Child Evangelism Fellowship is Reaching Young Hearts with the Gospel

NRB | June 27, 2024 | Member News

With roughly a quarter of the world’s population under age 15, and most people finding faith in Christ during childhood, statistics reveal a critical window of opportunity for Christian outreach to children.

“Children are the largest mission field in the world,” said Andrew York, director of communications and marketing for NRB member Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF).

Recognizing this critical time for faith formation, the Child Evangelism Fellowship has been on a mission to bring the Gospel message to children around the world for more than 87 years. This international, nonprofit organization is the largest child evangelism ministry in the world, planting seeds of faith and discipling kids for a life of following Jesus Christ.

To date, CEF has reached nearly 400 million children with the Gospel. With the goal to reach “every child, every nation, every day,” CEF pursues every possible means to evangelize, disciple, and establish the next generation in the local church.

“Jesus had a real heart for children,” York said. “He encouraged them to come to Him. He spent time with them. And He says, as an adult, … you have to be like a child to receive the Gospel.”

Dr. George Barna, founder of Christian research firm The Barna Group, reinforces the importance of reaching young hearts. In his recent work, Raising Spiritual Champions, Barna reported that children begin forming their worldview between just 15-18 months of age. By age 13, it’s almost entirely formed. Research suggests that for most people, these core beliefs are unlikely to change much—if at all—throughout their lives.

“That gives us a real passion for reaching children while they’re young,” York said. “In terms of mission fields, it’s the most rewarding one. The amount of children that hear the Gospel that end up receiving the Gospel is way higher than any other outreach that is done to adults or teens.”

Within 10-15 years, CEF hopes to reach 100 million children annually. To achieve this ambitious goal, CEF focuses on training leaders worldwide to ensure they maintain a commitment to biblical presentations of the Gospel and multiply their efforts exponentially.

Operating in all 50 American states and most countries around the world, CEF has over 3,500 paid staff and plans to add another 1,000 this year, supported by ten of thousands of volunteers around the world.

“In our last ministry year, we had 29.2 million children that we were able to reach with the Gospel,” shared York. “That’s a lot of children to hear the Gospel, but that’s still less than one percent of the world’s population of children.”

CEF anchors its purpose and direction in God’s Word, with Matthew 18:14 serving as a theme: “Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” (NKJV)

CEF has many in-person and digital ministries. Their core after-school programs, Good News Clubs, operate in public schools, community centers, churches, and homes across the world to provide a safe and nurturing environment where children can learn about the Bible, sing praises, hear real-life missionary stories, and participate in other faith-nurturing activities.

Packed with core Christian teachings, their curriculum follows a four-year cycle, ensuring a well-rounded understanding of faith for children who attend for multiple years. York shared how they help children both understand God’s word and apply it to their lives. At their clubs, CEF has trained counselors available to sit down with students and respond to their concerns with godly counsel.

In 2023, CEF held over 80 thousand total Good News Clubs worldwide. This year, they plan to reach at least 30.4 million children globally.

“In the US, we have equal access to the school system,” York said, “so we can go in, and we can have our club in the school.” Operationally, Good News Clubs look different depending on the nation.

“The school system in Brazil requires some kind of religious teaching during the school day,” York said, “and CEF is the provider for that in Brazil.”

5-Day Clubs, CEF’s summer program, reaches kids with similar programming. Clubs are thriving worldwide, in countries including Australia, Cambodia, Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Uganda.

Another big focus of CEF is their Christmas Party Club, a seasonal outreach event to share the Gospel through the story of Christ’s birth. These Christmas Clubs aim to build connections with children, with the hope of transitioning them into ongoing programs like Good News or 5-Day Clubs in the coming years, ensuring a continuous outreach to children in each region.

“We partner with churches,” York said. “We don’t see ourselves as the church… but we desire for kids to actually plug into a church and have that discipleship being done through their church.”

CEF also provides three robust and free digital platforms with a plethora of resources to unite children with the Gospel: U-Nite TV, U-Nite Radio, and the U-Nite Kids app.

At CEF’s international headquarters, York leads the digital ministries department, a pioneering effort to connect children with the Gospel through technology. Their creative services team develops engaging content like animated videos and podcasts for their free U-Nite platforms, which are available on app stores and many popular streaming platforms, including YouTube and Spotify. York described U-Nite TV as a free, Netflix-like streaming service for kids.

Parents have expressed their gratitude to CEF for providing the U-Nite platform. They appreciate it as a wholesome alternative to Netflix or Disney+, praising its ability to not only entertain their children but also nurture their spiritual development.

York shared how COVID opened the door for underdeveloped countries to benefit from these technologies.

“A lot of these underdeveloped nations actually have a lot of technology now and access to the Internet that they previously didn’t have prior to COVID,” York said. These nations invested in building essential infrastructure to continue educating their children remotely. This has opened doors for CEF’s digital ministry to reach even more children in these areas.

Distributing content across multiple languages remains a challenge for CEF. While their global staff works diligently on translation services, York acknowledges the importance of content utilization. He emphasizes that creating rich and informative material for children is only valuable if it reaches its intended audience.

CEF’s work would not be possible without their network of volunteers. Christian Youth In Action (CYIA) is one such CEF program designed to train high schoolers and college students to lead many of their clubs. Teens learn to present the Gospel clearly on a child’s level, counsel a child for salvation, and lead a dynamic club ministry for kids.

York shared CEF’s heart for praying Luke 10:2, that the Lord would send out laborers into the harvest.

“Jesus in his ministry talks about how He can see the fields are ripe for the harvest,” York said. “People are ready to receive the Gospel, but there’s not enough people to go out and share the Gospel.”

York shared one story about a young girl named Violette from Burundi who attended the Christmas Club and there received Christ as her Savior before passing away from malaria a few months later.

“Every child that we are given an opportunity to share the Gospel with, we have no idea if they’re going to grow up,” York said, “or if they’re going to live beyond the opportunity that we’re giving them to hear the Gospel. There’s an urgent need to reach these children. We need to reach them today.”

CEF has been an NRB member since 2023. To get involved in the work of CEF, follow this link to learn how you can serve, pray, and equip your church to reach every child, every nation, every day.

 

Photo credit: CEF

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