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True Love Waits to expand anti-AIDS initiative in Africa

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–True Love Waits International will expand its abstinence-until-marriage message in six African countries, utilizing $950,000 in donor gifts to LifeWay Christian Resources’ A Defining Moment capital campaign, LifeWay President Thom S. Rainer today April 11.

“Although HIV/AIDS is a concern worldwide, the most concentrated and high-risk area continues to be the continent of Africa, where the life expectancy in some countries has dropped from age 42 to as low as age 30,” Rainer said. “We are very pleased to make this announcement today because we believe True Love Waits can be the answer for the AIDS epidemic on the entire continent.”

Mike Arrington, a spokesman for the LifeWay capital campaign, voiced appreciation for “gifts of generous donors to A Defining Moment,” enabling True Love Waits to expand “in a continent where AIDS is literally a life-and-death battle. God has given us a program that not only is very effective but also can easily be multiplied.”

Since its introduction in Uganda 13 years ago, True Love Waits has been a catalyst for bringing people together to address the AIDS problem and spread the message of biblical purity to schools, youth groups and communities. In the years that followed, Uganda’s HIV/AIDS infection rate dropped from 30 percent to about 6 percent of the country’s 25 million people.

“Some leaders in Uganda say that this turnaround has literally saved a generation,” said Jimmy Hester, co-founder of the True Love Waits movement. “We believe that expanding True Love Waits to other parts of Africa has the potential of dramatically lowering the HIV/AIDS infection rate in those countries as well.”

Larry and Sharon Pumpelly, the missionaries who introduced True Love Waits in Uganda in 1994, are working with Hester and the LifeWay True Love Waits team on the multi-country expansion -– into South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Swaziland, Botswana and Lesotho.

Hester noted that True Love Waits — through the efforts of leaders in communities touched by the problem of sexual activity among the youth population — can fight AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases as well as unplanned pregnancies and a number of emotional, social, psychological and spiritual problems by helping young people change their attitudes and behavior related to sexual expression.

Based on methodologies developed in Uganda, True Love Waits will establish an ongoing relationship with a key national champion in each African country who, in turn, will build a hierarchy of teams within the country. These teams will utilize a proven verbally based, culturally appropriate teaching approach to carry the True Love Waits message.

“This is an intentional effort to learn from the experiences in Uganda and apply those principles to other African countries, taking into account cultural differences that exist between these countries,” Hester said.

A Defining Moment is a $29 million philanthropic campaign initiated by LifeWay to touch the nations for Jesus Christ. In addition to True Love Waits International, the campaign is raising funds for a new translation of the Chinese Mandarin Bible; a Leadership Training Institute that will train 10,000 pastors and staff in effective leadership, ministry and personal life skills; and discipleship training in Cuba, India and Kenya.

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  • Don Beehler