Hidden In The Darkness: A Letter From Tim TebowHello December 8th, 2021
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Dear TTF Family,
During this Christmas season, I am so grateful for you and for the fact that together we get to celebrate the coming of our Rescuer because of the great love of our God. Let us always be thankful for the great rescue mission of Jesus that took us from death to life; and as we remember our own rescue, let us not forget that we, too, are called to rescue.
In the summer of 2020, the Foundation made public the work we were doing to fight human trafficking. Within just a few months, the response we received from you was truly incredible. Thousands of you reached out to ask how you could join the fight and thousands of you answered the call when we launched the Rescue Team, an army of people committed to engaging, inspiring, and equipping others in the fight against human trafficking.
We have seen victories on battlefields both in the States and abroad, but the war is far from over. Right now, in the darkness of the internet, a specific form of trafficking is gaining ground at a rate almost unimaginable. Made significantly worse by COVID-19 lockdowns and increased internet usage, Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM)—the production, distribution, and or possession of visual depictions of a child or of children being sexually assaulted or exploited—has risen at a rate never before seen in history. In more simplistic terms, children around the world are being sexually abused and exploited every single day and people are paying to view it online.
The statistics are nearly impossible to comprehend, and even harder to accept. In 2020, the United States saw 21.7 million reports of CSAM...21.7 million reports of photos, videos, even live stream footage of children being sexually abused or exploited in exchange for compensation. In the Philippines, a place so special to me, my family, and the Foundation, but also considered to be the epicenter of CSAM production, we have heard stories of survivors as young as two months old who have been rescued.
But CSAM can—and does—happen everywhere. There are children in your neighborhood, your child’s school, your corner of the world, who are being victimized. There are both producers and consumers within just miles of you, and they are not who you think they are. That’s the reality. The United States is one of the leading consumers of CSAM content. It’s happening under our noses every single day, and it must end. That’s why I am pleading with you to join me in this fight.
Many of you may already be familiar with the Foundation’s 3-step approach to fighting human trafficking. With the support of law enforcement and partnerships with like-minded organizations on both a national and international level, we are actively working to prevent future exploitation, rescue those currently trapped, and restore survivors to true freedom.
Our efforts in the fight against CSAM are an extension of this framework and inclusive of both domestic and international strategy.
Domestically, we have recently joined forces with an inter-agency task force in Tennessee that is currently the only organization of its kind in the United States entirely dedicated to this issue. This task force is made up of highly skilled operators, technology, and the necessary relationships to rescue child victims, hunt those perpetrating this evil, and pursue justice. We believe that this model of bringing local law enforcement into relationship with non-profits and government agencies on the national level is the strongest, most legitimate, and most effective way to combat CSAM occurring in all 50 states.
Recent reports are proof that this strategy, while early, is working. Since the launch of the operation in October, there have been eight arrests of perpetrators and 18 children rescued! We dream of this operation expanding nationwide and worldwide, and believe it is one that can truly turn the tide of this war. That’s why we need your support—to help scale this operation to rescue the children and hunt the evil-doers. We believe this will also be a strong form of prevention as evil will be put on notice.
Along with these arrests comes the identification of victims—now survivors—who will need comprehensive support services, potentially a safe home, and restorative care. To that end, we are investing in a strategy to expand resources available to meet that need. We need your help to fund this operation on a larger scale and to provide ongoing funding for the holistic care of the children rescued from this crisis.
Internationally, we are working alongside established experts within the anti-human trafficking space to expand the rescue of victimized children, train competent trauma-informed care providers, and provide safe homes where survivors can begin their journey of healing.
If I am being completely honest, the darkness can sometimes feel daunting. While we have seen victories, and the impact we have had in the last year is encouraging, we aren’t winning this war right now. I know in John 1:5, we are told that, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Sometimes in the reality of the fight against human trafficking, this doesn’t seem to be the case. But no matter how daunting, no matter the darkness we encounter, we don’t have a choice but to stand for what is right.
Romans 12:21 tells us, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” It is one thing to quote the verse, it’s another to live it each day. I have to be honest with you— sometimes it gets really hard. Hard for me, for the team, for those on the front lines working directly with the survivors. And that’s why we need each other, that’s why your support is so critical. Alone, it can be easy to lose heart, but when we stick together as a team we are stronger, and we can take heart because we know Who wins. And so I am asking you today...
Will you stand with me? With us? We have set an initial goal of $2M and the expansion of Rescue Team Defenders that will help us scale current operations, begin to reach further, and to move faster to rescue more next year. Will you defend these children? We are asking for 1,000 Defenders to step into the fight financially for the long-term and defend these children. Your generosity will fund the prevention, rescue, and restoration of child survivors.
Please hear me—this letter is not about the money. Funding these initiatives is simply a means to an end. It’s about the mission—to share with each and every survivor that he or she is a child of God, invaluable in His eyes, and inherently worthy of love.
CSAM isn’t easy to talk about, but that’s exactly why we must. I have long believed that trafficking is one of the greatest of all evils. But there is something about child sexual abuse material that hits me different. It’s an evil that has hidden in the darkness of the internet for far too long, and it’s past time it was exposed to the light.
We need you. But more importantly, children in crisis around the world need you. Will you stand up for them today?
Serving HIM Together,
Founder & Chairman
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