Michael Powell Fellow, Watermark Institute
When did you trust Christ? Growing up, I could have told you the gospel, but I did not know the Lord. God was a distant figure in my mind, and I did not understand what it meant to live in a relationship with Him. From age 13 on, I was addicted to pornography. I confessed that sin for the first time in college, and was met with unexpected grace. But, did not see any life change because I did not surrender my life to Christ or surround myself with a strong group of believers to hold me accountable (Proverbs 18:1).
“In 2016, when I started attending Watermark Fort Worth, I got to know Garrett, Matt, Marshall, Brett, Ben, and other men who encouraged me to get involved and live authentically. I jumped into a community group and re:generation, Watermark’s biblical recovery ministry. This is when the Lord began to transform my heart and life (Titus 3:5). I learned how to walk with the Lord as I built authentic relationships with other believers. That’s when my new life in Christ really began (Proverbs 13:20; Ephesians 2:4-5).”
How did you get involved in the Watermark Fellowship? “I started praying about applying to the Institute in 2017 while I was in re:gen. I submitted an application, but was still struggling with my addiction to pornography, which made it clear that I still needed more time in biblical recovery. The leaders of the Institute were encouraging when they communicated that the time was not right for me to be part of the Fellowship. I was a little disappointed at first, but I also trusted their judgment and leadership (Proverbs 16:9).
“Two years later, I still felt a strong conviction to pursue ministry. That’s when my wife and I began praying about applying again for the Institute. We processed with community, sought counsel from friends who had already completed the Institute, and continued to pray (Proverbs 15:22). With the support of our community group, I applied to the Fellowship and was later accepted. I quit my job in commercial construction and felt complete peace that this was what God was calling my family to.
How has the Watermark Institute impacted you so far? “I had never read the story of the Old Testament until this year. I learned that God’s Word is the story of His rescue mission that began in Genesis 3:15 and has continued through the cross and the establishment of His Church. As we explored the Bible, I have developed a deeper understanding of God’s Word that I did not have before.
“Every word of Scripture communicates the depth of God’s love for us (Joshua 1:8). The life of Jesus is foreshadowed all throughout the Old Testament, and the study of the story has changed the way I viewed the New Testament. After spending several months of intense study of the books of the Old Testament, I wonder how I really understood the New Testament before. It has brought so much color and a deeper understanding of God’s love and unchanging character.”
How has God used your struggles to show His faithfulness? “God has consistently shown up in my rebellion and connected me with friends and leaders who encouraged confession, held me accountable, and showed me grace. At times, my sin and past addiction convinced me that I would never be qualified for ministry. My journey toward three years of being clean from my addiction has not been easy, and there have been times when I felt like I might never be free or be used by God in the future. But God has remained faithful when I was not. Even as I struggle with temptation, my community group has consistently met me with grace and kindness (Proverbs 28:13). I’ve also seen God’s goodness in my wife and the way she has loved me through my brokenness and selfishness.”
What would you tell someone who was considering applying for the Watermark Institute? “The goal of the Institute is to fall more in love with Jesus. After a semester of intense study and hands-on ministry experience, I can say with great confidence that I am more in love with Christ because I know more about Him and His Word. I now know about apologetics and how to answer hard questions about faith in a way that honors God and points to truth. I’ve learned excellent, systematic ways to give reason for the hope I have in Christ. I am so thankful for the investment of time and energy that the leadership at the Institute has given me and many others. They are excellent leaders and communicators of God’s truth and you will learn under the best.
“I would also want an applicant to know that, on our own, none of us are qualified for ministry. The only reason that any of us can be used by God is because of the blood of Jesus. God is going to do something great with or without us, and I’m glad, because of His Son, that we get to be part of His mission. Apart from Him, we have nothing to offer, and the only reason why I’m qualified to serve here today is Christ alone (2 Corinthians 3:4-6).”
WATERMARK INSTITUTE PROGRAMS Applications are due on February 1, 2020. Accepting applications for the Watermark Institute (Fellowship and Residency Programs) for 2020-2021 | watermark.org/institute