(RNS) — John Powell, a church planter and pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in New Caney, Texas, was killed in a highway accident Saturday (July 18), reportedly as he was helping a driver who had stopped in the traffic lanes.
According to television station KXII, a truck driving north on U.S. Highway 75 was struck by a car on Saturday (July 18). The car caught fire and Powell and another man pulled over to assist. Powell, 38, was struck by a semi and killed, according to a report from the Sherman, Texas, police department.
The driver of the car that was on fire survived.
News 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 friend and former professor of Powell’s.
“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.”
Powell left behind his wife and four young children. He and his family had moved to New Caney, north of Houston, from Hamlin, Texas, 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.
On Sunday, news of his death was met with grieving and tributes on social media.
“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,” wrote Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. “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.”
Jason Allen, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, called Powell “one of the best men I’ve ever known.”
Author and pastor Dean Inserra described Powell as a humble pastor who did not seek the spotlight.
"He never cared about being known,” wrote Inserra. “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 appeal reads. “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.”