Former CIA special ops man uses skills to recover lost kids


By Mark Ellis —

Bazzel Baz with Lilly Snyder, 2003

His Lebanese grandfather dates their family to the days of Noah. His Green Beret father influenced his pathway to the Marines and then to the CIA’s Special Operations Group, America’s most secretive paramilitary operators. Now God is using his training in clandestine activities for another purpose – recovering missing and exploited children.

“My mission is rescuing children who are abducted,” says Bazzel Baz, the founder of the Association for the Recovery of Children (ARC). His team members include former CIA and National Security Agency personnel, and others from the Secret Service and military Special Forces. “This nation spent a certain amount to make us the best in the business, to go places and do things nobody else can do.”

“I can go places where the FBI won’t go, because their hands are tied by politics.”

Under his mother and grandmother’s influence, Baz became a Christian as a young person. “Mom shared the Word of God every night and prayed with us,” he recalls. “She lived out her faith.”

After high school, he attended The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina, where he got involved with the Navigators and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. “The Citadel forced me to depend on God with everything I had and I grew closer,” he says.

In his years with the Marines and CIA, he had several narrow escapes from death. “On multiple occasions I should have been dead,” he notes. Due to last-minute changes, he missed a plane or jeep that subsequently fell into harm’s way. “I saw the hand of God and that He had a purpose for me,” Baz concluded.

His inspiration to launch ARC came after a special ops mission to Mogadishu, Somalia in 1991. He and his operatives drove past a French Foreign Legion camp and noticed two girls hiding under some debris nearby. The light-skinned children wore blue jeans and tee shirts. Baz was certain they were in a very vulnerable position as the country descended into civil war.

“I wrestled with it all night long,” he says. What are they doing out there? he wondered.

The next day he approached one of the members of his team. “We have to go back and get those girls,” he declared.

His teammate nodded in agreement. “But we can’t bring them back to the safe house,” his fellow team member protested.

Baz went up to the roof to pray. “God, what do you want me to do with these kids?” he asked. He paced back and forth, wondering how to proceed.

A few hours later God answered his prayer in a surprising way. One of his men came in and said, “You won’t believe it, but there’s a lady from the U.S. here in Mogadishu and she’s opening an orphanage for her church.”

The next day they picked the girls up and took them to the orphanage. “I found out they were the children of an American engineer who abandoned them as the civil war started,” Baz reports. Ultimately, Baz was able to reunite them with their mother with the help of the American aide worker ministering at the orphanage.

When Baz returned to the U.S., God led him to establish ARC, a non-profit organization dedicated to the recovery of missing and exploited children, foreign and domestic. God impressed on his heart that it wouldn’t be a business. “It’s a mission,” he says. As a result, Baz and his team don’t charge parents for their services.

“At that time there were 400,000 kids missing in the U.S.,” he notes. “They were being trafficked, in prostitution, runaways, custody issues, and some were in cults.”

“There is an evil force that wants to kill kids,” he believes.

Baz notes that there are many organizations raising awareness about human trafficking, but very few actually go into the field and physically recover children. “A child doesn’t come home with you unless you put boots on the ground,” he says.

Despite his team’s abilities, he maintains a firm reliance on God during his operations. “I pray with the parents of abducted children. When I leave, I say, ‘Watch now, you’re going to see the hand of God.’”

“We’re good at what we do,” he continues. “As good as we are, it’s always by the strength and miracles of God. When we rescue a kid, usually we’ve expended all our resources as mighty men, then we have to drop down on our knees and ask God to do it for us.”

“In each case He makes the miracle happen.”

In 2003, Baz and his team were deep in the jungle of Costa Rica, searching for Lilly Snyder, a young girl kidnapped by her non-custodial father after he was released from prison. It was a revenge kidnapping directed against his ex-wife. Government authorities searched for the girls for three years without success — then ARC got involved.

Various leads guided Baz and his team to a shack at the end of a narrow dirt road in the jungle. They found an American couple with two children living in the shack, but they denied any knowledge of Lilly Snyder’s whereabouts.

Disappointed, Baz and his team drove away from the shack backwards, down the long, narrow dirt road. “I got to the gate and my car got stuck in a little hole,” Baz recalls. “It got stuck long enough for me to see somebody riding a bike down the road.”

“I’m glad I caught you,” the American said – the same man they just interviewed. “God told me I need to tell you…I know where she is.”

The man drew a map to a small house buried in the jungle. Baz and his men raided the home, subdued Lilly’s father and his half-brother, and tied them up.

“Your mother loves you and sent us here to get you,” Baz told Lilly after their dramatic entrance.

“I knew you would find me,” she replied.

ARC has had 56 successful rescues since 1991 – a 100% success rate. “God has done great miracles,” Baz says.

If you want to hear more of this interview with Bazzel Baz, listen to episode 3 of our Best of God Reports Podcast hosted by journalist Mark Ellis:


  1. God will continue to be your guide and help in Jesus name. Amen. thanks for all you’re doing. Regards to the team members.

  2. Thank God for you and your warriors, brother! You guys are obviously a HUGE blessing from God! I have one little one of my own, and, at times, I get fearful that he may fall into wicked peoples’ hands. This fear has prompted me to Pray more frequently for God’s protection over my son, for God’s protection over every child I know, and over every child I do not know. It’s also prompted me to Pray for men and women of God to protect and deliver little ones from harm. I’m no military man myself; I teach middle school English, coach high school football, and teach Bible studies for the kids on our public school football team for God’s glory. But I have the utmost respect for all of our military personnel, and I hold you and your team in the highest regard. It’s because of God doing mighty acts through people like you and because of God Himself that the fear that has gripped me is being turned into Faith in Him and His true servants like you. THANK YOU ALL IN JESUS’S MIGHTY NAME, BROTHER! I will talk to my wife about including ARC in our monthly giving, if that’s possible.

  3. My heart,holy spirit,has been speaking to me about getting involved in sex trafficking of children,etc. I live in Seal Beach,California(Orange County).

    Below is some of my background in regards to interacting with children. There are more instances,but I believe this information will give a good background description:

    I taught children in Special Education. Started in Special Education as a Teacher’s Assistant.

    I have had a heart for children since I was a child. I was like a second mother to my youngest sister. My mother insisted I take her with me when I went to see my friends,etc. I did this many times.

    When I was in elementary or junior high school,I walked far to tutor. I think there were mostly boys,having hard time reading. I walked most places. It was too far to continue,though.

    I started babysitting when I was 9-years-old. I was paid for it. Continued through high school. One summer,I babysat for 5 children. From memory,there were a couple of older children,plus elementary,pre-school,and one pre-pre school(spelling?). My mother said I had to pay my younger sister for doing my chores. None of us had ever been paid for doing chores,except my younger sister. I was angry at first. From memory, my 2 brothers may have taken out trash,(not sure). I had always done the most chores! I was angry at my mother for discriminating against me. Brothers basically did nothing! Sometimes they even forgot to take out trash,or tried not to do it. They even shared this chore!

    During high school, my mother was in hospital for about a week(recuperating from first masectomy). From memory,my siblings did none of chores. This made me angry! On top of every chore,I always had hours of homework. I was in pre-college classes. On honor role.

    2 brothers dropped out of high school. Working full-time,along with my father. Sister,7-years younger,hardly had homework. Even though I felt discriminated against,my heart softened towards sister. I bought her first Barbie doll for either of us. I bought her first Barbie clothes. I also spent many hours,of my free time,making clothes for Barbie. I was happy,though, when I saw sister’s excitement at receiving our first Barbie!

    I was married at eighteen and had my daughter at nineteen. I have been SO blessed over the last 42 years!

    Thank you for your time and consideration. I would like to find out how I can be of help(volunteer). I await your response.


    Shirley Rayhill
    [email protected]
    Phone: 562-596-2347
    Fax: 562-596-2347

  4. Great story , there sure are a lot of great organizations doing a lot of great missions. Keep up the good work. May God continue to strengthen and bless the mission. Don

  5. I’m so proud of you and the work that you do for the Lord. I’m thankful that you are part of my family and I promise that I’ll be praying for you and your team every day. The Devil knows his time is short; therefore, God is rounding up His children. Bless you my dear cousin and Brother in Christ.

  6. I am so proud that God is using our family in such ways. Our grandmothers prayers continue to be fulfilled. God bless you and keep you Bazzel in your work and we will continue to pray for you. I know Sharkey is very proud of you too.

  7. I first heard about your organization in Citizen magazine! I am so grateful for you and the fact that God has ordained you and the very special men with you, to do this very special and sacred work. I would be honored to be part of your support team both prayerfully and financially. Please let me know how I can do this. Thank you.

  8. It was a pleasure meeting you at the Saving Innocence Gala and Congratulations on your recognition and award. I wish you continued success and may God continue to bless you and your team. Stay safe my friend.


    Andre D, retired

  9. Dear Baz, Thank you for the wonderful work you do. My brother, Thad, helps you out. I would like to meet you some day. God bless you always.

  10. Baz- please contact me. There is a child that has been kidnapped for prostitution in Mexico. Your dad and sister know me from Winter Haven. Her mom got a phone call and she doesn’t know where she is being held.

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