I want to tell you how much I appreciate your interest. Probably I have never written you before, but now I want to write a special letter to you and all our Plain Truth readers. I want to tell you a few things about this important work of God, which I hope will answer questions many of you have asked.
Many write me and ask such questions as: "With what denomination are you affiliated?" "Who sponsors and pays for your broadcasts?" "How can you publish a magazine without subscription price, and give literature without charge?" "What is your reason for offering this free?"
I shall give you, as briefly as I can, the frank and straightforward answer. And then if you have any other questions you would like to ask, please feel free to write to me. Perhaps later sometime I can publish in The Plain Truth a more complete and detailed account of my call from God to His work, and its development, for those who would like to read it.
Briefly, however, let me say that I, like Jonah, tried to run away from the call of God. As a young man, the very last thing in the world I wanted to be was a minister of Jesus Christ. I had been reared by Christian parents, in one of the old respected denominations, the Friends, or Quakers. But about age 18 I became so absorbed in preparing my future business career that religious interest was almost totally lacking, and I dropped almost altogether out of church attendance. In my twenties I was quite successful in the newspaper and magazine field. I was ambitious — but only to achieve business success and make money. At age 25, a week or two after marriage, God revealed to my wife in an extra- ordinary dream or vision (verified by subsequent events) that He was calling us to warn the world of the end of the age and the second coming of Christ. But I did not understand it, tho awed, and was embarrassed and tried to put it out of my mind. At age 30 God struck me down as surely, in principle, (tho differently in method), as He did Saul of Tarsus who became the Apostle Paul.
This ordeal and experience brought me to complete surrender to God, to definite proved knowledge of the existence, nature, purpose and plan of God, as He opened my eyes thru His Holy Spirit to His revelations and Blessed TRUTH in His Holy Word, the Bible. After three and a half years of yielded communion with Christ and intensive study of His Word — ten to fourteen hours of study daily, much of it on my knees — God inducted me actively into His service. Even then I did not myself seek entrance into His ministry — I was literally put into it! I learned in those years of privation, hunger and hardship, to be corrected by the Bible where I had believed erroneously. Thru it, and thru circumstances, God rebuked and chastened me — repeatedly, and in many ways — where I was doing wrong. Previous egotism was humbled. Self-confidence was shattered and replaced by a living FAITH in God, which He imparted thru and after suffering experiences. I learned of God — the hard way!
And so I say to you, as the Apostle Paul said to those at Galatia: I certify you, brethren, that the GOSPEL which is preached of me is not after man, for I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it but BY THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST. ...When it pleased God, who...called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me that I might preach Him to the world; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood — neither went I to any sect or denomination or human theologian, but I went directly to the WORD of GOD, on my knees, corrected, reproved, and instructed in God's righteousness and TRUTH. (Compare Gal. 1:11-18). God's servants always have had to be brought low and humbled. There were years of hardship, overcoming, persecution, and of growing in grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
This work of God, like the grain of mustard seed, started the smallest. I suppose, that any activity could be begun thru humans — and solely on FAITH. It has never been backed, financed, sponsored, endowed or controlled in any way by any denomination or organization of men. To preach God's TRUTH I have always had to rely on God alone to supply every need — and for wisdom, under- standing, guidance, finances — everything! If any human denomination sponsored it, MEN would tell me what to say and what they forbid me to say. On the other hand, relying solely on GOD, I must faithfully speak HIS WORD or have the entire source of supply cut off! To fully TRUST God, 100%, forces one to be controlled by God, not men. And that, more than anything else, makes this work DIFFERENT!
It was 21 years ago that God opened a door — the power of radio, on one small station of the very smallest power wattage — a mere 100 watts — in a very small city. He made me see that HIS GOSPEL must go FREE — it cannot be sold like merchandise. So the broadcast started, as it continues today ON FAITH! WITHOUT ASKING FOR MONEY OVER THE AIR. The first issue of The Plain Truth came out one month after the start of the broadcast, February 1st, 1934. I mimeographed it myself on a rented mimeograph, from stencils cut on a borrowed typewriter — all at a few cents cost. For the first two or three years Mrs. Armstrong and I had to print the magazine ourselves on a mimeograph.
But God blessed and prospered His work. Gradually it grew — and grew. God seemed to lay it on the hearts of enough listeners to recognize His work — even as Jesus said His sheep would recognize His voice, and follow Him — and to send tithes and offerings voluntarily for its support. In nine years the work had multiplied 30 times in volume and power for service. The second nine years multiplied 30 times the first nine. It continues to multiply in power and scope.
Then, just as God opened a door to the Apostle Paul to carry the Gospel into EUROPE after an exact 19-year time cycle, so the first 19 years of this present ministry spread the work nation- wide in the United States, and God thereupon opened the door for His Gospel to GO TO EUROPE, and to begin going AROUND THE WORLD! Today hundreds of thousands over the British Isles and all Europe — beside other thousands in Africa, India and the middle-east, China, Japan and the East Indies — hear the Message as it is broad- cast every week. More than 3,500 in Britain now receive The Plain Truth every issue, and all plans are now laid for publishing a European edition in London.
This work has grown into a very large activity. Today it sends out CHRIST'S Gospel — the very Message JESUS preached and taught — on more than four million watts of radio power every week. That, in all probability, is the largest radio program on earth today — probably the largest, most powerful campaign of evangelism in world history. And this entire activity of God is supported wholly BY FAITH. True, our faith has often been sorely tried. But God has never failed us. Always it is severely tried just at this Christmas season, when it seems so many people, without realizing what they really are doing, FORGET Christ and His work, entirely overlook any gift for CHRIST, in order to exchange presents with their relatives and friends.
I know very few ever stopped to think about it, but at this season people spend lavishly for Christmas presents, SUPPOSING they are following the example of the wise men — not realizing the wise men presented their gifts to CHRIST — they did not trade gifts among themselves. Of course the truth is they were not giving the Christ-child a birthday present at all — the occasion was not His birthday — He had been born several days before. It was merely CUSTOM to present gifts to A KING when coming into his presence — and Jesus was born to be KING over the entire world, as He shall be at His soon coming, now!
Six years ago, at his very season, God's work faced its most severe financial crisis up to that time. We had been off the air on our biggest stations that year, from April on. We were even about to lose the grounds and buildings of Ambassador College, including our office building, the headquarters of this work. I sent a letter to all our co-workers, reminding them that many of them were forgetting Christ and His work — spending money to TRADE gifts with relatives and friends, neglecting any gift for CHRIST. Then I prayed, and asked God for a miracle — for nothing else could have saved the work. I asked Him to lay it on the hearts of people everywhere to respond, and to grant us a veritable DOWNPOUR of widow's mites (the widow gave two mites). The response was overwhelming. The deluge of widow's mites poured in, and many placed CHRIST and His work at the head of their gift lists, with large offerings, according to their means. Instead of the work being stopped, it took another leap ahead.
And I want to explain, candidly, that I have mentioned this because I feel there are some, among the 70,000 or more who will receive this letter, who will welcome this suggestion — perhaps enough that once again, in a crisis of need, there may be a down- pour at least of widow's mites. Or if you are one who would like to take a regular active part in financing this wonderful work of God, we would welcome you as a Co-Worker.
But PLEASE UNDERSTAND — this is not at all intended as a request, and is only intended for those who really welcome this suggestion. I want you to know my Co-Workers and I consider it a very precious PRIVILEGE to be able to send you the Gospel Jesus taught, without money and without price — and we are grateful to those who are willing to read The PLAIN TRUTH and other literature we send, without any price whatsoever to you.
Thru all the tests of faith, this work has been blessed, and expanded by the grace of God, who has proved to us abundantly that HE will never leave us or forsake us, and that HE never drops a work which He has begun. Of course God carries on all His work, during this age, thru human agencies — thru those whose lives and hearts are yielded to Him. He seems always to reveal to an ever- increasing family of surrendered and willing co-workers that this is, truly, HIS very work, thru which HE carries out HIS MISSION, the great Gospel Commission, "Go ye into ALL THE WORLD, and PREACH THE GOSPEL." There are now a few thousand faithful co-workers, scattered in all 48 states, who willingly and gladly join me in this ministry of LOVE, and of faith, to make possible the carrying of God's true Message, without fear or favor, and without compromise, to the whole world. I am not muzzled — except by God Himself, and His precious Word! Most of these dear voluntary co-workers are not known to me personally. To me, it's a miracle — beyond my understanding. Yet in this way, God has opened the doors, led the way, provided the means, that HIS TRUTH may be fearlessly THUNDERED around the world — that you may be privileged to hear it, and to read The Plain Truth, without price or cost to you.
Notwithstanding, I sincerely feel it is a far greater privilege God has granted me, in being thus able to serve you, and to be His instrument that thru my voice and pen you may receive the precious truths of God, than the privilege He grants you in receiving. Truly, as Jesus said, it is more blessed to GIVE than to receive.
And so, for allowing me this very great privilege of serving you and ministering to you GOD'S TRUE MESSAGE, I thank you, and I just wanted to express to you my heartfelt gratitude.
May I remind you, in closing, of the Ambassador College Bible CORRESPONDENCE COURSE? It is now ready. I think it is the most INTERESTING, as well as the most valuable course of Bible study ever offered. THERE IS NO TUITION. We have decided to enroll all students in this correspondence course without charge, thru FAITH IN GOD. If you are willing to devote not less than a HALF HOUR every day, seven days a week, to the study of YOUR BIBLE, with and thru this course, I hope you'll write in by return mail and enroll. I am enclosing a self-addressed envelope for your application. YOU'LL BE GLAD YOU DID — for all eternity!
Have you read our startling, eye-opening booklet, "The Plain Truth about CHRISTMAS?" Few today know where Christmas came from, or WHY they observe it. Why not write in for this revealing TRUTH?
THANK YOU AGAIN, for your interest in the most important knowledge in the world — the SAVING knowledge of eternal life, thru Jesus Christ our Lord.