Tributes for Pastor Phil Howell
from David and Cate Williams
Cate and I are so grateful to Phil and Jeannette. They reached out to us in our darkest times. They were with us through many personal and ministry heart aches, heart breaks and battles. They strengthened us until we were back on our feet. They never left us alone. They believed in us more than we believed in ourselves. We see them as key to us becoming the people that we need to be. That is who they are. Thank you Jeannette. Thank you Phil.
Many people never knew the depth to which Phil cared about them. He wasn’t a man of many words. When I spent time with him he would often show me long lists of names of people that he had written down and the things that he was thinking about them. There would be lists about individuals and families who he noticed weren’t at church. There were up 90 people on those lists. He knew them each by their name. There were lists of people and their gifts and potential written next to their name. There were lists of those he had dreams of becoming leaders and lists of people he needed follow up and care for. Most of the people on his lists didn’t know he cared for them the way he did. What I thought was cute is that many of them didn’t even know that he knew them.
Phil was a father. He loved people. He was highly motivated to reaching people. Anyone who seemed lost, whether it was another church leader, someone who was sick, from the streets or in a hospital he was trying to reach them. He was a shepherd. The ministry was not about opportunity for himself, it was about reaching people on behalf of God.
Phil was determined to break through every obstacle in his journey to reach people. This fuelled his fight for life. Through out his health battle - his mind was set - he refused to die. In the last two visits that I had with him, days before his passing, whilst his body was not co-operating with his mission, he looked at me and wept and said, ‘David, how am I going to do what God has called me to do now’. It was heart wrenching. I was torn up inside as I hadn’t appreciated my life as much he had purpose to live.
One of the last moments Cate and I had with Phil during one of the few moments when he was conscious, he looked up and saw Cate and I, he wept, it was like he was apologising because he wasn’t going to make it. I will never forget it.
I think about those two interactions with him every day. They are refocussing me. They are causing me to rethink the purpose of my life. I want his determination and resilience. I want his fight and his faith. I want to stop getting stuck on the small bumps in the road and see life as he saw it - an opportunity to be poured out for God as a drink offering.
Sometimes I think I wish I could have given him my life because of how much he wanted to continue but then I think thats not how it is supposed to be. He gave his everything to serve God. I need to be responsible for my life as he was for his. His determination has challenged me. His faith has tagged me and now I’m it. I must run with the flaming torch.
I know he tagged all the young men and women around his life. We all need to pick up the fire and run for God.
He preached at every wedding and funeral he did. I know this is what he would say at his own funeral - ‘rise up you young men and women of God, become all that you can be, don’t hold back - preach the gospel, heal the sick, cast out devils, raise the dead and cleanse the lepers.’
In honour of this man of God - let us all refocus our lives to fear God and serve him only. Let us take example from this warrior and fight the fight of faith. God needs to be glorified. A generation needs to be saved. Let us take the revival fire that Phil fanned into flame and start a raging fire.
Honoring A Spiritual Father by Sean Tobin (Singapore)
Today (Thursday 7 July 2016) I learnt that Pastor Phil Howell passed away. My heart is broken with grief, and with gratitude.
No Christian Man, or Christian leader has impacted my life as positively and as powerfully as this man.
In two different chapters of my life, when my faith was at its lowest, and my struggles at their deepest, this man came into my life. A wild, humble shepherd. A man who resisted just about every single thing that was the norm in mainstream Christian practice. He helped renew my hope and vision for what a holy and godly love can look like; can feel like.
I am indebted to you. To your faith, your faithfulness, your unconditional love. Your life touched mine deeply and profoundly. Its immeasurable.
How many religious leaders seek to gather in one room, heart to heart, hand in hand, a community comprised of the sick and dying, the addicted, the completely broken and depleted, the sex worker, the pop star, the homeless, the drug dealer, gang leader, the criminal, the queer, the fallen and broken minister, the shattered family; all in one room; all equal before God? How many seek this life? How many make it happen? To gather them in a room, face to face, looking beyond themselves to find love, grace, mercy and restoration for a broken world, with absolutely no conditions or strings attached? With no obligation to stay? With no obligation to commit to membership? To put money in a bag? To sign up to a group, to a ministry. Nothing but just to enter a shared space from whatever human position you are at. And just ‘be’. In silence. In abandonment. Face on the floor weeping. Dancing with complete freedom. Holding onto your medical apparatus, not knowing when your moment might come.
How many religious leaders seek to truly listen to a God and deny their own personal judgements, fears and reservations? And how many are successful? How many spiritual leaders stand in such a space, reassuring you every moment that they are no different to you? No better? Just as human. Just as needy. And how many walk a path that shows you that they believe these words to be true? They are so much more than talk.
How many will open their homes and give everything they have to anyone who is desperately crying out for love, for God?
How many will welcome a space that upholds true, deep honesty? No games. No rituals. No hype. Just love. Just acceptance. Just support. Warmth. A wicked sense of humour. A big open heart.
I will forever be impacted and grateful for the life you lived, for the precious times our paths crossed.
I know I am one of many many hundreds, possibly thousands of people whose life you impacted, together with your beautiful wife, Jeannette . There is so much more i could say to express the many things i feel right now, together, with many broken and grateful hearts.
Thank you. Today I honour you with my love, my gratitude, my admiration.
Psalm 23: 6
“Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever....”
by Jamie Hibble
I feel so moved by the recent passing of my first ever Pastor. I first met Pastor Phil Howell at New Day Ministries in the heart of Perth, Western Australia in the early 1990's. I'd had a dramatic, supernatural, spiritual encounter with Jesus Christ and was fresh out of the night club industry.
Phil showed incredible grace to all who crossed his path. I never ever felt judged and he would always go out of his way to greet and acknowledge me. I remember how willingly he excepted my family members and any other person whom I would bring to church. Looking back, you saw Jesus through Phil's eyes when he looked and spoke to you. He mirrored his Savour and typified the scripture written in Romans 12: 4-6 'Bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but enjoy the company of the lowly.'
No matter who walked into 'New Day Ministries' and no matter how rough around the edges or unusual people appeared to be, Phil (and his wife Jeanette) loved them. I remember the tireless work they did in the Streets of North Bridge and around Perth and beyond, sharing the good news with anyone who would listen.
I remember the incredible manifestations of the Holy Ghost during services, home groups and anywhere else he ministered. Phil demonstrated the Kingdom of God. I also remember the intense encounters with the Father during worship. What was most evident, was Phil was never a promoter of himself nor was he a man who lead people to himself; on the contrary he was a promoter of the King of Kings and he led countless men and woman to Jesus Christ. I also remember him telling me, on many occasions, he believed one day God would give him a coffee shop in North Bridge (In the heart of Perth's night club district) to minister to the broken.
I fellowshipped at 'New Day Ministries' for several years during my early Christian walk and after moving on, from time I would bump into Phil and Jeanette. Phil seemed to never waver, to be steadfast and committed to his calling and commission... It was always evident that he had his eyes firmly fixed on Jesus.
A couple of years on I heard on the grape vine that Phil had terminal cancer, was no longer pastoring the church he founded and, apparently, he was close to death. I remember running into Phil and Jeanette in a shopping centre a year or two later and Phil was half the weight he had previously been and looked very unwell. Although he was not well and did not have much energy, he was his usual friendly, humble, non judgemental self and was willing to listen. I remember him saying, 'God will heal him.' I came away thinking that may be the last time I see Phil.
During the following three years I went through a very dark time in my life. Due to my own personal brokenness I walked away from the Church, the Body of Christ and I ran from God. After much loss, just like the prodigal son I eventually came to my senses... but I was very broken. I turned (repented) away from my old life and the things I had turned too to numb out my inner pain and began to follow the good shepherd (Jesus) again.
Starting again can be a lonely time, just you and God... I'd fallen from a great height. One night I went to MacDonald's for a feed. I sat alone in a corner booth and ate my meal. My thoughts turned to how much I had lost. I remembered how I started off on my walk (For ten years) with God so strong. The enemy (The devil) had laid a pit for me and I had fallen in head first. I had not spoken to a Christian believer for some years and here I was by myself, in a melancholic state and full of pensive sadness.
It was then I felt a Fatherly hand placed on my shoulder. I turned and there before me was Phil Howell...He had spotted me from afar. It was the old healthy Phil and he had regained weight. I could tell he had regained his strength and vitality. His smile warmed my broken heart. It was no coincidence that the Holy Spirit had led me to a place where my old pastor was. Phil told me how he and a team of people had conducted a tent crusade on the South Perth foreshore over the weekend. I looked around and MacDonald's was full of believers. Phil told me about a church 'With Out Walls' he and his wife now founded and pastored. I found it incredible that he had been healed, was ministering the gospel and shepherding a congregation, but equally amazing was when he told me about the Coffee Shop called 'The Little Bird Cafe' they had in the middle of North Bridge.
I attended an upcoming Friday night meeting and Phil asked me to sit next to him and his wife. (This is a testimony of who he was because I had a lot to feel ashamed about and I was no dignitary) I had not worshipped God for some time and before long I felt his (Gods) incredible presence. I later answered a call to get prayer and was slain in the spirit as Phil laid hands on me. As I lay on the floor the presence of God was overwhelming. As I wept I heard Phil say, "God is making him into a new man." I then remember the assistant pastor tell me that God understood why I had done the things I had did (A reference to some bad decisions I had made) and how he did not judge me. I was overwhelmed by Gods love for me.
At the conclusion of the service Phil and Jeanette asked me to join them for a bite to eat in the City. Phil also dropped into my house to visit me before I moved interstate and I was (and still am) touched how he always excepted me as I was (warts an all.)
The last time I saw Phil, I had flown to Perth and I rang him to tell him I was in town for a couple of days. We met for a coffee at 'The Little Bird Cafe' and he chatted to me like I mattered. I remember telling him how the Lord had put my foot on a rock, how I was apart of a church family in Sydney and how He (God) was not only restoring me but mending my brokenness. I didn't know it would be the last time I saw him and I wished I had of phoned him to say hello this last year.
When I heard about Phil passing away yesterday, I was amazed how much it effected me and how much I have grieved. I guess this was because he was one of the handful of men whom God had used to love me during my journey on this earth. Phil was one of my spiritual fathers and by writing this I really wanted to thank God for Phil Howell.
To conclude, Phil went into the byways and the highways. His surrogate sons and daughters are plentiful. He loved the Fatherless, the Motherless, the orphan and the broken-hearted... He loved the lost and shepherded the sheep. Thank-you my old Pastor, my friend and my brother in Christ... I'm so grateful to God that, for a period of my life, I knew you.
My condolences to Jeanette, his family, friends and the Body of Christ whom he pastored and who mourn his loss. Until the Lord Himself descends from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ rise and after that, we who are alive and remain are caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, to be with Him forever... Lay down my dear brother, lay down and take your rest, lay your head upon your Saviours breast. I loved you, but Jesus loved you best... I bid you goodnight, goodnight.