|Autobiography of Herbert W Armstrong - Volume II
September 24, 1973 — December 1973
September 24, 1973 Dear Co-Workers in Giving God's Last Message to a Dying World:
I am writing from Tokyo where I look forward on the night of day after tomorrow, to a very great opportunity. It may be the first time in all history such a thing has happened. I am invited by Prince Mikasa, brother of the Emperor, to explain the Bible — proclaim Christ's gospel of the Kingdom of God — to a most impressive audience. It is the most impressive audience before which I have ever been given opportunity to give Christ's message.
I am informed that what I originally thought was to be a private Bible study with the Prince alone, will now include some fifty or more of the very top people of this nation — members of the government, scholars and heads of universities, and their wives.
I want you to realize how very important this is to the Work of the living God. The Work is moving forward at greatly accelerated pace now, taking on an entirely new dimension in giving God's last message to a dying world in these last days! ...
In the Bible, a king, or chief of government, often represents and stands for the nation. In one sense when Christ's message is delivered to the heads of government, it has been delivered to the nation.
Jeremiah was sent to kings. Daniel was sent to kings. God called the apostle Paul to "bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel" (Acts 9:15).
And now, kings, presidents, prime ministers and leaders of many nations are inviting me.
Last Wednesday night, in Bangkok, capital of Thailand, I was given just such an opportunity. I did not know of it in advance. But a banquet was held in a special banquet room of my hotel in my honor. Present were Ambassadors representing the governments of Japan, Korea, Cambodia, Ethiopia and Israel, the President of the University, and Her Royal Highness the wife of the recent Prince Regent of Thailand, and other important guests.
I was given a very warm — even emotional — introduction, and asked to speak. I had no idea how long I was expected to speak, so I confined it to exactly 12 minutes. But I spoke earnestly and God gave me power.
I will give you a quick summary of what I said:
"One who travels over the world, as I have, is forced to see the pitiful condition in which a majority of all people on earth live — in utter ignorance, deep poverty, semi or total starvation, wracked with disease, living in filth and squalor. I have to ask, why? You people should be concerned about it! We have mind power to fly to the moon and back — yet we find the majority living in such conditions — we can't solve our own problems here on earth — we don't know how to have peace! Why? Even where people are educated and prosperous, they are not happy! Why?
"For every effect," I said, "there had to be a cause. Years ago, I made surveys. I learned people are not happy. Why? I finally found the answer — in the Bible! It's a book people have refused to understand — which people have interpreted all out of natural and intended meaning — but taken for what it plainly says I found it makes sense — and answers the big questions! It contains the missing dimension in knowledge. The world doesn't know: What we are — why we are — the purpose for which humanity was put on earth — how to fulfill that purpose. What are the true values in life? What is the way to peace, universal abundance and happiness? Those are the basic things we need to know! Those are the necessary things to know which man, science, technology cannot discover! Those are the things the Bible reveals."
Then I covered the incident of the "forbidden fruit" — how our first parents rejected God's revealed knowledge, which He had started teaching them — how mankind cut himself off from his maker, and has turned to imaginary and false gods, how man ever since has tried to reason out what is good and what is evil — what to do and how to do it — and has brought on humanity this colossal tragic mountain of human woes and anguish! Then I explained God's way of life — the way of "give" — of love which is outgoing concern for the good of others — of cooperation, instead of competition, strife and violence — because mankind has cut itself off from God.
"As Adam and Eve disbelieved God, rebelled, and disobeyed His inexorable spiritual law — sinned — so now man, by repentance of that disobedience, and faith which is to believe God and His Word, can be reconciled to God and receive eternal life." Then I explained how "Christ is coming again as the divine Messiah in super-natural power to rule all nations, and lead nations in God's way, which will bring world peace, abundance, happiness, and eternal life as God's gift."
Twelve minutes is not very long, but they did get the message! And there was a very enthusiastic response! It did make important people think — and want to know more!
On this present trip, I spent one week in Lebanon. I had important personal meetings with President Franjieh (several hours with lunch), the Prime Minister (we talked for an hour and ten minutes), the Foreign Minister, and the Minister of Education ....
We were welcomed at Beirut airport in VIP manner. Our meeting with the President and First Lady was on Friday at the summer presidential palace, high in the mountains, and a two-hour automobile drive from Beirut. Our entire party was invited.
No other visitors were there. The President had reserved this entire day for our visit. We spent about an hour, before luncheon, in explaining about our Work, the truth we teach, and going through an Ambassador College annual publication, The Envoy, which the President carefully went through page by page ....
The Prime Minister had to be seen on Saturday morning. He had just returned the night before from the Conference of Nonaligned Nations at Algiers. But, my visit with him was really to go into phases of the gospel, and for an hour and ten minutes, we were remarkably in accord in regard to principles and philosophies. He, too, surprised us with a remark, "Your appearance and physical presence denote your character and the nature of your activities. Great men accomplishing important things bear their age well."
On our last Saturday night a special reception and dinner was held in my honor at a very large building on the outskirts of Beirut, facing the sea. Among other things, it contains a large casino ....
The reception and dinner was held on a very spacious veranda on the second story, overlooking the sea and the lights of the city. It was a warm evening, and delightful in the open air. Many important people were present, to whom I was introduced. At dinner, I sat with a Dr. and Mrs. Charles Malik. Dr. Malik is a former President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, New York, and today he is a member of the cabinet and legislative body. He asked many questions about Ambassador College and our worldwide Work, and seemed pleased.
As a coincidence, I also know Mr. Adam Malik, also a former President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, and Foreign Minister of Indonesia. He is President Suharto's right hand man, and second in authority in the government of Indonesia. I have visited him in his home in Djakarta. Also, I happen to know another very important Mr. Malik, of New Delhi, a good friend of King Leopold ....
Hong Kong - November 26, 1973 Dear Co-Workers in Giving God's Last Message to a Dying World:
President V.V. Giri.
On last Friday I flew to Dacca, capital of the new country Bangladesh (formerly called East Pakistan). I wish I had time and space to tell you the tragic, almost unbelievable story of that country and its recent war. It must be told. I will write an article on it for The Plain Truth, which you may read later.
Bangladesh is the eighth largest nation on earth, in population — with seventy-five million people. It appeared, from what little I saw of it, to be the most impoverished country I have seen.
In early 1971, when I was visiting New Delhi, India, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi took some twenty minutes of our meeting to tell me of the many thousands of East Pakistanis daily fleeing as refugees across the border into India — no earthly possessions except what they carried on their backs — no food, no money, no employment. India, already impoverished with millions of poor — needing to provide an additional hundred and fifty million jobs — had no way to take care of these refugees. Many were half-starved and starving, many diseased, their clothes in tatters.
After the war, freed from the yoke of a government that was machine-gunning people by thousands because of political differences, the refugees have been returning. The number of refugees fleeing into India had reached nearly ten million!
The present Prime Minister, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, had been a political prisoner, jailed in West Pakistan. In January, 1972 (last year), he was released in London and immediately returned to his people in the new Bangladesh.
Thirty minutes after my plane landed at Bangladesh airport, I was ushered into his temporary office in a frame house that had been a private residence. At a glance it was apparent he was a leader of his people. He is big, strong, alert, active, aggressive, emotionally and compassionately aware of the dire needs of his people. His conviction and sincerity impressed me.
He told me how his country had suffered — three million were killed — six million homes were destroyed — more than one and a half million farm families were left without tools or animals to work their farms. The transportation and communication systems were totally destroyed. Roads badly damaged, bridges knocked out, inland waterways blocked. He described the basic need of food — education — every basic need. The educated had been systemically killed by thousands. Now education is a dire need. He lamented the fact that the major nations are spending so much of their resources for military purposes of killing, and giving only lip service to the improvement of the lives of the overwhelming majority of all mankind.
We discussed the possibility of possible cooperation in some way with Ambassador College.
After lunch ... I had a private meeting with the Head-of-State, President Aby Sabeed Choudhury. He is a former Justice of the Supreme Court.
The President asked me frankly for my appraisal of what I had seen of his country. When I hesitated, he smiled, and said he wanted my frank and honest appraisal. I told him that it appeared to me to be the most impoverished country I had seen. I added that I had involuntarily uttered the prayer, on seeing it, "Thy Kingdom come" — as the real answer to the plight of the country. He said he knew quite a little of Ambassador College, of our worldwide Work, and of me personally, and then:
"Mr. Armstrong, I want to appeal to you for your candid counsel and advice. I know of your contacts with so many leaders of government and their problems, your wide experience, your age and wisdom. You can see the colossal problems we have here, struggling with the reconstruction of this nation of seventy-five million impoverished people."
This was not the first time a head of a government over many millions of people has asked me for counsel and advice in trying to solve their virtually unsolvable problems. And I think our Great God will show me a way to help — at least to uplift the morale, the spirits and the hope of those millions of poor, downtrodden people. In spite of their tragic recent war, their spirits right now seem good — they, with India's help, won the war, and their freedom from a most cruel rule. A very large portion of their people understand English. If the President, the Prime Minister, and present government will allow, I think it might help the spirits and morale of the people greatly if I took to the air over their government radio, admonishing them, as in James 5:1-11. The great hope of all the world, now, is the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, to bring the world not only peace, but universal prosperity. Perhaps this President may see that the gospel will give his people more hope and encouragement than anything ....
I Visit Emperor Haile Selassie - December, 1973 What if the League of Nations had heeded Haile Selassie's plea and warning in 1935? Might it not have prevented World War II? And would that not have changed the whole course of world history? ...
Think how that might have changed the whole course of your life!
The Fascist Mussolini invaded Ethiopia in 1935. He was saying, "The time has come to make the Fascist voice heard!" ...
Emperor Haile Selassie went before the League of Nations in Geneva in person. He pleaded with them to stop this fast-mounting Fascist threat to world peace at Ethiopia, before it invaded France and Britain, and started the greatest conflagration of world war in history.
Did not this man, who claims to be a direct descendant of the ancient King Solomon of Judah and the Queen of Sheba, prophesy that if they did not stop the Fascist armies before they invaded Ethiopia, that all Western Europe would be invaded? — that the British Empire would cease to be an Empire — that nothing but trouble would come upon the democracies of Western Europe and the United States? — war troubles, economic troubles — political troubles?
But the League of Nations had no power! And the democracies didn't think any such big war would come. So they left helpless Ethiopia to her fate. And Mussolini took Ethiopia. He added it to Libya and Italian Somaliland and Eritrea. After having previously made a concordat with the Vatican he now proclaimed another resurrection of the Fascist Roman Empire! ...
The Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie was forced into exile. He went to England, and did not return to his capital, Addis Ababa, until May 5, 1941, at the head of his resistance forces, and with British troops. They had fought their way into Ethiopia from Sudan.
From the time of his personal appearance before the League of Nations, in 1935, Emperor Haile Selassie became one of the best-known heads of state in the world. He ascended his throne in 1930, and has had the longest reign, or tenure in office as head of state or head of government, of any man in the world.
Of all the heads of nations or of great corporations, I think none could have triggered greater anticipation prior to meeting than this longest-ruling of all rulers.
All my life, from age nineteen, I have had more or less close contact with many of "the great and the near-great" of the world-heads of large corporations, presidents and chairmen of major banks, publishers, educators — and in these recent years government heads and world leaders. But none had seemed a more outstanding personality than Emperor Haile Selassie.
So when, last March, the invitation came unexpectedly to visit him, it was an intriguing anticipation.
It was in New Delhi, capital of India. Once again I was luncheon guest at the residence of Dr. Nagendra Singh, one of the world's leading exponents for world peace through international law. He had been Executive Secretary to the President of India, V.V. Giri, and recently appointed judge on the World Court at The Hague.
Among other guests was his Excellency Ato Getachew Mekasha, the Ambassador from Ethiopia, and wife. Also the Ambassador from Afghanistan and wife, and the elder son of President Giri ....
During the course of the luncheon both Ambassadors extended invitations to visit their respective countries and their kings. Tentative arrangements were made for the Ethiopian visit in May. I was unable to meet that schedule, but did manage to make it in June ....
Meanwhile a second invitation had come by telex to visit the Emperor in Addis Ababa.
At a luncheon in Jerusalem, attended by several high-ranking university and government officials, it was mentioned that Emperor Selassie had spent over two years in Palestine during his exile, and our Israeli friends at the luncheon knew him well.
It so happened that in our archaeological project, a very ancient seal, used by kings of Judah more than 2,500 years ago, had been discovered. A lion was engraved on the seal, representing "The Lion of the Tribe of Judah." This title is applied to Christ in the Bible, but Emperor Selassie claims to be the direct descendant of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, and is often called "The Lion of the Tribe of Judah."
Our Israeli friends thought it would be nice to make a blown-up photograph of the seal, frame it, and let me present it to the Emperor, which was done. Also our friends at the luncheon told me that the Emperor understands and speaks English very well, although as all heads of state do, he would speak through an interpreter at our meeting.
While in Jerusalem I was received for a personal visit by Israel's new President Katzir.
We had a really spectacular flight from Tel Aviv directly to Addis Ababa (capital city of Ethiopia), over the straits of Tiran, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Red Sea, with Saudi Arabia on our left, and Egypt on our right.
Ethiopia is a mountainous country, in east-central Africa, south of Egypt, and north of Kenya. It covers an area about the size of Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico combined. Much of its area is a high central plateau, ranging from 6,000 to 9,000 feet elevation. Addis Ababa is over 8,000 feet, and I did have some little difficulty breathing, especially early mornings, because of the thin air at that altitude.
We arrived Sunday, June 17, about 1:30 p.m. at Addis Ababa airport. Our party was met at our plane by the Ambassador to India and his wife, who had flown from New Delhi to welcome us, as well as the President of the Haile Selassie University, and others.
His Imperial Majesty the Emperor had sent to the airport one of his Mercedes limousines and driver, which was put at my personal service for the duration of our stay. Other cars were waiting for the others of our party ....
The capital city of Addis Ababa was an eye-opener for me. In the main it is a very modern city — a generous sprinkling of new, modern high-rise buildings, and a goodly number of imposing and impressive public buildings. These included the headquarters building of the Organization for African Unity (OAU). This is an organization of African nations, brought about primarily through the initiative and leadership of Emperor Haile Selassie.
Other impressive buildings were government buildings, hotels, the university, hospitals. Addis Ababa is a city of over 800,000 population, approaching a million.
We were driven to the comparatively new Addis Ababa Hilton Hotel, one of the better Hiltons, and I was given the Presidential suite.
That evening our party was hosted at an informal dinner by His Excellency the Ambassador to India, and the Minister of Information, at the home of the latter.
On Monday morning, due to shortness of breath I remained in the hotel ....
Monday evening the Minister of Education and Chairman of the University Board of Governors, His Excellency Ato Seifu Mahteme Selassie, hosted a reception for us. Of course the President of the University was there, as well as most Vice Presidents.
But now came the highlight — the meeting with the Emperor. Our entire party had been invited to come along with me ....
The meeting had been set for 4:30 Tuesday afternoon. At that time we arrived at the Jubilee Palace of the Emperor. There were, of course, at the gates, and at the entrance of the palace, the usual battery of armed and colorfully uniformed guards. We were met at the entrance by aides in military attire, with the President of the University and the Minister of Education.
We were escorted up a long grand stairway with heavy red carpet. One of the aides, taking my arm, cautioned me to "take it easy," because of the high altitude and length of the stairs.
Arriving on the upper level, we turned into an ornate and very long room. There was a wide strip of red carpet down the center, the length of the room, and at the far end, seated behind a table with flowers, was the lone figure of His Imperial Majesty, the world-famous Emperor Haile Selassie. I led the way down the length of the room, and was warmly greeted, as was the entire party on being introduced one at a time.
I then presented the Emperor with a gift of Steuben crystal, and also with the framed picture of the 2500-year-old seal, with the engraving of the lion, "The Lion of the Tribe of Judah." This seemed to please him very much, as I explained about our archaeological project, and our mutual Israeli friends.
The university President acted as interpreter. I then began to mention some of the things the Emperor and I have in common. We are virtually the same age — he is just eight days older than I. But I mentioned that his hearing seemed better than mine. We both enjoyed long marriages, and both are now widowers. The Empress died in 1962, my wife in 1967, after almost fifty years of marriage.
Then I mentioned that I have the genealogy of my ancestry, and that I too, [on one side of the family] am a direct descendant of King Solomon of ancient Israel.
"Well why not?" blurted out the Emperor spontaneously, without waiting for the interpreter to tell him what I had said.
At that responsive quip we all burst out in laughter. From that point the interpreter had very little to do.
Early in our talk, His Majesty mentioned that he was well aware, as were the others in the Ethiopian government, that I was the spiritual leader of a large worldwide following. During the first fifteen or twenty minutes of our meeting, he tended to answer whatever I said with a philosophical observation, apparently inspired by Solomon's Proverbs, which I rather deduced he has studied continuously and religiously.
The general sum and substance of our conversation revolved around the basic fundamental principles of world conditions, evils and problems, and how in our work we are putting solutions and true values to actual practice, setting a living example of the way to peace and happiness, both in our college campuses, and in the Church throughout the world. He took keen interest in my explanation of the two divergent philosophies or ways-of-life. which I call the way of "get" practiced in this world, and the way of "give" which leads to peace, happiness and success.
"Philosophy, and moral philosophy," he commented, "is commendable, but it is far more commendable to put into actual practice the principles upon which the philosophy is based." He said he recognized fully our achievements of both our institutions putting into practice the way that we preach worldwide ....
The Emperor gave no indication or move toward terminating our visit, but after some forty-five minutes, I felt it proper to do so, and rose to my feet, expressing what an honor and delight the meeting had been. Then Haile Selassie presented me with an already autographed full color photograph of himself, with a sterling silver frame, bearing his Imperial insignia centered over the top of the frame. Also, he gave me another duplicate photograph (not autographed) for publication.
Then I received a real surprise. Out of a beautiful leather case, handed him by an aide, the Emperor took an extremely beautiful gold bracelet which he presented to me as his personal gift to my daughter, whom he had expected to be with me. In the center of the bracelet was a solid gold coin (twenty-four karat), made forty-three years ago in celebration of his coronation. The coin had the Emperor's face engraved on it. The rest of the bracelet, except for the clasp at the underside, was twenty-two karat gold, with beautiful garlands engraved with exquisite craftsmanship. Jewelers have since evaluated it as the finest gold bracelet they had ever seen.
Naturally, I thanked His Majesty very sincerely, and on returning to the hotel, I rushed immediately to my suite and put in a telephone call to my daughter in California. On describing it to her, she said she would send His Majesty a telegram of thanks immediately. It is naturally quite a conversation piece, and so far as value is concerned, priceless. The very exquisite work was all done in Ethiopia, where they mine gold in limited quantities, and produce some of the world's finest jewelry.
That evening, I hosted a reception and dinner in a private room off the lobby of our hotel in honor of the Minister of Education, the President of the University, the Dean of Faculties, the Head of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, the Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Vice President for Planning, and other distinguished guests, and their wives.
On Wednesday, June 20, I paid a morning visit for two or three hours to the University. There my host and guide was the President of the University. We also paid a most interesting visit to the embryonic Museum of Natural Science. Later this proved to be of special significance at a subsequent meeting with Prince Bernhardt of The Netherlands, husband of the Queen. He has a very active interest in the conservation and preservation of wild life throughout the world.
That same day, June 20, I was guest of honor at a very important luncheon hosted by His Excellency the Ambassador to India. He had invited other Ambassadors. In attendance were the Ambassadors from 19 different nations, and their wives. Included, and seated on my left, was the very impressive-appearing Ambassador from the People's Republic of China, who, during the luncheon, extended an invitation ... to visit China ....Also present were the Chargé d'Affaires and acting Ambassador from West Germany, and the Ambassadors from Argentina, Ghana, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Spain, Thailand, Colombia, Tanzania, and the Chargé d'Affaires from the United Kingdom and from Yugoslavia. The Ambassador from China, His Excellency Yu Pei-wen, has held some very important posts for his government, including that of Chief of Protocol in Peking ....
I was called upon to make a brief address before this distinguished gathering. The entire room was buzzing with laughter and conversation — all in an exceedingly happy mood. After making a toast to His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor of Ethiopia, I stated that we were gathered in a World Peace-Conference, proving that so many people from so many nations could gather together in jolly and happy friendship. I spoke briefly, some seven or eight minutes, on the way to world peace — the way of God's law, briefly proclaiming the coming world of peace — the World Tomorrow — the Kingdom of God.
The following day, Thursday, was the day of our departure, and we were planning to be at the airport in the early afternoon. But that morning we were the very special guests of His Imperial Majesty at the graduation ceremonies of the University, held in the Grand Palace (not the Palace which is the Emperor's residence and from which he rules the government). We were seated on the large front platform, immediately to the left of the dais on which was the ornate gold throne where the Emperor was to sit, personally handing the diplomas to each graduate.
A large band was playing at the rear. Finally the graduates marched in, completely filling the large auditorium. There were close to 3,000 graduates.
It was a very colorful ceremony. But, with so many graduates, the Emperor handing each individually his diploma, it was a very long ceremony. On the front platform, but to our left and farther from the throne, was the entire Board of Regents, and on the other side Faculty and other dignitaries. Members of the royal family were seated immediately in front of us. As the spectacular ceremony dragged on, an official whispered to us that it would be quite all right if we wished to leave, as the ceremony would carry on for more than another hour.
We were driven directly from the palace to the airport, where our crew had our plane ready for boarding. And there, to personally bid us good-bye were the Ambassador to India and his wife.
It was, we felt, a most profitable, as well as enjoyable, four days.