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ECPA Wire: Industry News

Jim Powell (1944-2012) remembered for impact on Moscow Project

Tuesday, December 18, 2012   (0 Comments)
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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 association.

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

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