Storytelling missionary dies from cancer

Baptist Press
Posted: Jul 14, 2014 4:52 PM
ZAMBIA (BP) -- IMB missionary Jeff Powers died July 10 after fighting a yearlong battle with cancer. He was 50. The witness Powers shared -- one that led many to know Christ -- will continue through the oral Bible storying ministry he led in Zambia.

Powers and his wife Staci were on the field for 16 years in Botswana and Zambia as church planters. In the latter part of their time in Zambia they worked to bring the Bible to life through storytelling to both literate and oral learners. This became their full-time ministry and a part of Powers' legacy in Africa.

The couple's determination and efforts to bridge comprehension and life application gave many people in Zambia the opportunity to overcome cultural hindrances to learning about Christ. Non-reading people not only heard the Gospel but also learned they could share the Gospel through Bible storying.

Oral learners receive information from life experiences, and Powers helped them fill that need. Those who knew him best noted he studied, shared and lived a life that glorified and honored God to the end.

Powers became ill while in Africa. He boarded a plane back to the United States shortly after several tumors were discovered. A couple of months before Powers' death, Staci shared in an update that her husband quoted Philippians 1:21, "to live is Christ, to die is gain."

Powers served his country as a naval officer in the U.S. Navy and served His Lord as a teacher of God's Word. Among his many hobbies, Powers enjoyed hunting and fishing. He was working on his doctor of ministry degree from Trinity Evangelical Seminary and had earned his master of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Powers died in Collierville, Tenn. He is survived by his wife, Staci Simpson Powers; his mother, Shirley; his brothers, Scott and Dennis Powers; and 15 nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father, Theodore Powers.

Visitation will be at Collierville Funeral Home from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. today (July 14). Services will be held at Collierville First Baptist Church July 15. The graveside service follows.

Powers requested that memorial donations be made to the International Mission Board, SBC, Office of Finance, P.O. Box 6767, Richmond, VA 23230-0767, designated to the Baptist Theological Seminary of Zambia in his name.

Read more about how Powers impacted the people of Zambia here and here.

Paige Ryder writes for IMB. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook ( and in your email (

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