People came to Utah from over 50 countries not only to celebrate the family but recognize its important role in society October 27-30, 2015. It was the first time in its 20-year history that the World Congress on Families has been held in the United States and they chose Salt Lake City.
With a theme of “The value of life in all its stages and conditions,” speakers’ topics ranged from Feminism to Cultural Issues to Pro-Life and everything in-between. The audiences, as well as the speakers were made up of a mix of Jews, Hindus, Christians and others.
Operation Underground Railroad Founder and CEO Tim Ballard shared the podium with Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, and CEO and Co-Founder of Fight the New Drug, Clay Olsen speaking on “Sexual Exploitation” and the room was filled to overflowing with many listening in overflow rooms.
Olsen told the audience that research is proving pornography is harmful but society is lagging behind. “The porn industry fuels sex trafficking,” and there are three things that teens wish their parents knew:
1. Pornography has changed and is much worse than it used to be.
2. The scientific studies of forms of pornography show it is a true addiction.
3. They wish you were part of the solution. Change the conversation.
Reyes said that pornography is the gateway to sex trafficking and estimated that there are conservatively over 40 million modern-day slaves. This number is well over the 12.5 million in slavery between the 16th -19th centuries. He also urged people to help O.U.R. telling them, “One day we can say we helped eradicate sex trafficking.”
It is evident that Tim Ballard is very passionate about rescuing these victims of sex trafficking. As a former CIA Officer and Homeland Security Agent, Ballard has seen the ugly side of sex trafficking many times. It is, in fact, what inspired him to start Operation Underground Railroad.
Ballard showed the WCF audience a video of one of O.U.R.’s rescues and told how some of these children were just ten years old. Prices for virgins were much higher that for the others. He also said everyone can help rescue these children in some way and invited everyone to “please rise up and do something,” for which he received a standing ovation.
For his own part, Ballard has put everything on the line. He left a secure job with a pension in order to start a non-profit NGO (O.U.R.) supported completely by donations, all with the support of his wife and six children. In just two years he has managed to rescue 326 victims of sex slavery and have over 100 traffickers arrested. Additional rescues and arrests have been conducted by the law enforcement partners he and his team have trained and worked with. It is a huge ripple effect. O.U.R. has grown much faster than Ballard ever anticipated due to the support of many selfless donors.
Written by: Cheryl L. Karr