USA (MNN) — The largest Christian ministry to children is not only celebrating 75 years of ministry, they're celebrating growth.
Child Evangelism Fellowship has expanded its global ministry footprint for the fifth consecutive year. At their recent anniversary celebration, CEF announced they've expanded their international ministry in four more countries. This brings the total number of countries and territories where CEF is present to 180.
According to Mr. Tom Levanos, CEF executive director for operations, the ministry is now present in the Commonwealth of Dominica in the Caribbean, the Republic of Guinea in West Africa (Guinea-Conakry), another country in Africa, and one in the Asia Pacific region. These last two countries cannot be named in order to protect the safety of the CEF workers serving there.
The model that CEF uses contributes greatly to its successful establishment of programs abroad. Rather than send missionaries to a foreign country, CEF finds nationals who are eager to go into full-time service to evangelize children in their own country. To prepare them, these nationals workers attend a 12-week training course usually taught by CEF workers from the same region of the world.
These new workers are then equipped to go back home and train local volunteers to evangelize children through the establishment of local clubs called Good News Clubs. Whenever possible, workers try to partner with local churches. They basically train willing church members how to run Good News Clubs sponsored by their local church.
"Our goal is not to compete with the local churches, but to support them," says CEF's executive vice president of International Ministries Harry Robinson. "We do this by providing churches with a program that will help them evangelize children."
CEF considers its ministry established in a given country when the workers are trained and have set up an active ministry of Good News Clubs meeting regularly.
Establishing indigenous boards is key to seeing CEF expand in each country. They're composed of individuals from a cross-section of the culture, and when possible, representing different denominations. This can't help but foster greater outreach. It also helps with the crucial work of integrating the CEF program into local churches. "It's vitally important that the CEF ministry is the ministry of the local people. They know their culture better than anyone coming from the outside. They are the most qualified to explain and contextualize the Gospel for their own people," said Mr. Levanos.
All of this is supported by the international office. Support for CEF comes from people like you who help provide the funding needed to support 2,800 workers around the world, 94% of whom serve in their home countries.