I have just had an urgent long-distance telephone call from Pasadena Headquarters. The SPECIAL offerings for the Building Fund are dropping off alarmingly.
Frankly, dear Brethren, I feel discouraged, helpless, frustrated. MANY of you—in fact, MOST—whom we have believed God had added to His Church, are not putting your hearts into the NEED of the Church as did the ancient Israelites, or the early Christians.
The NEED is imperative—desperate. Yet, when a few months ago I sent a serious request for pledges for this Special Fund in two different letters, only about one out of ten or twelve of our membership has responded. We are no longer a tiny Church of two or three hundred members, as we were back in 1933 when the broadcasting and publishing work was started. We still are just the "Little Flock" compared to the world's larger churches and denominations—yet God has added to His Church until it numbers some 12,000 or more today. And yet, only 1,077 members have responded to send in these direly needed pledges.
Let me explain two things:
1) I have not asked for a pledge that would BIND you, if personal circumstances change so that you could not keep it up. I have not asked for a "vow." The pledge that I have asked is a statement of what you will undertake to contribute to this special Building Fund, over and above, and in addition to your tithes and regular offerings, PROVIDED God supplies you with the same ability you have now and expect to continue having. IF your income is reduced or cut off—IF bona fide circumstances make it impossible to continue, it is understood you are to be released from the obligation. It does NOT bind you against unforeseen or impossible future circumstances.
2) It has occurred to me that some of you may have thought that, since you did send in such a pledge some two years ago when we started building the Tabernacle at Gladewater, Texas, you do not need to send in another one now. But we wanted EVERY MEMBER to send in a new pledge, now. If you sent in one before, this new one cancels out the former one and replaces it. But EVERY MEMBER is asked to send one in now.
In the former letters, I gave you the Scriptural examples of how God had His ministers and leaders call on His people for such funds for needed BUILDING for Church use, in Bible days, and how joyfully and spontaneously and generously the people then responded.
Now, in these latter days, CHRIST the Head of this Church HAS NEED of another big, generous outpouring of special offerings for HIS Building Fund. SURELY IT CANNOT BE, BRETHREN, THAT NINE OUT OF TEN OF US ARE STRAYING AWAY FROM OUR LORD! If we do only our own part—what is expected of us—God's Word brands us as UNPROFITABLE SERVANTS. And the unprofitable servants are to be cast into the lake of FIRE!
Already I have had to suspend for this year the work of completing the big Tabernacle in Texas. We had planned to double the number of steel Booths this summer for housing our Brethren at the Feast of Tabernacles this fall—but we had to give that up because nine out of ten of you Brethren failed to respond. We shall have to get along at this year's Festival with the same facilities we had last year—and yet we expect 1200 to 1500 MORE than last year to be in attendance. New buildings are DIRELY needed on the college campus in Pasadena, and we are being FORCED to make certain building alterations and additions on the new college property here in England, so that the new college may open, and also that we may hold the Feast of Tabernacles here this fall.
We expect about 7,000 to be in attendance at the Festival this fall in Texas. It will fill the gigantic new Tabernacle to capacity. But what of NEXT year? We have to think ahead! Next year we expect around 9,000 at the Festival. We cannot have TWO THOUSAND Brethren standing outside, unable to get in! This means that before the fall of next year we shall HAVE to enlarge the giant Texas Tabernacle still more. REMEMBER, after we so quickly outgrew the original Tabernacle (now our Dining Hall), we planned this one so that we may keep adding on to it as Christ adds to His Church. A year ago, we made it half-again-longer, increasing the seating capacity 50%. It is now 376 feet long—longer than a football field—probably the largest church auditorium in Texas. We cannot make it any longer—but we can increase it in DEPTH, almost without limit—and later, add a balcony.
We had thought our next enlargement made it necessary to DOUBLE the present area, from 121 feet in depth to 242 feet, and the same 376 feet in length. This will—when done—require a tremendous steel trussed arch like a giant suspension bridge, overhead to replace the structural support of the present rear wall, so as to avoid posts or pillars. However, the builders tell us now that we can build part of this at a time, so as not to have to double the present area all at once. This Tabernacle is designed so that ultimately we can seat 25,000 people under the one roof, with only a very few slender steel posts near the sides and rear to support the balcony.
WE MUST REALIZE, NOW, that we have to start NOW building up this Special Fund for NEXT year's Tabernacle expansion—for the contractors will want to START on it shortly after this fall's Festival.
PRAY with me, Brethren, that God will intervene in our behalf and prosper many of our Brethren, so that they may have more to contribute for this great purpose. If we are PROFITABLE servants, God will prosper us and bless us.
But I must, now, by authority of Jesus Christ, ask every member who has not done so in the last few months, to send in one of these conditional pledges. So far, 1,077 members have pledged ONLY $10,352.27 per month. That is $10 per month per member, on the average. That is a good average—but we NEED $35,000 per month in this fund. If the other nine-tenths of you will pledge as much as this first tenth or our members, we would have $100,000 per month. IF a thousand of us can pledge $10,352.27 per month, the other 10 or 11 thousand of us can do as well. This proves that, small as we are, God's Church today has the ABILITY to pledge over $100,000 per month for the Building Fund. .
Brethren, we CAN easily raise this Special Fund to the needed $35,000 per month. REMEMBER, this cannot come out of God's TITHE, or out of your regular offerings. It must be IN ADDITION to them. This is an EXTRA offering. I am fully aware of the "burden" of adding this to 2nd and 3rd tithe accounts, government income tax, etc., etc. Yes, we could gripe and grumble, and say we can't afford it. But more than a thousand of us ARE ALREADY MANAGING TO DO IT, and the other 10 or 11 thousand of you CAN MANAGE IT ALSO— IF your hearts are in God's Church—IF you are PROFITABLE servants! If you think this burden is heavy, PRAY OVER IT—and remember Christ said He will make our burdens light—God can and will prosper us to make possible everything He expects of us! And it is a JOY to respond!
We are hard at work over here in England, getting ready for the opening of college here in October. I expect, God willing, to fly home for the opening of college at Pasadena. THANK YOU, Brethren, for this added sacrifice I have to ask you to make.