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

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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

Emma’s Story

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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

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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!

Christ is the Only One Who Brings Joy

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During Christmas there is much talk about joy, and “Christmas Spirit”. There is some vague idea that you should conjure up some great memories, make some hot chocolate, go throw a snowball, and voila! You have the “Christmas Spirit”. If that does’t work to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, then you should probably go to the store and spend way too much money. Buy gifts for yourself, those you love, and some people you may not like very well, and then certainly you will attain that satisfying feeling inside that everyone seems to be pursuing this time of year. If/when all that doesn’t work, don’t worry, there’s always next year! 

The message that adults and children alike are receiving from every possible medium is that you should be joyful. However, the definition of joy that is (not) given is one of materialism and selfishness. If you give enough, then you will feel joyful, or if you get enough, then you will have joy. What children are not receiving enough of is an Biblical explanation of  where and through whom joy is received. One of CEF’s lesser known ministries is called a “Party Club”. These clubs can be part of a regular weekly Good News Club, or a stand-alone celebration of Easter, summer, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or for any other occasion children can be gathered. In the case of a Christmas Party Club, children are taught the true reason for celebrating Christmas, and the way to attain true Joy. One party club this year was held in a home where children from the neighborhood came to celebrate a birthday party for Jesus. Songs were sung with guitars, kids heard the gospel, and presents were handed out. However, instead of trying to help kids have a Christmas experience through the giving of gifts, it was explained that the reason we give gifts on Christmas is because God gave us the ultimate gift in Jesus. We give gifts to each other to commemorate that greatest gift of all, and it isn’t something that fits under a tree or can be purchased at a store or online.

 

New North Side Good News Club

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If you walked towards  one particular North Side Chicago Public School, you may marvel at the pillars and architecture that first went into the construction of this school. As you entered the institution of learning you would see the nice, new, clean walls standing around you that were built as a part of the recent addition. You would be welcomed by the helpful and friendly office staff at the school. Whether you were at the school for five minutes or an hour, you would most likely declare this to be one of Chicago’s best schools.  A new principal is in charge of the school, and she is working hard to improve the school’s educational environment. However, despite all of the advantages this school appears to have, it is not without its’ struggles. The former principal left the school in administrative disarray, and many of the children are far below state testing levels.

For three years Chicago CEF has tried to get into this school to start a Good News Club to bring the hope of Jesus to children on the North Side. In Chicago Public Schools, the principals are given autonomy to allow community after-school programs (such as Boy Scouts or Good News Clubs) or not*. The former principal of this school decided not to let us or anyone else into the school to do after-school programs. But, after persistence and prayer, the new principal has given us an open door to run a Good News Club in the school after school hours.  Last Thursday at 3:30 a new Good News Club was started at  this school that has 1,100 children attending the school. 16 children signed up to attend club the first week. As children sat and listened to the Bible lesson the first week, 8 of them responded to the invitation, indicating that they want to trust in Christ as Savior. Due to time constraints the first week, they were not able to be counseled for salvation, but God knows their hearts! Would you pray that those children all make solid decisions for Christ, if they haven’t already? Almost all of these children do not attend church. Good News Clubs reach children with the Gospel who are not being told of Jesus in any other way. Praise God!

If you left the school last Thursday, you might have noticed a ray of hope had entered the school that far surpassed the nice, new walls or the stunning architecture.

 

*For those of you wondering, “I thought they legally had to let us into the schools”, the answer is that they have to give GNCs equal rights. So, if they don’t let anyone in, such as the Boy Scouts, then they don’t have to let us in either.