Janet Randolph had been to Africa more than 45 years ago, doing mission work in Zimbabwe.
The former Tennessee Bible College student and benefactor passed away in 2017, but a part of her returned this past summer to that faraway country – her Bible.
“She left her personal library to TBC,” David Hill, TBC president, said. “We were going through those materials and found passports to all the places she’d gone in the world to do mission work. She’d been to a number of places, and one of those places, which we thought was so very ironic, was Zimbabwe.”
That’s because Hill, along with Tim Smith, another TBC friend and an elder at West End Church of Christ in Livingston, was planning a trip to Africa to officiate graduation ceremonies for two of TBC’s online college graduates – one in Zimbabwe, the other in Ghana.
“She had been right in the area where we were going,” Hill said, referring to Zimbabwe.
Then he had an idea. Why not take Randolph’s Bible with them to Zimbabwe and present it to the honored graduate?
TBC’s vice president, Kerry Duke, loved the idea and thought it was a fitting tribute to Randolph.
“She was the best personal worker I’ve ever known,” Duke said. “Any opportunity she had to invite somebody to church or to talk to them about the Bible, she used it. If she was going to a doctor’s appointment, she’d talk to people about the Bible. If she was grocery shopping, she would ask people if they went to church. That’s what I remember about Janet more than anything.”
Duke had been with Hill in TBC’s library as they looked through the boxes that contained several of Randolph’s bibles, as well as pictures and journals, which included notes about Zimbabwe.
In addition to her extensive mission work and studies at TBC, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in religious education, Randolph had kept busy sending out and grading Bible correspondence courses.
“That grew and grew until she had over 400 people she was teaching in different parts of the world,” Duke said.
Randolph, a Texas native, lived in Cookeville a number of years, but resided in Cedar Park, Texas, at the time of her death. She was 85.
Hill said, “Janet Randolph was a dear friend and was very supportive of all we did.”
One of the Bibles she left to TBC was her study Bible. That Bible is now in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
“Bro. Kerry Duke and I thought it would be so appropriate to present her Bible to a TBC alumnus,” Hill said. “We just thought nothing would have thrilled her more than to have her Bible there.”
The recipient, Dennis (his English name) Ncube, was pleased with the gift, which had been given to him at a graduation ceremony attended by family, friends and neighbors. Ncube earned a two-year preaching diploma. Now he is working toward a bachelor’s degree in religious education.
“We told the people about Janet Randolph, the dear lady that she was, that she had been there many years ago to help bring the gospel to the folks in Zimbabwe,” Hill said. “It was just a sentimental thing. It meant a lot to me, and I think it meant a lot to them.
“The general feeling was that they wished they had known her. It meant a lot to them that someone cared that much to come to their country and bring the gospel of Christ to them.”
Hill added that even though Randolph’s mission work is finished, the Gospel continues to go forth.
“The power of the Gospel is not in us,” he said. “The power of the Gospel is in the Word itself, and that’s God’s power to save (Romans 1:16). It’s fascinating to think about her Bible — that it contains just as much power today as it did when she was over there (in Zimbabwe). And you think about who might be led to Christ from her Bible.”
-Amy Davis, TBC Correspondent