This letter is being written high in the air, with mingled emotions of thanksgiving and gratitude, hope and JOY! My most fervent heart-rending and prevailing prayers of the last ten months, combined with yours have been answered!
Messrs. Portune, Antion and Dart — all Vice Presidents, Mr. Stanley Rader and I, are returning to Pasadena from a momentous meeting with my son Garner Ted Armstrong. I had spent the better part of two days with him last week, and I knew then that with God's help, and countless hours of submissive, prevailing prayer on his part, coupled with the prayers of thousands for him, his problems have now been overcome. There is no question in our minds that God is calling him back now, with plans for the greatest lunge forward this Work of God has ever taken. He is like a NEW Garner Ted Armstrong, and we believe God will now use him with far greater power in getting out Christ's Gospel to the world than ever before. We know God has forgiven, and filled him — and us — with a completely new dedication for the finishing of the Work for this age.
Plans were made with enthusiasm today for a completely NEW program of getting Christ's Message to the whole world in multiplied POWER! We know God has inspired a wholly NEW format for the television program. It will no longer be just a documentary — it will get the real MEANING of events and world conditions across to viewers, tied in with PROPHECY, and a dynamic calling of viewers to REPENTANCE and turning to the living CHRIST! There will be no pussyfooting. Ted is simply filled with desire and the urge of God's Spirit to get at this. The same on radio — and this time, by BOTH of us. I will continue on the air at least once a week, and he probably will carry the radio program six times a week. We're going to make world happenings and conditions MEAN SOMETHING, as GOD sees them from His high heaven, and HIS MESSAGE will come with POWER!
Then, SOMETHING NEW! Garner Ted is going to make personal appearances in many cities in the United States and Canada, in large auditoriums. Instead of running from this recent wave of persecution, God is showing us how to TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT, and make it WORK FOR HIM! It will swell the crowds.
We are going to put increased vigor in messages in advertising space we are purchasing in the world's largest mass circulation magazines.
We are not only rejoicing in gratitude, we are also filled with dynamic enthusiasm and dedication to put NEW LIFE into God's Work — new life I know GOD is giving us!
Brethren, the past ten months has been the most terrible and painful trauma I have ever suffered — and that in my 80th year. It's been like being under a heavy cloud. But God's Work has had to have leadership, and no matter how discouraging it has seemed, I have had to keep right on the firing line, ENCOURAGING others, tackling additional tasks and responsibilities, driving myself on and on, and at the same time finding more time for prayer than before. No matter how deep this trauma I knew that God is on His throne, and Christ promised He would never leave nor forsake us or His Work, and my faith never wavered, though my spirits could not be those of rejoicing.
But WHAT A LIFT this day has been for all of us! Now there REALLY IS JOY AND REJOICING, AND GRATITUDE AND THANKSGIVING TO OUR GOD!
Brethren, I want you to know also how much we are aware of your loyalty, your faithfulness and your very REAL sacrifices financially for God's Work, and especially your generous response and sacrifice to my special and urgent appeal 2 1/4 years ago. But I have to tell you now that the Work needs your financial sacrifice even more than 2 1/4 years ago. It is VERY discouraging to me to have to tell you this — but it is GOD'S WORK, not mine or Ted's — and the Work demands it. For the past two or three months, because of these persecutions, knowing enemies would use it against us in their efforts to destroy the very Work of the living God, I have refrained from telling you of the financial condition of the Work, or the serious financial need.
First, let me assure you the Work is NOT in the plight its enemies are exaggerating — on its last legs, just about to fold up. But this has been a GROWING Work for 38 years. By its very nature it MUST grow and go forward or start going backward. For years — up until about three or four years ago — it grew at the rate of 30% each year. Based on indications last November and December, we set the 1972 budget at about 15% increase over 1971.
But, partly due to the fact that I have made no urgent requests for financial support these past few months, the increase in income is falling far short of that. Our enemies would have people believe the income for the Work has fallen almost completely off. On the contrary, the income is showing an INCREASE over last year, but far short of a 15% increase. We have, in the past two or three months, made several cuts in the budget, but we CANNOT make more without severely crippling the Work — cutting off more radio stations, cutting The PLAIN TRUTH down again to every other month, and other cutbacks that seriously would cripple the Work.
I cannot longer delay telling you that we now face a crisis even more serious than we faced at the end of February, 2 1/4 years ago. I had to ask you, then, even to go to your bank and borrow what you could pay back within 2 years on a monthly repayment basis. You Brethren responded generously and the crisis was successfully weathered.
I simply have to tell you Brethren that we now face an even more desperate crisis, and reluctant as I am to do so, I am forced to ask you to respond once again as you did. There are more of us now. We are not yet to the half-way mark of this year, and already more than 2,000 additional members have been baptized and received into God's Church.
With this dynamic NEW program, and my son Garner Ted back on the job more powerfully than ever before, I feel confident I can assure you that if you now respond once again as you did then, the Work will pick up momentum FAST!
My wife and I lived in real poverty for 28 years, in getting this Work developed into the powerful worldwide Work it now is. And not only that, I have been through the years the heaviest financial contributor to the Work. I only say that to let you know I am not asking you to do anything I have not, and am doing, setting the example — all scurrilous misrepresentation of persecutors notwithstanding.
This ordeal these past ten months has brought my son Ted and me even closer together in father-and-son affection and deep love than ever before. We are TOGETHER in Christ's Spirit, in doctrine, in God's WORK completely.
Brethren, we must keep our eyes constantly on THE REAL GOAL AHEAD. Actually that goal was not so clear to us until this present year. Now God has moved very significantly to show us! He has opened POWERFUL new doors never open to us before — new POWERFUL radio stations, new television stations, now mass circulation publications opening advertising space. These are the BIG and powerful ones needed to FINISH God's great Work for this age — and they were not open to us until this year!
NEVER before has the Work had such tremendous opportunities. If you could have been with us in our meeting today with Garner Ted, and in the enthusiastic planning under Christ's inspiration, you would KNOW as we do that the REAL FINISHING THRUST OF THIS WORK NOW LIES DIRECTLY AHEAD! NOTHING else is so important now! Let's leap forward with it!
REMEMBER — never lose sight of the fact — that THIS IS THE ONLY WORK IN THIS WORLD THAT IS PROCLAIMING THE SAME GOSPEL GOD SENT INTO THE WORLD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST! This is Satan's world. He has his ministers (II Cor. 11:3-4 and 13-15). We DARE NOT FALTER OR SLOW DOWN!
Dear Brethren, it has taken FASTING AND PRAYER to bring about this time of rejoicing and BIG OPPORTUNITY for a completely NEW LIFE in God's Work, empowered with GOD'S HOLY SPIRIT!
And God leads me to see that this NEW PHASE in His Work must start off with FASTING AND PRAYER by the whole membership. Therefore, I am setting Sabbath, June 10th aside as a day of FASTING AND PRAYER FOR ALL MEMBERS WORLDWIDE! PRAY, as never before, for NEW LIFE, infused by God's Holy Spirit into His Work. The fasting from Friday sunset to Sabbath sunset — June 10th, (not including children).
One important thing, in connection with this day of FASTING and prayer. It has been very evident for more than a year that Satan is striking his MASTER STROKE to try to destroy this Work of the living Christ. He has cast a PALL of gloom, discouragement and depression over God's people. Many have felt it. PRAY that God will restrain and withstand Satan, and fill His people with an URGENT sense of MISSION, SACRIFICE, HOPE, ENTHUSIASM AND JOY! Pray for all the other Brethren!
We have nothing to live for but GOD'S WORK. At whatever sacrifice, we must put God's Work FIRST. WE ourselves are doing it, and in the office in which the living christ has put us, Ted and I MUST appeal to you to do the same, and hold up our hands in this NEW lunge forward. God is opening HUGE NEW DOORS! Please pray, more than ever before, for God's Work, and especially keep praying for Garner Ted and me.