Big Picture

Albanian church birthed by a CEF Christmas Party Club celebrates its first anniversary

This is an unexpected reality that churches have been started this way in the U.S. and all over the world through CEF’s 87 years of ministry,’ says CEF Acting Vice President of Administration Fred Pry

For Immediate Release

April 1, 2024

ST. LOUIS During the 2023 easter season, a small church in southeast Albania opened its doors for the first time. The Christian community of Sovjan grew so large that it needed a permanent meeting place.

After much prayer and discussion, the local church created a partnership with the Albanian Church in Chicago and with the Moody Church. Through them, God provided a new church building in Sovjan village, which was dedicated by Erwin Lutzer, Pastor Emeritus of the Moody Church.

“Along with Pastor Lutzer and CEF workers, over 150 people celebrated the mighty work that God did that day,” said Fred Pry, Acting Vice President of Administration for Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF). “A year later, the church is observing its building’s first anniversary on April 8.”

“This is an unexpected reality that churches have been started this way in the U.S. and all over the world during CEF’s 87 years of ministry.”

It all began for Sovjan at Christmas 2016, when a CEF team, including trained volunteers from a partnering church, visited the small Muslim village.

They held a Christmas Party Club for children with songs, games, and a lesson about the true meaning of Christmas. Many children heard for the first time how Jesus Christ loves them so much He came down to earth, suffered, died, and came alive again so they can have a forever friendship with God.

About 300 children heard this Good News that day. CEF’s partnering church, the Evangelical Church of Libonik-Maliq, immediately invited the children and parents who were there to meet again the following week.

“Many wanted to know more about Jesus, and some of them even brought their parents to the meeting,” said Alesio Sema, a full-time CEF missionary in Albania. “There was a hunger for Jesus. The reason why we want a church to be with us when we do events is because we want those children that we reach to be established with a local Bible believing church for Christian growth.”

The children’s ministry continued, and an adult meeting started. After one year, it grew into a church with a regular Good News Club® and church ministry.

The Evangelical Church of Libonik-Maliq and its pastor have followed the CEF strategy for Christmas Party Clubs. In the last nine years, partnering with CEF, they have planted seven churches.

Sema explains how the local church’s partnership with CEF is continuing to make an impact on the community: “They are frequently asking CEF-trained staff to do training on how to reach children. We are continuing to establish Christmas Party Clubs in the area during the Christmas season and train people from the church to follow up with these children and their families if they show interest.”

“They understand the impact that the ministry of CEF can have on their church, and they see it as a crucial partner. They see it as a great opportunity to build a church on a safe and Biblical foundation. They understand that reaching children and discipling them is the key to having a strong church.”

Through the initial partnership with CEF, the local church is able to make a bigger impact on the community by offering community services, holding activities for children and teenagers, helping families, and providing a daycare program for children in the area.

“We’re excited that CEF staff partner with local churches to help spread the Gospel,” Pry says. “As Matthew 28:19 declares, ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’”

More information on CEF can be found in the spring edition of the ministry’s magazine, Impact.

Child Evangelism Fellowship, which was founded 87 years ago, has been establishing Good News Clubs® in countries around the world for decades. Clubs are thriving worldwide, in countries including Australia, Cambodia, Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Uganda.

In 2022, through CEF’s combined ministries, more than 19.5 million children worldwide heard the Good News. More than 439,000 teachers were trained around the world.

For more CEF news, see the ministry’s latest edition of the online magazine Impact.

Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) is an international, nonprofit, Christian ministry that has been dedicated to seeing every child reached with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, discipled and established in a local church since 1937. CEF is located in all 50 American states and in most countries around the world, with over 3,500 paid staff and tens of thousands of volunteers around the world.


To interview a representative from Child Evangelism Fellowship, contact [email protected], Beth Bogucki, 610.584.1096, ext. 105, or Daniel Moyer, ext. 104.

Subscribe to emails from CEF