FORT WAYNE—Bishop Malcolm Howell has one thing on his agenda—advancing the kingdom of God here on earth through the power of Jesus Christ. For more than a quarter century, Bishop Howell, Pastor Jacquiline Howell and members of Harvest Word Of Life Ministries International have pursued that agenda not only inside the confines of their own house of worship at 2260 Lake Ave., but throughout the city via their annual 7-Days of Restoration for the City of Fort Wayne.
During each annual event, Bishop Howell has called across denominational, racial and cultural lines to assemble a wide variety of preachers of the gospel to worship, fellowship and pray together. Those saints have gathered at HWOL and various other churches to work on that unifying aspect of the gospel, as delineated in John 17, where Bishop Howell points out that “Jesus prayed that the church might be one.” This year, however, Bishop Howell said God has spoken and told him to expand the boundaries of those 7-Days of Restoration, set for Aug. 5 through Aug. 11.
“The Lord said to me instead of having united church fellowships first, that we were to go into the streets and the lanes of the city with a message of hope,” explained Howell.
He said the goal is to bring hope to the hopeless and help the hurting people to let them know that God is concerned about everything in their lives and has a plan for them.” The bishop cited Jeremiah 29:11 as the word of God basis for such work.
Instead of gathering for unified worship services at a specific building, he said 7-Days of Restoration will take Christ’s redeeming message directly to the people with messengers who know how to reach out and speak with people in need of God’s grace—especially young people.
“We’re going into Eden Green with food and gospel rappers who come from the streets and have been gloriously converted. But, they know the lingo and are able to reach people where they are without judgment,” he said.
Bishop Howell said that is the mark of the offering of love and hope through Christ’s salvation.
“We’re not to judge another servant. We’re to bring love and hope in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he said.
Love, however, he said is not an emotion but a choice—and action. Christians must show the love of Christ through the things they do for others, mirroring Christ’s actions—particularly in outreach to those in need of grace and deliverance.
“Essentially, we are ambassadors for His Kingdom. Our lives must match our words to have power and influence. Let me be clear. The God-kind of love is the key, for Jesus did not come to condemn the world but that through Him they might be saved,” explained Bishop Howell.
He said that desire to serve and help others find deliverance without judgment is what sets Christians apart from the rest of the world.
“What attracts people to Christ is difference. If we are no different than people of the world, we have no attracting power. Men are attracted to women because they’re different. Women are attracted to men because they’re different. People are attracted to Christ because we are different,” he said, adding that Jesus didn’t just talk to people—he ministered to them, fulfilling their need
“Jesus was two-fold,” continued Howell. “He would preach and teach and then he would heal and deliver. He would demonstrate the power of what he said. That needs to be restored back in the church—hence, 7-Days of Restoration. This is applying the gospel in an applicable practical way, not just ‘having church’ meetings in a religious sense.”
Along related lines, Bishop Howell has been spearheading a community effort to curb violence in the city called Say No To Violence. Christ’s message and offer of salvation is the key to succeeding at that goal, and this year’s 7-Days of Restoration focus in the community is designed to demonstrate that.
“Christianity is not a religion—it’s a relationship with God through His son.
“We’re to love God with the entirety of our being and our neighbors as ourselves,” said Howell.
And, he said, that “relationship” concept is what the community is missing, resulting in turmoil and violence.
“When you take neighbor out of neighborhood, you end up with a hood with no neighbors,” he said. “We want to put the neighbor back in the hood.”
Bishop Howell emphasized that this new thrust of 7-Days of Restoration for the City of Fort Wayne is just the beginning.
“This first initiative will be called the Great Commission Movement,” he said, referencing Matthew 28:18-19. “This is the only thing Christ told us to do—make disciples of all nations—races, cultures….”
That he said, requires going out into the community to do the work of Christ and show people the way to salvation.
“It’s a grassroots initiative to reach out in our community in an effort to change a violent culture and to dismantle demonic influences and systems,” he said.
And, he emphasized that it’s all about advancing the kingdom of God by leading people to Christ, not about trying to bolster the membership rolls of Harvest Word of Life—or any other specific “church.”
“For 26 years we’ve been sharing the love of Christ with our community.
“That’s what he does through us. The bottom line is it has nothing to do with Bishop Malcolm Howell or whoever you think you are. Christ said if any man come after me, let him deny himself. In other words, lose sight of his own interests and desires and take up his cross. Follow me.
“In other words, if you aint’ fishing for men, you’re not a follower,” said Howell.
That said, he wants everyone to come out and selflessly work on behalf of God’s kingdom—regardless of denomination, race, ethnicity, culture or any other man-defined barrier.
“We want to work with other people who are serious about curtailing the violence, such as the Stop the Madness national organization,” he said. “Come and be a part of what God desires to do in this community.”
For more information about 7-Days of Restoration for Fort Wayne or the Great Commission Movement, call Bishop Malcolm Howell at (260) 615-1994.
This article originally appeared in the July 17 print edition.