A tragic accident has struck us. Last Wednesday afternoon I had to drop everything and race to San Luis Obispo, half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
My elder son, Richard David Armstrong (Dick), and another of God's ordained elders, up here on a baptizing tour, were in a terrible head-on automobile wreck, a few miles from here. They were taken to a hospital in this little city, with Dick in very critical condition. He came as near death as could be possible and still live. Let me say quickly he is making good progress, and we know God will heal him—but this Sunday afternoon, four days after the accident, he is still in critical condition. Thousands of people are fasting and praying for his recovery, all over the United States and in England—and I know I can be sure that you, too, will join us, IN REAL FAITH, at once. Our other man, Alton B. Billingsley, was not critically injured, and was able to return to Pasadena two days later.
At first it was hard to understand how a thing like this could happen. BUT IT WAS FOR A PURPOSE! I hope I can make it plain to you, for this terrible accident affects every one of us— YOU included!
I will explain, but first let me tell you what happened and Dick's condition. Dick was sitting in the "death seat" or the right front seat. A large Cadillac crashed into them head on, literally shearing off the right side of our men's car a fourth of the way across. Dick saved his life by instantly lunging over close to the driver, Mr. Billingsley—otherwise he would have been cut in two. He received a badly broken pelvis—his hip bone split about an inch and a half apart; his right arm broken at the elbow —a very bad break; his jaw badly broken, and several teeth knocked out; his stomach and intestines knocked up thru the diaphragm against the left lung, collapsing the lung, and shoving, his heart over on his right side.
A third car also crashed into the Cadillac, so it was a three-car pile-up. The cars were a total loss. My son was the only one critically injured, though a woman passenger in another car had both legs broken—it was reported not as seriously as it might have been, and others of course more or less seriously injured, but none critically.
In the first hospital to which they were taken, both men refused any medical aid, relying on God. Dick was in deep shock, but had gained semi-consciousness, and stoutly refused medical aid. His blood pressure was down to 40, due to loss of much blood. Below 60 is usually fatal. He was dying. The hospital refused to keep him, unless he would give them free hand in medical treatment, and hastened to transfer him to another hospital, where they instantly gave him a blood transfusion. The accident occurred at 1:15 Wednesday afternoon. Mr. Norman Smith, another of our ministers, and I picked up Dr. Ralph E. Merrill, our college physician and member of our Board of Trustees, and drove to San Luis Obispo. We found we could drive faster than we could get here by plane, even chartering a special plane. We arrived at 7:30. By that time Dick's blood pressure was up to 105. Later that night it was 110, and before we left the hospital after midnight, 112. They were giving him oxygen, and he was breathing heavily, but conscious, tho his mind was not entirely clear yet due to extreme shock.
I think most of you know that we rely on God for healing, not medicines. However, what Jesus healed, and the apostles, and what God PROMISES, is sickness, disease, and infirmities. If you have heard me speak on the subject you have heard me always say that in case of a broken bone, man can and should set it, and leave the HEALING to God. Dick was not afflicted with sickness, or disease, or infirmities—but with broken and displaced organs that need to be put back together. For such, as God's people, we should have it done by the most expert specialists obtainable. That is what I authorized immediately.
It so happens that in this little city there are more top-flight specialists in these various fields, according to population, than any other in California except Pasadena. There are exceptionally competent specialists here—Dr. Merrill assures me as good as any on the coast. In all, seven of these, including Dr. Merrill, are collaborating in Dick's case. Dick could not receive better care and help anywhere on earth. One specialist has been flown by private plane from the U.C.L.A. Medical Center in Los Angeles. These men are co-operating with us, respecting our Biblical belief as to trusting God for HEALING, instead of medicines, and on the other hand we are not in any way tying their hands in anything vital to getting Dick back into perfect shape. They fully realize that Dick occupies a very important and essential position, and are giving every conscientious effort in their power to get him back in shape.
Let me say that, WITH GOD'S POWER, on which we rely fully, he can be put back in perfect shape, where he will be in as good physical condition as before. And THAT depends on our prayers, and the FAITH we let God give us.
Let me say, too, DO NOT BLAME THE OTHER HOSPITAL for getting him off their hands. In this world there are LAWS regulating doctors and hospitals. Had Dick died in their hospital without their administering what they regard as proper medical treatment, the hospital and the doctors would have been CRITICALLY LIABLE, possibly prosecuted for criminal neglect, their licenses revoked, and possible penitentiary sentences. From their point of view they HAD to either treat him medically or get him quickly off their hands. And they did not dare give this medical treatment against his determined protests. Apparently he was too far gone to protest when he was carried into the second hospital. And after I arrived, I did authorize what was necessary to allow these specialists to do what God would have MEN do, and in such a manner that the doctors and hospital are protected against criminal neglect according to state law!
They do not dare start to set bones and got the broken and displaced parts back in proper place until he is strong enough to stand anesthetics. His temperature and blood pressure have been essentially normal since that first night. Then, as always happens in such a case, his kidneys, being overloaded, were unable to produce normally, and the doctors cannot begin these replacements until this condition clears up. Yesterday and today the kidney condition is improving. The doctors are much encouraged.
This has been a terrific test of will power and character for Dick. I want to tell you, as his father, I am well pleased with the manner in which he is behaving under the most terrible ordeal of his life. He is showing far greater strength of character than even I realized he had. His wife and baby son were brought up here early Thursday, and Lois is proving a wife of remarkably strong character. She is helping every way, keeping up courage, not going to pieces—and still nursing her baby without any upset condition in the baby whatever, and spending hours each day at Dick's bedside.
Now WHY did this happen? We know that God did allow it to happen. Some unthinking people, not fully knowing God's ways or the BIBLE, begin to wonder if God is punishing my son and Mr. Billingsley, or if this means we do not have any divine protection, after all!
To such, I say, "O YE OF LITTLE FAITH AND NO UNDER- STANDING!"
This was allowed to happen—and for a PURPOSE! But that purpose was not to punish these two servants of God who were at the moment out in His service. Nor does it mean for one moment that we do not have divine protection! THEY DID HAVE DIVINE PROTECTION, or else both would have been killed. God permitted this to go just so far, and NO FARTHER. Dick was allowed to be carried as near death as is humanly possible and still live. But he was protected from death—and he will be delivered out of this, and healed.
I have had to face the question, in praying to God about it, of whether I would be willing to give him up, if God should take his life. I have had to tell God that if that is what He does, then GOD'S WILL BE DONE! Abraham was required to be willing to sacrifice his son. God didn't require him to actually do it, after he was willing and obedient. But God did sacrifice HIS Son Jesus for us!
I had to tell God I was willing—if that be God's will. But I believe it is God's will to let Dick be a LIVING sacrifice, his whole life dedicated, as it already is, to GOD'S SERVICE. Dick was actually dying when removed from the first hospital. God then began the work of bringing him up from that depth, and starting him on the road toward complete recovery. Friday early afternoon they called me to race to the hospital—Dick was hemorrhaging from the mouth, blood simply pouring out in big volume. I prayed. The doctors could not seem to find the source or stop it. I kept praying, and I BELIEVED, and knew God would stop it. A broken-off tooth had snagged an artery or blood vessel in the gum or cheek. The doctor pulled the tooth, and Dick withstood the pain without a sound. The blood stopped. His blood pressure had gotten too high just before this happened. It brought the blood pressure back to normal. ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD to them that love the Lord! It proved a blessing. Yes, Dick has God's protection! Will you keep praying for him—and BELIEVING?
A few years ago I was striving to get this great work of God so organized that, if my life should be taken in an accident, THE WORK would go right on. But some said that was foolish, be- cause nothing could possibly happen to me—I had such protection from God that He would never let anything happen. I told them they were wrong. If my sudden death would result in WAKING UP all you Co-Workers, and all our staff, and arousing you to the place where the WHOLE WORK would go on with more power than with me still alive, then God probably would let that happen! MY OWN LIFE is worth NOTHING, except its value to the WORK OF GOD! Let me say to any of you who have been negligent, and letting down, and not putting your whole hearts into this WORK OF GOD, that if you want to prevent that from happening, the way is to AROUSE yourself, and put your heart into God's work so unselfishly and zealously that God will not have to do any such drastic thing to shake YOU into more zeal.
Things have happened lately to show us that SATAN IS STRIKING FIERCELY RIGHT NOW at GOD'S WORK! If you don't believe there is a devil, let me tell you THE BIBLE says there IS! And it says that in these very days he is very WROTH with those of us who keep the Commandments of God, and have the faith of Jesus—those proclaiming Christ's TRUE GOSPEL to the world!
I want to tell you that this work of God is being OPPOSED at every hand. It is being PERSECUTED! We are having a STRUGGLE to carry it on. And what are we struggling against? Will you let the Word of God tell you? "We wrestle NOT against flesh and blood (people), but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against SPIRITUAL WICKEDNESS" —or better translated "against WICKED SPIRITS in high places" (Eph. 6:12). Verse 11 says we need to put on the WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD, in order to withstand the WILES OF THE DEVIL! Therefore this Scripture tells us these things actually come FROM THE DEVIL. We don't see that, because the devil is a super-powerful SPIRIT being, invisible to human eyes.
NOW LISTEN! Let me tell you WHY this happened! This work of God has been GROWING this year as never before. Never before has God opened so many new DOORS of radio, and other mediums for GETTING OUT HIS GOSPEL! No longer do we number those being CONVERTED—their lives being changed—begotten of God, being SAVED —in the dozens or the scores or even in the hundreds. This year for the first time they are numbering INTO THE THOUSANDS! This summer we have had a total of FOUR baptizing teams out touring the entire United States and Canada. There are between two thousand and twenty-five hundred awaiting baptism—or there were, when the teams started out. They are utterly unable to get to all of them this summer. We are now planning to keep at least one baptizing team going the year around!
My other son, Garner Ted, is conducting an evangelistic campaign in Springfield, Missouri. At first we received reports from there that many whole church congregations were going to attend, and that we would have to move to a larger auditorium to hold the crowds. But by opening night we learned there was OPPOSITION! The church congregations were being warned and told NOT to attend. Every effort was made to keep people away. The auditorium was filled anyway! After the first night, when many came from 50 miles to as far as 500 miles away the crowd was less but it began increasing—hundreds hungry for the real Bible TRUTH! That campaign is proving a big success. People are being converted—several already baptized!
All this abundant harvest God is giving HIS WORK has ANGERED SATAN! Satan is WROTH! He is striking every way he can! I have heard of astonishing incidents which cannot be accounted for any way except SATAN with his invisible POWER striking at this WORK OF GOD!
Mr. Billingsley was driving the car when the accident occurred. Mr. Billingsley was formerly our chauffeur at Ambassador College. He is one of the best, most careful drivers I ever rode with—an experienced, professional driver. As other chauffeurs were employed, until we had a complete transportation department, Mr. Billingsley advanced to be manager of the department. His Bible knowledge and teaching ability improved, and his after-hours service helped so many people spiritually that he was put full time into the SPIRITUAL, phase of God's work, and ordained as an Elder. He had just been praying, just before this accident, that God would help him be careful in driving. He WAS careful. He cannot explain —nor can Dick—how this happened, except that all of a sudden here came this car crashing into them.
I cannot explain it any way except that Satan was striking at this work, by striking at one of our very highest-ranking and most able ministers—and that GOD ALLOWED IT, for a great PURPOSE!
That purpose was to WAKE UP many of you careless and negligent and half-indifferent Co-Workers, who have your minds and hearts as much or MORE in the interests of THIS WORLD—in MATERIAL interests—than in this precious and ALL-important WORK OF GOD!
We can see the hand of GOD in this in many ways! Had God allowed Satan to strike at myself, or Garner Ted Armstrong, it might have stopped the broadcast, because we do all the broadcasting. On the other hand, tho some of you Co-Workers scattered over the country may not know it, Dick Armstrong somehow has had more LOVE and COMPASSION for those he ministers to than any of our ministers, including myself. As a natural result, there is none among us MORE LOVED by more people. Satan thought he could strike a master blow by striking at Dick Armstrong. He is director of all the overseas work around the world. If God let my life be taken, it would have to be either Dick or Garner Ted who would step into my shoes in the general direction of this whole work of God.
Satan wanted to strike at JOB. God allowed it, but said: "Behold, he is in thine hand, but save his life." Satan could go no farther than God allowed. God allowed him to go as far as possible SHORT OF DEATH. God allowed the same in this accident with Dick. Satan can go no farther than God allows. This has been a terrible shock to those who have heard it. Even though I have been up here, away from Pasadena, some have come to me to tell me how it has shaken them up, and brought them to a reconsecration and full dedication of their lives to GOD and this work of Jesus Christ!
God DOES NOT PROMISE TO PROTECT US FROM ANY TROUBLES OR ACCIDENTS HAPPENING! He does promise to deliver us OUT of them, after they happen! "MANY are the afflictions of the righteous: but the ETERNAL delivereth him out of them all." "The angel of the ETERNAL encampeth round about them that fear him and delivereth them" (Psalm 34:19,7). Notice. the angel does not ALWAYS prevent the accident from happening—tho I fully believe he USUALLY does. But he "delivereth them"—if or when they get into it!
These things do not come as punishment. Job's friends kept arguing that his affliction came as punishment for his sins. Job flatly denied this. God said Job's friends were wrong and Job was right. The Apostle Paul was afflicted, and allowed to suffer physical violence up to the very point of death. Notice Acts 14:19. READ IT! God allowed Satan to use human enemies to STONE PAUL, until his heart actually stopped beating long enough for his enemies to decide he was dead, and go away. GOD WAS NOT PUNISHING PAUL, for he had committed no sin to bring it on. He was in God's service at the time, the same as my son Dick was. Paul came as near death as Dick—but God kept him alive and RESTORED HIM WHOLE, FOR GOD'S WORK!
Paul was not in an automobile wreck—they didn't have automobiles then—but PAUL WAS IN A WRECK! He said, "Thrice was I beaten with rods, once I was stoned, THRICE I SUFFERED SHIP-WRECK!" This was all WHILE in God's service proclaiming the SAME GOSPEL Dick was, when Dick was allowed to get into a wreck. Notice II Cor 3:11. Paul was in persecutions, and afflictions—but GOD DELIVERED HIM OUT OF THEM—as I know He will deliver Dick, if you join me and other thousands in BELIEVING PRAYER!
Not since the days of the original apostles has this same GOSPEL JESUS PREACHED been proclaimed to the whole world. Satan persecuted them, by bringing VIOLENCE on them in various ways. "And great FEAR came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things" (Acts 5:11). However, when such troubles beset them that threatened to stop their work, they unitedly PRAYED to God for more power and faith and boldness, "and when they had prayed the PLACE WAS SHAKEN WHERE THEY WERE ASSEMBLED." God answered them— delivered them—protected them—so HIS WORK COULD GO RIGHT ON!
Dear Co-Workers, Mrs. Armstrong and I have had to go thru a great deal of suffering and struggle. I could never have had the ability to be used as God's instrument as He is using me, had I not learned, and been tried, and tested, and DEVELOPED by this suffering thru the years. I have often said to my wife that one thing our two sons lacked, which God had given us, was this struggle and hardship and suffering. Well, my son Richard David is now getting a whole LIFE-TIME amount of suffering in one concentrated dose. It is taking great courage and bravery. He lies there, helpless, praying constantly, TRUSTING God, bravely enduring the tremendous pain which the doctors at times have to put him thru, co-operating with tremendous will power. I told him that I admire him as I never knew I could any man, and he looked up to me and said thru his broken jaw he cannot move, "I love you, Dad!" He says he is willing to ENDURE this thru what will be many months unless God causes by a miracle much faster than normal healing. Can we, today, unitedly raise up our voices to God in such BELIEVING prayer that He will answer with a miracle?
In the midst of this great abundant HARVEST of precious lives for eternity, OUR CO-WORKERS HAVE BEEN LETTING DOWN and becoming neglectful, this past month. Not all of you—many of you have stood loyally by us, at great sacrifice—but many others have become careless and neglected to send in tithes and offerings as you could, and should. In June our Co-Workers responded to my appeal nobly, but in July it seemed like a reaction, and there is NOT ENOUGH MONEY TO CARRY ON GOD'S GREAT WORK AT TOP EFFICIENCY! Our business department is in a terrible financial bind.
Co-Workers, WILL YOU NOT ONLY PRAY FOR MY SON'S MIRACULOUS AND SPEEDY RECOVERY—but also for the financial salvation of this WORK OF GOD? I believe God allowed this terrible thing to happen for that very purpose. I am asking God to see that it reaches your heart, and touches it so that those of you who have been neglectful will AROUSE TO UNSELFISH AND GENEROUS ACTION for the work! I know that this has proved a heart-shaking and tremendous prod on all our staff at Pasadena.
Before closing, I have one bit of WONDERFUL NEWS for you. Here is another blessing from GOD, and an answer to the prayers of MANY! For more than a year, Basil Wolverton, nationally known artist, and also a professional writer, one of the Board of Directors of this work, and an ordained Elder, has been working untiringly on the BIBLE STORY BOOK FOR CHILDREN. At last I can announce that it is almost ready for publication. We have decided to first publish it SERIALLY in The PLAIN TRUTH, as a monthly BOYS' AND GIRLS' DEPARTMENT! I am very enthusiastic over what he has written. NEVER before has there been anything like it. It is the CONTINUOUS STORY OF THE WHOLE BIBLE, from beginning to end. It is written primarily for children from about 9 to 12, but it is written in such a manner that even children of around four or five can UNDERSTAND IT, if their parents read it, and explain it as they go along. And it is also written in such style that teen-agers will really ENJOY it, and not feel it is too young for them—and better still, ADULTS will greatly enjoy it, and I believe thousands will get a clear UNDERSTANDING of the Bible, and of GOD'S PURPOSE and PLAN such as they never had before! So, while it is primarily written for ages 9 to 12, it is a marvelous thing for ALL AGES! It is thrilling—exciting—gripping—interesting—and so PLAIN to understand! It is TRUTH!
It is planned to later publish this as a book—or even series of books, as it looks like it will be more than one book. It will be profusely illustrated with Mr. Wolverton's drawings. I hope we can start it with either the October or November issues. So BE PATIENT JUST A LITTLE LONGER, and I think you will be over- joyed with it. I think this means we shall have to begin publishing a larger PLAIN TRUTH—possibly 32 pages instead of the present 24 pages. PRAY for us that all this may be possible!
In closing, let me quote the words of Jesus: "My meat (food) is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to ACCOMPLISH HIS WORK. Say not ye that there are yet four months, and then cometh the harvest? Lo, I say unto you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white with harvest." (John 4:34-35, Numeric translation). Jesus was speaking of the HARVEST OF SOULS FOR GOD'S KINGDOM. He painted the picture as it is now—BUT, as we read elsewhere in Scripture, the harvest is plenteous, BUT THE LABORERS ARE FEW!
Satan has stricken down one of our very chiefest laborers, for a duration until God completely restores him. But most of all, GOD'S WORK NEEDS MORE CO-WORKER LABORERS WHO HELP WITH THEIR URGENT HEART-RENDING PRAYERS, AND WITH THEIR TITHES AND GENEROUS OFFERINGS, REGULARLY EVERY MONTH, OR EVEN EVERY WEEK.
Many of you CAN respond much better. SOME FEW of you are able, if willing, to put in larger amounts, even up to a few thousand dollars. BRETHREN AND CO-WORKERS, WILL YOU RALLY TO THIS GREAT NEED?
Richard David is NOT yet out of danger by any means. As I write tonight, his life still hangs in the balance and, except for God's intervention, could suddenly go either way. His condition is still extremely critical. HE NEEDS YOUR EARNEST AND BELIEVING PRAYERS!
Today a man came to see him, who until about three months ago was a completely paralyzed cripple, confined to a wheel chair for seven years. He had not walked or had use of his left arm for seven years. His terrible injury came in the Korean war. He was in the 1st Division Marines. The best doctors and surgeons had done all medical science could. He was crippled for life. Three months ago, he came to my son Dick Armstrong for prayer. Dick annointed him and prayed and asked God to heal him. Almost instantly he was HEALED. He had to learn to walk all over again. Now he almost leaps up stairs two steps at a time, and the left hand that could not move now gives you a mighty firm grip in a warm handshake! Several have been completely HEALED—a woman and baby in child-birth given up by the doctor to die—NOTHING could be done humanly—but Dick refused to give up, kept right on praying and believing, and the child was born and the mother saved. The DOCTOR will tell you this was an absolute MIRACLE!
If an ox is used in treading out the corn—as an instrument in reaping corn—he is not muzzled and denied his share of the corn. If God has used Richard D. Armstrong as His prayer-instrument in healing others, surely God won't deny my son HIS share of God's healing, now! WE NEED HIM! GOD'S WORK NEEDS HIM—it needs your prayers—it needs your tithes and offerings—it needs YOU! May God richly bless you! I KNOW you will quickly and generously respond—and please KEEP IT UP, weekly or monthly. THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!