By D.A. WILKINSON
VINDICATOR RELIGION EDITOR
YOUNGSTOWN -- No humiliation, no one voted off, and no eating worms.
That's the thinking behind a new Christian reality television show that begins pre-production today.
Sarah Brown, 17, of Youngstown is among the 12 youths who will be the focus of the show, "TruthQuest: California."
The Dallas-based FamilyNet Television network, which is producing the show, says it is an alternative to national reality shows, such as "Survivor" and "Fear Factor."
The youths in "TruthQuest" will learn to surf at a Christian surfing ministry, attend church on the beach, go climbing in Yosemite and other activities.
That sounds normal, if not wholesome, but Denise Cook, a spokeswoman for the show, says "TruthQuest" will have an edgy feel.
"It is reality TV," Cook said.
The teens will be challenged, said Cook, who said she didn't want to give away the surprises the youths will face.
Brown said she and the other teens have been told to expect some twists. She said one thing they have been told is that they will manage a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop for a day.
Brown said it's another experience that will help her to achieve her career goal to be a missionary. One of the show's goals is evangelism, and Brown said she wants to observe the ministries she'll be working with on the show.
The teenager has already made one missionary trip to Uganda and will make another trip just two days after she finishes the filming.
Brown is a member of Rising Star Baptist Church on the East Side, which is part of the Southern Baptist Convention. The other four girls and seven boys in "TruthQuest" are also from SBC churches located from New York City to Colorado.
The youths are in Tennessee for several days where, Brown said, they will be given writing tips by Christian authors.
The youths will help map out each of the 13 half-hour episodes. Each youth will also keep a journal. The entries will be posted on the Baptist Press Web site, www.bpnews.net.
Baptist Press, the news service of the Southern Baptists, is one of the partners in the production, along with World Changers, an SBC youth program, and LifeWay Christian Resources, the parent company of the TruthQuest Bible, devotional journal and other products.
Brown already was an avid journal writer -- often several pages a day -- and says she likes the popular youth Bible since it asks questions that help teens think about the meaning of Scripture.
Brown said she didn't care that she doesn't know everything that will happen.
"The only thing I'm worried about is the white-water rafting and surfing, because I can't swim," she said with a laugh.
"The real purpose is basically to show that Christian teenagers can have fun, and we don't have to go a club, we don't have to have sex, and we don't have to get drunk to have fun," Brown said.
"People think that Christians are so limited and we can't do this and we can't do that. The purpose of the show is to show we can have fun, we can do normal things because we're normal people."
Brown does lots and lots of normal things. She'll be a senior this fall at Chaney High School, where she's the captain of the Fellowship of Christian athletes and has been active in student government. She's also active in Rising Star's youth ministry, sings in the choir and is a secretary for its Sunday school.
She's also been active in the Youngstown Playhouse, both on and off stage, since the fourth grade.
"I like to be on stage. I like attention. I'm very outgoing," Brown said with another laugh.
The series is to end filming in late July and be aired starting in late September. The bad news is that FamilyNet isn't available locally. Brown said local cable networks may be asked to air it, and Cook said a decision is pending on whether the programs will be available on videotape.