Author, Be the Change (Zondervan, 2007);
Started Loose Change to Loosen Chains program
when he was 12-years-old;
Has served as the global student spokesperson for The Amazing Change,
the social justice campaign launched in conjunctions with the recently released movie Amazing Grace;
Speaks at schools, music festivals and conferences about fighting modern day slavery.
Zach Hunter: The Teenage Abolitionist
Zach Hunter is the sixteen-year-old abolitionist who was the official teen spokesperson for the Social Justice Campaign in conjunction with the Amazing Grace movie. It all began when he was twelve-years-old. In school, he was studying slavery in America. He was learning about Harriet Tubman, a former slave who helped other slaves on the Underground Railway before our Civil War.
He remembers telling his mother, "Man, if I had lived back then, I would have fought for equality, and against slavery."
Then his mother told him that slavery was still going on in the world. Zach was shocked to learn that slavery still happens today.
Zach told his father he wanted to help slaves. His father told him that at Zach's young age, there was really nothing Zach could do. Zach came up with the idea that he could raise money to free slaves. He started a campaign called Loose Change to Loosen Chains, while he was in seventh grade, to raise money for groups that rescue slaves. His school and youth group students raised more than $8,500 to rescue victims of slavery and other forms of oppression. Now hundreds of student groups have launched Loose Change to Loosen Chains on their own.
A shocking fact about modern slavery is that there are more slaves in the world today than there were during the entire transatlantic slave trade. Many think that slavery starts with a dramatic kidnapping, but that usually isn't the case. It usually has to do with money and debt. Sometimes a family allows a child to go with a trusted family friend who promises a good job to help meet the family's needs. The child soon discovers this "friend" has sold them into slavery. Or, in some instances, a desperate parent will sell their child into slavery. Often the parents are misled to believe their child will have better living conditions and maybe an opportunity for a better education. Instead, the child becomes a slave. Here are some examples of modern slavery. It can be anything from whole families getting into debt and having to work in a brickyard until they die, to little girls working in brothels, to kids being forced to roll cigarettes all day long.
Here are some alarming statistics about modern day slavery from numerous well documented sources:
27 million: Number of people in modern-day slavery across the world
800,000: Number of persons trafficked across international borders each year
17,500: Number of foreign nationals who are trafficked into the U.S. every year
50: Percent of all victims are children
$50 Million: US Government budget for efforts against human trafficking
218 Million: Estimated number of children working aged between five and seventeen
126 Million: Estimated number of children who work in the worst forms of child labor - one in every twelve of the world's five to seventeen year olds.
BE THE CHANGE
There are several ways that you can "be the change" right where you are. You don't have to have any special skills or resources to make a difference in the world right now. You can get something started. You need to find something you're passionate about. Then, act on the passion. Zach says sometimes people make God's will complicated. For example, if someone has a passion to serve the poor in India, they may not be sure about a specific Word from God before they do anything. Zach says throughout the Bible, God's heart is to serve the poor, so there wouldn't be anything wrong with following that desire because it goes along with God's heart. However, it is also good to consult others with giftings in other areas than your giftings and with those in leadership.
An important element in "being the change" is your sphere of influence. Everyone has their own circle of influence and you can use that for good or bad. Zach encourages people to use their influence for the good. If you have a cause that you're passionate about, you could start with your circle of influence to help you with your cause.
That's how Zach started Loose Change to Loosen Chains at his school.
Zach grew up in a Christian home and accepted Jesus as his Savior when he was four-years-old. He grew in his faith with guidance from his parents. Today, Zach has a passion for his relationship with God that is truly his own. With maturity and conviction, Zach says there comes a point when your faith and your relationship with God have to be your own, and it can't be influenced by anything or anyone outside. You have to make your own decision about your faith in God and what it means to you. Zach admits with his speaking schedule, school, and other commitments it is a challenge to keep up a steady relationship with God, but it is a priority for him and he makes the time for God every day no matter what.
Zach is amazed where God has brought him. He didn't think his campaign to free slaves would get as big as it has, and he didn't think he would be doing the things that he's been able to do. Zach wants to abolish world slavery for good in his lifetime. He didn't expect to write a book and now he has two more in the works – Generation Change – stories about teens and 20 somethings making positive changes in the world and a second book that he is still developing about passion.
Several Scripture passages have inspired him, including Proverbs 31:8-9 and Isaiah 1:17 that talk about how God wants us to seek justice and rescue the oppressed. Zach doesn't know what career path he would like to take. He is interested in writing, arts, and music.
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