The executive producer discussed his experience as a Christian fighting modern slavery


Azusa Pacific held the first Students Against Slavery Day on Wednesday. The day was packed with several events aimed at raising awareness for human trafficking, beginning with a speech by Eddie Byun in chapel.

Byun is the executive producer of “Save My Seoul,” a documentary on human trafficking in Seoul, South Korea. The documentary was published in 2017 to mixed reviews. According to Byun, while there were many people who supported what he and his team were doing, a large number of evangelical Christians wanted him to stop.

“When I first found out about this issue, in my heart, the Spirit convicted me that I needed to be involved — I needed to get the church involved, but surprisingly the most opposition I received was from church leaders all around the world,” Byun said.

Byun has served as a pastor in several countries, including Canada, the United States, South Korea and Australia. Within the first 10 years of his pastoral work, he felt convicted to do something about human trafficking, specifically sex trafficking, but was faced with challenges early on.

According to Byun, many fellow pastors called him to repent and return to “true church work.” Byun said he continued to be told, whether directly or inindirectly, that it was not his job as a pastor to speak about things like human trafficking, and that such topics should be handled by authorities. 

Although Byun’s documentary is set in South Korea, he said human trafficking is a probem everyone faces. According to Byun, the church needs to be involved to help end the abuse, which he says leads to a cycle of sin and evil.

“This evil of human trafficking and modern day slavery is growing not just in Asia … but in the U.S. as well,” Byun said.

Coba Canales, dean of Spiritual Life, introduced Byun to the chapel crowd at the Felix Event Center (FEC). Before Byun took the stage, Canales shared his thoughts on why a topic like human trafficking matters.

“We want to make sure we are living out the gospel truth, which is that Jesus comes to set the captives free,” Canales said. “He stood up in the gospel of Luke in the synagogue when he was talking about his own mission statement and said, ‘I come to give sight to the blind and I’ve come to give freedom to the captives.’”

Canales said APU should be dedicated to the task of local and global engagement, especially in the sight of crimes like these. 

“We found ourselves here in Los Angeles County … but little do we know there are things happening all around us that are really against what Jesus would call us to as the church,” Canales said. “So we as the church — as the body of Christ — as a Christian university — need to be aware and ready to take action against things that are not a part of God’s heart.” 

Byun also recited Bible verses that affirmed God’s stance towards helping those in need. One verse was Psalm 146:5-9 (ESV), which reads in part, “The Lord sets the prisoners free … He upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked He brings to ruin.”

Byun shared stories of human trafficking victims and the abuse they faced. He then related their troubles to that of the widow and the fatherless, who were the most vulnerable people in society at the time the verse was written. 

“For God, one of the main things that He does in the world is to pursue His heart through His body, the church, to care for the poor and the oppressed,” Byun said. “The heart of God has always been for the poor, the orphan, the widow.”

Thanks was given to APU Free the Captives, whose members helped with all Students Against Slavery events. Along with Free the Captives, Biola University and Cal Baptist University (CBU) students and faculty were in attendance. 

According to event organizers, it is APU’s hope that Biola and CBU will be among the next Christian colleges in California to take the mantle of Students Against Slavery day, turning it into a statewide, then nationwide occurance. 

Byun said that while he believes it is important for all people to help end human trafficking, the church has a specific duty to do so. By refusing to address the issue directly and allowing non-Christian groups to do all the work, Byun said Christians are not meeting God’s expectations.

“If we, the church, are not the primitive leaders in the pursuit of justice in this generation — if we’re not leading the way, we’re letting the world look more like Jesus than we do,” Byun said. “God has meant the cure of orphans, widows, the poor to His church.”

Terry Franson, Senior Vice President Emeritus, was part of the planning committee for the Students Against Slavery day. 

“The message was absolutely anointing,” Franson said. “[This] generation gives me great hope, and I pray [this] generation and my grandchildren will be closer to where God wants them to be and to make a difference.”