True Love Waits ministry celebrates 10th anniversary

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--About 800 mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, youth, couples and spectators gathered on the grounds of Nashville’s replica of the Greek Parthenon June 26 to hear national speakers and Christian musicians champion sexual abstinence until marriage.

True Love Waits, a ministry of LifeWay Christian Resources, is observing its 10th anniversary this year and the celebration in Nashville recalled a movement that started in 1994 with 200,000 commitment cards for abstinence staked on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. In August this year, sponsors of the campaign from LifeWay expect about 400,000 pledge cards to be displayed in Athens, Greece, for the summer Olympic Games.

Comedian and storyteller Keith Deltano served as emcee for the celebration, introducing music performances by Jadyn Maria, Chicago sisters BarlowGirl, and Shaun Groves, a six-time Dove Award nominee. Miss America 1997, Tara Dawn Christensen, shared purity messages from the year of her reign, and Jessica Vaughan, who participated as a student in the first True Love Waits event in Washington, D.C., talked about her failures and successes.

“The burden of disobedience was heavy, and I believed my choice to act impure couldn’t be forgiven,” Vaughan recalled, explaining that she recommitted her pledge to purity after lapsing. She told the youth who have fallen from their pledges that “God can create a new heart and renewed purity. You can keep your commitment!”

Vince Barlow, father of Lauren, 18, Alyssa, 22, and Becca, 24, songwriters and musicians for the Christian rock group BarlowGirl said his daughters challenge young women to honor and respect themselves and let God be their fulfillment. The new group is known for communicating a strong stand on purity.

“God has a calling on our lives,” Alyssa Barlow told the crowd. “We want to raise a standard, to tell people not to conform to this world. It has nothing good to offer. Our generation is done looking at billboards and magazines. Fall in love with God first. Don’t miss the calling He has on your life.”

She encouraged youth to stand against peer pressure.

“We need to live our own lives,” Alyssa Barlow said. “People will see something different -- a people who look fulfilled and satisfied.”

BarlowGirl sang “Clothes,” with lyrics promoting modesty for women.

“We believe God has called us to protect our brothers’ eyes,” Lauren Barlow said. “We don’t have to get attention for what we wear.”

Christensen, Miss America 1997, said staying pure was a priority for her as was a man who shared her values. On Feb. 14, the year of her reign, she met former Nebraska congressman John Christensen in Omaha, Neb. They were later married.

“The most important part of our story is this: I walked down the aisle of my little church in Mobile, Ala., as a 26-year-old virgin,” Christensen said. “It was not an easy choice to make.”

She had plenty of opportunities to stray, she said.

“But I made a commitment, so I chose to date people who proclaimed to have the same convictions that I did,” Christensen said. “There were still times that I had to be the strong one. God gave me a mind and a will to be able to make choices. I stood by those choices.”

Parents and youth leaders praised the event. Ruth Glover, a teacher from Murfreesboro, Tenn., came expecting words of chastity to impact her trio of teenage girls, who came for the music.

“Young people are bombarded by impurity so much,” Glover said. “You have to balance the scales when you can -- in our society the deck is stacked against them. They need to hear this.”

Sixteen members of the Soul Patrol, a youth group from the inter-denominational Church of Genesis in Newcastle, Pa., sat midfield as speakers shared stories. Volunteer leader Blaine Young said the youth were volunteers for inner city missions with Belmont University, but that they took a break to listen to the speakers.

“This is one of the most important messages for teenagers today -– to wait until they’re married,” Young said. “They’re getting a false message that says, ‘You’re weak.’ We believe abstinence is the way, not protection. We hope these words get through to them.”


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