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Teens join hands to declare their True Love Waits pledge

FLORENCE, Ala. (BP)–Despite bitter cold temperatures and an icy wind, hundreds of young people formed a human chain across O’Neal Bridge in Florence, Ala., Feb. 13 to signify their shared commitments to sexual purity.
“You know,” said Florence Police Chief Rick Singleton, “as a police officer, I usually run into young people when they’re on the wrong side (of the law),” he told the crowd of youth from Colbert and Lauderdale counties. “Life is a series of choices … and you have to take responsibility for those choices. It’s an honor to be with you as you make this commitment.”
The rally was one of countless events across the nation in mid-February kicking off this year’s True Love Waits emphasis.
Kevin Johnson, minister to students at First Baptist Church, Florence, helped pave the way for the local effort. But Johnson spreads the credit around. “WFIX Christian radio, area churches, schools, parents and young people, along with our police department, have all worked to make this day a reality,” Johnson said. “Most of all, a lot of prayer has gone into this,” he said.
“Whenever any of these students cross that bridge,” Johnson continued, pointing to O’Neal Bridge, “it will be a reminder to their commitment. And that commitment itself is a rite of passage, a real crossing.”
True Love Waits began as a Baptist movement to encourage teenagers and college students to maintain sexual purity. This program, now in its sixth year, has grown to span more than 80 denominations, Christian student organizations and even health-care organizations around the world.
Amanda Johnson, an 11th-grader at Shoals Christian School, said, “I’m here because I believe in what True Love Waits stands for, and I think it’s awesome that we can come here and show the world the kind of commitment we’ve made to keep ourselves pure until marriage.”
For 17-year-old Brett Trapp, “It’s a time when I as a teenager can stand up and show that because I’m a Christian, I choose to be different.”
The group had first gathered near the bridge at McFarland Park to listen to testimonies and join two local ministers as they led the group in praise and worship choruses.
Lauderdale County Junior Miss Molly McKenzie, a member of First Baptist Church of Florence and a 17-year-old senior at Bradshaw High School, also participated in the event.
“I want to take a stand with the rest of these Christian youth — a public stand for sexual purity before God,” McKenzie said.
When asked about those students who had already become sexually active, Trapp was quick with a response. “I’m sure some of us here today are in that situation. But True Love Waits teaches that, too,” he said. “They can start over and begin a life of purity. God always offers a second chance.”
A time of sharing and fellowship at Florence’s Fairview Baptist Church Feb. 14 concluded the True Love Waits kickoff.
At that event Miss University of North Alabama Kimberly Williams, whose platform is sexual abstinence, urged young people to remain true to God and to themselves.
“I have seen a lot of my lifelong friends make the decision to be sexually active, and I have seen their unfortunate consequences,” she said in an interview. “I think it’s important to teach young people what they are getting into before they actually get into it.”

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  • Judy Woodward Bates