The movie Sound of Freedom is presumably based on a true story about a US federal agent who goes on a personal crusade to rescue children in Latin America from sex trafficking. Surprisingly, this low budget action thriller outperformed big-budget films like Mission: Impossible—Dead Reckoning Part One. But its success was marked by challenges. First, while it only took a year to complete the film, a period of close to five years had to be endured before it was finally shown on screen. Second, from Fox Latin America to Disney, the movie was eventually distributed in March 2023 by Angel Studios, a Utah-based media company that “specializes in crowdfunding original films and TV series that ‘amplify light,’” according to a Time Magazine publication in August 2023. Third, it was heavily criticized since the lead actor, Jim Caviezel and Ballard, the agent whose exploits the movie was based on, have openly supported QAnon, an “umbrella term for a set of Internet conspiracy theories that allege, falsely, that the world is run by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles,” per a New York Times publication.
The criticisms were, however, seen as a blessing in disguise since more people watched the movie as a result. Angel Studios was largely responsible for the success of the movie. After all, the studio also distributed The Chosen, a multi-season series about the life of Jesus. As part of its marketing strategy, Angel Studios raised $5 million by way of crowd funding and added a short narrative where Caviezel directly makes a heartfelt plea to encourage viewers to either pre-order or buy an extra ticket for someone as part of their collective efforts to “send the message that God’s children are no longer for sale.” Indeed, there are things here on earth that should not be sold nor compromised, as in truth and justice.
Take the case of one public servant who never relented in her quest for truth despite being incarcerated for more than six years. I am elated and relieved to know that Senator Leila de Lima was finally released from detention. By way of a recollection, she was falsely prosecuted for taking bribes from imprisoned drug traffickers but was in fact persecuted due to her multiple investigations into former President Duterte’s war on drugs. Those who know de Lima, myself included, and those who have rational minds can only conclude that she suffered much for being a truth crusader.
Clearly, Filipinos who still genuinely pursue truth and justice can confirm with confidence that there is a God who never sleeps. When the lady senator heard the sound of freedom, through the granting of bail, she remarked—“Freedom, freedom, freedom—I’m finally free!” Beyond the happiness owing to her hardworking legal team that finally hurdled the legal obstacles, de Lima remains grateful to our Almighty God, as she tearfully pointed her right hand to Heaven when she exited the courtroom, as if saying, “God is good! To God be the glory.”
I am not sure whether de Lima will pursue justice against those who wronged her. From what I read from other media outfits, she is focused on rebuilding her name and reputation. Whether revenge or redemption, I think she will continue her crusade for truth and justice even if it will take the filing of counter charges against her persecutors or an appearance before the International Criminal Court. She has fearlessly exposed falsehood while in jail; more so while free! When asked shortly after the grant of bail what her message was to former President Duterte, de Lima, nonetheless, said “God forgive you. God bless you.” Over time, I am confident that de Lima’s forgiving heart will prevail over any bitterness and hatred. While vindication is a must, vengeance is not, for the latter is for the Lord. God’s Word is replete with reminders about revenge (Romans 12:19, Hebrews 10:30, Deuteronomy 30:35 Proverbs 20:22, Ezekiel 12:17). What I learned over the years is that when the Bible says it more than a few times, the message is of great importance to our Heavenly Father.
The controversy and challenges experienced by the movie producer of Sound of Freedom and the yet-to-unfold saga of then public servant now private person de Lima ought to remind us of what the Bible promises us in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” The story of de Lima can serve as a weapon of mass instruction for everyone to stay in faith despite the adversities in life. Early Christians suffered much for spreading the truth about Jesus Christ. Modern day believers are bound for the same fate unless they are not bold enough like de Lima to seek and spread the truth.
Truth is not free; it comes at a cost. Just look at de Lima. Yet these hardships form part of a confluence of factors that will altogether be utilized supernaturally to bring forth good, freedom included. No less than Jesus Christ taught and inspired us, through His crucifixion, that there is a purpose served in all trials. Truly, if we share in the sufferings of Christ, and abide in His word, we are guaranteed with a promise, as declared in John 8:31-32, that we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free. No revenge necessary.
A former infantry and intelligence officer in the Army, Siegfred Mison showcased his servant leadership philosophy in organizations such as the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Malcolm Law Offices, Infogix Inc., University of the East, Bureau of Immigration, and Philippine Airlines. He is a graduate of West Point in New York, Ateneo Law School, and University of Southern California. A corporate lawyer by profession, he is an inspirational teacher and a Spirit-filled writer with a mission.
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