John Powell was the pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church in New Caney, Texas

By Rachel DeSantis
July 29, 2020 03:55 PM
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John Powell and family
Emmanuel Baptist Church

A Texas pastor and father of four was killed in a highway accident after he stopped to help a motorist whose car had erupted in flames, according to local police and a GoFundMe arranged for the man's family.

John Powell, 38, died on July 18, leaving behind his wife Katherine, kids Gunner, Bennett, Ada Kate and Reese, and the congregation at the Emmanuel Baptist Church in New Caney, a small town near Houston, according to the GoFundMe.

Powell and another man were driving together down U.S. Highway 75 around 11:30 p.m. when they noticed a Dodge Charger that was on fire following a crash, Sgt. Brett Mullen of the Sherman Police Department tells PEOPLE.

They stopped their car and got out to help those involved in the crash, and Powell was hit by a passing semi truck.

Mullen says witnesses claimed Powell pushed the man he was traveling with out of the way and to safety before he was struck.

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A GoFundMe page arranged for his family said he died “while serving others.”

“In true form, this servant and gentle leader we all knew and love gave his life so that others may live,” the page said.

Powell was remembered as a “devoted husband and an incredible father” who loved his friends, family and church.

He and Katherine, who married in 2006, moved to New Caney in 2017 so Powell could establish a church on behalf of Northeast Houston Baptist Church, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Prior to that, the Kansas City native was the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in the small town of Hamlin, Texas, his church's website said.

Powell met his wife at Southwest Baptist University, and earned his master of divinity from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, according to his church’s website.

“John had the capacity to make nothing about himself. He was always interested in other people and was a remarkably gifted guy who drew no attention to himself. I’ve never known a person quite like him,” Daniel Patterson, vice president of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, told the Chronicle.

Patterson also noted that that Powell’s death was “devastating,” but “absolutely unsurprising to anyone who knew and loved him.”

The GoFundMe has so far raised more than $345,000 for his family.