Sunny Side of The Stream: Sound of Freedom Opens Big … and Opens Eyes and Hearts

By Aliya Kuykendall Published on July 8, 2023

(WARNING: Mild spoiler alerts ahead.)

While I had just gotten back from vacation with family on Tuesday evening, a number of my friends from my house church were at a movie theater, watching Sound of Freedom. One of them told me that it was both difficult to watch at parts and uplifting and hopeful by the end. This story of child sex slavery ends in a successful rescue, after all. While the issue of sex trafficking is vast, the film highlights the power of devotedly caring about one affected person, my friend said. A little girl was saved, along with many others.

I’m looking forward to seeing Sound of Freedom myself, and I’m glad to see that it’s doing well at the box office. It was the No. 1 grossing film on its opening day, according to Box Office Mojo. As of this writing, Box Office Mojo’s most recent stats (from Wednesday) show Sound of Freedom in the No. 1 spot for per-theater average gross on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Meaning that while Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is in nearly 2,000 more theatres, Sound of Freedom is making more money for the theatres that have it than any other film. Sounds like there’s not a lot of empty seats when this film is showing.

UPDATE: Sound of Freedom finished a strong third at the box office this weekend, according to Variety, behind the horror film Insidious: The Red Door and Indiana Jones, earning an additional $17 million. That makes $39 million since its Independence Day opening. The film finished ahead of Disney’s Elemental and two raunchy sex comedies, Joy Ride and No Hard Feelings.

Awareness, Hope and Redemption

As the film’s makers have said, a major goal of the film is to help end child sex trafficking by bringing awareness. From what I’ve learned, the film does a beautiful job of bringing awareness both to the existence of the problem and to the hope that good-hearted people can work together to bring an answer.

Of note is also the hope of redemption for those who have been a part of the problem to become a part of the answer. This clip is pretty intense. A man who helps the main character shares his moment of repentance. He realized that he, a sex buyer, was the sadness he saw in the eyes of the underage girl he had just had commercial sex with. It’s a poignant reminder to hope and pray for the redemption of the buyers and abusers of children. Warning, the conversation depicted here isn’t appropriate for children and might trigger some people:

It’s a beautiful clip.

A Real Couple With Inspiring Faith and Obedience to God

The faith in God behind this rescue work is inspiring. Also inspiring is the woman beside the man. Tim Ballard, the real-life hero of the film, shares in this interview how afraid he was to quit his government job and start a new path. He knew God was calling him to launching Operation Underground Railroad and complete the rescue mission his boss had called him home from. “Jesus does not ask you to do easy things,” he told CBN News. But the unknowns were terrifying and he was having a panic attack.

Ballard’s wife, Katherine, asked him to envision the two paths in front of him. The government path looked safe, and the new path looked dark. Then she asked him to imagine himself standing before his Maker. If God asked Ballard if He was clear in His instruction and if Ballard had obeyed Him, what would Ballard say? God had been clear. Suddenly, the government path looked dark and the path of obedience looked hopeful and warm. Jesus was on that path, and only the first two steps of the path were visible. That thought experiment gave him the clarity he needed.

“I try to think of that every day of my life,” Ballard said. “If you put every decision you make in the context of a meeting with your maker, that will happen, … then your decisions become really clear.”

The News Clip That Sparked the Film

If you want to watch the news story of the rescue operation this film is about, watch Tim Ballard’s most recent Instagram post. He talks about the operations he works with and shares the clip from CBS Evening News that caused two filmmakers to approach him about making Sound of Freedom. Here’s the clip from CBS:

That clip is overwhelming, as it should be. Footage of young children who had been rescued, whose innocence had been exploited, is too much.

This reality is dark. We are children of God. Let us reflect God’s heart, knowing, as Ballard reminds us, that we’ll meet Him face-to-face one day. One day, God will destroy the wicked and establish righteousness on the earth and judge every person who has lived for what they have done.

This is the verse on the necklace the little boy in the film gives Ballard (the necklace is featured in the trailer). Ballard told CBN News the boy really did give him a necklace and the verse on it inspired him. 1 Timothy 6:11: “But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.”






Aliya Kuykendall is a staff writer and proofreader for The Stream. You can follow Aliya on Twitter @AliyaKuykendall and follow The Stream @Streamdotorg.

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