Generation E: Activist Zach Hunter
A series featuring young entrepreneurs and the faith that pushes them forward
by Cat Knarr
At the age of 23, Zach Hunter has authored four Christian books, founded an anti-slavery campaign, and spoken at multiple national conferences. An abolitionist, he writes about how young adults can fight modern-day slavery—a reality that he learned about at the age of 12.
"Kids my age were being horribly treated around the world," he says. "I realized I had to do something."
That something was the founding of Loose Change to Loosen Chains, which is now a fund through the National Christian Foundation. Hunter's most recent book is Chivalry: The Quest for a Personal Code of Honor in an Unjust World (Tyndale, 2013), about the need to integrate one's values with one's personal conduct.
"If we want to change the world, we have to change ourselves first," he says.
Currently helping market Noble, a feature film scheduled to release in theaters on May 8, 2015, Hunter is a consultant in Colorado. Hunter married Emily in 2013, and they welcomed their first child, Lily, in 2014.
What dreams do you have for your future career?
I love music, photography, and art in general—there are a lot of things I love in life. But the biggest accomplishment would be if I were a good husband and father. After that, I would love to see slavery abolished in my lifetime, and I would love if my generation were known for something more than selfishness and screen addiction.
"I would love if my generation were known for something more than selfishness and screen addiction."
How does your Christian faith inspire your career?
Jesus is the best example of how to treat people. He was very loving. In the Bible, there were people who were so religious that their rules got in the way of treating people well. So that really is my example—seeing how Jesus treated the poor and oppressed, and how he treated his friends with respect. Everything I know about what it means to be a good man, a humanitarian—that's what Jesus exemplified and what Christianity means. We've lost some of that over the years, with the reputation Christians have now.
What I remember most vividly from your first book, Be the Change, was your story about overcoming anxiety and becoming a public speaker. What is your greatest fear now?
I have a lot of fears, weirdly. Well, maybe not weirdly—everyone's afraid of a lot of things. There's a whole chapter about fear in Chivalry, and I talk about my anxiety issues even more openly. Getting married and starting a more adult life opens up a lot more opportunities to be fearful of things. You want to do right by this person. Having a kid is a game-changer and awesome. I just want us to not have to worry about money and different things, but it's part of this season of life. As a guy, even though I view myself as forward thinking and even call myself a Christian feminist, I still feel this pressure to provide. It's the best time of my whole life, but I have the same fears every guy has, about insecurity, self-worth, and wanting to be successful.
In what ways has your understanding of abolition work changed since you launched Loose Change to Loosen Chains?
A lot more people are involved and knowledgeable about modern-day slavery and human trafficking, which is awesome. Obviously, there is still work to be done. My skill set is more given to "speak[ing] up for those who can't speak for themselves" (Prov. 31:8-9) than physically rescuing people. I guess I can be an example for other abolitionists and activists in two ways: First, I'm painfully normal. There is little or nothing special about me, yet God is using me. Second, anyone can use their voice. You don't need money or fame to make a difference. Everyone has influence. Use yours for good.
Cat Knarr is a freelance writer who writes about race, social justice, and business. She lives in St. Louis, Mo. She tweets from @CatherineKnarr.