The Church of God was founded A.D. 31, by Jesus Christ. It has continued through every generation. But how was the present era raised up? Here are vital facts of which many now in the Church are unaware.
NOW IT MUST BE revealed — the true story of how Jesus Christ prepared His servant far in advance and then called him in poverty, hunger and threadbare clothes — of the struggle to raise up this era of God's Church in financial stress and on sheer living FAITH! As a young man in my 20s, I had been eminently successful in the advertising profession, earning while still in my 20s an income comparable to $150,000 a year in today's dollar value. I was then unconverted and proud — ambitious and full of self-confidence. I did not then know the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior, Lord and Master and coming King! The living Christ well knew that before He could effectively use me, I had to be humbled, subdued, CONQUERED by Him. I know now that God had guided my life from the beginning, preparing His future servant for His purpose — even as He had prepared Moses, Job, the apostle Paul and others, in advance. Even in my birth, rearing, early business life, He was guiding me.
Of English ancestry
I was born of humble but substantial and stable parents of solid Quaker stock. Our ancestors had emigrated from England with William Penn, a hundred years before the United States became a nation. They had settled in Pennsylvania, succeeding generations moving to Ohio, then to Indiana where my father was born, then Iowa where I was born. My forebears are traced in a family genealogy, maintained by a special foundation, back to Edward I, and from there back to King David of ancient Israel. Thus it has been revealed to me that in fact I am of the House of David. I was reared in a Protestant Sunday school, but at age 18 lost all interest in religion. God's time to call me to His service was not to come for another 16 years. But in "the last days" when Christ comes in power and glory, the House of David through Christ will rule the whole world. Is it not consistent; then, that Christ has called one of the House of David to re-establish God's government in His Church? And, since Christ will rule "with a strong arm," might it also be significant that He chose one named "Arm strong" to re-establish the government of God in the Church in these last days?
Ambition sparked early in life
At age 16, my first summer vacation employer away from home sparked in me the flame of AMBITION to make something of my life — and with it, the willingness and determination to work hard and pay the price of success. At age 18, a book called Choosing a Vocation put me through a self-analysis, leading to choosing the advertising profession. I had developed an intense driving energy. I studied nights, learned by experience daytimes. By age 25 I was well established with my own office in Chicago's downtown Loop as a successful publishers' representative in the banking field. My business contacts were with officers of the nation's great banks in South LaSalle Street and in Wall Street, New York — and with presidents and board chairmen of many Midwest industrial corporations. I was married at age 25 to the wife I was later to know God had selected for me — a marriage that lasted 50 years — until death did part us. She was the help I needed. But the great flash depression of 1920 — when I was 28 — put my major clients (industrial corporations) into receivership. Ninety percent of my income was lost in the depression.
Conquered by Jesus Christ
I had had a business training to be needed later in the Work of the living Christ. And I had become proud. God did not make His calling known to me at that stage. First, Christ took me through a humbling experience. By 1926 I was in Portland, Ore., reduced to poverty, hunger and threadbare clothes. Then a pair of supremely important challenges came. God's time had come to call me. I was taken through the humiliating experience of finding that everything I had believed, or, perhaps better stated, taken for granted, about God and the Bible, was proved wrong. By spring, 1927, my mind had been swept clean of what religious beliefs I had carelessly assumed, and Jesus Christ had come into my life. Self-confidence was replaced with a living FAITH. I was in desperate financial straits. I had taken a real beating. I had been CONQUERED by Christ Jesus, repentant, baptized and a totally new life begotten within me. In the spring of 1927, I was baptized and had received the supreme gift of God's Holy Spirit. God's TRUTH was being opened to me. God had now called me and put me in His Work. I was used by Jesus Christ, in 1933, in raising up the parent Church of the Worldwide Church of God. I had hitchhiked — or walked — to hold services in a one-room country schoolhouse eight miles west of Eugene, Ore. My one pair of shoes had holes in the soles. I said, in a sense of humor, "I have a suit for every day of the week — and this is it!" My wife was wearing her younger sister's cast-off clothes. Our children had been sent to school hungry. It was then the midst of the Great Depression of 1929. Church brethren took up a collection to buy me a new suit of clothes.
By living faith
But now GOD was using me! I had started on the air at cost of $2.50 per week for radio time. The money came BY FAITH! Everything, from that time, came by living FAITH. God gave miraculous answers to fervent prayer. The sick were being healed. Cancer victims were healed. No operation could have started smaller. But God blessed it, and it grew at the rate of 30 percent per year for 35 years. In 1947 God had used me in founding Ambassador College — on sheer FAITH! The Church of God began to GROW — steadily. I had to realize God was dealing with me in principle, as He had dealt with Job. God allowed Satan to take away every material thing Job had, to bring him. to God — but then after Job was humbled and brought to repentance, God DOUBLED Job's former wealth — and he had been the greatest and wealthiest man in the East. Also my experience resembled that of the apostle Paul, in principle. And now, after 46 years since the founding of the present era of the true Church of God, the ever-living Christ continues to give us severe tests of faith. As God's Church, then named the Radio Church of God, began to grow, God led me to incorporate it in such a manner that I would always be UNABLE to profit financially from its growth.
From small beginnings
It is doubtful whether any institution in human history started from as humble and small beginnings. When GOD starts something on His power alone, it is BIG from the beginning. For example, the creation of the UNIVERSE — the creation of the earth. But when God starts something through humans, it usually, like the grain of mustard seed, starts the very smallest and most humble, and then grows as the spiritual character of the humans develops. I had rejected a "salary" of $3 per week, prior to the start of the Worldwide Church of God. As for me and my family, my beginning in God's service was almost nil financially. It was, indeed, a Work of FAITH. I trusted God in faith to supply the need. We paid $5 per month house rent. I had to pay $2.50 per week at the radio station — in advance — before every broadcast. God was supplying the need as He promised (Phil. 4:19). One Sunday morning dawned without even the $2.50 for the Sunday morning broadcast. My wife and I knelt in prayer, asking God to supply the need. I was aroused from prayer by a knock on the front door. A man at the door said, "Here's my tithe," and dashed off, saying he had to hurry for an appointment. Another Sunday morning when I did not have the $2.50 on hand, no one came to the front door. Yet, in faith, I started walking to the radio studio. On the way a man I did not know handed me the needed money. I could give you the story of many other similar occurrences. But after I was actively in God's Work, although it had to be carried on in living FAITH, we never again had to be hungry, without food — although we often did have to eat beans and the least costly food. It was a financial struggle from the beginning. After moving to Eugene, we rented a house costing $7 per month rent. After two years, I was able to add a second radio station in Portland, costing $10 per broadcast. Once, on starting to drive to Portland for the Sunday afternoon broadcast I lacked the $10 I had to pay in advance. I stopped at Salem, Ore., for a 35-cent lunch, and somebody — I do not now remember who — handed me the needed broadcast money. I was still going with one pair of shoes and one suit of clothes. But no longer hungry.
Good advice for a young man
When I was 19 years of age, a multimillionaire called me to his office. He was starting me out as an employee of his corporation, entailing some long-distance rail travel. He wanted to give a young man some good advice. "When you travel, always (when you can afford it) travel in a Pullman car. Always stay at the best hotel, even though it is well that you take their minimum-priced room. This throws you among the more successful people, and everyone we contact has an influence on us." But when I had to stay overnight in Portland, or a year later in Seattle, Wash., I could not afford the best-quality hotel, so I stayed at second or third best. I always tried to live within my means. A newspaper writer, in a story about the Worldwide Church of God, said he had learned that when royalty or overseas VIPs visited us in Pasadena, I did not take them to McDonald's or Jack-in-the-Box for lunch or dinner, but to Perino's (Los Angeles' best restaurant). But royalty is accustomed to the best in quality, and it would be virtually an insult to take people of that stature to a lowest-price restaurant. If I had to fast without food a few days in order to afford to take such guests to the quality place to which they are accustomed, I would do it. I do take such guests to the type place they expect to be taken. What would I have done, when I had to go to the lowest-price places myself and had only one pair of shoes, and one threadbare suit of clothes? Well, I did not have royalty or VIPs visiting me in those days. I probably would have been forced to find some way to avoid having to host them at all.
God promises to supply needs
In train travel back in the 1920s, '30s and '40s, I traveled often in day coaches on trains and ate at low-priced lunch counters. But God has promised to supply all our need (Phil. 4:19), and in the Work of God in these days certain things are necessary in order to serve God — and He provides what is needed. I have never engaged in extravagance. Extravagance is defined in the dictionary as: "extravagant: exceeding the limits of reason, or necessity, extremely or exceedingly elaborate, profuse or unreasonably high in price." The best quality of things may be expensive, but not extravagant. The house in Pasadena, in which I have lived for some 13 years and is college owned, cost the college $17,500. At this point let me inject a little current news. Some of the dissidents who brought this civil lawsuit on God's Church spread the rumor that in fact this was not a suit against me or against the Church, but against Mr. Stanley Rader. Of course, that is not true, for every effort in their power was-made to TAKE OVER AND CONFISCATE THE CHURCH PROPERTY — to turn all management of the Church over to the court-appointed receiver, and they told the press it was brought against us because they claimed that both I and Mr. Rader had been "siphoning off millions of dollars every year from Church funds." That wild and false allegation is so utterly false I have not considered it necessary to dignify it with a denial. Our Church membership have PROVED by their loyalty and financial support and loving letters that they know well such a thing is impossible. A couple days ago Mr. Rader went in person to the deputy attorneys general, told them of this persistent rumor, and offered that if they would dismiss all charges against me and the three corporations, he would hand them complete records of all transactions involving him, on a silver platter. They know well their charges of stealing millions of dollars are utterly groundless. But they replied that they cannot now afford to "lose face," by the admission that it is THEY, not us, who are guilty of wrongdoing. They said it would leave them "emasculated" — using that very word! Now they are going to try to make me move to a lower-cost residence and insist I travel, when I do, at something like third class accommodations, etc. So I am going to see that they learn: 1) That I own absolutely NOTHING, except the property in which my wife and I now live in Tucson, Ariz., until it is safe for me to resume residence on the college campus in Pasadena. 2) That the Pasadena property and all in it belong to Ambassador College and cost only $17,500 of Church or college funds.
Example of God's blessings
The very purchase of that property is an example of how God has been blessing us and His Work. When the college bought that property, Dr. and Mrs. Hal Lisman wanted to move from San Pedro, Calif., to Pasadena. They wanted this particular property, said it could be bought for $37,500 — a bargain of bargains at that time. They offered to put in the $10,000 down payment. We agreed that $5,000 of their down payment could pay for five years' rent and the other $5,000 could be taken off their income tax as a contribution to the college. At the end of five years, they paid another $10,000 for another five years' rent. When Dr. Lisman died, Mrs. Lisman housed eight girl students. When neighbors complained that the property was not zoned for taking in roomers, we had to move them out. Mrs. Lisman felt it was too large a house for her to maintain alone. That was when I decided to live there. After the Lismans had paid $20,000 of the $37,500, it remained for the college to pay only the $17,500. There was a certain amount of repairing, which was done with our own labor. My wife Loma and I lived there around two years before Loma's death. During the remainder of the night after her death, I remarked to my son Garner Ted that I planned to move into a small apartment, but said I didn't know how to use that home.
A student social center
"Dad," said Ted, "no other minister but you could live here. It seems to me we'll have to turn it into a student social center." I agreed, that was the only possible use. But then came the idea of having all senior students each year at a formal dinner. And, in doing that, I decided it would be better for me to live on there, keeping Rona Martin as housekeeper and cook. Many students yet today will say that the formal dinners they attended were the outstanding event of their four-year college career. Mrs. Armstrong had agreed to keep Rona for life. That home has a bronze sign in front of the entrance, marked "PRIVATE — Student Social Center." So, if the deputy attorneys general decide I must live elsewhere, what will become of the Student Social Center?
Among those who have been entertained in that house are King Leopold III and family, Judge Nagendra Singh, India's representative on the Court of International Justice at The Hague, Holland, and wife, Dr. Franz Josef Strauss, often called the "strong man of Europe," and wife, the president of Tokyo University and wife, officials from the State of Israel and others. Another guest was Gloria Swanson, the most glamorous star of Hollywood from the silent movie days (she was lecturing at the college) Of course, IF these deputy attorneys general and these court judges demand that I move into some third or fourth-rate shanty, it would not be a new experience for me. I did have to live in poorer circumstances than most of our Church brethren for many years, and I would feel right at home. When we moved to Pasadena in 1947, I had been living on very meager income and continued to live as frugally as possible for several years. WHY IS IT? I often wonder, that if a Hollywood movie star lives ostentatiously, that is EXPECTED — and they do nothing more of real value than entertain people. But if the servant of the living GOD ministers to multiple thousands, leading many to ETERNAL LIFE, some people expect him to live like a tramp or pauper.
How did Jesus live?
How did Jesus live? We know little of that, but there is evidence that He owned His own property in Capernaum. He wore a robe that was of extra fine quality, for it was seamless. Even Jesus was accused of "extravagance," when a woman washed His feet with precious and expensive ointment. Jesus rebuked those who criticized this. I know what it is to be POOR! I know what it is to go HUNGRY for lack of money for food. I have lived on as low a cost of living as my position in God's service allowed. And I would be willing to do it again — BUT I don't think the living Jesus Christ wants me to do that again, now. In the Kingdom of God there will be no paupers, tramps or the VERY poor. Our God has something better in store for us!
Led by Jesus Christ
For 52 years, now, since my conversion, I have tried to live simply, without extravagance, and to MAKE EVERY DOLLAR OF GOD'S TITHES GO AS FAR IN His WORK AS POSSIBLE! But the living Jesus Christ does guide His apostle and show me HOW HE WANTS HIS WORK MANAGED. Every dollar is made to go farther and more effectively than in any other work in the world — BECAUSE THIS WORK IS HEADED AND LED BY JESUS CHRIST: And it will continue to be administered as Jesus Christ leads me — AND NOT AS SOME STATE OFFICIAL OR A COURT JUDGE WOULD MISmanage! This is NOT the work of man's government, but THE WORK OF THE LIVING GOD! Attorney generals or court judges, who do NOT follow Christ shall not manage or operate this precious Work of the LIVING GOD!