Gerry Colston says she used to tease her husband, Bill, through the years because every time they got back from a trip, the first thing he’d do is go straight to the mailbox looking for his copy of The Alabama Baptist.
His love of the paper was a constant in their life no matter where they moved over the years. The couple served with the International Mission Board in South Korea from 1967 until 2001 when they transferred to a role as member care consultants for East Asia. When they retired in 2005, they had served more than 35 years.
“He was born in Mississippi, but Alabama is his home state,” said Gerry, a member of Dawson Memorial Baptist Church, Birmingham. “Somebody sent him The Alabama Baptist even when we were not living stateside. It would be a long time getting there, but that way he could keep up with friends and colleagues and churches and things like that. He was really interested in his state.”
Bill died back in August 2020, but his legacy lives on among those friends and colleagues and churches.
He transferred to Howard College (now Samford University) after realizing God was calling him to full-time ministry. He went on to study at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and the Myong Do Korean Language Institute.
Before he and Gerry were appointed as missionaries with the IMB, he served as pastor of churches in Mississippi and Alabama, including helping start Southside Baptist Church, Fayette. His last pastorate before going to South Korea was Leighton Baptist Church.
In South Korea, the Colstons served in evangelism and church planting. Bill began apartment ministries in densely populated areas of Seoul, developed census materials for use in new church-start areas, mentored Korean pastors and preached often.
For many years he was director of a program that involved more than 50 missionaries working cooperatively with Korean Baptists. All that time, they stayed connected with friends back home.
After leaving South Korea, rather than retire, Bill and Gerry were asked to work in Asia as member care consultants and mentors of IMB personnel. They did this for two years, then returned to Birmingham where they served their church together until Bill’s passing.
“I still check the mailbox every Wednesday,” Gerry said. “The Alabama Baptist was a lifeline for Bill.”