By: Gary Barrett
Dr. Ralph and Bertelle Richardson, the Legacy continues. The forerunner to Carolina College of Biblical Studies (CCBS) was Carolina Bible College (CBC), founded by Dr. Ralph Richardson. He founded the school in 1978 after he had taken over the Cape Fear School of Theology. Dr. Richardson had a dream of establishing a Bible College in Fayetteville, and God had a plan. “Doc,” as Ralph was referred to by his wife Bertelle (affectionately known as “Bert”), always said, “God doesn’t call one without calling the other.” So, together, hand in hand, Doc and Bert began a journey of faith in establishing and growing CBC for the glory of God.
Ralph was a Bible teacher and a pastor at age 19 while in college in Chicago. Bert was a Bible class student while working at a Christian School teaching Bible to children since age 17. The Word of God was a roadmap for what God wanted to do at CBC. Over 20 years, from 1978-1997 that Dr. Richardson served as President. They complemented each other so well—Ralph’s focus was on recruiting students, writing the curriculum for courses, and teaching the truth of the Word in classes. Bert focused on the college’s day-to-day operations, handling registration, collecting fees, bookkeeping, typing transcripts, report cards, and the list goes on.
The early years in the life of CBC were challenging but gratifying.
At the time, Dr. Ralph was the only professor teaching courses until God brought local pastors with degrees to serve as adjunct faculty. The college’s impact on the community began to grow as he extended himself to teach at sites off-campus. Ralph taught in Spring Lake, Pinehurst, and Lumberton and doing lunchtime Bible studies wherever people were hungry for the truth of the Word. While he pastored a growing church, all this was being done, established “Bible Alive Ministries” with a daily radio program. Somehow he also found time to write 12 books. Ralph was a man on a mission for God who dedicated his heart and his life to the clarity of God’s Word.
Bert recalls maintaining the old kerosene heaters in that small building the college started in. She would also empty water daily from the de-humidifiers to preserve the books in the library. As the college began to grow, so did the number of volunteers that served nightly in the library and bookstore under Bert’s leadership. Her office was a small porch on one end of the building and the library was a small classroom in the middle. To get a message from her office to the library, she had to crawl on her knees up a ramp underneath windows to get there. In doing this, she took care not to disrupt the class.
They overcame the hardships of those early years by the happy spirit of the students and staff. Everyone chipped in to help with the cleaning and whatever needed to be done and did it joyfully because it was work done for the Lord.
The college soon outgrew the small building.
Ralph contacted officials at the Fayetteville Technical Community College (FTCC) about a course project to build a new building. They essentially would be using student labor. What a Godsend! CBC’s staff and students chipped in working alongside FTCC in the construction, painting, electrical, etc. It was a labor of love. With the new building completed, the number of students increased to over 200, with the volunteers exceeding two dozen. Many of the staff and students will tell you that their years at CBC were the “best of times.”
Even amid trials, sickness, and death, there was joy and laughter.
Who could forget the set of false teeth that showed up on the doorsteps one morning and was put in the lost and found and the student that fell out of the attic into the ladies’ Bible class? My favorite story is about the man in prison that sent a letter to the college requesting enrollment and included a $10 registration fee. Bert, the Registrar, contacted the man and told him they could not enroll him while still in prison. She also had to explain that the $10 registration fee was nonrefundable! After being released, that individual went on to take courses at CBC. He graduated and became a local pastor who also started a prison ministry. Only God could do that!
Moreover, the greatest joy for Doc and Bert was to see and hear daily the students’ excitement as they discovered a new truth, a new meaning of a word in Greek that dispelled any notion of a contradiction in God’s Word. “They grew, we grew, and the college grew!” said Bert. “We were blessed by them every day and encouraged with love and wisdom from so many—we were a family!”
Such were the humble beginnings of Carolina Bible College and the foundation that Carolina College of Biblical Studies was built upon.
Dr. Richardson finished his work here on earth on March 21, 2020, when God called him home to heaven. If he were still here, he would tell you this is not a story about him and Bert or Carolina Bible College. It is a story about God and His faithfulness and the power of His Word. It is a story rooted in Ralph’s favorite Scripture verse, Isaiah 26:3, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” This verse was always close to Ralph because he always had his Bible, the Word of God, close by his side wherever he went.
The “Dr. Ralph Richardson Memorial Fund” is established at CCBS. For those who would like to give towards the memorial, you may go to www.ccbs.edu/Richardson to donate. Funds are taken electronically or by mailing a check to the college at 817 S. McPherson Church Rd, Fayetteville, NC 28303. Dedication of the Memorial will be conducted on March 21, 2021, at 3:00 pm on campus. Questions may be directed to Gary Barrett / firstname.lastname@example.org / (910)-850-6230.