Howard’s Walk

Howard Garbutt was taking a walk with his younger brother Philip to visit his grandma just three miles from their home near the Yorkshire city of Hull, UK.

“Howard’s got religion”

But as they passed St Columba’s Church at the top of their avenue, it was as if an invisible revolving door drew them in and they found themselves listening to a preacher.

“I could see Philip was getting agitated after a while, asking how long we would be staying, but I was riveted by this man and his message. He enthused about Jesus rising from the dead and talked about forgiveness of sins.

“Even though I’d attended Sunday School for years as well as occasional church services, I realised this man had the answers that no-one had ever told me. He knew Jesus as a real person. I’d never heard anything more real.

“He concluded by asking us to think about what he’d said and come back the next night. It was too late to visit grandma and, when we got home, Philip announced to everyone, ‘Howard’s got religion!’

Standing at the door

“I returned the following two nights, by which time I realised that Jesus had become the sacrifice for our sins. Then the preacher, Ken Pillar, quoted Jesus as saying, 

‘Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and fellowship with him, and he with me.’ (Revelation 3:20)

I could almost hear the Lord knocking on my heart’s door. So when I got home, I simply knelt down and invited Jesus to come into my life. There were no bright lights or angels, but just the most powerful experience of Jesus being there. The joy just bubbled up in me and I knew that I was on a journey and that my life would never be the same again.

Sundays became the best day of the week and I was soon joining others on the streets sharing the good news.

Howard was 17 at the time, and it is now 60 years since he made that awesome decision, which didn’t go unobserved. For about a year later, his mum said: 

Family values

We have been watching you and we want what you’ve got. When your dad comes in, will you pray with us and help us find Jesus?

In fact, the whole family turned to Jesus, with Philip and older brother Robin both giving their hearts to the Lord some six months later – Robin too becoming something of an evangelist.

Howard is now a retired commercial artist, married to Pam, and still living in the Garden Village area of East Hull.


Story by Charles Gardner

Photo: St Columba’s Church, Hull. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

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