“He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” (1Thess. 5:24)
The One Who CALLS is the One Who is faithful to DO IT and to provide whatever is needed to obey His calling.
In November 1949 Sadie and I trusted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour through the ministry of Fred and Ina Orr. We were in our early twenties, had no evangelical background and little understanding of Bible truths. I had, just several months earlier, space after starting my career as a school teacher in Lurgan Technical College. We were so thrilled and excited about our new lives.
In March 1950, we were married and so, earlier this year we celebrated our 65th wedding anniversary. Throughout 1950 we prayed and asked God to show us how He wanted us to serve Him and as a result, God laid a burden on our hearts to reach children with the Gospel. Because we were young Christians and had no evangelical background we had no idea what this meant or how we were to do it.
But in the latter part of 1950 we came into contact with a missionary from Child Evangelism Fellowship. He visited us in our home near Lurgan and told us about CEF, about Good News Clubs and showed us how to use the flannel-graph. As a result, we immediately started a Good News Club in our home, basing all we did on the CEF teaching materials given to us by the missionary before he left. All the children from that rural area came each week and I had the privilege of leading several of them (rather nervously!) to Jesus Christ. It was a new experience for me; I knew very little about the Bible and had never led anyone to Christ. But God is faithful and it is HE WHO DOES IT.
That Good News Club in 6 Maureen Terrace, Bleary was the beginning of the work of Child Evangelism Fellowship in Ireland. I was truly excited with this ministry into which God had called us. I started, and organised, several more Good News Clubs in the area and conducted several open-air meetings for children. I even taught a weekly training class, based on my study of CEF literature, even though I myself had never received any training. I listened eagerly to what I was teaching! When CEF heard about what was happening in Ireland, they appointed us as National Directors of CEF of Ireland. That was quick promotion! We looked forward with keen anticipation, to what God was going to do.
The work began to grow in a wonderful way. The Hand and the blessing of our Faithful God was on the work right from the start and HE DID IT! Other people with the same burden for children joined us. We divided Northern Ireland into 11 areas and, over the next few years, a local committee and local director were appointed for each area. Everyone involved in the ministry, including ourselves, were volunteers during the ten years which followed. We all had our regular day-time jobs and supported ourselves and our ministries. Even as late as 1963 the National Prayer Letter actually recorded that the “operating costs of CEF in Northern Ireland are approximately £60 per week!!”
The work was not easy. The concepts of child conversion, of Good News Clubs in homes and open air meetings for children in housing estates, all operating on an interdenominational basis, were new to many people and was even considered quite revolutionary. But by the early 1960s, over 100 weekly Good News Clubs were being conducted and hundreds of weekly open air meetings were held each summer with, often, over 100 children in attendance. Holiday Bible Clubs for children were organised in a number of places, children’s missions were being conducted regularly, and several weekly training classes were well attended. A Youth Council was commenced with over 100 young people enrolled, an Easter conference began and the Annual Meeting held in Templemore Hall, in 1963, had over 900 in attendance.
And all these ministries were conducted by volunteer workers for well over 10 years.
When Sadie and I became European CEF directors in 1964, our close friends and co-workers David and Mollie McQuilken became the Irish national directors, and during the years which followed God used them and their leadership to build up a wonderful work. When David went to be with the Lord the work continued to grow under the leadership of Henry and Madeleine Berry and, then, Philip and Denise Annett. Why recount the happenings of those early years of CEF in Ireland? There are at least three reasons for doing so:
- Firstly, to pay tribute to the hundreds of volunteers who gave their all to evangelize the children. Many are no longer with us;
- Secondly, to better understand and appreciate the foundations which were laid for CEF of Ireland during those first 14 years;
- Thirdly and above all, TO GIVE GLORY TO GOD AS A WONDERFUL DEMONSTRATION OF HIS FAITHFULNESS
HE CALLED…and ….HE DID IT! And we give Him all the glory!
Article by Sam & Sadie Doherty