This is the personal talk with our readers I had never even remotely expected I should be called on to write. It is a memorial in honor of the one dearest woman I have loved, respected, honored above all people — the wife of my youth. Fifty years ago, lacking only three-and-a-half months, the living Christ selected and joined her to me in happy wedlock. Those years have been a half century of tremendous experiences. They have been years of trial and testing, of struggle, overcoming, perseverance; but also years of laboring together in serving and in building; and of thrilling triumphs. They have been years in which the living God has lavished on us His glorious grace and blessings beyond description. They have been a half century of her giving devoted, loving, faithful LOYALTY — and beautiful and stimulating companionship. When God first created man, He said it was not good that the man should be alone; so God provided a fitting HELP for him in a wife. Through the wife God gave me, He called me — and us together — into His service. He chose us as a husband-and-wife TEAM. Through us He built His end-time WORK, proclaiming to the whole world the GOOD NEWS of His coming world-ruling Kingdom, as a witness to all nations. He used us to prepare the way for Christ's coming in supreme POWER and GLORY to rule all peoples, and to bring to earth PEACE, prosperity, happiness and joy. He used us in bringing many thousands to CHRIST, to be begotten as God's own children, to be BORN into His divine Family! Now we had reached the final climax of this great Work. The living Christ is opening stupendous new doors that will MULTIPLY the power and scope of GOD's WORK, until the whole world shall KNOW it has heard His message. We come, now, to the final stretch of the Work. In a mile or two-mile race, officials fire a revolver in the air as the runners begin the last lap. They call it "the 'gun lap." This Work of God, leading to Christ's coming, has now entered its "gun lap." We must now put on the final extra burst of effort for the very few remaining years! We know that to complete the Work, we must accomplish more during the next two to five years than in all previous 33½ years combined! God has been moving swiftly to open tremendous new facilities. Final preparations are being made to put The WORLD TOMORROW on TELEVISION within three or four weeks. The TELEVISION program of The WORLD TOMORROW will start very small. But plans call for full-color television on some twelve leading stations coast to coast in the United States by one year, growing and expanding until by late 1970 we shall use either a major network, coast to coast, or its equivalent in a large number of separately selected stations completely covering the United States and Canada — beside whatever television outlets may be available around the world. Plans for the immediate future call for the purchase of full-page or double-page advertising space in leading mass-circulating magazines throughout the world, shouting out the SAME MESSAGE you now hear over The WORLD TOMORROW, and read in The PLAIN TRUTH. We are now offered space in LIFE magazine. Other such magazines will follow. Already we are using full-page space in the leading large-circulation magazines of South Africa, Australia, and The Philippines. Suddenly, even foreign GOVERNMENTS (where there is no commercial radio) are opening to us their government radio facilities to broadcast The WORLD TOMORROW program. Such a thing was, never heard of before! But all these super-power facilities are, of themselves, as nothing. It is as God said to Zerubbabel: "Not by might, nor by [physical — mechanical] power, BUT BY MY SPIRIT, saith the Eternal of hosts" (Zechariah 4:6). The thousands of God's people backing and helping in this great Work of God needed an EXTRA spiritual rejuvenation for this final supreme effort coming "on the home stretch." And GOD USED MRS. ARMSTRONG'S TWO-MONTHS-LONG CRITICAL ILLNESS FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE. Nothing like it had ever happened before. There was an unprecedented SHAKING UP — hundreds — thousands — were brought to their knees in tears, realizing their own shortcomings — their urgent NEED of a closer contact with the living CHRIST — of a greater filling of HIs SPIRIT! It started with me — but also at almost the same time with the ministers at Pasadena Headquarters holding the top responsibilities in this Work. From there it spread rapidly to our ministers stationed in all parts of the world — and also like a shock-wave to Co-Workers by thousands around the world. There was intensive heart-searching never before experienced by these thousands who have this Work at heart. Personally I fasted and prayed for ten days. I had been aware, for some four or five years, of a heart condition accompanied by high blood pressure, so that I had to use every care to avoid overly strenuous exertion or any sudden emotional experience that could have touched off either a stroke or a heart attack. Now that danger seems well past. Other things were overcome, with which I had struggled for years. But hundreds of letters came recounting similar experiences in the lives of so many others. One man who heard of her serious illness wrote to Mrs. Armstrong and me saying he was not a Christian, had never prayed — wondered if God would hear a sinner like him — but found himself forced to get down on his knees with tears, praying. Another said he was an atheist, but he was so hit emotionally by her illness he was forced to his knees in prayer. Hundreds wrote feeling that THEY, by their lack of closeness to God, were causing my wife's illness. OF COURSE THEY WERE NOT CAUSING IT, nor was Mrs. Armstrong CAUSING this spiritual upheaval and rejuvenation in their lives — but GOD was using her illness to bring these thousands of us closer to Him, and to receive a new infilling of His Holy Spirit! WHY, one might wonder, did knowledge of Mrs. Armstrong's critical illness and suffering have such an overwhelming, emotional, heart-searching effect on literally thousands of people all over the world? I can well realize, at this point, that many PLAIN TRUTH readers, especially those more recently added to our readership, might wonder. I'm sure that one who never knew Mrs. Armstrong would find it difficult to understand this. I'm not sure I can explain it fully, myself. One devout colored woman who knew her said to me, "Mr. Armstrong, there is no other person on earth that could have had this effect on so many people." I think she was right. Had it been I, or Garner Ted Armstrong who was so ill, it could not have had such an effect. But she was a WOMAN — and not just any woman — but one held in such esteem and affection and honor that knowledge of her suffering just simply HIT people the way it did. And, besides, this was GOD'S doing. She didn't bring about this spontaneous spiritual revival in so many hearts — GOD did! In all her suffering, Mrs. Armstrong smiled and said she was GLAD that all this GOOD was coming about. Almost her last words, just hours before she stopped breathing, were when about nine of our top-ranking ministers in Pasadena came briefly to her bedside from a prayer session in my study. After they had given her a smiling greeting, she smiled and waved them out of the room, saying, "You men go on and get your work done. I'm going to be all right." And, in a way we did not expect, she is all right! She had faith she would be healed. We all had that faith. And her complete healing IS ASSURED! Her faith — and ours — was not in vain! Like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Sarah, she "died in faith, not having [YET] received the promises" (Hebrews 11:13). But, as they shall all receive what God promised them IN THE RESURRECTION, so my wife shall stand forth in a very few years, completely HEALED, as God promised (James 5:14-15), and in a resurrected body composed of immortal SPIRIT — radiant in joyous ETERNAL LIFE! She can never suffer again! We expected her to be healed now, her mortal physical life extended to help me through the few remaining years as we finish the great Work God is doing through us. True, she had already lived 5½ fruitful years beyond the allotted "three score and ten." But neither Mrs. Armstrong nor I, at age 75, thought of ourselves as "elderly," or as being "old folks." We have continued active and with good energy. We knew God is able to renew one's youth, and to impart strength where needed (Psalm 103:3-5; Isaiah 40:29-31). But that expectation was not based on any definite promise of God — and He willed otherwise. I bow to His will, saying, with Job, "The ETERNAL gave, and the ETERNAL hath taken away; blessed be the name of the ETERNAL" (Job 1:21). Perhaps, in God's foreknowledge and mercy, He simply removed her from the terrible persecutions, with violence and much suffering to come — as God says, "the righteous is taken away from the evil to come" (Isaiah 57:1). Also, the voice from heaven now says: "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them" (Revelation 14:13). Before King David of Israel died, it is recorded of him: "Now King David was old and stricken in years..." (I Kings 1:1). Then, at his death, it is recorded: "And he died in a good old age, full of days, riches and honor" (I Chronicles 29:28). David was 70 years of age at death. Mrs. Armstrong had been granted five-and-a-half years more than David. So now I can only be exceedingly GRATEFUL to the Great God of all creation for having allowed me a half century of her loving companionship and help. After our marriage in 1917, and before my conversion in 1927, the one unselfish thing I can remember putting into my prayers was always to THANK GOD for the lovely wife He gave me. Of course I only prayed, in those years, for two reasons — because my parents had brought me up to believe in God and to pray, and because I wanted to GET something from God. Yet, somehow, even then I knew God had selected my wife and given her to me. I don't know how I knew — it was just in my mind to know it. Up until the nurses and doctor at her bedside — perhaps a minute or two past midnight the night she died — told me she had stopped breathing, I fully expected her to continue living and be healed Now! I was stunned! Yet, I did not grieve in the way most people do who do not know God and His glorious promises and purposes for us (I Thessalonians 4:13-17). Actually I felt more like King David did when his infant son born of Bathsheba died. While the child lay very ill, David fasted, wept and prayed. But when the child died, he rose, changed to regular clothes, went into God's house and worshipped, then to his own house and sat down to eat. He said: "While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, 'who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him [in the resurrection], but he shall not return to me' " (II Samuel 12:22-23). Of course many of the circumstances were different. God's prophet, Nathan, had told David that the child should surely die, because of David's sin in the illegitimate, adulterous conception of the child, and his deliberate murder of Uriah, Bathsheba's husband. David repented very deeply of this dual sin, yet God did require the death of the child. But in my wife's case, I did feel, though I had no promise from God's Word, that it would be His will to spare her life until our mission had been completed. I had fasted and prayed for ten days. Another time I had prayed through all night long. The last two nights my son Garner Ted and I were awake and praying completely through the two nights — that is, until she died just after midnight the second night — but we were kept awake making necessary arrangements, and telephone calls to various of our men in many parts of the world, until long after dawn. But I did go once more to my own prayer room to dedicate my own life anew to God and His service, until the mission to which He has called me is completed. Mrs. Armstrong was much more than a loyal, dedicated wife and help. She was a good mother to our children. I shall never forget one incident — which she never forgot. It was probably during the second year of The WORLD TOMORROW broadcast, possibly during 1935, when our younger son Garner Ted was a child of five. I had returned home from the broadcast at the radio station, and was "unwinding" lying on a sofa in our living room. Young "Teddy," as we then called him (and no one has dared call him that since he entered Junior High) came over and gave me a big, enthusiastic kiss on the cheek. "Now what are you trying to work me for?" I asked, suspiciously. "That was for picking me out the best Mother in the world," he said. And his Mother, sitting nearby, smiled a very pleased smile. Mrs. Armstrong was Guidance Counselor to the young women students on all three Ambassador College campuses. She, herself, marveled at the wisdom that just came spontaneously from God as she counseled with these many girls about their many problems. She set them a splendid example in so many ways. In her was no guile — no hypocrisy — no pretense. She was born in a small town in Iowa, had taught school before we were married. She had come from plain, simple, yet solid and substantial stock, well above average in success and accomplishment in the world. Her father owned a retail store. Two of her uncles were doctors — one reputed to have been a "millionaire" — one an attorney, one owned a drugstore, one a successful farmer, another prominent in politics. Her great grandfather on her mother's side had emigrated to Iowa from England, established a linen mill, and built a whole town. But they were not pretenders. My wife had no patience with flattery or pretense. She was just down-to-earth common clay — just what she was — she put on no airs, or veneer of affected sophistication, yet she was every whit a QUEEN (as a Queen should be). She had a sound and understanding mind of great depth. She was my main counselor in all problems, and plans. God blessed me with just the wife needed for His WORK — a true HELP such as God intended a woman to be. Always I held her, not only in my own mind and thoughts, but before all others, in the very highest esteem, admiration, and honor. Surely, God has blessed me above all men — and to have been privileged to have had her at my side, as my HELP, these fifty years, was the greatest of all physical blessings. I would feel greatly honored if many of our women readers might take inspiration from her sterling example, and try to become the kind of wives and mothers she exemplified. I believe that in the resurrection she will take her place with many of the high-character, God-fearing and God-approved women of the Bible. For she was used of God in His building and developing His Mighty WORK, now influencing many MILLIONS of people the world around, preparing the way for the coming of the living CHRIST, and the happy and glorious WORLD TOMORROW!
This portrait of Loma D. Armstrong, by Britain's leading portrait artist S. Morse-Brown, painted in England in 1961, is hung over the fireplace in Herbert W. Armstrong's Office in Pasadena.