Big Picture

CEF’s CYIA program changes lives and creates teen champions for Christ

‘Joining CYIA gave me the opportunity to make my life not about me but about serving others,’ says CEF teen

For Immediate Release

August 7, 2023

ST. LOUIS — Angel Nelson was sad and confused as she grew up witnessing her mother’s erratic behavior, which finally led to unpleasant encounters with law enforcement. 

The teen was adrift and wondering how her life would turn out until she began attending Child Evangelism Fellowship’s Christian Youth In Action® (CYIA™) program. As a young Christian, Angel found a place that could bolster her faith and give her a sense of purpose in a world that felt very insecure. She began to grow in Christ, and her faith has not only set her free but inspired her to help others find the peace and purpose that she found.

“I went from this hopeless situation to where I wanted to do something with my life,” she says. “Joining CYIA gave me the opportunity to make my life not about me but about serving others.”

“Many teens are surprised at the warmth and genuine concern for them that they find at CYIA,” says Andrew York, CEF Director of Communications and Marketing. “The world is telling them that they’re no good unless they conform to the latest fad, which is often something harmful such as drugs, alcohol, crime or early sexual behavior. CYIA reminds them that they are loved by God and therefore don’t need to be pushed into things that aren’t good for them.”

The Christian Youth In Action® program is transforming the lives of young people across the United States and around the world. Christian teens take one to two weeks of intensive training in how to present the Gospel clearly on a child’s level and how to counsel a child for salvation. They emerge with confidence, faith, and leadership skills to lead 5-Day Clubs for boys and girls. Over the decades, over 3,000 teens have been trained each summer in the USA. Many have gone on to be pastors and ministry leaders.

Components of this club include teaching a Bible lesson, a real-life missionary story and a Bible verse as well as leading songs, games and a fun review time.

After the training, teens return to their local community. They teach predominantly unsaved children who don’t regularly attend church. Locales include apartment complexes, day care centers, neighborhoods, schools and other community locations.

Angel’s testimony of the life-changing aspect of CYIA is one of many. She is now a secure young lady with a purpose and serves as a CYIA summer missionary. “I am a very different person today than I used to be,” she says. “I continue to do CYIA not because it just impacts the kids, but it also impacts me as an individual… Putting me in this organization has just really helped my faith overall.”

“When I first met her, she was just so young,” recalls then-local CEF director Karen Bangs. “Her mom had gotten in some trouble with the law, and I knew she was into drugs. I just thought, ‘How are they living?’”

Angel recalls talking with Karen about her mother. “I just knew I didn’t want to do this with my life. I didn’t want to end up in the same circumstances.”

When Karen suggested that Angel get more involved with CEF to build her newfound faith in Christ, Angel knew it was the right decision for her. “I thought it was a really good idea,” Angel says. “I didn’t start out where I am today. It was a hard process for me.”

When she first started, “she did a good job, but her heart really wasn’t into it like it is now,” Karen says. “This is her fifth year, and when I take the first year compared to this year, it’s amazing to see what God has done in her life.”

“CYIA is changing young lives all over the country,” York says. “It offers Christian teens an opportunity to grow more in their faith while sharing the Gospel with children in their areas.”

Child Evangelism Fellowship, which was founded 86 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.

Last year, through CEF’s combined ministries, more than 19.5 million children worldwide heard the Good News. In 2022, 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 Harrison, 610.584.1096, ext. 105, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.