I simply have to write you about it! Last night I enjoyed one of the most moving experiences of my life. It was Sunday night — the third and last of the first of the new PUBLIC APPEARANCE meetings being conducted by my son, Garner Ted Armstrong, in the large and beautiful NEW auditorium in Calgary, Alberta (Canada).
At each of the three nights hundreds were turned away — every seat filled in the 2700-seat auditorium.
It was beyond description. I'm not out from under the emotional impact of it yet. Never have I heard my son preach as he did last night. Yet it was not he — it was the Great GOD speaking in and through him! That audience was MOVED! Tears streamed down cheeks. If we had had 200 or 300 counselors there to counsel with the people who sought help and counsel at the close of the service, they would not have been enough. Ted pulled no punches. He showed them the CAUSE of the escalating mountain of evils in this world — the widespread immorality, the revolt of youth, the drug evil, the mounting crime, the broken homes and rising divorce rate, the rioting, violence and wars.
And in tremendous POWER he made them realize the KINGDOM OF GOD is at hand — that the time has come for them to take this condition of affairs SERIOUSLY, and to REPENT, and turn to GOD and God's ways! If ever a servant of God did CRY ALOUD, and spare not, and LIFT UP HIS VOICE like a trumpet, and show the people THEIR SINS, it was done last night!
It resulted from impassioned, heartrending PRAYER. And then, just about five minutes before 8:00 p.m., and the start of the service, with all the Ambassador College Band, the Chorale, counselors and helpers assembled in the auditorium's "Green Room," Ted asked me to lead them in a final prayer. I asked God to help Ted yield completely into HIS hands, and for the living Christ to SPEAK THROUGH HIM, putting God's thoughts in his mind and God's words in his mouth, to say what GOD wanted that audience to hear. THAT PRAYER CERTAINLY WAS ANSWERED!
Several of those God has chosen to be leaders in His Work were there. Mr. Portune, Mr. Antion, Mr. Dart, Mr. Norman Smith — all Vice Presidents (and their wives), Mr. Dean Wilson, Director of the Canadian Work, and Mr. Richard Wilding, the local pastor. At about one minute before eight we went in to take front-row seats the ushers had reserved for us. The curtain was raised, behind which was the Ambassador College Band, playing about a two or three minute overture. Then Mr. Joseph Bauer, M.C., came out with opening announcements, ending by the Chorale skipping to their positions on stage, and a lively number with the band. Then Mr. Bauer introduced Garner Ted, who at this time gave merely a preliminary short talk of two or three minutes — mostly announcements — concluding with the introduction of Mr. Dan Truhitte, now a senior student — who sang "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" in the motion picture "The Sound of Music." With both the band and chorale in the background, Mr. Truhitte sang "I Believe" in a very moving manner. Then Ted came out for the sermon. He was in dead earnest, and that audience was MOVED!
Brethren, these meetings are going to have a tremendous impact on cities all over the United States and Canada. Together with DAILY television, DAILY radio, and The PLAIN TRUTH, with the Bible Correspondence Course, the booklets, etc., God Almighty is empowering His Work to have the greatest impact on this world in 18 1/2 centuries!
These powerful PERSONAL APPEARANCES will continue. We will keep you informed. KEEP PRAYING FOR THEM. Pray earnestly for those who attend, that God will OPEN THEIR MINDS to HIS TRUTH.
So now, once again, as back in 1934, the THREE-POINT CAMPAIGN is ON! Only it is going out with 100,000 times the POWER it did in 1934! This is the NEW START that is destined to SHAKE THIS WORLD TO ITS FOUNDATIONS!
Truly, Brethren, this Gospel OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD is now being preached and published in all the world, as a witness unto ALL NATIONS, and that means that the END of this evil world is at hand — and the coming of CHRIST, the KINGDOM OF GOD, and the happy WORLD TOMORROW is about to dawn!
In order that we might fulfill this GREAT COMMISSION, getting Christ's very Gospel of the Kingdom to all the world, we have all been called on to make sacrifices. Most of us have gladly, willingly, given up many material things we might have had, that radio and television time might be purchased — that The PLAIN TRUTH, the Correspondence Course, and millions upon millions of copies of booklets and other literature might reach increasing MILLIONS of people on all continents worldwide.
One of the things we have had to sacrifice for this great purpose has been local church buildings in each city or town. Nearly all the local assemblies of this world's churches have their own church buildings. In this world of Satan's, the very word "church" has come to mean a building with a steeple or a cross on top, pointing to heaven. The people go to CHURCH — to their meeting house. But in God's Word — the Bible — the word "church" means the PEOPLE OF GOD. The "church" is not a building, but God's PEOPLE, collectively. The CHURCH goes to — assembles in — a building or house. In New Testament times, local churches often assembled in the house of a member.
It is not wrong for each local church to have its own church building. But, as did many of the churches of the first century apostles, we have so far had to MAKE THAT SACRIFICE, and meet in local hired halls, that there might be means to get Christ's Gospel out to the whole world.
But I did feel, more than ten years ago, that we should — if God so willed — have at least ONE local church building at the Headquarters of God's great Work. And, further, that this one HEADQUARTERS building MUST BY ALL MEANS be of a superb quality and character to glorify and HONOR our Great God who is Creator, Ruler, Sustainer, Teacher.
I knew that, of necessity, it would have to include the dual function of serving as the Ambassador College auditorium — for college assemblies and forums each week, as well as for occasional — perhaps annual — special events, such as musical concerts.
Although I have written you many times, during the past ten years or more, about this auditorium-House for God, there are some factors we had to take into consideration which may not have been explained.
From the very first, I began to pray earnestly about it — but not once did I ASK FOR IT DIRECTLY, nor plead with God to let us have it. I wanted it — IF, and ONLY if — God wanted us to build it. Although this is in NO MEANS even remotely to be compared to God's Temple, which David desired, and God had Solomon build at Jerusalem, yet it is to be GOD'S HOUSE — the place of worship for His Headquarters Church and whatever brethren might be visiting here over a Sabbath. Therefore, if built at all, it would have to be the very finest in quality and character and beauty that we might be able to build.
Through the years, I continued to PRAY about it, committing it entirely to God's will. I asked Him to provide the financing to build it IF He wanted it built.
Meanwhile we began planning, as we prayed, and asking God's guidance in this planning, so that we would be ready to proceed, if and when God gave us the GO-AHEAD by providing the means.
The very first consideration was this: The character and quality of it was of far greater importance than size, or bigness. The Temple God had Solomon build was probably the FINEST, most SUPERB building in quality ever constructed on earth — but scores and scores of cathedrals and church buildings on earth today are much BIGGER. It is said that it would cost, today, about FIVE THOUSANDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS to build. We knew that whatever God had us build would cost only an infinitesimal tiny FRACTION of that. Yet, it MUST be one that, compared to buildings of our day, would stand in quality and character and beauty as a monument to our God. It could not be of inferior materials or workmanship.
It therefore had to be a finer quality than our other college buildings — or than we would build if it were ONLY the College auditorium. That was one consideration.
Secondly, we gave great consideration, and asked God's guidance, in determining how large it should be. We knew — even ten or twelve years ago =- that God's Work was growing and WOULD grow. We knew the attendance at the Headquarters Church would grow — BUT we had set a limit on the size of the student body of 550 resident students. We knew that if we built this House for God to seat 4,000 people, we probably would outgrow it. But, in even a 2,500 or 3,000-seat auditorium, our 550 students would look very tiny in such an auditorium at Assemblies and Forums.
Most universities of 10,000 to 40,000 students have auditoriums that seat only a small part of their student bodies. Already we were renting the Pasadena Civic Auditorium (with about 3,000 seats) for special occasions and some Holy Days, when the other churches of this Los Angeles area come to meet with us. We knew we could still do that. Also we knew that we could have TWO services on the Sabbath, one morning and one afternoon — as we have now been doing for some time.
Another important factor — if we built it any bigger than we planned, we could never build it so big and maintain the quality and character NECESSARY to honor God.
We looked into God's Word for instruction and guidelines. What is GOD'S teaching, as to the character we should build?
God gave David the design, plans, and directions for building the Temple. It was built, not only of finest woods, but with GOLD, SILVER, and PRECIOUS STONES. Even furniture pieces made of wood, were COVERED WITH GOLD. The curtains, the veil, etc., were of FINEST materials, and with finest handicraft, carvings, and illustrations. The colors were bright, brilliant, BEAUTIFUL — gold, blue, purple, crimson.
We looked in the New Testament. Through Paul, God used the analogy of comparing His Church — the PEOPLE — to a building. He wrote: "For we are laborers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire, for the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire" (I Cor. 3:9-15).
This analogy illustrates how we are saved by GRACE, but the degree of REWARD, when saved, will be according to our WORKS. The analogy shows that if a man builds, spiritually with materials compared to gold, silver, precious stones, he is building wisely. Even the best woods are hard woods, that might survive the fire if put out in time. But hay and stubble — the CHEAPER, POOR QUALITY materials would NOT survive, but be burned up. This analogy shows that God's will is that we build with the BEST, FINEST, MOST ENDURING materials.
Of course, Brethren, we did not take up a vote of the membership, to ask the PEOPLE of God's Church how to build this House for God — but we asked GOD, and we went to HIS WORD for guidance and advice. Therefore God's House is being built according to GOD'S WAY, and I know you will all rejoice in that.
We set the SIZE of the auditorium, after this careful, PRAYERFUL, and Bible-searching planning, at 1300. And that is precisely the size we would build it, if planning it TODAY!
This beautiful auditorium is coming along in fine shape! We chose the contractor to build it who had built the FINEST buildings in Southern California, and had the reputation for doing the finest work. And they are about TWO MONTHS ahead of schedule. It was scheduled for completion in March, 1974. But now we expect completion by or before the end of next year — 1973.
Although I prayed constantly about it, asking, first whether it should be built at all, and secondly HOW, if built, as to size, quality, materials, design, colors, NEVER ONCE did I ask God to let me have it built — but only to reveal HIS WILL. When we were forced to build the gymnasium first and postpone or give up the auditorium to be God's House, I was not much disappointed — for I had never set my heart on it. One by one other buildings preempted it. But finally, in early January of this year, God provided it with 100% financing — a most RARE thing in construction financing. God had truly spoken. He wanted this building!
We will use it to His honor and glory! He will, in Spirit, meet with us there — for our fellowship is with God the Father, and with Christ, and through them with one another.
And NOW, as this construction is proceeding so well, it seems God is also going to grant us at least a few LOCAL CHURCH BUILDINGS, starting this next year! It is not yet 100% certain — but at least we are proceeding with preliminary plans and preparations — as to WHICH cities need local church buildings the most — as to plans, designs, etc. We at Headquarters realize the NEED. If this, too, is God's will, some of YOU in the United States or Canada may soon have your own church houses to meet in. Of necessity, they will have to be of lower cost construction, but they will be modern, new, functional.
Brethren, Satan has attacked this Work of God, and tried to DESTROY it. He will continue to try everything his wily scheming can conjure. We must at all times be on GUARD — and PRAYING ALWAYS, for protection. But the Work of God is LEAPING AHEAD AS NEVER BEFORE WITH NEW ENERGY AND LIFE. Satan tried to strike at me, personally, but God protected me. Then he tried to destroy the Work through striking at my son Garner Ted. It was INTENSIVE PRAYER and reliance on GOD that delivered us from that attempt — and NOW, because of constant earnest and believing PRAYER, look with WHAT POWER God is using him! Satan has tried to strike at a few of God's ministers. Brethren, WE NEED YOUR PRAYERS! I, personally NEED YOUR PRAYERS! Garner Ted, personally, NEEDS them! ALL of God's ministers NEED them, desperately! GOD'S CHURCH MUST BE A PRAYING CHURCH!
I, personally, realize how you Brethren need OUR prayers — and I pray constantly and daily for YOU! So DON'T NEGLECT! Keep PRAYING — and pray for the telecasts, the radio broadcasts, the publishing work, and for these other coming PERSONAL APPEARANCE campaigns!
Now, AS NEVER BEFORE I call on you, by the authority of JESUS CHRIST, to get back of this Work as NEVER BEFORE — to PRAY for it as NEVER BEFORE! — to sacrifice for it as never before!
I shall expect to see most of you very soon — at the glorious FEAST OF TABERNACLES! Both Garner Ted and I are planning again this year to speak at ALL Feast sites in the U.S. and Canada, except Alaska and Hawaii. I tried to work Alaska in on my schedule, but it was just impossible. However, I will try to spend a Sabbath with the Church in Alaska at the first opportunity. I did meet with the Brethren in Honolulu about three years ago, and perhaps may again when possible.