NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–True Love Waits, an international campaign that challenges teenagers and college students to remain sexually abstinent until marriage, is weeks away from going to the 2004 Olympics Games in Athens.
LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention created the TLW initiative, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. An estimated 2.5 to 3 million young people have signed a pledge to be abstinent until they are married during the past decade.
True Love Waits pledges will be part of a moral purity celebration, as hundreds of thousands of signed pledges from Christian youth around the world will be displayed on Aug. 22 during the XXVIII Olympiad.
The pledge reads: “Believing that true love waits, I make a commitment to God, myself, my family, my friends, my future mate and my future children to a lifetime of purity including sexual abstinence from this day until the day I enter a biblical marriage relationship.”
In addition to the display of True Love Waits’ commitment cards from around the world, the celebration will feature music, Olympic athletes challenging students to take a stand for moral purity and youth from AIDS-ravaged nations giving testimonies of courage and moral resolve. A same-day video of the day’s event will be available for download on www.truelovewaits.com Aug. 22.
As a prelude to the Athens event, True Love Waits organizers in Nashville are marking the 10th anniversary of the first national display of True Love Waits commitment cards, which was held on the National Mall in 1994. Tara Dawn Christensen, Miss America 1997, will address the June 26 event in the city’s Centennial Park, with music by Shaun Groves, BarlowGirl and Jadyn Maria. True Love Waits commitment cards brought to or signed at the Nashville event will be shipped to Athens to join cards sent from youth the world over for the Aug. 22 display.
As True Love Waits observes its 10th anniversary this year, its message continues to make an impact in many parts of the world. In Uganda, for example, the campaign is credited by government leaders for a remarkable drop in the HIV/AIDs rate — from 30 percent of the population in the early 1990s to around 5 percent today.
True Love Waits leaders are encouraged by some 240,000 cards coming from South Africa, where AIDS is having a devastating effect on the population.
“The True Love Waits message of sexual abstinence until marriage can impact the spread of HIV/AIDS there as it has done in the African country of Uganda,” said Jimmy Hester, coordinator of the True Love Waits team at LifeWay Christian Resources.