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Slave Stealers by Timothy Ballard
Release date: September 4, 2018
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Page numbers: 256
Two stories, more than a century apart . . .
In the 1800s American South, Harriet Jacobs is enslaved and tormented by a cruel master. He relentlessly attempts to force her into a sexual union, and, when rebuffed, he separates her from her children and spends a lifetime trying to coerce her and then recapture her when she escapes to freedom. Jacobs outwits her tormentor and eventually reunites with her children, works in the cause of abolition and reform, and helps newly freed slaves with education and aftercare.
In 2009, Timothy Ballard encounters a grieving father in Haiti whose three-year-old son has been kidnapped and sold into slavery along with thousands of children who were orphaned after an earthquake devastated the country. He pledges to track down the missing child and leaves his job at the Department of Homeland Security to establish Operation Underground Railroad to infiltrate black markets in human trafficking, liberate victims, and provide a comprehensive aftercare process involving justice and rehabilitation for survivors.
Slave Stealers alternates these two riveting stories, weaving them ¬together to expose the persistent evil of trafficking and sexual exploitation that has existed for centuries and ¬inspiring us to find a way to end it. Filled with heartbreaks and triumphs, miracles and disappointments, hair-raising escapes and daring rescues, this gripping book provides insight to this terrible evil and the good that can be done when caring people step up and stand in the light.
Wow, what a powerful book.
I had previously heard a little bit about Timothy Ballard and his Operation Underground Railroad organization to rescue children from sex trafficking, but it wasn’t until I came across a video interview about this book shortly before it’s release that I became completely drawn in. I have heard quite a bit about child trafficking before, and even wrote a paper about it in college, but I didn’t know many details about Ballard and his specific mission until now. Sex trafficking is such a pervasive and disturbing problem that really needs to be talked about more.
I really enjoyed the format of sharing accounts of slavery from the past and the present and drawing parallels between the two while also recognizing the significant differences. I love how Ballard finds so much inspiration from examples in the past. He especially admires a slave from the 1800s named Harriet Jacobs and she was someone I had previously never heard of. I was completely engrossed in her story of courage, patience, strength, and cleverness.
In this book you read about some truly evil people and situations, but you also see how the greatest good rises up to meet it. I was so moved at the great acts of compassion and kindness I read about as people risked everything to help others. I was also touched by the countless miracles that occurred and can only be explained as divine intervention.
While this book understandably can be very heavy because of the awful things happening, I thought the author had a great balance of not shying away from the gravity of the situations but also not going into gruesome details. I never came away from reading it feeling sullied or scarred, but instead felt empowered and inspired to make a difference
I also appreciated the ideas for action that the author includes. Sometimes I read really powerful stories like this one and feel lost on how to make a difference, but his book inspires action in tangible ways.
I also have to send a shout out to Timothy Ballard’s wife because she sounds like such a strong, wise, grounded person. I can relate to her life on a MUCH smaller scale and it cannot be easy. Their marriage and family truly sounds like such a strong partnership.
Find out more about Operation Underground Railroad through their website: ourrescue.org