Investigator to have book published
The novelist Elmore Leonard said of writing, "I try to leave out the parts that people skip."
That may not have been the intention of Chris Shelton during his first venture at published writing, but the finished product certainly reveals a discipline that encapsulates that concept.
The veteran child services investigator for Clay County has utilized his unique perspective of experiences on the job and ministry. As an investigator for the Clay County Department of Human Services, his challenges have provided the backdrop for his venture into writing.
What really fuels Shelton's passion, though, is his love of God and his work in the ministry.
The book, aptly titled "It's Okay, You're With My Father" (a child abuse investigator's call to the church), will be available later this month at Barnes & Noble and major book stores, as well as Amazon.com, both in paperbook and ebook formats for $10. Although less than 100 pages, the book is the inside story of Shelton's experiences as an investigator dealing mostly with child abuse cases. His firsthand experience in dealing with both victims and offenders, along with his ministerial understanding, have converged in the book, which takes a look at various cases with an overwhelming theme of justice tempered with forgiveness. A blurb on the back cover states, "There was never a task too small or too large for Christ to tackle if it helped to find justice for victims or their families."
The cover features a picture of a man with his son, their backs to the camera, walking together hand-in-hand. It attempts to capture the idea that first introduced the possibility of a book to Shelton -- an incident he fondly recalls (in the book) that involves his son Adam and a friend.
"I did not set out to be an author," he said. "I have a message. It's not about me, but about the message."
There are a number of endorsements, including Duane Dutka, Clay County DHS administrator; Glenn Leach, Rector Chief of Police; author Roland Mann; officer Shane Martin (brother of Corning Sgt. Jamie Martin); well-known Poplar Bluff pastor and radio personality Kevin McAnulty; Dr. Cathy Young, coordinator of Family Nurse Practitioner Track at ASU, and others.
Shelton says the cases he worked in child protective services were not worked alone.
"I was part of a team of good, professional (many Christian) men and women in local law enforcement agencies," he said. "Nurses and doctors , school teachers and counselors, prosecutors and attorneys who are overworked for state pay and who have dedicated their lives to families. They are all my heroes."
Shelton, who is serious about justice being served, also communicates a forgiving heart to offenders, many of whom he views as victims themselves.
Shelton says he starts each day with two prayers: the first is that he see that he is supposed to help children; the second that he is to protect anyone from being wrongly accused.
The book contains a disclaimer as follows: "I'm going to be writing about some cases I've worked, but it is my desire that this book not be about me. I also don't want this book to be just about a bunch of negative situations. It is my hope and prayer that when this book is read, you'll forget about me and the specific cases but remember to reach out in love so that God can use you to break the cycle and heal these families in Jesus."
All of the cases are accurate and true, but no identities have been disclosed.
As a child abuse investigator, Shelton has worked more than 100 cases a year for the past eight years. He says the book was, in part, inspired because his work took him not into a "bad area" of the country, but right in the heart of the Bible belt of America, an area considered as low crime. Shockingly, child abuse is not just a national problem reported on the nightly news in primetime, but a problem in every community, no matter how rural.
"The state can treat the symptoms, but only God can heal the problem," Shelton said. "Social Service is traditionally the largest line item on all state budgets. I believe this is also due to the breakdown of traditional families. We have generations being raised without fathers in the homes. They are instead being raised by shows like Jerry Springer, MTV Spring Break and Girls Gone Wild ads."
Shelton said that once he began writing the book he "didn't stop until he finished." He refers to it as a "God thing."
"The portions I've been complimented on the most, I don't even remember writing," Shelton said. "I take that as a good thing. It means I had inspiration."
He expects the book to be available by the end of July and has already had several invitations for possible book signings as well as speaking engagements at churches, television and radio programs.
"I just put it out there and let God do what He would do with it," he said.
He completed the book nearly two years ago. The process reached its peak last April. Since then, things have moved quickly, he said.
His career as an investigator occupies much of his time, but Shelton is also a minister and dedicates much of his time to that cause. As pastor of Reach Out Christ's Kingdom (ROCK) Ministries in Piggott, his mission is to reach out to people who are looking for a second chance.
"ROCK is about reaching out to people," Shelton said. "That's our goal. We want to reach people who haven't accepted the Lord into their life. We want to attract people to services who have been somehow overlooked by the modern churches."
Reach Out Christ's Kingdom (ROCK) Ministries celebrated its first year of services last March. The ministry shared over 1,500 Christian comics and pamphlets in the first year.
Shelton joined the Army out of high school and became an infantry squad leader, later earning a degree in Sociology with concentration in Education. He later served in counterintelligence in Washington D.C., where he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.
He serves today throughout Clay County in child protective services, spending a large amount of his time in the Corning area.