(Photo: AP Images / Daniel Miller)
What started as a vision from coffee break discussion has become an international movement 20 years later that has helped countless teens commit to sexual purity.
Richard Ross and Jimmy Hester co-founded the movement back in February 1993, when they urged teenagers to make commitments to sexual abstinence until they are married by pledging their loyalty to God and their families.
The pledge states, "Believing that true love waits, I make a commitment to God, myself, my family, my friends, my future mate, and my future children to be sexually abstinent from this day until the day I enter a biblical marriage relationship."
Regina Daniels, a 31-year-old single mother, recalls when she made the Purity Pledge at an overnight youth retreat at The Chapel of Good Shepard in Yeadon, Pa. "I was 15-years-old. I just remember all of the teenagers watched a film on purity, we had a big discussion and then we were asked if we would like to pledge our purity to God. As an adult, I really wish that I had taken it seriously back then. Purity is not taboo but is real and means something."
Since the creation of True Love Waits, the movement has now spread to 100 countries helping teens to battle sexual peer pressure.
"We had virtually no funds for advertising to let people know about the movement," Ross told the Baptist Press, recalling the fledgling days of True Love Waits. "So God simply harnessed the entire news industry at zero cost. The fact that the movement continues in its 20th year is a clear indication that it is empowered by the Spirit of God and not by some human ingenuity."
Mary Hobbs a nurse manager at Children's Hospital believes that initiatives such as True Love Waits helps teenagers take a deeper look at the seriousness of sex as well as to serve as supplement to sex education in schools. "There may not be concrete evidence of how many teenagers have actually abstained from sex due to the program, any initiative that makes one teenager think before they act is always positive."
In 20 years, other ideas have come about from the mission of True Love Waits, such as Purity Rings and events such as the controversial Purity Balls.
Michael Dean, father of two teenage girls, accompanied his daughters to their church Purity Ball last year. He shared that the event allowed him to be a part of such an important decision in his girls' lives. Not only did they pledge their purity but also pledged his spiritual protection.
"It was such a special night for the three of us," Dean explained. "I saw my girls as young women for the first time. They looked so beautiful. When they committed their sexual purity before the Lord, I was amazed at their maturity. Their pledge helped me to see the responsibility that God placed on my life as a father."
True Love Waits continues its mission to transcend sexual immorality and to empower teenagers to love their God, themselves and to bring glory and magnification to the Lord through the decisions they make in their lives.