God is consistent in His plan for each of our lives. He would not give us inborn talents, spiritual gifts and life experiences and then not use them. This is evident in the life of Karen Howard, where God is using her love of children and evangelism for His glory. As Karen says, “I have always had a passion for children and their walk with the Lord.”
Karen was raised in Bakersfield, attending Bakersfield High and Bakersfield College before completing her undergraduate degree at Humboldt State, and then returning to Bakersfield to complete her teaching credential at Cal. State Bakersfield. She has taught elementary school for 23 years, the last five years as a Transitional Kindergarten Teacher at Harris Elementary School. Married to husband Steve for 15 years, they have four sons between them and are members here at RiverLakes Community Church.
Like many public schools, Harris Elementary School offers an After Hours Program to students. The program gives students many choices such as sports, arts & crafts, and homework help. So when Karen’s principal approached her about adding a new program to the After Hours Club and said, “Hey Karen, I would like you to run a Bible…” she said, “Stop! I’m in! What do you need?” And so the Good News Club was started at Harris Elementary School.
The Good News Club is a ministry of Child Evangelism Fellowship in which trained teachers meet with children after hours in schools (Yes, in public schools!), with their parents’ permission. The purpose is to evangelize boys and girls with the Gospel and disciple them in the Word of God. “As a public school teacher this is a privilege. This is my thing! We can’t pray or teach Bible verses with our students during the regular school hours, but after hours we can,” explains Karen.
The program is offered on Mondays, between 3:00 – 4:00pm and is open to 1st through 5th graders. A typical meeting includes songs, a memory verse, a bible story, question and answer time to talk about the story, prayer time, and of course, a snack. Karen describes it further, “Every lesson has a built-in alter call, where the Gospel is presented. Many children have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. And prayer time is impactful. Recently, a 2nd grader asked for prayer for her older brother who was suddenly killed. She received lots of hugs as well as prayers.” Over 40 students are currently involved in the Good News Club at Harris.
A key verse that impacts Karen is 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 which says “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” And the love of children and sharing Christ is an essential part of Karen’s life. As she sums it up, “I’ve just been so blessed. Just one more for the Lord is my desire. There is a party in heaven for every child who accepts Christ!”