Ring Signifies Commitment to Abstinence, Changed Heart Brings Success
by Jim Brown
(AgapePress) A faith-based ministry that recently received a large grant from the government wants to take its sexual abstinence program to 75 key U.S. cities over a seven-year period.
The "Silver Ring Thing" program encourages young people to make a covenant with God to wait until marriage before having sex. Teenagers who make that commitment receive a silver ring to be worn until their wedding day.
Founder Dennis Pattyn says the program attempts to answer the main question kids are contemplating today: If I make a decision like this -- to be abstinent -- why be left alone and be considered "out of it" in my school?
"The way we have addressed that is to do our program in large numbers, with many, many kids coming from the secular world as well as the Christian world," Pattyn explains. "So we designed our program to reached 'un-churched' kids in large numbers."
The ministry is hoping to further expand its influence across the country now that it has received a $700,000 grant from the government. Pattyn says the federal funding is a blessing, but also puts some restrictions on what the ministry can do with its sexual abstinence program.
"The enemy certainly is out there wanting to destroy the work -- and sometimes the enemy is actually the church itself, unbelievably -- but we're having to be much more careful about how we operate," he says. "We don't ever want to take the gospel [out] of our message because we believe the power for abstinence is a changed heart, not a ring on a finger."
Pattyn says 20% of students who attend the program and receive a silver ring as a symbol of their commitment to sexual purity, also give their lives over to Christ. At a Silver Ring Thing event earlier this month in Warren, Pennsylvania, 63 of the 428 who made a commitment to abstinence decided it was a decision they could not make without God's help.
According to Pattyn, Silver Ring Thing events are not seminars, but rather exciting high-tech presentations that include sound, lights, video, TVs and other things that attract the attention of young people.