|Autobiography of Herbert W Armstrong - Volume II
June 18, 1975 — December 24, 1976
June 18, 1975 Dear Co-Worker with Christ:
Suppose God had called you, yourself, individually, to start His Work for this time — to think out the plans and ways to go about it, to preach and publish Christ's gospel message for the soon-coming Kingdom of God in all the world for a witness to all nations! Would you be overwhelmed? Would you know how to go about it? Ever think about that?
Forty-two years ago God laid that awesome responsibility upon me. I had no money then — not even a car. I had to hitchhike to preach in a country schoolhouse. There was only a very small handful of brethren to help me ....
Gradually others began joining and standing behind me as Co-Workers with Christ in His Work. The Work grew slowly but steadily. In three of four years we were reaching the Pacific Northwest. In due time I was reaching the entire United States and Canada, coast to coast ....
It took us forty years to get Christ's message with fairly good coverage over the United States and Canada, and to a far lesser extent, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Britain, and the countries of western Europe — the nations descended from the so-called "lost sheep of the House of Israel." Meanwhile, of course, more and more Co-Workers got back of this most important operation on earth ....
Since 1968 God began opening doors through seemingly unusual circumstances for personal meetings with kings, presidents, and leaders in education, commerce, and industry. It was absolutely providential. Many came to have a warm, and even affectionate feeling toward me.
At first I didn't understand why this was happening. But I did know it was God's doing. For doors were opening miraculously and the warmth of their feeling toward me was far beyond normal. In most cases I soon became acquainted with high-ranking officials under these heads of state — such as members of the cabinet, members of their law-making bodies (Diet, Parliament, etc.). Dinners were hosted in my honor. Opportunity began opening for "testimonial dinners" where one or more high officials acted as host, sent out invitations to the most influential leaders, and I could have thirty-five to forty-five minutes to present a message of the soon coming Kingdom of God.
About two years ago, God began showing us how to develop these open doors into large-scale Public Appearance Campaigns, reaching hundreds and thousands of leading people in these countries.
I have come to see that the commission to take the gospel of the Kingdom of God to all the world for a witness to all nations could only be accomplished through the very heads of government!
I have explained this time and time again in letters, editorials, and articles. I am now actively holding campaigns in world capitals, speaking before professional groups, even with heads of state worldwide! I am explaining why there is no peace — what is the way to peace — why humanity cannot solve its problems — why Christ's coming world government is the world's only hope! — and what is our very purpose for being! And I am being given grace and favor in their eyes!
These are miraculous events — God's doing! But we all share a human responsibility. I appreciate, more than words can express, your faithful support — your financial contributions, your encouragement and prayers. I think you appreciate my efforts as well ....
Some weeks ago I authorized the formation of a new foundation — the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation (AICF). It is nonprofit, dedicated to serving humanity worldwide. It has become a necessary adjunct to this new world-wide dimension of getting Christ's true gospel to the nations through heads of government.
Within the scope of AICF, we are participating in humanitarian projects in several areas of the world. Some of the more publicized activities you are undoubtedly already familiar with — the archaeological excavations at Jerusalem, the International Cultural Center for Youth, explorations with King Leopold III of Belgium, etc. All provide important opportunities for demonstrating our concern for all nations. And the Foundation — with its message of universal understanding and hope — is receiving greater prestige and favor than we had hoped. It is truly becoming a wonderful tool for getting the Work done ....
August 21, 1975 Dear Brethren and Co-Workers with Christ:
It keeps on happening — at accelerating pace! Another head of state — President Mujibur Rahman of Bangladesh — whom I have recently visited, was slain last Friday morning at predawn, in a military coup.
Bangladesh is, politically, a new country. It emerged from the very recent Pakistani war as probably the most poverty stricken and illiterate nation on earth. I learned while there that during the last three or four days of the war, the enemy sought out all the leaders and people of education they could corral together, and executed them before firing squads — so as to leave the country almost destitute of educated people for leadership.
President Rahman had been confined in the enemy jail as a political prisoner. On release, he was acclaimed as a great hero, and took over the lead of the nation. He was a "rough-and-ready" type of man, yet I was much impressed with his abilities, and told him so.
Governments are being overthrown at the rate of one a month around the world now. In many cases these overthrows have involved either men I knew, or circumstances in which I had some indirect contact. When men I have known personally, like this, are being mowed down in government violence, it strikes home. It makes me realize the times we are living in — how close we are now, to the end of this world (or age).
Such government overthrows have prevented my planned campaigns in South Vietnam, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Chile. I have said before, we must move from now on as swiftly as possible, for nations are being continually overthrown where we have made progress in planning campaigns.
The world picture right now is in a sort of paradox. On the one hand, conditions of violence are worse than ever. But on the other, the general economic worldwide recession seems to have turned the corner. Economic conditions in the United States are looking up for a gradual upswing, which I hope and pray will help you Co-Workers.
In this Work of the living God, the new Foundation (the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation — AICF) is making a sensational start. Several prominent Members of the Japanese Diet (their Congress) are coming to Pasadena for an important meeting here next Wednesday night. I shall be leaving the next morning for Tokyo, for a meeting there, to be followed by meetings in Bangkok and Munich, West Germany.
Wednesday, August 27, 1975: Morning news on radio and television — too late for morning papers — Haile Selassie of Ethiopia is dead. Nothing more than that announced so far. No one knows where he has been held, except a few top officials of the new military government which overthrew his government about a year ago, taking the Emperor captive. He was just eight days older than I. One of his last acts before being taken captive was to send me a telegram of congratulation on my 83rd birthday.
Tonight is a big night here on campus. There will be a concert in the new Ambassador Auditorium, and dinner welcoming the Honorable Bunsei Sato and the Honorable Toshio Yamaguchi of Japan, (two of my "Japanese sons"), Members of the Japanese Diet, and the Honorable Keiichi Tachibana, Consul General of Japan (Los Angeles).
Then, early tomorrow I leave for Tokyo ....
Johannesburg - May 28, 1976 Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:
I have just come from a press conference attended by reporters who are representatives of all newspapers, television and radio stations. After the main conference, which lasted over two hours, I did a television interview and then, by tape, a radio interview. This is Friday, and we hope we catch all Sunday papers. The television interview was also taped and will be on the one and only television station here in this city of one and one-half million people at 8 o'clock tonight.
This is my first visit to South Africa ....
We made stops at Oman and Kuwait, two of the oil-rich Arab countries of the Middle East. Conferences were set up at Oman for a stopover on our return from South Africa. At Kuwait I had a very fine meeting with the Head of State, Sheikh Saba Al Salem Al-Sabah. He is an absolute ruler, since the form of government is an absolute monarchy. Kuwait City has grown to be a city of about a half million people and, since the virtual destruction of Beirut by civil war, Kuwait is probably due now to be the financial capital of the entire Arab Middle East. Our conference there was very successful and will bear much fruit ....
This is the time when we must all put our shoulders to the wheel — make any and every financial sacrifice possible to move ahead with ever-increasing momentum.
Here in South Africa I have a very heavy schedule. I will be speaking constantly before such business men's groups as Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions? etc. — before our local churches and with public campaigns in Capetown, Durban and here in Johannesburg.
Hopefully we shall now be going back into Reader's Digest with double-page ads in the South African edition ....
June 28, 1976 Dear Brethren and Co-Workers with Christ:
I have just returned from one of the most — possibly the most — successful trips ever in God's Work.
First I flew to two Arab oil states — Oman, and Kuwait. I met important leaders at Oman, but Sultan Qaboos bin Said was out of the country, so I plan to return. At Kuwait I had a very fine meeting with Sheikh Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, who is both Chief of State and executive leader in an absolute monarchy.
Since Beirut — capital of Lebanon — has been almost destroyed by civil war, it probably will no longer be the financial capital of the Arab world, and Kuwait may now assume that position. It is a very new and modern city, exceedingly oil-rich ....
We went directly from the Sheikh's palace to the airport and flew on to Johannesburg, South Africa, arriving after dark ....
Mr. Robert Fahey, our Regional Director for South Africa, and one or two of his assistants, met us at the airport.
This was my first visit to South Africa. I was several years overdue there. We had many students from South Africa all through the years of Ambassador College at Bricket Wood, England. It was a joy to renew aquaintances with some of them; now married couples with children.
had to appear at planned meetings virtually morning, noon and night. I must have spoken before some twenty-nine or thirty groups — from a few small groups of thirty to fifty up to public meetings of Plain Truth subscribers of over 1,000. I spoke before the Rotary Clubs of Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town; Lions Clubs; Zionist groups in two cities; at press conferences in all three major cities, and was interviewed on radio and television. I had a half-hour meeting with Mr. John Vorster — the Prime Minister — and more than an hour with the former President of South Africa, Mr. J.J. Fouche ....
There was a special noon-day meeting of community leaders in the neighboring town of Edenvale, where I was personally invited by the mayor, an avid Plain Truth reader. There was another luncheon in the very elaborate office in Cape Town of the Chairman of the South Africa Foundation. He also is the Chairman or President of the largest bank in the country. He, too, is an enthusiastic reader of The Plain Truth.
I was actually astonished when nearly every official, or person of importance (including the President), mentioned being a Plain Truth reader, most of them for years. The Plain Truth circulation in South Africa is currently 100,000.
We received a special telephone invitation from a former mayor and civic leader at Port Elizabeth, fourth largest city (250,000), to speak and be his guest at dinner that evening. Present at the meeting he had arranged were the mayor, sitting next to me at the speaker's table, and the head of just about every phase of government, university, what-have-you — all leading citizens and wives — 660 altogether.
We also took the time to fly to the capital city of South-West Africa, Windhoek, where the South Africa Foundation had arranged a noon luncheon with the nine leaders of that state — including two blacks and two Colored ....
The semipublic personal appearances came last. I say semi-public because there had been virtually no effort to get the general public out to these larger-scale meetings — little or no advertising — just invitations sent to Plain Truth subscribers. The first was at Durban, on our second visit there. They had engaged a hotel ballroom seating 800. About 950 came. People were standing all along the side walls and back wall, and even an overflow in an adjoining room.
At Cape Town the same thing happened. More than a thousand came — with standing room only.
The final two nights were for the Johannesburg meetings. But the riots had started two nights before. And a sudden cold snap with winds (it was winter in the southern hemisphere) caused perhaps more than half those who planned to come to stay home. We had perhaps about 800 the first night and 750 the second. But they were very attentive and interested audiences. A local motion picture theatre manager said his attendances had been cut to one-fourth those evenings.
Those audiences heard the true gospel of the Kingdom of God which the world has not heard for 1,900 years ....
July 20, 1976 Dear Co-Workers with Christ:
This morning at 5.12 a.m. (Pacific daylight time), I sat in our Ambassador Auditorium here in Pasadena, looking in on Mission Control headquarters, located only walking distance away, as scientists manipulated at JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) the safe landing of Viking I on Mars.
The JPL scientists had cooperated with Ambassador College so that everything at Mission Control — as the scientists maneuvered the Mars landing — was shown on a large screen in our auditorium. We had opened the auditorium to the public. A thousand or more were there.
I had risen at 3.30 a.m. Many had been watching in the auditorium from 11 p.m. last night. I arrived in the auditorium just before 5 a.m.
The Viking I spacecraft is a marvel of mechanical precision. It landed safely right on schedule at 5:12 a.m. (It actually landed at 4:53 a.m. Pacific daylight time, but due to the vast distance, the signal did not reach Mission Control at Pasadena until 5:12 a.m.).
Enthusiastic applause — filling the auditorium — greeted the landing.
Very soon, just before 6 a.m., the first strip of two spectacular pictures arrived. We at the Ambassador Auditorium were looking in, just as if we were in Mission Control ourselves. Dr. Thomas Munch, geology professor and leader of the team of scientists in the Mission Control room, gave a cry of delight as the first strip of the first picture came through. As strip after strip of the pictures came through, he was unable to conceal his excitement. As the strips were pieced together, the scientists were absolutely amazed at the quality and clarity of the pictures of the Mars surface — pictures taken perhaps only four or five feet above the surface. It was just as if a man were standing there, pointing his camera straight down, taking close-up pictures of the Mars surface.
Later, the second picture looked out over the landscape to the horizon. The pictures showed a Martian surface as a sandy desert littered with rocks — from very minute size up to perhaps a foot or more in diameter.
But I had to think — it showed precisely what I had expected from what is revealed from the God of Creation in the Bible. It was a dry, barren surface of decay and futility — total unproductiveness.
So you can realize the thrill I experienced, seeing in our own House of God Auditorium, the first real close-up photographs from the very surface of Mars, confirming the state the Bible reveals such planets are in today ....
August 19, 1976 Dear Brethren and Co-Workers with Christ,
I have just spent another four days and five nights in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem! — the city God chose over all places on earth. The city from which for a span of time God has hidden His face (Jer. 33:5) — yet the city God shall yet choose as His city (Zech. 1:17). The city soon to become the capital of the whole world — when, finally, we shall have world peace!
Jerusalem is a city important to God — it ought to be important to us! So I want to tell you about my most recent visit there. It is a city I have visited many, many times.
My first visit to Jerusalem was a mere short stop at Jerusalem airport (not now in regular use) in 1956 — twenty years ago — en route from Cairo to Baghdad. Just setting foot on the ground of its airport for the first time was a thrill. It gave me sort of a sense of awe. With my wife and elder son, Dick, we stopped again at Jerusalem on the return — first visiting the "old city" then in Arab hands — then walking, luggage in hand, through the "Mandelbaum Gate" (no man's land) into the newer Israeli Jerusalem.
Back in 1969 and 1970, when our joint participation with the Hebrew University in the huge archaeological excavation at the east wall of the Temple Mount was getting well under way, General Yigal Yadin, organizer of the Israeli army and Chief of Staff from 1948, referred to my arrivals there as "monthly visits." In many ways I have had a deep personal interest in Jerusalem since December 1, 1968. On that date, in a formal ceremony at the palace of the late President Shazar, Ambassador College entered into this joint participation formally with Hebrew University and the Israel Archaeological Society.
"Do you want a formal, legal contract?" I was asked. "My word is good," I replied. "And I believe yours is, too, without any legal entanglements." That was good enough for them, and our friendship and mutual participation has grown ever since.
Our very important friends in Israel — from the President and Prime Minister of the country on down in the government — and from President Harmon and Vice President on down in the University, have been not only most friendly and cordial, but more — affectionate! And so I thought that in this letter, you might like to hear a report on this latest Jerusalem visit.
We arrived Thursday — late afternoon. Friday morning, Mayor Teddy Kollek met us at the Jerusalem Hilton Hotel at ten. He took us on a two and a half hour tour of portions of the "old city" where the Mayor has been supervising rejuvenation and rebuilding. After all the years of being "trodden down by the Gentiles" the old walled city has become dirty, decayed — anything but beautiful. But Mayor Kollek is restoring much of its original beauty.
Israel is a very poor country — economically. The government does not have billions upon billions of dollars for such purposes. Much of this restoration is being done by volunteer labor. It made me think of the early days in building Ambassador College.
In those days, as we purchased gradually more and more property, we used old, dilapidated frame houses for many purposes — we used volunteer student labor — we improvised as was necessary to keep building and growing. That is the way the Israelis are doing in building up their country.
First the Mayor took us through the citadel — or the "Tower of David." This is an agglomeration of old buildings, inside the northwest corner of the walled city. Some of these old brick and stone buildings date back to the second century B.C. The northern tower of the citadel has been known as the Tower of David since Byzantine times — but neither the citadel nor Tower of David have any connection with the ancient King David.
There are many walls and many rooms, and it is being restored into beautiful and modern condition.
From the citadel we were taken over to the old Jewish quarter of the old walled city. Here are a cluster of low, domed houses. Very old. Very unimpressive from the outside. But entering, we were struck by the beauty, the majesty of the rooms — the high ceilings which had looked like very low buildings from the dingy old outside. But Mayor Kollek had done a remarkable job of restoring this area. There were about four synagogues — each in a different room in the same building — now very modern, very bright and beautiful on the interiors.
I was really impressed with all the plans Mayor Kollek told us he has in mind for renewing and re-beautifying the city of Jerusalem.
I could especially appreciate it, personally, since I have — the past thirty years — gone through the job of building Ambassador College in Pasadena (not to speak of similar jobs at the other two campuses). It was built out of what — at the lower down-hill level — had been the nearest thing to a slum section Pasadena had. We were then buying up the property — a forty-foot lot at a time — usually with two old shacks — one behind the other — on each narrow forty-foot lot. With the fine help I have had, we have built this area of Pasadena into a campus that twice in the past two years has won the national award of being the most beautiful, the best landscaped and best maintained campus in the United States! ...
Mayor Kollek then took the group of us to a special restaurant for lunch. There, several other friends joined us. After that, we drove to the site of the new Liberty Bell Park.
I was scheduled to be there on July 2 for the official ground-breaking ceremony for building the new park in the heart of the new city. I had undertaken to build the children's playground area of the new city park. The last day of June, I had boarded the G-II jet aircraft, bound for Jerusalem. We were forced down at Bangor, Maine after crossing the United States from southwest to northeast, as I think I wrote you before. We had a cracked window in the cockpit. We were forced to return to Pasadena — flying at low altitude. So the Mayor conducted that ceremony alone.
When we reached the park area, I saw a large sign posted, in both Hebrew and English, saying:
"Under Construction Here:
A Children's Playground
A Gift Of
The Ambassador International Cultural Foundation
H.W. Armstrong, President"
Sabbath afternoon we had a Bible study in my hotel suite at the Jerusalem Hilton. About thirty came ....
December 24, 1976 Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ,
Very few men in this world know personally as many heads of governments as I. Yet I am absolutely amazed at how short a period of time most of them last. Many have a tenure in office — if they stay healthy — of only four to six years. Many die in office. Some are assassinated — others shot down in a military coup or violent overthrow of government. Some are forced to resign.
I think over, in my mind, about many I have known, some closely and intimately — now gone! One was Prime Minister Eisaku Sato of Japan ....Before he died last year, he received the Nobel Peace Prize.
There was Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, taken prisoner in a military coup which overthrew his long-established government. He died in military custody.
There was President Allende of Chile, machine-gunned in the very room where I had the private conference.
There was President Rahman of Bangladesh, asassinated in an overthrow of his poverty-stricken, illiteracy-cursed country.
There was the king of Afghanistan, whom I was invited to visit, but who was overthrown and driven to European exile before my visit could be arranged.
There have been others, affectionate friends of mine, whose terms of office have expired, such as V.V. Giri, ex-President of India.
Prime Minister Thanin Kraivichien of Thailand has been driven from office in a military coup, again overthrowing the Thai government. He is being held in "protective custody." Three weeks before this military coup, I had a private meeting with him in his office in Bangkok, and that night he sat next to me at a banquet.
I see these heads of state personally. I see them in trouble. And, very often I soon get news that they are dead! Men I know! Men with whom I have had private talks!
Perhaps it is not quite as real to you. You have not known those men in a close, personal way, as I have. It has struck close to me! Yet I try to share my experiences with all of you to help you also feel the reality of what is going on.
For what it portends as absolutely certain soon to strike is going to affect you, personally, just as much as me — and perhaps a lot more terrifyingly unless you are as ready as I.
It means the end of this world, as currently organized, is upon us!
God Almighty sent Jonah to warn the Gentile city Nineveh! They heeded his warning. And the destruction did not come, because God saw their deep repentance — their turning from their evil ways — He heard their desperate prayers asking for mercy!
But God said that if He sends a prophet to modern Israel as He now uses us to warn the people of America, Canada, Britain, Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, they by nature will not heed! So, if they don't, then I tell you what is certain to happen.
Let me give you a picture of it from God's own Word, as God Himself had it pictured!
"Howl ye, for the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. Therefore shall all hands be faint and every man's heart shall melt: and they shall be afraid: pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; ... Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it" (Isa. 13:6-9).
These world happenings now are not just routine world news! They signal the great world crisis that will usher in the government of God to finally and effectively bring peace at last. They are God's loving warning to us, of the fast-coming supreme crisis at the end of this world's society, civilization, governments — man's whole evil system.
Then, afterward, shall come the happy, peaceful World Tomorrow, ruled by the government of the living God!
Dear Co-Workers, I hope you realize ours is not an easy job. The living Christ has called us to labor together to warn this world. In Jesus Christ is the only hope and safety! Some are going to heed our message and receive God's protection through the tribulation (Luke 21:36).
Together we have been given the job to prepare the way for Christ's return (Matt. 24:14). It is a privilege and responsibility no other generation has shared. It will also mean a better reward! God rewards us individually according to our works — our zeal and wholeheartedness in supporting and carrying out the greatest task in this world.