CEF® was founded by Jesse Irvin Overholtzer in 1937.
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 Jesse was in college that he heard the Gospel and trusted Christ as his Saviour.
Later as a pastor Jesse 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 to lead Jesse, at 60 years of age, to begin the ministry of Child Evangelism Fellowship.
The USA-based ministry has grown into the largest evangelistic outreach to children in the world. CEF has over 2,900 missionaries, approximately 2,200 of whom are nationals.
The Australian work was commenced in Sydney in 1949, with ministry beginning in WA in 1952. CEF currently operates in Western Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, and New South Wales, with the National Office located in Sydney.