Ron ArcherRon Archer is a gifted communicator, a spellbinding speaker, and a force to be reckoned with when he stands behind a podium. Speaking without notes, relying on the Holy Spirit to give him the right words, and attuned to who his audience is, you can’t take your eyes off of him nor can you ignore his words. His rich, baritone voice—reminiscent of actor James Earl Jones—commands you to listen. The former vice president of the S.C. Johnson Wax Co. called him the “Martin Luther King, Jr. of the corporate world who challenges the very soul of a company to be transformed.”
Born on June 15, 1963, Ron grew up in a working-class neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio. At the time, Elizabeth, his unmarried mother, was a seventeen-year-old mixed-race call girl. She left her infant son with her mother and moved to New York City, where she worked for a madam servicing the wealthy in midtown Manhattan. After two years, she saw what older prostitutes looked like—strung out, abused, and aged beyond their years—and decided to return to Cleveland, where she married Richard Archer.
Richard abused Elizabeth in horrible ways and always took his frustrations out on her young boy, which Ron could never understand since he had been told his stepfather was his real father. Ron struggled in school early on because of learning disabilities and was teased unmercifully by classmates for his stuttering problems. It wasn’t until a kind Christian lady who taught fourth grade volunteered to be his speech coach. She used the Bible as part of her speech therapy and told Ron, “Do you know that you are in the Bible?” And then she led Ron to the story of Moses, who Scripture describes as a stutterer.
That was the start of huge changes in Ron—his personality, his demeanor, and his confidence. He won a scholarship to an elite Jesuit-trained high school, where he starred in the classroom and on the football field. He was voted student body president—at a school that was 98 percent black—and went on to college at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio. In 1989, at the age of twenty-six, he was ordained to the ministry and installed as a senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in Cleveland. He was installed as a pastor with the same Gideon Bible that had been given to him years earlier by the former schoolteacher who introduced him to the Lord.
In succeeding years, he led his grandfather, grandmother, mother, his sister, and other relatives to Christ, which is a testament to God’s grace.
Mike Yorkey is the author, co-author, editor, or collaborator of one hundred books. He has written for The Los Angeles Times travel section, Skiing, Tennis Week, World Tennis, City Sports, and Racquet. He lives in Encinitas, California.