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Episode 33

Remembering 30 Years with AGCI President Hollen Frazier

Hollen Frazier, AGCI President

You’re listening to Together by AGCI. I’m Dayn Arnold. And I’m Melissa Rush.

We did it again! We sat down, in person, with Hollen Frazier, the President of All God’s Children International to talk about her journey into a leadership role. Spoiler—if things had initially gone her way, AGCI wouldn’t have been part of her story. Fortunately, God had a different plan. 

Hollen’s story is one of deep faith. Hearing her talk about AGCI’s future always makes me feel so incredibly inspired and hopeful. I hope our conversation inspires you too!

Today, we’re welcoming Hollen Frazier, who is the president of All God’s Children International. And we are, you know, talking about our 30 year anniversary and just the history kind of leading up to this moment and where we’re going beyond that. So we’re excited to have Hollen with us. Thanks for joining us. Thanks for having me. Of course. Um, I guess maybe we can start at the beginning. That seems like a good place to start. I think there’s a song about that in the sound of music. So I guess like how old were you when your sister Hannah was adopted and like, what do you remember about that time? I remember it definitely was a family decision. So my parents kind of sat us all down and said, this is what we believe God’s leading us to do, but we want it to be a family decision, not just one that we make. And so I remember all of the preparation leading up to Hannah coming home. I mean, I was just 14 at the time of her adoption. So I literally was just ending eighth grade and going into high school. So it was a kid at the time myself, but just so much joy and happiness bringing home my little sister and, um, had no idea what was to come from her adoption. Yeah.

Was there any, like, I know a lot of kids as their adoptive sibling is getting closer to coming home, there’s like unsureness or trepidation or like almost like pre jealousy, you know, are you kind of like, like, did you feel like you had any of that or are you just, just so excited about it? I’m so excited about it. The, there was post jealousy, I would say the post jealousy, just because of, of course the story of how AGCI started was through Hannah’s adoption. And so having my parents found with Heather AGCI and then you can imagine there, my parents were both working full time, starting a nonprofit five children. And so just that time was definitely the whole family had to sacrifice some things in order to see AGCI launch, especially where it is today. Yeah. No, that makes complete sense. That that would be a lot of, a lot of elements kind of all at the same time. And you’re trying to navigate a completely different life for yourself at that point. Yeah, it was, um, you know, AGCI started in my parents’ basement and, um, within a couple of years, my dad who owned restaurants, he left, um, the restaurant business, but my mom had this childcare in our house. So my senior year, um, they came to me and said, Hey, we really are getting pulled more and more into all God’s children.

Would you go to school just for an hour every day and run moms childcare? Um, because they were still trying to support all of us kids. So, you know, I grew up a little fast in that moment and of course you do whatever you have to do for family, because that’s what family is. But definitely there were, were growing moments. I would say for me on that journey and of course went off to college and said, I’ll never work for all God’s children at that 18 year old brain level. And, um, yeah, God, must’ve been chuckling in heaven looking down, knowing what the path would be. Yeah. That kind of brings us into the next question that we had was, uh, did you always know that you’d be a part of AGCI even though you like were resistant to it? Were you like in the back of your mind? Oh, I’m probably going to end up in a hundred percent. No, no, no, no, never. I, I left for Chattanooga, Tennessee for college where, um, I ended up, you know, marrying my husband who was from Chattanooga, but total absolutely no expectation that I would come back and end up working for AGCI. So I went to Tennessee for college. My husband ended up graduating and we came back to Portland for him to go to seminary and we were just dating at the time.

So I was still in school and my parents said, do you want to just come and answer the phones part-time for some money? And that seemed like a okay thing to say yes to at the time, but, um, one step at a time. And from that first day, I’ve been there ever since. Yeah. Were they just trying to get your foot in the door? You know, we have these conversations now and I do think my mom maybe had some plotting going on in the background, but, um, yeah, I definitely, I never knew as I was going through college that I would never leave. And, um, but you know, God, God has his, and he uses everyone’s motives, whether they’re completely pure or not to further his, his plan. Absolutely. Thank God for his sovereignty over us, because my ways are not as good as his, for sure. So what did it look like? I mean, you, you kind of had your foot in the door and you like, was there kind of a tipping point where you’re like, I guess this is what I’m doing now or like where you were actually genuinely excited about it? Definitely. For me, the life-changing moment for me was the first time I went to Bulgaria and I actually entered into an institution where you just see row after row of children just wasting away, totally absent from their bodies. And for me, that was so impactful.

My first trip to Bulgaria, it’s like all those maybe childhood resentments of thinking, gosh, why did I have to do this? Or that it all came into like this clear, clear picture of why my parents went so radical after the adoption of HANA, they saw such an enormous need and they couldn’t turn away from it. And in that moment I got it. Like, w you know, at, up until that time, I’m just this kind of young girl. Who’d had everything really handed to her, her whole life. And, um, yeah, that moment I realized it kind of all came full picture and I think God just grabbed my heart on that trip. Yeah. Did you, did you feel like at that point that you understood that this was kind of going to be your thing for the rest of your life, or at least for the next large chunk of your, of your life? It’s still not there. Like, in that moment it was this, um, confirmation of I’m where I’m supposed to be. You know, all my friends growing up, my family, um, if anyone would have ever asked me what I wanted to do with my life, I maybe would have said, Oh, I’m going to go into business or education. But ultimately I want to be a mom. I want to be home with my kids. That was just deeply rooted into my spirit and soul.

So even though AGCI at that moment, like I was all in, always in the back of my head. I thought once I had kids, I would step back and be home. Yeah. And then you did, or I didn’t, I tried, I tried, I did actually, Oh my goodness. You know, I I’m kind of fast forward. It would have been, if Andrew was born in 1999 and 2000, he was just a year old. And I remember going to my parents at that time and I was working full time that first year after having him and I said, Hey, I really want to be home with him. Um, it’s just too hard just watching him grow so fast. And so I quit. Um, and of course, again, my mom in her, her ways, um, she said, well, that’s good, that’s fine. But will you just take a trip real quick down to Guatemala and set up the computer system, keeping your foot in that door. She just kept it in the door. And I said, well, as long as I can bring Andrew with me, I’ll go down and do it. And, um, and I mean, let’s just pause for a minute and just laugh at the fact that they asked me to go down and do it.

I mean, that just shows you like what a smaller mom and pop organization at that for our listeners sake, what would you say your it skills are on a scale of one to 10? Where would you say your it skills are? Um, uh, to, I know to restart the computer if I can. Okay. That is 90% of every troubleshooting. Do you know that much? But it took a few years to get that one down, but, um, we had this elaborate way. We tracked adoptions and outlook, and I knew how to create that outlook screen. So I went down for that and, um, you know, one week turned into three years. Wow. And, you know, I think how God really moved me in, in that moment, I had just had this my first born. Right. So just this enormous love for, you know, you don’t even know exists when you have children. And these kids started coming into our first is hope in Guatemala city. And it was so apparent so quickly that the staff had no idea on how to care for them. And this mom heart that loved my son so much to see these kids coming through the door. Like, I just, again, like my parents, when they founded HTCI, I couldn’t turn away from that, like the responsibility of being there and like seeing these kids and hearing their stories.

Um, the beginnings of that Hannah’s hope were too important to the future of so many children that we’ve got it. Right. So, um, really it was the first time we ever ran, um, one of our Hannah’s hope homes from a to Z. So like literally all the training and putting the, um, pretty much the program of what Hannah’s hope would end up being in other countries around the world was all developed in those two to three years that eventually nine months later, my husband joined me. He, he figured, I kept saying, give me one more week, give me one more month, give me two more weeks. And I remember he came down on a trip out seven months in, and he looked at me and said, you’re not coming home. Are you? And I just looked at him and said, I just don’t know how I leave this in this place. Like, there’s still a lot to do. So he ended up, he was a youth pastor at the time he resigned and he came down. Wow. Wow. So do you think that it was like it was the birth of your son was both the thing that made you want to pull back, but also gave you the context to want to dive in deeper thousand percent Dane? I don’t know, without Andrew, if it would have hit me in the same way, like that maternal, like mother’s heart. Totally get it. Yeah.

It was deep. It was deep in my spirit. So it’s kind of interesting. I mean, when you think about what growing up, you thought, I just want to be home with my kids. I want to be a stay at home mom. And you kind of felt pushed into, you know, in some way or pulled into, I guess, like AGCS work, but it’s almost like God had put that given you that desire, that then kind of like kept you there. Right. Because it’s like you, like you said, I mean, having your first child and like experiencing that, love it, it just kind of gave you a different perspective. It’s like, that had been, that had been planted like so, so long ago, which is kind of amazing to think about. Yeah, it’s, it’s definitely, I would say if I’m completely honest at the moment that I was fully a hundred percent not trying to work my way home, cause even in Guatemala, like I had to be there. Like, it wasn’t even a question, but at that point it was, I had one son, I mean, fast forward over the next, um, however meant 10 years we have three more kids. So a total of four kids under 10 and, you know, still there were moments throughout those years where it was like, gosh, I really want to get home and be the, be a mom.

But when I stepped into this role of president, I remember saying to my husband, it would probably been about a year into this role. Emma, my youngest was just a year, well going on two. And I remember saying to him like, you know, I have fought so hard the Lord for so many years with this path that I wanted for myself of being home. And I think really at the foundation of that, I wanted my kids to know it. You know, it’s always goes back to your history, right? Like how busy my parents were when AGCI started and their attention being outside of what I felt like at that time was me. Of course, that’s the deeper root of why it was so ingrained in me that I wanted to be home for my kids, because I always wanted them to know they were first because of that, that feeling. I mean, it’s so really being able to look and say to my husband, you know, I can actually run and lead AGCI and put my kids first and, and have them know that they’re the star, the moons, the everything in my world and my life and travel that path a little differently because of my own experience within it. And I would say it’s probably at that moment that I fully released my hands and said, Lord, use me. I am all in and I’m not going anywhere.

It’s funny how those things are never, like, I mean, I’m always asking for a story about the moment that everything changed, but it’s like, it’s all the different moments where the next, the next level of buy-in happened and the next level of investment and of, uh, just desire to, to do it as best you can. Like it’s. Yeah. Yeah. I wish I could say like there was the burning Bush moment for myself. There was never one. Even when the board, after my parents retired and Heather really wanted to go down to Guatemala and lead, um, what was Hannah’s hope today is forever change called Dory’s promise. Um, the board came three times to me and said, will you step into this position of precedent? And I kept saying no, because in my head I, I was nursing Emma at the time. I thought there’s no way I still want to get home and be with my kids. So I’m definitely not a burning Bush, but saying yes to the next thing or really, I mean, my husband and I, it’s a foundational, um, statement that we’ve said our entire marriage is that ministry is received. It’s not achieved. And so when I said no, the third time he, I remember Doug looking at me and going, is it because you really think it’s not what God wants you to do? Or are you just scared? Yeah.

And I mean, I looked at him, I like, of course, are you crazy? I’m nursing your fourth. Like, it’s a, it’s a little much right now, but, um, but no, ultimately when I went before the Lord, it was, yeah, I have fear. I don’t think, I, I mean, I’m not capable of this. Like I’ve always been more quiet, more of the Dewar in the family, behind the scenes. So, you know, being this detailed oriented person to stepping out and leading an organization where you have to have this vision and be 50,000 feet up, but then also have a line of knowing everything’s operating as it should all the way down. I mean, that was a huge learning curve for me and nothing I ever like grew up saying I wanted to do so. Yeah. You know, just having to really in humility, just say, God use me. I don’t think I’m capable, but if you want me to step in, I’ll have the faith to do it. Yeah. Amazing. So coming into that, obviously that’s a huge change for you and something that you had, you know, initially resisted, I guess, but stepping into the role as president, like what did you like, what were the things that excited you the most? Or like, what did you want to, to change the AGC I was doing? Or what were your feelings about that?

Well, and all things AGCI of course, as soon as I said yes, over the next two to three years is when the complete floor of international adoption fell out. So it was probably one of the hardest and darkest times in AGCS history as far as like real, well, maybe not as hard as when mom and dad first started, HTCI like the unknowns, but it was hard. I mean, we had Guatemala close, Nepal closed. I mean, you, you say the country Vietnam closed. I mean, countries were just one after another closing their doors. It, it was a hard financial time for AGCI a lot of years. I think it probably more than two where I don’t think I ever slept the night through just so worried, not knowing how we’re going to make it. So kind of my trial by fire was having to come in and go, okay, how do we survive it? Like how do we stay afloat? And, um, I wish I could tell you it was me because it absolutely wasn’t. I mean, you look at just how God met AGCI in so many, like impossible moments probably in my lifetime, that period of time will be the most impactful for me as I look back on my life because God’s hand was just so clearly in it. Um, there was nothing that we did, it was truly him in his provision and really teaching.

I feel like now looking back, teaching me as a young leader, what true faith was, which I would have told you I had, but there’s not even a doubt. I had no clue until walking those there’s a family that I’ve interviewed a couple of times now, the gearing family, um, down in Salem. And, uh, one thing that Nathan said, and I I’m sure that he, it was not his original thought, but like he, he said it more than once was God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the called. Do you feel like that’s yeah. Do you feel like that’s true thousand percent, a thousand percent. And, um, it’s, it’s interesting when AGCI really took a turn. Um, it was, uh, I’ll. I mean, I think I’ve shared it before Melissa on a podcast, but it really was this moment. God met me in church, just in all my fear and not knowing what the future would hold for AGCI and it was such a profound moment in my life. And I just remember completely submitting to whatever the outcome would be. And, um, you know, the next day we get a call from someone we don’t know who makes this large, large gift. And I mean, it was just so God’s hand in the story of AGCI. And I remember just sobbing in the car on my way home.

Just thinking here, I’ve been so worried about how we’re gonna like, pay these bills or make this work in here. God spoke to someone who didn’t even know me. I mean, when I answered the phone, he said, I know this is going to sound really crazy, but God’s laid it on my heart. The last three weeks. I’m supposed to pick up the phone and ask you if you have a financial need. And I mean, whoever gets that call. Um, so just to see how God was so clearly in it, and from that moment forward, I can say AGCI just turned. And, um, some of those things that then we leaned into was really very quickly looking at how do we rebrand the mission. We had been known for 20 years as an adoption agency that did phenomenal orphan care work. And we knew very quickly, like we had to turn that to becoming more of an, an orphan care organization that happened to do adoption. Like it had to, the funding model had to change and how we talked about the work that we did had to change as well.

Do you feel like there was any resistance from kind of the, the AGCI the greater family of that to like flip flopping that a little bit of like going from adoption centric to adoption is part of the whole, you know, not necessarily, I think people like, even my, my, my parents, my family, people that were close to AGCI knew what an integral part of it. It was really from the beginning. I think what was harder was to get, um, people connected de GCI to see us differently, like from a different lens. So, um, it, it, you know, it takes a while to turn, turn that curve and get people to go, Oh, you do more than adoption. And I, and I think for a number of years, um, as we were in that process, it, we knew we were changing, but there wasn’t a ton of strategic, um, thought process to it. Like we had a strategic plan, but it was very much like, Oh, we’ll do this project and we’ll do this project. And like needs would come and we would meet them. But it wasn’t really until our 25th year that we really stopped and said, this is our moment to take kind of inventory of what we’ve done and what God has called us to do, and really pause and ask the Lord, where do you want us to go? And what do you want to prune?

What do you want us to let go of? And I will say that has been a transformational year in the history of AGCI and it really, this vision God gave us, um, we’ve just seen him do what many would say would be in the impossible the last five years he has done it. And so that’s been super exciting just to witness. It’s amazing. Well, it’s kind of a, I mean, it’s just such a Testament to like that we’re on the right path like that the doors keep opening. And like you said, I mean, the things that have felt impossible, like all that has happened, I mean, it’s kind of blows my mind. Um, and, and something else that you said that I just wanted to in talking with, um, adoptive families, something that they say all the time is like, you know, we, we didn’t know where the next check was going to come from. We didn’t know how we were going to afford this. And a stranger drops off a check for the exact amount. And I just think like how many stories like that I’ve heard, which is it’s, you know, as a one-off thing, you’re like, that’s crazy. Like, who does that happen to? It happens to AGCI, it’s amazing. It is, it is, it’s a God who moves mountains. He really does. And, um, we’ve seen those mountains move this last year, or really these last, like three to four years.

It’s, it’s been, it’s been pretty phenomenal. Yeah. What are some of the things that have been surprising to you about the, I guess the work that AGCI not the work that it’s doing, but like how it is evolved and how it has kind of changed over time? Well, I think one of the things that, um, kind of came to fruition even just last year, so five years ago when we kind of took that year to pause, I, you know, the, the big question, like the framing question in our minds was, okay, why are we doing this? And when we were looking and going, gosh, there’s still 8 million children living in institutions around the world. We’ve been serving vulnerable children and families for 25 years. And we have these smaller Hannah’s hope homes where we’re caring for maybe 40 kids or 30 kids. I was convicted. Like, are we believing God for big, like bigger things like for that he can do more than 40 children here. And how can we partner with other organizations and how can we be this unifier in looking at the one, but also believing God for like entire systems? Like, so systems can change because we know through policy is also the largest reach to kids.

And so, um, that’s where this new child advocacy model really was birthed out of where we’re focused on prevention and then elevating care in institutions so that children’s hearts, brains, souls can develop as God intended them to still adoption and then supporting kids aging out of the system, kind of wrapping around all of that work with solid policy. And, um, what was neat last year is we ended up putting this timeline together from the very beginning. And, um, we kind of took each one of those, um, areas that we’re focused on in the advocacy model and pinpointed when and where we first stepped into it. And I have to say, even as we prayed through that are in our 25th year, I didn’t connect it to the history. Because up until that point, we were doing so many one-off projects. Like we did community projects, we did this, we did that. But when we actually came to this advocacy model and then launching advocacy centers and pausing, and then last year seeing, gosh, okay, adoption day one with Hannah. But we started like helping vulnerable families within two years of AGCI launching like my parents and Heather. I mean, they were seeing families that were in need and they were stepping into that.

It was never from day one, just adoption, and then even fast forwarding to 2008 and looking at how God just kind of opened a door and a relationship for us to speak into the policies that the Bulgarian government was in the process of revamping regarding their family code. And we were able to sit at that table and like give solid feedback into how that could be made stronger and strengthened. And, um, you know, 10, 10 years later, it’s unbelievable. Like, I think it was like 4,500 children were in institutions in 2008. And it had gone to like a thousand and then like 300 orphanages to 57. I mean, so when we step back from that, it was completely accidental that we were there, but God gave us that to know, like, to actually look back and go, wow, what if we were intentional with the relationships that God is giving us and what kind of change could come out of that. So to be able to look back and see where that’s all of the model today was sprinkled through our history. It’s pretty, yeah, that’s what I, um, I mean, I’ve had a chance to, to talk with you and Heather and your dad, uh, recently, and just hearing like what you were saying, like even within the first couple of years, you guys were essentially doing all, all or most of the areas that now it’s just been clarified, what, what the vision is.

Um, but to kind of see how it was, uh, just kind of organically became that because it needed to be. And now there’s an opportunity to embrace that fully and to really go like full speed into it and having that vision clarified in that way then gives you that acceleration into the next season. And then I think the learning for us in the last, even year to year at, well, maybe two years now, so we’ve had this model and we can really look back and see how that spit, that story has been woven into the history of AGCI. But it was just really a couple of years ago that as we were really challenging ourselves on kind of this cycle of why children are orphaned and why families are disrupting and what is truly the root cause of that. And it’s really, you know, this revelation of trauma, like, and that had not been something that we had really leaned into, I would say until the last few years of going, you know, when you step back and you look at all of these bad outcomes, there is unresolved trauma. That’s being passed down from generation to generation. And if we can step into that and bring healing and restoration at like a soul level, then we really can stop this vicious cycle of children finding themselves orphaned and outside of family. Yeah, no, that makes total sense.

So, Holland, uh, you know, you spoke about kind of some of those th that hard transition of kind of when, you know, so many international adoption programs were closing, you didn’t know like how AGCI was going to stay afloat, like kind of going, coming from that experience. And obviously you had to really lean into your faith and then God did provide, but what are, how have you stayed motivated for all, for like all over the years? I mean, it’s not easy work. That’s funny, Melissa, do you know, that’s probably like one of the most frequently asked questions. People will say, gosh, social service. It is rough stuff. Like you deal with some hard things. And, you know, a lot of people don’t last that long. And then that probably my answer, which it’s not even a, a pause for me is the deep calling and faith. So it’s funny Dane, when you were asking earlier, like, so was it a burning Bush moment or was it moment by moment? Yes, it was moment by moment, but I always had a deep calling and love for the work. Like, I mean, you just can’t see the children and the stories that we’ve been able to be a part of and the miracles that I’ve gotten to see and not have that energize me each and every day to believe God for more of that, what is it looking like too?

Like, what does the next season look like? Like what, what are, what are the things that you’re excited about? What are the things that you can see happening in the future that you’re just like, Oh, I wish everybody knew this so that they, you know, they could get on board with this. Cause it’s exciting. Well, uh, you know, it’s, um, we’re in a nother year, like we were in our 25th anniversary. So again, 30th year as somehow, every five years ends up being this year of like fasting, praying, going before the Lord and asking him like, okay, what’s next? Um, really the fruit that we’ve seen come out of the work we’ve been able to do in Columbia over the last five years. So Columbia is the first country that we really took this child advocacy model and went deep and we are just seeing transformation at levels. We never imagined in our wildest dreams could happen. I mean, we’ve seen, um, 50,000 children fall outside of, um, the child welfare system. So when we entered Columbia, there’s 120,000 children each year that would go in and out of the system as of a year and a half ago that had dropped by 50,000 kids. And, you know, people go, well, why, well, three different policies that took us more than two years to like really push and implement, but it has strengthened the system. I mean, it’s just been unbelievable.

And so because of that work, um, we’re now seeing other countries approach us and say, Hey, will you, will you come here? One of them last year, which is probably just a highlight of 2020 for me, because of living in Guatemala and Guatemala has been such a big part of our family story. Um, last year, the Guatemalan central authority reached out to Columbia and said, Hey, what’s going on? They’re like, you guys have changed these policies. We’re, we’re hearing you talk about this TPRI trauma. Like, what is this that you’re doing and implementing. And so, um, we just last month started working with the central authority in Guatemala and we’re doing training right now on just trauma and looking at the continuum care continuum of care of their children. And we just see like these aha moments of leaders that are like, wow, I didn’t know this. And the reason the trauma piece is so important is because many times you have leaders that are like, well, these kids can just be in this institution for the rest of their life, or it’s fine if they’re in a foster family for the rest of their life. But when you really understand the, um, how trauma impacts like brain, body biology, belief systems, like this whole person, you kind of go, okay, I don’t want that for anybody.

And it really forces people from leaders all the way to me, myself, as I look at my own history of what I would have considered traumatic. And it makes you actually like start dealing with that in different ways. And so we’re seeing that in Colombia, like just literally take fire throughout the country. And it’s more than just the child welfare system. It goes into the educational system, judicial systems, when you have a country that really is basing policies off of how to bring true, deeper healing and restoration to their people. It’s pretty amazing what can take place. So when we looked to, you know, the next five years and what we’re just thinking through and praying through right now, we are just seeing the impact and the reach of AGCI go out so much further than we would have ever thought possible. Um, with doors that are opening in places, we would have never thought that they would open. It’s just so much hope. I just, I think that’s the thing that I keep coming. It keeps coming back to me like so many situations. I mean, you think about so many things you’ve seen throughout your life and throughout your work with AGCI and it can feel hopeless, I think at times, but what’s so exciting about this trauma work is there’s just like incredible hope. Like no one is too far gone. Like everyone can benefit from that and can find healing.

And it’s kind of amazing know, just a side checklist. We’re talking, you know, the 30th year in the history. So we’re an ambassador with the Karen Purvis Institute for child development, um, really strong partnership with them on all the work we’re doing around the world. But what is just so neat is even to look back, that’s not a new, the ambassadorship is new, but our, our understanding of the trauma piece we’ve been supporting our adoptive families in that for more than a decade. So CA Dr. Karen Purvis, her book, the connected child that was always a required reading for our adoptive families, but even in that never did we know 10, 15 years ago that we would now, you know, so many years later have this partnership and be able to really bring this understanding of trauma and how that really affects systems and children and families and how we can change that together. I was just thinking about it. It almost feels like the work in Guatemala, how it has had to change over the years, the, in the beginnings, it was adoption centric and then, uh, international adoption was not an option. And then, and now to be able to come back in and to be, uh, reinforcing the care in that area, um, it reminds me so much of the, what happened in Ethiopia too.

And it’s kind of like that restoration of it’s like a door is shut and you just wonder what, what is going to happen here. But if you’re still faithful to serving the people there, then the Lord can bring it all full circle. And the influence can only expand, even though it seems like it has dropped off for a time. Absolutely. Dane and I mean, Ethiopia is a great example again, of just God’s faithfulness to HTCI because back when we closed that program, it was before the country closed it or the U S closed it. And it was during that time period where we weren’t sure like if the organization would make it, but we were looking at a process that was starting to become so highly corrupt. We knew there was no way we were ever going to complete a family’s adoption without paying money. And we just refuse to do that. Heather set that precedent back in the day, doesn’t she with Hannah? I mean, I remember even as a kid, my parents saying, and I don’t know if she shared it with you or not, but like one of her first few days in Bucharest, I mean, one birth mother, um, was having twins and offered that said, you can have these twins, but I want you to buy me a car. Like she had these. And she was like, I am not going to do that.

Like, that’s just not what I’m going to do. So here we were in Ethiopia, but we had so many families waiting. So, you know, it’s, it’s a hard thing to close a program when you have families that so deeply invested, not just with their hearts, but also finances. And somehow we were able to close that program. And I mean, God’s sovereignty on the families and just their graciousness and understanding in the ethics of AGCI to this day. I mean, it was so humbling to see so many families want to do what’s right? Like it’s, you know, there’s also families that are like, it doesn’t matter at any cost, I’ll do anything. And, um, that’s just not the heart of AGCI like, so we closed Ethiopia, but we always stayed. I mean, we never left that country. And, um, this year we launch our second child advocacy center in a DC Ababa. It should open in, um, June, July of this year, and we’ll be focused on reunifying children with their families. Um, and we’re just, again doing this like deeper trauma work with, um, communities and families and children, and really hope this model that we’re going to be launching could be something that the Ethiopian government could take and scale in years to come. Um, because now the problem in Ethiopia, there aren’t any government orphanages. I mean, there’s a handful of them. So you have so many children on the streets.

And so it’s not like in Columbia where you have this, you know, finance system, right, where you can move through, there really is no system. So, um, we’re hoping this child advocacy center can serve as a role of reunifying children, but continuing to strengthen families within that community. And then for kids that can’t be reunited, we can be partnered with the local church for domestic adoption and for older girls who can’t be reunited, we can help them get on that path to independence, to go to school or get a vocational trained train trait so that they can, um, kinda break that cycle and have a job and a happy life one day. So we are so excited to be back and doing this work and in a deeper way. Yeah. That’s a great hall. And I just have to say, like, I love hearing you talk about this because it like gets me fired up like that, that I just, it’s just like, Oh my gosh, like there’s so much incredible work happening. And there’s just, I don’t know. It just makes me so hopeful about the future. And I think, you know, in 10 more years we’re going to be, I don’t even know what’s going to, what’s going to be happening. I mean, like I know it’s crazy. It has been crazy to see.

I mean, I always, um, I think I was saying to Andy the other day, I’m like, you know, when Kiersten saying, we’re not thinking big enough, that’s really something, I’m usually the one that’s like a hundred thousand kids in Columbia. Yeah. We can do that. And she’s looking at me like, you know, deer in the headlights, how are we doing that? And now she’s the one going, no, I don’t think that’s big enough. I think this reaches wider. So, you know, it’s, um, yeah, she’s always in my pendulum. I’m like, okay. Yeah, we’re going, we’re going, it’s exciting. So exciting. Well, it just means that the, the vision is solid and, and the buy-in from everybody around it is solid. And so when there’s that, that much, uh, excitement, and I just think it’s contagious. Like when, when, when one person is just like, yeah, we can do bigger, we can do better. And, you know, we can dream huge because God is able to provide in those. And he’s able to provide that level of vision. It’s it just becomes contagious. And then it’s, you know, it’s kind of an unstoppable kind of thing. The word that I keep thinking as, as I’ve been thinking about the 30 year for a number of different things, um, the word that I, that I think is important for me is momentum.

It’s, it’s like, I keep saying acceleration, but what I mean is like, it’s never been an organization that has been like, here’s what we do done. And then we just like skate by for the rest of the history. It’s always been forward momentum it’s. Yeah, exactly. And I think that, that’s the thing that excites people to get on board with. It is like that momentum hasn’t stopped for 30 years and it’s not going to. Yeah, it’s awesome. And you know, the other thing that just hits my head too, to kind of wrap up with a nice little, pretty bow on the kid front, it’s like, even me now, like saying yes to the position of precedent. Like, I guess if Emma’s going to be 12, it was 11 years ago, even now is like the kids, right. Andrew’s in college, Noah graduates this year, Matthews two years behind him just to see God’s hand on my kids’ lives and like how solid they are and like how tight our family is. Like, that’s the other personal side and journey for me is just to see God’s provision of what was my deep seated fear based on what I would have thought was traumatic growing up. But like just how he has done immeasurably more than what I would have thought it would have been by me not being home. So it’s just, God has just been good at every single stop sign.

Like he he’s just got us through and it is always what’s next. Like, okay, we’re what are we going to do tomorrow? Okay. This just, what are we doing? Yeah. Yeah. It keeps us busy. I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you that it makes the days go really fast, really, really fast. Well, thanks for sitting with us and just kind of sharing your heart and helping us. It feels like we’re, we’re reminiscing, even though we haven’t had the history that you’ve had, but just to kind of revisit that I think is just, it’s valuable for us. And it’s valuable for the people that want to join on this momentum, momentum into a thing. Now I don’t think my mom would approve of that tagline momentum machine. If it’s not like lots of the fatherless hopes embrace the font just doesn’t work. It’s out. It’s totally out. Oh my goodness. Thank you guys for having me. It’s always good to pause and take a moment and look back and remember, and I think, you know, we’re called to do that spiritually, right? Like, look back. Don’t forget. Look back. Don’t forget. So thank you for taking the time to be with me and looking back, I’m excited now to look forward and see what God does.

That was Hollen Frazier, the President of All God’s Children International.

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