NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Jimmy Hester, cofounder of the True Love Waits abstinence movement, will retire from LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention Sept. 30.
During his 26 years with LifeWay, Hester spearheaded True Love Waits’ transition from an idea for a sex education campaign to an international movement to challenge young people to embrace a commitment to sexual abstinence until marriage.
Nearly 20 years ago Hester and Richard Ross, who at the time were family and youth ministry specialists with LifeWay, used a napkin to sketch out the concept for a movement that today is worldwide in scope.
“God has truly blessed our efforts in challenging students to make a commitment to sexual abstinence until marriage,” Hester said. “While the look and tone of True Love Waits has changed over the past 18 years, God’s intent for sexual behavior remains the same and continues to be important for students today.”
In the United States alone, approximately 3 million youth have signed True Love Waits commitment cards at LifeWay events, pledging sexual purity until their wedding day. Another 1.1 million commitments have been documented in Africa, and hundreds of thousands of commitment cards from youth throughout the world have been displayed at several events, including the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
Currently more than 100 organizations use True Love Waits to promote sexual abstinence, in large part because they have seen its potential to reverse negative trends in communities.
Within a few years after it was introduced, True Love Waits had drawn the attention of hundreds of national and international news media outlets, including the “Today” show, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Family Circle, Life, “Nightline” and “The Phil Donohue Show” as well as numerous newspapers and radio stations.
From the first True Love Waits national celebration in July 1994 — when more than 210,000 covenant cards were displayed on the National Mall in Washington — to its explosive growth in Africa, the Philippines and other parts of the world, Hester has seen God work in remarkable ways as scores of young people have taken a countercultural stand to embrace biblical purity.
Don Beehler is a freelance writer in Franklin, Tenn. For more information about True Love Waits, visit www.truelovewaits.com