I’ve just finished reading Be the Change by Zach Hunter who was 15 when he wrote the book. Zach has taken on the cause of ending slavery around the world. And yes, there is still slavery in our world. Which is the very reason WMU has taken on Project HELP: Human Exploitation. There are people enslaved in sex trafficking, child labor, and other forms of forced servitude. People are still beaten, mistreated, raped, and tortured all because of greed.
Zach explains how people today are enslaved and how the western world unwittingly contributes to slavery and human exploitation. But most importantly, Zach inspires. He tells the stories of people who influenced others, who sacrificed and endured much for the good of others. Some of the people are well known – Winston Churchill, Mother Teresa, Jesse Owens, Rosa Parks, George Müller. Others are not commonly known names, but their stories are inspiring. A few were surprising. Like Josiah Wedgwood – the same Wedgwood as in fine china.
While Zach’s primary audience is teenagers, readers of all ages will be challenged by what he has to say. Be the Change was inspired by the film Amazing Grace which is the story of William Wilberforce and his fight against slavery. Quotes about courage, determination, compassion, endurance, and sacrifice are sprinkled throughout the book. And every chapter ends with questions and practical suggestions.
In the chapter on leadership, Zach writes: “So if you’re thinking God has to wait for ‘someday’ to use you, think again. God wants to use you right now. You can be a leader in your sphere of influence. You can lead…by speaking up when someone’s being mistreated, or remaining silent when you’re tempted to say something derogatory of hurtful…..You can lead by setting a good example of character and solid morals…..The qualities of a good leader are discernment (knowing when enough is enough), wisdom (applying biblical truth to everyday situations), confidence (not cockiness), and determination (stick-to-itiveness).”
Zach’s chapter on sacrifice has reminded me that in our culture, we sacrifice very little. He hones in on little things that demonstrate Christ’s love and ways that we can give something of ourselves for others. His examples of choices that are not life and death, but do require that we lay aside our self interest, are a reminder that there are opportunities before us every day to “be the change.”
When the movie Amazing Grace first came out in 2007, I am sure that this book was promoted at that time. I’ve just learned about it thanks to a friend who gave me a copy. With the WMU focus on Project HELP: Human Exploitation, it is a timely read. The issue of Human Exploitation is so huge and it would be easy to give up in despair. But, if everyone of us who is appalled by human trafficking will do something, we can make a difference.
Here are a few places to start:
WMU – Project HELP: Human Exploitation
Not For Sale Campaign
Kentucky Rescue and Restore
Another important avenue to help the victims of trafficking is WorldCrafts. Set1Free products are made by women who have been rescued from trafficking and our purchases help to provide an income and a Christian witness.
In the chapter on community, Zach said, “I think community means a group of people with whom you can be honest about what really matters to you.” What really matters to me is that each of us does something to make a difference. Some invest in kids and teach missions. Some take meals to the homeless shelter. Some provide free medical and dental care. Some go to jails and prisons. Some minister to the families of inmates. Some take children into their homes to care for them. Some work with people with addictions to help them break free. The list could go on and on. None of us can do it all. But everyone can do something. Each of us can “be the change.”
Be the Change: Your Guide to Freeing Slaves and Changing the World by Zach Hunter. Copyright 2007 by Youth Specialities, published by Zondervan.