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Movie affirms United Methodist teachings on human trafficking

Trailer courtesy of Roadside Attractions.

James considers the choices he's made in his life in the new film PRICELESS. Photo courtesy of Roadside Attractions.

Photo courtesy of Roadside Attractions

James considers the choices he's made in his life in the new film PRICELESS.

Antonia teaches James a lesson about faith in the new film PRICELESS. Photo courtesy of Roadside Attractions.

Photo courtesy of Roadside Attractions

Antonia teaches James a lesson about faith in the new film PRICELESS.

James questions Garo after delivering the truck and cargo to the final destination in the new film PRICELESS. Photo courtesy of Roadside Attractions.

Photo courtesy of Roadside Attractions

James questions Garo after delivering the truck and cargo to the final destination in the new film PRICELESS.

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In the film PRICELESS, which will be available on DVD February 14, 2017, we meet James.

James is lost.

He once had it all: a beautiful wife, a darling daughter, and a life that he loved.

But after his wife is in a tragic accident, James loses his job, gets in trouble with the law and goes to prison. After he is released, he can’t find enough work to support himself and his daughter, so he loses her to Protective Services.

The life he loved is now spiraling down into a darkness of despair, resentment and bitterness.

A friend knows he was hard up for cash and tells him about a transportation job. "Don't worry about the cargo, just drive the truck straight through to the destination and collect your cash," the friend says. Despite his questions and concerns, James takes the job.

Along the way, James discovers that his cargo is actually two sisters from Mexico. They tell James that they are traveling to get jobs as a waitress and maid to pay off their family's debts.

James notices a strength of character and faith in the older of the two sisters. After arriving at the drop off point, James meets the men who have come to collect their cargo. James soon realizes he has just sold these women into slavery.

However, he can’t just walk away. “For once, I just wanted to do the right thing,” James says in the film.

During the rest of the film, we watch James physically struggle to save the girls and also spiritually struggle, trying to come to grips with how he should live his life.

The film portrays the issue of human trafficking in a very realistic and disturbing way. It brings to light a very serious problem around the world.

According to studies, anywhere from 600,000-800,000 individuals are trafficked across borders every year. 80% are female and 50% are children. According to estimates, 80% of those trafficked involved sexual exploitation. These same estimates propose that there are currently 20-30 million slaves in the world today.

The United Methodist Church takes a strong stance and advocates the abolition of sex trafficking.

The Book of Resolutions is very clear in its stance against sexual abuse:

We deplore all forms of commercialization and exploitation of sex, with their consequent cheapening and degradation of human personality. To lose freedom and be sold by someone else for sexual purposes is a form of slavery, and we denounce such business and support the abused and their right to freedom. (¶161H Sexual Abuse)

United Methodist Women, an organization of 800,000+ members, is a community of women whose purpose is "to know God and to experience freedom as whole persons through Jesus Christ." The organization is sponsoring a campaign to stop trafficking in conjunction with the annual NFL Super Bowl.

According to the organization's website, the Super Bowl "ranks second only to Thanksgiving as the day on which Americans consume the most food, and some of those who are trafficked will be serving food in restaurants or at catered parties related to the Super Bowl. Others will clean hotel rooms, wash dishes, tidy nail salons, deliver dry cleaning, or wash windows. Some will be trafficked as sex workers for escort services or in 'gentlemen's' clubs."

Read how you can be a part of the Super Bowl program to increase awareness of the evils of human trafficking at the organization's website.

The General Board of Church & Society of The United Methodist Church has devoted many pages on its website to the topic of human trafficking. Read more here.

The driving force behind the film and companion book is the Grammy-winning Christian band for KING & COUNTRY. The band’s lead singer Joel Smallbone portrays James, the film’s main character. The film was directed by Joel’s brother Ben Smallbone. The band created the soundtrack for the film, including the lead single titled “Priceless,” which drives home the wholesome, heartfelt theme of this film:

I see you dressed in white
Every wrong made right
I see a rose in bloom
At the sight of you (oh so priceless)

Irreplaceable, unmistakable, incomparable
Darling, it's beautiful
I see it all in you (oh so priceless)

No matter what you've heard, this is what your worth
More than all the money or the diamonds and pearls
Oh this is who you are
Yea this is who you are

– a portion of the lyrics of “Priceless” – for KING & COUNTRY

*Christopher Fenoglio is managing editor for UMC.org at United Methodist Communications.
He may be reached at cfenoglio@umcom.org, 615-312-3734.

This blog was first published on Oct. 14, 2016.