The phones began ringing before 8 a.m. We had little chance to cope with our pain before we were thrust into the incredible number of things that had to be done. "Can you confirm that Mr. Armstrong died at 6 a.m.?" I had just been informed of Mr. Armstrong's death myself, and I was in no mood to answer the phone calls. But that, along with many other things, had to be done and immediately. "It's already on the radio," someone said. Staff members stood in groups here and there, talking quietly. Soon they would have to go to their desks and force themselves to concentrate.
Ministers and brethren notified
Brethren had to be told. A member and co-worker letter was sent down from Mr. Joseph Tkach to be printed and sent out the same day. Ministers worldwide had to be notified. I hurried to Mr. Tkach's office to lend a hand. Telephone calls we remade and faxes sent. There was no way we could beat the news media, of course. An all-employee meeting was called for 11:30 a.m. in the Ambassador Auditorium for Mr. Tkach to make the sad announcement officially. Sobered employees listened to his encouragement to carry on the legacy left us by Mr. Armstrong. Jan. 16. 1986, was not an easy day. "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing" (II Timothy 4:6-8). Just as the apostle Paul. Mr. Armstrong has it made. He has faithfully endured to the end.
Mr. Armstrong never retired
He never retired, you know. In spite of his failing eyesight and hearing, the angina attacks, his susceptibility to respiratory diseases, he continued on fulfilling his commission. Even since last year's Feast of Tabernacles, when he became so ill he couldn't return to his office, he worked out of his home as much as his health allowed. Though he at the last had to dictate his member and co-worker letters and have them read back to him, he continued right on leading the way, encouraging and inspiring us to produce even more. Only death could stop him. His work is over. God has finally allowed him to rest. But, brethren, our work is not over! We have not yet finished fighting the good fight or finished our course or kept the faith to the end. We still have to prove to God that we will carry on just as strongly as Mr. Armstrong did to bring God's warning message to this dying world. Jesus Christ has commissioned this Church and promised to be with it always, to the end, not just of Mr. Armstrong's life, but to the end of the world (Matthew 28:20). The Head of this Church, Jesus Christ, expects us to go right on full speed ahead to complete His work. The responsibility lies heavy upon us. We must not falter. We are working on a special tribute issue of The Worldwide News to honor Mr. Armstrong. This 12 page full-color edition, featuring articles written by Pastor General Joseph Tkach and evangelists and long-time associates of Mr. Armstrong, will be published Feb. 10. In the other publications we will also have special tributes in the next few months. In The Good News we plan a special issue in May featuring Mr. Armstrong on the cover, with photographs showing him bringing the Gospel message to the world. Evangelist Dibar Apartian has written a memorial article for the May Plain Truth, which will accompany Mr. Tkach's first "Personal" in that magazine. In Youth 86 we plan to reprint the portrait of Mr. Armstrong that was featured on the first cover of Youth 81. A special five-page section will focus on his special relationship with young people.
Goals are the same
And, then, brethren, we are going ahead to do God's work. We cannot stand still. No matter what we face in the future (and God's Word shows us that we will have persecution), our goals are the same. "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved" (Matthew 10:22 ). God's Church will never stop growing. Responsibilities may change, but one thing will never change, our commission is to the end — until Christ's return. So let's gird up our loins, and prepare ourselves like good soldiers, to follow and support Pastor General Joseph W. Tkach as he goes forward to carry out the many responsibilities Jesus Christ, the Head of this Church, has laid upon him. "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?... For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:31,38-39).