March 19, 2012 Blog from keithferrin.com
If you knew David Shelton, you know how fortunate you are. If you didn’t, make a note to spend some time with him when you get to Heaven. This weekend, David went home.
David has been doing what I do (one-man, biblical storytelling) for twice as long as I have. He spent three decades making the Scriptures come alive. There are many people who play various roles in the world of Christian drama. David was one of the few that I have come across who also use whole books of the Bibles, word-for-word, as their scripts.
I met David when I was only 4-5 years into this journey. At the time, I presented the Gospel of John and only a couple short books. He already had a repertoire that made my jaw drop. And yet, from the start, he never treated me as anything other than a fellow storyteller with a wonderful story to tell. He encouraged. He questioned. He challenged. He inspired.
My three most significant memories of David:
David the storyteller – I will never forget watching David perform the Book of James. The intro to the performance paints the setting as a funeral, where the deceased has asked to have the Book of James recited to his family and friends. David did the entire show with a spot-on Irish accent. Something about that accent, David’s gestures, and the Spirit within David made those words jump off the page. Since that evening, I have not looked at the Book of James quite the same – and never will.
David the encourager – Most years I host a dessert theatre to share a new presentation or raise money for a new project or book. I remember the time I hopped up on stage to welcome everyone and there, sitting in the front row, were David and his lovely bride, Deb. David had his usual ear-to-ear grin beaming through his salt-and-pepper beard. I remember thinking, This guy is a storytelling legend. I’m a newcomer. What’s he doing here? But to David, it was all about people using their gifts to serve Christ and expand His Kingdom. David and Deb saw what I was striving to do. Their presence that night (and at several other dessert theatres in the coming years) showed me that they viewed my work – and me as a
person – as valuable. I pray that my life will be spent making others feel about their gifts and calling the way David and Deb made me feel about mine.
David the mentor – Several years ago, David was in a terrible accident that resulted in him having to reduce, and ultimately leave, the stage. And somehow, David never left the stage. Although he struggled to remember lines, and eventually even struggled to speak, he and Deb continued to mentor teenagers interested in drama. I had the chance to speak to one of these groups and to behold – once again – the widespread impact David had on so many. He never saw the next generation as people who would “someday” have an impact as storytellers for the Kingdom. He saw them as storytellers who had an impact today! Everyone who had the privilege to be mentored by David will tell you that they are better storytellers because they knew him.
David, my friend. Your mind is clear again. Your body now works perfectly. This day, you stand in the presence of the Grand Storyteller. Oh, how I wish I could have witnessed that scene. The one where your beloved Jesus took you in His arms and celebrated your homecoming with the words, Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into my joy. Very few have told My Story so well. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Oh…have I got a story for you…
Recently at The Legacy Institute's Annual Gala, David was honored as one of the contributors of their curriculum, "Relationships with Integrity." David's "The Great King" is the focus for the 4th grade lesson in this ground breaking curriculum.
As President Carrie Abbott shared, the team wanted the 4th graders to have an emphasis on the Father Heart of God and that David presents it so well in The Great King. Due to an incredible response from the test schools' parents, students and staff, The Legacy Institute has now decided to use David's TGK DVD for a capstone of their 12th grade curriculum as well.
A unexpected and touching moment for everyone in the room was when Keynote Speaker Dr. Walt Larimore skipped the stage upon his introduction and walked directly over to greet David, telling the audience "I've always prayed I'd have the opportunity to meet David Shelton and thank him for blessing my family with "The Innkeeper's Dream."
A Tribute to David Shelton
by Scott Lackey
December, 2006 at our Christmas Dessert Theatre
When Deb and David first asked me to speak. . . I remembered an email I’d sent them that mentioned I have two heroes in my life: The author John Eldredge and David Shelton. David’s example has had immeasurable impact on me. I first met David in 1989 as part of a mission’s trip to Greece. He was a man of God and leader unlike any other I’d ever met. There was godliness to him mixed with good humor. David was a man with great authority, and yet a humility too. David was a man’s man. He could be dog piling with the guy team members one minute, but then turn around and tell the team what to do and we all knew it must get done. His character commanded respect.
John Eldredge in Way of the Wild Heart writes about 5 stages of God’s development of the masculine soul. Beloved son, Cowboy, Warrior, King, and Sage. When I first met David, he was in the King stage. A king is a fine thing to behold. As a king, David would be on stage bringing the Word to life in front of hundreds or thousands, while unofficially ministering to many off-stage as well. Now, David is moving in to the stage of the Sage. The Sage stage has a different face as John Eldredge describes it. The King steps, by and large, out of the limelight and begins to minister to other would-be or already kings out of his great wisdom and experience. His influence may appear to decrease now, but in fact this is the time of his greatest contribution to the Body of Christ through the mentoring of other performing artists and his life long legacy of performances on DVD and CD.
I've seen a number of your performances, but nothing was more impacting than when you visited our Valley College and Career group in Monroe Washington and performed the Great King for us. That was 12 years ago. Thanks for teaching us young adults what it means to give selflessly to ministry.
David and Deb,
I cannot put into words what you have meant to me as a Christian man. I loved how you would make me laugh, smile and think about my faith. I loved how my children would sit mesmerized by your stories and talk about them for days. As a Christian man, many things in life died hard - I still had a tough exterior and didn't show the love and joy of the Lord, but saw through you and your life that I could be man-like yet also be Christ-like. I could never say thank you loud enough. I know that you are in a different season of your life - I pray for God's perfect will, and look forward to the new season!
A man in the back row.
I wanted to share with you a moment inside a 4th grade classroom at Cedar Park. I w as teaching a "Legacy" Lesson right after we had viewed a segment of "The Great King" DVD and I told the children that I knew the man who was the storyteller. They were SO excited and they wanted me to tell David that they really LOVE...D the story, and that he was a really good storyteller and that they thought that he was the "bestest EVER" to tell a story and that they wanted me to tell him that. The boys thought that he was really a warrior in disguise (oh yes, we all know that is TRUE).
I told them that David couldn't publicly tell stories anymore because God had him on a different adventure, so they offered to pray for him! So please tell David that yet another generation of young people are forever changed because of the Great King tale as told by our own beloved David Shelton! :-)
Margaret Downs, Washington
Dear Mr. & Mrs. Shelton,
I wanted to personally thank you for your ministry. I first saw one of your performances when I was in 1st or 2nd grade (back in the early 90's), when you came to Silver Lake Chapel in Everett. I was so young but even now, nearly 20 years later, I can still vividly remember portions of Mr. Shelton's performance. He was captivating. I just today thought of him and looked up your ministry online, and was thrilled to find that I can purchase his performances on DVD. I am a Mom now to a year and a half old little boy and another little boy on the way, and I can't wait until they're old enough to watch these with me.
I understand that Mr. Shelton has dementia now, so I hope he can understand this email and how grateful I am for his ministry ... I know he has touched a lot of souls ... including this one little girl from way back when.
God bless you and your family! Much love!
Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri