Event teaches value of abstinence to different age groups

Coming up on Wednesday at Memorial Hall is a True Love Waits rally sponsored by the Area Wide Youth Ministers’ Fellowship.

The rally begins at 7 p.m. The AWYF is an organization containing leaders and youth ministers around the area who work with and encourage youth. This will be the 10th consecutive year this event has taken place, not only in Joplin but around the world as well.

“There are over 100 ministries involved in the movement,” said Chris Thomson, associate pastor of student ministries at Forest Park Baptist Church who is also a member of the AWYF.

True Love Waits is a program targeted for the middle school, high school, and college age student. The agenda for the evening includes music from a small praise band from Spring City, teen-ager produced videos, skits, and live testimonies, all teaching about abstinence not only for the health aspect, but from the religious aspect as well. The entire program lasts about an hour and 45 minutes. There will also be commitment cards made available for those to sign who wish to display their commitment to abstain from having sex until marriage.

The founders of this program, Jimmy Hester and Robert Ross, came up with the idea in the fall of 1992. The first True Love Waits was officially launched in Nashville, Tenn.,

on April 21, 1993.

There have been different themes every year since it began. This year’s theme is “True Love Waits Goes Home.”

“We’re trying to partner more with parents and families,” Thomson said.

This year there will be a seminar available for parents. The seminar takes place at Memorial Middle School. It will begin the same time the rally begins but ends 15 minutes before to allow extra time for parents to pick up their children. The purpose of the parents’ seminar is to guide parents on how to talk with their children about sex

and abstinence.

There will be a suggested $2 donation. However, the parent’s seminar is free.

“I think it’s a good idea for people to rally together with the same beliefs,” said Tara Reynolds, junior biology and radiology major. “It’s an important issue for the whole family to be educated on.”

“I think it’s good because it allows teens to be more informed of what it means to stay pure until marriage,” said Jen Jackson, junior elementary education major. “It’s good encouragement and a good way to get kids fired up about it.”

These rallies have been held in the four-state region since 1995, one of the locations being Missouri Southern. This will be the third year it has been held at Memorial Hall.

“There has been a turnout of 2,200 to 2,500 attendees each year it has been at Memorial Hall,” Thomson said. “This rally is not only for Christians; anyone and everyone is

welcome to attend.”