Teachers Notice the Difference!
“Thank you for the wonderful work you are doing in our school, spreading the Good News of salvation through faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ. As a 4th grade teacher I can see that your ministry is having such a positive impact in our school and community.
One particular case is my student, Tim*. He is a particularly intelligent and bright young man, but at the beginning of the school year, I was very concerned. At that time he arrived at school each morning very downcast, would anger easily, did not take direction or redirection very well, and would become easily defiant. Since the GNC began, I have witnessed such a change in Tim’s* behavior. He now arrives at school with a pleasant disposition, is cooperative, and it is enjoyable having him in the classroom.
I am so pleased to have your ministry working in our school building. You are truly helping to “train up children in the way they should go.” Please continue the work you are doing. May God continue to bless you. (Teacher, St. Louis area)
Honoring Bob Wilgus
Leaving the house at one in the morning and not returning till after eleven at night might not seem like an ideal day to you, but Bob Wilgus remembers a day like this; he probably will for the rest of his life. Bob is one of the full time-volunteers atChild Evangelism FellowshipInternational Headquarters. He recently had the privilege of going on the Great River Honor Flight—a part of the Honor Flight Network®. The trip took him from Hannibal, Missouri to Washington D.C. and back in 22 hours. He was privileged to have his older daughter, Bobette, as his guardian for this unique experience.
Bob Wilgus served for four years in the United States Air Force during the Korean Conflict, working as a jet mechanic. While he never saw combat, he helped supply safe planes for those who did. He was blessed to be able to participate in an honor flight this past month.
After busing to the St. Louis airport and flying to Baltimore, Bob and his 34 fellow veterans experienced their first honor. As they disembarked from the plane, they were greeted and thanked by over 20 soldiers who are currently serving in the military. Bob was touched by their gratitude. From Baltimore, Bob and the rest of the group traveled to D.C. where they visited the memorials for World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Air Forces. They also visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and observed the changing or the guard at Arlington Cemetery.
The experience that meant the most to Bob was his interaction with two boys around 12 years old. These boys, unprompted by an adult, approached Bob and said, “We want to thank you for your service to your country.” Another aspect of the trip that meant a lot to Bob was receiving letters from friends and family. He received over 75 letters which he spent the next day going through. The letters were a big surprise and he is thankful for all the kind comments.
When Bob served in the Air Force, he attended chapel and participated in religious activities as he had been raised to do, but he had yet learned to serve the Lord. He went through the motions of cultural Christianity without personally knowing the one who saves.
For years Bob thought being a Christian was about doing good things and going to church every Sunday. It wasn’t until he was 42 years old that Bob was asked a question which brought him face-to-face with the reality of his condition: “Bob, if you were to die tonight where would you go?”
When He heard this question, Bob realized that he couldn’t confidently answer. He tried to be good but he knew it wasn’t enough. That night Bob trusted in Jesus—not his religious actions or good works, but Jesus alone—and he began a relationship with God that changed his life.
Bob had been quiet, self-conscious and disinclined to personal interaction, but after believing in Jesus Bob wanted to be around people. He began to have a heart of service and was soon leading Bible studies and getting involved in ministry at his church. After Bob and his wife Gwen retired, they looked for opportunities to use their time in service to God. They heard about CEF in December of 1999 and began volunteering at CEF International Headquarters the next year. Both Bob and Gwen give their time and energy to ministry each week, traveling from Hannibal to Warrenton on Sunday and staying through Thursday afternoon.
Bob doesn’t want people to get the wrong idea about him. He said that he’s no hero. He just did what needed to be done. Bob never fought in a battle, he simply fixed planes. But heroes aren’t made by shots fired and battles fought but by sacrifice and selfless service. Beyond his service to his country and fellow soldiers during the Korean conflict, Bob has shown selflessness by dedicating his time and energy to serving the Lord. I know God will continue to use Bob and Gwen as they continue to dedicate their lives in service to their Savior.
Introducing the Interns: Elizabeth Burdette
Waiting seems to be such a huge part of life. I wonder how many times children hear the words, “Just wait,” from their parents. Believers hear those words from our Heavenly Father and many times it’s not the answer we want. “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord” (Psalm 27:14). Waiting is one of the lessons God has been teaching Elizabeth Burdette, an intern at Child Evangelism Fellowship International Headquarters.
“I’ve known about this internship since 2011 but due to college, I had to wait until  to come,” Elizabeth stated. “God taught me a lot about Himself, ministry and myself during this time. Now I feel that God is teaching me to rely on Him for my future.” Elizabeth is originally from West Virginia and came to IHQ in the fall of 2014. Elizabeth works in the Human Resources/Recruitment department as a ministry manager on the Good News Across America team. “I was interested in the internship program because I wanted to learn how to better partner with churches to produce lasting ministry in an area. I had participated in Good News Across America and knew that John Luck and his team were the people I needed to learn from. Good News Across America was one of the first ministries I did with CEF and I wanted to give back to that ministry, and see it from the other side.” And give back she has! Elizabeth works with key contacts from partnering churches in Indianapolis, Indiana to help them get ready for this outreach. She also helps with the many projects, events and retreats that Human Resources and Recruitment host at IHQ.
Beyond her internship Elizabeth has given back to the community through deaf ministry. She helps with the deaf ministry at First Baptist Church of Wentzville where she has participated in some events with the deaf community. For example, Elizabeth went to a deaf movie night, where they watched God’s Not Dead and used American Sign Language to discuss the different elements of the movie. She has also participated with other interns in ministering to inmates at the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center. There is an inmate there who is deaf and she has been able to minister to him.
Elizabeth is a wonderful addition to the CEF family and we are all very thankful she waited on God’s timing to come intern at IHQ. She is waiting once again to hear the next step God has for her. Keep Elizabeth in your prayers as she works to prepare for Good News Across America and as she plans the next step of her life. May she be blessed in every step she takes.
There is a lot to be said for longevity. We give service awards for those who have reached a certain number of years. Just this year Gus and Ruth Matero retired after 50 years of service as Child Evangelism Fellowship missionaries. Gus traveled in and out of Communist Russia before the Berlin Wall came down. In the years since then he’s traveled far into Russia by river boat to reach children who have never had the opportunity to hear about Christ. He and Ruth are wonderful faithful servants of God.
There is also a lot to be said for new beginnings. CEF has been hard at work to open every country of the world for ministry before our 80th birthday in 2017 (this year we are 78!). This month Theresa Llorente traveled from Tonga, where she is the national director, to explore the possibilities for establishing ministry in the nation of Tuvalu. She is also seeking to pioneer CEF ministry in three other countries in her region. Only 15 countries remain in this world that do not yet have CEF ministry.
In 2014 we saw new beginnings of ministry in five countries: Samoa, Sweden, French Guiana, Turks and Caicos, and Bermuda. We look forward with great anticipation to what the Lord will do through CEF this year! You can read about what God is doing in this issue and at our website cefonline.com. Trust Him with us for 2015.
Reese R. Kauffman
Christmas in March?
Who has ever heard of celebrating Christmas in March? Some people celebrate Christmas in July but in March might seem odd! Well that’s exactly what the CMI Online team did as they filmed the promotional video for the Christmas Across America project taking place at the end of this year.
Meet Louisa Bratt
I’d like to introduce you to an amazing woman of God, Louisa Bratt. Louisa is a volunteer in the Truth Chasers Club at Child Evangelism Fellowship International Headquarters. I hope you enjoy getting to know Louisa as much as I have and that you will be inspired by her story of joy and service.
Louisa has experienced many hardships and changes throughout her life. She was born in Yugoslavia the daughter of a wealthy farmer. Louisa was 18 when she came to the United States in 1951 as a refugee. She has worked as a maid and baker and later became a wife and step-mother. Her husband passed away after only 12 years of marriage. But as she told me her story one thing shined out above all else—Louisa’s great joy. Her joy isn’t rooted in her circumstances but in her heavenly Father and in her service to Him. Louisa pointed out, “When everything comes easy for us, that’s not good. We don’t learn [to trust God].”
Soon after coming to America, she started working in Chicago where she first experienced the joy of a true relationship with God. Louisa grew up hearing about God and the stories and doctrines of Christianity but it was never made personal. Then one day, not long before her 19th birthday, as Louisa listened to a sermon at her church in Chicago, she realized these truths weren’t just impersonal concepts but truths that applied to her life. The Gospel was for her! On that day she believed and her life was changed.
During the many years between then and now Louisa has served God with her time and resources. She has not only volunteered with CEF but also with many other organizations. Her service has taken her to countries across the globe.
Louisa’s deep passion has always been for children and those in desperate poverty. For a while, Louisa worked in a kitchen serving impoverished children. When asked if she liked working in the kitchen, her response was, “Sometimes when you don’t like something but you know God wants you there, it becomes a joy to do it.”
Louisa says that when she chooses which ministries to partner with she looks for those “who have such a desire to reach people for God and be a part of helping people.” It was this desire that lead her to volunteer at CEF in 2001. In 2006 Louisa decided that God was calling her to partner with CEF on a more permanent basis. She sold her house in California and moved to Warrenton, Missouri to volunteer at CEF IHQ full time. Louisa is still actively serving there today.
She shared many stories of the joy she has felt at seeing God’s work through her life and through the ministry of the Truth Chasers Club. She told of a child who wrote, “Thank you. No one had ever told me about Jesus and I didn’t know that anyone loved me until I got your lessons.”
Another letter received from a young woman, said, “I was ready to commit suicide. I didn’t think anyone loved me and then I got your lesson.” Louisa said that letters like these give her the greatest joy, for they show that God is working in the lives of young people through the work done at the Truth Chasers Club.
Louisa also finds great joy from the community she serves with. She said, “The joy of working with fellow Christians whose concern is for fellow people, that they get to know Jesus—that’s the greatest joy.” To see Louisa is to see the truth of this statement. She is a woman who is full of joy.
Louisa’s circumstances and travels have given her a special perspective and depth to her faith. She told the story of watching a baptism in a country where believers face persecution. She saw over 60 people baptized that day, and as each person emerged from the water the pastor asked them this question: “Are you ready to die for Christ?” And each person, knowing this question could easily become reality, answered with a firm “yes.” “This is the commitment that the church needs,” Louisa stated. This is the commitment Louisa has lived out. She may not have been required to die for her faith, but her story is a testimony to how she has given her life—her time, resources, energy and passion—to her Savior and Lord.
Introducing the Interns: Dustin Williams
“To be honest I wasn’t interested [in an internship] at first. I didn’t think the Lord was leading me to work with the ministry of CEF [Child Evangelism Fellowship],” Dustin remarked. Oh, how God changes things! Dustin Williams, originally from Gainesville, FL is currently enjoying an internship in the shipping department the CEF International Headquarters. It’s so amazing to see how God works in the lives of those who seek Him and how He leads them on adventures they never imagined.
In October of 2014 Dustin came to GUIDE Retreat with a group from his local area. GUIDE Retreat is a weekend long seminar designed to help educate people about the ministry of CEF. Dustin worked at a Camp Good News in Florida for many years so he already knew a lot about CEF ministry, but he decided to come to GUIDE Retreat to help his mom with driving from Florida to Missouri. While Dustin didn’t really learn new information on the trip, he was thinking about CEF ministry the whole 14 hour drive home. God was tugging at Dustin’s heart, calling Him to an internship. Dustin’s original plan didn’t include working full-time with CEF but God’s plan was different. That night, Dustin wrestled with the Lord until 2:00am. “I didn’t want to come [to the internship],” Dustin said. He was very involved in Camp Good News, Good News Clubs and other ministry responsibilities. Why would God ask him to leave? Finally, Dustin surrendered to the Lord and said, “God, you need to take care of my responsibilities.”
God answered Dustin’s prayer within a couple of weeks with a resounding “yes.” A Good News Club Dustin was getting ready to take charge of was given to someone else. His assistant counselor at Camp Good News was more than willing to take the lead position. Things kept falling into place as Dustin prayed and sought the Lord. When Dustin talked to his parents about the prospect of starting an internship, they were all for it. At that point he had already filled out an application with the expectation to start the internship in January. The next Friday the recruitment office set up an online interview with Dustin. A day before the interview Dustin received a phone call with an interesting request. It was someone from the CEF recruitment office asking how soon Dustin could start an internship. “I was planning on January,” Dustin replied.
“How about Monday?” the interviewer asked. Dustin was blown away. He told them he would think and pray about this prospect and contact them that night. Dustin sought the godly council of his parents and his mom’s mouth dropped at the news. As they talked it over, the Williams family recognized all that God was doing in leading Dustin to an internship. All the ministry responsibilities in Florida were taken care of. Even the plane ticket to Missouri was paid for.
Three days later Dustin took a huge leap of faith. He flew to Warrenton, Missouri and started working full-time with CEF—something had once said he didn’t want to do. “Now that I’m here I am beginning to see Him [God] work in the direction He would have me take next and it is exciting to see it unfold before my eyes,” Dustin said. God used the unexpected to bring Dustin joy and use him in ways Dustin hadn’t expected. “I’m really enjoying my time here and would recommend it to anyone.” Dustin plans to take CMI in January and hopes to work full time in the ministry of CEF. He has a special passion for overseas missions.
It’s so encouraging to know that God is the one who guides each leap of faith. He’s the one who guides the hearts of those who love and serve Him. God is the one who led Dustin to serve as an intern. He’s the one who gave Dustin this newfound passion and excitement for the ministry. And God is the one who made it all possible. Praise Him for all He has done!
Have Flannelgraph. Will Travel
Rena sat at her computer and opened her email. Among the emails was one from the leader of the children’s club at her church. She clicked on the icon and the email opened. “Hi, Rena,” she read. “The teacher for tonight’s children’s program got sick at the last minute. I know this is short notice, but would you be able to teach tonight? Please don’t feel bad if it’s too short notice. I understand completely. But thank you for your consideration.” Rena promptly clicked the “Reply” icon. “Just tell me what you want me to teach, where you want me to teach and when. I’ll be there.” Her motto is, “Have flannelgraph. Will travel.”
Rena gladly answers these cries for help. “All I need is 20 minutes notice,” she said. She has been teaching Bible lessons using flannelgraph for over 60 years and she has never thrown away a flocked figure. She still teaches with her flannelgraph twice a week. One of her favorite parts of teaching with flannelgraph is noticing how something so simple keeps the children’s attention. “On TV there are flying cars and exploding buildings!” Rena said. “When you slow down it keeps [the children’s] attention.”
Rena was first introduced to flannelgraph at the age of five when a Child Evangelism Fellowship Bible club was started in her home. Through that club Rena believed on Jesus as her Savior. After the club every week Rena would play with the flannelgraph in the living room as her mother visited at the kitchen table with the teacher. Rena would retell the Bible story to her younger brother using the flannel board and figures.
When Rena was 15 years old she had the opportunity to put all her practice to use. Rena was asked to help a lady and her mother teach a vacation Bible school. “We had stamina back then,” Rena added. “Our VBS’s were two weeks long!” During those two weeks Rena taught the children with—you guessed it—flannelgraph! After those two weeks she was offered a position as the third grade Sunday school teacher. Rena accepted and began a Sunday school teaching career that has lasted more than 60 years.
When Rena began teaching Sunday school, she also began her flocked figure collection. Rena had a jar in which she would save all the dimes from her pocketbook. When she had three dollars saved, Rena would go to the local Christian book store and purchase another lesson series. She also subscribed to the Child Evangelism magazine, from which she collected every story and flocked figure from the Life of Christ series and other lessons. She uses those same figures in her Bible lessons today.
“I can’t think of anything I would rather do [than teach Bible lessons],” Rena stated. She said it is a great joy to be able to watch some of her early students grow up and become Sunday school teachers. Rena also has the privilege of teaching some of her early students’ grandchildren.
“Do you want to know my life verse?” Rena asked. “2 Timothy 2:2, ‘And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.’” Her life exemplifies this verse! Rena teaches children, who grow up to teach other children. “It’s a way of multiplying myself,” Rena added.
This philosophy rings true in relation to Rena’s little brother—the one whom she taught using the flannelgraph board after the Bible club in her home. This little boy grew up to earn a doctorate of theology from Dallas Seminary. He ended up teaching there as well and at Moody Bible Institute. There’s no doubt that many of his students went on to teach others as well. All this started when he heard Bible stories from his big sister using flannelgraph.
It is such an encouragement to hear about a woman of God who has followed His calling her whole life. “If I can’t teach, I want the Lord to take me home,” Rena said. Her life is a perfect example of how God uses those who are willing to serve Him. Whether it’s with flannelgraph, flashcards, or some other method, God’s Word needs to be presented to the children. May we serve Him with dedication as Rena has and be used by Him to bring many to the Savior.
CEF Introduces Christmas Across America Initiative
Goal of Reaching 100,000 Children in First Year
Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF), announces its new Christmas Across America outreach with the goal of telling children who have never heard the true meaning of Christmas. The initiative launches with the goal of reaching 100,000 children with the Gospel in December 2015.
“Can you imagine what would happen if 100,000 children are told the true meaning of Christmas for the first time this year? We believe that is what God is calling us to do,” says Moises Esteves, Vice President, USA Ministries for CEF. “We feel a great sense of urgency to bring the Gospel back to the center of Christmas celebrations across America. We want to mobilize others to join us.”
Child Evangelism Fellowship currently has offices in 192 countries and 400 chapters in the USA. These chapters train local volunteers to lead weekly Bible clubs and offer other outreach programs throughout the year. CEF USA estimates that they present the Gospel to over 800,000 children every year through current programming alone but they want to do more, particularly to reach those children who do not go to church and may have never heard the Gospel message.
The Christmas Across America outreach is seeking volunteers who will commit to teach and host a Christmas party for unreached children this Christmas season. With each commitment, CEF will provide free training and a party kit with everything needed to teach a Christmas Across America party including:
Brand new CEF curriculum celebrating the true Christmas story of Jesus’ birth
Songs and games to engage the children
Ideas for locations and party preparations
“Meet the King” Gospel booklets to send home with all participants
Esteves says, “It is important for these parties to be great fun for the kids but first and foremost they are going to hear that Christmas is about a wonderful, loving God who sent his only Son to be their Savior.”
To join the Christmas Across America movement, volunteers can learn more online at www.christmasacrossamerica.com or by calling their local CEF chapter. No experience is necessary. CEF will train and screen all teachers in compliance with their Child Protection Policy.
Fred Pry Named Director of Literature Development
Fred Pry has been named Director of Literature Development at CEF International Headquarters. Fred's ministry role is to oversee the entire literature development process and production from creation to shipping. This includes sales, customer service, creative services, prepress, press, bindery, and shipping. Fred previously served in CEF as a Local Director in Pennsylvania then as State Director of Virginia, a combined total of 12 years. Prior to following God’s call to join CEF he worked 25 years in business and industry, 20 of which were in the printing industry. Fred said, "God doesn’t waste anything in a life, as long as we are willing to allow Him to use it. It is exciting to see God connect all the dots of past experiences within this new adventure at CEF Headquarters, all for His glory and Kingdom." Fred and his wife Dawn have four adult children living in Pennsylvania, Wyoming, and one who has moved to Warrenton with them. Please pray for the family as they settle in to their new home and ministry.
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