Child Evangelism Fellowship: Sharing God’s Burden
For 79 years Child Evangelism Fellowship® (CEF®) has been used of the Lord to bring children to Himself. Founder Jesse Irving Overholtzer had a deep burden to reach children across the globe with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He said, “I’m very burdened that people evangelize the children, not because we say so, but because it is commanded in the Word of God.” This same burden has been passed down from generation to generation of CEF workers and volunteers who continue the work of bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ to “Every Child, Every Nation, Every Day.”
In the past few years, CEF has seen record-breaking growth. In 2014, 19.9 million children around the world heard a face-to-face presentation of the Gospel from a trained CEF worker or volunteer. That’s a phenomenal 28 percent growth from 2013! But behind all these numbers and statistics are real-life children whose lives are being transformed by the Gospel.
One of the outreach programs for which CEF is best known is the Good News Club.® During the school year, children gather in convenient locations, including public and private school classrooms, gymnasiums, libraries and cafeterias, for a fun, high-energy, Biblically-based after-school club. The club provides a nurturing, welcoming environment, and with parents’ permission, trains children in morals, character, leadership and citizenship, from a Christian and Biblical perspective. Each Good News Club is taught by screened, trained and caring CEF workers and volunteers who have a heart for children. With their parent’s permission, children participate in Bible lessons, songs, memory verses, games and activities, and are presented with the Gospel. They are introduced to exciting accounts of real-life missionaries, and are encouraged to have a daily time of personal reflection and Bible reading, with helpful take-home sheets and Wonder Devotional Books®. Every time Good News Club meets, children hear the amazing truths of God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, and are encouraged in the development of their whole person – body, mind, and spirit.
Jhovany is an example of one of the many lives that has been transformed because of Good News Club. He has faithfully attended the weekly club in his public school since fourth grade. His favorite part of Good News Club is singing because “it’s fun and we dance around.” But more importantly, Jhovany learned “that God died for our sins… [Good News Club] helped me learn how God is our Helper, [and] our Savior.” Even though Jhovany is now in middle school, he comes back to his Good News Club every week as a helper. When asked why other children should come to Good News Club, Jhovany responded, “So you can learn about God!” Thousands of children like Jhovany are being reached with the Gospel in their public schools through the ministry of CEF.
Even when schools let out for the summer, CEF ministry continues. There are many programs CEF provides in the summer months, but the primary summertime activity is 5-Day Club®. These summer Bible clubs have been described as “VBS on-the-road.” They are taught anywhere convenient for children —backyards, parks, community centers, apartment complexes and the list goes on. One a week for six consecutive weeks, children gather to hear Bible lessons and a missionary story taught by screened and trained CEF workers and volunteers, many of whom are older teenagers, who serve as mentors and examples to the younger children. The kids enjoy exciting games and high-energy activities, but most importantly, they hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ each day. Every summer tens of thousands of children worldwide hear the Gospel because of the ministry of 5-Day Club.
In an effort to provide an alternative to the increasingly commercialized and materialistic nature of Christmas, CEF launched a brand new program in 2015 called Christmas Across America.TM The holiday season commenced very early for CEF local directors and teacher trainers, as they worked to facilitate training sessions for the many volunteers who gave their time to tell children the true meaning of Christmas. In November and December, children all around the country were invited to attend “Ultimate Christmas Parties.” They played games, made crafts, ate snacks and heard the true meaning of Christmas. Ultimate Christmas Parties were held in all kinds of locations—daycares, women’s shelters, restaurants, hospitals, ice cream parlors and even a carwash!
Andrew Murray, a full-time CEF worker in Colorado said, “One of our church partners here in Greater Denver had a testimony from their Christmas Across America party: 105 children in attendance, 6 babies, 48 parents and other adult guests, and 41 church volunteers—in all, 200 people at the party! There were two new decisions made to believe in Christ. The pastor said, ‘This was the best Wednesday night in my 20-some year history with the church!’”
Because of Christmas Across America, over 64,000 children in the United States were reached with the Gospel this Christmas season. Hundreds of thousands more were reached worldwide through this Christmas campaign, which quickly spread from Christmas Across America to Christmas around the world!
God has richly blessed the work of Child Evangelism Fellowship in its 79 years of outreach. What has made CEF so successful? It could be because of the teachers. Maybe it’s because of the children. Or maybe it’s because CEF shares in the Lord’s burden, that “it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish” (Matthew 18:14).