Pastor Don Cole: Faithfully Finishing the Race
As we were preparing this issue of Today in the Word, we learned that C. Donald Cole passed away on August 4 from complications of Parkinson’s disease. Just two weeks later his wife, Naomi Cole, passed away on August 18. They were both 89 years old, and had been married for 65 years.
Long-time readers of Today in the Word will remember that Pastor Cole was a key part of the publication from the beginning. His column, “Q & A,” appeared in the first issue, and he continued to write the column until stepping down in 2011. Today the column is continued by a team of professors from Moody Bible Institute and Moody Radio hosts, and it is the only column that has appeared in every issue of Today in the Word that we’ve published. Readers have often told us that they turn to “Q & A” first when they receive their copy of the devotional in the mail. The words of Pastor Cole exhorted, encouraged, and blessed thousands of readers through the years, and his influence on the column remains today.
Don and Naomi Cole met at a missions conference, and soon after they were married and went to Portugal for language study. They served the Lord in Angola from 1948 until they were forced to leave the country due to civil unrest in 1966. Their passion for the people and church in Angola never waned. When war finally ended, Don and their son Andrew traveled to Angola in 1997. Andrew Cole began the ministry RISE International to help meet the physical and spiritual needs there, and Don organized numerous efforts (including joint partnerships with Moody Radio) to send supplies to the country as they recovered from decades of war and deprivation.
Don was perhaps best known as the Moody Radio Pastor, where he served from 1971 to 2008. In addition to other radio programs, he hosted the popular radio show Open Line, a national call-in program where he took questions about the Bible and the Christian life. Thousands of listeners heard his wisdom, humor, compassion, and knowledge as he interacted with a wide range of callers. Whether he talked with adults or children, confused or distressed, devout or skeptical, Pastor Cole handled questions with a combination of grace, sensitivity, and unshakeable commitment to the truth of God’s Word.
All who worked with Don Cole can attest that these qualities were part of his character. He never took himself too seriously, and he was always gracious with others. He knew how to talk about Scripture and theology in language that people could understand, and he always remembered that these issues were not just abstractions. Real people with real questions and real problems needed real answers. His experience in Africa gave him a wide lens for viewing faith and life. He understood what it meant to serve an amazing God who is more than we can ask or imagine, and he never lost his enthusiasm for a life devoted to God. Though his presence on earth will be deeply missed, we rejoice that he and Naomi are praising the Lord before the throne of God. They have finished the race, and they were good and faithful servants.
A few years ago, Don and Naomi Cole were interviewed for the endorsement of a project in Angola. Moody Radio has edited the video and placed it on YouTube:
Moody Radio has posted a remembrance of Don and Naomi Cole, along with links to Pastor Cole’s numerous Moody Radio programs:
The Chicago Tribune published a wonderful obituary that described the life and ministry of Don and Naomi Cole. (To access the story, you will need to sign up for free online access.)
If you have a special memory or story about Pastor Don Cole, we’d love to hear it! You can send it online at:
Or you can mail it to us:
Today in the Word
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By Heather Moffitt, Managing Editor
Heather Moffitt has served as managing editor of Today in the Word since 1999. She loves working with the talented team of writers, editors, and production staff to ensure that insightful devotional studies reach our readers each month. Heather also loves running, whitewater rafting, travel, and singing in a Gospel Choir.