Last month we were able to sit down with Operation Underground Railroad founder Tim Ballard. He and his company run undercover sting operations all over the world with the intent of saving innocent children from the perils of slavery. Ballard says that he feels this is a spiritual responsibility for him as he helps to physically and emotionally save the Lord’s children, one by one.
Tim Ballard has clear blue eyes—piercing, in fact—eyes that have seen far more trouble and fear than you or I probably ever will. But his eyes have also seen immeasurable amounts of gratitude and hope from the innocent young victims he has helped rescue from the horrors of sex slavery. As a former CIA operative he helped found a child crimes unit along with other Christian agents. After a time, he left the CIA and began his own private organization, Operation Underground Railroad, to help as many children as he could with his own “dream team of operatives,” a team he trusts to save children from evil all over the world.
Ballard says that the statistics give him reason enough to do the work he does—over 27 million men, women, and children are currently slaves in some form, and 2 million of them are children. Along with these staggering numbers, the “fundamental reason” he does this work is because of his faith in Jesus Christ. “There’s no question in my mind that this is the Lord’s work and that we are His hands. This is so important because it’s so important to the Lord,” Ballard says. “Children are so vulnerable and innocent and so easy to prey upon—without outside help there is no chance for children. The admonition of the Savior was to love the children. He threatened anyone who would dare offend these little ones.”
During their operations, Ballard, along with members of his team and other volunteers, go undercover to pose as individuals interested in purchasing children. Through a series of carefully planned out situations, done in concordance with local government authorities, the children are safely secured and sent to live in protected orphanages or home environments in their own countries, while the perpetrators are arrested. In 2014, during their first year of operations, Tim and his team successfully rescued 230 children from sex slavery and abuse. This year, they plan to double or triple that number.
Dealing with these issues on a regular basis does take a toll on Ballard and his team, but he says that he keeps perspective through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. “I’ve never in my life prayed so hard for the Second Coming,” Ballard says. “The Atonement heals all. It’s our job in the meantime to serve especially the downtrodden and the suffering, to liberate the captive.” To those who want to help but don’t know how, Ballard encourages, “At the least, you can pray for these kids.”
To hear Tim Ballard speak on a recent episode of Mormon Channel Daily, click here.
For information about his organization and new full-length documentary, The Abolitionists,visit www.ourrescue.org.