I have another most IMPORTANT decision to make within the next few weeks. I need your advice — your opinion and help. In multitude of counsellors there is safety.
God has moved swiftly, mightily, miraculously, in opening to us great new opportunities for the accomplishment of His Work, especially during the past six weeks. He has opened before us opportunities beyond our wildest dreams a year ago. He has placed in our hands facilities and actual physical assets that are nothing short of breathtaking. Surely God is leading, and blessing this work in most pronounced manner.
And now, on the heels of the magnificent buildings and grounds placed in our hands for AMBASSADOR COLLEGE in Pasadena, comes another even more breath-taking opportunity — so amazing as to seem almost fantastic.
The unbelievable opportunity actually is OPENED to us. It is not a question of "CAN we do it," — but entirely a question of whether this is a further step opened for this new undertaking by the hand of God, or whether it is NOT of God, but merely a circumstance which we ought to reject.
When I found this beautiful estate in Pasadena was actually available to us on a basis within our reach, I still delayed the final decision several days — until I was SURE it was opened by God's hand. I sought every expert and technical advise, and I prayed earnestly and continued to pray until at last I knew God had given me the answer — then I went ahead.
Now a most important mission of AMBASSADOR COLLEGE is to teach foreign languages. While it is not to be just a Bible College, or ministerial college, but rather a new-type general liberal arts institution, yet I do have faith that out of it will come ministers, evangelists, and assistants for this great expanding work. Christ's commission is not "Preach the Gospel in your own neighborhood," — or even just "to your own country," but He commanded, "GO YE INTO ALL THE WORLD." This Gospel of the Kingdom must be preached in all the world as a witness unto ALL NATIONS, before the end of this age. Well, some may ask, are not MOST of the denominations preaching into foreign nations? Yes, but the denominations and sects and divisions and political church organizations of this world DO NOT PREACH THE SAME GOSPEL CHRIST DID — DO NOT PREACH THE GOSPEL HE COMMANDED — DO NOT PREACH THE TRUE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM JESUS SAID MUST GO TO ALL NATIONS, NOW!
So, ability to speak fluently foreign languages, and ACTUAL FOREIGN EXPERIENCE, is very vital to God's purpose for this time. And TIME IS SHORT! And God is, as I said, moving swiftly now, opening to us amazing, breath-taking, unbelievable facilities and opportunities.
And now comes the almost unbelievable opportunity to have our most deserving students take their final completing senior year of study abroad — in Europe — and in the exact spot in Europe most perfectly adapted to this very purpose!
Before I give you the specific details, let me say further that many students take a foreign language course in an American college, then go abroad, and find to their dismay they can hardly understand the people there, or be understood — they hadn't learned to speak the language AS they speak over there! Now that's a problem that has concerned me much. I've said that we want AMBASSADOR College to be practical. We want to teach French AS they speak it in France — Spanish AS they speak it in Spain, and also AS they speak it in Mexico or South America. But just NOW to do that is not so easy. How can we get instructors capable of doing that? Then, again, how can a student become fluent in speaking Italian, when he speaks it only in a school-room class three times a week, and speaks English WITH Americans here in the United States all the rest of the time?
Well, frankly, that question has perplexed me. I knew it was a problem we had to solve, but how to accomplish I did not know.
Now training in real expertness in speaking foreign languages is only ONE of several very important advantages in spending one year at least of the college training actually in Europe. I'll describe the others later.
But now here's the amazing opportunity that has opened with the same suddenness of the Pasadena opportunity: There is a place, IDEALLY adapted to this purpose, on scenic Lake Lugano at the base of the Swiss Alps, in southern Switzerland. Now Switzerland is the only country in Europe not torn by ravages of war. It is a very small country, surrounded by other European nations speaking different languages. Because Switzerland is so small and so close to so many other countries, nearly everyone in Switzerland speaks three, and often four or five languages. There is probably no spot on earth where as many different languages are commonly spoken by all the people — and exactly AS those languages are spoken by their own native people!
In this particular place in Switzerland, the city of Lugano — there are many foreign language professors, far more expert than any available in the United States, and I'm told their charge as a full-time professor is only the equivalent of $80 per month American money!
On this ideally-situated spot is an almost new and beautiful building, just perfect for the purpose, ample in size to house at least 40 students and provide class-rooms. The fact it is a very fine building may not be so important, but then again, perhaps this, too, is of importance for the purpose. Actually it is an exact replica of the smaller of the group of three buildings constituting Versailles Palace in France, where the peace treaty was signed after World War I. It was built nine years ago, and is, I understand, a really magnificent and stately place.
It seems too unbelievable to accept as possible, unless you know a little of the circumstances. I think it is well to explain them. This chateau, or small palace, is owned by a widow who was very wealthy — worth several million dollars. Except for this chateau at Lugano Castagnola, all her wealth was in Paris and she was there herself at the time of the Nazi capture of Paris. The Nazis took everything she had — left her destitute, except for this magnificent home. After the war, in order to live, she placed a mortgage of 200,000 francs ($50,000) on the place, and has been living on that since then. Now her money is about gone, and the bank is calling for immediate payment of the $50,000, and this woman is in a plight.
She could sell the place either for cash, or with a down- payment of more than $50,000, without too much trouble. BUT SHE WOULD HAVE NO HOME, and doesn't want to give it up. In other words, she wants to eat her cake and have it too! And that's exactly the situation which resulted in offering this unbelievable opportunity to us! The offer is coming thru a man with whom I am in contact in the United States — a widower who expects to marry this widow. They want to live at the place in Switzerland for three years, after which they plan to travel over much of the world. This man is able to handle the $50,000 mortgage with the Swiss Bank, provided there is an income on which they can live. Therefore a cash sale of the Lugano place, or sale with heavy down payment which would require giving immediate possession is not as desirable to them as a deal such as has been offered to me — for us to take it on comparatively small monthly payments, with NO down payment, thus building up the actual down-payment over a three-year period in which they would continue to live there.
Now we would not be ready to use it until three years from next September. We would get possession six months before then, ample time to make all preparations for the first college year there. At that time, we would begin making larger payments. We are able, I believe, to handle the payments they would require. While it would necessitate a little increase in our income for this work, I feel assured we would be able to do it, since it is a nominal amount, comparatively.
Now, again, I would not of course finally close any such deal without personally inspecting the property, and getting every expert advice. Already thru our bank in Pasadena arrangements have been made whereby they will arrange for their New York correspondent bank, the National City Bank, now the leading inter- national bank of the world, to have their European agents inspect and appraise the place, and advise me in every way. And I have tentatively booked passage on the Queen Elizabeth for the latter part of March or first of April. I have felt for over a year I ought to take a trip to Europe to inspect the post-war conditions there first-hand, and I'm sure I'll have some very live, interesting, vital things to report to our vast radio audience, and in The PLAIN TRUTH. It will have to be a quick trip, for I cannot be away but a short time.
And again, I am praying over it, and shall continue to do so until I KNOW I have God's answer. But this opening, coming immediately on the heels of the home for AMBASSADOR COLLEGE in Pasadena, certainly appears to be the working of God.
In addition to giving a perfection to the foreign language courses which never could be given in this country, a one-year term at what would become AMBASSADOR COLLEGE in EUROPE would offer many other unusual and very important educational advantages — of great value not only to students, but also in fitting those who are called for their place in God's work. Music is another study we want to teach at AMBASSADOR, for music has an important place in evangelistic work. And a finishing year in music abroad would certainly offer superior advantages. Students over there would take trips, every six weeks or two months, to one of the near-by European capitals or educational centers — Paris, Milan, Munich, Zurich, Rome — many of them closer to Lugano than San Francisco is from Pasadena. There they would have a planned, guided tour, with perhaps a day or two or three in some of the great libraries of Europe in special and independent research — tours thru the great European museums, galleries, etc. This would all be a definite part of their educational course. As for the Bible study under me, and if I do say so myself I feel they will by that time have a VERY good basic understanding and grasp of the Bible, comparatively speaking. By that time I feel they will be ready for independent research and study of their own in these fine old libraries of Europe — where they will see and study the oldest and rarest actual copies of manuscripts in the original languages, have the advantage of special historic research, etc. And if this plan is carried out I would plan to spend a small part of each year there myself — perhaps two months, for final finishing instruction.
Finally, before graduation, the students would be conducted on a tour of the Holy land.
Now let me mention one MOST important consideration. Most people do not realize this. The circumstances of my life have been such that I have come to learn it. One receives EDUCATION from TRAVEL just as much, if not more, than from books. Travel is broadening. It is EXPERIENCE, and experience is life. It gives one assurance, confidence, poise. It adds that quality of education which helps a man go out and ACCOMPLISH THINGS! And of what use is education, unless it's USED! Just plain book learning alone is not REAL education — doesn't properly fit a man or make him a success. Frankly, I feel that this one year of education in Europe will at least DOUBLE the actual VALUE of the education each student receives.
I have consulted three experienced educators of high standing. All three are emphatic in saying the addition of the European institution would very greatly increase the practical educational value to the students, and fit them for greater accomplishment in life. Since only the best-qualified FORTY students each senior year would be admitted to the European division of the college, there would be incentive for every student to apply himself and work harder thru he first three years, in order to qualify and get to go to Europe.
Of those who become ministers or evangelists, the fact of a year's study abroad would add prestige, attract larger audiences, cause them to listen to the real vital Message with more respect. Certainly those who LIVE a year where several foreign languages are spoken will better be able to preach the Gospel IN those languages in foreign lands!
I also consulted a banker in Pasadena, explaining the proposition. I expected him to say it was a sort of fantastic or impractical thing, but he very seriously said, "Why, no, that's not fantastic or impractical at all. That sounds to me like the soundest, most sensible thing I ever heard of in connection with a college." His wife has spent some time in the town where this place is located — and he himself has been in Versailles and is very familiar with the famed Versailles palace. His judgment was that it is a most practical proposition, and most unusual that such opportunity should come to us.
And now I am consulting YOU, as one of a thousand of our good friends and co-workers. I'd like to know what YOU think about it.
I've tried to explain the facts as fully as possible. Of course it will cost money — but in such a way it will be paid gradually, and never in too heavy amounts to handle. Nobody gets ANYTHING for nothing. Even the payments we'd have to make after the college is established in Europe will not be excessive for the size of the college itself. It costs money to establish and operate a college. And frankly, I am wondering if it will not actually be EASIER to raise the money for BOTH European and Pasadena colleges than just the Pasadena institution alone — and primarily for this reason: I feel, as this banker said, it would add a prestige to AMBASSADOR COLLEGE, especially locally in Pasadena where there is said to be more wealth than any city in the country, and result in gifts and endowments from perhaps a wealthier class of people than we have among our own co-workers. HOWEVER, that is a miner and unimportant consideration, for after all, WE LOOK TO GOD FOR THE SUPPLYING OF EVERY NEED, not to people.
And if this is really of God — if it is the Hand of God that has opened this to us, and it is His will, then He will see to it that all financing needs are met, I have perfect faith in that!
One last question I think of which may come to your mind: How can students themselves afford this year in Europe, and will it exclude those who cannot afford it? No, none would be excluded because he could not afford it, but a rich man's son, for instance, if there should happen by any chance to be one in the college, would be excluded if his personal standing and record with us did not warrant it — if he were not one of the 40 top students, considered from not only academic standing, but personal character, conduct, etc., and evident capacity to USE this educational advantage and profit from it AFTER receiving it. All students who could afford it would have to pay their own expenses, of course, and the cost of this senior year in Europe would naturally be considerably higher, because of cost of passage over and back. The cost to the student while there, however, would be no greater than in Pasadena — possibly it would be less. BUT, for the student who could not pay this added expense of the trip over and back, but who DESERVES it, scholarships would have to be raised. We will have three and a half years for those among our co-workers who want to have a part in it to create, by separate and special offerings or gifts, special scholarship funds for this purpose. Such deserving students would have their expenses paid for them — or at least that part they are unable to pay themselves.
Friends, and Co-Workers, this work has grown until it has a weekly radio audience of some five million, and I feel sure more than a million people are more or less regular listeners. The PLAIN TRUTH circulation now is 110,000 copies, and I feel at least a quarter of a million people read it. And I feel that from this vast audience — this large national following, we surely can, in three and a half years, raise enough special and separate funds to guarantee deserving students who qualify on merit the opportunity to go.
Now will you consider this carefully — think it over — PRAY over it. And then write me a letter, send it in the enclosed reply-envelope as soon as possible, and give me your advice. Tell me frankly how you look at this — whether you feel it is God's doing, or something we ought not to undertake. God's Word says there is safety in multitude of counsel. I ask your counsel in this. THANK YOU for your interest, you co-operation, help, and prayers!