Pastor General Speaks In Hong Kong And Bangkok
Pastor General Herbert W. Armstrong wrote the following article Jan. 31 in-flight from Bangkok, Thailand, to Manila, Philippines. I will bring you up to date on the present trip so far. Sabbath, Jan. 23, I spoke to the brethren at the regular Sabbath service in Honolulu, Hawaii. There was a nice increase in membership since I last spoke there a year before.
Sunday, the 24th, we flew on to Hong Kong, crossing the international dateline. Suddenly it was Monday. It was Chinese New Year in Hong Kong. All businesses and shops were closed. Wednesday evening I spoke about an hour and 20 minutes to about 200 readers of The Plain Truth:
There seems to be a real interest there and apparently God has people there He is calling. I left David Hulme [media liaison] there to purchase time, if possible, on television and/or radio in Hong Kong. If we are successful in obtaining a good time on the air there, I feel sure we shall have a new church in Hong Kong within a year. We already have about three members there.
Thursday we flew down around the southern tip of Vietnam and over to Bangkok. Friday we flew north to Chiangmai. I was met at the airport [by] the mayor and other officials, and they supplied a car to a local hotel. At the hotel the king's mountain jeep van was waiting to take me, with Aaron Dean, my personal aide, and the Abbot Phra Thepsopon of the Buddhist religion (a rank similar to cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church) up to the king's northern palace atop the mountain. There I had a fourth personal visit with King Bhumibol.
The abbot had arranged the meeting by telephone from Los Angeles, Calif. after visiting me in my home in Pasadena. The abbot had been much impressed by the splendid performance of students and graduates from Ambassador College, serving in the refugee program to the north of Chiangmai at the Thailand border. These Ambassador men and women have certainly let their light shine in Thailand that people there have seen and warmed up enthusiastically from their good works.
In Hong Kong the newspaper headlines were filled with serious bad news and evil in that part of the world. The Thursday morning Bangkok newspaper headlines were filled with news in big front-page headlines, of serious drug smuggling from surrounding nations across the Thai borders, in order secretly to smuggle such drugs as opium and heroin out of Bangkok ports to other parts of the world.
When I talked with the king, he had a new worry. Some 10 years ago, when I first talked with him for about an hour and a half, he pleaded with me to help him. At that time his hill tribes, illiterate nomads, had forsaken raising vegetables and food-stuffs and turned to poppies for the opium traffic. Through the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation (AICF), we provided six portable schools to teach them, and educate them to drop poppy raising and go back to food. Last time I saw the king, six years ago, he told me we had wiped out 90 percent of the opium raising.
But on this visit he had a new problem and worry. We had virtually wiped out the poppy raising of the Thai hill tribes. But now Communists and underground agents were smuggling in opium and heroin from neighboring countries, using Thailand as a means of getting these drugs smuggled out over the world. Even the United States government and the United Nations are seriously concerned, and threatening to use force to stop this drug traffic.
When we returned to the hotel in Chiangmai from visiting the king, the evening newspapers were off the press, and my picture, landing at the airport, was prominently on the first page. My picture also appeared with a news story in the English-language Bangkok newspaper. At Chiangmai a supreme court justice and other officials of high rank were at either the airport or the hotel to welcome me.
Yesterday, Sabbath afternoon, I held a 1:30 p.m. service for Plain Truth subscribers in the ballroom of the Oriental Hotel. About 250 interested readers came, and I spoke for about an hour and 20 minutes. This, as well as the Hong Kong speech, was recorded for television by our own TV crew. Portions of these meetings will be seen on our own TV program within a few weeks.
As I proceed along, I am growing more and more bold in proclaiming the coming Kingdom of God, and Christ's return as the world's only hope. And I think people are more willing to listen to God's truth than they were seven to 10 years ago. As conditions worsen all over the world, Christ's message seems to strike a more responsive chord.
I find it may even be possible to put The World Tomorrow on TV and/or radio in Bangkok. Truly we are becoming a WORLDWIDE Church! Satan's opposition will increase, but more and more people are becoming reachable.
As usual Madam Sunirat Telan, the wealthiest woman in Thailand, put her Rolls-Royce car at my disposal. She's a little whist of a woman, only 4 feet 8 inches tall (or short). It was through her that God first opened the door to meet the king. I hosted a dinner in her honor on Thursday evening, and she hosted me and our party at dinner last evening. Along with the Buddhist abbot, she met us at the plane on arrival and saw us off at the plane.