First True Love Waits cards arrive for Athens Olympics

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--The first 1,000 True Love Waits commitment cards have arrived in Athens, Greece -- signed by Zulu youth of South Africa -- as part of an international display celebrating moral purity during the 2004 Summer Olympic Games.

Valentina Khokhriakova, a Russian student at a Christian teachers college in South Africa, delivered the cards to the Athens warehouse where True Love Waits commitment cards from at least 100 countries will be stored. The 1,000 she delivered are some of an estimated 300,000 that South African youth have signed to be sent to Athens.

Nearly 1 million signed promises of sexual purity from Christian youth around the world will be displayed during the international True Love Waits celebration Sunday, Aug. 22. True Love Waits is a ministry of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. More than 95 other organizations -- secular and religious -- support the use of True Love Waits to promote sexual abstinence.

True Love Waits organizers are encouraged by such a large number of cards coming from South Africa where AIDS has taken a heavy toll.

"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.

The HIV/AIDS rate fell from 30 percent of the population in the early 1990s to around 10 percent today in Uganda. Government leaders and some HIV/AIDS activists in Uganda cite True Love Waits for much of the success.

"The fact that South Africa already has 300,000 cards that will be at the international event paints a great picture of the size and scale of this global celebration," said Hester, who also is senior director of student ministry publishing at LifeWay.

An outdoor rally featuring Olympic athletes who stand for purity and youth from AIDS-ravaged nations giving testimonies of courage and moral resolve will be a part of the Athens celebration. Other observances will take place across the globe on Aug. 22 as Christian students and churches commemorate the commitment to biblical sexual purity.

The True Love Waits 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."

Cards must be sent by FedEx, UPS or DHL because the Athens post office will not deliver to the following address. Cards should arrive in Athens by Aug. 7 to be included in the display. The mailing address is Hellenic Ministries, 12 Lydias, 11527, Athens, Greece.


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