This summer, after seeing “Sound of Freedom” in theaters, Missouri Baptist pastor David Slusher went home angry.
Slusher, who pastors Gill Memorial Baptist Church in Marshall, Missouri, recalls being deeply affected by the film, which exposes the dark reality of human sex trafficking — a plight which goes largely unnoticed and unaddressed by many Americans.
“Having a 5-year-old daughter and seeing that movie, it just broke my heart,” Slusher shared. “All I could see was my daughter. The evil of this — it’s just unreal.”
Slusher was unsettled and angry. But he knew that emotional anger alone doesn’t fix anything.
“When I was leaving that theater, I was so angry. I was just so angry,” Slusher reflected. “I don’t want to have this emotional anger; I want to have a righteous anger. I don’t want to just be mad about something — I want to do something about this!”
Eager to make a difference, Slusher worked with his son-in-law, Alec Whitener, to launch a Christ-centered coffee brand, focused on raising awareness and funds for the fight against human trafficking. Their company, Christ Coffee, officially launched, Nov. 20.
Whitener, a member at Calvary Baptist in Hannibal, explained that he has always wanted to start a business that is “outwardly Christian.” The 22-year-old is a student at Hannibal-LaGrange University, currently pursuing a master’s degree in leadership with an emphasis in business management.
“We knew, when we wanted to start this business, we wanted to partner with some organization that was going to share the hope of Jesus in some manner,” Whitener said. “And that just kept becoming a recurring theme in my heart: What can you do to affect people around the world and help save people’s lives?”
For Slusher and Whitener, the goal is not just to save child victims out of human trafficking — but to offer them the hope of Christ, who saves the world from sin. In response, they’ve chosen to partner with Destiny Rescue, a Christian nonprofit that exists to rescue and reintegrate exploited children.
Slusher noted that they chose Destiny Rescue because of its commitment to the gospel. One thing that separates Destiny Rescue from other agencies, he explained, is that “with every child that they rescue, they share the gospel with that child.”
Based in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Destiny Rescue focuses on reaching children in 12 countries across the globe. According to its website, the organization directs more than 80% of its funding toward “programs that defend kids.”
13,000 children rescued
Since its founding in 2001, Destiny Rescue agents have rescued more than 13,000 children out of exploitation and abuse.
Slusher expressed his hope that Christ Coffee will serve as a constant reminder of the plight of trafficking victims, while also providing a tangible way for Christians to respond.
“I’m sure there are other people that want to be a part of it,” the pastor said. “If I can buy something that’s useful to me and it’s being used to save a child — to pull a child from the hell of sex trafficking — if it can be used to spread the gospel, that’s a no-brainer.”
To start, Christ Coffee will be working with a California-based supplier, selling coffee products online and fulfilling orders via drop-shipping. According to Slusher, when customers make a coffee purchase online, their order will be roasted, packaged and shipped the same day.