GREETINGS! Once again I'm writing you on the train. Mrs. Armstrong and I are returning to Pasadena from Gladewater, near Longview, Texas. There we met for the Passover (Lord's Supper) and first annual Holy Day of the Eternal our God in a wonderful conclave of co-workers and brethren brought into God's Truth and the Body of Christ thru this great work.
What a gathering it was! God's people were there from thirteen states — from far-away Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, as well as from Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, and of course all parts of Texas, and ourselves from California.
Many said, — and with tears in their eyes, that it was the biggest experience — the greatest blessing, of their lives. It was the first time many had ever had the privilege of meeting with others who shared the precious Truth of God. Though most of us had never met face to face before, we all felt we were one supremely happy family, closer than we feel to our own blood relatives, and it seemed as if we had known each other always. Yes, that is what we experience when the same Holy Spirit of God imbues our minds and hearts — all of the One Great Family of GOD!
A year ago, only two or three days before Passover, I was prompted to get busy on long distance telephone and call up a limited number of Texas and Louisiana co-workers we had come to know personally that God had added to His Church. Gladewater seemed to be the most central location. I called up first Brother Roy Hammer at Gladewater. He and Mrs. Hammer said they would be delighted to have the Passover at their home. We sent Herman Hoeh (pronounced "Hay"), then one of our senior students, by plane to conduct the service. Only thirteen were able to make the trip to Gladewater on such short notice.
This spring a number of brethren, having heard of the service last year, wrote to ask if such a service would be held at Gladewater again this year. As the number of such requests increased, I had a general form-letter mimeographed after arranging with the Hammers to have the service once again in Gladewater. Several urged that Mrs. Armstrong and I would make the trip to Gladewater to conduct the service this year, so notices were sent out to that effect.
I had not realized how many kept writing in, wanting to attend this service, and we didn't expect more than part of them to really attend. Consequently we were not at all prepared for the conclave that poured in. Tuesday afternoon and evening cars began driving up in front of the Hammer residence with many different- colored license plates. Mr. Hammer had engaged a hall for the Passover service, but at the last minute some official of the hall had objected and it was too late to engage another meeting place. As the people started pouring in at the Hammer home toward dusk, there was nothing to do but try to squeeze them all in the house and conduct the service as best we could. There were 85 adults who partook of the Passover, not counting children. We were packed in like sardines. Most of the furniture except chairs was moved out of the living room, and folding chairs filled every available inch.
More chairs were crowded into the dining room and a rear solarium. Many had to stand in hallways and doorways, and I stood in a door- way to conduct the service.
Early Wednesday morning, the day of the "preparation" for the Feast, before Mrs. Armstrong and I were ready for breakfast, some of the people began coming to the Hammer residence filled with questions. Soon the house was packed again, and the time devoted to questions and answers, and private conferences. Dozens wanted to talk to me, or Mrs. Armstrong, or both of us together, in private about personal problems, or to be prayed for and anointed for healing. My, what tragic problems many have to face in this life! Yes, "many are the afflictions of the righteous," — but we must remember, "the Eternal delivers us from them all." If we will yield and surrender to Him, and His laws, HE IS ABLE TO WORK OUT OUR EVERY PROBLEM OR TROUBLE, but if we resist God's way, and use human reason to work out our problems our own way in rebellion against His laws, then we are blindly hurling ourselves directly into the jaws of DISASTER. We must learn to TRUST God — to obey Him, and RELY upon Him to solve our problems, and He will do it — often in a manner we could not foresee or imagine, and far more wonderful than any way of our devising! One, on coming to realize what Mrs. Armstrong and I have had to live thru, said, "...and here I always supposed it was only us out here that had troubles, — that you never had any!"
For the Feast on Wednesday night, however, Mr. Hammer had engaged the spacious cafeteria dining room of the new Gladewater elementary school. There were two long table down each side, with one across the front, forming a huge "U", and then another long table down the middle, in between those along the sides. But still 15 people could not find seats, so space was found for still another long table, and at last all were seated. It was a wonderful banquet, with roast and barbecued chicken, baked potatoes, salad, green beans, peas, and dessert. Brethren from the different states were introduced, and after all other states had been introduced, I shouted out: "And now, is there anyone here from TEXAS?" You should have heard the roar of laughter, as the Texans made themselves known. Texans, you know, are loyal to TEXAS! 67 Texans were present. Total seated at the feast, from 13 states, 123 happy people.
They say Texans regard people from other states as "foreigners." But there were no "foreigners" at this conclave — we were all just one big family of brothers and sisters in Christ! No, we are not male or female, Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, Texan nor Californian — we are all ONE in Christ Jesus!
After this feast of good things to eat, we all gathered in the school auditorium, where two of the young ladies sang a duet from our forthcoming new hymnbook being composed by my brother, after which I delivered the Message.
On the Holy Day, Thursday, there were so many written questions turned in, and others asked orally during the service, that we never did get to a sermon. The entire time was taken up answering questions, and in a service of laying on hands for the receiving of the Holy Spirit on the eleven who were baptised during this conclave, and the blessing of infants and children, following the example of Jesus. Toward evening many had to leave, but several stayed on, and some were still there having their questions answered, and having private conferences with us until midnight. Then just a few hours' sleep, and we caught a 5:16 A.M. train, and here we are, traveling westward thru Big Spring, Midland, and Odessa in the dust-swept wide open spaces of Texas as I have been writing these lines.
Now here is something IMPORTANT!
Out of this wonderful gathering we have attended the past three days has been born an entirely NEW PHASE OF THIS WORK.
We know now — God has shown us plainly and unmistakably — that we must have an adequate place of our own in this central location for the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread EVERY YEAR.
There were probably a few hundred others who would have wanted to be at this Festival this week, had they known in time, and if we had an adequate assembly place for so many to meet. On the wall of our mail receiving room in the office building on the Ambassador College campus is a map, with various colored-headed pins dotting the parts of the United States from which we receive mail. This map reflects the density of our radio listening population. I will try to publish this, or another map illustrating this, in the June issue of The GOOD NEWS. It shows we have more radio listeners in Texas than any other state, and the greatest listener density is in the eastern half of Texas, bounded by Dallas, Ft. Worth, San Antonio, Houston, and the east line of Texas. The area of secondary listener density is Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. After that, as the radio audience thins out slightly, come the states of Kansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, and then Illinois and Indiana, Colorado, and New Mexico. It thins out a little more in Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, North and South Carolina and Florida.
Of course we have dense listening areas on the West Coast, but I am now considering those east of the Rocky Mountains. It is too far for the people of the Middle West, the South, and points east of the Rocky Mountains, to come clear out to Pasadena twice a year for these festivals God has enjoined. It seems necessary to hold the Festival of Tabernacles every fall in Southern California near Pasadena. Nearly everyone at this spring Festival at Gladewater this week is planning to come to California for the Feast of Tabernacles this fall. But two such trips a year are, for most families, utterly impossible.
Therefore God has made it plain we MUST HAVE an adequate place, the most centrally located possible, so that the largest number can attend, for the Festival of Unleavened Bread, and for those able or close enough, even the Day of Pentecost, and regular or occasional Sabbath services.
GLADEWATER, TEXAS IS THE MOST CENTRALLY LOCATED PLACE, closest for the largest number. Now God always supplies every need. WHEN that need arises. During this festival, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Hammer, Buck Hammer, who owns a farm about seven miles west of Gladewater, offered to donate and deed over to us several acres of the most beautiful sloping, wooded land we ever saw, for this purpose. On this property is a perpetually-flowing spring of crystal-clear water. We would also need to have two narrow strips of land adjoining. A larger spring on one of these is the source of a creek which flows thru the beautiful wooded land Buck is giving us. These two adjoining strips are exactly the same kind of land, — sloping, with great large, majestic and beautiful trees. All of us who went over this land agreed it is one of the most beautiful spots of God's nature we ever saw — so restful, tranquil, BEAUTIFUL! This wooded area begins about a quarter mile back from the highway. The county will build us a private road free of charge. It just so happened — or did it just "happen?" — that both these adjoining strips of property went on the market for sale two or three days before the Festival, and for years neither had been for sale, nor could it have been bought!
Here is the most centrally-located place, right on, yet back away from and totally secluded from in privacy, the main 4- lane highway, #80, easy of access, yet absolutely private from the world. With these two adjoining strips we will have the entire wooded area, some 40 or 50 acres total, so secluded that no one could ever build within sight or hearing of our site for the future tabernacle and dwelling places for these festivals. Often God reveals things in such an unmistakable way I KNOW He has spoken and shown me His will. There is no doubt about this place in the mind of any of those of us there who inspected it. I have authorized Brother Hammer and his son Buck to negotiate for the adjoining strips of property (we MUST control the source of this beautiful stream flowing thru these grounds, so it can never be polluted), and make a reasonable offer for their purchase. It is necessary to act fast, before these properties are sold to others. I might add, incidentally, that these properties are in the greatest oil belt in the United States, and might prove to have fabulous oil wealth underneath. However, we would never want to disturb the beauty, quiet, and seclusion of this rare and unusual garden-spot. A small dam in the right place will quickly provide us with a beautiful LAKE in the middle of the property, with swimming, boating, and fishing, beside adding greatly to the beauty.
Now what we feel led to do at the present time is, first, buy the two adjoining strips and receive deed from Buck, so that the Radio Church of God is in ownership of the land. Second, the Hammers will supervise the work of clearing off the property of underbrush and excess growth, leaving just the beautiful trees and such shrubs, plants, and flowers, as add to its beauty. Then we can lay out a plan, build the dam and create the lake. We shall have to build a tabernacle — not a costly one, but one large enough, — with dining area for our festivals, and plan the kind of housing to be provided for all who come — perhaps well-planned but inexpensive cabins. However, we do not feel it wise to try to erect any buildings during the first year. For the festival next spring we will rent large tents, to provide a meeting place and dining facilities, and a large number of small tents which can be rented to each family. We will "rough it" our first year on the place next spring, and then try to have at least temporary buildings erected by the year following.
The proper place for meetings of this kind is not an expensive brick or stone or concrete church building on a main corner of a city in all the traffic and noise of the world — but to get CLEAR AWAY FROM THE WORLD — out into God's own open beautiful nature, utterly secluded from the world!
Next spring, we shall plan a full eight-day festival, to last thru the entire seven days of unleavened bread following the Passover, and all who plan to come are urged now, with a year ahead to plan, to start laying plans to come for the entire eight days.
The one original part of the ground is to be donated. Much of the labor will be donated. The two adjoining strips will not be too costly, but each has a small house in front of it on the highway for which we shall have use, so they will cost us a few thousand dollars — but not a large sum.
I DO NOT WANT TO TAKE A DOLLAR OUT OF THE GOSPEL WORK FOR THIS PURPOSE! I believe that there are enough of you in these middle-west and southern states who will come to this place, to finance it, without having to take money out of the Gospel work. I will know in two or three days on what kind of terms these properties can be bought, but it appears now that it will require a down payment of some $3,000, and then small payments monthly for three or five years.
Therefore, since we much act AT ONCE, and I have authorized Mr. Hammer to proceed and immediately bind the deal if the owners accept a reasonable offer and I have guaranteed it, I now send out the call to all brethren who understand God's truth about His holy days to DIG DOWN DEEP, and to send in at this time an EXTRA offering, over and about your tithe — over and above the offerings you could and would send in for the regular Gospel work, so as not to rob the regular work, to help us make up this down payment. If one or two of you can put a thousand dollars into this down payment, I know God will bless it greatly. If you can send one, or several hundred dollars, do so — or if not that much, what- ever you are able to contribute over and about your REGULAR offerings for God's work, for this down payment.
Then, to meet the monthly payments, I will not ask for a definite binding pledge, but I do ask you to write me at once and tell me how much EXTRA, beside your tithes and regular offerings for the work, you believe you will be able and will try to send in as long as able, MONTHLY, to meet these payments. God bless all you dear people, I know you'll see at once that this is of God, and respond generously and PROMPTLY. Write me by return mail if possible.
Yes, this opens up AN ENTIRE NEW PHASE of God's great work. This will provide a place for annual great conclaves of God's people, where many who cannot come as far as Pasadena can meet together at God's great festivals. What has happened assures that in a year or two there will be several hundred attending. WHAT A BLESSING THIS WILL BE! We who are co-workers together need to MEET TOGETHER as often as possible. The United States is a great nation, and we live long distances apart. We cannot all meet together every Sabbath. But most of us can, and WILL, meet and feast together in these SPIRITUAL feasts which God has appointed, and where we have HIS VERY OWN INVISIBLE PRESENCE with us! Write me about it, sending what you can for this down payment, by return mail.
And now let me tell you about the progress of the work as a whole.
Many time I've repeated, every dollar put into this work carries Christ's own GOSPEL to more than TWO THOUSAND PRECIOUS SOULS! One way of measuring the scope and power of this work, and the GOOD it does, is by the number of dollars required to carry it on. It started the smallest of all, and like the grain of mustard seed it is growing great. The other day I got out records of past years to measure the growth and development of this great work. I inspected the records of that first year. There was only Mrs. Armstrong and myself, then. We were on one little tiny 100-watt radio station once a week. The PLAIN TRUTH, in its first year, was being mimeographed, circulation a few hundred. We held evangelistic meetings six nights a week. Total cost, so little you wouldn't believe it. Nine years later, the half-way mark up to now, the work was going out Coast-to-Coast — seven radio stations, but still one broadcast weekly. The PLAIN TRUTH was being printed, with a few thousand circulation, going into every state and many Canadian provinces. The work had multiplied THIRTY TIMES in that nine years. Now another nine years has passed. This work is in it's 19th year. And today it is just THIRTY TIMES as great as it was nine years ago! Yes, 900 times larger than it was during that first year!
Today active plans are being laid soon to carry the Gospel to BRITAIN and to ALL EUROPE! To gain further information and help lay plans we are sending two of our men, now both college graduates, to Europe for the summer. They will speak to you on the program, direct from Europe by tape recording. They will report to you what they see and find ON THE SPOT.
Now, this latest development — a centrally located place being provided for you brethren and co-workers from many mid- western and southern states to meet and assemble together, and get acquainted, and come to KNOW one another and have blessed fellow- ship together with Christ in His own appointed festivals, — in a place of our OWN, shut off and secluded from the world! This is the START of the development toward providing local CHURCHES in centralized locations where the largest possible numbers of you may finally be enabled to meet together in regular church services every Sabbath. Ambassador College is rapidly training God-called, consecrated and competent ministers to be your pastors in these churches. In about two more years, you will see the beginning of the great movement of raising up these various local churches. But in the meantime, we must start carrying the precious GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM, and God's last WARNING Message, into ALL THE WORLD for a witness to ALL NATIONS!
We are beginning to plan for another graduation at Ambassador College. Still more students will graduate next January, and then again in June of next year. We expect the largest enrollment so far at Ambassador College this coming September. At the Gladewater festival, we took some pictures of young people and children who say they are FUTURE STUDENTS of Ambassador College — all looking forward as their life's dream to graduating from high school and being able to come. We expect soon, perhaps a year from this September, to open a grade-school of OUR VERY OWN at Gladewater, and later a high school in connection. Some of our middle-western and southern members will want to move there or near there, where their children will be FREE from embarrassing Christmas, Easter, Valentine-day exercises and participations — where they will be PROPERLY taught and developed and trained!
Yes, GOD'S WORK is GROWING, with increasing momentum, faster and faster as we approach closer and closer to the END of this age. Time is SHORT, but not too short for all these developments. The End of the Age cannot come UNTIL our work is finished, and this very Gospel of the KINGDOM OF GOD has been proclaimed with a loud and world-shaking voice into ALL NATIONS for a witness. (Mat. 24:14).
NOTHING ELSE counts, or is worth while, in these vital, precarious LAST DAYS! This is the GREATEST work on earth — the most important.
Brethren, Co-Workers, — LET US DEDICATE AND DEVOTE OUR ENTIRE LIVES TO IT! Let us put this work of God ahead of every- thing else! Let us put our shoulders to the wheel, and each do his part, as never before!
Once again the regular week-to-week work IS IN DIRE NEED!
Thousands of you seem to wait until you get a letter from me telling you of the serious or even desperate NEED before you send in your regular tithes and offerings. PLEASE DON'T WAIT! The need keeps coming EVERY WEEK — yes, every day! This work has grown BIG. Many MILLIONS of people now hear the precious Message from God EVERY WEEK. It costs thousands of dollars every week. All you people out there must keep up YOUR part, or the work will falter, stop growing, and fail! You have YOUR part, and it is as important as mine.
God is BLESSING His work mightily! Again, HUNDREDS are being converted, brought to repentance and to Christ, and into becoming the begotten children of God, heirs of HIS KINGDOM! Hundreds and hundreds or precious souls being saved! Why, eleven more were baptized just at this Gladewater festival, and others at Pasadena at the same time! This summer we are sending out TWO teams on baptizing tours, so many are being converted and awaiting baptism — and soon we shall have to keep men out the year round! Yes, it's a MIGHTY work — the ONLY important work — the work where every single dollar goes FARTHER, and accomplishes MORE of lasting and eternal value than any other place on earth.
Try to send in larger offerings. Send them more often, more regularly! That's YOUR part, and your responsibility before God. Do it and RECEIVE GOD'S GREAT AND ABUNDANT AND CONTINUOUS BLESSINGS! If you can send in a thousand or more, do it. If a hundred or more, send it. If only a dollar or more, sent it by return mail — according as God has made possible for YOU! Keep God's great work alive — and GROWING!
I will keep you informed as these vital events progress. GOD BLESS YOU!