giving-tuesday

CEF’s practice is to ask God and tell His people. As you consider where to give this Giving Tuesday, please consider giving to Chicago CEF. With over 1.1 million children in Cook and DuPage Counties, there are many who need to hear the good news of the gospel this Christmas season and every day. Our staff missionaries are supported by the faithful donations given by people like you. Our newest project, the HUB, is an 8-unit apartment building we’re hard at work rehabbing so that new missionaries can have a place to live while they’re raising their support and ministering in the city. We have 2 young couples who are getting married this coming summer preparing for ministry with CEF who will be moving into the HUB! One of the most exciting things about the HUB is the ministry center we’re almost ready to rehab so neighborhood kids in Maywood can have a safe place to do homework and hear the life-changing message of the gospel through the Good News Club program.

Your faithful donations to Chicago CEF allow us to continue the work of reaching the 1.1 million children in Cook and DuPage Counties with the life-changing message of the Gospel. Help a child hear about Jesus this Christmas season by supporting Chicago CEF. Thanks for participating in Giving Tuesday in this important way!

As 2017 approaches, CEF is preparing to celebrate our 80th birthday! In 80 years, we’ve seen God do amazing things to help children around the corner in Chicago and around the world hear and respond to the Gospel. Would you consider a gift of $80, $800, $8,000, or anything in between to help us celebrate?

 

Exciting News

God I believe in youThursday at a Good News Club in a Chicago Public school, a boy named Daniel came with some exciting news: he had lost a tooth. He left club with some even more exciting news. Another boy, Jude, is a very intelligent child, and learned something this Thursday that blew his mind. I was teaching the Bible lesson, talking to the kids about how God created the world and what God’s creation reveals about Him. A hand in the back went up. It was Jude, and he had a question for me. “Did God create sand?” “Yes,” I told him. “And the water in the oceans?” “Yes, He did.” Jude seemed surprised and impressed, but also a little confused. “What did He make it out of? Dirt?” I explained, “No, He made it out of nothing.” Young Jude’s eyes were wide, amazed that God is so powerful. At the end of the lesson, I gave an invitation that kids could come back and talk to me if they wanted to know how to believe in Jesus as their savior. Two boys came back, and one of them was Daniel. After going through the gospel with them again and making sure they understood it, the other boy said he had previously put his faith in Christ. Daniel, on the other hand, told me that he had never believed before because he had never been sure if Jesus was real. “Are you sure now?” I asked him. “Yes,” he nodded, “I’m sure.” “Would you like to tell God that now?” “Yes,” he told me. We bowed our heads and he prayed, “God I believe in you. I love you. I believe in Jesus, and I love you both so much!” How precious is it that this boy who had never before been sure about Jesus was finally sure?

><> Rose Kirby

Chicago Child Evangelism Fellowship

Reaching Urban Kids for Christ

HUB-fireworksHappy Independence Day! We have much to celebrate in our country and in the ministry. For 23 months, Chicago CEF prayed, worked, and waited to make the HUB dream a reality, and now it is! Chicago CEF now owns the property on 12th & Madison that we call the Housing Urban Ministry Building, or HUB for short. The many problems that Satan threw our way of getting to the place of ownership of this strategic ministry initiative is almost unbelievable. Through it all, God gave grace and the wisdom to stick with it even during the doubtful times. Now the fun part begins. Next week we are already beginning to do ministry out of the HUB by hosting a 5-Day Club there. However, before much can be done through the HUB, much work has to be done on the physical structure. Months worth of repair and replacement has to be done to meet village requirements and code, and we need your help! Would you consider continually being involved in reaching urban kids for Christ through the Chicago CEF HUB in one or more of three ways? We need people to join and organize work teams to help with repairs on the HUB. If you can swing a hammer, clean up debris, paint walls, install windows, or anything else related to rehab, we need your help! As we repair the HUB, would you pray about partnering financially with us to help cover the costs of repair, which are significant? Finally, we need people who are committed to praying for the HUB project as Chicago CEF moves into the future. In light of recent events, it is more strategic than ever to be reaching Chicago’s kids with the Gospel. If you are willing to be involved in one of these ways, would you let us know by filling out the form below? Thanks for celebrating with us as we continue the process of making the HUB a reality!

The City that Prays Together

Jonathan-Praying
God is moving in the Village of Maywood. The current Mayor of Maywood is a strong Christian woman, and today she called the village together to pray. She instructed the police to block off the street in front of her office, put up a podium with a microphone in the middle of the street and invited clergy and ministry leaders to step to the podium and pray. Ministry leaders and even the local state representative were there. About ten people prayed publicly, and amongst them were our director, Jonathan King, and another of our missionary staff. Maywood’s slogan is the “Village of Eternal Light.” However, the last fifty years have not been good to this near-western suburb of Chicago. It is plagued by violence in the form of shootings, educational challenges, high taxes, little economic growth, lots of empty lots and buildings, and foreclosures abounding. Do these problems need answers? Absolutely. However, God has called CEF to primarily look after the spiritual needs of children in the midst of these hard things. For these reasons and others, Chicago CEF has decided to locate our new Housing Urban ministry Building (HUB) in the heart of Maywood. Would you join us, Mayor Perkins, and the Christians in Maywood in prayer for this village in need? As you pray, would you ask God to provide financially for the HUB and the costs associated with its startup? Thank you!

In Case You Forgot. . .

There are over 1,100 elementary schools, and 1.1 million children in Cook and DuPage Counties, and most of them haven’t heard the Gospel. Chicago CEF’s goal is to help those children be introduced to Christ, taught to follow Him, and get into a great local church. However, that is an unrealistic goal for the size of missionary-staff that we currently have. Let’s face it, raising support to be a CEF missionary is scary. So, we are trying to get more missionaries in the harvest field of children by giving them free and reduced rate housing while they raise their support. This is not an easy task! Chicago is an expensive place to find housing (hence the great need!), but God has given us a great vision. Many of you have walked with us through this process from the beginning, and we want to give you an important update! We could be closing on the HUB (Housing, Urban ministry Building) as early as late this week or early next. Would you join with us in prayer that everything goes through? We have thought this exact same thought for three weeks now, and little things keep popping up that prevent us from closing (mostly financing). Towards that end, would you be considering now the part that God may have you play on a one-time or ongoing basis to fund this major ministry investment? We will keep you updated, and want to thank you for walking this long road with us as we follow God. May God bless you and yours!

~Chicago CEFChicago-CEF-Map-for-web

Trials and Blessings

SMOChicago CEF is blessed by having many skilled young people as teachers of our 5-Day Clubs. After going through our 11-day CYIA program, many of them teach every week of the summer. In addition to being wonderful teachers, many of them are skilled writers. Kayla is  one such CYIAer. She has been a CYIAer since the program began 5 years ago.

This year Chicago CEF sent a team to equip local young people in the island country of St. Lucia through Equip Trip 2014. Kayla was on that team, and here is a perspective on that trip from her point of view:

One day in May, I was asked to go on a Missions Trip to Saint Lucia. I said “Yes! Of Course I’ll go!” and I couldn’t wait! I knew God was going to do great things! The whole plane ride I was nervous with anticipation. Soon Saint Lucia would be more than just a picture on my support letter. It was a real place, where real people lived. I could still hardly believe that God had called me to minister in a place so far away from my home. Before the CYIA began, I was expecting just about 10-15 people from the church we were working with. On Sunday, we started the CYIA training program. I couldn’t wait for everything to start. It was going to be awesome. In my mind, the CYIA training would be just like the one in Chicago. When the time came for the training to start, we had only 6 people, all of them adults. I was disappointed. I couldn’t understand the lack of volunteers. I thought to myself, maybe tomorrow more people would show. Nope. Not even close. In fact, we had less people come because it was holiday. Just our luck. But in the midst of a trial, God provided a blessing. The next day we had the same 6 people come back plus two more people! One was an adult, and the other was a 13 year old girl named Abigail. Although I had the privilege to work with Abigail, I didn’t think I would be able to help her. She was so quiet and shy. I talked Abigail through the wordless book. She and I both struggled with understanding each other the rest of the day. We were both out of our comfort zone. Her, quiet and shy, and me, the rookie instructor, we felt out of place with each other. After the training, we went to the beach with Abigail. While we were all at the beach, Abigail was silent. “I am not going to be able to get through to her”, I thought to myself. The next day Abigail came back to training, she and I talked through teaching a Bible lesson and the idea of teaching in front of kids. Then, I asked her if, during club, she wanted to help hold a visual for one of the songs, but she told me that she was too nervous. I decided to share with Abigail my story. I told her about how I started working with CEF when I was 11, and how at first it was somewhat scary teaching other people, but with strength from God I was able to overcome that fear of teaching. Right then and there I prayed for her and encouraged her to teach. Once we finished praying, Abigail opened up to me, revealing to me that I had made a connection. Sure enough, during club she held the visual during club and I was so proud of her for facing her fears. Later I asked Abigail if the next day she wanted to teach the song. She looked at me, as if I was crazy. I told her not to worry, and that I would go up with her just in case. When the time came for her to teach, I had to help more than a bit with the song. I told her that it was alright and that maybe I had pushed her before she was ready. That night I went home and prayed for Abigail, that God would give her courage. Abigail and I worked together more and more, I was able to learn her learning style and more importantly, I was able to learn more about her as a person! Before I knew it, Friday had come, and it was our last full day in Saint Lucia. Our Team had decided that we would get the CYIAers involved in the club as much as possible. Abigail was assigned to do the opening of club. I honestly didn’t think she would be able to do it. To my disbelief, I was wrong. Abigail got up there with a new found confidence that I had never seen in her before. I was so proud. Although the CYIA wasn’t anything like I thought it was going to be, God really taught me something important. God showed me that He can use whoever he wants, through anyone, he wants, just as long as they persevere. — ~Kayla

Spiritual Warfare

SMO-July-3rd-week-final

During summer ministry with CYIA (Christian Youth in Action, a two-week intensive training to teach 5-Day Clubs), 5-Day Clubs, and teams going to other areas or countries, it is easy to lose sight of the spiritual battle being waged behind the scenes. This year has been incredibly hard for our Chicago CEF team. We have had tangible spiritual attacks in the form of death, discouragement, danger, and discord in our midst. However, the attack is not limited to the full-time missionaries of Chicago CEF. I received a phone call yesterday from a man who has been instrumental in setting up 5-Day Clubs within his church. He has encountered incredible resistance from our enemy. “It is so bad, I want to quit every other day just so it will stop,” he said.  However, he is refusing to give up. He understands the importance of the battle in which we are engaged; the battle for children’s souls. Just like in any battle, everyone plays a different role. Some, like our club host families and CYIAers, are on the front line engaging the enemy forces. Others, like you perhaps, provide essential support through your prayers and financial support. Over the next couple of weeks, I implore you to be spending more time in prayer for those on the front line. Many children in 5-Day Clubs have great barriers to receiving the Gospel, and your prayers are often the means that God uses to remove the barriers and open their hearts to the Gospel. In one club this past week 7 children professed faith in Christ for the first time! Thank you for being an active part of this Spiritual battle. Let us rejoice together that while the battle rages, the war has already been won!

Would you be willing to pray and fight this battle with us?

* Please pray that children’s hearts would be open to the Gospel

* Please pray that the children of Chicago and the teams teaching them would be safe

* Please pray against the many spiritual attacks that the enemy would send to those      on the front lines

* Please pray that CEF would bring God glory in all we do

* Please pray for travel safety this summer

Emma’s Story

IMG_0816
Emma is a 5-Day Club teacher, having gone through CYIA for three years. She graciously has shared her first 5-Day Club experience of the summer with us. Emma writes:

“On the three minute ride to 5-day-club, I felt nothing but exhaustion and discouragement. The previous day’s club had been, well, not exactly ideal. The children had seemed to have a moral objection to raising their hands [A way of indicating that they are interested in knowing more about the Way of Salvation] and had possessed far more energy than they could contain. And now, as we began to set up for club, dark, ominous clouds enveloped the sky. A gentle drizzle progressed into a torrent of rain.

Our club, full of bouncy, energized children, was uprooted from the yard and replanted in a little room in the basement. Yet these energetic kids paid attention, even with thunder rattling the windows and little to no room to move. After my Bible lesson, as I gave the invitation, Jonathon, a twelve-year-old boy, stood up and followed me to the back of the room.

And that was when my mind went blank. All of the hours I had poured into studying what to do and say, every practicum I had struggled through, left me. There were a myriad of distractions.The basement had begun to flood. The host was a mere three feet away mopping up the sopping floor. My teammate was teaching missions loudly and enthusiastically just behind me. Humanly speaking, this was the day when everything went wrong. All I can distinctly remember praying was, ‘God, please help me!’ And thanks be to God that He is gracious and does not expect us to lean on our own understanding.

When I asked Jonathon why he had come back to talk to me, he said, ‘Something inside of me told me I needed to come back here and talk to God.’ There were tears in his eyes as he told me that there was so much wrong with the world. There was so much sin. I asked Jonathon if he had ever sinned. He began to break down in tears, admitting to the time he had brought a water bottle into class when he knew it wasn’t allowed. As we continued to talk, Jonathon told me he wanted to trust Jesus as his savior. When he bowed his head to pray, there was silence. He looked up at me. ‘I don’t know what to say.’

‘Tell God what you told me,’ I urged.

He prayed, confessing about the time he had disobeyed his teacher, and telling God that he believed Jesus had died on the cross and risen again to take the punishment for his sins. When he finished, he had to wipe his glasses on his shirt to clear the mist that had gathered. I had the privilege to give Jonathon his first Bible, and he carried it proudly back to club every day. That rainy Tuesday, God took everything that had gone so very wrong in my eyes, and used it for His honor and glory.”

Tomorrow continues the summer ministry that began at CYIA. This year has seen a myriad of Spiritual warfare in many different fronts. Will you pray and ask God to do mighty things through Emma and the other 30 CYIAers who will be teaching this summer? Will you also pray that more 5-Day Club host families will step up and allow these gifted teens to help them reach their neighborhood with the Gospel? Thank you for your prayers and support!

Celebrating What God Has Done

Social-Media-5_14-wk-3_final

God is at work in reaching the world’s children with the Gospel! Last week was Child Evangelism Fellowship’s International Conference. It was amazing to be with 1,100 other CEF missionaries from around the world. Chicago Child Evangelism Fellowship is reaching children with the Good News of Jesus in Cook and DuPage counties. We are part of a fellowship that is advancing the Gospel in almost every country of the world. The attendees of the conference were given a God-sized update on ministry, and we would like to share it with you now.

As most of you know, our primary ministry program is the Good News Club. It is our goal to begin and sustain as many of these weekly, discipleship oriented clubs as possible. Last year we saw a global increase in Good News Clubs of 45%. In 2013 there were 62,393 held in 188 countries throughout the world!

In those Good News Clubs and in other ministries of CEF, 15.6 million children were given face-to-face presentations of the Gospel. Over 5 million of those children made first-time professions of faith in Christ!! All glory to God!

Another bit of exciting news is that CEF is on track to be in every country of the world by 2017 (80 years after our founding). In the history of the Church, there has never been a single organization, denomination, or mission that has had ongoing indigenous ministry in every country of the world. We certainly live in exciting times! Are you part of the Child Evangelism Fellowship? Get on board today! Pray, volunteer, host a club, or donate today!

Seeking Peace in the Midst of Violence

20140404-174208.jpg

Normally we write these blog posts in a relatively formal voice, but today’s post will be much more reflection in a raw, processing, first person voice. Warning, this post is describing a first person account of an inner-city shooting

Bang, pop, pop, pop, pop. Five shots rang out not 15 feet from where my wife stood with our not-quite-2-year-old-son. Granted, she was inside in the kitchen, and the shooter was on our sidewalk. “Ben, I’m prety sure I’m hearing gun shots!” my wife shouted at me. I quickly gather my little family in our bedroom and told them to crouch low. At that very moment I was thinking, “praise God we have a brick house. If my wife and boys crouch below the window level, they should be safe from any potential stray bullets.”

Suddenly I felt foolish. Where they just firecrackers? If a shooting had taken place it was surely a few blocks away at least. We live on the edge of Bellwood and Maywood, and our block is full of people we know and trust. So, I slowly crawled to the front of the house and poked my head up to look out a window. Nothing. “Silly me.” I proceeded out the front door. The only company I had was the gray sky. I walked back inside and gave the “All clear!” I then saw a Bellwood Police officer driving slowly down the street. I jogged outside to ask him if he was responding to reports of gunshots. He solemnly nodded his head. I told him what I knew. He then drove down our alley and stopped. Blood. My neighbor and friend walked over with me. Splatter. Right beneath our basketball hoop where we gather neighborhood kids to play.

Before I can process anything, three more police SUVs and two detective cars pull up. As I stand by, the police rope off most of our property and alley with yellow “police line” tape. The man who appears to be in charge asks another cop if he wants to go to Loyola hospital and interview the victim. He’s awake and alive. Good. Thankfully, all of this occurred before the school bus was scheduled to come down our street to drop off the neighborhood children after school. I stood on our sidewalk, praising God that we all were safe, and so were the neighborhood’s children.

This confirms that we are exactly where God wants us to be, in a neighborhood of need. The building that CEF is seeking to purchase as a ministry outreach center is less than three blocks from our home. Does this community need the presense of God manifested through His people? Absolutely. What is our response? We will do as the prophet Jeremiah commanded the people of Israel, “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” This place needs Jesus. The children who are growing up in this context need Jesus.

My wife and I just reviewed the fine points of what to do if you hear gunshots. Our boys are four and one. I understand the sacrifice that God is asking us to make by living in this place. Should I move? No. This is what God has asked us to do. What is God asking you to do? Many of you are giving financially to allow us, or one of the other missionary-staff to minister in this place. Thank you. Many of you are praying for us. Thank you.

20140404-165953.jpg