Fighting the Darkest Criminal Enterprise on the Planet
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Tim Ballard – founder of Operation Underground Railroad – works with law enforcement to go undercover into the dark world of child sex trafficking. He also got some help when Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin volunteered his NFL team to raise awareness for Tim’s agency!
Tomlin says, “All you have to do is be exposed to what Tim and company are doing at O.U.R. How significant the work is! How much needed the work is! I spent some time praying about it and thinking about it, but just thought it was worth our time to bring O.U.R out here and spend a couple days with us as a football team. God would take a hold of that and the relationship has grown.”
So has the profile of the 4-year, non-profit. As a retired government agent, Tim formed a task force from among the best operatives.
Tim says, “When Mike Tomlin came out and announced his partnership with us, he doesn’t even realize how powerful that was to our team. Like that’s important psychologically for my guys to have that! It’s been a healing for us! The Steelers are huge. It’s an enormous fan base. And child sex slavery? This is something that’s so dark that you need people of light to say it’s okay to look at it. And people like Mike Tomlin and the Steelers organization - can’t think of a better partner!”
Question: “Tim, what makes Operation Underground Railroad unique?
Tim: “Our team is made up of specialists in rescue operations, former Navy SEALS, former special ops, former CIA, former federal law enforcement. Guys who had a specialty in all of this, And then aftercare specialists who are going to go in and make sure these kids have the healing they need. And we partner with those same agencies that we all retired from! We go right into the belly of it -- child trafficking -- with a solution and liberate these kids.”
Question: “Would we be surprised to understand who those perpetrators are?”
Tim: “The world would be shocked if they knew who these people were. I mean two million children forced into the commercial sex trade. What kind of demand justifies that number? These are people of all walks of life. I’ve arrested all of them. They’re educators, professionals, doctors, lawyers. This is sex addiction that drives this. Anybody is exposed to that evil if they let themselves go there.”
Question: “What drives you in this?”
Tim: “My kids! I have 7 children and whatever kid we’re looking for out there in the world, when I look into that victim’s eyes. I see my child’s eyes! This is called empathy! Empathy, we should be praying for empathy. When God sees that you are willing to have empathy, even though it hurts a little bit, oh He’s there. He sends His power and you feel it. And there’s almost this triangulation between yourself, that child victim, and the Lord.”
Question: “Does salvation and deliverance, look different to you from the eyes of those kids?”
Tim: “Oh absolutely! Some of the brightest moments I’ve had, moments of light, have been in those dark places. It took me some time to realize what that was. It’s the Spirit of God. And deliverance, the way we think of it, it’s more than just spiritual. I mean it is physical! The Lord cares about that physical deliverance because the physical deliverance leads to the spiritual deliverance. That’s why God cares about people in captivity, nations in captivity.”
Question: “Ops are ready, SWAT team’s ready. What’s the last thing you do before you go in?”
Tim: “We always, always kneel in prayer. We have a Messianic Jew, former Navy SEAL, who just two weeks ago gave this amazing prayer in Hebrew. God, we know those kids are out there. When we get there, lead us to them. And this child later came to us and she said ‘how did you find me? There was no hope!’ I know the answer is because God led us to you. We prayed to find that one child who’s in that dark corner of the most obscure nation on the planet.”
Question: “What has to be done to eliminate it?”
Tim: “We believe that the enforcement of anti-trafficking laws will lead to the end of this. We’ve got to keep hitting it. It’s this deterrent effect. Their captors are gone because the travelers, the sex tourists, are now afraid to tour. The traffickers are now afraid to traffic. That’s how you shut it down! Well, why do people want this? It’s pornography. It starts with pornography. It starts with an addiction that can’t be met. It’s about bringing, you know, the principles of Christ’s Gospel to the world and letting that cleanse our society.”
Question: “Does it extend for you to have the capability of forgiving and even praying for those that you arrest?”
Tim: “It does. It does. I mean the grace of God is that powerful. And in that moment you just want that person locked up. Because they don’t –they’ve lost the privilege of participating in society. Then you do recognize that in some strange, almost incomprehensible way, they have become victimized by darkness. Through decisions they’ve made. And there is redemption for everybody. And so you do pray for that. We’re commanded to pray for that. We have to pray for that as part of the overall solution. God is the cause for liberty!”
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