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Pumpelly to lead TLW in Africa

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Sharon Pumpelly, who with her husband Larry spent 25 years as an International Mission Board missionary in Uganda and Kenya, has been named lead consultant for True Love Waits International’s expansion in Africa, LifeWay President Thom Rainer announced May 31.

In this role, she will be responsible for strategic planning, networking and implementing True Love Waits’ abstinence-until-marriage initiative in South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Swaziland, Botswana and Lesotho.

The Pumpellys were appointed in 1980 as missionaries with the International Mission Board to develop youth and student ministries in Kampala, Uganda. From 1993-96, they worked with a team of nationals to launch True Love Waits in the country.

Subsequently serving in Kenya, the Pumpellys worked with the Baptist Convention of Kenya to develop a strategy for decreasing AIDS through a branch of the convention known as the Baptist AIDS Response Agency. Sharon served as a charter member of the Kenyan president’s Kenya Inter-religious AIDS Consortium and helped plan an AIDS conference with the group.

“Sharon is the ideal person to lead our efforts in Africa,” said Jimmy Hester, co-founder of True Love Waits, a ministry of LifeWay Christian Resources. “As IMB missionaries, she and Larry were instrumental in introducing True Love Waits in Uganda in 1994. In the years that followed, there was a remarkable decrease in the HIV/AIDS infection rate in Uganda, and we hope to duplicate those results in other African countries.”

In April, True Love Waits International received $950,000 through LifeWay Christian Resources’ A Defining Moment campaign, which made it possible to begin the first phase of expansion into six African countries.

“Through the generous gifts of major donors to A Defining Moment, we now are able to utilize Sharon’s experience and expertise in leading our efforts in Africa,” Rainer said. “AIDS is literally a life-and-death battle in Africa, and we believe True Love Waits can be the answer for this epidemic on the entire continent.”

The Pumpellys retired from the IMB in 2005 but have continued to train new missionaries in AIDS ministries and the True Love Waits program. Larry currently serves as pastor of discipleship and missions at Grace Community Baptist Church in Richmond, Va.

True Love Waits is one of several approaches to challenging teenagers and college students to make a commitment to sexual abstinence until marriage, drawing moral purity from adhering to biblical principles.

The youth-based international campaign utilizes positive peer pressure by encouraging those who make a commitment to refrain from pre-marital sex to challenge their peers to do the same. More than 100 organizations have adopted the use of True Love Waits to promote sexual abstinence.

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  • Don Beehler