WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD WORLD HEADQUARTERS PASADENA, CALIFORNIA 91123
HERBERT W. ARMSTRONG President and Pastor
June 28, l976
Dear Brethren and Co-Workers with Christ:
I have just returned from one of the most—possibly the MOST— successful trips ever in God's Work.
First I flew to two Arab oil states—OMAN, and KUWAIT. I met important leaders at Oman, but Sultan Qaboos bin Said was out of the country, so I plan to return. At Kuwait I had a very fine meeting with Sheikh Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, who is both Chief of State and executive leader in an absolute monarchy.
Since Beirut—capital of Lebanon—has been almost destroyed by civil war, it probably will no longer be the financial capital of the Arab world, and Kuwait may now assume that position. It is a very new and modern city, exceedingly oil-rich.
Mr. Stanley Rader accompanied me, and we went directly from the Sheikh's palace to the airport and flew on to Johannesburg, South Africa, arriving after dark.
Mr. Robert Fahey, our Regional Director for South Africa, and one or two of his assistants, met us at the airport.
This was my first visit to South Africa. I was several years overdue there. We had many students from South Africa all through the years of Ambassador College at Bricket Wood, England. It was a joy to renew acquaintances with some of them; now married couples with children.
Mr. Fahey had done all the planning, and things flowed along with amazing smoothness. It was one of the busiest periods of my life. Most days I had to appear at planned meetings virtually morning, noon and night. I must have spoken before some twenty- nine or thirty groups—from a few small groups of 30 to 50 up to public meetings of PLAIN TRUTH subscribers of over 1,000. I spoke before the Rotary Clubs of Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town; Lions Clubs; Zionist groups in two cities; at Press conferences in all three major cities, and was interviewed on radio and television. I had a half-hour meeting with Mr. John Vorster—the Prime Minister— and more than an hour with the former President of South Africa, Mr. J.J. Fouche.
I spoke twice to the combined churches (Worldwide Church of God congregations) at Johannesburg—once on a Sabbath and on the day of Pentecost. Also once each on a Sabbath to combined congregations at Durban and at Cape Town. I also had special dinners with our ministers and their wives.
There was a special noon-day meeting of community leaders in the neighboring town of Edenvale, where I was personally invited by the mayor, an avid PLAIN TRUTH reader. There was another luncheon in the very elaborate office in Cape Town of the Chairman of the South Africa Foundation. He also is the Chairman or President of the largest bank in the country. He, too, is an enthusiastic reader of The PLAIN TRUTH.
I was actually astonished when nearly every official, or person of importance (including the President), mentioned being a PLAIN TRUTH reader, most of them for years. The PLAIN TRUTH circulation in South Africa is currently 100,000.
We recelved a speclal telephone invitatlon from a former mayor and civic leader at Port Elizabeth, fourth largest city (250,000), to speak and be his guest at dinner that evening. Present at the meeting he had arranged were the mayor, sitting next to me at the speakers' table, and the head of just about every phase of government, university, what-have-you—all leading citizens and wives—660 altogether.
We also took the time to fly to the capital city of South-West Africa, Windhoek, where the South Africa Foundation had arranged a noon luncheon with the nine leaders of that state—including two blacks and two colored. Mr. Rader, Mr. Fahey and I made only twelve at the table, so we had a fine opportunity to get to know our hosts quite well.
The semi-public personal appearances came last. I say semipublic because there had been virtually no effort to get the general public out to these larger-scale meetings—little or no advertising— just invitations sent to PLAIN TRUTH subscribers. The first was at Durban, on our second visit there. They had engaged a hotel ballroom seating 800. About 950 came. People were standing all along the side walls and back wall, and even an overflow in an adjoining room.
At Cape Town the same thing happened. More than a thousand came—with standing room only.
The final two nights were for the Johannesburg meetings. But the riots had started two nights before. And a sudden cold snap with winds (it was winter in the southern hemisphere) caused perhaps more than half those who planned to come to stay home. We had perhaps about 800 the first night and 750 the second. But they were very attentive and INTERESTED audiences. A local motion picture theatre manager said his attendances had been cut to one-fourth those evenings.
Those audiences heard the TRUE GOSPEL of the KINGDOM OF GOD which the world has not heard for 1900 years.
When I arrived at Johannesburg, based on what I had read in Western newspapers and magazines, and seen on TV, I expected to see arrogant whites and trembling, cringing, abused blacks. But I didn't. In the hotel where I stayed in Johannesburg, for example, the large coffee shop employed blacks and whites in equal numbers. Each went about his or her job as if no difference in color. I saw no evidence of color prejudice or racism. The hotel accepted white, black, and colored guests—though I saw no guests but white. Prime Minister Vorster's apartheid system provides geographical segregation in residential areas. Whites are forbidden by law to move into black or colored residential areas, and vice-versa. But all may be employed without discrimination, it appeared.
On the surface, it appeared the system was working well, and that all was peaceful and happy. BUT, underneath the surface there was still HUMAN NATURE, with a satanic Devil inoculating all humans with prejudice, suspicion, resentment against abuses—actual or imagined—resentment of authority, and the attitude of competition and strife. I had years earlier written how this attitude underneath could explode some day.
IT DID! It exploded just two days before my Johannesburg meetings into the WORST RIOTS in South Africa's history.
I was there proclaiming a WORLD TOMORROW, ruled by the KINGDOM OF GOD, with HUMAN NATURE changed, Satan banished and chained, Christ and the saints RULING in ONE WORLD of P E A C E and L O V E regardless of race or color—and of ONE CREED—that of Jesus Christ— that of LOVE TOWARD ALL MEN, and LOVE AND WORSHIP FIRST OF ALL TO THE LIVING GOD!
When I have said that I am only 37, going on 36, Mr. Fahey must have believed it. Surely no one older than that could have endured the fast and rugged pace his planning and schedules put me through! It was HARD work! But it was the BEST PLANNED CAMPAIGN I HAVE BEEN IN. AND THE MOST SUCCESSFUL!!!
Co-Workers and Brethren, STAND BACK OF ME AND GARNER TED—with your constant prevailing PRAYERS, and your financial sacrifice.
TIME IS GETTING SHORTER AND SHORTER. We are on the HOME STRETCH of finishing GOD'S WORK for this time! WE NEED YOUR HELP AS NEVER BEFORE!
With deep love, in Jesus' name, Herbert W. Armstrong