Child Evangelism Fellowship reports that it ministered to nearly 900,000 children in the United States in 2012. This represents a 10.3 percent increase over 2011.
CEF has 15 programs in the United States through which it reaches children with the gospel, including the popular Good News Clubs; 5-Day Clubs; the Truth Chasers Club, a Bible correspondence club; and wonderzone.com, a website specifically for children. “This growth is a result of the goodness and blessing of God,” said Mr. Moises Esteves, vice president of USA Ministries for CEF. “We are particularly grateful that the number of after-school Good News Clubs has steadily grown for the last twelve years.” Indeed, the increase is impressive: Less than 17,000 children were enrolled in AS-GNCs in 2001, last year that number was over 156,000.
What accounts for the remarkable increase of children enrolled in the AS-GNCs? The landmark 2001 U.S. Supreme Court case, Good News Club et al. v. Milford Central School has certainly been a catalyst. The justices’ decision in this case confirmed the constitutionality of the AS-GNCs’ meeting in public schools after the school day ended. This decision markedly improved the accessibility of the clubs to public elementary school children. Once available the children started coming. “It’s the biblical curriculum taught by caring volunteers that draws parents and children in,” explained Mr. Esteves. The clubs, which require parental consent to attend, offer a healthy mix of engaging Bible lessons, memory verses, songs and fun-filled games which all emphasize that one’s faith in Jesus Christ is evident through loving others. CEF recently updated and improved the curriculum, music and visuals for this ministry.
“I see again and again that parents and their children are hungry for the love and meaning that the Gospel offers. We, at CEF, are passionate about this gospel and sharing its message of hope, love and mercy with children through teaching, praying and caring for them,” offered Mr. Esteves. Not only are the parents pleased with these clubs but so are principals and teachers in the public schools who value the results of the moral and ethical teachings of Christianity. “We hear reports on a regular basis of improved behavior of the children and even improved test scores.” said Mr. Esteves. At Hernwood elementary school, in Randallstown, Maryland, Baptist Life Magazine reports in its August 2012 issue, that the suspension rate has dropped from 11.5 percent to 2.5 percent and report card grades are up since the AS-GNC started at the school, according to Ms. Cathy Gantz, the school’s principal. “That’s hard data. The Good News Club works,” Gantz said. “The Good News Club has just brought peace to Herndon (sic).”
There are about 4,000 after-school Good News Clubs in the public schools in the United States. CEF has increased its full-time staff to 710 to handle the increased demands of training, screening and equipping more than 25,000 volunteers who lead the clubs. Still, the demand keeps growing. Many principals around the country are asking for AS-GNCs. Thankfully, pastors and congregations across the country are becoming increasingly interested in reaching spiritually needy children. Having learned that it is legal for them to be in the public schools after classes, many have agreed to partner with CEF and provide the volunteers to lead an AS-GNC in their local school. “We are excited about the momentum that is growing,” said Mr. Esteves, “There are 65,000 public schools in the U.S. What we have accomplished so far is just the beginning.”
To locate your local CEF chapter see www.cefonline.com/locations.