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Child Evangelism Fellowship Reaches Over 2800 Children in Salt Lake City Through Good News Across America Campaign

9/18/11 9:31 PM

Child Evangelism Fellowship Reaches Over 2800 Children in Salt Lake City Through Good News Across America Campaign
Contact: Melody Bentley, 571-274-6058

WARRENTON, Missouri, Sept. 18, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- Child Evangelism Fellowship, the largest Christian ministry to children in the world, reports that it reached 2849 children during its week-long Good News Across America campaign in Salt Lake City, Utah, in July of this year. Good News Across America began in 2008 targeting a strategic city in the United States each year with evangelistic clubs, called 5-Day Clubs.

To reach so many children in such a short period of time requires considerable manpower and resources. This year in Salt Lake City, 137 CEF volunteers from 31 states and Canada, partnered with 29 Salt Lake City churches to provide 87 Five Day Clubs for children in the churches' communities. The cost of the program is born entirely by CEF and its volunteers. Of the 150,000 dollars needed for the campaign, CEF Headquarters, in Warrenton, Missouri, provides half, while the other half is funded by the volunteers who pay for their transportation costs and raise 600 dollars each in donations for the campaign. "We want to help churches with something they often find challenging: evangelizing children, especially non-churched children. And we want churches to bear as little cost as possible because some churches lack the financial resources for such a program," said Mr. Moises Esteves, Vice President of USA Ministries for CEF. Indeed, the only expense the churches incur is the cost of one meal for the participating children and their families at a rally the final evening of the clubs.

The Good News Across America campaign has its roots in Brazil, where CEF workers pioneered the program, targeting areas where the ministry was not yet established. The first campaign held in the United States was in Chicago, in 2008, followed by Little Rock, Arkansas, in 2009, and Boston, in 2010. With each successive campaign the number of children reached has increased. Asked to what she attributes this impressive outreach, Ms. Rachel Hamel, a CEF worker from Virginia, said without hesitation, "Its prayer. God answered our prayers." Indeed, many prayers were lifted up. Prayer booklets were mailed to the 29 Salt Lake City churches as well as all 400 CEF offices in the United States challenging them to pray for the success of their efforts during the 35 days prior to the campaign's start.

And those efforts were considerable. Two weeks prior to the start of the Five Day Clubs the 29 churches handed out a minimum of 250 invitations to children and families around each of the 87 locations where the clubs would be held. A week prior, they handed out another 250 invitations at each location for a total of 50,000 invitations in all. Also, during that week, the CEF workers and member of the participating churches were given training on the curriculum of the 5-Day Club, as well as the cultural background of the local communities. They were also taught how to determine if a child had truly accepted Christ as savior. "We do not want to use leading questions to manipulate a child into saying yes for the sake of bragging about numbers. God calls us to share the gospel. He does not require us to make people believe. Our goal is an accurate assessment of a child's spiritual condition. If the child has come to faith in Christ on his own, then and only then do we rejoice," explained Ms. Hamel. "Not all the children we shared the gospel with in Salt Lake became Christians. Usually, it is some fraction. That week, 477 children committed their lives to Christ."

For the CEF workers who volunteer for the campaign witnessing the power of the gospel is rewarding. Ms. Bethany Caminiti is one such volunteer who was privileged to witness one Mormon teenage girl especially strident in her beliefs come to Christ. "You guys told me a whole lot of stuff that I never knew was in the Bible," she said. "Because of you guys, I changed from being a Mormon to being a Christian." On another occasion she mentioned, "This is what I'm meant help others learn about God..."

The genius of the 5-Day Clubs is that they are held where the children are rather than inside a local church. Depending on the community, clubs might be held in parks, community centers, private backyards, on playgrounds or in apartment complexes. "Many churches need this program because their traditional method for evangelizing unchurched children, the Vacation Bible School, has been in decline," said Mr. John Luck, the Project Manager for Good News Across America. "Instead of reaching children who do not know the gospel, VBS attendees are primarily children who already attend the host church or another church. Sometimes these children's parents are simply using VBS as childcare. We want to help churches find those children and their families who have not heard the gospel."

The clubs themselves are a wonderful mix of learning and fun. Engaging Bible lessons, songs, and games have been designed to encourage relationship building among the children, with church members, and especially with God. The clubs culminate on Friday evening with rallies at the sponsoring churches for the children and their families, when the churches invite the children, with their parent's permission, to attend Good News Clubs which meet once a week after school, in local public schools. Like the 5-Day Clubs, these clubs offer a good mix of fun with thoughtful Bible lessons and are led by church members who have been trained by CEF. In this way, churches are able to maintain their relationships and spiritual care of these children.

The effectiveness of Good News Across America in Salt Lake City is summed up in the testimonies of church members and pastors whose churches partnered with CEF. Ms. Michelle Hirschi who is a member of Mountain View Christian Assembly remarked, "I have had the desire to get out into our backyards and our neighborhoods and really start reaching those kids but I haven't known where to start. Now I have a starting point." Some of the churches had struggled for years to reach local neighborhoods. Addressing the CEF workers, Pastor Scott Warren of CrossPoint Church commented, "We have been trying to get into our neighborhoods for a longtime now...This week God has kicked open some doors that we've just been knocking on and trying to open for five years now...You have made a big splash this week but the ripples are going to keep going for years to come." Pastor Andy Smith of Mount Calvary Family Worship Center, echoed his remarks. "Over the last five days something has been accomplished in our neighborhood that we have been working for six years to accomplish...In five days you can see so much happen so quickly. It was just incredible to invite in 100 of our neighbors and their children that have never been inside the doors of our church who literally live a stone's throw away from the building...Thank you so much for helping our city."

Next year, the Good News Across America Campaign will be in Washington, D.C.

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