By Mark Ellis —
Pastor John Powell did what any Good Samaritan would do. When he spotted a driver stranded in traffic lanes with his vehicle on fire, he pulled over to help.
But during his courageous act to help another, Pastor Powell, 38, was struck by a semi-truck and killed July 18th. The driver of the car that was on fire survived, according to television station KXII.
Word of Powell’s death was shared on social media by Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Moore was a former professor of Powell’s and also a friend.
“I am shocked and shaken and grieving this morning, beyond what I can say,” Moore wrote on Twitter. “My former student John Powell was killed last night, hit by an eighteen wheeler while helping stranded motorists off of a highway.”
Pastor Powell preached his last message from Psalm 72, declaring that “in the poor man’s distress, Christians might be there,” according to the Houston Chronicle.
“How,” he asked his church, “could we pray that God would have compassion on those that need it while not having compassion on them ourselves? It would be like praying for someone who got robbed and beaten and thrown into a ditch alive while we pass on our way to wherever we’re going.”
Powell left behind a beautiful family with four young children. They moved to New Caney, north of Houston, to plant a church, in 2016. He had previously been director of admissions at Southern Seminary and discipleship pastor at Carlisle Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, according to his ERLC bio.
The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, through whom Powell planted Emmanuel Baptist, issued a statement saying: “Our church planting family and the entire SBTC family grieve the loss of an amazing man of God. As a church planter in New Caney, John worked tirelessly to reach the lost with the Gospel. He was the real deal. Our hope is that we can surround Katherine and the kids with the love and support they need now and in the upcoming days. We pray for God’s grace and mercy to overwhelm this family as they deal with their tragic loss.”
Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary also expressed his grief. “It is impossible to imagine the heartbreak of this young family in the death of their husband & father & of this church in losing their pastor,” he noted. “But John Powell loved Christ, preached Christ, trusted Christ. Our hearts break for them. This is why we sing that all we have is Christ.”
As the tributes poured in on social media, many described Pastor Powell as a humble leader who did not seek the spotlight.
“He never cared about being known,” one wrote. “Faithfully plowed daily as a family man and local church pastor. He did not sweat what many sweat.”
A GoFundMe site to raise funds for Powell’s family was set up by Andrew Walker, a professor at Southern seminary.
“We are asking for friends and family to help care for the Powell family as they deal with unspeakable tragedy and grief,” the site notes. “As they have shown all of their family and friends love in times past, let us now, as the body of Christ, show them love and care.”