By: Dezaray Barr
Garrett Howell is the Founder of Awaken Ministries. He graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministries and in 2016 with a graduate degree in Practical Theology.
“Being an IWU student taught me the importance of seeking God’s presence in my everyday life,” Howell said. “I vividly remember spending hours in my hall chapel as a freshman, praying and seeking God for a fresh movement of His Spirit in my life. I was surrounded by students and professors who encouraged this pursuit of the Lord, and they added wisdom and insight into my walk with the Lord.”
One of Howell’s favorite professors was Dr. Chris Bounds. “He taught our Theology 1 course and our Theology 2 courses. These classes were powerful and pushed us as students to seek the work of the Holy Spirit in our own lives,” Howell shared. “I remember having tears in my eyes during many class periods as we studied about the work of God in our lives, because I was so needy and hungry for the reality of God’s transforming work in my own life. These courses taught us the reality of God’s work in our lives and that we can and should expect and seek that work today. Bounds was a pastor to us all, and still is a pastor to me.” Bounds also currently serves on the board of directors for Awaken.
When Awaken began at Indiana Wesleyan, 10 students were selected to be part of the first discipleship group on campus. “These 10 became a close-knit, deeply passionate team that often resembled a spiritual family: they cared for one another and urged one another on toward Christ,” Howell said. “I will never forget a retreat we took as a team one Spring semester. We went to one of the student’s homes for a weekend of fun. We played Frisbee and soccer, ate great food and laughed a lot. But most of all, we spent time praying over one another and speaking into each other’s lives. The authenticity and vulnerability of that community was the most powerful thing I had ever felt in my life. I knew, at that moment, that this was the right thing for me to be focusing on in life. It was an undeniable reminder that my life should be spent seeing young believers wake up in their faith and become fully sold out to the Gospel.”
Howell has seen many incredible moments at the hands of God through Awaken. “I remember a night when our weekly Awaken service was about to begin at Indiana Wesleyan University. Just before the service, our student interns walked through the student center to invite additional students to join the event. During this walk, one of our interns encountered an IWU student who was less than enthusiastic about joining the service; in fact, this student was very much opposed to joining our worship event. For reasons we still don’t know, this student decided to take the interns’ advice and attend Awaken anyway. As the service began, the presence of God was overwhelmingly present in an undeniable way. People began to come forward to the altar and receive prayer, in spite of the fact that no altar call had been made. The student who didn’t want to come was watching this, clearly surprised at what was going on. As the service continued, this student began to feel a sense of conviction, and the Spirit moving in his own life. Crying hard, he walked forward and knelt down to the ground, where one of his friends came and prayed with him. Needless to say, God was moving powerfully that evening!” Howell explained.
Howell encourages IWU students to be strong in their faith now, “Don’t wait,” he said. “The way you live life now is creating your lifestyle for the future. You are becoming the husband, wife, father, mother, businessman, pastor, coworker and Christ-follower that you’ll be the rest of your life by how you’re living today.”
Indiana Wesleyan University’s Homecoming schedule this year includes the Awaken Night of Worship on Thursday, October 5th. This event will be a worship service that gathers alumni and current students together to seek a fresh movement of God’s Spirit in our lives and in our community. Worship band Alanna Story will be leading worship. and Garrett Howell will be preaching. Doors open at 9 pm, and the service begins at 9:30 pm. We would love to see you there!
Written by Dezaray Barr, PR Specialist for the Alumni Office. Dezaray is a junior Strategic Communication and Honors Humanities double major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College. At IWU, Dezaray runs both the JWHC Blog and her own blog. Visit Dez’s website at www.dezaraybarr.weebly.com.