Mr Robert Beattie was born on 9th June, 1895 at Dunbreen near to Omagh, the eldest in a family of eight. His parents were farmers, and also ran a scutch mill and a timber mill. His parents and grandparents were members of the assembly at Dunmullan. In the home, Sunday School, and gospel meetings he early learned his condition and need. Though brought up in such circumstances, he was not a Christian or on the way to heaven. Being of a jovial disposition he soon made friends and with them enjoyed the pleasures around. Eternal things were largely set aside. The sudden death of a companion with whom he often joked about eternity caused him to be alerted and give earnest heed as to where he would be in eternity. God has His own way of speaking to people and arranging affairs. About that time Mr T Campbell and Mr T Dempsey were guided by God to commence meetings near his home. He was constrained to attend. These men preached simple warm messages in the gospel, and the presence and power of God was evident. Despite his companions and all the worldly attractions his heart was reached.
The closing night of the meetings found him in distress saying to himself, "The meetings are over and I am not saved and possibly never will be". Instead of going home into the house he went into a hayshed feeling lost and lonely. In his distress he sought to get the matter settled but somehow no light nor peace came. The hymn which the preachers often gave out at the meetings was that of John Newton:
In evil long I took delight,
Unawed by shame or fear,
Till a new object met my sight,
And stopped my wild career.
A second look He gave which said,
"I freely all forgive;
This blood is for thy ransom paid,
I die that thou mayst live".
The last words gave him to see that Christ had died for him, and he was saved. As he went into the house the words of Isaiah 53.5 were used to confirm him: "He was wounded for our transgressions". His mother was waiting for him; so many godly mothers sacrifice sleep and comfort as they wait and pray for the family being saved. She began to scold him for keeping such bad hours. When she heard he was saved the scolding finished and she called her husband and the three kneeled, wept, and praised God. When Mr Campbell heard of the profession he went to see Robert and ask for some details, but Robert was so overcome with emotion all he could do was weep. Wisely, Mr Campbell said, "Its nice to see a little bit of softness". Some less wise and perhaps more rash would have said, "Its possible he is not saved at all". Later in life he and Mr Campbell shared in meetings.
The change in his life was great and he began to witness to his fathers employees. During the winter season, when things were quiet on the farm, he witnessed to friends and neighbours, having meetings in houses and barns, and God encouraged him with some getting saved. This was something very important for a young man who would consider full time service, God working with him giving him and others to see that it was God who was guiding, not just some fleshly desire to be seen and heard.
One day while riding on his bicycle the words of Romans 12.1 came to him in power, and, getting off the bicycle and going in behind a hedge, he experienced the truth of the passage " present your bodies a living sacrifice". At 19, although he was heir to the farm and business, he decided to give his life to the gospel. He then thought of a man he had not witnessed to, and said to himself, "I cannot go preach to others and pass this man by", so he talked with him about the Saviour, then he felt free to go. Leaving all, and until 1985, he diligently and faithfully pursued a path of faith. He laboured a good deal in Co. Donegal at times when conditions were difficult, yet he saw people saved and the believers cheered.
His uncle, Mr Ross Campbell, who lived in Akron, Ohio, encouraged him to go to the USA. He went in 1930 and stayed a few years in gospel work, where again God encouraged him with blessing. He used to tell how one day at a conference where he was a stranger and felt lonely, a man who was Irish approached him and said, "Morrow, Mister. Im just through that slap, and Im in the gutters to the oxters", an Irish expression that made him feel better. Due to his mothers health he decided to come home, and many in Ulster thank God he did. He laboured with quite a number of evangelists: Mr S Wright, Mr W Rodgers, Mr G Alexander, Mr T Wallace, and others. His greatest time of blessing was with Mr G Gould (junior) when they had meetings at Cullion in the Covenanters Meeting House. God moved mightily, and night after night men and women sat weeping in soul trouble. It was difficult to get some to go home. Many who were saved associated with local assembly testimonies.
In 1935 he married Letitia (Joy) Rodgers and he often said that "He would finish his course with joy", but she was in heaven before him. God gave them two sons who are both saved and active in assembly life. Mr Beattie was a kind, genial, happy person with a sense of humour; wherever he went he was welcomed, and by his ministry and attitude cheered, encouraged and edified the people of God. His warm simple preaching was a pleasure to listen to. He ever sought the well-being and unity of the assemblies, and there was depth and feeling as he ministered. After his wifes sudden home-call in 1982 he was cared for and helped by his family and the local Christians who dearly loved him. After a short illness he himself was called home from the Ulster Hospital on 4th December, 1985. He left fragrant memories and a good example to his family and fellow evangelists and the assemblies. Mr J G Hutchinson and Mr A Aiken spoke at his very large funeral.