Alumnus Josh Powell ‘knew North Greenville was the place for me.’
Tigerville, SC (March 17, 2021) A Lexington teen attending a camp on Jekyll Island, GA, Josh Powell (‘94), felt the Holy Spirit applying Timothy 4:2, which says “Preach the Word,” to his heart in such a way that he knew what he was supposed to do with his life.
After surrendering his life to ministry, he knew he needed to pursue a degree to help him do that well.
“North Greenville had just become a 4-year institution, and I had heard great things about it,” said Powell. “Some of my friends from my church were already attending there. I came up [to campus} with only two weeks left before school started, which of course, was way too late to apply. I met with Ed Holloway, a wonderful man, and he told me it was too late for the fall semester.”
Powell told Holloway that he could not sit out any longer, and he knew North Greenville was the place for him.
“He took me to the president’s office. There the president said that he would make an exception since I was a ‘South Carolina preacher boy.’ I was convinced that North Greenville was exactly where I needed to be, and the Lord worked it out.”
Powell says the best part about NGU’s Christian Studies program has always been the professors.
“Walter Johnson is a hero of mine. He was so instrumental in my spiritual formation and growth as a minister,” he said. “The Christian Studies program has always had great professors like him. When I was there, a strong group of faithful leaders poured themselves into the students. That has continued with great men like Nathan Finn and Donny Mathis. Of course, as long as Dr. J is there, it will definitely be the best part of the program.”
A degree in Christian Studies is not the only life-changing experience Powell had at NGU; he also met his future wife, Allison.
“She was from my hometown, and I knew she was coming up to school at the beginning of my junior year,” he said. “I did not know her well before NGU, but I made sure that changed. The first day she was on campus, I made it a point to find her and make sure she felt welcomed.”
After his graduation in 1994, Powell served Buncombe Road Baptist Church in Greenville as a student pastor. He moved to Louisville, KY, for seminary, and there, he served First Baptist Church of Fairdale for six years as pastor.
Powell’s father began work as a missionary in India in 1990. Through many years of working and partnering with leaders, his ministry began to grow. In the area where he served, the number of churches reached was around 80, and there were approximately 40 pastors raised from those churches. The issue for those pastors, Powell said, was they needed training.
“When I was working on a Ph.D. at Southern Seminary and was teaching Church History at Boyce College on the seminary campus, the Lord began to lay the need of the Indian pastors on my heart and slowly began to clarify the need to go and train them. Allison and I prayed and believed that we should go.”
From 2009 until 2014, that was their focus, and Powell became the president of the Bobbili Baptist Seminary in Bobbili, India, where he remains president to this day.
“We designed and built a system that the pastors could be trained and then train one another. God has truly blessed,” he said. “Today, there are well over a hundred churches, and many of the pastors are starting to be missionaries to other people groups around them that do not have the Gospel.”
In 2014, he began serving Lake Murray Baptist in Lexington as the lead pastor for seven years. Now, he just was called as lead pastor for Taylors First Baptist in Taylors.
Powell was elected to the role of president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention in 2020. In his service as president, he hopes that during a global pandemic, he provided stability in times of so much uncertainty.
“I tried my best to help connect pastors for encouragement and ideas. I think that my main accomplishment was to keep everything focused on the mission—so many distractions in the world and so many things to take our eyes off the task,” he said. “I wanted to remind everyone that we must remain laser-focused on the Great Commission. If I was able to do that, I am pleased.”
Powell says that he would “absolutely” recommend NGU to prospective students. “I do [recommend it] all the time.”
“I am so thrilled about the leadership of Dr. Fant. He is a great man and a great friend. Christian education in a liberal arts school has always been difficult to manage, but no one does it better than Dr. Fant and NGU under his leadership.”
He says the commitment to integrate faith and learning is at an all-time high.
“When you also add their commitment to excellence in everything, it makes NGU an ideal school for anyone who wants to get an excellent education and grow in their faith. I could not recommend it enough,” Powell said.
Powell loves serving the Lord in South Carolina, a state full of great churches, great pastors, and faithful men and women of God.
“North Greenville is a beautiful reflection of the faithfulness of God to South Carolina Baptists. I pray regularly for Dr. Fant and the leaders around him. I pray that as we move into an uncertain future, the Lord will continue to bless the school for his glory.”
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