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Called by Name

by Maureen Taylor

As a young boy, John Oduro ’67 envisioned a life outside of ministry. Yet by 15, he felt the call of God upon his life and became an ordained Methodist minister. By 25, he had taken significant steps in his education that would later fuel a life of service, fulfilling his father’s dream for him and responding in faithful obedience to the Lord. This would become the blueprint of Oduro’s life—a series of intentional, God-directed steps taken in faith to build the Kingdom. “The good Lord is in control,” Oduro said, “so I’m not afraid. It has been a tough life, but God has seen me through it all.”

One of 18 children born in a small village in eastern Ghana, Oduro combined what little money he had, his middle school preparation, and his burning passion for service with a good dose of ingenuity and parlayed denominational connections into a sponsorship that brought him to the United States to attend college. Through a series of meaningful contacts and God-ordained promptings, Oduro found his way to then-Azusa College and met Cornelius Haggard, Th.D., president—a meeting that transformed his life. At once, Haggard took to the young man, admitting him despite Oduro’s lack of some educational requirements and inability to pay for school. Oduro became the college’s first African student. “It was through divine intervention that I came to Azusa College,” Oduro said. “Drs. Haggard and [Malcolm] Robertson took serious interest in me, providing preaching opportunities that enabled me to share my testimony. Dr. Haggard even took me to a Billy Graham Crusade. He told me with confidence that the Lord would use me for the people of Ghana. What fatherly love and compassion he displayed!”

Following graduation from Azusa College, Oduro went on to earn an M.Div., a Th.D., and a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies while in the U.S., then took now-late wife, Wendy, and five children back to Ghana to await God’s direction. In response to the Lord’s prompting, Oduro first founded Faith Community Baptist Church, and then established Faith Community Baptist Complex of Schools (FCBCS), which today enrolls more than 2,000 K-̶12 students and stands poised to serve as a liberal arts university, offering six majors leading to a bachelor’s degree and employing 22 faculty members.

And still the ties to APU continue. Three of his children attended—Kern ’97, Ph.D.; Carr ’96, MBA ’98, Ph.D.; and Ama ’96. All play a big role in educational ministry, most through FCBCS. Kate, Oduro’s eldest, runs the primary and junior high portions of FCBCS, while Ama manages the administration and finances. Daughter Carolyn attended Citrus College’s cosmetology program and teaches the trade to FCBCS students. Carr developed the curriculum and plans to teach in the university. Kern, a principal in Rancho Cucamonga, continues the Oduro educational impact stateside.

But now, with an established church and the dream of FCBCS realized, Oduro has become that loving and compassionate father figure Haggard once was for him, welcoming the next generation of Christian workers who hail from a distant land to his community. Each summer, APU sends a team of roughly 10 students to Ghana. There, alongside a man whose day begins at 1 a.m. with two-hours of uninterrupted prayer, students serve the people of Ghana and see servant leadership in action, witnessing the power of a calling realized and a life well-lived in obedience to the Lord.

Maureen (Riegert ’90, M.A. ’00) Taylor is executive director of strategic communication at Azusa Pacific University. maureentaylor@apu.edu

“The good Lord is in control so I’m not afraid. It has been a tough life, but God has seen me through it all.”

Originally published in the Fall '11 issue of APU Life. Download the full issue (PDF).