By KALEY CONNER
SMITH CENTER -- A national ministry will be stopping here next weekend, seeking to put a new spin on a simple message.
Silver Ring Thing uses personal testimonies, dramatic skits, videos and special effects as it strives to educate teenagers and young adults about the importance of practicing abstinence until marriage.
"It's important, obviously, because of the culture the kids are living in," said Brian Fischer, executive director of a Teens for Christ chapter in Phillipsburg. "They're constantly bombarded with the opposite message."
The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. March 26 at Smith Center High School. Tickets can be purchased in advance at www.silverringthing.com for $6, or at the door for $8. A meal is provided.
Silver Ring Thing ministers at about 80 events annually throughout the world. Since the organization got its start in 1995, more than 465,000 people have attended the events.
Statistics on the ministry's website also suggest approximately 161,400 people have committed to purity, and about 84,600 have converted to Christianity during the events.
"If it wasn't for our faith-based beliefs and backing, we would be just another abstinence program," said J.C. Andrews, promotions director for the national ministry. "It's to know Christ, and that will help them make the decision to stay pure until marriage."
The events also include a break-out session for parents.
The intention is to "reach kids where they're at," Andrews said. Attendees who choose to commit -- or re-commit -- to purity can obtain a silver ring to wear as a visible reminder of their decision.
"If we had a mission statement, it would be to see abstinence become the norm again rather than the exception," he said.
The ministry also will stop in Augusta on March 30.
Bringing the event to northwest Kansas has been a long-time goal for Smith Center resident Galen Lambert. His family attended a Silver Ring Thing event in Nebraska last year, and they decided then to find a way to bring that message home, he said.
Lambert also has a niece who is part of the Silver Ring Thing ministry team.
"It's the right message," Lambert said. "And they do a great job of conveying it in a different method than what our young people are used to hearing."