The White House. Congress. The Supreme Court. The Pentagon. Memorials everywhere.
These landmarks and centers of power are automatically associated with Washington, D.C. Right in the midst of these lies an educational landmark—Howard University.
Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, comprehensive, historically black university. Howard has an international faculty representing over 65 countries and a student body from 104 countries.
The Navigators ministry began at Howard University in 1971 when Eugene Burrell, fresh out of the Marine Corps, decided he wanted to move back to his hometown to serve God.
“This is the capital of the free world, and I genuinely believe that if we could reach each facet of this city we could help win the world for Christ,” Eugene says. “When you think about it, some of the students who attend Howard can make a powerful difference because many of the international students go back and literally lead their nations.”
Eugene, himself, is a Howard graduate, still discipling Howard students 44 years later! His path has come full circle.
“The potential of helping reach the world through one student is awesome,” Eugene says. “That’s my motivation!”
“I grew up in a government housing project in D.C.,” Eugene says. “It was a stressful environment to grow up in. There was a lot of fighting.”
Eugene recalls a pivotal moment when he was a teenager.
“One evening, we were coming home from a party and heard about my friend’s brother who was getting arrested,” Eugene says. “We went to see what was going on and a fight ensued. Then a policeman got his gun out and everyone froze. The next thing I knew the policeman aimed his gun right at me and pulled the trigger. But, the bullet missed me.”
The near-miss was a wakeup call for Eugene.
“When I went home that night, I found my mom on her knees praying, ‘Oh Lord, I am so tired of getting this boy out of jail. Will you save him before he gets killed?,’” Eugene says. “I went upstairs and asked God, ‘Lord, what do You want from me?’ That moment helped change the course of my life—and for that I am grateful.”
After that, God called Eugene to turn from the street life, and start a street and prison ministry.
“My past has opened many doors to minister to others,” Eugene says. “The things that were hard, dark, and challenging—God used them for good and reigns supreme over my life. Today, I am still running the race God planned for me. I serve at Howard University with The Navigators, discipling many freshman who come to Howard each year.”
Eugene challenges each of us to focus on God’s activity in our lives.
“Never cease to pray with perseverance,” Eugene says. “God is sovereign.”