by Don Beehler
Seeing the work of True Love Waits in the Philippines "once again demonstrated God's continued awesome work" through the abstinence-until-marriage outreach, TLW co-founder Jimmy Hester said after a two-week trip to the country.
Among the highlights Hester noted during the Philippines visit was meeting a man named Joerex from a region of the country that is predominately Muslim and dangerous to live in due to terrorist threats. Joerex quit his job to devote his time to training True Love Waits leaders. He also gets into local schools to present the message and has a one-hour daily True Love Waits radio program.
"Joerex has great passion for reaching young people," Hester said, "and carries out all these activities with minimal resources and at great personal risk."
Joining Hester for the trip were his wife Kim and fellow LifeWay Christian Resources employees Bob Bunn, Mike Wakefield, Rick Prall and Patti Baker, along with Sharon Pumpelly, lead consultant for True Love Waits International. The team reached 1,705 Filipino students through TLW presentations and recorded 432 professions of faith in Jesus Christ.
Other highlights of the Feb. 13-26 trip included:
1) Meetings and speaking engagements with the president, Christian campus minister and students at Polytechnic University of the Philippines (which has 30,000 students), and meetings with pastors, Bible students, guidance counselors, administrators and students at churches and schools, including the main campus of Dasmarinas National High School, which has 10,000 students.
2) Consultation on True Love Waits and student ministry with the student pastor and his nine-member staff at Conservative Christian Fellowship, a mega-church with 15,000 worshippers each Sunday.
3) Speaking with counselors, staff and youth at The Highlands camp, which has 1,200-1,500 students at each camp for a total of 70,000 campers over a several-month period.
4) Interaction during home fellowships with national celebrities (recording artists, songwriters, models and community leaders) and representatives from other ministries (Youth With A Mission, Conservative Baptists and Youth for Christ).
5) Participating in "Unashamed", a day-long event in which nearly 900 student and adult leaders were trained to take True Love Waits to students in churches and schools in their parts of the Philippines. The event also was audio taped and will be used in future Unashamed conferences in the Philippines. LifeWay team members led workshops for adult and student leaders dealing with issues such as purity; pornography; lust and love; and homosexuality.
6) A 45-minute interview with a radio station that broadcasts throughout metro Manila.
"The True Love Waits team in the Philippines, led by Derek Ross, is doing a great work among Filipino students," Hester said, "and I know their best days of ministry are ahead."
Ross originally came to the Philippines as an International Mission Board missionary. Today, through Commission to Every Nation, a Texas-based mission organization, Ross oversees a national ministry in which someone is providing True Love Waits small-group training nearly every day.
Rick Prall, content editor for LifeWay's student ministry publishing, described TLW's work in the Philippines as "well-planned and right on target," said they are "able to do so many things in the Philippines that we could not do here in the U.S., such as open evangelism and purity training in public schools. The Philippines' team has trained high school and collegiate students in leading small groups to focus on the purity lessons and lead students to come to Christ."
Bob Bunn, content editor for LifeWay's Living with Teenagers magazine, noted, "God has opened so many doors for [the TLW team in the Philippines] and has given them so many great connections within the culture. They are doing a wonderful job of taking advantage of joining God where He is at work, and I think they are seeing blessings because of it."
True Love Waits, a division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, is designed to encourage moral purity by adhering to biblical principles. More than 100 organizations and thousands of churches have adopted the use of True Love Waits throughout the world, challenging young people to make a commitment to sexual abstinence until marriage.
The first True Love Waits national celebration took place in July 1994, when more than 210,000 covenant cards were displayed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Today, an estimated 2.5 to 3 million youth have signed commitment cards pledging sexual purity until their wedding day, and that number continues to grow worldwide. For more information, visit www.truelovewaits.com.
Don Beehler is a freelance writer in Franklin, Tenn.