Hi, I’m Shelley Fietkau. If you want to know me better, here is my story.
At a very young age I came to know that I needed a savior, that my sin kept me from God and would keep me from Heaven. I heard John 3:16 and believed in Jesus to save me from my sin. I grew up in a very painful, and extremely dysfunctional family. While I could trust God to take care of my sin problem, it would be a long time before I would trust Him with my life.
I ran away from home at the age of 15. I wanted to live a life pleasing to God but I was determined to be in control now. I did not trust people who called themselves Christians because I had been so hurt by those people. I did not trust God as he had allowed me to be born into a family of pain and evil.
I spent years learning theology without having a personal relationship with Christ. Through a series of unfortunate events God brought me to the point where I realized that nothing about my life was pleasing to Him. I was filled with guilt and did not even feel like I deserved to cry out to God in prayer. But then I remembered Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” I had been brought out of spiritual death, into a life with God and I had been living like a zombie. But God wanted so much more for me! And I was finally willing to yield to the God who loved me enough to die for me.
I got into the Word, specifically the Gospels, fell in love with my savior and developed a strong desire to serve him. I got into Bible study groups, and church and grew closer to Christ daily. I prayed that God would show me how I could best serve Him and He answered that prayer, eventually making me a leader of a women’s Bible study at one church and then teaching teens in my church. I had thought that getting free from other people would give me peace and joy but I never found either until I became a slave to Christ. Living for Christ is not always easy but I have peace knowing that an all-knowing, fair and loving God, is in charge of my life.
Fast forward to 2008. I’m 46 years old and I find myself transferred to the Tri-Cities, a new area, a new church, a single mom after 20 years of marriage. I had been serving the Lord as a volunteer in women’s and teen ministry. I had a strong desire to continue serving the Lord but no direction. Every day I prayed for God to show me how He wanted to use me. Each week I saw an announcement in the church bulletin asking for volunteers to help in a Good News Club® for Child Evangelism Fellowship®, CEF®. Each week I asked God to give me a sign if that was what He wanted me to do, but I honestly was looking for a sign for something with women or teens. I did not think I was meant to work in ministry with children. Children were a reminder of a past I wanted to forget, a past in which I regularly cried out to God, “Why me Lord, what did I do to deserve this?” I stopped asking that when I learned that God works all things together for good. I realized that meant I could put all the undeserved suffering behind me, trusting that God would reward me in eternity, making it all worthwhile.
After weeks of no conviction in any direction I prayed, “God, I’m going to respond to this bulletin announcement and if you don’t want me to do this, please close the door.” Well the door opened and I was sucked right in. I started teaching Bible lessons in an after-school club. This Good News Club was a ministry of CEF, the largest children’s ministry in the world. Much to my surprise, God had planned to love on those children through me. I saw them and I saw their pain and I longed to help them trust Jesus as their savior AND trust Him with their lives so they would not make the mistakes that I made. And the fact is, I’d given the Gospel to many adults and had never led one to Christ. My first club I led multiple children to Christ and continued to disciple them in God’s Word.
In this club there was a brother and sister who were as different as night and day. The sister, Kaylee, was outgoing, loved club, participated in everything and every week brought at least one new friend to club. Her brother, Kenny, was very quiet and sullen, rarely participated and always sat in the back with his arms folded. I knew he was hurting. The children had lost their mother, then the stepmother left and a bitter grandmother was caring for them. The last week of club for that year, Kenny told me that he would not be returning to club next year, Daddy said he was old enough to make his own choices and he was choosing to not come back.
Later in club I was teaching a difficult lesson and God led me to open up a little about my past. I looked at the children and told them that I knew what it was like to hurt and feel unloved. As I was talking I looked back and saw Kenny sitting with his arms crossed, same sullen look on his face but tears were streaming down his cheeks as I encouraged the kids to not give up on a God who truly loves them.
After the lesson, Kenny came to me and threw his arms around me, cried on me and told me that he would be returning to club the next year. Kenny did return to club and I realized that God meant for me to be in children’s ministry. In fact, He was using me in such a powerful way that it caused me to cry out in praise, “Why me God, what did I do to deserve this?” God showed me that He was already working together for good my awful past. I would not have to wait an eternity, I was being rewarded here and now.
I continued volunteering in this club and another one, then a third. In these clubs I met many children from unchurched families. Most of the children had never been presented with a clear presentation of the Gospel. They needed to know they had a savior who could bring them into a relationship with the one true God. I also discipled many children who were in foster care and from broken families. In one club I had a boy who came to club halfway through the year because he had been transferred to a new foster home. He had a dad in prison and a mother in rehab. He was only in 4th grade and he already had a record. After a few weeks he responded to the Gospel. He had lots of questions. He was so surprised to understand that Jesus had died, taking the punishment for his sins in his place allowing him to have forgiveness. He could not wait to share this with his parents. He had a visitation with his mother in a few days and wanted some stuff to share with her. I gave him tracts, prayed with him and looked forward to hearing about his visit. Unfortunately, I never did get to hear the end of the story because Bruce was transferred that week to a new foster home. He came to club just long enough to hear, understand, and respond to the Gospel. That was 7 years ago and I still pray for him and many other children who have been so hurt by life.
All the children need to know that Christ died on the cross for them, but these hurting children also needed to hear that God loves them and He is fair even when the world isn’t. Teachers will come and go but God will be with them forever. CEF is sharing that message of God’s love and redemption with children all over the world. In fact, over 2 million children were reached by CEF last year in our various ministries. In addition to the ministry of Good News Clubs we have our summer ministry of 5 Day Clubs which is like a mini mobile Good News Club for 5 consecutive days in places where children meet. Most of those clubs are led and taught by teenagers who have graduated from our Christian Youth in Action® training. CYIA™ is a ministry that equips teens and young adults to effectively evangelize and teach children in the 5 Day Club® ministry.
We also give the gospel through our face painting ministry at the county fair and other venues. CEF of Tri-Cities is reaching thousands of children annually and leading hundreds to Christ right here in the Tr-Cities area. CEF is proficient in giving a clear representation of the Gospel on a child’s level so the children KNOW what they need to believe and be saved. But the reason this ministry is so affective in winning souls is because we also follow up with an invitation.
Well, you’ve just heard about some of the problems that the children in Tri-Cities are facing. You’ve heard about the effectiveness of CEF in reaching these children with the Love of God. Now, I give you an invitation. Will you partner with the ministry of CEF to minister to the children in your community? Is God calling you? Serving in children’s ministry is a huge honor. Not everyone is qualified. The children deserve the best. The children deserve the committed. If you are passionate and committed, we can train you to be the best. Your commitment and passion, plus our training will equal a servant who will reach children for Christ. Our office number is 509-518-9031. Let’s talk, let’s pray, let’s see what plans God has for you in children’s ministry.
Children’s names have been changed to protect the privacy of the innocent.