Have you ever seen a movie get two separate rounds of applause during the credits?

I never expected a last-minute movie invitation to change my life— but after seeing Sound of Freedom, there are some things I’ll never take for granted again.

It’s such an important movie that Angel Studios started a pay-it-forward program so that everyone can see it without having to stress about finances.

The movie, based on a true story, is about the worldwide child sex-trafficking network. The story features two children, Rocío and Miguel, and their liberator, Tim Ballard.

From the day the children were first taken to the days they were each rescued, the movie shows everything: the betrayal the children felt, the despair of the families, the repugnant character of the traffickers and the determination of the rescuers.

I could hear sobs from everyone in the room, including those sitting next to me, as I watched the movie. I’m not a crier — I tend to express my emotions in different ways — but I’ve always resorted to telling people, “it’s OK” in those situations. This time, I felt helpless because it was not OK.

The writers mixed in a number of child trafficking statistics. According to the movie, there are an estimated 2 million children in the $150 billion-per-year industry. The movie also states that there are more slaves in the world now than there ever have been before — including times when slavery was legal in most places.

Sound of Freedom is facing controversy. Many feel the film doesn’t show why people fall into human trafficking. Drug-addicted parents often sell their children to satisfy their addictions. Teenagers who are kicked out of their homes for various reasons sometimes join the industry for lack of belonging.

While these are very real issues that need to be addressed, they shouldn’t discount the kidnapping side of the industry. Polaris Project, an organization that seeks to combat human trafficking, estimates that less than 10% of trafficking victims are kidnapped — but 10% of 2 million is still 200,000.

Many speculate that the controversy actually stems from the fact that many involved in making the movie are Christian and that Donald Trump endorsed it. Regardless of one’s religious or political beliefs, this should be a cause that unites everyone — not one drives people further apart.

A graphic showing child trafficking statistics. Image retrieved from History vs. Hollywood.com.

Ballard, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, served a two-year mission in Chile before graduating from BYU with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and political science, followed by a master’s degree in international politics from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

These qualifications led Ballard to his work as a special agent for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. His job was to catch predators in the U.S., specifically those who viewed and distributed child pornography. After 12 years of catching the users of the child pornography, he concluded that he had to start addressing the source and helping the victims.

While he was in the midst of two separate operations, one in Haiti and one in Colombia, Ballard was told that the U.S. could no longer support him using American taxpayers’ money to improve the lives of people in other countries. The movie depicts Ballard’s frustration and heartbreak upon hearing this news. With the encouragement of his wife, he quit his job, gathered a team of his own and continued helping the children.

In 2013, Ballard founded Operation Underground Railroad, which goes by O.U.R. for short. According to the O.U.R. website, the organization’s vision is as follows:

“We lead the fight against child sex trafficking and sexual exploitation around the globe. Our work has no boundaries — we go to the darkest corners of the world to assist law enforcement in rescuing children and ensure ongoing aftercare. We provide critical resources to law enforcement and preventative efforts that benefit at-risk children worldwide.”

The organization is set to release a documentary, Triple Take, which will clarify the facts of Ballard’s missions without the dramatization that inevitably accompanies movies that depict true stories.

Additionally, History vs. Hollywood conducted a study investigating how much of the movie was fact and fiction. According to the study, the majority of the events shown in the movie actually happened, aside from a jungle rescue scene near the end.

The movie argues that “God’s children are not for sale.”

It invites viewers to consider what they can do in their own communities to ensure the well-being of everyone; to look at problems from a worldwide perspective; to hug their loved ones a little tighter.