The Start of CEF
Child Evangelism Fellowship was founded in 1937 by Rev. J. Irvin Overholtzer, a man with a God-given vision for boys and girls in need of the Savior. Growing up in a religious family, Jesse at the age of 12 was convicted of his own sin and sought counsel from his mother. He was told, "Son, you are too young." It wasn't until Overholtzer was in college that he heard the Gospel and trusted Christ as his Savior. He eventually became a pastor and when he was studying, he read one of Charles Spurgeon's sermons which stated that if a young child was properly instructed in the Gospel, that child is capable of true belief and regeneration. Reverend J. Irvin Overholtzer saw the missed opportunity to share the Gospel with these young people. The Lord used this statement in Rev. J. Irvin’s life to motivate him to begin Child Evangelism Fellowship, at the age of 60 years old.
Today his vision lives on. Since 1937 Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF®) has established ministries in every U.S. state, over 200 countries, and has made materials in 45 languages. On average, CEF® reaches ONE CHILD every 16 seconds with the Gospel.
How Our Chapter Began
In March of 1985, Claudia Calderon approached Nancy Thomason, who was the director of the CEF English Chapter of Los Angeles, asking her for help with the Children’s Ministry at her church. Sometimes, Claudia would have over sixty children in her Sunday school, so she knew she needed help. In that conversation, Nancy actually told Claudia about the 9 million spanish-speaking children that needed to hear the Gospel, and Claudia was the right person to help tell them. In May of 1986, she taught her first five-week training in Spanish to eighty-five people. For the next few years, Claudia equipped local Spanish churches to teach Good News Clubs and trained them under the English Chapter. In 1994, Claudia and her new Board of Directors officially launched the CEF Spanish Chapter of Los Angeles, the first and Spanish-reaching chapter in all of the United States.
How our Chapter is Doing
In 2020, we celebrated having shared the Gospel with over one million children. Since then, we have reached an additional 65, 122 children with the Gospel. In 2020, we trained 1,232 adults to teach children effectively. Out of those trainees, 244 of them are working directly with us in APEN programs. The Lord continues to bless our ministry by opening doors day by day, whether it be churches calling us to be equipped, eager hearts to share the Gospel, or curious kids who are open to listening.