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‘Big Don’ Williams, pioneer in youth ministry, dies at 75

Don Williams, one of the first youth ministers among Churches of Christ, died Nov. 15 in Chickasha, Okla., after a long battle with cancer. He was 75.
Williams “had a sense of humor as big as a mountain and a belly laugh to match,” said Sallie Covey, who remembered the youth minister for his stints as a Bible camp director. “Big Don always had a dollar — for whoever could say the books of the Bible the fastest, listen most intently or even catch a dollar between your pointer and middle finger.”
Known as “Big Don,” he grew up in the Cyril Church of Christ in Oklahoma. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Abilene Christian University in Texas. After serving as an associate minister for churches in Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, Texas, he was named youth minister for the Broadway Church of Christ in Lubbock, Texas, where he served from 1965 to 1971.
After his time in Lubbock, Williams taught for 17 years at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif. In 1992 he was named coordinator of special outreach projects at ACU.
In 1969, Williams launched the Youth Ministers’ Seminar in Lubbock. He taught classes at lectureships and workshops at Christian universities and spoke at more than 1,000 youth and college rallies, camps and leadership conferences, often traveling more than 45 weekends per year.
Williams influenced untold numbers of Christians to pursue youth ministry, including Brad Teague, former youth minister for the Midtown Church of Christ in Fort Worth.
“Big Don lived up to his name in every way,” Teague said. “He laughed big, he lived big and he loved big. He radiated love for everyone he contacted. My life was forever changed by his.”

Filed under: National

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