"I'm very burdened that people evangelize the children, not because we say so, but because it is commanded in the Word of God."


Jesse I. Overholtzer,

visionary & founder of CEF

Mr. Overholtzer

Greater Pee Dee


Serving Horry, Georgetown, and Marion Counties

Read more about how God used

Mr. O to begin CEF. Get your copy today! Order at (843) 365-4233

  • "Described as the “unobtrusive little farmer” who staked all on the premise – revolutionary in his day – that little children could be taught basic doctrines of the Scriptures and be won for Jesus Christ."
  • He was unpretentious and unassuming in the pulpit, yet he moved great audiences with his revolutionary message.
  • He had a weak and faltering voice, yet thousands recognized it as the voice of God drawing them into his knicker and pigtail crusade.
  • He had neither a degree in theology nor titled position, but he received the support and devoted friendship of such evangelical notables as Harry A. Ironside, Charles G. Trumbull, Paul W. Rood, Walter L. Wilson, M.D., and Henry C. Thiessen.
  • At sixty years of age, without administrative experience, but with God’s enablement, he founded Child Evangelism Fellowship and directed its international operation for fifteen years, to within three years of his death in 1955.


A recently discovered message reveals the heart of the founder of Child Evangelism Fellowship, J. Irvin Overholtzer. In it “Mr. O” speaks about his conviction to evangelize children and tells the wonderful story of how CEF was born.

"I was told that a child of five, if properly instructed, can as truly believe as anyone. I saw, that if there was any truth in this statement, there was a door of opportunity lying open before us that we were not entering at all. I knew of no one, at this time, that was leading small children to Christ.

Finally, when I could not get away from the conviction to do something about it, I decided to make an experiment. I decided to lead some children to Christ, and watched them to see if there was any evidence of their being regenerated.  I knew that the members of my church would not believe in what I was doing, so I attempted to do this secretly.

We had quite a large Sunday school, and a good many children were attending Sunday school from non-Christian homes. I gave them the Gospel as simply and as fairly as I knew how to, and then led them to a definite acceptance of Christ. Now I didn't try children as young as five years old; the children that I dealt with were 9, 10, 11 and 12.

I did keep this much of a record-- I dealt with twenty-one children before I was convinced. What finally convinced me, was that I had led two little girls, nine and eleven, to Christ. Their father was an infidel, and mother had never attended church. I led these girls to Christ.

The following Sunday, the mother of these two little girls came to church. After the first invitation that was given, she was the very first one to accept Christ. I went to her and said, ‘Would you mind telling me what has influenced you to come to Christ?' and she said, ‘the changed lives of my two little girls.' That is what started me in Child Evangelism."

Jessie Irvine Overholtzer was the remarkable man who founded Child Evangelism Fellowship in 1937. Where might and power failed, the Spirit of God used the weakness of "Mr. O" to create the largest evangelistic outreach to children that the world has ever seen. When others asked, "Why?" Mr. O asked, "Why not?" and lived by the motto: "There is no lack with God!"

There wasn't anything that made Mr. O stand out, except for his willingness to be used by God.