JERUSALEM, ISRAEL — As I traveled through the U.S., Canada, and Mexico over the summer, I didn’t just visit with family and friends, give speeches, attend board meetings and meet with Evangelical leaders.
I also saw a lot of movies.
After all, I was a film major in college.
I’m also a novelist who would love to see my thrillers make it onto the silver screen one day.
But of all the new films I watched over the past few months, the most powerful, emotional, and important one was SOUND OF FREEDOM.
It’s based on the shocking but true story of Tim Ballard (played by Jim Caviezel), a veteran federal agent working for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security who quits his job, heads to Mexico and then to Colombia, to rescue children who have been kidnapped by human traffickers and forced into the sex slavery industry.
According to the United Nations, nearly 50 million people worldwide are trapped and suffering in modern slavery — either in forced labor, forced marriages, or the sex slave industry.
Most victims are girls and young women, but boys are suffering, too.
And Israel is not immune from such evil.
Many Israeli prostitutes are not engaged in such degradation of their own free will.
They’ve been lured or forced into this life, with little hope of ever getting out.
What’s more, according to a 2022 State Department report, “the Government of Israel does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so.”
“Despite adding an additional officer, the [Israeli] Police Anti-Trafficking Coordinating Unit (PTC), which remained the only authority to officially recognize victims of trafficking, remained severely understaffed for the sixth consecutive year, which further hindered the efficiency of victim identification procedures and referral of victims to protection services,” the report noted.
What’s more, the report concluded that the Israeli government “maintained inadequate oversight over foreign labor recruitment…including through foreign contracting companies…to prevent forced labor and exploitative labor practices.”
But statistics and government reports and newspaper coverage do little to help us really understand the horror of modern slavery, especially the wickedness it subjects children to.
That’s why this movie is so important.
Without being too graphic and gross, it takes viewers into a seedy and dark world.
And makes us long for — and root for — heroes willing to risk their lives and careers to rescue children.
This movie made me angry, and sad, and hopeful all at once.
It made me think about Jesus’ words in John 10:10, where it is written that “the thief [Satan] comes to rob, kill and destroy, but I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
It also made me think of the mission of Jesus as recorded in Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.”
Amen — this is who our God is.
He’s a rescuer.
He’s a liberator.
He’s a healer.
And He wants us to join Him in setting captives free, does He not?
That’s what motivated Tim Ballard.
And that’s the spirit at the heart of this extraordinary movie.
But what’s astonishing about the SOUND OF FREEDOM is that the filmmakers finished it five years ago — and yet they couldn’t get anyone in Hollywood to release it.
Including Disney, which owned the rights to the picture.
That’s right — the titans of the motion picture industry refused to distribute a poignantly-written, beautifully-shot, well-told, emotionally gripping — and true — story of an American man risking everything to save children who were not his own from sexual predators.
That tells you a lot about Hollywood these days.
Fortunately, an independent distributor in the UK — Angel Studios — came to the rescue.
And SOUND OF FREEDOM — the film Hollywood didn’t want you to see — became the sleeper hit of the summer.
Even before my wife and I got to the U.S. from Israel, Evangelical friends all over the country were telling us we absolutely had to see it.
They were right — and it was exactly this kind of word-of-mouth marketing that motivated us to go see a movie we had previously heard almost nothing about.
To date, SOUND OF FREEDOM has raked in more than $177 million at the box office.
Now, it’s becoming available on streaming TV networks to watch at home.
I hope you’ll take a moment to watch — and then share — my review of the film on our YouTube channel.
Then make plans to see SOUND OF FREEDOM immediately.
And then please start praying about how you can bring hope and freedom to those caught in a terrible and cruel world of darkness.
Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.