TOGETHER by AGCI

Together by AGCI is a brand new podcast from the creative team at All God’s Children International.

        

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Episode 32

Remembering 30 Years with AGCI Co-founder Ron Beazely

You’re listening to together by AGCI. I’m Dayn Arnold. 1991. It was a watershed year that included Desert Storm, Rodney King, the dissolution of the USSR. And as a child of the eighties and nineties, it was the year the Super Nintendo came out and Beauty and the Beast was in the theaters. But for today’s episode, 1991 was most importantly, the year All God’s Children International took form. This year marks the 30 year anniversary of AGCI. And in celebration, we wanted to spend some time with Ron Beasley, the patriarch of the Beasley family to hear about the early days of the organization. We all know and love. I actually had a chance to physically sit down with Ron interviewing anyone in person was a first in the life of together by AGCI a podcast born in the time of COVID-19. So if my voice sounds a little muffled it’s because I was wearing a mask, I hope you enjoy the conversation. As much as I did today, we were talking with one of the co-founders of AGCI Ron Beasley, and we are excited. Actually, this is my first interview that I’ve done in-person in ever with the podcast simply because we’ve been doing all remote stuff. So I’m really excited to be in-person with him. So welcome to our podcast, Ron Beasley. Thank you so much. Yeah.

Well, I just wanted to take a minute and kind of hear from your perspective, just about like the origins of the organization, even up from the beginnings of when you were operating a restaurant and like that was kind of your life and how all of it kind of came together out of seemingly out of the blue, as far as I understand and how the Lord kind of carried you guys through to where it is today, ultimately. Yeah. Can, can you walk me back to where you feel like the beginning was for that? Well, that’s a big question. Um, I think it really has to start when my youngest son, Ryan, uh, was a baby and, uh, my wife was sitting with him. I think he was like a month or two old. And, uh, my wife was sitting with him on the, uh, living room floor. And Lord spoke clearly to her and said, this will not be your last child. And of course not what I really wanted to hear, but, uh, it would be six years later when we would adopt HANA. And, uh, so, but she knew six years earlier that something was going to take place. One thing Janet and I had in common completely was our love for the children. And we had a close relationship with Jack and Kay Arthur at preset ministries.

And I look back now and realize what an impact they had on my life, especially Jack Arthur. And so I’d go there to preset ministries in Tennessee and they would invite me into meetings and corporate meetings. And I thought, what is all this about? You know, I’m just a guy out in Portland that cooks fish for a living, you know, and, uh, had a restaurant. And, uh, I learned so much going back there for different seminars and so forth. So it was a foundation for when God would call us into a ministry. So fast forward, um, it really started with my daughter, Heather. I mean, we had it in the back of our mind. There might be a child somewhere down the road, but we sure didn’t connect it to what she was going to tell us, which was before the start of her senior year, uh, she came to us and said, I want to drop out of school. I want to get my GED. I’m going to work for Nordstrom, save some money. And I’m going to go to Bible school in Austria and England. It sounds like every parent’s dream. Oh my goodness gracious. Um, I wasn’t as horrified as my wife was at the time, but I figured, okay, I have one stipulation. And that is that you gotta talk to the, uh, superintendent of the public schools in Portland, Oregon, who I knew.

And I said, if you can go down to his office and talk to him, explained to what you want to do. Um, and he thinks it’s a great idea and I’ll go along with it. And Jan agreed with that too. And of course I never thought he would. Yeah. So she got all dressed up and few days later, she went and saw him. And then later that afternoon, he called me and said, he’s sitting down. I said, Oh, sounds like trouble. He said, your w your daughter is truly, truly amazing. She’s driven. She knows exactly what she wants to do with her life. And I’m here to tell you, I see five or six of these kids a year. We’re holding them back. We’re absolutely holding them back. If we say, stay in school. And, uh, you know, for her, he said she needs to get up and fly. I said, well, okay. So we turned around and told her, you know, the first thing you’re going to have to do then is get a job. Cause, uh, we don’t have the income to send you over to Europe for being a Bible. School says, Oh, no problem. So she did go down to Nordstrom and, uh, they hired her on the spot as a, a 17 year old. She did extremely well. I mean, I forget exactly how long she worked there, but she was so they were so impressed with her.

They wanted her to go into management that young, because they have a commission system. She was pulling down huge money, but she saved it all. Cause I tried to get her. I said, wouldn’t you like to get a car? Wouldn’t you like to? He said, no, dad I’m I know what I want to do. So she saved enough where she said, okay, now it’s time to go. And, uh, that was a difficult thing when I had to put her on Jen and I put her on a flight, it was a night flight out of Portland and she didn’t know anyone in Europe. And here’s my oldest daughter. I will tell you the next week I was frightened. Yeah. You must’ve been, Oh yeah. It was scary. Absolutely scary. But she miracle after miracle, she did a phenomenal job in her schooling. And then she decided during the summer break that she would go over to Romania as she liked to check the orphanages there and maybe work in one once again, nothing to do with mom and dad at that point. And I didn’t quite put together or if an each child. Yeah. I was going to ask you, did you have any inkling at all? It didn’t hit me. Sure. Hit Jan. I mean, I’m sure she was always a step ahead of me. So I’m sure she thought, Oh, maybe this is where the child’s going to come from and sure enough it did.

And uh, she said that she thought she could find a mother that would give up her child and she did not want to pay for it. Cause that was a big thing. Back in, uh, late eighties, early nineties, uh, women would have children just to sell them because they’re in such poverty, but she did find a mother that just given birth to our daughter, Hannah. She was only days old. And in fact she was the same age basically is Heather. I mean, the mother was really young. They hit it off. Believe it or not. Within a month, she was coming into Portland on a Delta flight with Hannah. And you say to yourself, there’s no way with all the red tape and all everything. How in the world could this happen? It happened because of the faithfulness of our Lord. And there was no doubt about that. So, you know, she made the comment to us that I want to go back and help other families. My wife was always a prolific writer and I know a lot of people listening to me today will say, yes, we’ve read her books. And we’ve read a lot of the things that she’s written over the years, but she had a close, close relationship with the Lord. It was just a beautiful relationship that I observed.

I mean, it was such a personal relationship where Lord spoke to her long before she met me, was uh, doing journaling when she was 12 years of age. And it’s just, I go back and I read it cause I have all her journals now. And the Lord was, was her father. I mean completely her father as far as advice and Lord was speak to her and she’d write it word for word down. And uh, it’s just amazing. The Lord basically said to her that I’m going to give you the nations. Once we got Hannah home and Heather went back, I’m going to give you the nations. And I remember commenting to Jan had said, why do you have an S on, on nation? Yeah. I mean, we’re in Romania. We’re going to do a few adoptions apparently. Cause Heather wants to see how it would go. I, so you got an S on there and she says, well, there’s going to be more than this. Yeah. So does that deep breath? Oh yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I mean, I, you know, here, I’m just running a restaurant for 17 years. A family restaurant never been outside the country. I thought, where’s this going to lead? You know, and fast forward it a bit, you know, the first year we did six adoptions, uh, Heather had such a pure heart about it that I said, well, we got to build a structure.

We got, got to put a corporation around this nonprofit, which I had a pretty good business sense. So that was my, my job to get all that done. And, uh, we did, it was, uh, amazing because she wanted to let people that we did adoptions for pay us what they wanted to pay us. I said, what are you talking about? We got to set us a fee schedule. He says, no, dad, I really feel called that they get back. And we’re going to say, whatever you feel that you could give us to help us would be great. Well, that didn’t work out too good. Yeah. We had a couple of people that, you know, knew that an adoption, even back then in the late eighties, early nineties, um, you know, you’re still going to spend seven, eight, 9,000. Sure. Unfortunately, three or four of our first six, we didn’t get much not enough to run an organization. Sure. So I said, honey, we got to give that up. And we got to put a fee structure around it. So to pay for everything. Yeah. So we did that and uh, it just took off, uh, Jan’s creativity and, and writing magazines and newsletters all the time. And then when she wrote her first book, the strength of mercy, that was the point where really, really took off as far as an agency goes.

Um, it, that that book came out, ah, boy, 96, I believe we came up with the idea to give the book away and we did national advertising and we had it right on it. Uh, call us to get your free book, shrank the mercy. And it took us to a whole new level. I mean, we went from small to large, basically overnight. It was just amazing. Uh, it’s kind of like the, the power of story, right? When you understand the heart and the intent and the sheer number of miracles to kind of pull everything like I’ve read the book. When you understand that backstory, then you have an appreciation for the way that it has been essentially spirit led throughout and helps people to trust you all as the leaders of the organization, knowing that you’re just trying to do what the Lord is asking you to do. I don’t know. I think that’s, that’s a really great way to connect people with the mission is to have them understand the story behind it. Yeah. And, and part of this is, I think why we’re successful is that we didn’t want to just do adoptions. We wanted to make a difference for children in a country that would never come out. Uh, and as it turned out later on, uh, these countries would open and they’d close and so forth. By that time we’d already established a relief end of our organization.

We were doing dental trips to Romania and Bulgaria led by one of our board members. And, uh, that was highly successful. And, uh, we sent teams of dentists over for a week. They’d work 15, 16 hours a day. You know, you’d have children in an orphanage. They’d never seen a dentist and the dentist would ask them, well, how long has this tooth ached? Oh, it’s always ached. So I mean, the conditions when we first got to Romania were just horrific the poverty, but, uh, gradually we got a real foothold. And as I was explaining earlier, uh, uh, in another conversation is that Lord is never late. Everything seemed to fall into place. We never had a lot of money. We’re always having to rely totally on the Lord because the expenses are huge in a foreign country. When you’re trying to do things, when you’re responsible, you end up having an orphanage that you’re running. Like we hadn’t Guatemala still have, the expenses are unbelievable because there’s no health insurance. So if you have 30, 40 kids, 50 kids and they need medical it’s cash.

And so, uh, uh, it took, it takes a lot of money to run an organization, but it came in, I mean, people donated to us and then of course we had the adoption income, but the orphan care part of what we did back then, uh, was what drew people, I think to us, uh, they thought, wow, they’re doing a lot of agencies were doing just adoptions and that’s not, uh, it wasn’t just our heart. We wanted to really make a difference. So all of our programs were aimed at that. And the Lord seemed to bless it as we went along. One of the things that, you know, when you think of nations, you think, well, okay, it’s probably going to be Eastern Europe. You know, we have Bulgaria, Romania, we had inquiries of Albania and Macedonia. And I thought, well, we’ll just be there. But little did we know would not be the case. Um, my daughter Holland was just telling me the other day that as of now we’ve done 4,500 adoptions. We’ve been in 25 nations. It just blows you away to see what’s happened. I mean, it’s just unbelievable. The stories that we hear and, or some of these children in Romania that we brought out in 91, 92, I mean, they’re there have their own kids now. And it’s just amazing to hear their stories, how much it means to them that they were adopted.

And they got, have a wonderful life here in the United States. So, you know, but it is something to believe that God can do something that in the natural you could never do. There’s no way. I mean, I didn’t have a background in this. I had it a little, I had a business background, but not dealing with foreign governments. The first time I went to China, I mean, I, I sat before the head of their, uh, welfare department for the children. And he asked me, uh, he spoke some English and he says, why do you want to come to my country and, uh, and do adoptions. And, uh, you say you want to do orphan care work. Unfortunately, I thought it was unfortunate at the time I started tell him our heart and I started crying in front of a, not the best thing to do. And I thought, boy, I just blew it when I walked out of there. But, uh, he understood the depth of you understood the depth of our hearts. You know, we, we got to prove there and, uh, that’s a whole nother story. We don’t have time to date probably go into as far as, I mean, I guess I got to say it, you know, how do you, how do you get a nation? How does that happen when God sees is going to give you the nations? Well, there’s different ways that you, uh, work in a certain country.

There’s different ways the Lord moves to get you there. But just to give you a quick example for China, we, weren’t going to ask you to tell this story. We weren’t thinking about China at all. I mean, that’s clear long ways away from where we’re working, but I had a gal call me in, uh, 94 95. And she said, I know you don’t know me, but I have been led by the Lord to go to China, to get you approved, to do adoptions. And I said, well, are you a social worker? What is your background? She says, I’m just a housewife with a couple of kids. My husband works for a, he’s a air traffic controller at Hartsfield in Atlanta, but I know I’m supposed to go. I knew right away. I mean, I told her I have to pray about it and get up and talk to my wife and that, but I said, I’ll call you back, but I could just hear it in her voice that she was called to this. And I said, well, what do you want as far as, you know, we’ll pay your expenses. He says, well, all I ask is that my husband and I, if we’re successful in this, you get approved. All I ask is that the first child be our child for my husband and I, and I said, that’s more than fair. And so she flew into poor. I called her back, said, yes.

Um, when do you want to go? I want to go right away. I, I know beyond any doubt that time is of the essence for your approval. So she flew into Portland and, uh, it was in the evening, Jan and I were at the airport and we, she came off the plane and um, thought this little lady short and, you know, she said, she’s a housewife and that’s, she didn’t have any background. The one thing she had though is that her father was a businessman and had done business in China. And he told her that if you get in any kind of a trouble, I’ve got some contacts in Beijing that could come and help you. So that gave her a bit of a comfort to know there are people there, but anyway, she went and we thought, what did we do putting this poor lady on a plane to get, go to China? And I didn’t hear from her for three days. And, uh, she got through to me and said, you’re approved. I said, no, not that quick. There’s no way. She said yes. And I got a back up. I mean, she had to have documentation. Uh, my wife immediately went on the site in China to see what the documents were required to even get an application in, to be approved. And so we put that together real quick. So she had that from us, but she got us approved.

We’ve taken out now 700 and some children from China. And it was just one lady that went there and accomplished that for us. It’s just to this day, I can’t, it’s hard to believe how the Lord worked to get that. Do you feel like it, uh, cause I’m, I’m sure like, from what I know of your guys’ story, that it’s kind of, maybe the beginnings of it were a little bit more doubtful of like, man, I don’t really know how this is all going to work out. This seems very complicated or this seems over our heads, but it’s, it has been kind of a series of miraculous events that you’re just kind of like, Oh, well, uh, w was there, was there like a tipping point where you realized we just need to trust that the Lord will take care of this and move this forward? Or was it always like there ever a sort of like a doubtful presence in your brain? That was just like, I don’t know about this. Like, I feel like that’s how it would be for me. Well, absolutely. We, we had doubts. Sure. You know, because as I say, we didn’t have the finances. So we had to trust the Lord every single day. How are we going to do this? You know, but we just saw his provision. Yeah.

When we be down to where we hardly had any funds and then all of a sudden something would come in, you know, we just unexpectedly and my wife and I loved her for this, you know, a lot of newsletters that organizations will send out, you know, they want funds, but my wife didn’t phrase it that way. Uh, she always said, if you can’t give, that’s fine. Uh, just we ask that you pray for our organization, but she always believed that if she put the Lord first and we both agreed with this, but in her writing the Lord letter in everything she wrote in lot of times, we’d have a deadline and say, honey, this has gotta be done by such and such date. He says, Lord, still dealing with me on how, what he wants me to say. And sometimes we, it was tough because we had deadlines, but I learned that Jan did, she might write a newsletter. It would be three or four pages long, but she might spend a week and a half praying and reading the word and asking the Lord what he want, wanted her to say. And when she went to write it, she could write it in a couple hours, but the preparation and prayer and, and, uh, worship made all the difference in the world in her writing. And so that was an amazing thing to me.

But as far as, when did I feel that, uh, you know, this thing was here to stay actually fairly early. I believe that, uh, when we started taking out a lot of children in Bulgaria, we got a fabulous guy that was working for us and a doc. A lot of folks know him, Dr. Off there, and him just hit it off. And he became our director in Bulgaria and we started doing a lot of adoptions and we had our Hannah’s hope, which was our orphan care work. And it just took off. And, uh, our advertising that we’re doing in the States was just very successful. And, uh, we just advertised in Christian women’s magazines. That was the key, uh, and giving away Jan’s book. We just got hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of, uh, of, uh, replies from that. So early on, I knew this is something that was going to be here for a long time. And it has been as you know, we’re celebrating our 30th year. And it’s absolutely amazing to, I just wish my wife was here to be able to enjoy this time. Um, we were married 49 years. Um, we were already waiting for our, you know, do something big on our 50th, but we didn’t make it. And, uh, she died of COVID, uh, early January of 20. And so I miss her every day, but, uh, the legacy she’s left is absolutely amazing.

And I know a lot of you that would be listening to this, have your own Jan stories. And I know there’s so many people that loved her dearly and she had a deep love for the people. Um, Jan was a friend there’s so many just a delight to be married to her for 49 years. Yeah. So lot to be thankful for, you know, I, I’m proud of my daughters, how well they’ve done. And my brother, I have a twin brother, Don, a lot of you would know him too. He was a social worker for us for many years, did a fantastic job. So really it was a family endeavor to start with, but it sure isn’t now it’s grown to quite a large size, but still doing tremendous work. I think one of the, as I have been, uh, thinking a lot more about the 30 year anniversary, one of the words that I keep thinking about is legacy. And I think that for you, probably the legacy, uh, it’s very clear that Jan had like, has left such a legacy behind her, of, you know, maybe being more of the person in front where she’s preparing the materials and she’s speaking with the people.

Um, but what I feel like I hear you saying is that like your business sense and just the, the experience that you have had prepared you for the role that you put, you know, that you were put in as well. And I’m sure that there were times where it felt like you were like, along for the ride because you’ve got visionaries and, and they’re just like paving the way for the organization. But I feel like it’s kind of like how so many married couples are just paired so perfectly or like absolutely. They compliment each other. Yeah. And that’s the case with Jan and I, I, when I first met her, I thought this is not what I, this is not a person I thought I’d fall in love with. But the thing that drew me to her was her personality. Oh man, she’s so bubbly and warm. And that was the case all the way through her life. I mean, that’s why people just loved her and why government officials had nothing but good things to say about her. You know? And Jan was a person that if she was called to something, she would do it. And even if it didn’t look like it was possible, she would go ahead and do it. Like we got a call one time from, um, one of the officials from Romania, the ambassador from Romania was going to be in Washington DC.

And he calls us, he said, can your wife be here for a meeting tomorrow morning? I like to talk to her about things that you guys are doing in our country and where I might assist. I’d love to spend some time with her. And I said, of course, Jan said, yes. And I said, we’ve got to get a ticket. Yeah. Right. How do we get a ticket this late? And she said, because I just feel that this is something we’re supposed to do. And sure enough, I called Delta and they had, Oh man, I can’t believe I’ve found a seat and it’s fairly cheap. And off she went and she spent 24 hours with this gentleman and, uh, it led to good things, but that’s the way it always was. She absolutely loved the people in the countries that we serve. You know, we have such a deep heart for, uh, our staff in the foreign countries and the children. It’s just absolutely amazing. And I can’t think of a greater thing to do with your life than to help children. Yeah. As a, as a bystander, it’s been pretty neat to experience the organization firsthand and to, I mean, you and I only met a couple of days ago or yesterday, but to be able to hear more of your heart directly has been just a real privilege.

And to see that the seeds that were planted through those early years have only grown and blossomed and ballooned in ways that I don’t think any of us could have ever imagined at the beginning. And to see that we’re in 25 countries and 4,500 adoptions. And now we have, you know, 600 plus kids in the Ethiopia that are being sponsored. And we have however many kids in Guatemala and like the, the, the influence has just been great. And actually one thing that we were talking about yesterday was kind of like those waves of influence and how one ripple then affects the next thing. And then that person absolutely has their own expanded, uh, influence. And it’s been, it’s, it’s really amazing to think about the, uh, influence that the organization has had even beyond just the direct work with all those kids and families. Absolutely. Uh, because, you know, as a family, we can only take it so far. And God had to give us the staff. He gave us officials that had a heart for children, you know, and a lot of times when you’re talking about a communist country like China, and of course we went into Romania, it was about six months after the fall of right. Ceausescu and communism.

So we’re dealing with people that, you know, uh, they see the word all God’s children and they think, Oh, you know, but you know, Heather and Jan were a team when it came to talking to these different officials. And, uh, we just, they just took us in and said, what can we do? And now Holly’s doing a tremendous job with her staff doing the same thing. And, uh, I mean, what I’m hearing about Columbia is just absolutely amazing. It just blows me away. What’s happening there. You know, it looks like they’re going to go from Columbia, Guatemala. The government wants them to help them set up the program that they have set up in Columbia, in Ethiopia. And they believe it’s going to be many, many countries after that. So, uh, when you hear that you set up a program in Columbia and three years later, there was 125,000 kids in orphanages. And three years later, it’s down to 75, roughly that is unbelievable. You know, because the re unification of the children to back to their families, it takes a lot of work. The staff at AGCI has put that all together and it’s working and the officials there are thrilled, then other countries hear about what what’s happening like in Columbia. And they want to have the same program.

So the next years are going to be exciting because if you can go into a country and they look at you and say, help us with our child, child welfare system, show us what we need to do. And we have total access. It’s unbelievable. It’s unbelievable what we can do. Some believe what God does. Yeah. Yeah. And to think that it, it was, you know, so many things leading up to that single adoption of HANA, and now it’s influencing 50,000 kids all at the same time. Like that is, that is the kind of growth of vision and of, um, influence that only the Lord can provide. Absolutely. No, there’s no way when I look back and reminisce, it’s amazing how the Lord is, was with us the whole time. Sometimes it was a little scary, you know, we’re like when Heather got abducted in Guatemala for, for Elise, they tried to abductor, but the Lord was there to save her. I mean, there’s been times, you know, it’s been tough, but I love when we were making the decision to go forward with all God’s children, Jan was praying one night and the Lord said, if you’ll commit your lives to this project, to what I want you to this ministry, I will protect there’ll be a covering on your family. So that was a huge comfort to know that the Lord was going to be with us and protect us as we went forward.

And, you know, yeah, there’s a few scrapes and things that came about, but nothing serious to any of our grandchildren or our children and Jan and I, I mean, our health was basically really good and, uh, for all those years, and it had to be to do what we’re doing. Um, I look at the energy that my daughters and my wife, I just can’t believe all the energy and time they put into things to, to, to, uh, be a blessing to children. And, uh, so it’s just, it’s wonderful to sit back and, and see the fruit of the labors of many, not just us in the beginning, but what’s happening now is just mind boggling. To me, it’s such a healthy reminder of what the Lord does when you just sit back for a second and you just think about all the different ways that he has lined things up and miraculously put stories and people and connections in place. And, you know, if you’re ever having one of those down days like that, that’s what I need to do is to have that grateful attitude and to think back, okay. If I just think for a quick, second about the things that I’m grateful for and the things that he has clearly aligned in my life to get me to this point, then that is just exactly what I needed to kind of get out of a funk if I’m in it or whatever.

But, um, yeah, it’s been, uh, it’s been really great to hear your perspective on the origins of things and, and just, uh, yeah, it’s been a real privilege. Honestly. I appreciate the opportunity to tell you about it. I just know that going forward with everyone’s help, we can help thousands and thousands of more children. And that’s the whole goal is to make sure they’re taken care of. So I appreciate the time. Yeah. Well, thanks so much. We’ll be back. That was AGCI co-founder Ron Beasley. I want to thank him for allowing me to sit with him and hear his firsthand account of the early days of AGCI. I also want to take a minute to acknowledge the tragic passing of his wife, Jan, in January of 2020, she was the heart, soul and voice of AGCI for decades and without her unwavering devotion to the work of all God’s children, international, the lives of thousands of children and families would have been vastly different as always. We want to thank you for listening to together by AGCI. If you’ve enjoyed listening, consider telling a friend or rate and review us on your podcast platform of choice, we hope you’ll join us next time. As we experienced more stories of healing and hope together, we’ll talk to you soon.