Pilot Staff Writer

Child Evangelism Fellowship of Curry County had its annual spring banquet early this year to take advantage of a visiting missionary.

Missionary Gus Matero, who has spent the greater part of his adult life in child evangelism, told the guests about his recent travels in Russia. Last June and July, the 75-year-old Matero, traveled 3,000 miles on two Russian rivers, the Angara River in east-central Siberia, and the Amur River in Russia's Far East.

The teams he traveled with held 75 meetings in 68 villages, presenting the story of Christ to about 3,500 people, both young and old.

They presented Bibles, New Testaments, and other literature to 71 libraries on their itinerary. All literature and presentations were in the Russian language, with non-Russian speakers using an interpreter.

The recreation hall at the Brookings Church of the Nazarene was filled with supporters of the county's child evangelism program. There are approximately 35 children in five Curry County clubs, four in Brookings, and one in Gold Beach.

Most of those who work in the program, teaching, providing transportation and materials, and other required help, are volunteers. Gregg Elrod, the program director for the county, is the only paid participant. The other 10 workers are all volunteers, some having served in local child evangelism for more than 30 years.

Oregon law mandates that school children must be allowed to participate in release time to attend the classes, if they wish to and if their parents sign an agreement allowing them participate.

The classes are scheduled one afternoon a week for about one hour.

The stated purpose of the program is, andquot;To evangelize boys and girls with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and to establish (disciple) them in the Word of God and in a local church for Christian living.andquot;

Although the banquet was publicized and the room was full, one of the participants in the program said, andquot;It's the best kept secret in Curry County.andquot;

Anyone interested in additional information about the program, or in volunteering to help, may phone Elrod at (541) 412-8541.