Ballynahinch pair new directors of Child Evangelism Fellowship

Ballynahinch pair new directors of Child Evangelism Fellowship

27 March 2024

A BALLYNAHINCH couple are to be the new national directors of Ireland’s largest children’s ministry.

David and Heather Cowan will step down as the local directors of Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) in Lagan Valley next week.

It’s a position held by the couple for a combined period of more than half a century, which has seen them work with thousands of the district’s children.

They will replace David and Rosemary Edwards as the new heads of the Christian youth organisation as a phased approach from April 1.

David grew up in Ballynahinch Congregational Church and is a past pupil of Ballynahinch Primary School and Ballynahinch High School.

He began volunteering locally with CEF at the age of 20 and took up a full-time position 10 years later in 1994, having previously been a postman in Saintfield.

David met Heather through CEF and when they got married in October 1999 she joined him in his ministry in Lagan Valley. Latterly, Heather has returned to primary school teaching while supporting her husband’s ministry.

David’s role in Lagan Valley has involved teaching the Bible to children in weekly Good News Clubs and monthly school assemblies, as well as running summer clubs and overnight camps.

He also visits mission halls and church services throughout the country to promote and pray for the work of CEF, while also training new workers to work with children. His area primarily covers Lisburn and the surrounding towns from Crumlin to as far east as Saintfield.

Child Evangelism Fellowship began in the USA in 1937 before starting in Ireland in 1950 in Lurgan. Today it remains the largest evangelistic outreach organisation to children in the world.

Announcing his departure, David said: “We will be leaving the work in the Lagan Valley area with a very heavy heart.

“I have been working full-time in the area since Easter 1995. Heather joined me in the work when we married in October 1999. The years have just flown by.

“We have had the privilege of working alongside numerous faithful and loyal volunteers, many of whom have become really good friends. We have also had the freedom of teaching God’s word to hundreds of children and young people.

“Thankfully many of the children that we have taught are now adults and teaching today’s children with the same wonderful gospel message.

He continued: “Nothing stays the same; changes happen. For Heather and me, we genuinely thought that we would retire from CEF as the local workers of this area. However, God had other plans.

“We will be very sad to leave the local work but we will follow the ministry with a genuine interest.”

Callum Bowsie, a CEF volunteer in the Ballynahinch area, congratulated David and Heather on their appointment.

Mr Bowsie, who is also a DUP councillor for the Rowallane area, said there was “no one better for the top job”.

He continued: “The success of this ministry under David and Heather, even in my own locality, is evident by the sheer amount of programmes in the immediate vicinity.

“Good News Clubs alone run in nearly every local town around here – mainly in primary schools.

“For example, there are clubs in Ballynahinch, Annahilt, Dromara, Kinallen, Carryduff and two in Saintfield, with a separate club recently starting in Crossgar.

“Thousands of children in the mid-Down area have come through at least one of the Cowans’ clubs over the last three decades, me included.

“From the age of seven I went to David and Heather’s Good News Club in Saintfield Academy where I became a Christian and I remain involved in the great work of CEF to this day.”

Mr Bowsie added: “David and Heather have always been incredibly encouraging to me a young person and as a volunteer. They lead the Lagan Valley team with good humour, kindness and immense dedication in what is an increasingly challenging ministry.

“I would encourage the people of Lagan Valley to continue to support David and Heather in their new roles and to perhaps offer to help at some of the clubs they will be having to step back from.”