The Good News Club closes out the March 5 meeting with a good-bye song. The club meets after school at Carolyn Wenz School to introduce Christianity to children. (Gary Henry/The Prairie Press)

Bring youth to Christ

Wenz's Good News Club offers young students a way to know the church

Playing fun games, working on scripture memory verses and performing children’s Christian songs with accompanied motions, the Good News Club at Carolyn Wenz School is bringing children closer to Christ.

In its sixth year at the school, the club held the second after school meeting of this year Monday, March 5, in the cafeteria. The local club meets from when school dismisses until 4:45 p.m. on Mondays for 13 weeks through May 14.

The Good News Club is a worldwide ministry by the Child Evangelism Fellowship. Each week a volunteer leader presents a Bible lesson using colorful materials specifically designed by CEF. The action-packed time also includes a snack, a missions story and review games or other activities focused on the week’s specific theme.

“The Club is helping children come to Christ and to get to know The Lord,” said Rick Cook, who along with his wife, Debbie, are the club hosts. Cook is the pastor at Horace Baptist Church, and the couple is assisted by several other CEF ministry volunteers, who are also members of the church. The club is self-supported and has a total of seven volunteers.

The March 5 lesson was about Jesus meeting Nicodemus as told in the Book of John, Chapter 3 in the Bible. It also featured the missionary story about Ravi Zacharias, who emigrated from India to the United States.

“The weekly Bible lessons are taught so that the students can use the Biblical information in their daily lives,” Cook explained.

Cook said an average of 20 youngsters attend the club meetings and as many as 30 have attended in the past.

Wenz School was chosen to host the club because it serves grades 3-5, but the club is open to any child age 5 to 12 with a parent permission slip.

“We would love to have more students participate,” said Cook, noting the school administration and teaching staff have been extremely supportive of the club.

He said the club is able to meet at the school because of the equal access law. The club website notes, in 2001 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Good News Clubs v. Milford Central School that Good News Clubs can meet in public schools in the United States after school hours on the same terms as other community groups.

One week prior to the first yearly meeting, the club sends out invitation notes to the Wenz students along with permission slips. He said usually the club grows after the initial meeting because the young students invite other students to attend.

“Usually the students are so excited and tell their classmates so then other students want to join,” Cook explained.

The Good News Club started in Paris several years after the Cooks moved to Edgar County. The duo had worked with the CEF for many years prior to moving to the area.

“We were involved in Awana for many years. Then we began searching for something to reach the children in the community so the CEF club was a good opportunity, and it doesn’t require as many people to organize the program,” said Cook.

He added the club has positively impacted young local club members and has even reached out to older residents.

“Good things have really come out of the club,” said Cook. “I would say that in the Paris club, over the six years, that 30 to 40 student have learned to trust Christ as their savior. We have even observed the kids start attending a church, who hadn’t done so before and even their parents or other family members accompany the youngsters to church.”

The Cooks and the CEF local volunteers see the club helping children for many years to follow.

“We believe we will see more and more students participating once they are familiar with the club,” Cook said. “Every week we always extend the opportunity for the young club members to talk with a volunteer adult to discuss trusting Christ as their savior or making other Biblical life decisions to obey what God says in the Bible.”

Cook added the Child Evangelism Fellowship ministry has been active in the community for many years.

Paris native Kathy Gleckler is a CEF ministry missionary living in Kenya, Africa, and reaches out to children in many parts of Africa. She also trains African leaders to become CEF volunteers, who teach Good News Clubs in other nations.

The Paris Good News Club supports Gleckler as the club’s missionary.

As a firm Christian believer, Cook said God will provide the opportunity for the club to reach additional grade school aged students.

“We definitely trust the Lord will give us those opportunities,” he said. “Sometimes the response seems slow, but it is building without a doubt and we are happy with that.”

The Prairie Press

101 Central Avenue Paris, IL 61944