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

A Lasting Foundation

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A flannel graph set, an accordion, and a Bible club curriculum: tools used to lay a foundation. Over the years, Scripture verses, the Lord’s prayer, and hymns hammered a structure into place. The Wordless Book (a tool that teaches the Gospel through colors) continued constructing truths in the lives of young children who attended CEF’s Bible clubs in Israel.

But not all of these children continued building on that foundation. One remembers, “Upon reaching adolescence I walked away from the Lord.  But I discovered that although God didn’t take away my capacity to sin, He did take away my capacity to enjoy it. I could never get away from the foundation of faith that was so skillfully laid in my life.” Each story, each song, each color reminded this miserable teenager of the truth that had already been built in his life.

“In my 16th year, I had a profound encounter with the Lord.  I went to veteran CEF workers and told them about my repentance.  I asked for the Wordless Book that was hanging from the CEF worker’s lapel, pinned it to my own jacket, and proceeded to use it as a conversation-starter in my high school. A prayer and Bible study group formed on campus and for the first time in my life I started seeing people coming to faith.”

From eager learning child to rebellious teen to repentant young adult, these CEF missionaries laid a lasting Gospel foundation in this life! This man has gone on to work in cross-cultural ministry in the Middle East, extending this Gospel foundation to even more lives! He mentioned,

“When I was a boy in CEF I heard a grownup remark, ‘How can you plant churches with kids?’ But Jesus didn’t plant churches; Jesus made disciples. Making disciples is what what CEF does, and I am one of them.

Spiritual Warfare

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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

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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!

By God’s Grace

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Ann, an active, gangly little girl walked into the suburban once-a-month Bible club, jumping up and down as she played the memory verse game with her friends. “Listen to me! I can say it!” she exclaimed excitedly. And the Gospel’s seeds were planted…

A few years later, Ann had grown from a little girl into a beautiful young lady: full of potential, uncertain of herself, eager for acceptance—in short, a teenager! “Miss Grace, can you tell me how to know more about God?” she asked one afternoon as “Miss Grace” walked her little dog through the neighborhood. “I’m too old for Bible club, but I want to keep learning.” And the seeds had taken root…

“Ann, why don’t you come by my house tomorrow afternoon and we can have a little Bible study? You can come once a week and we’ll study the Bible together,” “Miss Grace” suggested.

“Can we start today instead of tomorrow?” Ann asked. And the seeds began sprouting…

“Miss Grace” has seen many seeds during her years of children’s ministry—one week thirty years ago, she asked the children in her club, “Please stand up if you have trusted Christ for salvation through this Bible club.” Among the children who stood up was Miss Grace’s son. “Honey, Mommy’s trying to teach right now. Can you sit down?” she whispered.

Her son remained standing. “No, I can’t. You asked me to stand up if I got to know Jesus through this club.” That was when “Miss Grace” realized how far the seeds had spread—and how close to home others had sprouted.

Scattered by God’s design, planted by God’s initiative, sprouted by God’s wisdom—and all through His Grace.

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!

Obedience in a Single Moment

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Sometimes we forget how God can use us in a single moment when we are obedient to Him. One woman attended a CEF training at a local church in Chicagoland, where she learned how to share the Gospel with little ones. After taking the class, she moved to Alabama and began attending a little church. One evening, she received a last-minute call from the pastor. “Please come teach a lesson for the children. I know it’s last-minute, but we really need you to teach!” It was the end of a rough day, and she did not have anything prepared. “God, what should I do?” she prayed. “I’m trusting You.” When she arrived at church, a large room filled with excited, active children was waiting to hear the Bible lesson. Suddenly, God reminded her something she had learned from the training in Chicago- a Christmas story that talked about Christmas trees, the cross, and the “Wordless Book”. As she finished the lesson, three boys and a girl responded to the invitation and were counseled for salvation. These children attended church regularly with their families, and now the Gospel message clicked for them.  While they were being counseled for salvation, each child was able to answer thought-provoking questions about their sin, what Jesus had done for them, and their need for a Savior-and they really understood! Within a month, each child asked to be baptized. Their pastor exclaimed, “I’ve never heard of CEF! Tell me more about it! It is incredible to me to watch the Holy Spirit use such wonderful teaching to make such a wide-spread difference!”

Isn’t it neat how God works? Four little ones in Alabama heard the Gospel and responded as a result of training she received through Chicago CEF!

Single moments when we do single actions in obedience to God—God makes these moments go so much farther than we could ever imagine. God can use each of us to improve the world in a single moment when we are faithful to obey Him and share the Gospel wherever we are. Will you improve the world today by telling a child (or an adult!) about the life-changing power of the Gospel?

Seeking Peace in the Midst of Violence

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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.

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Piled Shoes

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The shoes were piled into a jumbled heap inside the front door. Loud laughter and excited chatter filled the living room as the neighborhood children settled into their spots on the living room floor, waiting for their weekly Good News Club to begin. As the weeks flew by and the seasons changed, the children continued to come, piling their shoes by the door as they entered and leaving each night with their hearts more softened by the wonderful love of their Savior Jesus. The best moments on those nights included children raising their hands in enthusiasm to answer a question about God’s love for them or something they had learned from the lesson, and the quiet conversations held one on one with a child in the home’s bungalow hallway as the child received the free gift of eternal life. These moments happened many weeks in the neighborhood home where the children met for Good News Club. While their local school might have been closed to the Gospel, the hearts of the children were not closed to the Gospel message. As the club continued each week, many children in the neighborhood trusted Jesus as their Savior from sin. One young boy who attended the neighborhood club each week was asked about why he came back to his neighbor’s house each week for GNC. He replied,

“When I come to Good News Club it makes me want to be better.” The same Holy Spirit that indwells each adult believer also indwells each young believer. God the Holy Spirit was prompting this boy to live differently, and his Good News Club helped him live for Christ.

The Gospel made a difference in the lives of these children in their Chicagoland neighborhood. As Chicago CEF prayerful pursues the purchase of a ministry outreach building in a neighborhood of need, we look forward to more stories of hope like this one that comes from a neighborhood Good News Club. Our goal and desire is to reach children where they are at, whether in their local school, a park in the summer, or in a neighbor’s home or apartment building.

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To Reach the Children

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At 12:04 pm one night in November 2011, shots were fired on South 19th Avenue in Maywood, hitting the driver of a car. The driver veered off the street, plunging headlong into a building where 14-year-old Dominique and her brother were fast asleep on the living room couch. When Dominique’s older brother, Bryant, and her mother ran into the room, they found the car on top of the two children. Dominique’s brother, Levon, was brought to the hospital in stable condition. But Dominique was pronounced dead at the scene. Bryant  collapsed on the doorstep when he was told his little sister was gone. “She liked volleyball, all types of sports. She liked cooking. She was just a normal 14-year-old girl,” he said. Dominique made As and Bs in school, doing her very best at everything. Teachers and mentors said she had a beautiful smile and was taking classes in engineering.

“It’s such a shame — innocent kids always seem to be the victims,” Dominique’s neighbor, Anna Enrique, said. (Click here to read the full story.)

This has been the observation of Chicago CEF as well: innocent children always seem to be the victims. This is a large motivating factor in bringing Christ’s love into Good News Clubs—Chicago CEF wants to see God’s love transform and comfort broken communities—and every community has been broken.

As Chicago CEF has asked God for more opportunities to give the Gospel, God gave us the idea of a community center where Good News Clubs could be held, interns/missionaries could be housed, and new ministry ideas could be tested and developed. What better place to do it than the building where Dominique was killed? Chicago CEF wants to see God transform this building into a place where God’s love reaches and transforms lives, especially the lives of innocent children.

As we try to buy this building, we need your help! Will you pray and give to make this happen? God provided a $20,000 donation in seed money to start us out, and raised an additional $20,000 towards the building through our annual banquet! Now, we’re seeking one more $20,000 goal, and we want to do it one person, one twenty dollar bill at a time. Would you give $20, and ask 20 of your friends to do the same? Together we can bring the hope of the Gospel to children who so desperately need it. You can click the thermometer below to give your gift. Thank you for your partnership!

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