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Texas pastor, father of four killed while helping another driver: He ‘faithfully proclaimed’ Christ

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Russell Moore and other prominent Christian figures expressed heartbreak after John Powell, a church planter and pastor, was killed in a highway accident as he was helping a driver who had stopped in the traffic lanes.

On Sunday, Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, shared the news of Powell’s death on social media.

“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.”

According to a local news report, Powell, senior pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in New Caney, Texas, and another man stopped to help a truck that had been rear-ended by another car and caught fire around 11:30 Saturday night.

While the men were assisting the truck, a semi-truck came toward them on the highway. According to police, Powell saw the semi-truck approaching and pushed the other man out of the way to save him.

Powell was struck and killed. The driver of the car that caught fire was taken to the hospital and is expected to survive.

Moore remembered Powell as “sweet-tempered, humble,” and “absolutely devoted” to his wife, Katherine, and their four young children.

“He was everything I would want any of my sons to be when they grow up,” Moore wrote.

According to his ERLC bio, Powell moved to New Caney, north of Houston, from Hamlin, Texas, in 2016, and had previously been director of admissions at Southern Seminary, and discipleship pastor at Carlisle Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky.

Several prominent Christian leaders and pastors expressed their sorrow over Powell’s death on social media.

Under Moore’s post, Lauren Chandler, wife of Village church pastor Matt Chandler, commented: “Heartbreaking. Praying for his precious Katherine and their children.”

In response to Moore’s Twitter post, ministry leader Beth Moore tweeted, “Heartbreaking. Praying, Brother.”

“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 The 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.”

Ray Ortlund, pastor of Immanual Church in Nashville, tweeted: “For Russell Moore, a man of greatness, to say to a younger man, ‘We’re proud of you,’ is powerful. What a wonderful man his young friend must have been! What a loss to us all! May God comfort the dear family.”

Jason Allen, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, called Powell “one of the best men I’ve ever known.”

Author and pastor Dean Inserra reflected on Powell’s humility.

“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.”

On Twitter, Garrett Kell, pastor at Del Ray Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia, wrote that Powell “faithfully proclaimed” the Lord. He noted that Powell’s final sermon was from Psalm 77, which reads, in part: “In the day of my trouble, I seek the Lord.”

“May the Lord comfort his family and the many who loved him,” Kell wrote.

A GoFundMe site to raise funds for Powell’s family was set up by Andrew Walker, a professor at Southern Seminary, and shared by Moore, among others.

“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.”

As of Monday morning, the page has raised $103,367 of its $150,000 goal.
Sources:Christian Post

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750 killed at Ethiopian Orthodox church said to contain Ark of the Covenant: report

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Around 750 people were killed in an attack on an Orthodox church, which is said to contain the Ark of the Covenant described in the Book of Exodus in the Bible, in northern Ethiopia’s war-torn Tigray region — home to thousands of churches and monasteries — according to reports.

Hundreds of people hiding in Maryam Tsiyon Church in Aksum amid an armed conflict were brought out and shot to death, and local residents believe the aim was to take the Ark of Covenant to Addis Ababa, the Belgium-based nonprofit European External Programme with Africa reported in this month’s situational report, released on Jan. 9.

“The number of people killed is reported as 750,” it said. The church, the most ancient and sacred of Ethiopian Christianity and also known as the Church of St. Mary of Zion, belongs to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

“I’ve not heard more than rumours about the looting of the Arc from Maryam Tsion, but if it’s true that up to 750 died defending it, it is conceivable that the attackers didn’t stop there,” said Michael Gervers, a professor of history at the University of Toronto, according to The Telegraph.

“The government and the Eritreans want to wipe out the Tigrayan culture. They think they’re better than rest of the people in the country. The looting is about destroying and removing the cultural presence of Tigray,” Gervers explained.

Former BBC World Service Africa editor and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, Martin Plaut, said that those who escaped the Aksum massacre had reported that the attack began after Ethiopian federal troops and Amhara militia approached the church, the U.K.’s Church Times reported.

“People were worried about the safety of the Ark, and when they heard troops were approaching feared they had come to steal it. All those inside the cathedral were forced out into the square,” Plaut was quoted as saying.

About 1,000 people were believed to be in the church complex at the time of the attack. The EEPA said the massacre was carried out by Ethiopian federal troops and allied Amhara militia that are fighting the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

The church and and the Ark have likely not been damaged, Plaut added.

The fighting began in Tigray since Nov. 4 when the region’s ruling political party Tigray People’s Liberation Front captured the Northern Command army base in the regional capital Mekelle as part of an uprising, after which Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered a military offensive. Abiy claimed on Nov. 28 that the Ethiopian National Defense Force had regained “full command” of Mekelle.
Sources:Christian Post

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Charges dropped against deacon arrested for singing hymns outdoors

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A court has dismissed all charges against a church deacon who was one of the three arrested last September for singing while not wearing a mask at a “psalm sing” outdoor worship service held in Moscow City, Idaho.

The Idaho District Court dropped charges against Gabriel Rench in the case State of Idaho v. Gabriel Rench. The deacon was arrested at an event hosted by Christ Church and held outside City Hall in response to the extension of a COVID-19-prompted mask mandate imposed by Moscow’s mayor at the time, the law firm Thomas More Society, which represented the church, said.

“We had done the Psalm sing in the past under the same [mask] resolution and we weren’t arrested, we weren’t warned … we were just taking our constitutional liberties to do what we’re allowed to do under the Constitution — worship,” Rench said, referring to the event that was attended by about 200 people.

The city of Moscow, “appears to have been so anxious to make an example of Christ Church’s opposition to their desired COVID restrictions that they failed to follow the mandatory exemptions articulated in their own laws,” Thomas More Society Special Counsel Michael Jacques noted.

“The Moscow City Code allows the Mayor to issue public health emergency orders, but exempts ‘[a]ny and all expressive and associative activity that is protected by the United States and Idaho Constitutions, including speech, press, assembly, and/or religious activity,’” Jacques explained. “Mr. Rench and the other worshipers who were arrested had their constitutionally protected liberties violated and their lives disrupted — not only by the inappropriate actions of law enforcement officers, but also by city officials who did not immediately act to correct this unlawful arrest.”

After Rench and others were arrested in September, the church wrote on its Facebook page: “Yesterday Christ Church sponsored a flash psalm sing at city hall. We were going to appear there at quarter to [5 p.m.], sing three psalms or hymns, then the doxology, and then out. The songs were Psalm 20, Psalm 124, and ‘Amazing Grace.’ When we arrived, the police were waiting for us. One of them informed me that people either had to social distance or wear a mask or otherwise face a citation.”

Douglas Wilson, who wrote the post, added: “I told him that I would inform everyone of that, which I did. I said a brief prayer, and we began to sing. Over the following 15 minutes of singing, three of our people were arrested, and two others were cited.”
Sources:Christian Post

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