humbled and moved to act.
Practicing Gratitude and Grace
Mount and his wife, Sarah, are grateful to be surrounded by a faith community that takes the anti-slavery fight seriously. In 2008, members of their church helped make a stirring documentary on human trafficking in which music is a chief component. After a screening in a classic old theater, Mount left both embarrassed by his ignorance of modern slavery and determined to make a real difference.
“My initial reaction was compassion,” Mount recalls. He felt intense sympathy—slaves are brutalized by fear, threatened with violence, and trapped. It’s a life “none of us can imagine,” a darkness no one deserves. Slavery is a shocking insult to our basic rights of freedom and dignity.
“I feel like every human interaction is an opportunity for grace,” Mount says. “We have this wake that we leave, and it can be life-giving and profound and beautiful, or selfless and full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness or faithfulness…or it can be [the] complete opposite.”
The Power and Reach of Free the Slaves
The vision and philosophy of FTS resonates deeply with Derek and Sarah. They wanted to give to a group that was efficient, effective and resourceful. “We were looking for an organization that would be ethical and responsible and use the resources they had wisely,” Mount says. “I was very impressed by the plan and structure in place to actually make a profound difference.”
Our Community-based Model for Freedom is innovative, thoughtful and proven. Free the Slaves works with local leaders to change conditions that enable slavery and create sustainable systems of freedom.
“Free the Slaves has proven they’re not just putting a Band-Aid on a little issue here and there,” Mount says. “They have a real, genuine purpose. We’re just thankful they’re around. I genuinely believe good things are happening through them.”
The Passion of Giving
Spirituality is a defining component of Mount’s life, and he views liberation as a central tenet of his faith. St. Francis of Assisi taught: It is through giving we receive. “I think it’s important to figure out where our passion lies—where we feel called and drawn—and figure out a way to connect and inspire…and give,” he says. Everyone can find a way to give: donating, raising awareness or sharing the moving stories of slaves and survivors.
Mount supports our crucial work because he wants his donation to mean something concrete. “Free the Slaves is doing amazing things,” he says. “We’re seeing real progress, real results. When we see little victories here and there, I find it extraordinarily encouraging. Getting a chance to play any kind of role in that story—that’s what I want to be a part of.”
See all the inspiring profiles of people who hate taken a stand against slavery — an actress, teacher, investor, psychologist, historian, photographer, author, rabbi, researcher, and musician — in our Why I Free Slaves series here. We don’t free slaves, you do!