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Jean Tucker

A Faithful Reader
"But what about My other sheep? "
By Rachel Elwood, Staff Writer, 2014

Born and raised in Sodus, Michigan, Jean was inspired by her mother’s stories of how her grandparents served God faithfully in their homeland of Czechoslovakia despite persecution. She was filled with a burning desire to go, serve, and later tell her story as a missionary.

With a teaching certificate from Marion College (now Indiana Wesleyan University), Jean’s first missionary appointment was to McAllen, Texas, in August 1950. For seven years as a teacher, then as a principal at Taylor Institute, Jean loved teaching Hispanic people.

In 1957, Jean transferred to the central African country of Burundi. At that time, Burundi’s literacy rate was only about 23 percent. Before moving to Burundi, Jean wrote a Call to Prayer article describing her readiness to read to others. During a Bible study, Jean read familiar Scripture passages—Christ as the cornerstone and the temple being cleansed—and was reminded of the light she had, along with having a life of abundance. “But what about My other sheep that have never once read? That cannot read? That know not that I have come? Won’t you help?”

Her “yes” to God’s call sparked a 16-year ministry of teaching students to read. Jean created a literacy program, designed accompanying reading materials, and developed leadership programs. As a milestone of her ministry and after 20 years of translation work, Jean celebrated with a class of her students as they were among the first to read completely translated Bibles in the Kirundi language. Through her extensive work in adult literacy, Jean received her doctorate in education in 1972 from Indiana University.
In 1973, Jean married Onis R. Tucker and was granted a leave of absence. During their marriage, they were involved in pastoring several churches in Indiana. Jean served in WGM’s Publications Department at the Marion, Indiana, headquarters from 1985 to 1988, and then Jean and Onis served at Kenya Highlands Bible College in Kenya for three years. Jean’s doctorate degree in education was needed to facilitate the accreditation process at KHBC. Jean officially retired in 1992 after serving God for nearly 30 years with WGM. Onis passed away on January 28, 2000.

When Carol Cochran, a missionary on the American Indian Field and one of Jean’s beloved friends, passed away in February 2000, leaving the translation of literacy materials into the Navajo language unfinished, Jean felt God calling her to step in. After agreeing to continue Carol’s work in New Mexico, Jean quickly credited God as director of this project. She wrote at the time: “God desires every people group on Earth to read and study His Word in their ‘own heart language,’ a term used often by Miss Cochran.”

Jean passed away on May 10, 2014 at the age of 87. Jean’s friends and family all over the world may rejoice that she is now celebrating with her Lord and Savior. John 15:8 (NKJV) testifies of her life: “By this my Father is glorified, that you will bear much fruit; so you will be my disciples.”

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