Of that number, more than 200,500 have taken the True Love Waits pledge and nearly 41,500 adults have committed to faithfulness in marriage through the TLW-related True Love Stays.
In Asia, True Love Waits also is making gains.
Sharon Pumpelly, lead consultant for True Love Waits International, noted, "In sub-Sahara Africa, AIDS has made people hungry for True Love Waits."
She believes there are many other True Love Waits presentations being made and commitments to biblical purity being secured beyond those that have been documented in the AIDS-ravaged African continent where the TLW message, or the lack of it, can have life-and-death consequences.
"When I travel to Africa often someone will pull out a True Love Waits card from his or her pocket and tell me the impact the commitment has made," she said.
One of the most powerful individual stories she has heard so far came from a young man who lost four siblings to AIDS. He lived a promiscuous lifestyle and does not remember all the young women he had sex with.
When he came to know the Lord and committed to purity, the young man commented that he would be like his deceased brothers and sisters if the True Love Waits presenter had not come when he did.
In Malawi, Pumpelly met with a man who had been recommended to her to translate the True Love Waits materials into Chichewa. As they began talking, she discovered that when he heard the True Love Waits message, he became so passionate about it that he found the funding himself, translated and printed the materials, and trained youth leaders in each province of Malawi.
"This is the passion we are seeing," Pumpelly noted.
Another encouraging development comes from the Eastern Cape Province in South Africa, where True Love Waits has attracted the attention of the provincial government. Several years ago the Eastern Cape began a "Moral Regeneration Movement" through government agencies. The movement focuses on identifying and partnering with programs that are working with youth to develop high moral standards.
As the True Love Waits message has spread throughout the Eastern Cape, the department of education and the department of social development formulated a partnership with True Love Waits to ensure that every youth and young adult in the province gets the opportunity to hear about God's message of purity.
"I am really excited with this partnership as it seeks to give meaning to our endeavors," said Nosipho Skenjana, chief director for institutional development, support and governance for the East Cape department of education.
In the Philippines, God is opening doors and young people are responding. Jorex, a Filipino man, became so passionate about getting the True Love Waits message out to the young people in his rural area that he quit his job and began praying for the Lord to use him. He now has a thriving ministry and he was able to help the True Love Waits team in Manila with a large conference in Cebu City, which led to nearly 60 schools including True Love Waits in their curriculum.
People from a number of places in Asia have expressed interest in bringing the True Love Waits message to their parts of the world. One contact came from a youth leader in Malang, Indonesia, which is two hours from Jakarta. Derek Ross, director of True Love Waits in the Philippines, exchanged ideas with the youth leader and together they developed a plan for bringing True Love Waits to Indonesia.
"It is truly amazing what the True Love Waits International team has done in two years," said Jimmy Hester, cofounder of True Love Waits. Hester recently met with Pumpelly and several of her team members to get an update on progress and to discuss strategy for moving forward.
"God has been very gracious in the caliber of people He has brought to our team," Hester said. "They have built important relationships and partnerships and now have a growing network in place to expand True Love Waits' life-changing message. You just see God's hand all over this, yet there still is so much that needs to be done."
Pumpelly added, "God is at work around the world, touching and changing lives through True Love Waits. We are seeing a new groundswell for True Love Waits in all of the countries where we are working, and we continue to get requests from other countries for training and material.
"My prayer is that we will be able to keep meeting these requests."
Don Beehler is a writer in Franklin, Tenn. For more information about True Love Waits, visit www.truelovewaits.com.
Copyright (c) 2009 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net