Royce Money, former president (and currently Chancellor) at Abilene Christian University, shared some moments with HCCF staff as he reflected on his friendship with Heritage Christian College’s founders and on the events that led to the college’s creation.
Speaking from his office on the campus of ACU, Money said his acquaintance with the Ghanaian college’s founders goes back well over a decade.
“Actually, before the college concept became a reality—it was probably at its infancy at the time—I met Sam Twumasi-Ankrah. [Dr. Samuel Twumasi-Ankrah is today president of Heritage Christian College.] In fact, I knew several of the Ghanaians that had come over here. Fred Asare [managing director of Village of Hope, an orphan’s home in Ghana, West Africa], was another of them, someone that I went to the same church with here in Abilene. I would see him on Sunday, and I’d also see him around campus. We had a steady stream of Ghanaian preachers coming through ACU, getting graduate degrees. Often they did so at great personal sacrifice, leaving their families for a year and a half, maybe two years. Just amazing men. They would discuss even then, in generalities, the concept of establishing a Christian college.”
Eventually, Money and other leaders at ACU, mainly faculty in the College of Biblical Studies, were invited to Ghana, where they would gain an even deeper acquaintance with the Ghanaian preacher corps in its own cultural milieu. Thus began a simpatico relationship that flourishes yet to this day.
Money said that ACU benefitted from the coming of the Ghanaians to ACU, just as the Ghanaians themselves benefitted.
“Having so many ACU Bible faculty over there accomplished two things,” Money said. “Our going over there lent credibility, later on, in the eyes of the Ghanaian government. It showed the Minister of Education that we were serious about a partnership. Meanwhile, their coming over here gave them the credentials they needed to teach there at the undergraduate level.”
Money said that at some point in the process, Deon Fair (chairman of the Heritage Christian College Foundation) and Twumasi-Ankrah emerged as the principal figures seeking to get HCC off the ground. “They basically said, ‘We need you to go to Ghana to visit with the Minister of Education. He’s very favorably disposed toward us, but having the head of a university in the United States visit with him would carry a lot of weight and would reinforce the fact that the administration at ACU was serious about assisting in the establishment of HCC.’
“I don’t remember the exact term they used, but it was the idea of a partner,” he said. “If they had an international partner, another institution of higher education that would kind of walk along with them until their accreditation process was achieved, then that would be an asset to them.”
These events transpired more than ten years ago, Money recalled. At the time he went to Ghana, he observed that fully 17 ACU Bible faculty members had gone over there to teach without pay. Their expenses were covered by Dr. David Worley, of Austin, Texas, who had given an endowment gift to ACU that was called the Traveling Mercies Fund. The fund was created to pay the expenses of any College of Biblical Studies faculty member who traveled—during the summers, primarily—and taught courses internationally. And so even though they weren’t paid, their expenses were paid through this fund, and it was a perfect match. I mean, you have willing volunteers and then you have a man who stepped forward and said, ‘Let me provide the funds to get you there and back.’
“And so it just worked beautifully. Another thing that they—Sam and Deon—were able to do over there was to work with the Ministry of Education to arrange a plan whereby the credentials of our faculty covered them [as an institution] until they got their own faculty credentialed and in place. Because every ACU faculty member who went over there was a Ph.D.”
And the benefits didn’t stop there. The ACU faculty who went to Ghana came back “enriched,” according to Money.
“You’re a different person after you go over there and see how impressive Ghana is,” he said. “I went to a church there, in downtown Accra, one that was as big as the one I attend here at home. Here at home I go to Highland church of Christ, which has about 1,600 members. The church in Accra was huge, and they supported 25 missionaries by themselves full time.”
Money said he took on another role, following his Ghana travels, and that was to be an advocate for the cause, telling as many people as he could.
Africa, as many have said, is the continent where Christianity is growing fastest. Increasingly, missionary efforts are being mounted in Africa and dispatched to other parts of the world—to Europe, to the United States, to other nations abroad. Money recognizes this progression, and he finds opportunity in it.
“There are Christian-dominated countries [besides even those in Africa] that are sending missionaries now to the United States. It’s coming. We’re diminishing. And so my big theme to people is, find out what God is doing in the world and go there and join Him. And it is as plain as the nose on your face that God is doing some of His best work right now on the continent of Africa. So why not find a way to support people who are out in the front lines doing it?”
He smiles, pauses. “Of course, I’m a ‘college’ guy,” he says. “I’m a Christian college guy. Been one for 38 years. But I can’t think of any better way to do it.”