Jim Powell (1944-2012) remembered for impact on Moscow Project
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Written by Doug Ross, President Emeritus of ECPA (1987-2004)
It was ECPA member George Mott (Mott Media) who encouraged ECPA to purchase an exhibit space at the Moscow International
Book Fair in 1983. That year, and again in 1985 and 1987, ECPA displayed the
first Christian books in the Soviet Union. John Van Diest (Multnomah) was
packing up to leave the fair in 1987 and a man came up to him desiring a Bible.
John did not have one – having given his own personal Bible to someone else. The
man asked about an empty box and when he heard that it had held Bibles he asked
if he could have it. He explained that people in his hometown would find it
hard to believe that a box that large could ever have held Bibles in his
country. He had ridden by train for 15 hours to get to the fair.
When Sandy and I came on staff, plans were already in place to exhibit
in 1989. We wrote and asked permission to give away Bibles. We were turned down
but decided to ship them anyway. When we arrived at the exhibit site our Bibles
were there – all 5,000 of them. When the fair opened, a line of 300 people
gathered to get a Bible.
ECPA member Dale Randolph with the World Bible Translation Center
contributed the Bibles and following the fair, actually shipped 15,000 more
Bibles to Moscow and mailed them to individuals requesting them when we ran out.
After the fair we had a meeting during an NRB convention. Hugh Barbour
(Barbour Publishing), Bob Hawkins (Harvest House) and Marshall Gage (Kirkbride
Bible) were among those present (as best I can remember) and we set a goal of
raising funds to provide one million Bibles to the Soviet Union – particularly
in Moscow. We had no money – and it was unfamiliar territory for a trade
One million Bibles would require two million dollars – but we presented
the idea to the ECPA Board of Directors.
They approved and The Moscow Project was begun.
Yet without Jim Powell, The Moscow Project would never have successfully
distributed two million Bibles across Moscow and the former Soviet Union. Early
in 1990 Jim was then President of the International Bible Society (now Biblica).
He was in Phoenix for the NAE Convention and we had lunch together. I told him
about our plans for The Moscow Project and casually suggested something like
"I wish it were possible for International Bible Society and ECPA to partner
in this effort.” Jim responded with a quiet "Yes, that would be
great" and nothing more was said. Only a few days later Jim called me and
said they had been talking about it - and "Yes, we would like to partner
with you” and agreed to raise 50% of the anticipated budget of $2,000,000.00.
CBA came on board and John Bass agreed to receipt all gifts through CBLI
(Christian Book Literature International). Those were exciting days with literally
hundreds of organizations cooperating to make it happen.
Jim was a mover and shaker recognizing the absolute necessity of
Christian literature in every Christian endeavor. It was people like him – and
so many others – willing to take the risk and step out in a venture of faith
like no other I have been privileged to be a part of. I will miss him.
Jim Powell Memorial Service planned for January 11