I don’t think it is too much to say that there is an end to an era coming to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Bill and Sabrina Collins, after years of service to the church on the Gulf Coast are moving to DeQuincy, Louisina where Bill will preach for the church there. This is, in my estimation, a significant loss for the church on the Coast.
I moved to the Coast 19 years ago to preach for the Central Church of Christ in Pascagoula. It wasn’t long until I met Bill and Sabrina Collins. As I recall, we were immediate friends.
For decades now Bill has provided spiritual leadership across the Mississippi Gulf Coast and beyond. He has served as deacon, elder, volunteer youth minister and was on staff for a time at the Orange Grove Church of Christ. I have worked with him on the Board of Gulf Coast Bible Camp for many years. Bill helped organize the Area Wide Youth Devotionals across the Coast for many years, often leading singing at most of them.
Bill’s passions are music and young people. He and Sabrina have given much of their lives
to caring for the youth of the church, taking them on trips across the country. I’ve always been amazed at how much they cared for the young people within the sphere of their influence. Their commitment and influence spread from the local kids at Orange Grove to the thousands of young people across the years that flooded all of the retreats and camp weeks that the Collins’ were in charge of.
When his son, Will, demonstrated a gift for music, Bill gathered up two other youth who loved to sing and they formed the singing group ALTAR. Bill, Will, Matt, and Ryan really did pull it all together and provided an excellent worship experience. I shed many tears of gratitude to God while listening to them sing. They put together a CD that Gary Miller (recently deceased) produced. It was excellent. Bill and Sabrina also had a practice of gathering singers from across the Coast to form POWER OF PRAISE – a praise team often used during the area wide youth gatherings. This was new ground for the churches on the Coast, appreciated by many.
I probably can’t tell you the thousand ways that Bill has touched my life. For years I have called him “Uncle Bill” and he calls me “Doc” (I do not know why!). I can recall a hundred late night talks at Bible camp. It was Bill who helped me get set up with a computer at Central and go ‘on line’. It was Bill’s leadership at camp that was both wise and fearless at times when there were some pretty difficult things to deal with! Through camp experiences Bill ministered to and loved my family. Daughter Nicole served at the camp for a few summers in the Canteen. Bill’s son spent time with John Robert helping him gain confidence in his own song leading. After Katrina Bill bought John Robert a bed – which touched us greatly. Bill led singing at John Robert’s funeral. As I write this I am reminded of how big a part Bill has played in my life, and I’m embarrassed we haven’t kept in touch like we should. Sabrina was always right by his side.
So South Louisiana, you’re gaining a treasure in the Collins family. Will and his wife Britney are in Lafayette. Daughter Briana and her husband are in Jackson, MS with the only grandchild at the moment (so they will be traveling to Mississippi!). Bill and Sabrina, I wish you well in DeQuincy. I hope your experience there is rich in love, joy, and the Holy Spirit. Welcome to Louisiana!