In four hours I'm leaving for Tokyo and Saigon. The newspaper headlines say "Vietnam Foes Sign a 'Fragile Peace'." A meeting has been arranged between myself and President Thieu in Saigon. I hope also to have another meeting with U, S. Ambassador Bunker. In Tokyo another meeting is set up with Prince Mikasa, brother of the Emperor, to discuss details of the Ambassador Institute of Biblical Research. This Institute is the outgrowth of a suggestion from the Prince during a meeting in his palace on a former visit.
Things are moving toward the final Supreme Crisis — called "the Great Tribulation" in the Bible, at the END of this present world. It will usher in the wonderful WORLD TOMORROW — the coming world of REAL peace, universal well-being and happiness. And things are MOVING in GOD'S WORK — faster than ever before.
Right now I am more encouraged and enthusiastic about the state, and future, of this great worldwide Work of God than any time in the past two or three years. We have come through the two most traumatic years in the history of the Work. Yet this Work has GROWN during those two years by more than 40%. Many thousands of precious lives baptized and turned to God's Kingdom!
As I wrote you a month ago, the GREAT TURNING POINT came in late September last year. And it has continued on the upturn through the first month of this year of 1973.
A principal barometer of the future — of the next 6 to 24 months — is the receipt of mail. Here in Pasadena Headquarters we received (from the U. S. only), during the first ten months of 1972, an AVERAGE of 41,000 letters PER WEEK. That's a very heavy mail! But it began to go up in October, and in the last two months, the weekly average leaped to 58,000 letters. And the first four weeks of this month, January, the weekly average jumped to 66,500.
December 7th I outlined for you SIX GIANT ACTIVITIES now getting Christ's last End-Time Message to the world, NONE OF WHICH were going out prior to January 1st of last year. Now we add still another powerful means of getting the true Gospel for this End-Time to additional MILLIONS.
The six giant NEW activities were:
1) and 2) The two largest circulation media (about 19 million subscribers each) opened their advertising pages to us. The three-page ad in TV Guide brought more than 64,500 new subscribers to The PLAIN TRUTH and/or other literature.
3) The PLAIN TRUTH went on newsstands in Britain, countries in Europe, Africa and Asia. Results were actually amazing. This reached 13 countries in Europe, besides Japan, Indonesia, South Africa, and the Falkland Islands. By this means 881,500 copies of The PLAIN TRUTH reached an estimated 2,500,000 people reading The PLAIN TRUTH for the first time.
And here is exciting news! With the advent of the newsstand distribution, the total PLAIN TRUTH circulation now surpasses that of Time magazine in five European countries, and also in South Africa!
That is so important I want to give you the breakdown, as supplied by our "Weekly Comments" editor:
| || ||Time || ||The Plain Truth |
|United Kingdom || ||81,400 || ||193,900 |
|South Africa || ||44,200 || ||75,000 |
|Germany (German language) || ||36,000 || ||58,200 |
|Holland (Dutch language) || ||24,800 || ||29,600 |
|Belgium (French language) || ||15,500 || ||19,700 |
|Portugal || ||2,400 || ||4,300 |
I assume that the "Time" magazine circulation in all countries above is in the English language.
In late September, 1972, President Marcos of the Philippines declared martial law. All media (newspapers, magazines, radio and TV) were closed down. Only a government-owned newspaper was allowed to continue. But, a report from the manager of our Manila office states that, as a result of my meeting with President Marcos in 1970, meetings with high ranking cabinet officers, including General Romulo (whom I have known beginning with the San Francisco Conference in 1945), the Secretary of Labor, and others, The PLAIN TRUTH, our radio broadcast, and Work in general was well and favorably known, and permission was readily granted for our Work to continue in all phases.
As our Manila manager wrote me, "When God wants His Work to get done He will even move governments to give us favor, if necessary."
But now, to continue the six giant NEW activities of the Work:
4) DAILY TV: By far the most effective means of reaching mass audiences is TELEVISION. It reaches people through both the eye and the ear. And just as we found DAILY radio many times more effective than broadcasting once a week, so it is with television. To get started, we have had to accept morning time slots beginning at 6:30, or 7:00 or 8:00, but, just as we had to take too early or too late times on radio, we did gradually build large listening audiences, and we are doing the same on television. God has peculiarly equipped my son for this very important means of reaching the millions with Christ's Gospel. God has given Garner Ted the peculiar and natural television personality to attract and hold audiences, and reach through to their hearts with Christ's Message. Results are more than satisfactory, considering the fact that so far we have the program on PRIME TIME on only TWO stations.
5) The new campaign to reach the ARAB NATIONS is fast being planned. This will effectively reach additional MILLIONS not reached, except in a very small way, before.
6) Garner Ted Armstrong's PERSONAL APPEARANCE PROGRAM is proving even more effective than we anticipated. I gave you the schedule of coming appearances in my letter of December 7th. Since then the San Antonio, Shreveport and Tyler appearances brought overflow attendances, even in spite of some of the worst weather in years. Next comes Richmond, Virginia, February 9, 10, and 11.
The PERSONAL APPEARANCES have been much MORE than successful, and are becoming more so. NOW we are preparing to add:
7) A STEPPED UP "Personal Appearance" program. Some of our ministers, such as Albert J. Portune, Charles F. Hunting, David Jon Hill, Dr. Clint C. Zimmerman, Howard Clark, and others — speakers who can attract, hold and MOVE audiences — are going to be conducting a number of "personal appearance" or evangelistic campaigns this coming summer. In this way we are increasing the impact of getting out the Gospel by PERSONAL contact, as well as by the MASS-means of reaching the millions by radio, television, and print.
8) And now I almost forgot, another activity ADDED to the Work: We are now producing and publishing ONE NEW BOOKLET EVERY MONTH, in conjunction with the radio and television programs. A new one just coming off the press: "How to Understand PROPHECY." The major events that will headline tomorrow's news are already pre-recorded. About one-third of the Bible is Prophecy — and almost NO ONE understands it. The keys to UNDERSTANDING prophecy are in this new booklet. You need it — and of course, it's free and not to be sold. Just write in for your free copy.
Another step which I believe is a big step forward in the Work is this: I am now PERSONALLY taking over active chief editorship of The PLAIN TRUTH. For many years I wrote EVERY WORD that went into The PLAIN TRUTH. As our staff grew with the Work, it seemed to be impossible for me personally to supervise the editing. I have found a way to do it. I have a very capable and fine team under me on The PLAIN TRUTH staff. Three mass- circulation magazines have folded up and gone out of business somewhat recently — The Saturday Evening Post, Look, and Life. The PLAIN TRUTH is STILL GROWING. Newsstand officials in England told us that when The PLAIN TRUTH went on the newsstands people would take it in preference to Life, Time, or Newsweek. AND APPARENTLY THAT IS WHAT HAS HAPPENED!
Finally, dear Co-Workers and Brethren, we need, ourselves, AN AWAKENING — a renewed SENSE OF URGENCY. I'm afraid that, more than I realized, many of you did definitely point to the date of the first week in January, of last year. It was only natural to desire to know HOW MUCH TIME we had left, to finish God's Work. I have asked audiences if they had not had that desire, and I could see dozens and hundreds nodding that they did. And so did I — but in that we were no different than the original apostles. They just made a 1,900-year bigger mistake than we did.
It was BECAUSE they thought that the Kingdom of God was IMMEDIATELY, THEN, to be set up, that Jesus spoke the parable showing He was first to go to heaven to RECEIVE the authority of the Kingdom (Luke 19:11-24). After His resurrection, just before Jesus' ascension to God's throne in heaven, the apostles again asked if He would set up the Kingdom then. The apostle Paul thought Christ's return, and the end of his preaching was imminent, and to occur in HIS LIFETIME (I Corinthians 15:51-52; I Thessalonians 4:17).
Yes, they were human, and made mistakes the same as we. But we need to FORGET that mistake — learn a lesson by it — and ask: "JUST WHERE DO WE STAND TODAY?"
This we can KNOW: We are now IN THE VERY "TIME OF THE END." The apostles asked Jesus: "What shall be the SIGN of thy coming, and of the END of the world (age)?" He replied there would first come false ministers, PREACHING Christ yet deceiving the world; there would come wars — but these were not at the END. Then He said: "But he that shall endure unto the END, the same shall be saved. And this Gospel OF THE KINGDOM shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the END come." (Matthew 24:3, 14.) Then, following the preaching (and publishing — Mark 13:10) of this Gospel — the Gospel of the Kingdom of God — ". . . then shall be GREAT TRIBULATION, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should be no flesh be saved ("saved alive" — Moffatt translation): but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened" (verses 21-22).
In other words, except God supernaturally intervened to cut short this coming time of GREATEST trouble ever, men would blast all human life from the earth. Until the discovery and production of the hydrogen bomb, men could never have erased all life from the earth. Now they could — and except God intervenes, they undoubtedly WOULD!
Daniel's prophecy speaks of the same GREATEST TROUBLE ever: ". . . and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life . . . " (Daniel 12:1-2).
It is THE TIME OF THE END.
For 18 1/2 centuries this "GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD" was NOT proclaimed to the whole world. THIS VERY WORK, IN WHICH YOU HAVE A PART, is the Work God has raised up to proclaim that Gospel WORLDWIDE. This is the SIGN of Christ's coming. We are right now in the time of the BEGINNING of world trouble — APPROACHING close to that GREAT TRIBULATION (Matt. 24:8).
Other prophecies show that the very NEXT prophesied event will be the UNITING OF TEN NATIONS IN EUROPE — the resurrection of the Middle Ages' "Holy Roman Empire."
THAT COULD HAPPEN SUDDENLY, and GO TOGETHER QUICKLY. As I wrote you a month ago:
"For I tell you this: Events are already happening in Europe and within the Catholic Church, in the Middle East and in Russia, that could IMPEL the Vatican, in self-preservation to offer its good offices as a Supreme and politically neutral Authority, in bringing about what the nations of Europe have so avidly DESIRED — yet been unable, of themselves, to bring about — POLITICAL UNION of those nations.
"This could be done either, a) by a sudden action by Pope Paul, or, b) by his abdication, and election of another prepared for this very mission!
"IF and WHEN that happens, you will know that THIS GREAT WORK IN WHICH WE ARE CO-WORKERS WITH CHRIST, SHALL HAVE COME VERY CLOSE TO HAVING FINISHED THE WORK WE ARE TO DO AT THIS TIME — though the Work would be resumed later. This is just a WARNING. It could happen this coming year — or in two, three, five or MORE years. Probably we may not be privileged to know the time, in advance.
"BUT KNOW THIS! Just because some expected this Work to be finished early this past year, DO NOT suppose that it is going to go on indefinitely. We ARE in the very last days — have been since the HYDROGEN BOMB.
"Dear Family under the Living CHRIST in His Work, WE NEED TO KNOW THE TIME — THAT IT IS INDEED SHORT! I hope we have another five or ten years to finish this Work — BUT WE MAY NOT HAVE. But we need to realize that NOTHING ELSE is important. We must now rally to PUT GOD'S WORK FIRST. We must dedicate ourselves to MORE PRAYER. To MORE SACRIFICE FOR THE WORK! To set our hearts and affections on CHRIST and HIS KINGDOM, and HIS WORK — on the THINGS ABOVE, not on this world and its interests and pleasures.
"Please PRAY, and PRAY, and PRAY, for the financial needs of God's Work these next few months of the year. If we pray more, God will prosper each of us more financially. THANK YOU, dear Brethren."