John Powell was a former staff member at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and current pastor and church planter of Emmanuel Baptist Church located in New Caney, Texas. According to Emmanuel Baptist Church’s website, John served on the Executive Board of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, and the leadership council for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Council.
On Saturday July 18th, KXII reported that a semi-truck struck a man around 11:30 p.m. on U.S. Highway 75. It was reported that two men, one of which was Powell, had pulled over to help a man in a car that had caught fire after hitting a truck.
Officers said that Powell saw the semi-truck headed for the other man who had stopped to help, and Pastor Powell pushed him out of the way to save him. The pastor was struck and died at the scene.
There were only minor injuries resulting from the initial crash that caused the car fire that led the men to pull over.
Dr. Russell Moore posted on Twitter Sunday expressing his shock and sadness for his former student and friend. Dr. Moore said, “John was one of the best men I ever knew, sweet-tempered, humble, absolutely devoted to Jesus and to Katherine [his wife] and their kids.” He recalled that, “John was in my Sunday School class, our men’s Bible study, and my theology, ethics, and preaching classes at Southern…When anyone was in need, he was the first one there.”
Dr. Moore wrote an article for The Gospel Coalition on Sunday with the title “Why Losing a Loved One Doesn’t Feel Real” that relives the phone call he received telling him that his dear brother in Christ had been unexpectedly killed. He writes, “There’s another reason the loss of our loved ones seems unreal to us, and that’s because, in an important sense, it’s not real.”
Robert Downen, a reporter for the Houston Chronicle posted, “In his final sermon, John Powell preached on Psalm 72 and prayed that ‘in the poor man’s distress, Christians might be there.’ 13 days later, he died while pushing another person out of the path of a semi-truck after stopping to help a stranded motorist.”
Pastor Nathan Lino, one of Powell’s closest friends told Baptist Press, “He (John) loved the local church. As much as John loved to preach, and he did, he had an equal passion for the personal well-being of his people. He cared about their physical well-being and their discipleship.”
Theologian and President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Albert Mohler posted on Twitter, ”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. 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.”
Emmanuel Baptist released a statement Monday saying, “This past weekend, our church experienced one of the greatest tragedies we can imagine. Pastor John Powell, in an act in the image of His sacrificial Savior, was killed in a traffic accident. While we deeply grieve this loss, we remember what he would want us to remember: that Christ is the head of this church, and the vision and passion that John instilled in us is still alive.”
John is survived by his wife Katherine and their four children.
A GoFundMe site has been set up to help raise funds for the Powell family.