USA (MNN) — Did you know that 7 out of 10 American teenagers are having sex outside of marriage before their 19th birthday?
Brian Carlson with Biblica says that rate is the same for teens attending church.
"We want to challenge American teenagers to take a good, hard look at their own sexual choices," Carlson says. "They care about human trafficking, they care about pandemic diseases like AIDS, they care about orphans.
"They care about all these social justice issues. Yet studies are showing that they're engaging in the same behavior that's causing those issues around the world."
To combat premarital sex and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in developing nations, Biblica developed Reach4Life. It's a tool that uses Scripture to teach young people about abstinence.
"Public schools began using it throughout Africa because it was so effective at keeping kids from AIDS," explains Carlson. "It not only taught them abstinence, but it changed their life because it was the Gospel."
Now the program is used in 28 countries worldwide. While it's very effective in places like Africa and Thailand, Calson says it was hard to transfer the program as-is to American youth. The materials were written by and for teens in the developing world.
"On the surface, it's not relevant to the United States," says Carlson. "But in actuality, the principles are very relevant to the United States, because if you look at sexual activity stats among teenagers around the world, it's basically the same."
Carlson says that while the dangers of premarital sex are the same worldwide, teens seem to take more of an educated risk.
"The stats are all the same," he says. "The difference is that in Africa, you'll get HIV. In Latin America, there's a high risk of STDs, teenage pregnancies. In the United States…it doesn't seem as relevant to our culture, but it is."
Carlson adds, "The United Nations has called the AIDS pandemic the 'greatest human crisis of our time,' and we do need to respond to that as the Church. But I would also say we're having a 'moral pandemic' in America among our teenagers."
Biblica's solution? A video curriculum called Flipped. Youth pastors can use it to educate their students on abstinence and how to stop AIDS. Carlson says they're also challenged to put a Reach4Life Bible for $4 into the hands of a teen in a developing nation.
"We want to challenge American students to provide that $4," Carlson states. "The average American teenager has $104 of disposable income every single week.
"They have $104 of disposable income without any mortgages, without any bills, without anything to pay for. And what they usually end up spending that money on is themselves. We want to challenge them to begin spending that money to save the life of kids on the other side of the world."
While the Flipped program isn't available yet, Biblica did record the video curriculum during a Reach4Life launch in Trinidad and Tobago. You can view the videos captured by seven American teens here.
"We ended up producing four video curriculum based upon what they captured in a reality TV style, with a written curriculum that goes along with it, that youth pastors can use to engage their own students in the principles of Reach4Life," Carlson says.
Carlson explains that by engaging the youth of America, the Reach4Life program can bring Christ to every corner of the world.
"There are 300,000 youth ministries in the country," he states. "We're really confident that this can happen."
Pray God would use this program to challenge U.S. teens.
"It's just a very hard culture, and we need to be praying for our own teenagers, for our own students, for teenagers who go to church, that they would honor God with their sexual choices," says Carlson.
Pray that more American teens would say, "I'm not going to live for the cultural norms. I'm going to honor God with my choices when it comes to sex."