Servant Leaders in Action: Ministry & Missions
Challenging Teens with a New Vantage Point
Sex. It’s a topic a lot of people would shy away from but not Elizabeth (Creech) Shafer (BA ’04). She is addressing the issue of teens’ sexual activity and the impact sex has on them through a program called Pure Sex, as a part of her new organization Vantage. “I am passionate about teens knowing their worth,” Shafer said. “I believe that one of the reasons that the STD, pregnancy, and pornography statistics are so high among teens today is because they lack self worth.” The Pure Sex program is for teens ages 12-19 and offers them a candid and uncensored look into the truth about sex and the consequences of having multiple partners.
Shafer’s drive to help teens stems not only from her heart for ministry but also from her own experience. She said there were a number of people who had a big impact on her life as a teen and she wanted to find a way to pay that positive influence forward. As she pursued her degree in Youth Ministry from Hope International University (HIU), she developed the skills she would later use on a daily basis. “All of my youth ministry classes helped me know more about teens and how they work,” Shafer said, specifically mentioning her homiletics class with Dr. Joseph Grana, Dean of the Pacific Christian College of Ministry and Biblical Studies. “Things that he taught me in that class have stuck with me and I refer back to them every time I am going to speak in front of the teens or anyone for that matter,” said Shafer.
Those skills were put to the test last summer when she visited several high schools in Coachella Valley as a representative for the Crisis Pregnancy Center. She spoke to teens about sex, the values of abstinence, and the consequences of sleeping around. At the end of the summer, she received a box of cards from students thanking her for telling them things about sex they had never heard before. Seeing a need for someone to be frank and heartfelt with teens about sex, Shafer created Vantage, which, like its name signifies, offers a "comprehensive view or commanding perspective" of sex.
The Pure Sex program meets every Sunday evening for four weeks in a building in Shafer’s area. For an hour and a half each session, the teens go in-depth on topics such as STDs, STIs, teen pregnancy, pornography, and identity. She presents teens with little known statistics such as, one in four teens having sex has an STD. She also has adult speakers share their teen sex experience and how it has negatively impacted their lives. “Our goal is for teens to walk away with the future in mind, and to see that the decisions that they make today WILL affect them as adults,” said Shafer.
More than anything, she loves seeing teens “inspired and challenged to change their lives because of something they have learned or heard.” The featured teen testimonies on her site, www.thisisvantage.com, certainly show she is making an impact. “Vantage exists to show teens ‘with temporary sacrifice comes a promising future,’” Shafer’s site states. “Vantage will empower teens to live a life without regrets and it will help free them to achieve their personal hopes and dreams. Our goal is to ultimately enhance self-esteem by teaching teens about healthy relationships, sex, dating, and developing good decision making skills.”
Learn more about Vantage and the Pure Sex program by visiting www.thisisvantage.com.