Don’t let his name fool you. Or the fact that he has no legs. Wimp Ballard is as tough as they come.
LIVINGSTON – Don’t let his name fool you. Or the fact that he has no legs. Wimp Ballard is as tough as they come.
With one leg blown off in the Vietnam War and the other amputated
shortly afterward, Ballard, a member at First Baptist Livingston,
rarely lets an opportunity to serve others, especially veterans, pass
“He never demonstrates a negative attitude and is an inspiration to all
who know him,” said David Brown, Director of Missions for the Eastern
Louisiana Baptist Association. “He has an indomitable spirit and is a
vibrant witness for the Lord.”
Born in Corbin – now Walker – La., on Dec. 21, 1944, Ballard, married
in 1964, was drafted in 1968, he said. He arrived “in country” Vietnam
May 14, 1968, and was wounded Sept. 23, less than four months later.
After field surgery in Vietnam, Ballard was flown to Tokyo, Japan, with
raw wounds, he said. There, doctors closed his wounds, and Ballard
began working with a therapist who talked with him about the Lord.
Even though he’d made a profession of faith as a young boy, no one had
gone through the gospel with him, Ballard said. As a result, he felt as
if he’d never really accepted Christ, he said.
Though he’d shared his story about accepting Christ as a boy, the
therapist kept coming back and talking to him, which further convinced
Ballard he was unsaved.
After recovering from an infection on his skull that drove him, he
said, to the brink of death, Ballard turned to the Lord by hailing a
chaplain who was passing through his ward and asking to be led to
“When Christ came into my life, He gave me a peace,” Ballard said. “It’s just made the difference in my life.”
Now, not much keeps Ballard from serving the Lord.
As a member of First Baptist in Livingston where he has lived for 40
years and where his wife was reared, Ballard is involved with a prison
ministry organization called Incarcerated Vets. He and Daniel Nesom, a
fellow Vietnam veteran, friend and church member, are outside sponsors
– people who are not incarcerated.
Nesom graduated from high school with Ballard’s wife, and both arrived
in Vietnam the same day, but they were in separate companies and didn’t
meet until after they’d both come home from the war.
The two took up fishing together, then started going to church together.
“We got to be friends,” Nesom said. “Then one day, a couple of people
were going to DCI [Dixon Correctional Institute] and we went with them
as an outreach from church.”
Ballard thought back over the last 17 years since he first went to DCI.
“We went in basically to share the gospel with these guys,” Ballard
said. “We go every other Tuesday. Now [the inmates] conduct their
The purpose of Veterans Incarcerated, according to Dixon Correctional
Institute’s web site, is to provide service for veterans, to strive to
improve the general public’s perception of the DCI incarcerated
veteran, and to raise funds that will be used for charitable efforts.
Last year the group refurbished and donated a total of 124 bicycles to
the East and West Feliciana Office of Family Security, Woodland
Community Center and the East Feliciana Sheriff’s Office for needy
children in the area, the web site said.
In addition they’ve raised money to buy fans for the elderly in the
area who cannot afford air conditioning during the hot summer months,
The group is built on integrity, he said. If an inmate gets in trouble,
then he’s out of the group for 90 days. The motto of the group is
“Still making a difference.”
But Ballard’s constancy and his spirit seem to make all the difference to the inmates.
“Actions speak louder than words,” said Nesom. “[Wimp] shows how much
he loves the Lord with his actions. He inspires a lot of people because
he’s in a wheelchair and a veteran himself.”
Inmate Robert Cox, chief commander of the Incarcerated Vets, agreed.
“Ballard is always Jesus first. No matter how he addresses the
group, no matter what problem an inmate has, he’s always addressing
them with respect. There’s no Wimp Ballard plugged in. When he
speaks to you, he’s speaking the truth. He’s speaking the gospel. He’s
speaking the Word.”
One inmate, a Muslim, whose mother had passed away that evening, chose
to attend the Incarcerated Vets meeting anyway, Cox said.
“Wimp picked up the fact that there was something troubling him and
asked to talk with him,” Cox said. Ballard counseled the man,
explaining that there is life beyond this, and that no matter how
hopeless things may seem, there’s a brighter day coming.
“He still practices the Muslim faith, but he no longer [sees]
Christians as an enemy because he saw Jesus in Wimp Ballard,” Cox said
of the inmate who has since been released.
“Though he has no legs, [Wimp] stands taller than any of the rest of us,” Cox said.
“Wimp and Daniel are both strong men of faith,” said Chaplain Gary Pearce, senior chaplain at DCI.
“They pray for [the inmates], minister to them and simply care for
them. As they meet with the men, they graciously apply the teachings of
Scripture to the issues of everyday life. Their love for Jesus is
demonstrated in how they face the tough challenges of life. As the men
on the inside see Wimp and Daniel deal with their issues, they in turn
find encouragement to deal with the challenges they face in life.”
In addition to counseling, Nesom and Ballard provide copies of the
Bible for the men, Pearce said. “There is always a need for Bibles,
especially large print Bibles, in the prison. They graciously work with
us to help us in this regard. The bottom line is that they love God and
work hard to spread His love to those who need it most.” Pearce said.