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?

 

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

Worth Every Effort

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My friend Jackie was going down the hallway at her local school, wondering how she could keep the Good News Club going when she no longer had a team of Good News Club teachers. As Jackie and her grown daughter walked down the school hallway, she and her daughter prayed about the situation. Suddenly a child walked up to them. “Miss Jackie, when are we gonna start Good News Club?” Jackie was amazed and excited—This needs to be a priority! She thought. The kids want this! As she continued walking down the hallway, another child approached. “Miss Jackie, I want to come to Good News Club! When is it happening?”

Jackie went home rejoicing that God was giving these children a desire to come to club. But the excitement was not over—that night, I called Jackie. “When are you restarting the Good News Club at your school? How can I partner with you?”

Please praise God for His clear confirmation and His obvious hand in this club! Please pray that God will provide Good News Club teachers and keep the children excited to attend.

Before and After

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As we sat in the crowded living room, the children bounced up and down on the couches excitedly—all except one child, who sat quietly, hands in her lap, looking down. I was immediately drawn to her. “What’s your name, Sweety?”

 “Lisa” (name changed). She refused to give more than a one-word answer. In fact, throughout the entire week of clubs, all her answers were one-word answers—or so quiet I couldn’t hear. Her sister was much more outgoing, answering all my questions in great detail. “Which animal would you like to be?”

“I’d be a cat. Or maybe a tiger. But something fierce. How about a tiger?” But when I asked Lisa the same question, she just shrugged her shoulders and looked down. My fellow teachers and I prayed all week for Lisa, but she remained unresponsive.

The final day as my co-teacher presented the Bible lesson, each child raised his or her hand to learn more about salvation. My co-teacher looked at me for help. “Can you explain salvation to this side of the room while I work with the other side?” I was thrilled to see that Lisa, hand raised high, was in “my” group. As I asked each child thought-provoking questions about the need for salvation (sin) and the way of salvation (Christ), Lisa was brimming with answers. “He died and came alive again to take away our sins! I want Him to take away my sins!” She prayed in her own words.

“I will never leave you,” I read from Hebrews 13:5. “Now that you have trusted in Jesus to take away your sins, He promises to never leave you.”

Lisa clutched the Bible in her arms. “Now I have a Bible!”

I smiled. “Actually that’s mine, but we’re gonna get you one by the end of today.”

She kept her grip on my Bible. “I’ll keep it until then!”

Throughout the rest of club, Lisa insisted that I sit next to her, which I was happy to do, since she still had my Bible! “Show me the verse again about how He took away my sins,” she whispered as a co-teacher taught the missionary story. “Show me the verse about how He’ll never leave me.” She couldn’t stop reading the Bible! And when she got her own, she couldn’t stop smiling. What a far cry from the little girl who couldn’t decide on her favourite animal!

It is amazing to watch God transform these children’s lives. These are the stories that keep me teaching week after week. These are the stories that keep me teaching year after year. “Before and after” stories.

Record Breaking Ministry Year Announced

Final

The statistics are just in for the past ministry year and Child Evangelism Fellowship® is praising God! It was a record breaking ministry year. Over 14 million children were reached with the Gospel! This represents a 15.4 percent growth in ministry. Chicago CEF is thankful for the part we were able to play in discipling children with the Gospel of Jesus!

Each of these children heard the Gospel from a CEF worker or volunteer in person, through the Bible correspondence lessons of the Truth Chasers ClubTM or through the CEF website for children, Wonderzone.com®. The statistics do not include the number of children reached through mass media efforts such as mass literature distributions of evangelistic booklets like Meet the King, or TV and radio programs in various countries.

CEF started here in Chicago in 1937, and now over 77 years later the ministry is in 183 countries worldwide! Good News Clubs worldwide are at an all-time high with 43,186 clubs meeting during the school year. Another record was broken as well—the number of teachers trained was almost 289,000!

CEF President Reese Kauffman said, “‘The Lord has done great things for us.’ (Psalm 126:3) Truly, we are glad today for the millions of children who are hearing the Gospel and for scores who are receiving the Lord Jesus as their Savior. We are praising God for the generous friends and prayer partners of CEF too! Through their prayers and gifts, the ministry is growing and children’s lives are being impacted for eternity.”

Thank you for your part in reaching children with the Gospel. If you pray, give financially, teach, or are involved in another way, You are the Child Evangelism Fellowship. All glory to God!

Infinite Possibility

“Calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'”

Matthew 18:2-4 ESV

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“Today I heard someone say that being anxious all the time is just part of being grown up,” my outraged friend exclaimed. “But God tells us not to worry. He says it comfortingly, not rebukingly, the way you would tell a four-year-old whose favorite toy just broke: ‘Don’t worry; I’m here.’”

I flashed back to Matthew 18:2-4. Children are humble because they are genuine: many do not need to prove themselves by becoming someone or something different—they expect you to accept them the way they are. A loved, accepted child basks in that security without fear. How does that translate to adulthood? Be like a child (the Greek word is used of babies, toddlers, and slightly older children). Children are vociferously expressive; many leave you with no question as to their opinion (although when he is screaming from his seat in the shopping cart in the middle of the grocery store, you may wish he was slightly less expressive!). Children are wholehearted, wailing in grief over something they may completely forget five minutes later. Children are trusting, because the world, although filled with terrifying dark closets and shadows under beds, also holds infinite possibility for miracles.

Don’t worry; I’m here. Be like a four-year-old, accepting condolence when the entire world seems broken. The toy may not be fixable; the world may not be glued back together. But don’t worry; I’m here. And so the world, although filled with terrifying nightmares that sometimes come true, also holds infinite possibility for miracles, because our Abba Father holds us and whispers, Don’t worry, I’m here.

But the final part of Jesus’ quote in this story is what really captures my attention (verse five): “And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes Me.”

They are vociferous, they are wholehearted, they are trusting. Children have unique abilities that help them accept God’s free gift of salvation without doubt. They don’t get hung up on the seemingly-unreleasable details that derail adults. But more than that, children occupy a precious place in God’s heart. When you teach a child in Good News Club, compliment her drawing, or listen to his story, you are doing it for the sake of Jesus Christ.

A Perspective on Christmas: Bob Kuiper

More than likely, if you live in America, you have heard the words hope, joy, peace, and love over and over and over in the last month.  From music at the malls, to music on your radio or other devices, to sermons and bulletins and candles lit at your places of worship plus Christmas cards; the words joy and love and hope and peace have come to be words that fall on our ears often.
It is always good for us to look in the mirror and examine not how we look to others, but how we look to God.  If we could see each other as God sees us, would we find joy in our lives?  Real joy?  Would others know that when Scripture says through an angel that he brings news of great joy, that he was speaking to me?  Does my life “look” peaceful to others?  Do they know the source of peace?
Do friends I meet with or relatives who don’t have a relationship with Jesus understand what hope drives us to live our lives heavenward?
When I look in the mirror, do I see a person who loves the way Jesus showed us how to love, or do I see a person who gives up, saying “it’s no use” or “I’m tired of loving them and getting nothing in return”.
I pray your mirror will tell you “well done, good and faithful servant”.  May you live all year showing the hope and the peace and the joy and the love of Christmas.
Parents, wouldn’t you be thrilled to see your children “live out these virtues”?  Please remember the ways Child Evangelism Fellowship is willing to help you to accomplish this task with your children.

Christmas At Our Family’s House In The Spirit of “Joy”

As we celebrate the third week of Advent and I reflect on the Spirit of Joy, I remember when I was a very young child my family and I would spend lots of time together in preparation for this momentus time of year. More time was spent together than usual because love was in the air. The Christmas tree and lights around the house were being put up, season cards were being mailed out to family and friends, presents were being bought and wrapped, Christmas music was being played all the time, singing, joy and laughter rang out with the delicious smell of good cooking and unity. Joyful surprises were being initiated by everyone in the house trying to keep the presents we bought for each other a secret until Christmas day. As I reflect on how my parents worked hard at their jobs and were committed to teaching us right from wrong, I look back and cherish this time. I was taught it was not about how many gifts we received but being appreciative of all that we have and remembering what that day really stands for “The Birth of Jesus Christ, family time together and the joy on another’s face as we give and they receive”.
My siblings and I would wake up in the wee hours of the morning to see the Christmas tree filled with lights and decorations and presents wrapped under the tree. My siblings and I would look for our name on the wrapped gifts, I can still hear this one is for you. We would then go wake our parents shouting come see, come see. Our parents would get up out their bed that they not too long ago got into because of all the preparation for us and they would join us in the living room to see the surprise on our faces as we opened our gifts. We would then play for hours while Mom went and fixed breakfast. Later in the day we had to stop playing with our toys, get out of our pajamas and prepare to get together with our entire generation of family members from great grandparents, sisters, brothers, aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews and friends.

We would all get together at one family member’s house sit around, talk, share memories and stories, play games, dance, exchange presents and of course Pray and eat. I love this time of year because we would have my favorite turkey and dressing with macaroni, cranberry sauce and lots of desserts.
We were and are blessed as I reflect on what Christmas means in our house. That meaning still remains
…time together as a family in prayer, honoring the birth of our Lord and Savior and being in the spirit and season of giving. Christmas time at our house made all other situations seem to disappear and life was filled with joy, peace, unity, compassion and sharing.
Today as I reflect on then and now I notice something more significant. We spend even more time reflecting and honoring the most significant reason for the season which is the birth of Jesus Christ. It was and still is for our family a time for unity with family, friends, praying for each other and those we don’t know. It is a time to be together as we give praise to Jesus Christ and bless another person by showing love. In closing during our time of gift giving one thing that stood out then and still stands out today is that we open our gifts one person at a time so that we can experience the joy of the person receiving the gift. There is that old saying “it is better to give than to receive” and many blessing come from this family teaching and lifestyle. It is my PRAYER that you and yours have treasured memories of this season and are growing with an even deeper appreciation of the true meaning and reason for the season. God Bless

(Luke 2:10-11) And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold,
I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David
a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

What Better Person?

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She was absolutely terrified, and with good reason. This little girl had grown up in another country where she encountered witch doctors, fierce guerrilla soldiers, and a turbulent family life. As we discussed sin in our Bible lesson, she cringed in her seat, fear spreading across her face. This little girl knew firsthand about sin’s devastation. But when the Bible lesson finished for the day, she met me at the back of the classroom. “I want Jesus to take away my sins,” she whispered. Five other children clustered around, eager to talk about sin—and my heart broke for this little girl as I saw her terror mounting. But she stuck with the conversation, determined to get to know God. The next day after club, she came back with more questions. “I’m still scared. Why does God let bad things happen?” I looked into her dark eyes and wished I had easy answers. Instead, I opened my Bible to First John. “The Bible says that God is love, and that perfect love casts out, or drives away, all fear. If you meant it yesterday when you believed in Jesus to take away your sins, then you are God’s beautiful, priceless daughter, and no matter what happens, He will always be with you.” I flipped to Psalm 139. “You are still getting to know God, but He knows every little detail about you. He even knows your favourite color and what you had for breakfast this morning! He also knows what you’re afraid of, and He will never leave you.” Her worry lines relaxed.

She came to Bible club every week. “Show me verses about God’s love. What verses can I read when I’m scared at night?” We talked about fear every week after club, but after a few months, she seemed to have fewer questions and more frequent smiles. Once I even noticed a giggle. Then came the wonderful day when she was giggling so much I had to gently remind her to pay attention through club. God is the great Restorer of broken souls!

She got to know God—the best Counselor, the only One Who can perfectly meet her needs, Who already knows her story and can drive away her fear. What better Person could she ever get to know?

Make them known to your children and your children’s children.

Children's Children

The church sits in the middle of the neighborhood, a beacon of light to a world of darkness. Generations have come through the doors of the building, finding new life in Christ. This church body has been faithful to reach the children in their community with the Gospel through an annual 5-Day Club (pictured above). Many of the same children have come to the club every summer. One of the families who attended the club saw new life come to their entire family over the course of the year. Joyfully, each family member trusted Christ as their Savior and the entire family was baptized one Sunday. This is what happens when a church body makes God’s Word know to their children and their children’s children-the neighborhood is changed by the positive influence of a regular program for children; children’s lives are changed by the Gospel, and the lives of entire families are influenced for Christ. As believers in Christ, we are called to instruct our children and our children’s children in the way they should go. That call extends to reaching our neighbors and children around us for Christ (after all, they are a part of our “Jerusalem”-Acts 1:8). The church body above has found practical ways to reach their community for Christ, and what a difference it has made! What are you doing to reach your community for Christ? It’s time to make God’s Word known to your children and your children’s children, and maybe even your neighbor’s children.