In memoriam: Missionaries emeritus Betty Sue Austin Wilson, 88

Betty Sue Austin Wilson, 1933-2021

Betty Sue Austin Wilson, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel among the American Affinity Peoples in Honduras and Costa Rica, died March 8, 2021. She was 88.

Wilson was born Jan. 1, 1933, in Vian, Oklahoma. She wrote when seeking missionary appointment that she made public a decision to follow Christ as a child and was baptized the next spring after the creek thawed.

In 1945, her family moved to Paso Robles, California. Though her family attended a local church, they continued to seek a Southern Baptist church with programs for children and youth. One day, wrote Wilson, her mother found a newspaper in a grocery box that advertised a Southern Baptist church 65 miles away. They drove the 65 miles each Sunday until her father found a job nearby and the family moved.

Wilson received the Bachelor of Arts from California Baptist College (now University), Riverside, and the Master of Religious Education from Golden Bate Baptist Theological Seminary, Berkeley (now Mill Valley), California. At seminary, she met fellow student Ralph A. Wilson. They married in 1957 and Ralph served as pastor of several churches in California.

By 1966, they were applying to serve as international missionaries. She wrote at the time, “I feel that several factors have led me to this point in my life–a Christian home, church fellowship, living in California with its many races and having a part in pioneer missions, lessons in patience learned in church work, and the joy of having a part in the Lord’s work.”

In 1966, the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) appointed Ralph and Sue as missionaries to Latin America, where they served 29 years in Costa Rica and Honduras. When they settled in Choluteca, Honduras, in 1968, there were two Baptist churches in southern Honduras. In 1994, with the Wilsons approaching retirement, there were 24 churches and 20 missions.

Ralph Wilson died a few days before his wife on Feb. 25, 2021. They are survived by a son, William Robert Wilson, and a daughter, Charlotte Slack.

A celebration of life service for Ralph and Sue was held March 13, 2021, at First Baptist Church, Carrizo Springs, Texas.