History of Child Evangelism Fellowship
CEF® was founded by Jesse Irvin Overholtzer in 1937. Growing up in a religious family, Jesse sought the counsel of his mother at the age of 12 after feeling convicted of his own sin. 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.
As a pastor later in his life, Mr. Overholtzer read one of Charles Spurgeon’s sermons which stated, “A child of five, if properly instructed can as truly believe and be regenerated as an adult.” The Lord used this statement in Mr. O’s life to lead him to begin the ministry of Child Evangelism Fellowship when he was 60 years old.
The ministry has grown into the largest evangelistic outreach to children in the world. CEF is currently ministering in nearly every country around the world and in every state here in the U.S.. CEF has over 3500 missionaries overseas, approximately 3400 of whom are nationals. In the USA and Canada nearly 900 full-time workers and over 20,000 volunteers serve in this vital ministry to children.