SHERMAN, Texas — Thousands have viewed a memorial service held on Friday to honor the life of a pastor and church planter who was tragically killed on July 18 while saving a friend as they both were assisting a motorist involved in a fiery accident.
According to reports, John Powell, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in New Caney, was driving on US Highway 75 in Sherman after 11 p.m. when he saw an accident ahead in which a Dodge Charger had collided with a Chevy truck pulling a trailer, causing the car to catch on fire.
Powell and his friend Jeremy pulled over to help, but as Powell and Jeremy were working to get people out of the vehicle, he saw a semi-truck heading toward his friend. The pastor selflessly hurried to push Jeremy out of the way and instead took the blow. He died of his injuries.
“In true form, this servant and gentle leader we all knew and love gave his life so that others may live,” wrote friend Andrew Walker in a GoFundMe page set up for the family. “His life embodies what his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, said, ‘Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends’ (John 15:13).”
According to the Houston Chronicle, Powell preached on Psalm 72 for his last sermon, encouraging Christians to “be there” in the midst of “the poor man’s distress.”
“How could we pray that God would have compassion on those that need it while not having compassion on them ourselves?” he asked. “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 was a husband and father of four young children: Gunner, Bennett, Ada Kate and Reese. A graduate of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, Powell formerly worked as the admissions director at the school and also served as the discipleship pastor at Carlisle Avenue Baptist Church the city.
He went on to plant Emmanuel Baptist Church in Texas “because we want to proclaim Christ and Him crucified, and in turn, point mankind everywhere to the one in whom they can meet God,” Powell wrote on the church website.
“Anyone that knows John knows him as a humble servant who would pour out his life for the sake of others,” his obituary reads. “Whenever someone was in need, John was everyone’s go-to. You could find him fixing a car, moving a family, repairing a broken appliance, or dropping everything to help a friend.”
“John died exactly how he lived — sacrificing himself for the sake of others, just like Jesus called us to do,” it states. “John is a hero whose loss will be felt by his family, his friends, and his church.”
His memorial service was livestreamed on Friday and may be viewed in full online by clicking here.
The GoFundMe effort directly benefits his wife, Elizabeth, and their children. As of press time, more than $345,000 had been raised for Powell’s family.
The church said it will carry on, with the knowledge that while Powell is gone, Christ is the head of the Church.
“While we deeply grieve this loss, we remember what [Powell] 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,” it remarked in a statement.