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CEF Founder

Our History

How the work of CEF Began

Child Evangelism Fellowship® 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 Overholtzer was in college that he heard the Gospel and trusted Christ as his Savior.

Later as a pastor, 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's  International Headquarters is located in Warrenton, Missouri.

CEF IHQ Aerial view
International Plaza at CEF IHQ
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