Not a Mistake
“I am not a mistake,” cried one 14 year old orphan after hearing how much God loved him and sent His Son to die for his sins. Ms. Mary could not believe her eyes or ears as she witnessed this boy trusting in the Lord Jesus as his Savior and Father! How far she had come from the days when she herself was crying out to God: “I cannot do this any longer, God. You need to give me a break.”
Ms. Mary had been serving in children’s ministry in southern Asia for more than 15 years. But now she was tired, discouraged, battered, and needing a break. Mary began praying and asking God to “use my talents, gifts, in ways you want.” Little did she know how amazingly God would answer her cries to Him.
Today Mary is a volunteer “circuit” evangelist and member of the National Board with Child Evangelism Fellowship of Singapore, traveling primarily to India, sharing the Good News of the Lord Jesus with the “least of these:” orphans, the abused, and children forced into the horrors of the sex-trafficking trade of Southeast Asia.
At one orphanage school system in India, the Good Shepherd Schools, live more than 20,000 children. It is Mary’s joy and privilege to share the Gospel with the boys and girls and staff at one of the schools located in the northwestern city of Lucknow. In one country, Mary regularly holds Bible camps and VBS’ for orphans, teaching them that they are indeed “not a mistake.” Mary is so thankful and excited as to how God is using her and her gifts as she goes to these needy areas sharing the Gospel and encouraging God’s children to consider joining CEF full time so that more and more boys and girls and teens and moms and dads throughout southern Asia may hear the Good News of our Lord and Savior.
On Your Marks, Get Set, GO! (2)
As summer approaches, thoughts of rest and relaxation flood the mind. Most people think of summer as relaxing—time off, vacations, time spent with family and friends, and frolicking in the outdoors. But for those working with Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF), that is rarely the case. Summer is like a marathon that starts in early May and continues through August. It’s a race that is all-encompassing, exhausting and entirely exhilarating.
Teens and young adults from all over the nation are preparing for the summer ministries taking place in their states. Training programs called Christian Youth in Action(CYIA) happen across the country. Some start at the end of May, while others take place later in June. The number of participants from state to state varies greatly, from just a handful to over 150 young people. They are trained and equipped to share their faith using Bible lessons, mission stories, memory verses, songs and games.
Once the summer missionaries are well trained, the next leg of the race begins: 5-Day Clubs. They use the training they received to teach Bible clubs throughout their local area. The clubs last 90 minutes, and are taught every day for five consecutive days.
Another leg of the race for many Summer Missionaries is Good News Across America. This two-week long outreach brings people from all over the country to one city to jump-start the ministry in that area. The focus this year is Indianapolis. Summer Missionaries will partner with churches, teach clubs and help establish connections for continued ministry.
Please join us in prayer for the different aspects of the summer. Pray for those of working all the different elements that go into summer ministries here at CEF—from planning the events to teaching the clubs. Pray that God would prepare and protect them physically, emotionally and spiritually. Pray that they “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1b).
If you are interested in summer missions, you can contact your local chapter. You can find contact information at chapters.cefonline.com. You can ask about hosting a 5-Day Club or other ways to get involved. For more information about Good News Across America, go to goodnewsacrossamerica.com. Summer is upon us. The runners are lacing up their shoes and gearing up for another season-long marathon. Are you ready? Are you set? Let’s go!
Laying Foundations for Ministry in Tuvalu
Missionary Director of CEF of Tonga Theresa (Thess) Llorente returned from an exploratory trip to the target country of Tuvalu recently. This is her story:
"The Lord will command the blessing on you in your storehouse and in all which you set your hand and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you" (Deuteronomy 28:8).
I claimed this verse as I went to Tuvalu. And the Lord had blessed His work, preparing the way as He opened a very wide door at the mainline church the Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu(EKT). It was a great opportunity to minister to both Sunday school teachers and children of the five congregations in the capital of Funafuti. The secretary of missions had arranged meetings for me. The first one was a meeting with the EKT president and the staff at the head office, then a visit the five parish ministers on the island, with a special chauffeur transporting me, from one parish to another.
During my first Saturday, representatives of the five parishes attended a day-long Sunday School Teachers Retreat. The following week I had children's meetings in every parish. It was a wonderful opportunity to share the Gospel message of salvation with the children. A number of children responded to the salvation invitation.
Then in the evenings, I did a follow-up training for the Sunday school teachers. My Sunday mornings were spent observing the Sunday school classes of those who came to the training. On the last Sunday afternoon, I did two training sessions, one with the EKT and the other one with the Brethren Assembly which was attended by their pastor, church elders, Sunday school teachers and parents.
It's been a real blessing to me having experienced God's guiding hand leading me in every step that I need to take. It is indeed a great journey of faith. Only God can open doors for me so I can minister for Him.
I need your prayers for the plan to follow up what was started in Tuvalu. Pray especially for the people of God's choosing to become part of the committee for CEF work to be established in Tuvalu. The return visit will be in September for two weeks to conduct a Teaching Children Effectively™ 1 course. The EKT (denomination) will have a Sunday school workshop in September and representatives from the eight islets are coming. I was asked to be one of the facilitators. Pray that I would have the Meet the King Tuvaluan translation available for the Sunday school along with other literature.
Do you know what I’m missing?
Children are a precious gift from God. The laugh of a small child can brighten a room. A classroom of bright students can bring hope. The future of the world can be seen in those freckled faces and toothless grins. Yet for all the talk of what they will do and become to impact the future, what is being done to help them right now while they are still children?
Children make up nearly a third of the world’s population. Every day they face the same struggles and hurts adults do. Cheeks are stained with tears from lack of food. Confusion and uncertainty cloud their minds as a result from an overwhelming natural disaster. For many children this is a temporary reality but it is not an eternal reality.
The greatest need of every child is a Savior from his sin.
Child Evangelism Fellowship is an international children’s ministry whose sole focus is the evangelization of children. To children who are spiritually starving, we bring the Bread of Life. To children who are spiritually dry, we bring the Living Water. To the children who are spiritually clothed in filthy rags, we extend God’s offer of robes of righteousness. CEF is more interested in taking the misery out of the child than taking the child out of the misery--children like Lola*, a nine year old girl who lived in Mexico, and her brother, Juan*, who came to a CEF Good News Club.
When the teacher came to talk to their mom and invite them to the club, Lola was wearing a satanic charm around her neck. But Lola and her brother were allowed to go. They went every week. It was not long before they both received Jesus as their Savior. Their spiritual growth was evident. Then, after a year, they stopped coming. “You are the seventh son of the devil,” their father told one of the teachers. He wouldn’t permit them to go to the club or even look at the Bible teachers. Eventually, after much prayer, Lola and Juan returned to club. Lola is now twelve. When one of the Bible teachers talked to her she still remembered the decision she made.
The decision Lola and her brother made stayed with them even when the missionaries could not. Last year CEF reached over 15 million children, like Lola and Juan, around the world. It is our goal to reach every child with Gospel, disciple them in their faith and establish them in a local Bible believing church. The Gospel brings salvation and gives children hope in the midst of hurt, peace in times of difficulty and light in the darkest places. That is something that can never be taken away. Jesus will never run out, wear down, dry up or run away.
A Call to Prayer
God has clearly called us in CEF to follow His Word in Psalm 96:
- To tell of His salvation from day to day.
- To declare His glory among the nations.
As we work each day at International Headquarters we continually look for ways to follow this call both in the U.S. and around the world. As we do, we seek the Lord to provide for the needs of this ministry for Him. Today we have a SPECIAL REQUEST and a call to prayer in this regard.
From time to time finances seem tighter and the need more urgent. This is one of those times and we desperately need to call on the Lord to intervene. We are undertaking a review of what we are doing and asking that the Lord show us and correct anything we should do differently. We are also asking the Lord to provide so that the ministry can continue uninterrupted.
We ask you, the CEF family, to especially pray for God's provision this month. We realize there are needs far beyond International Headquarters, and we need to pray for those also. However, as so many countries receive support through Headquarters, it is an especially urgent request which affects our entire CEF ministry.
Please let us know if you are praying with us-it would be a great encouragement. And tell us how we can pray for you.
"All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer..." (Acts 1:14, ESV).
Please consider giving a gift to help ministry continue uninterrupted.
Contemplations of God's Love
At Child Evangelism Fellowship, we employ a certain methodology for sharing the Gospel with children. This methodology is designed to help focus on some of the central teachings of scripture, such as God’s love, mankind’s sin and Christ’s death and resurrection. Christians are often familiar with these great truths. It is good to think upon them, be moved by them and be reminded of them over and over again.
Yet rather than leading to delight in God, sometimes such familiarity breeds indifference.
Take an example from my life. I love mountains. I love the majestic beauty of the mountains and whenever I’m near them I feel closer to God. But for two summers I worked at a camp in the mountains. It was beautiful. For the first few weeks each summer I would stand and stare in awe. I would rejoice in God’s creation and praise Him for his creativity and my capacity to appreciate it. But the weeks lengthened to months and by the end of the summer I could walk outside and stare right at those majestic mountains and not even think twice. They became mere background, ordinary, normalized. The wonder I had at looking at the mountains when I first arrived had turned to indifference.
The Bible is filled with wonders—wonders far more amazing than mountains. But sometimes we hear these wonders so frequently they cease to have any significant meaning. This normalization of the wonders of God can lead to apathy in the Christian walk.
Take the truth of God’s love for example. You have probably heard that God loves you. You might tell your children about God’s love or share it with friends and neighbors. You might teach it in church and read about it in Scripture or a blog post. But do you still allow yourself to be moved by the very fact of it? Does the truth of God’s love for you so saturate your thinking that you can’t help but be changed by it? I know it doesn’t in me—not like it should.
In a world where people are constantly bombarded with false teachings and self-centered lifestyles, you have to consciously decide to fight the apathy and remember what you already know. God loves you! His love is beyond your wildest imagination. His love is perfect, beautiful and good. Remember! Remember God’s love and do not let the memory lead to apathy but let it lead you back to Christ.
As Paul prayed for the Thessalonian church, I pray for you, “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ” (2 Thessalonians 3:5).
Every Child: Children Reached through Media
Did you ever wonder if the words of the Gospel put in the form of a booklet or on the Internet have the power to convince a child about the need of salvation? Do you believe that God can use it? I hope you do, otherwise the stories below will not make sense! Let me share with you testimonies of lives changed because the Gospel was communicated in written form:
At the beginning of this year a boy received a Wonder Devotional Book. Three days later his mother came to ask for the book and was given one. Now the boy comes to church with his mother. God used the booklet so that the mother came to receive the Lord. (Gustave Nduwayo, CEF Burundi)
Two years ago, a young person from Dambovita picked up a CEF tract that had been thrown on the ground. After reading the tract, she enrolled in the Truth Chasers Club and completed the first series of lessons. God worked in a wonderful way and she trusted in the Savior. Stefania surprised us on March 25, 2015 by telling us that she wants to join us in Gospel booklet distribution--giving out booklets so that other children could hear about the Savior. (Tatiana, CEF Romania)
Our Wonderzone website is also a place where children unload their burdens, look for answers and seek forgiveness for their sins. They know someone will be there for them: the trail guide will answer and a whole team will stand in prayer for them. Wonderzone is the place where God touches the lives of children and teens forever. Only last month in only one language 48 messages were related to salvation. Let me quote just six real kids who would probably never have asked these questions if Wonderzone did not exist:
Dorinel: I have been waiting for so long for someone to tell me about forgiveness. Each time I sinned I used to think that God would leave me. Thank you once again!
Alis: I want to know how to receive Him, as only He can forgive my sins!
Lois: I have tried many times to receive Jesus as my Savior. How can I really do this?
Simon: I want to belong to God with all my heart.
Cristi: I have received God in my heart through prayer.
Aled: Once I didn't believe in the Lord Jesus, but now I love Him more than anything.
Let me finish with a story of Justin who wanted to become a Buddhist monk. When he was ten years old, he become very sick and was unable to eat for many months. According to his family's religious practices, he was offered in front of many gods. His mother took him to many temples and holy places, but nothing made him better. As the situation went from bad to worse the family members took him to a famous person who practices divination, sorcery and interpreting omens. She said that the boy would die in the near future and gave three signs that would be seen around the house. All three signs were seen within a week. All Justin's family members were preparing and getting ready for his death.
At this time Justin received a booklet (The Gospel of John) by post. He thought he should burn it or send it back. But the family members did not allow him to do that. After a few days he took the book and started to read it. He continued to do a Bible correspondence course as well and at the end Justin was given the opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. Justin says, "I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior. Later I joined a group of believers who were meeting together in the town."
Today Justin Fonseka is the national director of CEF Sri Lanka with 723 Good News Club meetings every week across the island. It had been God's planning when someone decided to send a Gospel of John to young Justin's home many years ago!
God still uses a piece of paper or even someone's tablet or phone screen to reach children today! Would you please pray for many places around the world where right now boys and girls are confronted with the Gospel in written form?
On April 2nd, 13 interns and staff from Child Evangelism Fellowship International Headquarters piled into two mini vans and took off on an Easter adventure they will not soon forget. They headed for Nashville, Tennessee to work alongside Pastor Robert Morgan and his church, the Donelson Fellowship. The team taught three training sessions on how to use the Wordless Book to evangelize children. About 50 people were trained in one day. It was encouraging for the team to see so many people excited about sharing the Gospel.
The CEF team also joined in at the church’s annual community Easter egg hunt. They helped scatter 60,000 Easter eggs and filled goodie bags that were passed out as people left the park. Once the families arrived, the evangelism started. Four Bible lessons with invitations were taught throughout the day in the “Bible Story Theater.” CEF workers and the trained church members were available for counseling after the youth pastor shared the Gospel message on a loud speaker for the whole crowd to hear. The rest of the time the CEF team did open-air evangelism and helped the church members get comfortable sharing the Gospel in this way.
In one day, the CEF team alone shared the Gospel with approximately 145 children and 62 adults. Four children were counseled for salvation and professed faith in Jesus Christ. Join us in praising God for the work He did in Nashville, Tennessee!
The Harvest is Plenitful
The team of Good News Club teachers did not want to wait until next year to start the club they had been praying for. They felt compelled to begin now even though close to the end of school to get the kids used to GNC so they would have a group for the beginning of next year. With all the arrangements in place, they were given permission to start the club. On opening day, April 16, 2015, the Lord blessed and 94 children attended! They heard the Gospel presented and 50 children believed on the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior.
The second week 26 new children came to GNC, bringing the total to 120 and 16 more children put their faith in Christ.
Eight new children came to GNC the third week, bringing the total to 128. Forty-four children believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and were saved. In just three short weeks close to the end of the school year, the club grew from 94 to 128 with 110 salvation decisions.
What I did not tell you about at first is the School Principal who came into the class that first day after the children had gone home and invited the GNC teaching team to join in a circle and hold hands because she wanted to pray with them. The principal shared how she had been praying that the children at her school would have the opportunity to put their faith in Christ. She was so thankful. The Lord had answered her prayers in such a wonderful way. As she prayed for the children and the GNC staff, tears streamed down her face.
As I heard this story Matthew 9:37-38 came to mind that this principal had been praying for the laborers. And God put it into the hearts of a GNC team to start club and not wait. The harvest was ripe and ready!
By Bill Gerhardt, CEF of Southern California, State Director
Sheep, Goats and God’s Heart for Children
It was a chilly (80 degrees) morning when a Burkinabe friend arrived at my house. When it’s hot, I know how to be a good hostess, offering water as the cultural way of expressing welcome, but since my friend arrived wearing a stocking hat, I hesitated. Should I offer her water? The last time I’d done this on a “cold” day, my guest had reacted like I’d offered him poison. Since then I’d noticed a pattern: people actually believed drinking water in the morning or on a cold day could harm them.
This time, however, my friend accepted the water and sat with me on the porch to talk. A few minutes later, she noticed my roommate’s pet tortoise and informed me with delight that tortoises were her ancestors. She told me how each clan has a different animal as ancestor. These ancestral animals are to be greatly respected: clans cannot eat the meat of their particular ancestral animal, and they bury these ancestral animals the same way they do humans, with elaborate funerals.
The culture has many stories about the ancestors and stories to explain why life is the way it is. For example, you may know that if you’re driving along and see a goat in the road, it is likely that it will run off the road, but if you see a sheep, this is most definitely NOT the case. However, you may not have known that long ago a goat and a sheep took a bus trip. At the destination, the driver asked for their fares. The goat paid only half and ran away; now every time he sees a car, he runs for fear that it’s the driver looking for the other half. The sheep, however, paid with a large bill. Instead of giving him his change, the driver sped off, so now the sheep stubbornly waits in front of every car, hoping to make the driver pay up.
For most people here, even Christians, these stories and ideas are more than just amusing—they think they are true. Sadly, mixed in among all these false ideas is the idea that children can’t be saved. A good study of the Bible is all it takes to prove that this isn’t true, but sadly many churches hear of the work that Child Evangelism Fellowship is doing and dismiss it because of an idea that you must be a certain age to be saved.
Now the members of the CEF committee and I are meeting personally with pastors and Sunday school teachers, sharing with them about God’s heart for children and asking them to partner with us to reach the children in the neighborhoods all around Burkina Faso. It is my prayer that children all over will hear God’s Word so that water doesn’t make them think of poison but rather of the living water they can drink and never thirst again. It is my prayer that sheep in the road won’t make them think of overpaid bus fares, but of Jesus’ promise to take care of us like a shepherd cares for his sheep.
(Chelsey Horkman, Burkina Faso)
Introducing the Interns: Manuel Mendez
It’s amazing what a warm smile and a kind wave will do to brighten someone’s day. And it’s hard to walk the halls of Child Evangelism Fellowship International Headquarters without receiving both from one of the interns; Manuel Mendez (affectionately nicknamed Manny). His desk sits just inside the glass doors of the Information Services office and everyone who walks by receives Manny’s warm greeting.
Manny serves as an intern in the Information Services department where he works on the technological side of the ministry. If someone has difficulty with a computer, Manny could very well be the one to come to the rescue. He also works on various projects in the Information Services office and writes the department newsletter from time to time. Manny often runs the audio visuals during the weekly chapel service and other IHQ events. No matter what Manny does, he works cheerfully and with his whole heart. He says, “I hope to honor God in what I do.”
Even more than his hard work and encouraging demeanor, Manny seeks to grow in his relationship with the Lord. When asked what he looks forward to regarding his internship, Manny responded, “I am looking forward to continue growing in my faith…” That seems to be a common theme among the interns at IHQ. This year is a tremendous time of growth for them. They learn about God, themselves and each other. This year, the group of interns has named themselves the “intern family.” “My most favored part of the internship would have to be the opportunity to have met and gotten to know the other interns not only as co-workers but as a family,” Manny said.
Like many of the members of the “intern family” Manny is unsure of what his plans for the future are but is waiting in faith to hear from the Lord. “From here I have no idea where I am going. I am waiting for God to tell me where He wants me next.” May Manny be blessed abundantly in every step of life and may he never lose his warm smile and kind wave.