Red Oak native leads missions
Published 1:21 am Saturday, July 16, 2016
When Baylor University professor of church music Randall Bradley first went to Kenya, he never expected the trip to change his life.
“The first trip was in 2005,” the Red Oak native said. “Baylor wanted to establish a relationship with students doing humanitarian work, and mission work of sorts, in Africa. They asked several people around campus, and asked me to lead a music group.
“I thought, ‘Sure. That would be fun,’ ” he said. “But I met people there who sort of changed my life. It inspired me in huge ways, and inspired me to go back.”
Bradley just led his fifth trip, and he predictably uses music to establish rapport. Andalusia’s Shannon Jackson and Cooper Gooden, who made that trip, said Bradley literally taught them music and had them rehearse at the airport in Dubai. [See related story]
“Eventually, I started encouraging teams that went to give something back, to make some tangible connection,” he said. “We started supporting girls to go to school to escape FGM (Female genital mutilation) and early marriage,” he said.
That initiative has grown, and the group now supports 12 girls who leave their families and enroll in boarding schools. It costs approximately $800 per student each year. In Kenya, he said, as in many primitive cultures, women do much of the work, but have no voice.
“They raise the children, build a house, all of those things,” he said. “Yet they have no voice for themselves or for their families.
Through his visits to Kenya, he’s come to believe that African cultures will be transformed through the empowerment of women. It’s not unlike the United States in many ways, he said.
“I have long been an advocate for women to have a voice,” he said. “ I think women often do the work of our culture and our society, but yet have such little voice when it really comes down to things.”
It’s even true in churches, where often there would be no congregation but for the work of women. Yet when it comes to decision making, women are sometimes left out of the process.
“I believe we will change in our culture, and especially in the Third World, through empowerment of women,” he said.
As a person who trains ministers, he said, he wants to empower all people who feel led by God to serve.
“I believe God is a huge,” he said. “He is a big God, and I don’t believe personally we are limited by our gender.”
A big part of his life is bringing people together, he said.
“All of this started from a simple saying ‘yes’ to what I perceived would be to take a group of people to Kenya one time with institutional initiative,” he said. “It’s turned into a bigger thing.”
Bradley’s wife, Brenda, is a Georgiana native and an English professor at
Wife, Brenda, is an English professor at McClennan Community College in Waco. She and both of the couple’s children, Hannah, 22, and Isaac, 18, also have traveled to Kenya.
Bradley said he first felt a pull toward music ministry during a revival at his home church in Red Oak.
“I didn’t know what that meant, or what that might look like,” he said. “It was not on my radar as a country kid.”
After college, he was a music minister for two years, and eventually went to seminary. But first, as a young twenty-something right out of college, he went back to his alma mater at Florala High School and was the band director from 1981-83.
He still spends a considerable amount of time with his parents, Barbara and Don Bradley, and extended family in Alabama.
Anyone interested in future trips to Kenya, or in supporting the work started there may contact him at Randall_Bradley@baylor.edu.