|Autobiography of Herbert W Armstrong - Volume II
February 25, 1977 — June 22, 1978
February 25, 1977 Dear Co-Workers With Christ: I am writing from Bucharest, Romania. I am spending two or three weeks at the Otopeni Clinic, famous over all of Europe, recharging tired batteries.
I have kidded about being thirty-seven going on thirty-six. It is acknowledged by all, so far as I know, that I appear to be at least some twenty years younger than I actually am ....
But there may have been a slight misunderstanding in some of this, and I wish to be utterly frank, and not to pretend. It is true, the dynamic power, energy and drive has been there. It is true that probably not one in a hundred half my age could do the work that I have been doing.
But what I feel most of you have not realized is that much if not most of all that energy, vitality, drive and power has come from two sources — God, of course (Isa. 40:29-31), and sheer determination and self-drive, even when I did not feel up to it.
But it's like one lady wrote to me years ago: "You may stand in that pulpit and preach with the energy and power of a forty year old, but you must remember you are standing on eighty-year-old legs."
Under the strenuous travel, with the continuous speeches before Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, Kiwanis, Knights of Columbus, etc., etc., besides numerous other meetings with leaders around the world, I have had to keep up constant writing, besides the oversight of the entire vast worldwide Work ....
I feel that God will continue renewing my youth and physical vigor and mental powers as long as necessary to get His job done. I have had to come to realize that this excessively arduous job of this new dimension, getting into nations where doors were closed to the gospel before, traveling the whole wide earth — is one few could endure. While I was driving myself on, even in fatigue, my physical body was taking a beating.
There was a time when Jesus needed to take off a little time and go aside to a quiet place and get some rest. So I have decided I must also.
I am not here because of faith in man's modern methods, but by faith in Christ, for all healing is in Christ — and being here in a position of enforced rest from strenuous routine and travel keeps me in regular hours of health-meals — and I cannot have this opportunity to recoup vitality while still traveling and constantly speaking ....In a couple of weeks I'll be back on the job as vigorously as ever.
My left ankle received a serious sprain three months ago, after speaking to a packed auditorium in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. A sprain, as I have learned, is worse than a break. It seems to me mostly healed by now but is still far from being back to normal. I have had to learn to walk all over again, and still am a bit unsteady. But God is with me, and I need your prayers!
I have at least ten more years of vigorous active work needed to finish the Work that God has committed to me — or less, if God cuts time shorter.
Meanwhile, news from Pasadena is that all is well. Our Great God is on His throne!
In Flight, Republic of Transkei to Cape Town, South Africa - March 22, 1977 Dear Co-Workers with Christ: An hour ago I had just ended an address before the ministers of the world's newest government, the entire legislative assembly and others of the general public ....
It was a rare once-in-several-lifetimes experience. Because a week ago across Africa on the west coast I addressed the eighty or eighty-five delegates who were drafting a new constitution for another soon-to-be new nation, Southwest Africa. I addressed them in their famous Turnhalle in Windhoek, their capital city. They held this special session for the sole purpose of hearing my address. Everyone I talked to in Cape Town, it seemed, was simply amazed that such a special session had been called to hear an address from one of another country.
So far this has been one of the busiest, most productive trips of my life. Mr. Robert Fahey, Manager of our South African office in Johannesburg, surely takes me seriously when I give my age as "thirty-seven going on thirty-six." Not many of that age could keep up the pace he has set for me — and he does the planning for my South African trips before I come. There have been meetings, addresses, speeches, interviews, luncheons, dinners planned for morning, noon, afternoon and night nearly every day ....
However, my badly sprained ankle (it happened last November 11 just after I finished a campaign speech before hundreds in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, on my last trip down here before this one) has improved.
I will try to fill you in on what's happened so far on this trip.
I had been in Bucharest, Romania, expecting to stay two more days, when I was suddenly called to London by telephone. This got me out of there just barely the day before that devastating earthquake (7.2 on the Richter scale). In London on Thursday night I had dinner with all the ministers stationed in England we could get together. On that Sabbath I preached once again at Bricket Wood. By telephone they managed to reach about all from the London church and also several from churches to the north in England, so the gymnasium was well filled.
After another day or two in London and stopover in Rome, we left Rome Wednesday, arriving Johannesburg at 1 a.m. Thursday morning. It was 3:30 a.m. by the time I had gotten from the airport into the city, my luggage brought to the room, and I had turned out the bedside light to get some sleep. I had to rise early enough to drive to Pretoria to speak at a luncheon before the Rotary Club of Pretoria. At 2:45 of the same afternoon we met with the new Mayor of Pretoria in his very elegant office at City Hall. We found him to be an ardent reader of The Plain Truth. He asked me to autograph two different issues for him and another piece of white paper for his son. Dinner that evening in Johannesburg with Mr. Fahey and his chief assistants.
Friday, March 11: Luncheon engagement with Mr. and Mrs. Owen Williams at Ellis Park (he is the leading tennis promoter in South Africa), together with Arthur Ashe (he is President of the Black Tennis Foundation). A connection is being considered with AICF to assist underprivileged and promising blacks to develop and enjoy tennis. During our talk following lunch we were able to watch Bjorn Borg (Swedish and Wimbledon champion) defeating Fred McMillan. That night we had dinner with several of our South African ministers and their wives ....
March 13: ... I had a day of rest — but I wrote an article or two ....
Monday, March 14: In the morning flew to Windhoek, Southwest Africa (Namibia). Arrived 12:30 p.m .... At 3 p.m. met Mayor and Mrs. Yssel, Mayor of Windhoek. Mayor Yssel is a Plain Truth reader, though he holds to his own Protestant beliefs. Also present were the City Secretary and the City Engineer. The Mayor welcomed us to Windhoek and presented me with the Windhoek Yearbook. We discussed my worldwide work and portions of the book of Revelation. Our visit was forty-six minutes ....
6:30 p.m. Came the big event. Representatives of eleven population groups who were framing the constitution for the new nation ... came in special session to their grand meeting room to hear my address. They had been meeting since September, 1975, in a constitutional convention at Turnhalle to draft a constitution ....
I emphasized the difficulties they face in starting a new nation and new government in today's world with governments of nations crumbling at the rate of one a month. I then explained how this whole confused world — chaos in government — as well as in all society worldwide — had started at the incident of the forbidden fruit. How angels had first inhabited the earth — rejected God's government based on God's law of love and turned to the way of life of "get" instead of God's way of "give" or love. How Adam and Eve had disbelieved God, believed Satan's deceptive lies, took to themselves the knowledge of right and wrong, rejected the government of God and cut themselves and their posterity (all mankind) off from God.
Whereupon God adopted the "hands off" policy toward humanity for 6,000 years. Now man had been left to devise his own government, his own religion, educational system, commerce and industry and total society and way of living.
Today's world with its scores of varied man-made governments and all this world's evils was the result. I explained how God knew that, left to himself, man would within 6,000 years destroy himself — and that we have reached the very last generation of this present evil world. For the first time in human history the weapons of mass destruction exist that can erase all human life from this earth — unless Almighty God intervenes to save us from ourselves. How God reserved to Himself the right to intervene if and when necessary for His ultimate purpose — that mankind learns that only God's way of love can bring peace and happiness.
I mentioned how God had intervened in the case of Abraham, Moses and the ancient nation Israel; Christ and the Church. How Christ's gospel was the announcement of the restoration of the government of God to bring the world peace and happiness — but how they put Him to death and suppressed His gospel announcement of the Kingdom of God before the end of the first century. The world went on ignorant of God and His ways.
Today we approach the end of the 6,000 years and of this civilization. We have reached the last generation — the very generation in which the nations would destroy all humanity in nuclear war — unless God intervenes to save humanity alive. He raised me up for the purpose once again in this final generation of getting out the gospel announcement just before it happens.
Then I said: "You gentlemen are faced with the solemn task of trying to hammer out another new government in the kind of world we live in today. In such a world you have to deal with other nations, and you will not be able to form a government based on God's law, for you would be a lamb among wolves. But you can try to form a government that gives equal justice, opportunity, protection and concern for the welfare of your own people in your domestic policies. And the nearer you can come to forming foreign policies and pursuing dealings with other nations as nearly like God's way as possible, the more you will be specially blessed by the God who is Creator and supreme Ruler over all. And you will live into His wonderful World Tomorrow — when the Kingdom of God rules your people and all the world in peace and happiness and well-being and joy. It is the way — and the only way that will lead to God and the welfare of us all."
That in essence was my message to them. God strengthened me to deliver it to them in power and with authority and I can say truthfully that they were really moved and impressed.
I give you this much detail because I wanted you Co-Workers to know just how this urgent and necessary gospel message is now reaching the heads of governments around the earth. I feel that my message this afternoon ... was even stronger, with greater power and authority, and I know it shook and moved the audience, including the lawmakers and the heads of those who execute the law in that nation.
Much more work lies ahead for me here, in South Africa the next several days. Expect to be in Durban for Passover ....
April 18, 1977 Dear Brethren of God's Church:
This is a very personal announcement. Forty-three years ago God committed to me His great commission — to carry Christ's gospel — the Kingdom of God — to all the world. It is a staggering responsibility! In many ways He had prepared me for it in advance. Apart from organization, I have had to rely on God for private, personal needs as well.
Even before He thrust me into His Work, God provided the wife of my youth. He used her in bringing about my conversion, and for fifty happily married years giving me the needed closeness and warmth of companionship, love, affection and inspiration only a wife can give.
Since her death, God miraculously has opened to me doors (Rev. 3:8) to kings, emperors, presidents and prime ministers, so that Christ's message may be taken into nations whose doors were closed to this message. At this stage no one but myself can do this. And I could not endure the grueling worldwide travel had not God blessed me with youthful vigor, vitality, and energy (Isa. 40:28-31), enabling me to carry on more vigorously than one in a hundred half my calendar age. This almost constant travel (last year 300 out of 365 days) and loneliness has re-awakened me to the serious need God recognized when He said, "It is not good that a man should be alone."
Directly or indirectly, you brethren are all my sons and daughters in the Lord. But I am nonetheless human. Like the Apostle Paul said, "We also are men, of like nature with you." God says through James, "Elijah was a man of like nature with ourselves." Paul said, "Am I not an apostle? ... Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a wife?" (RSV). People do sometimes forget an apostle has personal needs.
Of course no one could take the place of my beloved wife of fifty years. But the Work of God must go on, finishing the great commission God committed to me, in this new and most important phase of the entire Work. And God now has graciously provided the wife to be constantly at my side — a woman truly led by God's Holy Spirit. We have given the matter much time, to be sure it has grown into true love and like-minded rapport, as well as definitely sure it is God's will.
This is to announce my marriage to Ramona Martin, in an informal and simple ceremony, attended only by our respective families on Sunday, April 17.
May 16, 1977 Dear Brethren of God's Church,
This may be the most important letter I have ever written ....
I have just returned from the Big Sandy (Texas) campus graduation. I have not been able to go to Big Sandy but rarely — I think a year ago was the last time — and what I saw there was a real eye-opener. Attending graduation exercises were two or three bank presidents, presidents and vice presidents of other colleges in east Texas; important business men, multi-millionaire oil men, Several of these — the most important men in east Texas — congratulated me on the fact that Ambassador College at Big Sandy has given all of east Texas a new cultural awakening — and made a tremendous uplift in the morale and the uplifted life of the whole area.
But it made me sick at heart — my heart literally ached to realize that the financial situation may probably cause the closure of Ambassador College, Big Sandy. This college has earned and now has the enthusiastic goodwill and praise of the whole section — within an area of at least a 100-mile diameter. Pray with me God will send a miracle to prevent it ....
But, as I wrote you in the letter read on April 27, God committed to me in July, 1933, Christ's great commission — to take Christ's gospel announcement to the whole world for a witness to all nations.
God did not call me into the college business — as a business. I must keep the priorities straight as He gives them to me, for I shall have to give account to Christ when He comes!
But by 1947 it finally became necessary to found Ambassador College. There were reasons why it had to start in Pasadena. God miraculously opened the doors to start it there, when we had no money to start it with.
I had been used to raise up the parent church at Eugene, Oregon with nineteen members in 1933. It grew. God opened radio to me January, 1934. The Plain Truth was born February 1, 1934. I held nightly evangelistic meetings in or near Eugene for some two years. We went on radio in Portland, Seattle, Spokane. I began holding meetings in Seattle and elsewhere — where God had added members to form a small local church. But I could not preach at Eugene, Jefferson, Portland, Seattle, Creswell and other churches all at once on the same Sabbath. There was not enough of me.
Ambassador College became necessary to train ministers for new local churches beginning to rise up rapidly. The college started October 8, 1947, after I had learned what birth pangs were.
The purpose of the college was to provide personnel for the work — and ministers to feed the flock that was growing 30 percent per year.
As I said, I have to consider the priorities.
Let me give them to you.
First, above priorities for the Work itself, priority number one is the necessity of a spiritual revival in the whole Church. Without that, the whole Work is skidding on the way down — and out! It is just that serious!
I have started setting the example by five days fasting and prayer, and I am going back to it with my whole heart — I hope for the next five days! ...
First priority in the Work is the open door program — in which Christ is opening doors which I am personally walking through, to kings, presidents, emperors, prime ministers, their cabinet members, parliament members, and others of high position — judges, bank presidents, university presidents, etc. Right now this is first on the priority list in God's sight, because the first thing on God's mind is restoring the government of God to this earth, and this new phase of the Work — the open door operation worldwide is the present activity leading to it.
How significant that the very first priority — the most important phase of the Work, is lowest on the budget-cost allocations. Of course tied with it is the AICF which has been producing sensational results.
Today, among other major priorities is The Plain Truth, especially the newsstand circulation. Along with this is the Correspondence Course ....
Another equally important part of the great commission is television and radio. This must be tremendously stepped up.
Exceedingly important to all of us, and to you brethren is our Pastoral Administration Department ....
You can't perform miracles. But God can — has done it always before when we put our hearts fully into our beseeching Him — and will now. I know that what you can do by sacrificing other things and sending in money is limited — but what can be done by your urgent prayers is unlimited. We need now a miracle. We will need miracles in the future.
Please go to your knees and ask for it. Ask believingly!
July 21, 1977 Dear Brethren and Co-Workers with Christ:
It is Tuesday morning July 19. We are in flight in our G-II from Tokyo to Hong Kong. We have on board one of my "Japanese sons" — a high Member of the Japanese Diet, with his very charming wife and two of their three sons.
Last Sabbath we had a private dinner in the private dining room connecting with the Fontainebleue Restaurant atop the Imperial Hotel with the Ambassador of Israel and his wife, with other members of the Israeli Embassy and their wives, making it a total of twelve at the dinner. There immediately followed a Sabbath afternoon service attended by some 200 Plain Truth readers.
Last night was the big night of the visit to Tokyo — a most important banquet with about 150 in attendance, including several high in the Japanese government with thirteen ambassadors from as many countries. Most of my "Japanese sons" — all Members of the Japanese Diet — were present. I was guest of honor and main speaker. I did get over to them the good news announcement of the Kingdom of God.
I mentioned, first, that I had a very happy announcement to make. I then mentioned that some three years ago I had been guest speaker at a luncheon in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, attended by nineteen ambassadors — official representatives of nineteen nations — and most of their wives. Everyone was so jovial in a bedlam of laughing conversation that I then said this was evidence that all our nations could live happily at peace as we were doing. I said, last night, that "tonight I will go further. I announce to you tonight, that, in our very present living generation, all nations will come to live happily and joyfully together in world peace. We will not bring this about ourselves," I said. "We humans have brought only trouble, pain and suffering — discontent, injustice, and unhappiness on ourselves!
"Governments are now being overthrown at the rate of one a month. This will accelerate. For the first time in all history, since 1950, man has created the weapons of mass destruction that can erase all life from this planet Earth. We humans are going to bring conditions to the very brink of total disaster! Our number one problem now is survival of the human race!
"Many world-famous scientists say our only hope is the emergence of a one world super-government to rule all nations. One of our great weekly news magazines in the United States said in an editorial that it would seem that mankind's only hope now is the sudden intervention of an unseen strong hand from some place.
"The editor meant," I said, "the intervention of God, the Creator of the Japanese people and all the peoples and races of the earth.
"I am here to announce to you tonight that in our present living generation humanity will bring things to the place that, unless there is that supernatural Divine intervention, no human would be left alive. But, just before that happens, God Almighty will intervene, and save humanity alive. And He will then set up over us the Kingdom of God — the same super-government to rule all nations which scientists say is our only hope.
"Mankind then will be governed by God's laws of love — of giving — of helping, sharing, serving. It makes no difference whether you believe that or not. It is sure! It is as certain as the rising and setting of the sun. I have announced it to you. Your ears have heard it! It's your only hope. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen!" ...
In Hong Kong I will speak at a special dinner of the highest people, and hope to give them the same message.
Remember our serious needs in your heartrending prayers. I am on a very long and strenuous trip. From Hong Kong we go to New Delhi, where I am to speak to a very large audience, then on to Israel, and then to three countries on the West African coast, and then Pasadena.
P.S. From Hong Kong. This is Thursday, July 21. The dinner last night had to be canceled because of a typhoon which hit Hong Kong yesterday.
Excerpts from Address to the 1978 Ministerial Conference. - March 1978 First, I want to say a few words about my illness. Last August I was scripturally dead. The doctor called it heart failure. When I first realized what had happened, that my heart and breath had both stopped, I will say here what has subsequently been told to me, because I don't remember a bit of it. But the nurse who was in charge has told me that she came in and saw that my face was ashen white, and immediately she took my pulse and there wasn't any.
So the blood was not circulating, not to show even one point on the blood-pressure instrument.
So then they started working over me, and I think Ted anointed me. My wife's sister was there. This was because my wife, who feared something like this, had kept her there, because she was experienced in first-aid and things of that kind. She and the nurse used mouth resuscitation and heart massage until they got me breathing.
The nurse's estimate from the time she had noticed this until I began taking the first breath was at least thirty seconds. She said it was a minute and a half, though, that it was touch and go, because I'd lapse back and quit breathing. And after about a minute and a half I was breathing enough on my own, and I've continued all right since, and I hope the rest of the life that God wants for me on earth.
Had not skilled nurses been present to administer instant mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and heart massage, I tell you that as far as I was personally concerned I wouldn't be here today.
Shortly after they'd told me what had happened, I felt that if my work in God's hands were finished and God didn't have any further use for me in His Work, that I would rather have remained dead. Because if they hadn't intervened I would have been buried in two or three days.
But I realize that God had shown me something by two miracles. No. 1, He restored my life when I was already past eighty-five years of age. And this was very shortly, as a matter of fact, about twenty days after my eighty-fifth birthday.
And, second, neither I nor my nurses had ever heard of anyone of like age being restored by that process after almost complete loss of mind, my brain virtually a vegetable. And I was restored with my mind just as intact as it ever was.
Back at conversion over fifty years ago, I gave my life to Jesus Christ. I had come to the place fifty years ago that I figured I was — I called it then — a burned-out hunk of junk that wasn't even fit to throw on the junk pile. And I said to Jesus Christ. "If You can use this worthless life, I'm giving it to You, and my life is not my own from here on."
I have never claimed that I had built any part of this campus or of the Work. I take a walk every morning, as I used to before this attack, and I've been staying down at Tucson since, but I used to take a morning walk around the campus. I would always remark about the beauty and what a wonderful thing that God had given this kind of beauty, not only that I could enjoy but share it with thousands of others.
But I didn't say, "Look what I have done," because I hadn't done anything. This is the Work of the living Jesus Christ, and He alone has done the Work, but He has used me as an instrument.
Now, medical opinion was that it would be many months, eight or ten, before I would be fully back in harness. It has been just barely over four months so far. I would like to remind you of that and that I know the medical authorities all say I'm making extraordinary progress. Well, I think you know why.
Now, again, this is the Work of the living God, through Christ. It is not the work of man. We must never forget this. It could be a tendency to think that this is just something that I started. No, this is what God started, and God through Christ is going to determine what happens in this Church and in this Work.
Jesus Christ heads this Work, and I work as His instrument through and for Him.
May 21, 1978 Dear Co-Workers and Brethren in Christ,
God's great Work — to the whole world — is, truly, going ahead now as never before, with a new start!
Soon you will hear new programs from me, on both radio and television. Just as Moses, the man of God, had not abated in his strength of mind and spirit, in leading the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage into the Promised Land, after eighty years of age, so the same God has sustained my mind, energy and power for the completion of His Work in this world.
On July 4 there will be a big "4th of July Celebration" in Jerusalem, hosted jointly by the Mayor of Jerusalem, Mr. Teddy Kollek, and myself. The city of Philadelphia had an exact duplicate made of the Liberty Bell — crack and all — and gave it to the city of Jerusalem. In the spring of 1976 — Passover time — the Mayor came to me privately, and asked my help in building an important downtown park in Jerusalem, to be named the "Liberty Bell Park." Through the AICF, I was able to agree to supply the children's playground area, at the very opening of the park. The park is now completed, and Mayor Kollek has asked me to be present on July 4 for the opening and dedication of the Liberty Bell Park.
July 8, I am scheduled to co-host an important premier of a charity motion picture to raise funds for the handicapped children in Britain. Queen Elizabeth II has promised to co-host this premier and banquet — and in the event she is unable to be present, either Prince Charles (the next king) or Prince Philip will be there.
In early August, I am again to go to Japan — and perhaps other points in the Far East. Other campaigns in world capitals are now being planned — as before my heart failure and illness. December 1, the Israeli government is planning a celebration in my honor — on the 10th anniversary of the beginning of our participation in the great archaeological excavation, starting southward from the Temple Mount. This date will mark the beginning of the second decade of this major project-now starting further south, in the area of the ancient City of David, to uncover 2,500 years of accumulated debris (some 50 feet high) over the ancient palace and throne of King David. The AICF is following through on this — preparing the very site of the throne on which Christ will sit at His coming. This is just one of the ways in which we are preparing the way for His coming and establishment of the Kingdom of God, ushering in world peace ....
Pasadena - June 22, 1978 Dear Co-Workers and Brethren in Christ:
I just want to have a real heart-to-heart family get-together with you.
I have said many times that, directly or indirectly, all you who have God's Holy Spirit are my children in Christ. Even those of you who have come into the Church more recently.
The aged Apostle John, writing in the 90s A.D. addressed his first letter, in the second chapter, to "my little children, these things write I unto you."
From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for the wonderful letters and telephone calls that have been pouring in, since I have been back on the air and also in regard to the recent changes Christ, the Living Head of this Church, has been making to set His Church back on the right track.
Let me first assure you that I have not "moved away from Headquarters." Jesus Christ has chosen and used only one apostle in our time. Let me say to you emphatically that the Living Christ has taken over as the head of God's Church, and established me in firm control, under Him, on the human level. I am back on the job. I am back on the air — both on television and on radio. Every effort is being made to put the programs on more and more radio stations — especially the major 50,000 watt stations — and on television coast to coast. We must realize it is impossible to get back on so many hundreds of stations all at once. But, as fast as we can we are now bending every effort to increase our radio and television coverage ....
Brethren, it is wonderful and inspiring to know that you do love me so much and are praying for me. This awareness gives me the incentive and inspiration to press on until Christ's great commission is finished.
But let me tell you that I do love all you — pray for you — and am grateful from the bottom of my heart for your faithfulness, loyalty, and loving support in the Work.
And now, the first letters after hearing the first radio broadcast (that is, the first I personally have done in a few years) are beginning to flood in ....