A Christian pastor hopes a new film focused on modern day slavery will act as a catalyst for action to help some 27 million people who make up the thriving market of human trafficking.
“We’re praying this is that war cry for Christians to not just have faith, but to put faith into action,” Matthew Cork, lead pastor of Friends Church in Yorba Linda, Calif., told CNA in a recent interview.
Hitting theaters April 12, Not Today, tells the story of a twenty-something American who, through his own personal conversion, works to rescue a young Dalit girl after her father unintentionally sells her to human traffickers.
India’s Dalit population – approximately 250 million people – is among the most vulnerable people group for human trafficking in the world due to the practice of untouchability, or the ancient tradition that some people are inherently worthless and less than human.
Perhaps the most troubling group of people who are victims of the modern slave trade are the estimated 1.2 million Indians who are forced to be child prostitutes.
“I pray there are some things that are actually disturbing,” Cork, who also served as the film’s executive producer, said of the movie. “I pray there are some things that really challenge you to understand that you can no longer look the other way.”
Through watching the film, moviegoers will not only be exposed to the issue of modern slavery but will also be given the opportunity to sponsor a child through the Dalit Freedom Network – an international human-rights organization dedicated to preventing human trafficking through educating children in India.
Cork said he first felt compelled to fight on behalf of the Dalits after he first visited the country in 2007 and came face to face with his own “selfishness.”
“I went from being just a Christian by name to actually saying I believe I am a follower of Jesus because I am actually being his hands and feet on this earth,” he said.
Since then, his church has committed $20 million to building 200 schools in India, 40 of which have already been completed. All profits of the film will go towards funding schools and educating children in India.
“India, for me, was a place that was uncomfortable,” he said. However, “I think wherever you get into a place that’s uncomfortable God begins to use that in ways you could have never imagined.”
As followers of Jesus, Cork said Christians need to work to put a stop towards that which goes “against the very nature of God,” or, the buying and selling of other human beings.
“His heart was for the poor and the marginalized,” he said. “It is our job as his representatives on this earth to care for the things that break his heart.”
Although not everyone can visit India like he has, the pastor hopes this film will give viewers the opportunity to become aware of the issue and help make a difference.
“We didn’t make a movie just to make a movie; as a church we’re not in the movie business,” he explained. “We made a movie to really be calling the church out and saying, ‘If we don’t do this, who will?’”
Even if the movie does well at the box office, Cork said they will not consider it a success if people are not “challenged” or “mobilized” to respond.
Along with sponsoring a child’s education, movie-goers can commit to building a school or can support the film’s global partners such as, Abolition International, Focus on the Family and International Justice Mission, in fighting human trafficking.
The film, which will premiere in select theaters across the country and is rated PG-13, stars TV actor Cody Longo, and Shari Rigbi and John Schneider – both of hit 2011 film “October Baby.”
To learn more about the film and the movement to end human trafficking in India, visit: nottodaythemovie.com.