Tim Tebow urges Congress to fund child sexual exploitation 'rescue team': 'Answer the call'

Former NFL player Tim Tebow testifies before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Federal Government Surveillance on March 6, 2024.
Former NFL player Tim Tebow testifies before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Federal Government Surveillance on March 6, 2024. | C-SPAN/YouTube

Former college football star Tim Tebow became emotional as he read a letter during his recent testimony on Capitol Hill about combating child sexual exploitation from an abuse victim raped almost every night for seven years, calling the girl "one of [his] heroes."

The popular Christian athlete and founder of the Tim Tebow Foundation, which works to combat human trafficking and address the needs of other vulnerable people, testified Wednesday before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Federal Government Surveillance.

The hearing focused on the distribution of online child sex abuse material, as well as potential legislation that could allow for greater resources to find and rescue victims. 

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The 36-year-old former Heisman Trophy winner, who has spent much of his post-football career fighting human trafficking, urged lawmakers to advance legislation that would protect children seen in child sex abuse material by funding and training more law enforcement dedicated to identifying victims, among other provisions.

According to the Tim Tebow Foundation, such a bill would ideally "enhance the capability to identify and locate the more than 50,000 unidentified children who are being abused, raped and tortured."

"I've had the privilege of playing for a lot of sports teams in my life," Tebow said. "And on almost all of them, we've had incredible resources to give us a better chance at winning a game, something that ultimately, as much as we care about it, doesn't matter." 

"Why would we not give as much, if not more resources, to the frontline heroes that are going after the most vulnerable boys and girls on the planet?" he asked. 

Camille Cooper, the vice president of anti-human trafficking and child exploitation at the Tim Tebow Foundation, told members of Congress that the foundation has "important requests."

"We need to build a rescue team," she said. "We need dedicated, specailly trained victim identification analysts. And we need hundreds of them. We need to invest in their training, and we need the best tools that we have to go rescue these kids."

The foundation urges Congress to advance legislation that would create a position focused on "victim identification within law enforcement and the funding to deploy these analysts around the world."

The organization also wants to expand HSI and Interpol's "training capabilities to support this work globally" and modernize the International Child Sexual Exploitation database so law enforcement worldwide "can keep pace with this growing threat against children."

While he acknowledged that many "frontline warriors" are addressing the issue, Tebow believes there are not enough. Former University of Florida Gator read a letter written by a girl who was raped for seven years to urge lawmakers to "answer the call."

"'Rescue me. Help me. Monsters are chasing. Can't you see? Monsters are whispering. Can't you hear? Monsters are shouting, 'You are nothing.' Can't you feel my pain?" Tebow read, telling lawmakers that thousands of children like the girl are "calling out to you and me." 

Tebow cited the successes of Operation Renewed Hope, a multi-collaborative effort involving entities such as the Homeland Security Investigations, the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Tim Tebow Foundation. 

The effort resulted in the identification of over 300 previously unknown victims, which Tebow applauded during the hearing. However, he noted that such success is only a "tiny dent" in solving the problem. 

As The Christian Post has previously reported, the former professional football player has been an outspoken advocate for vulnerable children.

In a December 2020 video, the nonprofit founder released a video in anticipation of Human Trafficking Awareness Month, which is in January. The video, which urged more Christians to become involved with the issue, featured songwriter Tauren Wells.

"Has God ever opened your eyes to a problem, to a need, to injustice, to a hurting person? If so, He's probably telling you to get off your butt and do something about it," Tebow said.

In 2020, the college football analyst pleaded with Christians to join him and his organization in saying "no more" to human trafficking. In an op-ed for Fox News, Tebow recalled a phone call he received one day from his missionary father, who informed him that he had "just purchased four young girls" overseas. The Christian athlete was only in his mid-20s at the time. 

"People buy groceries. Shoes. Annual passes to Disney World," Tebow wrote. "They don't buy other people. But I had heard him correctly. My dad had opened up his wallet and bought as many girls as he could with the cash he had on hand." 

Tebow worked with his father, Bob, to build a home for the girls. As the former football player noted, "evil triumphs when good men do nothing." 

"That single moment in time — a moment where one man took a stand for what was right — was the beginning of a ripple effect still in motion today," Tebow added. "Years later, countless more human trafficking victims have been rescued around the world, even right here in the states, because of the mission that began that day."

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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