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The Sound of True Freedom

Why the Gospel is central to solving the problem of sex trafficking
Picture of Greg Stier
Greg Stier

I’m a movie freak—always have been.

Even when I was a committed-to-Christ teenager attending an independent fundamentalist church that frowned upon going to the movies, I’d regularly break ranks, walk to the Westminster 6 theaters, and watch the latest, greatest cinema masterpiece.

I remember watching Rocky there for the first time, in 1976. This boxing movie gut-punched me, and I ran all the way home with the Rocky theme music blaring in my brain as I shadowboxed the imaginary Apollo Creeds in front of me.

Ten years later, when the masterpiece The Mission played at my local theater, I sat in tears, not budging until the credits stopped rolling and the lights came up (this was decades before Marvel started adding post-credit bonus scenes).

Another decade later, I was ready to buy a kilt and a broadsword after watching Braveheart. And just last week, I saw another movie that stirred my soul: Sound of Freedom.

WHY SOUND OF FREEDOM IS WORTH SEEING

Great movies are rare, and Sound of Freedom is a rare, great movie.

It’s good on several levels.

The child actors, Lucás Ávila as Miguel and Cristal Aparicio as Rocio, are such preciously sweet siblings that your heart drops when they’re taken. The rest of the movie chronicles their story and the story of Tim Ballard, the real-life Homeland Security agent whose story inspired the movie. He quit his job to find and rescue children kidnapped by sex traffickers.

The plot is simple, the acting is good, the bad guys are bad, and the good guys are great. From square one, this movie hooks you in, not with Mission Impossible–type special effects, but with the simple premise: “What if it were your child? How far would you go?”

I strongly encourage everyone to see this movie.

ANSWERING THE CRITICS

Yes, there’s some controversy about Sound of Freedom. Some say the organization that Tim Ballard started to rescue trafficked children has exaggerated its impact and reach. But even if this is true, it shouldn’t keep anyone from making a difference by supporting solid organizations that rescue trafficked kids. Two ministries I would recommend are the International Justice Mission and Destiny Rescue. I’m sure there are more. As you would with any nonprofit ministry, do your research before giving.

Another criticism I’ve heard is that the movie plot is greatly exaggerated when compared to actual events. To me that doesn’t matter. Whenever I see a movie that begins with the words “Based on a true story” or “Inspired by actual events,” I immediately know it’s a movie, not a documentary. Those phrases are movie-speak for: “We took some liberty with the plot so you would enjoy the movie even more.”

Purely by film standards, this movie is worth watching. I’ve seen enough corny Christian movies to say that this is no sanctified version of a Hallmark movie. Instead, this one is on par with Jesus Revolution. It paints a powerful, heart-wrenching picture of a horrific, global problem: millions of children and teenagers being trafficked for sex.

This partially crowd-funded movie has blown the box-office expectations away. At the time of this writing, it had surpassed $100 million in sales.

HOW CAN CHRISTIANS FIGHT SEX TRAFFICKING?

So, how should we, as Christians, react to the reality of sex trafficking? To be honest, my gut reaction to watching this movie was an impulse to watch Taken again, get on a plane, fly to who-knows-where, take out the bad guys, and rescue all the children!

But as I thought about my “particular set of skills” that I’ve honed over 30 years of ministry, I realized they have nothing to do with fighting the bad guys.

They have everything to do with advancing the Gospel.

The real problem reflected in this movie—and in this fallen world—is the pure evil lodged deep in the human heart. The root of evil that is in the heart of the worst sex trafficker is in our hearts as well.

Here’s God’s commentary on the condition of the human heart:

No one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one. Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with lies. Snake venom drips from their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. They rush to commit murder. Destruction and misery always follow them. They don’t know where to find peace. They have no fear of God at all.

Romans 3:10-18

And Romans 2:1 slaps all of us right across the face with these pointed words:

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

It’s so easy to pass judgment on the evil of these traffickers without realizing that we come from the same sinful root. Our category of sin may be different, but, according to God’s Word, we are all depraved sinners, worthy of God’s divine judgment.

THE REAL REMEDY

What’s the solution to the sin in us and around us? It’s the Gospel. Here’s how the apostle Paul put it in Galatians 1:3-5:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Jesus came to save everyone who has been trafficked by sin and sold into slavery to the Evil One. He came to save you, me, the traffickers, and the trafficked—anyone and everyone.

If you’ve never put your faith in Jesus, I challenge you to do so right now. He died in your place for your sin—past, present, and future. He rose from the dead and proved He was no mere mortal. He was and is God in the flesh. And He tells us in John 3:16 that “whoever believes in Him will not perish but has eternal life.

So what does all this Gospel talk have to do with eradicating sex trafficking? I believe it’s central to the solution.

Henry David Thoreau once said:

There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.

Only the Gospel can strike at the root of evil.

Yes, it’s important to support solid ministries that rescue children, but don’t underestimate the power of prevention. I’m convinced that the Gospel can prevent crimes from actually taking place.

MY OWN STORY

For instance, it was the Columbine High School massacre on April 20, 1999, that catapulted me full-time into Dare 2 Share, the ministry I founded to equip Christian teenagers to reach their peers with the Gospel.

The questions I couldn’t get out of my mind were ones like these: “What if the two shooters had been reached with the Gospel long before anger infected their heart like a virus? What if they would have put their faith in Jesus? Would that have prevented the massacre?”

Growing up in a violent, urban family, I saw a ton of bloodshed before I was even out of elementary school. It was terrible and marked me deeply. But I wonder how much worse it would have gotten if someone hadn’t gotten the Gospel to my family in time. I wonder what would have happened to me if someone hadn’t shared the Gospel with me. Who knows? I may have been the worst of them all.

But Jesus intervened and changed the trajectory of my family completely. What Jesus did for me and for my family, He can do with anyone. That’s why the Gospel is key. That’s why reaching people while they’re as young as possible is crucial!

James 5:20 explains it this way:

Remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

When you reach someone with the Gospel, you save them from death and from committing a multitude of potential future sins—sins they might have committed if Christ hadn’t transformed them.

Millions upon millions of young people being transformed by the Gospel could avert millions upon millions of potential sins. Think of the murders, the kidnappings, the sexual perversions, and all the other sins that could be prevented if a generation turned to Jesus.

That’s our vision at Dare 2 Share. It’s all about preventive measures. It’s all about striking at the root of evil before it grows its rotten fruit.

Sound of Freedom is an amazing movie. But the sound of true and everlasting freedom that comes from the Good News of Jesus is even more amazing.

Share the Good News today!

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