Transformation ripples through Oklahoma woman’s life
by Myra Holmes
Sometimes transformation makes a big splash, dramatic and sudden; sometimes it’s a ripple from small acts of obedience.
Sometimes, transformation looks like a grey-haired Comanche woman from Oklahoma. Meet Jean Radney, 80, of Memorial Road MB Church, Edmond, Okla., an ordinary woman whose life is marked by such ripples.
It takes very little prompting to convince Radney to tell how her life has been transformed. “I love to tell the story of Jesus,” she says.
Her story of Jesus’ work in her life, like many, begins with family. Radney was born into a Comanche family and raised by her grandmother, as is common in that heritage. She describes her Comanche family as one in which love flows freely and giving comes naturally.
“The Lord provided all that for me, without me even realizing how good and gracious he’s been to me,” she says.
Radney’s family was first invited to church services by Magdalena Becker, a Mennonite Brethren missionary to Comanches who also served as a U.S. government field matron, visiting Comanche homes and teaching women certain homemaking and health skills.
As a result of that simple invitation, Radney’s grandmother faithfully took the family to church at Post Oak MB Church, Indiahoma, Okla., originally established as an MB mission outpost to Comanches. That’s where she heard about Jesus, gave her life to him at age 11 and was baptized. And that, Radney says, has made all the difference.
“It’s a humbling experience to live the life that I have and to be loved and blessed by so many people,” she says, “and it’s because of Jesus. Why else would that be?”
She has been part of the Mennonite Brethren family for most of her years since, from the Post Oak MB Church, to the now-closed West Oaks MB Church, to her current church home at Memorial Road. As a young woman she even attended Corn Bible Academy, a school founded by Mennonite Brethren in Corn, Okla.
When she considers how this dual heritage has shaped her, Radney says, “I am so rich, because I have been given so much love.” Because she feels so richly blessed, she wants to pass the blessing along. As she does, the ripples of transformation continue to touch her life and the lives of others.
She has long served by teaching a women’s Sunday school class at Memorial Road—a role she didn’t seek out, but accepted when asked in a spirit of obedience: “Whatever I can do to serve the Lord,” Radney says.
She calls it a humbling experience, because God uses her even though she doesn’t feel qualified and because the women often look up to her as a role model.
“I don’t want anyone to be like me,” she says. “I want them to be like the Lord. Hopefully other people see Jesus in me. That’s what I want for my life: to glorify him.”
Radney counts the opportunity to teach among her blessings. “The leader is the one who really benefits,” she says. Studying for each lesson throughout the week keeps her in God’s Word and strengthens her relationship with Jesus. In addition, she has a long-standing practice of personal time in Bible study and prayer—although, she admits, not every morning: “I don’t want to sound like goody-two-shoes.”
That time in the Bible has helped her learn to listen to and obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit. She says that as she reads and studies, often a verse and the name of a person will come to mind.
“When I feel like the Holy Spirit is telling me to call someone, I’ll call and tell them, ‘I just want you to know that the Lord laid you on my heart and I’m praying for you.’”
Those words of encouragement are often received with “that’s just what I needed,” which she counts as evidence that God is using her small acts of obedience.
Radney traces the ripple of prayer in her life back to her mother, a Christian who frequently prayed in Comanche. “That’s where I learned to pray,” she says.
Now she prays regularly for those around her—the women in her Sunday school class, the church secretary, her doctor, the stranger who held the door for her, an unbelieving family member.
“I feel like this is a gift that the Lord has given me—to pray for people,” she says. “It’s been a blessing to me and hopefully to the ones I’m praying for.”
An invitation to church, a prayer, a word of encouragement—they’re not splashy, but Radney says that even such small things can be a testimony. “These things to me are how I serve the Lord,” she says. “I do it in obedience to the Holy Spirit.”