During his seven years at Abilene Christian University, Jack Oduro found a place to call home – a community, he says, that has offered “parent figures, mentors, friends of a lifetime and opportunities for growth that have shaped the person I am today.”
But a piece of his heart remains with the people of his other home, Ghana, West Africa, and Ateiku Christian Ministry, a nonprofit organization founded by his parents. His ACU education, he says, has prepared him to “be a bridge between my two homes.”
Ateiku Christian Ministry is a holistic ministry providing clean water, K-12 education, healthcare, large-scale farming, evangelism and church-planting outreaches, seminary education, and job creation and placement opportunities in rural West Africa. It is the type of ministry, Oduro said, that offers help and hope.
Oduro, who will complete his master’s degree in Christian ministry in December 2021, recently accepted a job as an academic counselor for ACU but plans to work with Ateiku Christian Ministry from afar. His undergraduate degree in accounting gives him the foundation to help with business aspects of the ministry, while his work in ACU’s Graduate School of Theology is preparing him to help his parents find new ways to meet the spiritual needs in their community.
“In the last year, I have been more involved in administratively operating the hospital in Ateiku and seeking some funding to start solar projects to counter the frequent blackouts the hospital encounters,” he said. “A small team is helping me set up a stateside 501c3 funding arm that will hopefully help advance the incredible work that is happening in rural Ghana.”
That work may also provide an avenue for taking ACU students on mission trips to his home country, he said.
Oduro’s path from Ghana to ACU has been a winding one, but he sees God’s fingerprints on the entire journey.
The oldest of four biological siblings and two adopted siblings, he was raised in a family of missionaries and entrepreneurs. “My parents grew up in southern Ghana. My father felt a call on his life into ministry as a teenager and has never looked back,” Oduro said. “My mother joined him after he had become a preacher in a small community, and they co-labored to build a flourishing ministry in Ghana.”
His parents believed one of the best gifts they could give their son was a strong education.
When he was 6, they made the difficult decision to send him away to live with family members in a city with a better education system, because the village in which they were doing ministry lacked quality schools.
“The difficulty of this separation put a desire on their hearts to start an outstanding school in the village, so they did,” Oduro said. “After six years of living with family friends, I returned home to a thriving school where I finished out my middle school years.”
During that time, Ateiku Christian International School had cultivated a relationship with Dallas Christian School in Mesquite, Texas.
“The Lord orchestrated a series of events that ultimately brought me and a friend to Dallas Christian to attend school,” Oduro said, and God “put amazing people in my life, such as my host mom, Martha Leeson,” a 1978 alumna of ACU. Oduro was 15 years old at the time.
During his senior year at Dallas Christian, Oduro began applying to different Christian universities in the U.S.
As I stood on the Moody floor looking around the arena with students, faculty and staff who were genuinely rejoicing in praise to God, I knew this place was special and I wanted to be a part of it.
“I was seriously considering a couple of those schools. And then I visited ACU’s campus in Fall 2013 during a Friday that happened to be the first Praise Day Chapel in Moody Coliseum,” he said. “As I stood on the Moody floor looking around the arena with students, faculty and staff who were genuinely rejoicing in praise to God, I knew this place was special and I wanted to be a part of it.”
He quickly became a part of campus life, immersing himself in all it had to offer. As a business major, he became president of Wildcat Ventures, a portfolio of student-run businesses providing students with real-world experiences valuable to their career path. He also worked with ACU’s Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy, the Halbert Center for Missions and Global Service, and participated in Study Abroad.
In graduate school, he interned with a church in Tennessee for a summer, where he worked as an associate pastor and facilitated spiritual formation practices with neighbors in recovery programs. He is now working as an intern in ACU’s Office of the President.
As he finishes his master’s degree, Oduro is confident in his academic preparation for the future and carries with him a strong sense of purpose.
“Some have called me ‘jack of all trades’ because there are myriad things I want to be involved with,” he said. “But they all boil down to two things: First, I want to become more Christlike and do it with others through innovative mission work. Second, I want to be a force for changing the economic landscape in rural Ghana and beyond by taking on business projects that can positively impact the lives of poor communities and bring dignifying jobs to families.”
The heritage of a family dedicated to serving others keeps his sense of purpose alive. But he is also inspired, he said, “by countless families I have encountered who are living in severe poverty and hardship; they continue to fight each day for brighter hope ahead. For those families, I desire to know what it means to walk alongside them as they try to break through that economic and spiritual poverty.”