GREETINGS, in Jesus' name! I want to send you a report while I am still at the big Tabernacle in Texas.
Reports are being telephoned and telegraphed to me here from several points around the world, of the Passover and first holy day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Everywhere there is increase.
We had an attendance of more than 1,500 at the all-day services here on the holy day, yesterday. At the Passover Sunday evening, 792 adults partook of the Passover—a 25% increase over last year. At Pasadena headquarters church 747 took the Passover, and 982 were in attendance on the holy day. At Portland, Oregon, 220 took the Passover, and 475 attended the annual Sabbath services. At Denver, 217 took the Passover and 360 attended the feast night. At Fresno, 154 took the Passover and 230 were at the Feast. In London, England, 75 took the Passover, and 14 at Bristol church—an increase from only 40 last year. And 120 were present yesterday at the new Ambassador College just outside London, for the annual Sabbath services. In Sydney, Australia, where our new church started only a few weeks ago, 29 adults took the Passover Sunday night, and they were expecting a wonderful feast the entire eight days.
That is WONDERFUL NEWS! The Church of God plunges forward!
But, dear Brethren, we are failing God in one respect. As the Church grows, and its work expands, new and larger facilities are constantly required. This mammoth Tabernacle, seating about 7,500, is not yet quite paid for—and there is still about $135,000 additional construction to be completed, before our present building is finished. The work already done requires about 2« more payments, at $18,000 each, before we begin the unfinished portion of the present Tabernacle. Beside this, we have to pay out $8,333 per month on the new steel Booth City housing district erected last fall, for two more years.
The new college in England requires building alterations to convert a fine former brick stable into our new office building for all the work in Britain and Europe and South Africa; and the building of three new music studios in the recently purchased Music Hall—beside repainting inside and out of the large main building, Memorial Hall. In addition, we have had to purchase new light fixtures, rugs and carpeting, complete floor covering for the girls' dormitory wing, and also for the men's dormitory building— which also must be completely repainted. All these rooms have to be furnished. We have to set up a radio recording studio at the college in England, so that when I, or Garner Ted Armstrong, or Mr.Ra are over there we can keep the radio programs on the air. We have to install class room furniture, and many other things. We are spreading most of these payments out over one or two years—but this adds to the MONTHLY needs for our property and building fund. We have to make monthly payments on the new properties in England.
In addition, five or six additional properties have gone on the market adjoining, or inside, the Ambassador College campus in Pasadena—all a part of the PLANNED campus, which is as yet FAR from being built complete. Factories were about to grab up these properties, tear down the houses, and build factories on the ground—jutting into our campus. This would RUIN the future campus. In such an emergency, we have HAD to purchase such properties immediately to save the college. We are not purchasing any additional properties which we can avoid—but these have been unavoidable. Each has taken a down payment, and added to the monthly payments we must make on properties and buildings.
The college has gone for two years without an assembly hall large enough to accommodate our growing student body, until the last few months, when we remodeled an old building on our campus. Already this new remodeled assembly hall is filled to capacity—and beginning next fall's semester it is doubtful whether we can jam all the students into it. We shall need a new assembly hall desperately in another year.
The college is in dire need of a new dining hall. Students are being crammed into all the rooms on first-floor Mayfair at present. Cooking for 250 must be done in a cramped kitchen originally built for just one family of 3 or 4 members! But we have lacked the funds to build the needed new dining hall.
Our elementary and high schools in Pasadena have completely outgrown their facilities, and unless we can build new school buildings in the next year, the city authorities may close up the school. But it does not appear now that we can build these in the foreseeable future.
That gives you a glimpse into our building NEEDS!
Yet you brethren have not kept up even the $18,000 per month payments we have had to make to the Behlen Mfg. Co. to pay for the Tabernacle alone, here at Big Sandy. You have let your special offerings for the building and property fund drop down to $10,000 or less per month!
Brethren, I believe you have just not realized the seriousness of this need. DO YOU THINK I ENJOY HAVING TO BEG YOU TO DO YOUR PART BY SENDING IN SPECIAL OFFERINGS? Yet I am held responsible for all this. I am doing all I can—but I can't pay for this—it takes ALL OF US!
When I asked you brethren to PLEDGE definite amounts, about two years ago, there were only a little more than HALF AS MANY of us as there are today. With nearly TWICE as many members in God's Church, it is simply not right, Brethren, that you should be able to send in only HALF as much money as you then pledged and sent.
I wonder if we realize God has a message for us, through the prophet Haggai. One of the vital KEYS which open up the prophecies to our understanding is the principle of DUALITY. The original prophecy is merely the type, or forerunner, of the latter fulfillment in OUR DAY—and the years immediately ahead. Also, these Old Testament experiences were written as examples for us—of how God deals with us.
It was 70 years after the invasion and captivity of Judah. As Jeremiah had foretold, King Cyrus of Persia gave order for a certain portion of the Jews to return to Jerusalem, and rebuild the Temple. Under leadership of Zerubbabel, who was made governor over these Jews, and Joshua, the high priest, they returned to Jerusalem. But enemies of Judah first tried to join them, under pretext that they, too, were seeking Judah's God; then, being rejected from participating, they did everything in their power to discourage and frustrate the Jews, until they became discouraged. The work on rebuilding the Temple came to a standstill. The prophecy of Haggai begins at this point.
God does not want his people to let the people, or the interests, or the cares, of this world turn their hearts and energies from His work. The people of Judah were saying (Haggai 1:2) the time had not yet come to rebuild the Temple. They were, JUST AS HALF OR MORE OF GOD'S PEOPLE ARE DOING RIGHT NOW, shirking this responsibility.
Then came GOD'S WORD! "Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste?" (verse 4.) First of all these Jews built nice permanent houses for themselves. They were putting their labor, their money, their hearts and interests, on THEIR OWN POSSESSIONS. They were putting themselves and their wants and desires FIRST. The building for GOD'S CAUSE was being neglected. Yes,—just as many of YOU, professing to be God's people today, are doing!
God asked them to look at, and stop to consider THEIR WAYS that they were doing (verse 5). They were under a CURSE. They were SEEKING their own wants, and prosperity—but God was not blessing them! "Ye have sown much, and bring in little," says God (verse 6); "ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink" —or, as Moffatt translates it: "You never can drink your fill." "You clothe yourselves, but you cannot keep warm" — "and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes."
"You looked for much," says God (verse 9), "and lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it" (spoiled it—Moffatt). "WHY? saith the Eternal of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man to his own house." Therefore, God continues, they were under a curse. They were not prospering as they sought.
After this stern rebuke from God, Zerubbabel, Joshua, and all the people OBEYED the voice of God. They began to really fear the Eternal—just as we had better be doing! The Eternal stirred up the spirit of these people (verse 14), and they put their labor (our labor is represented by money today) into the building for GOD'S purposes. Then, finally, God said: "From this day will I bless you!"—from the day the foundation of the Temple was laid— from the day the people put their hearts into the construction of GOD'S BUILDING.
This message is referring to the rebuilding of the Temple at Jerusalem, just a few years from now, in type and anti-type, of course—yet the WARNING, in the principle of it, CERTAINLY APPLIES TO US RIGHT NOW!
I BELIEVE JESUS CHRIST, OUR LIVING HEAD OF OUR CHURCH, IS DISAPPOINTED IN AND DISPLEASED WITH MANY OF YOU! I know that some of you are sacrificing to send in all you possibly can, in special, extra over-and-above-regular offerings for this SPECIAL PROPERTY AND BUILDING FUND. But when nearly twice as many of us send in only half as much, MOST OF YOU ARE SHIRKING YOUR PART IN GOD'S WORK!
Beginning now, we need—we MUST have—I MUST PAY OUT—not less than $35,000 per month out of this SPECIAL BUILDING AND PROPERTY FUND which almost does not exist! I can't do it with $10,000 per month!
I know of no way, but once again to ask you to make definite PLEDGES, conditioned, of course, upon your continued income and ability. I know this is a lot of money. But God's Church is growing, and is no longer a little tiny Church. There are now THOUSANDS of us members. If every member—or every family—would squeeze out, some way, IN ADDITION to regular generous offerings and tithes, a special $7 per month for the special PROPERTY FUND, I am sure we would have enough. But so many of you members do not contribute anything, or else a lot less than that, that those of us who can must contribute a lot more than that.
You know what is going to happen to the UNPROFITABLE SERVANT. He is going to be cast into the lake of fire! Do you realize the Bible definition of an UNprofitable servant? Those who do just what is REQUIRED of them and no more—have done that which was THEIR DUTY TO DO, but not MORE—are UNprofitable servants!!! (Luke 17:10). See also Matthew 25:30, for their FATE!
I feel that NECESSITY forces me, IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST, to ask every member—or the head of every family—to send in a PLEDGE to contribute for the NEXT TWO YEARS a certain definite amount every month or every week for the PROPERTY FUND. This must be OVER and ABOVE, and IN ADDITION TO your tithes, and regular liberal offerings, according to your ability. It is understood that this PLEDGE is conditioned on your present income keeping up, and your financial ability. IF your income is reduced or cut off— or same unexpected circumstance makes it honestly impossible to continue this amount, or makes it necessary to reduce it, of course you are at liberty to do so. THIS DOES NOT BIND YOU TO ANYTHING THAT MIGHT BECOME IMPOSSIBLE. Those, who have continued with the former pledge, please replace it with this new one.
This pledge is NOT a vow—but a conditioned statement of your intention, binding you only as long as your ability makes possible, up to two years.
Brethren, I will admit I am a little discouraged, and disappointed. I NEED YOUR COLLECTIVE ENCOURAGEMENT of such a shower of pledges that will reach this $35,000 per month goal. I try, month after month, year after year, to keep encouraging you brethren. Now WILL YOU GIVE ME A LITTLE ENCOURAGEMENT, and prove to all of us that we are NOT the luke-warm Laodicean church which Christ says He is going to spew out of His mouth—but the consecrated, dedicated, enlivened, spiritually dynamic, vigorous PHILADELPHIA church that is fulfilling Matthew 24:14!
Let us AROUSE ourselves, and put the work of God FIRST! Seek ye FIRST the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and material blessings shall be added. I THANK YOU for it in advance. God bless you!