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From Pig Feed to Kingdom Work

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
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April 7, 2020 2:00 am

From Pig Feed to Kingdom Work

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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April 7, 2020 2:00 am

Entrepreneur Gary Ringger and his wife, Marla, talk about the thriving food business they built with God's direction and grace. Gary remembers his big break selling rice crisps to Quaker, and they also reflect on their decision to sell the company at just the right moment. Since then Gary and Marla have invested in hundreds of families by helping them adopt children through their ministry, Lifesong.

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Gary and Marla ringer were successful businesspeople who wanted their lives to count for more bets when God put a burden on Marla's heart. I remember talking to the young lady in church who has been were adopting a little boy from Korea.

She had had cancer before they were married and was unable to have children biologically in sessions just telling me about it. We're just chatting and she told me that you have to take out a loan to bring this little boy home and I just went home that day and I told Gary no young couple should have to go into debt to have a child, and so we committed to helping them bring out of my home and it was just a seed planted I believe by God because we had no idea that we would be involved in orphan ministry.

This is family life today. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson on Bob Payne by the someone family life Have you ever asked God put a kingdom burden on your heart, how he might want to use you to advance the work of his kingdom here today how he did that with Gary and Marla ringer's and welcome to family life today. Thanks for joining us this in your trying to come up with something from from pig feed to King and I can't got it's got a close-up stuck there and at our listers resort are you talking about and what dollars on family like today from pigs smells swim and see if we can exploit all those Gary and Marla, your are joining us as we can family life today guys, welcome back. Thank you, Gary and Marla are from central Illinois and big feet.

As a part of. While ringer feeds which is a company that your dad founded right that you got involved with after you got out of college ringer feed then gave way to ringer foods where you are starting to make food for human consumption, not just for pigs and that business kind of had some ebbs and flows than what we've already talked this week about the fact that it was stressful for you and you came to a point where you you weren't sure what to do and you you ultimately wrote a contract where you turn the business over to God and said you know if we ever did this thing turned back around ringer foods were to sell it and that will fund God's work. After we paid back our debts on this and that was a turning point ringer foods at that point you were making donut sugars. I want to remember what that's what we were making at the beginning but don't sugar did not make it okay so when donut sugar didn't make it. What was next for ringer foods because we were doing so poorly it don't sugar. I'm just in here when a gentleman came to us and asked us to buy his extruder. I thought, well, sure were not making it. Don't sugar so we can make it with this extruder. What's an extra dad and Jan extruder is anybody that knows anything. Okay just getting the extruder who is we can do a lot of cooking and it just happens that you could cook and make rice crisp like it is like a big saucepan or like an oven or what's it like rice crispy. I got do you remember this is my mom having a food thing they stack like ham in and you yeah yeah that's how it come out but it would go through a long cooker right Gary that's right that's right you just had to have one of those with a quizzical router and the rice thing. So when I like. I buy those cheddar rice cake things is that what were talking about. So when you buy there's rice crispies yeah and there's rice crisp rice crispy is for. This is getting pretty technical matter little right is rice crispy stakes pieces of rice and they cook the criminals we would take rice flour and then go through this meatgrinder thing and then will come out the end and we would make it into shapes like rice crispy but the trained eye could see the difference. But where rice crisp goes is a little cheaper to make than rice crispies and what you can do is going to granola bars and things like that. Okay so I serious use live extruder and you're making rice crisps and selling them where were selling them to Quaker to M&M Mars and to whom. Right now you just gotta get gas and candy I'm in the but can I tell you a quick story.

What we first did when I am thinking for sure. We can't miss. So were trying to figure out a way to use this yes and at that time the (craze. I called hit down and when (kill yeah Hills everything so I thought we got egg get into making that and so I started didn't equipment to take notes and get them into what's called "so people can make oat bran from it.

Dad and Steve Weiner are controlled over same slowdown.

Gary slow down but I was you know we gotta move fast.

Is this the market that can't wait. And so I was going fast and furious and and we got going and Art Weise's I found the broker that sold off semi load of oak roads that we made to the East Coast and then I get the call.

I'm sorry Gary, your are customer rejected your load and I said rejected the lowlight and he said because it smelled like a fox urine set fox urine. I mean how does even though I saw that point. Thinking that this is a bit Marla at this point I guess your husband is an entrepreneur he's creating a sort of obvious worried.

I did he totally my attention because he had enough good decisions made in the past and I really did trust him and he pretty much filled me in on everything that is going on Sandra clean and all of this was happening after you had taken the business and said this belongs to the Lord right so you are operating this entrepreneurial he. But with the idea that this is God's business right so when you get a call that a load of God's oat groats. What did you do with that news, yes.

So we went on a vacation that plan. That was fun to walk the beaches and wondered what is going to happen and basically about that time dad and Steve Weiner, our CFO and me got together. Then shortly after I got back and we said okay ringer fees is doing good but were starting to lose enough in ringer foods that we can't do this. A worry, we prayerfully said how long are we gonna keep this going.

I believe that the contract when you make a commitment to God, you still have to do right things in business, but I think he provides extra mercy and what happened during that time. One of the guys I work with Greg on one had put a little ad at the back of a food magazine that said who we were and what that we had extruder Winger extruder and Quaker called us saying they have a plant in Danville, Illinois, which is just hour and 1/2 two hours from is not very far in the perfect position and they are needing somebody to produce rice crisp.

That was probably maybe 3 to 4 months before we were shut down and that was in that period of time. So those got the grace of the call comes through in the exclusion is a is a wise decision. Now write it. It was by the grace of God is that I his mercy that ends up in a profitable business for that incident. Being a profitable business and we didn't know what we are doing, but Quaker pickup you like that. They come in with their people. They helped us get our act together and it was really a blessing that we knew where it came from. It's remarkable that they called you yeah I know but still, it was almost like God provided to you. I at one point my son-in-law who worked with me. We had built a new plan and we were standing outside it and he said December make you proud and I said it was so obvious from just telling that story gets you emotionalism and vocational guy Seth overlook that for you it was just the grace of God. At what point in this story is your operating two businesses, animal feed, human food products at at what point does God start to birth and you concern for, or an interest in the needs of orphans around the world. Marla well, we didn't know it at the time that this would be something that we would be doing that.

I remember talking to the young lady in church to her and her husband were adopting a little boy from Korea. She had had cancer before they were married and was unable to have children biologically in sessions just telling me about it.

We're just chatting and she told me that you have to take out a loan to bring this little boy home and I just went home that day and I told Gary no young couple should have to go into debt to have a child or adopt a child. And so we committed to helping them bring out of my home, and anything about it is that we had a vested interest in that child sure. And so we'd see him in church and you know it was a little bit of a special connection to it was just a seed planted I believe by God because we had no idea that we would be involved in orphan ministry so that's seed that got planted to state on the ground really until the point that you, Gary said it's time to sell a business, how did you know it was time to sell a business, there's got to stories on that. If I can't. The first story was I didn't know what we wanted to get into in ministry, but I was feeling the tug to get out of business and in the ministry and at one point a company came to us and made an offer for our company and I was getting kind of excited about it and and want to move. But Marla, I see a tendency there for some reason Marla wasn't catching the vision, so we were on the way to church one night and we drove by ringer foods and I turned Marla and I said I'm mad. She said what were you mad at me. I said because I want to sell the business, but you're not. You're not given me that freedom that you would not that she was saying no but she just wasn't didn't feel right about it that way. Feeling Marla I don't know. It's like it wasn't something I am praying about I just knew in my heart this just didn't feel right and so I believe that was from God just wasn't time to head out as a pleasant time right yes so so I let go of anything that I met you and I go yes so she said I said you don't get it Marla because we got three great customers.

But if we lose one of them were in trouble when we have borrowed money. She said will you figured out. Gary and I said yeah that's easy for you to say hi you're not the one about a little nighttime to stop you because I I would confess to you, a tendency that if my wife said hi.

I just don't know but I don't feel comfortable with this. There'd be this type in the back of my head that would be like. I understand the business.

I know what's going on. So you've got some some queasy feeling in your stomach. I would have a tendency to tune that out and go. I know better than you do wear sorry Marianne I think I'm probably like a lot of guys I do that. Was there any part of you going why am I even listening to her. She's not know the business she's taken care of the kids at home so I probably would've maybe moved on to act on that. But God was again very merciful to us because literally within a week I would say I don't know the exact time but I was on a plane to go to visit one of the customers of one of their plants down in Texas and I was still considering it so I haven't totally just said okay Marla is in word were done, but I was reading a book by Chuck Swindoll and it was called the mystery of God's will and I was reading that because I'm trying to search it out and so I'm on the plane. 30,000 feet up and I read this one part and he's talking about fear and that in the Scripture came to my mind of Timothy where he said God is not the spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind and I knew that I was to me that the Spirit just spoke to me clear that that's what I was doing tonight. I was just a piece while Marla's right so you were you were feeling fearful, you recognize that the point that I can release this then it turned out the conversation with Marla yeah and got a been confirming that same thing with you Marla. He called me that night from the hotel and them since he said hello.

He said I had some Italian I said wait your anthem to tell you because they just had that conversation this past week and I said I was listening to Focus on the Family this morning and he was interviewing checks. Linda Chuck Swindoll is talking about this book and he was talking about knowing God's will and he even mentioned about not doing things out of fear and not letting fear. Decide what you do and I said so Gary I don't want to me like that if you really believe are supposed to sell the business. Now that's one thing, but I don't want you to do it out of fear that I was just a wonderful confirmation in a way I never look back. So and there's a rest of the story.

The rest of the story is that company that made that offer to us gave a relatively small amount of money and then I was to stay on and after a period of time I would get a payout but it was like a five year payout and within a couple years they went broke and within 2 to 3 years after that is when God just open the doors in this other company came and we would be sitting here because I don't think life song would've ever happened to the dollars. When the been significant enough and so you sold 2 to 3 years later I for 23 years for roughly 6 cents to seven times more than what we would've gotten at that point, so maybe that was speaking. Maybe God was 15 through Marla. I haven't quite figured that out yet.

My right hand and you talked about life song that was what really came out of once the business was sold you to have the knowledge that maybe you should be doing something in ministry you did know what that meant. That's right. How did you figure out what was next.

Will I have had some great mentors in life, and one was a gentleman by the name of Clayton Rieger and I said to Clayton, who had been part of my journey when I was struggling before and I would go to him and I said Clay what we do with this money, and he said two things he said be focused and involved in whatever you do don't just write checks number one and number two.

Dream big and then if it happens bigger.

You will note was God and not you so so Marla and I am just a prayer life became this daily question what you want us to focus on and Marla. How did the answer that come to you guys. Well we got back to that adoption story how we help them little child come home from Korea and we decided to help find adoptions, adopt a family from a businessman guy perspective. What I liked about that was getting a child into a family is God's way versus in an orphanage it yet was expensive to get them there. But once they are there. They take care of all the cost so that made sense to me. From a business mindset and and we just felt this growing piece well.

I remember talking with another friend of ours who was starting an orphan ministry also and adoption just seemed to be the right direction.

At that time and this was about the same time Steven and Mary Beth Chapman was right, starting to have his hope that was the same kind of orientation to help families bring home kids and make them a part of a forever family.

You didn't have any background or experience in starting a nonprofit or starting orphan ministry where you go with a dream like that, yes I can stop Gary. I just know that very thing. I find the extractor for that is what I figured out so yeah how did you figure it out. One thing that I think this was before this but went through the journey and searching out God's will. There is a book by lack of you may remember experiencing God here. The key thing I took from that was if you want to experience God. Don't try to re-create the will see where God is moving and join the movement we had the history of of us helping Darren Marie. So that was a part talking to the friend that she mentioned and just a word we could just see this was God's way and so we just started on that path really didn't know what we were doing, but I had had a relationship with National Christian foundation and they were really helpful and just kinda guided me you found out about the Christian lines for orphans, which family life was part of helping give birth to and wound up coming to some of those events was this at the very beginning of your involvement with life song that was at the very beginning that was even before life song that was when it was a family foundation some the original vision that we would have a family foundation. We took part of the money and put into our family foundation. We put part of the money because I am the business guy into a new business that was to feed the foundation that was our original vision and then that led in time based on the work we were doing with that to a lady asked us to take over another ministry which led them to life song. So tell our listeners what life song is a lot of things right now but it started out helping people to adopt by supplying matching grants and interest-free loans that people would apply and I got the privilege actually have read many of the stories of adoptive families who were just needing funding to help bring their children home and so that's how it started on we eventually got involved with an orphanage in Ukraine and then a school in Zambia. I me I feel like we never really went searching for new places to get involved and I think that just brought them to us one way or the other. This lady asked us to take over this ministry and at that point we knew it was bigger than us.

Was this Ukraine ministry and frankly I'm a business guy I know.

If we do this for God hath asked for money and so I'm really struggling with that and I tell people and many times broken, but twice significantly broken the what first time was running a failing business. The second time was when we were supposed to take over this Ukraine ministry and I didn't want to do it but I remember specifically coming to work one day and struggling with that and Rich Mullins.

Remember Rich was saying and told me Jesus.

I'm shaking like a leaf, and I was feeling like I was shaking like a leaf, and I was still like I was in repentance and that God was saying you have pride in your little family foundation and this is not about your family. This is about my family and you need to let go and so today if listeners want to find out more about life song about what you're doing.

We got a link on our where they can go and learn about this. Are you still providing etching funds so you folks are saying this is something we are interested in finding out more about they can go to family life and click the link for life song and find out how they can see if they qualify and what they would need to do to get the no interest loans were the matching gift money and you guys look back on all of this and go. This is a long way from making big food that's right where you are today, but what a journey God's help for you has been great.

I tell people so much more than the American dream that that I asked Gary K he wanted to be a millionaire by the time you're 40 C can retire to Q and a little different path. Would you consider yourself a millionaire in many respects, in terms of what that's done in your heart yet. I spend so much more. I mean high wood for the bin board. I think first when I was starting I was burned out on business frankly and but now at 65 and what I see, were involved in 13 countries with schools and we have kids coming out and we have a four-part pledge for these kids that in we call orphan care and adoption so adoption if you have Christian families.

These four things happen naturally but in an orphan care situation or pledge that we work towards is one that we take care of their physical needs. To that, we give them an education. Three.

We disciple them in Christ and the fourth pledge is that we care for them, just like her own kids as they age out and help them land will and in Zambia is an example. We've got three kids a year coming out within a few years. 80 kids a year, now each year into a 70% unemployed contradictory. So how do we do that, so now I'm getting more involved with the new life song that were the how do we create businesses that can help those kids become leaders and so I'm loving business for what it can do. But in a way that that is strictly for God and the kids unaware of her disco. Bobby may know, when God blesses you. He rarely has you and mine." It's almost like you know the blessings I got in.

So often we think is for us then we sit back and get his perspectives, like maybe was the use that blessing through us. So I sit here and and I both experience this. We are the missionaries that other people have donated to our ministry family life is donor supported ministry. So there's tens of thousands of people you listen right now that give and I don't know if you on that side ever know what it feels like to be on this side because you are the ones who made a contract with God and God blesses and you just obey and you give and were the ones I can remember laying in bed at night as a young dad thinking, you make the mortgage payment. The donations are coming in and God shows up through people like you who are obedient to God and we get to experience the blessing on the side so I just want to say thank you into the thousands that donate to family life. Thank you. I don't know if you ever understand you been on the side were God bless you on the side where we have to sorta ask and sometimes feel embarrassed have to ask I know were doing what God wants us to do as well and so God has blessed you and then use that blessing in the adventure of eternal impact that you're part of. Thank you, thank you for saying that we from distant yet we had a family foundation but we had this little dream and we want our kids involved in once we opened it up. Life song. Then we start experiencing what your experience of people giving to life song and we feel the responsibility of that but it's just open our eyes to how big the church is and it's been a great journey. I have to wonder how many people are listed in the day and God's tapping him on the shoulder and say any drug contract need to start thinking differently about your business about your family about what you're doing. Maybe you need to get a copy of Gary's book and read through it play through it together get a hot tub because that's okay for but I just have to believe that because I know how this works out running blisters all the time and they'll say that program where you had that guy I'm talking about the contract he wrote God use that in my life and our business. Our family is different. As a result. So thanks for being here ensuring your story. Thanks. Write the book you think you must have you guys hear the book were talking about is Gary Ringler's book radical business from ownership to stewardship. You can ordered from us or call one 800 FL today to get a copy in the title of the book radical business from ownership to stewardship. Order the book from us or call to order one 803 586-329-1800 F as in family L as in life, and then the word today for most of us this week.

Our focus is on the death, burial and resurrection of Christ as we prepare for our celebration of the resurrection this week.

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365 days a year. Our mission to effectively develop godly marriages and families is anchored in the truth of the gospel. That's how marriages and families are transformed by believing the gospel and we want to thank those of you who share this passion this vision who want to see marriages and families realigned and strengthened. You make all of this possible. When you support the ministry of family life today with your donations and were grateful that you help us reach more people more often with biblical blueprints for building a stronger marriage. If you are a regular listener to family life to you and you never donated join us today be a part of what God is doing through this ministry. Help us provide practical biblical help and hope for marriages and families all around the world. You can donate easily online. The family life or call to donate 1-800-358-6329 that's one 800 F as in family L as in life, and then the word today that tomorrow we will talk about the early church about marriages and families in the early church and how those first Christians change jury's interest in this discussion. You could be here with us as well. Thank our engineer today. Keith Lynch along with our entire broadcast on behalf of our hosts Dave and Ann Wilson see you back next time for another family life, family life, to a is a production of family life of Little Rock crew ministry help for today hope tomorrow

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