Dr. Harrison Olan’g ‘88 hardly knew about UMHB before he committed to attending it. In fact, he had originally been working with a recruiter and was set to attend Hardin-Simmons University (HSU). In 1986 Harrison resigned from his job, moved his family back to his home area in Africa, and packed his bags for Texas, only to find out that the recruiter was no longer able to get him a scholarship to attend HSU.“So there I was in Arusha, Tanzania—no family, no job, and no school,” he said.
Down on his luck, Harrison didn’t know what he was going to do, but God had the situation under control.
Jack Hull—who was a missionary from Wichita Falls, TX, and was the man who led Harrison to Christ—happened to be in Moshi, Tanzania when Harrison received the bad news. Concerned for his friend, Jack traveled to Arusha to talk with Harrison about other opportunities. After their conversation, Jack contacted his friend Stanley Grover, who was one of UMHB’s board members at the time. In two weeks, Jack returned to Harrison with an opportunity for higher education. In no time, Harrison was on his way to Texas once again, but this time he was headed to the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.
“How he did it, I’ll never know,” Harrison said. “But what I do know was coming to UMHB was God’s direction for my life. I believe that all of those events didn’t happen by coincidence. God’s hand led me to UMHB, and my purpose was to be here from the beginning.”
While at UMHB, Harrison majored in religion and minored in business management—two areas of study that have served him well during his career. Harrison went on to earn a master’s of divinity from the Nairobi Evangelical School of Theology in Kenya and a doctoral degree from Brunel University/LST (UK). Additionally, he holds a diploma of theology from the International Baptist Theological Seminary, East Africa.
In 1991 Harrison began working for Mount Meru Christian University as a lecturer and registrar. After three years he became the school’s principal, and in 2002 he was named vice chancellor. In 2005 the university received full registration, which is known stateside as accreditation. Today, the school has more than 2,400 students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate-level classes. Mount Meru is spread out across three different campuses and employs 156 people.
Although the successful institute is growing in size and academic offerings, Harrison said the process hasn’t been easy. “The best way to describe it is as a journey of faith,” he said. While his job has always been important to him, he also strives to be a leader in the community. Harrison serves as the senior pastor of the Arusha International Baptist Church, the founder and president of MMUUSA Inc., the general secretary of All Africa Baptist Fellowship, the associate general secretary of the Baptist World Alliance, and chairman of the board for World Vision, Tanzania.
As an influential leader in multiple organizations, as well as a loving husband and father to eight children (seven biological and one adopted), Harrison believes success comes from the act of loving people. He said, “If you can’t love people, then you won’t be able to work with them, and in turn, you won’t be able to lead them.”
He encourages each person to establish their own vision for change. “Having a clear vision will be the driving force to motivate you to lead well. A vision requires only one person, but a mission requires many people to support that vision to make it work. So love people and serve them, and together you’ll make a difference in the world. ”