Houts sees past fear of crowds, becomes valuable in worship team
In a worship chapel, senior Austen Houts, left, displays her love of singing onstage. Although she was initially hesitant to sing before crowds when she joined the group, she soon overcame the fear and fell in love with singing.
Despite the initial fear of singing in front of people, senior Austen Houts overcame her fear when she auditioned for worship team at the end of her sophomore year.
Before auditioning, Houts questioned her ability to sing in front of an audience and felt the nerves rush through her body as she waited for her turn. After about an hour of waiting she knew that God was telling her to follow through with the audition, and mustered up the courage to go.
"At the end of sophomore year, I decided to try out for worship team on a whim," Houts said. "I loved to sing but I'd never done it in front of anyone, so I didn't think I was good enough to sing by myself. I was really nervous, and I sat around waiting for like an hour, but I felt like God was calling me to do it, so I had to overcome my fear."
Although she had never performed in front of an audience and made a spontaneous decision to try out for the worship team, her love for singing has grown into a passion, and has led to various opportunities in her high school experience.
"What started out as a flippant thought quickly turned into a passion, and I am so thankful that I worked up the courage to audition because that has opened up so many opportunities over the past two years," Houts said. "It has also revealed what I believe to be God's purpose for me."
Worship team director David Martens recognizes Houts's ability to sing and the ways she has contributed to the worship team as a whole.
"Austen has a lovely voice and a nice personality that really enhances the worship team," Martens said. "She adds to the group as a whole, and adds to the leadership of the group too. Her input is valuable as they plan the worship services and other things."
Throughout the past two years, Martens has seen Houts grow in her self-confidence and the significant part she plays in organizing chapels.
"She has definitely gained confidence in her singing ability and has stepped out in the leadership areas, and participates in the planning of the services in a very meaningful way," Martens said.
Along with singing on the worship team at school, Houts is in the choir ensemble, has soloed for her church four times and helps lead the high school church worship team with fellow classmate Zed Fries and another friend.
"I've soloed at church four times and sing occasionally for Sunday services," Houts said. "I've led worship for our high school youth group with Zed and another friend several times, and Zed and I have sung at evening services a few times."
"I love having the opportunity to do what I love most to the best of my ability because leading people in worship gives me a sense of purpose and makes me feel like I am doing something worthwhile with my life." --Austen Houts, '12
Out of all her experience with singing, Houts recalls a particular story that occurred while at Hartland Christian Camp last summer. After Fries had written a song, Houts, along with other students, performed it for the whole camp.
"This was an amazing opportunity because I'd never imagined I would be able to do something like that," Houts said. "After we sang, the band that had been doing worship talked to me a little, and I sang 'Jar of Hearts' for them; they liked my voice so that was a really encouraging experience for me."
Since Houts and Fries have attended the same church for years, Bethany Mennonite Brethren Church, they have developed a close friendship, as well as a musical connection. According to Fries, he enjoys hearing their voices blend well and appreciates the way she worships sincerely.
"Austen and I go way back and we have known each other for years," Fries said. "I love singing with her because our voices blend together perfectly. She is at the same level of talent as me vocally, so it makes things much easier. Austen really shines when leading worship and I can really tell she wants to bring glory to God through music."
Houts, left, sings alongside the ensemble choir at the Round the Table Carol Sing concert. In addition to worship team and ensemble, Houts utilizes her abilities to lead worship at her church and in various occasions.
While on the worship team, Houts says that her favorite memory was when she sang "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" during last year's Christmas chapel. Since it is her favorite Christmas song, she enjoyed the feel of the hymn its words.
"My favorite memory from worship team is probably when I led 'O Come, O Come, Emanuel' last year during the Christmas chapel," Houts said. "That is my favorite Christmas song and the band played it in a minor key so it sounded really intense, almost mournful. Emanuel means 'God is with us,' so I like the message of the song because the lyrics are praising God for ransoming us and rescuing us, and thanking Him for what He's done because He took care of all our problems before we even had to ask for it."
Having the ability to do what she loves and being used by God to lead people in worship is her favorite part about being on the worship team, Houts says. The opportunity of being involved with the musical group has changed Houts's high school experience, and what she looks forward to for the future.
"Being a part of worship team has essentially transformed my high school experience," Houts said. "I am not entirely sure what I want to do with my life, but I know that singing (specifically leading people in worship) is my biggest passion and it is something I will pursue in college and possibly as a career."
As a member of the team, Houts says that she looks up to any accomplished and heartfelt musician, and enjoys the bond of sharing a love for music. Though she appreciates anyone who uses their gifts, she recognizes Fries honest and modest attitude.
"I look up to any talented and passionate musician, so being on worship team has been fun from that perspective because everyone is good at what they do, so we all share a love for music," Houts said. "I love listening to them play or sing because I can tell it's coming from their hearts. If I had to choose one person though, I'd probably say Zed, because he's talented and worships in a genuine and humble way."
Through her time on the worship team, Houts has grown in her singing ability, as well as in her relationship with God. Utilizing her gift, she has felt a purpose in her heart that has stretched out in her life.
"I feel closest to God when I'm singing to Him because I get to use a gift and passion He's given me to glorify Him," Houts said. "I love having the opportunity to do what I love most to the best of my ability because leading people in worship gives me a sense of purpose and makes me feel like I am doing something worthwhile with my life."
For more features, read the Feb. 10 article, CTI utilizes gifts to spread Gospel.