One of the most dramatic accounts of the state violation of religious freedom published in recent years is Stanley R. Radar's Against the Gates of Hell. The book details the California attorney general's attack on the Worldwide, Church of God. One of the issues is the Church's freedom to support Herbert W. Armstrong's global evangelistic efforts to bring the good news of God's soon-coming Kingdom to all nations. This condensation provides an insider's account of that global effort.
The Message Heard Round the World "AND this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come" (Matthew 24:14)
So Jesus, seated upon the Mount of Olives, said to His disciples almost 2,000 years ago, as they approached Him privately and asked for signs of His coming. He warned them dread events lay ahead — that nations would rise against each other and famines, pestilence and earthquakes would ravage the earth. False prophets would deceive multitudes, and because wickedness and sin would flourish in the world, there would be many who would cease to love and to believe.
"But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved," Jesus said, as He commanded the disciples to go forth into the world to preach the Gospel announcing the coming Kingdom of God.
And that, in all its beautiful simplicity, is the heart of the Church 's Work. It is written into the corporate charter, understood by all members and faithfully followed by its leaders. Everyone in the Church knows deep in his or her soul that preaching the Gospel is the primary reason for our existence.
We come to all nations and all people with an announcement, awesome and transcendent, yet at the same time, pure and uncomplicated:
Christ is coming to rule in a Kingdom of God, and His realm will not be some vague interplanetary place but on the same earth upon which He walked and taught 2,000 years ago. As surely as the day dawns and the night follows, we inform them, there will be upon this globe a government of God ruled under the laws of God, and those laws will be based upon the laws of God — the love of God and the love of man. His rule will end all poverty, ignorance, sickness, disease, all moral and physical filth, all crime and ugliness. He will end war and to all who accept Him bring a universal prosperity, happiness and joy.
Ever since 1934, Herbert Armstrong has been sending that great message to the peoples of the world or taking it directly to them in four separate ways: the printed word, radio, television and the force of personal evangelism.
For the first two decades of its existence, the Church concentrated its attention on the continental United States and, to a lesser extent, on Canada. In the early 1950s, it was time to move into the world arena. From Radio Luxembourg, the message went forth to European countries, but not many people could be reached because officials would only sell time between 11 p.m. and midnight. Efforts to purchase radio and television time in other countries proved fruitless because in Europe, the government controls 211 media reaching the mass audiences. Limited time was purchased on Radio Ceylon, from which the messages were beamed by short wave to the eastern coast of Africa and into Southeast Asia. Here, too, only a limited response was received. When Mr. Armstrong sought to reach China by buying time on Chiang Kai-shek's station in Taiwan, he got no answer from the authorities.
Personal evangelism was the only answer. So in 1954 Armstrong toured England and Scotland. Even he was astounded by the throngs that jammed the halls, auditoriums and stadiums in which he spoke.
In 1966, a new phase was begun. Mr. Armstrong decided the Work had reached the point where the Church must reach out its arms as far as it could in an intensive effort to bring the message of Christ's next Coming to all of humanity.
A traveling evangelism, unprecedented in the history of world religion, was launched. Since that watershed time, Herbert Armstrong has gone to virtually every corner of the planet by many types of conveyance, endured hardships and risked his life many times over to obey the commandment of Jesus Christ. I have been privileged to accompany him on most of these travels and to share in the joys and satisfactions, not to mention the dangers, of this unique globe-girdling effort.
From 1966 to the present we have journeyed almost continuously, interrupted for Mr. Armstrong only by an illness in the summer of 1977. The list of countries we have visited reads like a Baedeker guide: every nation in Europe, the Middle East, northern and southern Africa; through most of Asia, including Japan; to every country in South and Central America. And, in the fall of 1979, I took the commission to the People 's Republic of China on three separate visits.
We travel between 200 and 300 days every year. With a small staff we fly aboard a Church-owned jet aircraft because our schedule is so full and demanding that much precious time would be lost and we could rely on seeing fewer persons with commercial transportation. Usually we remain away from one to more than three weeks at a time.
The number of persons aboard can range from about eight to a dozen or more depending upon the destination. The airplane, a white twin-engine Gulfstream II, about half the size of a Boeing 727, carries a crew of four, including a captain and copilot and two stewards. In the cabin a small office has been fitted out, where Mr. Armstrong works en route, typing his own speeches and pastor's reports on an electric machine.
From the beginning, Mr. Armstrong received astonishing welcomes from
In 1966, a new phase was begun. Mr. Armstrong decided the Work had reached the point where the Church must reach out its arms as far as it could in an intensive effort to bring the message of [Christ's] next Coming to all of humanity.kings and presidents, prime ministers and cabinet members, legislators and educators. These summit and near-summit sessions are of overriding importance because, as Mr. Armstrong has stated: "When I get Christ's vital message of the Kingdom of God to the king, president, prime minister and others high in the government of such nations, I have, in God's sight, gotten His message to that nation or kingdom."
Usually, upon arrival in a country, he has an audience with the government's leader, followed by a series of meetings with other high-ranking officials. Then dinners are arranged, at which he speaks to from 100 to 400 of the nation 's most distinguished business, professional, community and academic leaders. A public-appearance campaign is next on the schedule. Often he will address tens of thousands of persons in vast indoor and outdoor arenas and stadiums.
Mr. Armstrong's method of carrying out the commission is unique. The audiences, whether few or many, are not exhorted to come forth and accept the Lord. There are not pyrotechnics or thunderous declamations. Nobody is warned to fall on the knees and convert at once or face hellfire and damnation. The message is delivered low key, its force arising from the crucial meaning of what is said rather than the manner in which it is delivered.
Along with that announcement, there is a full explanation and a proof that what we say is, in truth, coming to pass. An integral part of the message, too, is moral and ethical education. As Mr. Armstrong put it in October, 1974, in Cairo, when he addressed a glittering assemblage of Egyptian citizens (which included four government ministers, many members of the legislature and a number of university presidents):
"What are we? Why are we here? Is there a purpose? Where are we going? What is the way? What is the way to peace? To have happiness? To make life beautiful and worthwhile? What are the true values?" Answers are offered to these basic questions of life from the insights Mr. Armstrong himself has discovered in his lifelong studies and vast experience.
Living in such close proximity with Herbert Armstrong for so many months of so many years, listening to him talk about every aspect of the Work, the people we meet, the theology of the Church, discussing the plans for the immediate and distant future ', thinking and planning with him, having three meals a day in his company — all this has given me a deeper insight into the mind and spirit of the apostle of God than any human being who ever lived.
If Herbert Armstrong is an ambassador without portfolio, I have functioned as his secretary of state, though similarly uncredentialed. Although Mr. Armstrong's reputation has preceded him, audiences with world leaders are not quite as easy to arrange as an appointment with the head of an insurance company branch office!
Consider, for example, the king of Thailand. He is so highly revered that even his most prominent subjects, when they have been admitted into his presence to give him an offering, must crawl like reptiles to his throne on their stomachs. While most heads of state do not require obeisance to this degree, there are complex and often delicate problems of protocol, agenda and scheduling to be worked out. Arrangements must be made long in advance with the leaders' key aides. Logistical problems of travel must be resolved — when do we arrive, where do we go, how do we get there, how long do we stay?
As Mr. Armstrong's servant, it has been my responsibility to manage his massive program of meetings, dinners and rallies in country after country. This I have done for up to 10 months of every year since 1960. As his servant, too, I see to it that the meetings go well, that the Church's needs are taken care of and that the programs we institute are carried out.
As his unofficial secretary of state, I have been present at most of the conferences he has had with world leaders, and gone alone to bring the announcement and carryon adjunct programs when he was elsewhere.
During July and early August, 1977, Mr. Armstrong and I traveled to Tokyo, Israel, Liberia, the Ivory Coast and Ghana. He was not in the best of health during the trip, but I couldn't persuade him to cut it short. On our return to Pasadena, California, his complaint persisted, and finally on August 17 he did visit a doctor in Tucson, Arizona, while I was aboard a TWA flight to New York on my way to Europe. When I arrived in New York I received an urgent message to call him. I did so, and he urged me to return to his bedside in Tucson to help him; he had been advised that he was seriously ill with congestive heart failure.
I rushed to his side and arrived in Tucson at 3 a.m. on the morning of August 18. For three weeks he was indeed in critical condition, but he then began a miraculous recovery. By October he was well on his way to full health, and I was able to leave for almost three months of activities in Tokyo, Europe and New York — much of the time filling in for Mr. Armstrong.
As a result of our pilgrimages and our efforts to foster and cement world understanding, a number of foreign countries have called on me to function as an "expert adviser" in their dealings with the United States. In 1971 I was asked to be an official adviser to the Japanese delegation, headed by then Prime Minister Eisaku Sato, at the U.S.-Japanese ministerial conference at San Clemente, California. Late the following summer, I was again an adviser to a Japanese delegation that accompanied Prime Minister Kakeui Tanaka to his summit conference with President Nixon in Hawaii, where the two chiefs reaffirmed the mutual cooperation and security treaty that existed between their governments and announced that the United States and Japan had reached accords under which Japan would buy $1,000 million worth of air, craft, uranium enrichment and various agricultural products.
Three years later, I advised a Japanese delegation in the Middle East during Israeli-Egyptian negotiations on withdrawal from the banks of the Suez Canal. Problems involving North and South Korea and the American position toward those countries are of vital concern to Japan. Having spoken intimately with leaders of both countries, I was invited to address some 40 members of the Japanese Diet at a special breakfast session. Afterward, I was closely questioned by the legislators.
"Ambassador of World Peace" It may seem surprising that the doors of imperial palaces and official residences are opened wide for a smiling, white-haired man and his aide. Yet there are sound reasons.
In addition to the announcement we bring, our travels abroad have two other great purposes:
First, to establish and develop programs that are meaningful, relevant and important to each nation we visit and to the people involved, so that they may live fuller and more abundant lives.
And second, to create a better understanding between people to further the cause of world peace.
Herbert Armstrong has become widely recognized and accepted as a man of God, an individual who possesses throughout the world a moral influence capable of moving mountains. National leaders have read about, and often seen for themselves, the throngs surging to hear him and the ovations he has received. They have received, too, reports from around the world of the confidence other leaders have placed in him. They have heard, through their intelligence reports and other means, of his reputation as a "builder of bridges between nations."
High officials have come to trust Mr. Armstrong as few other influential persons could be trusted in this imperfect world, accepting him, in his own phrase, as "an ambassador without portfolio for peace. "They feel free to discuss their most pressing international and domestic problems with him in intimate detail. I have had the honor of attending many of these conferences and have noted the depth of sincerity with which he has been greeted, the deference paid to him, the close attention given by state heads to his counsel. Time and again, an audience that had been scheduled to last only a few minutes stretched into an hour or more, while important personages cooled their heels in antechambers.
Herbert Armstrong has found a certain advantage in his status as unofficial ambassador that no credentialed envoy could enjoy. "In meetings between a government leader and other heads of state," he says, "a great deal may be at stake. They cannot be as free to relax. But in meetings with me they feel more free, and they are often interested in hearing of the problems, opinions and views of other leaders." Occasionally, too, Mr. Armstrong has been asked to be the bearer of personal messages from one leader to another, messages that could not be sent over usual diplomatic channels.
Few men in world history have garnered so many tributes from so many world leaders. In 1970, Mr. Armstrong was the recipient of a unique honor at the hands of former King Leopold of Belgium. Following the armistice at the end of World War I, King Albert, appalled at the slaughter that had occurred on a battlefield of his nation, ordered one of the iron cannonballs that remained on the field to be cast into four watch cases. Four fine movements were placed inside them, to be presented to the four men who, he believed, had made the most significant contributions toward reducing the possibility that those terrible human sacrifices might recur. The King presented one watch to Field Marshal Ferdinand Foch, who headed the Allied supreme command in 1918. The second he gave to General John J. Pershing, commander in chief of the American Expeditionary Force and the third went to Georges Clemenceau, France 's inspiring premier during the dark days of the war. For four decades since that third timepiece had been presented, nobody was believed to be qualified to receive the fourth. King Albert passed it on to his son, Leopold, to watch and wait. In November, 1970, Leopold found the man he sought. He presented the fourth watch to Herbert W. Armstrong. In accepting it, Mr. Armstrong said, "I feel it was the highest honor the king could have paid anyone. Whatever contribution to world peace I may be making is not through war, but through education, teaching millions worldwide the way to peace."
There have been many other decorations, gifts and keys to cities. Japan awarded him the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Second Class, one of the highest decorations that can be presented to a noncitizen, in recognition of "the outstanding contribution you have rendered to the cause of friendship and promotion of mutual understanding between the United States and Japan." In November, 1977, the Japanese government conferred on me the Fourth Class Order of the Sacred Treasure.
The prime minister of Lebanon,
The Church has the trust of leaders, who, because of deep chasms separating them, do not trust one another. We are close friends with King Hussein of Jordan and yet have maintained equally strong ties of friendship with Israel.Takieddine Solh, told Mr. Armstrong in 1973, "People like you are like stars guiding navigators who are seeking the paths of true life and humanity."
And that year, too, Dr. Kharni Singh, maharaja of Bikaner and a member of the Indian Parliament, wrote: "Mr. Armstrong is devoted to the cause of eradicating poverty and of bringing international peace. In this endeavor of his it is the duty of every citizen of the world to give him all the support he deserves."
The Church has the trust of leaders, who, because of deep chasms separating them, do not trust one another. We are close friends with King Hussein of Jordan and yet have maintained equally strong ties of friendship with Israel. At one time, during a four-year period, Mr. Armstrong and I made about 50 trips to Israel, meeting with Prime Ministers Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin and Menachem Begin, and with Moshe Dyan, Defense Minister Shimon Peres and dozens of cabinet members, legislators, military men and leaders of industry and academia.
We met with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in Alexandria in the summer of 1974, years before the Camp David accord, when he knew that we would fly directly from Cairo to Jerusalem. As President Sadat's special guests, we were the only non-Arabs present while he spoke to members of his cabinet and other distinguished representatives of the Egyptian government and society.
In the Indian subcontinent, we were received by President V.V. Giri and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. We talked with President Suharto of Indonesia, with President Jomo Kenyatta, the father of independent Kenya, with President William Tolbert of Liberia, with the prime ministers of Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Argentina and Peru. In Japan, we have met with former Prime Minister Sato and everyone of his successors: Tanaka, Takeo Miki, Takeo Fukada and Masayoshi Ohira. The list is almost literally endless because the journeys to proclaim the message of God must go on.
The "Secret" Everyone Knows What seemed most upsetting to the California attorney general in the lawsuit against the Church was the cost of these travels.
It could hardly be contended that they were secret journeys: we did not silently slip away under cover of darkness, nor did we wander incognito through world capitals. On the contrary, each trip was reported back to Church members in our four publications: The Plain Truth, The Worldwide News, a newspaper published biweekly and distributed free to members; The Good News, another Church magazine; and The Pastor General's Report, sent weekly to all pastors and ministers. Complete details, profusely illustrated with photographs, are continually made available. Members are kept up to date on all the details of itineraries, events, speeches, meetings, gifts, even hotel accommodations and extra expenses of film and video coverage. A secret? In the mid-1970s we proudly published an oversize, 32-page brochure with full-color illustrations; its purpose was to inform everyone where we went and whom we saw.
The Worldwide News publishes a special supplement called "Forum with Stanley R. Rader," which discusses with complete candor all aspects of the Church. Just about everything is asked in these question-and-answer sessions from the state of Herbert Armstrong 's health to the state of our finances, and the responses are very specific and lengthy. Often a forum will go on for several pages of type, five columns to a page of the tabloid-size newspaper.
Thus while members are fully aware of the trips, their meaning and their cost, the state of California is not; those entrusted with enforcing the laws insist on viewing the missionary journeys of Herbert Armstrong and his staff and the money spent on them as the travel expenses of a business firm.
Church members know, as the state should have recognized had it done its even minimal homework, that the travels could no more be considered a corporate operating expense than the journeys of Pope John Paul II. In the eyes of the members, to cease such activities would mean no less than forfeiting the Church's spiritual legitimacy, and ceasing to be a viable Church of Jesus Christ as they understand it and want it. For the members, a more paternalistic intrusion could scarcely have been designed than to attack, as the state's lawsuit has done, Herbert Armstrong's personal work to make the world ready for the coming of Christ in power and glory, as if it were some kind of extravagance cooked up in the executive suite of a corporate enterprise to take advantage of the stockholders!
BEHIND THE BAMBOO CURTAIN
Finding an Entryway Preaching the Gospel of the coming Kingdom of God to all the world surely could not be accomplished until an effective means could be found to reach one entire fourth of that world, the inhabitants of the People 's Republic of China.
The Work made several efforts to bring the message to the diverse Chinese population during the years of its isolation from the rest of the community of nations, begun in 1949 after Chiang Kai-shek had been toppled by the Communists. For a number of years, we broadcast from Taiwan, then called Formosa, where Chiang and his Nationalist forces had taken refuge. Some of our message undoubtedly went through, but we could never be certain of how much.
For a long time, we had been seeking a way to take the commission directly behind the Bamboo Curtain to this vast and populous country whose borders were shut tightly to Westerners. How could we get inside, how allay the dark suspicions of the Chinese leaders toward virtually everyone and everything beyond its boundaries?
Finding an entryway into the wary country was a lengthy and difficult task that took almost a full decade. The story of how it was at last accomplished is, in a capsule, the story of how the Church manages to fulfill its God-directed mission. It involves drama, high-level personages from widely diverse nations, seemingly insurmountable roadblocks, and, above all else, the intervention of Divine Providence.
Our China experience started in India in 1970 at a dinner in Herbert Armstrong's honor at the home of Dr. Nagendra Singh, then the secretary general of the office of President V.V. Giri, and who later became one of the justices of the International Court of Justice at The Hague. As an advocate for world peace through law, Dr. Singh admired Herbert Armstrong and, as the years went on, came to love him even though he himself was a devout Hindu. Later Dr. Singh was to introduce Mr. Armstrong to political and thought leaders in many nations, and even hosted both a lunch and dinner in the pastor general's honor at The Hague itself.
At Dr. Singh's home that evening, we met the Ethiopian ambassador to India, Mekasha Getachew, who was impressed by Mr. Armstrong and indicated a strong interest in having us visit his country. An invitation followed, a visit was scheduled and in 1973 Mr. Armstrong flew into Addis Ababa.
At that time in world history, Ethiopia was closer to China than perhaps any other country. Chou En-Iai, premier of the People 's Republic, was deeply indebted to Emperor Haile Selassie and to Ambassador Getachew, because when Chou went to Africa a decade before, Ethiopia was the only nation that would allow him to land and refuel. The arrangements had been made by Getachew. After that incident, Chou showed his gratitude by allowing Getachew to visit China on a number of occasions. Before long, air routes had been opened up between the two nations.
Having come to one of the few countries with close ties to China was fortunate enough. Yet there was more to come.
At a dinner in Mr. Armstrong's honor in the Ethiopian capital, we found ourselves seated next to a tall, portly man. As dean of the ambassadorial corps, protocol called for him to be seated at the head table. He was I.T. Wen, ambassador of the People's Republic of China to Ethiopia. He spoke English perfectly and, to cap the series of providential occurrences, had relatives in Los Angeles!
The upshot of this meeting? Wen, impressed with Mr. Armstrong 's talk
"Yes," I answered. "Mr. Armstrong goes where God sends him, not where the United States State Department says he can or cannot go. Where a conflict exists, Mr. Armstrong obeys the laws of God, not the laws of man." "Then," Mr. Wen replied, "I will see that you come to China."and mission, asked me, "Despite the estrangement of our countries, despite the fact your passport says you cannot come to China, will you and Mr. Armstrong be willing to come anyway?"
"Yes," I answered. "Mr. Armstrong goes where God sends him, not where the United States State Department says he can or cannot go. Where a conflict exists, Mr. Armstrong obeys the laws of God, not the laws of man."
"Then," Mr. Wen replied, "I will see that you come to China."
Barriers arose. Wen helped us all he could, but in Peking, Chinese officials, while approving me, balked at inviting Mr. Armstrong. The reason was not hard to find: as a consistent anticommunist writer and preacher he had for years identified communism as being anti-God. He had never differentiated among the various mutations communism had undergone in Russia, Yugoslavia or China; none of the forms was compatible with religion as he saw it. Nor would he alter his views to point out that Chinese communism was less anti-God than the Russian type, a modification, we were told, that would have pleased the officials and resulted in an invitation.
An impasse resulted, but thanks to Wen and our Ethiopian friends, signals came back that the doors were left open, though not widely enough at the time to admit us. Years went by, with our China adventure on the back burner. Then Japanese friends enter the story.
Our relations with the Japanese have been so close that they call themselves Mr. Armstrong's sons and my brothers. I myself am totally immersed in the Japanese culture and spend most of my spare time studying the language. Their leaders, seeking to normalize relations with their huge neighbor, had been traveling frequently to Peking and, while there, planting seeds in our behalf. They were spreading the word that Mr. Armstrong and his close aide were good people working through a good institution to make a good effort to bring about what all nations seek — a better world understanding. And that, certainly not least, we were prepared, even anxious, to put some of our treasure where our heart was, to donate something quite tangible, quite useful, through the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation, to China.
With realization of the true nature of our intentions, the objections slowly dissolved and a journey was in the planning stages for the fall of 1977 when Mr. Armstrong — as previously mentioned — became seriously ill with congestive heart failure. For three weeks his condition was critical, requiring at one time mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and manual heart massage. Nurses were in attendance around the clock, but much of the credit for his recovery should go to his second wife, the former Ramona Martin, who was at his bedside constantly, offering devotion and love. Loma Armstrong had died 10 years earlier, three months before she and her husband would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary
Ramona and Herbert Armstrong had been married about four months when the illness struck. Mrs. Armstrong was 39, the daughter of a longtime Church member. A member herself, she had worked for us many years. In 1974, she was transferred to my staff, and, since I worked so closely with Mr. Armstrong, they became acquainted. They fell in love, and after a long courtship, were married on April 17, 1977. I gave the bride away at a joyous occasion. Since then, the Armstrongs have been living in Tucson, a happy and devoted couple.
When Mr. Armstrong recovered from his illness, plans for the China trip had to be postponed again. The reason: new problems with Garner Ted. The pastor general had found it necessary to dismiss his son from the Work and felt he should remain in the country to oversee the reorganization of the Church under the laws of God.
Since the China trip was now in the final stages of preparation, Mr. Armstrong and I agreed it should not be postponed. We decided that I would journey there to lay the groundwork for a later visit by him. Since the written word is the most effective instrument for advancing cultural understanding between peoples, I felt that a program of helping the Chinese develop their libraries should be one of our goals in China. Our Japanese friends broached the idea to Chinese officials, who accepted it happily, and my visit was arranged for the summer of 1979. I would tour a number of institutions to obtain a visual picture of the libraries and other fields in which we could work through the foundation. Our hosts would be the newly created China Society of Education, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Culture.
And so, at long last, the Bamboo Curtain parted for the Church.
Clasping Hands Across the Hemisphere The Chinese people were unfailingly generous and gracious hosts. There was an instant rapport between us, a camaraderie clearly evident at the many banquets they hosted for us and which we, in return, gave for them. Whatever suspicions there were years before of our intentions were gone. They liked us. We liked them. It was as simple as that. When people of such divergent backgrounds and political ideologies can feel that way about one another, there is no limit to the good that can be accomplished.
We were guests in the full sense of the word, not permitted to pay for our food, lodgings, ground and internal air transportation. During our intensive schedule, we visited libraries and universities in Peking, Nanking and Shanghai, among them the famed Peking University, China's Harvard, where the late Chairman Mao Tse-tung's first job was as an assistant librarian. Meetings with their presidents and departmental heads gave us an unparalleled inside look at what they were doing. At the same time, we told them about ourselves, distributing copies of The Plain Truth and, in "soft sell," told them about our Work and our commission. We could not offend our hosts, a nation without religion, by delivering our message as we had in other nations. In his own preparation for the visit, Mr. Armstrong was planning to tell their leaders of the coming world government, though not, as he said, "in Christian or Bible-sounding words."
From Shanghai I returned to Tokyo, from where I reported the results of the trip to Mr. Armstrong. After a few days, I returned to China for another two weeks, again engaging in intensive discussions in Peking, Hangchow and Canton. We concluded arrangements for Mr. Armstrong to meet with the premier or party chairman, depending on their availability, for his private plane to land, for a tight schedule of dinners, meetings and receptions, and to bring in a television crew to film a complete documentary of his visit, another first. No foreign organization had ever been permitted to do this before. Not so incidentally, these arrangements were hardly cut and dried procedures, to be had for the asking. Each had to be negotiated with the utmost tact and delicacy through what seemed an endless chain of officials, down to the last detail of where Mr. Armstrong would stay and who would pay the costs. The Chinese, delicately yet quite firmly, again insisted on being the complete host.
During this second visit, I was asked to deliver an address to the faculty and students of the University of Peking, and later at the institution 's department of law, a signal honor.
Returning to Tokyo I learned, to my disappointment and certainly his, that Mr. Armstrong could not shake off a persistent stomach ailment and would be unable to make the trip to China after all. Since all arrangements had been formalized, we decided that I would substitute for him again and, while so doing, pave the way ever more firmly for his eventual arrival by enlarging our friendships and deepening our mutual understanding.
I spent two more hectic weeks in China, highlighted by the first cultural performance sponsored by the foundation inside that country. On the earlier trips, I had been enormously impressed by the range and quality of the Chinese theater. The artistry and enthusiasm of the individuals and ensembles was superb, the music haunting, the costumes breathtakingly lovely.
One day, while discussing with the minister of culture the possibility of bringing to the United States some of the fine troupes that have not yet appeared in our country, an idea popped suddenly to mind. Somewhat rashly, without knowing if I were asking something impossible or even wildly absurd, I put the question to him then and there: Could the foundation sponsor a theatrical event in China, to which we would invite officials of the government, university leaders, members of the faculties and students? It would be a gala benefit performance by the finest artists available, an evening of entertainment presented by us to them.
His face broke into a wide smile. It was, he said, a delightful idea. Yes, indeed, he would approve. We set to work at once, engaging directorial personnel who, in turn, brought together a troupe of 133 of the finest Chinese singers, dancers, musicians and actors, many of whom had already traveled all over their country, and also through South America and the United States.
The show was put together — with a rapidity that would make our own producers gape — and performed at Peking's Nationality Palace Theatre before about 1,500 persons who received it with unrestrained enthusiasm. The entire two-hour entertainment filmed by our television crew and available to American audiences, is a glittering illustration of international bridge — building by a Church adjunct.
On our last evening in China, I represented Herbert Armstrong as deputy honoree at a banquet in the Great Hall of the People in Peking, remarkable because it brought together 75 ambassadors of nations around the globe in one room, all gathered to pay tribute to a man who was seeking nothing for himself but the greatest gift man could give himself — peace on this earth. I glanced around the hall as the dinner progressed and was overwhelmed when I saw how many dignitaries of the world had come together there because they, too, wanted that gift. I saw envoys from Iron Curtain countries, the Third World, the Far and Middle East and Latin America. At the head table, on my immediate right, was the Cuban ambassador, which was ironic yet also revealing. At precisely that time, the presence of a Soviet brigade in Cuba was confronting President Carter with a potentially
Maestro Giulini could scarcely believe it; he called it a miracle, and in a very real sense it was. Because Mr. Armstrong's faith was perfect, the building was completed and It was right. Everything came together with faultless precision, as he had known all along.explosive international crisis. In the absence of relations between the two countries, Carter was unable to discuss this matter with a diplomatic representative. Yet the Worldwide Church of God, through its representative, was at that moment in close contact with a highly placed Cuban official!
Need I spell out any more clearly the influence, actual and potential, of this God-loving people in helping to bring a measure of sanity to a world rushing headlong into the twilight?
There was still another demonstration during that period of how the Church succeeded in bringing envoys of deeply divided, indeed hostile, nations into one room, where they could talk to one another in a pleasant, friendly atmosphere and, hopefully, establish a rapport. In between our China trips, we hosted a dinner party in Tokyo to which we invited some 200 persons. At the head table sat the ambassadors of Israel, Tunisia, Lebanon and China. Neither Tunisia nor Lebanon have diplomatic relations with Israel, and Israel has no relations with China. Nevertheless, they were all introduced to one another and registered no objection when we asked if they could be photographed together.
By the end of 1979, with Mr. Armstrong's health significantly improved, the long-postponed visit to China became feasible. Again I worked out a rigorous and wide-ranging schedule of activities, and on December 2 Mr. Armstrong flew to Peking — the first leader of a Christian church to be officially invited to meet with leaders of the People's Republic of China.
For five days and four nights, Mr. Armstrong had formal and informal talks with leaders of government and education as part of what he described as his "most important and successful trip."
"Although in a communist and atheist-oriented country I did not use Bible language, I did get over to them the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, announcing the coming one-world government of God," he assured readers of The Plain Truth in his Pastor General's Report. He wrote that speaking to the leaders of Communist China is akin to reaching one fourth of all the people on earth, one thousand million people.
In Peking, Mr. Armstrong spoke for an hour with Tan Zhenlin, vice chairman of the Standing Committee on the National People's Congress and one of the three top men in the Chinese government today. He gave to Tan, a former close associate of Chairman Mao Tse-tung and Premier Chou En-Iai, a prophet's — eye view of the coming United Europe, which will touch off the final holocaust of this age on earth and usher in the Kingdom of God.
Mrs. Armstrong, Mrs. Rader and I, as well as some of Herbert Armstrong 's "sons" from the Japanese Diet, were along on this trip, which included visits to the "Forbidden City," the Great Wall and the national library. Mr." Armstrong was guest of honor at a dinner given by government and university leaders and also addressed a banquet attended by many educators and their wives. He was the main speaker at a dinner given by the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation in the Chinese People's Great Hall for the diplomatic corps.
Mr. Armstrong was very open in his discussions with the Chinese people. He told his listeners that they, along with other human beings in the nations of the world, are striving to achieve the Kingdom of God on earth. But whatever path they choose to reach that goal, whether socialism, democracy or any other form of government, they cannot succeed. For man's law cannot bring to pass what humanity has sought for 6,000 years, a great new world. God alone has the power to create His Kingdom here. It will be God who will intervene through Jesus Christ, and Christ will come to rule as King and High Priest.
There was no effort at conversion; there never is in any nation he visits. The missionaries who farmed out across China in the 19th century warned people to change their ways of life and accept God or face fateful consequences. Mr. Armstrong uttered not one word that even hinted at proselytizing. He simply told them what lay ahead.
And they listened.
A Chinese employee of the Liberian Embassy in Peking told one member of our party: "I have never heard such a message as I heard last night in the Great Hall of the People. There are two ways of life. The way of getting causes all the troubles in the world, and the way. of giving is the solution. I wish I could hear more on this subject, and I hope to hear soon that we may have an office of the Ambassador foundation here. I have never seen such a man as Mr. Armstrong."
We went to China, not as politicians, not as businessmen seeking any kind of quid for our quo, not as salesmen trying to drive a good bargain for our side, but as people of good will, giving and not getting, our hands extended not to take but in friendship. We left some of our treasure and promised we would give more. We also left something else in the soil of China — feelings of trust and admiration. for us and what we seek. From these seeds great oaks can grow.
AMBASSADORS FOR CULTURE
For Service to Man and His World When it became apparent that God had given Herbert Armstrong grace and favor in the eyes of government leaders, our response was to demonstrate in tangible form the Church 's love, concern and generosity toward the peoples who welcome us into their midst.
In his travels, Mr. Armstrong had become sharply aware of the gigantic problems erupting on the world scene, problems eroding the very foundations on which civilization as we know it rests. Everywhere he found life's ugly visage: crime that imperils man's safety, inflation that threatens his economic welfare, lowered moral standards that undermine the stability of his family and his government. Worst of all, he found hatreds — deep, abiding hatreds that cause nations to leap at each others' throats and murder each others ' people by starvation, torture and the horrors of war — made more terrible by the misuse of scientific achievement.
Man need not hate, need not rebel, need not hurt himself and his fellows. Man, Mr. Armstrong knew through his visionary insight, had a mind infused with a spirit that was God-given, God-implanted. And that this mind with its diverse spirit had a potential — an "incredible human potential," he calls it — to lift himself above baseness, cruelty and all the other ills that beset the human race.
Out of this religious-philosophical understanding was born the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation, whose guiding principle is wonderfully simple yet far reaching. The foundation's goal is to initiate and carry forward cultural, educational and humanitarian projects that can be of specific service to the peoples of this sadly imperfect world. By lending its support — mincing no words, I am talking of specific financial aid — to all kinds of humanitarian and cultural causes, the foundation believes it can create in men and women an awareness of their individual and collective potential for good.
This foundation is now operating in many parts of the world and expanding continually as the Church itself continues to grow. Its multifaceted projects serve everyone, without respect to race, national origin or religion, thus slicing through the complexities that divide a world where hatreds, prejudice and personal ambitions rule.
In 1969, the Church formally entered into joint participation with Hebrew University and the Israeli Archaeological Society as cosponsor of the great archaeological excavation of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. From that time, each summer, Ambassador College has sent dozens of students to Jerusalem to work on the project. That dig was completed in 1978. Many treasures have been uncovered of our historical and religious past, but some time will pass before the cataloging and publication of all of the finds. Today, we have already begun our sponsorship of a new dig designed to uncover the city of David.
With the dig acting as trigger, we moved rapidly to direct, active support in other areas. Soon we joined forces with the International Cultural Center for Youth, a fine organization founded by Eleanor Roosevelt and Moshe Kol of Israel, which brings Arabs and Israeli children together in the West Bank area, helping them to understand one another and to grow up in peace and friendship.
One project led to another, and yet another and another. We became involved with the King Leopold III Foundation, which conducts anthropological expeditions around the world. Working with the universities of Brussels and Antwerp, we joined in sending teams of experts to remote places where they collect data and contribute to our knowledge of the varieties of mankind, the beginnings of the human race, and its slow march toward civilization. We discovered that schools were virtually nonexistent in the mountainous areas of Thailand; we backed a project that equipped mobile classrooms which would go directly to the villages.
Toward Excellence By 1974, the sheer number and complexity of these activities made it necessary to form a separate entity, apart from Ambassador College, which would operate them. I suggested to Mr. Armstrong that we create one vast frame into which they could all be placed, and he agreed enthusiastically. And so, in 1975, the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation came into being.
From that time on, all enterprises, the old and the new, were carried out in the name of AICF. The use of the name "Ambassador" was retained because it symbolized the method by which the Church seeks to fulfill its Work and its primary mission worldwide.
Herbert W. Armstrong, busy with Church affairs, turned over the administration of the new foundation to me. Year after year, we continued to step up our sponsorship of projects, which were as varied as the needs of people on every level of society. We aided benefit funds for handicapped children in England and Monaco and a clinic for underprivileged children in Cairo. At the same time, we sponsored oceanographic research in conjunction with the University of Brussels and political research with an institute in Tokyo. We became involved in an education program for mountain people in Nepal, with the Society for Near Eastern Studies in Tokyo, with the University of the Ryukyus' exchange program in Japan, with the World Wildlife Association in Switzerland.
While California's attorney general may not be aware of these humanitarian activities, heads of state and government leaders throughout the world know. They have received widespread recognition in the form of commendations and awards to the Church from Belgium, Sri Lanka, Egypt, India, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Monaco, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong, Iran, Costa Rica, Tanzania, South Africa, Spain, the Bahamas and Jamaica.
Of all the projects, special words must be reserved for the cultural center
Our relations with the Japanese have been so close that they call themselves Mr. Armstrong's sons and my brothers. I myself am totally immersed in the Japanese culture and spend most of my spare time studying the language.that has been created in the heart of the Church itself at Ambassador College. When I look at the glass and emerald-green granite building that houses it, my mind flips back to that afternoon in 1957 when Herbert W. Armstrong swept his arm in an arc around the infant college and predicted that some day, the most beautiful campus in the country would be built there, and in its midst would stand a great auditorium.
In less than two decades, the vision became hard reality. The Ambassador Auditorium was completed in 1974 and has been acclaimed by architects, performing artists and critics as one of the finest concert halls in the world. The seven-story building, with its high fluted columns rising out of an artificial pool and bridged walkways to the great bronze doors, serves several functions. It is used by the college for academic forums, assemblies and classes. It is the college chapel where worship services are held. And it has become a magnificent performing arts center, a showcase for the world's leading artists, which calls full attention to the Church while strengthening cultural bonds with others.
The Auditorium is a rare jewel, "a miniature palace of rare woods and marble," the Hollywood Reporter has called it. In its short life, it has won the allegiance of the greatest stars in the concert world, a world that presents a polite, dignified face to the public but is actually as ruthlessly competitive as any other phase of show business, or of any business.
The main theater, seating 1,250 persons, is equipped with computerized lighting and the finest in acoustical projection and balance. The lower level contains a lounge, two studio — classrooms, a workshop and dressing rooms for the actors and artists. Designed by the architects as an international cultural center in consonance with the theme of the AICF, materials and furnishings came from nations around the world.
When the building was completed; an audience of dignitaries attended the dedication ceremony and the opening event. Facing them as they walked through the great bronze doors was a large interior wall of rose onyx on which were carved the words: "Ambassador Auditorium. Made possible by gifts from the Worldwide Church of God. Dedicated to the honor and glory of THE GREAT GOD."
God was its inspiration and its purpose, said Mr. Armstrong that evening. The hall was a vehicle, he told the guests, to bring to our home city of Pasadena and the entire greater Los Angeles community a continuing stream of the finest talent the world could produce.
It was a bold pledge, but it was kept. For seldom in the history of the performing arts have so many great artists appeared under one roof, season after season. In a remarkably few years, the Ambassador Auditorium has become the finest artistic and cultural center in the West, if not the entire nation.
The Jewel Displayed Prior to its opening, not many in the concert circuit had sanguine expectations for the Ambassador Auditorium 's future. It was, in fact, assailed as " Armstrong's Folly," an enterprise headed for disaster. Indeed, the entire project could easily have fulfilled that dire prophecy were it not for the help it received from a source in which Mr. Armstrong was placing all his faith for its success.
He knew, as the critics did not, that he had support from Someone who could not be resisted.
Early in 1973, while the Auditorium was still barely rising out of the ground, Mr. Armstrong had said to me: "We're going to have a gem here, a perfect concert hall, so we should have a superlative maestro and an orchestra to inaugurate it. Who shall we get?"
Never having been involved before in a concert series on such a grand scale, I confessed I wasn't exactly certain. While we both loved music and played passably well, neither of us was exactly a musicologist. Nevertheless, we knew enough to realize that great orchestras were booked years in advance and that the two years or less we had was precious short notice. We had to move fast.
So, despite our rather limited acquaintance with the leaders in the concert field, we almost literally barged in on the world's foremost conductor of the world's greatest orchestra, the legendary Herbert von Karajan.
Von Karajan was the Austrian maestro who had been conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic since 1955, after heading the La Scala Opera orchestra in Milan for seven years. A few questions convinced us that he was the man for us, the most renowned musician to inaugurate what we hoped would be the most equally renowned concert hall in the world.
Through mutual friends we made an appointment with him and flew to Karlsruhe, Germany, where he was appearing. A striking — looking man with a leonine countenance, von Karajan warmed toward us at once in our initial talk. We made a date for lunch the following day, our hopes high.
When we met, we stated our case; the interview stands out in my mind as a minor classic.
We told him we wanted to book his orchestra into our new cultural center. Von Karajan cocked his head and pursed his thin lips as he listened.
"Of course," I went on, "the Auditorium is not yet completed, but..." The maestro stared at us, a puzzled look on his lean face.
"Not finished?" he asked.
I fidgeted in my chair. "Well, no," I answered, "not yet, but it will be in a year and a half." Von Karajan, more amazed, repeated: "A year and a half?" I glanced somewhat uneasily at Mr. Armstrong, who was beaming at von Karajan. Totally undisturbed, Mr. Armstrong smiled his benevolent smile and said to him: " You tell us when you can come. The Auditorium will be finished."
Thinking back, I can see how wildly ludicrous it all must have seemed. Here we were in Germany, talking about bringing over a great conductor and a great orchestra to play in an auditorium that wasn't there, and blandly asking him to set a date. Yet so total was Mr. Armstrong 's confidence, so potent his persuasiveness, and so appealing the picture we painted of the great cultural center, that von Karajan became convinced. He studied his calendar, trying to shift dates. But when he was available, the orchestra was not, and when the orchestra had time, he did not. Regretfully, he informed us that it would be impossible for him to come.
"Maestro," I asked, "in your opinion, who is second to you in the world as a maestro?"
"There is no question," he replied at once. "Second to me is Giulini."
"Oh," I said, glancing at Mr. Armstrong. "Is that right?" I had never heard of Giulini and neither, I was certain, had Mr. Armstrong.
"Absolutely," von Karajan was saying, "He is a great artist."
Tentatively, I asked: "And where is he?" Von Karajan told us: " He has just taken up the baton of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. Makes no difference. You get Giulini. He is the greatest maestro in the world, except for me."
We made several telephone calls, learned Giulini was in Paris and flew there. By that time, we had filled in the gaps in our knowledge, learning that Carlo Maria Giulini, then 59 years old, had made his debut as a conductor in 1944 and had won considerable renown in the musical world, especially in Italy and England. In Paris, we called his representative, explained our mission, and he agreed to meet with us at the St. Regis, a small but exclusive residential hotel not far from where we were staying
Almost from the moment we met in the hotel's salon, we knew our search had ended. He was a beautiful man physically, with sweet, sensitive features. And we learned very quickly that he was beautiful within as well. He was a deeply religious man who saw in Herbert Armstrong all that the things of the spirit represent to him; and Mr. Armstrong saw in Giulini all that he wanted to see in the person who would grace the auditorium, which would be a house of God.
Still, the opening minutes of our conversation were a virtual replay of the von Karajan interview. When we explained what we wanted, Giulini too thought we were a couple of crazy people! Who would book an orchestra to play in a nonexistent hall? When he voiced his misgivings, Mr. Armstrong assured him:
"Believe me, the building will be finished."
"What about the acoustics?" Giulini insisted. Understandably, he was concerned about being the first conductor to play in an untested hall that just might turn out to be an acoustical disaster.
"They will be perfect," said Mr. Armstrong, smiling benevolently at the maestro.
"But how do you know?"
"I don 't know. But they will be perfect."
Guilini asked no more questions. He agreed to come.
The evening of April 7, 1974, was one of the most brilliant in the memories of concertgoers in the West, if not the entire nation. The Auditorium was ready, and it was perfect, though only three days before it stood in a wasteland of dirt and stones. By opening night, after tireless work by gardeners, the landscaping had been completed.
Maestro Giulini could scarcely believe it; he called it a miracle, and in a very real sense it was. Because Mr. Armstrong's faith was perfect, the building was completed and it was right. Everything came together with faultless precision, as he had known all along.
In Matthew 17:20 we find this great passage: "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove...." "Armstrong's Folly" became the wonder of the concert world because God had so willed it; Mr. Armstrong had an abiding belief that the mountain would be moved.
(The Book: Against the Gates of Hell by Stanley R Rader)