April 25th I sent you the most difficult and painful announcement I have ever had to make in a Co-Worker letter. Since then certain newspapers, publications and broadcasts have made scurrilous, deceptive and misleading attacks on the Work of God, filled with fallacious, distorted, exaggerated and false accusations.
It has never been our practice to answer false accusers or persecutors, nor to attack or accuse others.
Recently a group of dissident Leftists hung President Nixon in effigy — and if a Democrat had been in the Presidency, he probably would have received the same abuse.
1941 years ago, the chief priests, elders and all the Council at Jerusalem sought false witnesses against Jesus, to put Him to death. (Matthew 26:59.) "At the last came two false witnesses, And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. And the high priest arose, and said unto Him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But Jesus held His peace." Jesus did not answer His false accusers. He was not hung in effigy — HE WAS CRUCIFIED in person AND KILLED!
This is HIS WORK! He, the resurrected, living Jesus Christ, is the HEAD of this Work. He guides, directs, and inspires it through the power of the Holy Spirit. Its FRUITS bear ample witness. Christ's own Gospel is preached and proclaimed to the MILLIONS as a witness worldwide. Thousands of lives have been changed, made happy, received God's Holy Spirit, made heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, to inherit eternal life.
Jesus Christ is IN this Work. He said He would never leave nor forsake it. But, on the other hand, He also said, "If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you...." But, again, the Apostle Paul wrote: "If so be that we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:17-18).
Again, 1941 years ago, the Pharisees and chief priests sent officers to take Jesus. But after listening to Him, they returned without Him. "Then answered the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on Him?"
The Church of God was persecuted, almost from the beginning. At the beginning of the 8th chapter of the Book of Acts, two years after the founding of the Church of God, it is recorded: "And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem, and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles."
Later, when the Apostle Paul arrived in Rome, the Jews there said to him, regarding the church, "as concerning this sect, we know that everywhere it is spoken against" (Acts 28:22).
There were some — though a comparative minority — who believed Jesus when He was on earth. There are many thousands, though a comparative minority — who believe His SAME Message, and His SAME Work, today. I would like to share with you just a few of the letters I have received in response to these attacks.
A PLAIN TRUTH subscriber from Weslaco, Texas, who is not — or has not been — a Co-Worker, writes: "I was sorry to learn that your son has been separated from your organization, but having no desire to involve myself in the internal affairs, I only write out of a sense of loss. However, since reading the article in ______' I felt it necessary to write to their editors, and copy of my letter to them is attached hereto. I hope that many of the other admirers of the work which you and he have been trying to carry on will likewise write to ________ and express their contempt for the article. Again, thank you for the subscription which you so kindly sent me."
Following is copy of his letter to the editor of the attacking publication: "________ should be congratulated for its action in employing the mentally retarded, as witness the article by correspondent _____ ________ on Garner Ted Armstrong. Her incompetence and bias are quite plain.
"What is wrong with a knowledgeable commentary by Garner Ted on misuse of drugs and other social ills of our country? What about the sarcastic remarks about Ambassador College because of its standards of modesty in both appearance and dress? If you are so anxious to check up on things like this, why not look in on the rape trials to be held in June for students of Pan American University at Edinburgh, Texas — or the personal vendetta of a Baptist preacher against a Chicano group at Mercedes, Texas, who are trying to establish a college for the betterment of their education.
"What's wrong with the payment of tithes and offerings — or the assistance to widows and orphans — both of these are actually commandments of God? Or would she think it unseemly for a church to take over this assignment rather than public welfare assistance? What's wrong with a church — or any other group — to be desirous of maintaining their internal operations — so why the big deal of the secret letter burning?
"It does not appear especially sensible to seek information on the workings of an organization, especially a church, by asking the opinions of apostates and/or dissidents. I would challenge correspondent _________ to publicly indicate the name of the church of which she is a member or if she even paid any tithes in the past year.
"I can only fault Herbert W. Armstrong in one area and that is his failure to heed the scriptural direction found in Matthew, Chapter 7, verse 6.
"Oh yes, one other item, I am NOT a member of the Worldwide Church of God. My only contact with them has been to listen to some of their radio broadcasts and to read a few of their free magazines. My prime interest in this is that old American custom — fair play — or has correspondent _______ even heard of it. Sincerely, _______."
From Fall River, Mass., a Co-Worker writes: "Was I shocked yesterday when I turned the page in my _______ and saw Garner Ted Armstrong's picture! I was even more shocked and furious as I read the article and to the place which said that the Church of God "is a stern, bizarre sect founded in 1934 ... by Garner Ted's father Herbert W. Armstrong. The article was nothing but a pack of lies and insults, and I was very upset about it because it will give thousands of people a totally false idea about the Work. I assure you that I am praying for the Work and for the Armstrongs in this time of trial. ... And finally, enclosed is my tithe and offering. ... I am proud to be a part of God's Work."
Here is a letter from a young woman whose mother is a member of the Worldwide Church of God: "I have just finished reading the ______ article. Mr. Armstrong, I don't know how to word an encouraging letter to you because you encourage me so much. But, please don't be a bit discouraged by these damning articles. One day, those poor (and may I say ignorant?) people will be very repentant to God's people.
"I'm not looking forward to that time because of that reason alone but it's a fact.
"Thank you for being so strong during this trial. It's made me stronger and made me 'wake up.' Please don't be discouraged and we are praying about and for you and Mr. Ted Armstrong. Love and encouragement, _________"
The following is a longer letter, but I feel you will profit by reading every word. It is from a Catholic nun, living with many others, in a nuns' house. It shows a beautiful and loving attitude:
"Received your letter dated April 26. It must have been with a bleeding heart that you had to make such a crucial and painful announcement about your dear son Ted. As I read the letter, tears streamed down my cheeks, fully knowing well how you feel and what you are undergoing.
"After reading it I immediately put it on to the ninety-nine nuns who reside here who every Sunday watch him on TV and also listen to his radio programs every morning. It certainly was a blow to us all — for we all love Ted — and, is he not our 'BROTHER'??? When one member of the family suffers — the rest of the family suffers with him.
"For your consolation and his, let me tell you, that we too are with you in prayer and in pain for the loved one.
"Every day, we too gather in our little chapel, on our knees in the presence of our 'Merciful God,' storming heaven with our prayers, so that he might repent and come back to where he began — Satan is indeed dealing his last card, and how competent he is in his dealing? I often say what others have done we can do the same, without the help and grace of the Almighty — therefore who are we to throw stones?
"God being a 'Merciful Father,' knows our weaknesses. Was it not He who formed and fashioned the clay? He knew the feeble things we were when He gave us the light of day. One thing is consoling to know is that when 'God forgives — He forgets' the past.
"Dear Mr. Armstrong, would it be possible to tell him on our behalf, that we are praying for him, longing and anxious for the day we see him once again on TV.
"For you, dear Mr. Armstrong, keep up the good Work which you have been doing for so many years. Serving your God and country, by preaching 'His Word' to thousands and thousands of people, teaching them to love God and bringing souls back to the fold.
"Let us then put our trust and confidence in He who has conquered the world."
What organization, church, college or important enterprise is there which does not have a few — possibly former members or employees, or those who have had some former contact — who are dissidents, hostile and bitter or prejudiced?
It seems those who, for a sensational story or broadcast, attack this Work, seek out only those very few dissident and bitter enemies of the Work, and are willing to broadcast or print every defaming thing these enemies will say against us without checking the facts. They never seem interested in checking with the 75,000 members and many thousand other Co-Workers. They imply false motives employ clever and deceptive innuendos, and give false and misleading impressions.
Did you ever notice that our persecutors attack us from two inconsistent angles? 1) They accuse us of embracing doctrines, so difficult to observe that nobody would ever want to become one of our followers — so unpopular we would never attract members (and in most cases they entirely misrepresent these doctrines). And yet, 2) they imply we are so very successful, and that we are receiving much money. I'm sure you can see the utter inconsistency of this. Why do they not point out, as our Co-Workers know, how every dollar in this Work is made to go farther and accomplish more than any place we know. HOW do you appraise the VALUE of one human life turned from sin and death to righteousness, receiving the gift of ETERNAL LIFE? The living Christ who heads and directs this Work, reaps a harvest, THROUGH this Work of a few THOUSAND of such every year.
Co-Workers, this wouldn't BE the very Work of God UNLESS it was being persecuted! Our persecutors themselves, PROVE this is the very Work of God! We do not invite persecution. We try to avoid it. But the living Christ and YOUR BIBLE says we will get persecution and false accusation. In this world, we have to expect at the best, careless journalism, and at the worst, irresponsible journalism.
Let us remember we are mindful of the assurance of our very Savior: "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. REJOICE, and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you" (Matthew 5:10-12).
This very persecution INSPIRES us to GO FORWARD with renewed enthusiasm, faith, and determination! Our God is still on His Throne. The living Christ will never leave nor forsake us. Let us never forsake Him. He is constantly opening more and greater doors to get His Work going to more and more people with increased IMPACT! Let's follow where He leads, in HIS POWER!