THE INCREDIBLE HISTORY OF GOD'S TRUE CHURCH
CHAPTER FOURTEEN -- GO YOU INTO ALL THE WORLD
We now come to the modern era of the Church of God, a phase of God's Work which in several important respects was quite unlike the earlier eras which had preceded it.
Prior to the twentieth century the church had experienced only a limited impact upon the world. During Roman times it was confined to the Roman Empire and a few areas beyond its borders. For over a thousand years during the Dark and Middle Ages, the true church was driven underground and subjected to almost continual persecution. Any public preaching of the true gospel was on a small scale and of limited duration.
Even when the fires of persecution began to die down and flicker out some three centuries ago, the church had become so worn out by the privations that it had suffered that it could do little more than hang on to the true doctrines that had been handed down to it from ancient times. Little by little much of this truth had slipped away and become lost by the beginning of the twentieth century.
Christ, however, had predicted that a time would come when the Gospel of the Kingdom of God would be preached "IN ALL THE WORLD" as a witness and warning of His imminent return to the earth to set up the Kingdom and Government of God. The witness would go "UNTO ALL NATIONS" (Matt. 24:14). Although the church itself was still to be small in number, still a "little flock," it would have set before it "an open door" through which to reach "all nations" (Rev. 3:8).
The context of these verses and the reference to a worldwide crisis, shortly before the return of Christ, proves that this passage was largely prophetic relating to our modern age. The "open door" through which a small group having "a little strength" could reach the whole world must surely be such present day means of mass communication as radio, television and publishing.
Christ also stated that the human leader of this "end time" work would hold a position or office similar to that of Elijah.
"And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things" (Matt. 17:11). It is important to realize that John the Baptist, who also held the office of Elijah, was already dead and his work completed when this statement was made (Matt. 14:1-12).
The end time "Elijah" was to conduct a work on a much greater scale than that of John. He was to "restore all things" including the knowledge of how to have happy family relationships (Mal. 4: 5-6), and to proclaim the gospel on a worldwide scale (Mal. 24:14).
A work carried out on such a large scale, involving the expenditure of vast sums of money, could not be handled by one man alone. It had, of necessity, to be supported by group, an entire era of the Church of God (Rev. 3: 7-13). Christ said that one should evaluate a minister on his fruits -- the results of his ministry. In this chapter we will examine the life and work of Herbert W. Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God.
This story "is the incredible story of something never done before -- never done this way -- a seemingly impossible achievement utterly unique in the world!
"By all the criteria of organizational and institutional experience, it simply could never have happened.
"Every phase of this globe-girdling Work has been something altogether unique -- a first -- the blazing of a new trail.
"Ambassador College is astonishingly unique among institutions of higher learning.
"The Plain Truth magazine is utterly unique in the publishing field.
"The World Tomorrow program, viewed and heard by millions on both radio and television daily, is entirely unique in broadcasting.
"And the Worldwide Church of God, behind these global enterprises, is altogether unique on the earth -- practicing, as it does, the revealed ways of the living Creator God, and for the first time in 18 1/2 centuries, thundering His all-important message over all continents of the earth."1
So wrote Mr. Armstrong in the introduction to the 1973 edition of his autobiography.
The "Work," as it sometimes called, has been described as one of the most incredible success stories of our time." For 35 years the Work grew at an average increase of 30 per cent per year. This means a doubling in size, scope and power every two and two third years, and increasing over four thousand times in 32 years.
Here is an organization with no product to sell but rather one to give away, free of charge, to the consumer. Did ever a commercial company, or any other enterprise even set out with such a policy, much less grow and prosper?
Herbert Armstrong takes no personal credit for the success of the venture that has dominated his life for over fifty years.
"For it is the story of what the living God can do -- and has done through a very average human instrument, called and chosen by Him -- one whose eyes He opened to astonishing truth -- one He reduced to humble obedience, yielded in faith and dedicated to God's way! God promised to bless His own Work. And how greatly He has blessed and prospered it like the grain of mustard seed, it grew -- and grew!"
Mr. Armstrong was born July 31, 1892, in Des Moines, Iowa, of respected Quaker stock. His ancestors had come from England along with William Penn.
His boyhood was a happy one and typical of many others in the United States around the turn of the century. At age 16 he obtained his first job away from home as a waiter in an Altoona hotel. It was at this point in his life that Herbert, inspired by the praise of his employer, began to consider the subject of success in life and, fired with newly acquired self-confidence and a measure of cocky ambition, began to seek out the ladder of success and started to climb it.
This desire to succeed was motivated entirely by vanity and what he was much later to define as the selfish "get" philosophy of life. It was also, however, a burning and driving passion such as only a tiny minority of human beings ever experience. For the majority of people around the world to earn a reasonable wage and to achieve a measure of physical security and comfort represents about the limit of personal ambition.
For several years he read, or, rather devoured, every book that he could obtain relating to personal success, including Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography, three times over.
One such work, entitled Choosing a Vocation, took him an important step further down the road to success. The thorough self-analysis that was advocated revealed to Mr. Armstrong that he would be most suited to the professions of journalism and advertising.
Although ambitious, Herbert Armstrong was not too proud to seek and accept career guidance from those that he respected and obtained a job selling advertising space for a newspaper.
He learned by practical experience several of the "Seven Laws of Success." A goal was fixed -- to become "important" in the field of business, he educated himself towards the goal and by degrees came to an understanding of the laws which regulate good health.
Drive was developed as he drove himself forward with dynamic energy. Resourcefulness and perseverance were also employed in the relentless quest for success. The seventh law of success was not understood until many years later.
In 1912 Herbert Armstrong talked himself into an advertising position with The Merchants Trade Journal of Des Moines, despite the protests of the advertising manager that no such vacancy existed.
During his time with the Journal he was able to develop the crucial skills in writing effective advertisements which were to pay dividends many years later in drawing the attention of the public to his own religious orientated booklets and The Plain Truth magazine.
Here, under expert tuition, he learned the art of writing eye-catching and thought-provoking headlines, sub-headings that grabbed the attention and created suspense in the reader -- a desire to know more. His text matter began to hold the interest and arouse desire to obtain the product offered for sale and finally an emotional appeal was designed to stir the reader to action -- to go out and buy the item that had been promoted.
Within two to three years he was writing ads that brought results. The words and phrases used were plain, simple and direct; they were designed to appeal, in an effective and to the common man or woman, people of sincere manner, average educational background.
Mr. Armstrong began to develop an effective writing style: "It had to be fast-moving, vigorous, yet simple, interesting, making the message plain and understandable." All this training in communication skills, although not remotely realized at the time, was merely preparation for a life's work which would become apparent much later.
In order to create interest, the ads were presented in a story-flow form, in which the reader felt impelled to read on to the end. They were sincere and based on the slogan "Truth in Advertising."
"But I was entirely sincere. Usually a bragging, conceited young lad who is cocky, is also an insincere, flippant, smart aleck. I was not. It seems I was, by nature, deeply sincere and in earnest, and although excessively self-confident, even snappy and cocky in manner, there was always with it a sense of earnestness and dignity. At least I thought I was right, and in my heart meant to be. Human nature wants to be good, but seldom does it want to do good. That natural desire in one to wish to consider himself good, I suppose, led to an attitude of sincerity."2
In 1913 Mr. Armstrong began touring the United States as an "Idea Man" for the Journal. He interviewed merchants and gathered material on successful business ideas which he presented in article form in the Journal. During this period, he was forced to put a prod on himself and become an "early bird," rising at 6 a.m.
Work of this nature gave him the opportunity for in-depth study into the question of why some succeed in the business world and others fail. Much later in life he was to write of his findings in this field in a booklet The Seven Laws of Success. Some of these laws were learned by bitter experience -- Herbert Armstrong had his failures as well as successes. Although he was developing valuable expertise in his field, his own lack of maturity caused him to often sell his services at a fraction of their true value. As a piano salesman he was a dismal failure and was unable to sell a single piano.
Mr. Armstrong's real flair was for advertising. He reflected the saying, "Where there's a will there's a way." He was a man of vision and constantly conceived of ideas, involving the skillful application of advertising, which would expand and extend the businesses that received his attention.
During the course of his business career he became personally acquainted with hundreds of prominent bankers and many other leaders in the world of commerce. One of the factors which contributed to his own success was that he spent a good deal of time with men who were successful.
In 1917, Herbert Armstrong met the woman who was to be his first wife and constant source of help and encouragement for almost fifty years. He is convinced that God, who seemingly was guiding other aspects of his life, played a definite part in the selection of Loma Dillon as the future Mrs. Armstrong.
Loma, who was a distant cousin of her husband-to-be, exuded an almost boundless energy, sparkle, sincere friendliness and outgoing personality. Herbert, himself very much a "live wire," was immediately impressed and found himself drawn towards her.
She was a girl of superior intelligence and high ideals. Although lacking in sophistication and somewhat naive, she did have strength of character and the captivating "unspoiled wholesomeness of an Iowa country girl."
They began to date, by personal contact and exchange of letters, and, over a period of several months, shared each other's views on a variety of serious subjects. Love began to blossom but marriage plans were complicated by the entry of the United States into World War I.
Mr. Armstrong, in common with many other young men, was stirred by the emotion of patriotism and applied to join the army as an officer trainee. He felt very strongly that all plans for marriage should be postponed until after the war was over. Loma, driven by the urgent yearnings of a girl in love, was of the opposite opinion and wanted them to marry without delay.
They were married on Herbert's twenty-fifth birthday, July 31, 1917.
Shortly after the wedding Mrs. Armstrong had a most unusual dream that was so vivid that it left her in a dazed and shocked condition for several days. In the dream, she, along with her husband, was crossing a busy Chicago intersection where Broadway and Sheridan Road meet. Suddenly a dazzling spectacle of stars in the shape of a huge banner appeared in the sky. As she and her husband were looking up at the sight, the stars moved away and three angels descended and began to talk with them; Christ also spoke briefly to them.
The message that the Armstrongs received was that Christ was shortly to return to earth and that they were to have a part in preparing for this awesome event. Mr. Armstrong was embarrassed by the dream, and at the time did not ascribe to it any particular importance or significance.
Later that year, 1917, Mr. Armstrong received a draft classification of "Class IV, Noncombatant," which meant that he was not called up for Army service as he had expected. He was free to continue his promising career in advertising. Success, and along with it personal income, increased rapidly.
"Actually, during these next few years, I did not work more than four or five days a month. But, with the nine magazines and a national circulation, the commission of a half-page, or a full-page contract for one year was rather large. I did not need to have too many of the brilliant days to make a good year's income.
"From memory, my income for that year 1918 was approximately $7,300; for 1919 approximately $8,700; and for 1920 over $11,000. When you consider that a dollar in those days was worth more than three times the value of today's dollar, those incomes today (1957) would be more nearly like terms of the 1984 dollar, $22,000; $26,000; and $35,000."3 In terms of the 1984 dollar, you could add a zero to those amounts and be fairly accurate.
By 1920 the Armstrongs had become the proud parents of two daughters, Beverly Lucile and Dorothy Jane. The birth of the second baby, however, was accompanied by serious risk to the health of mother and baby.
"The world-famous obstetrical specialist brought in on my wife's case in Chicago, her Des Moines doctor, and my wife's uncle who was a captain in the Medical Corps in the Army, all told us that another pregnancy would mean the certain death of my wife and of the baby. Although we did not know at the time, we learned much later we were of the opposite Rh blood factor."4
The lucrative and successful advertising career that seemed to be taking Herbert Armstrong towards his goal of being "important" in the commercial world was not to last. By 1922 the depression that had rapidly swept the United States had ruined almost all of his major clients.
"Things in my business went from bad to worse. It was discouraging -- frustrating. I was taking the biggest beating of my life, but hung stubbornly on. Finally, about July, 1922, it became necessary to give up our apartment. My income had gone too low to support my family, and at that time we decided that Mrs. Armstrong and the girls should go to her Father's farm in lowa, to lessen the expenses."5
This solution to the problem, however, proved to be no real solution at all. With too much time on his hands and lacking the support and companionship of his family, Mr. Armstrong decided to leave Chicago and join them in Iowa.
For a time Mr. Armstrong went back to selling business surveys to newspapers, but with only a limited measure of success. In 1924 the whole family set out on a trip to visit his parents in Oregon. Their transport was a "Model T" Ford.
After several interesting experiences and a host of car problems they finally reached the West Coast and settled at Portland, Oregon. It was here that a new business opportunity opened up for Herbert -- writing big-space ads for a laundry. This was a new style of advertising, being largely educational in content and involved persuading women customers that the laundry would not "ruin" their clothing as some had suspected.
This new venture was successful beyond anything that he had previously tried -- there were prospects of an eventual income of up to half a million dollars a year, but then "the bottom fell out" of this new business and his income was reduced to $50 per month. Mr. Armstrong and his family now experienced real poverty and hunger.
"In Chicago I had built a publisher representative business that brought me an income equivalent to $35,000 a year or more before I was thirty. The flash depression of 1920 had swept away all my major clients, and with them my business.
"Now, with a new business of much greater promise, all my clients were suddenly removed from possibility of access, through powers and forces entirely outside of my control. "It seemed, indeed, as if some invisible and mysterious hand were causing the earth to simply swallow up whatever business I started."6
It was at about this point, in 1926, that Herbert Armstrong was to face the most momentous turning point of his life. An elderly neighbour lady, Mrs. Ora Runcorn, began to re awaken Mrs. Armstrong's interest in religious and spiritual matters, with the result that Mrs. Armstrong became convinced that the Bible clearly stated that Saturday and not Sunday was the true Christian Sabbath.
To Mr. Armstrong, however, this "wonderful discovery" was nothing short of "rank fanaticism." The controversy became so heated that it seemed this issue could well lead to the break-up of their marriage.
"I felt I could not tolerate such humiliation. What would my friends say? What would former business acquaintances think? Nothing had ever hit me where it hurt so much -- right smack in the heart of all my pride and vanity and conceit! And this mortifying blow had to fall immediately on top of confidence-crushing financial reverses.
"In desperation, I said: `Loma, you can't tell me that all these churches have been wrong all these hundreds of years! Why, aren't these all Christ's churches?'
"`Then,' came back Mrs. Armstrong, `why do they all disagree on so many doctrines? Why does each one teach differently than the others?'
"`But,' I still contended, `isn't the Bible the very source of the teaching of all these Christian churches? And they all agree on observing Sunday! I'm sure the Bible says, "Thou shalt keep Sunday".'
" `Well, does it?' smiled my wife, handing me a Bible.
"`Show it to me. If it does -- then I'll do what it says'."7
Mr. Armstrong, although he knew little of the Bible, agreed to conduct a thorough study into this question and to find out from the Bible which day Christians should keep holy.
Reduced to a state of virtual unemployment, and having just one advertising account left which absorbed no more than about thirty minutes a week of his time, he was able to devote six months of his life to an intensive, in-depth study into such questions as -- Does God exist?, Did life evolve -- or was it created?, Which day is the Christian Sabbath? and other related topics.
This period of intense study was not to be done on a casual basis out of mere curiosity. Much of it was done at the Portland Public Library where he worked from opening to closing time. Each question was examined from every possible angle and viewpoint, often the study continued at home until the early hours of the morning.
The end result of this experience was that Mr. Armstrong found unmistakable evidence that God did exist, that the Bible, in its original form, was inspired and accurate, and that the seventh day was the only Sabbath authorized by the Bible, Christ and the apostles, that Sunday worship had been taken directly from paganism.
He also found evidence that the theory of evolution was both unproved and by its very nature unprovable. Science could offer no answers to account for the host of problems and "gaps" within the theory. The sheer complexity of the vast array of life forms on earth, and the amazing interdependency that existed between them, demanded intelligent planning and creation -- blind chance and accident could never account for the varied and exquisite beauty of everything from a tiny insect and delicate flower to the mighty elephant or whale. Mr. Armstrong has since written booklets which explain the details of his findings.
Evolution could not account for the vast gulf between animal brain and human mind -- the only solution to this mystery is that there does indeed exist a "spirit in man" that separates human kind from all other life-forms on earth. Herbert Armstrong, now at the crucial turning point of his life, realized that God had revealed amazing truth to him.
The all-important question was: would he accept it and live by it? God had already "softened" him, it seems, by destroying every material money making enterprise that had been started. His self-confidence had been shattered.
"To accept this truth meant -- so I supposed -- to cut me off from my former friends, acquaintance and business acquaintances and associates. I had come to meet some of the independent `Sabbath-keepers,' down around Salem and the Willamette Valley. Some of them were what I then, in my pride and conceit, regarded as backwoods `hillbillies.' None were of the financial and social position of those I had associated with.
"My associations and pride had led me to `look down upon' this class of people. I had been ambitious to hob-nob with the wealthy and the cultural.
"I saw plainly what a decision was before me. To accept this truth meant to throw in my lot for life with a class of people I had always looked on as inferior. I learned later that God looks on the heart, and these humble people were the real salt of the earth. But I was then still looking on the outward appearance. It meant being cut off completely and forever from all to which I had aspired. It meant a total crushing of vanity. It meant a total change of life!
"I counted the cost!
"But then, I had been beaten down. I had been humiliated. I had been broken in spirit, frustrated. I had come to look on this formerly esteemed self as a failure. I now took another good look at myself.
"And I acknowledged: `I'm nothing but a burned-out old hunk of junk'.
"I realized I had been a swellheaded, egotistical jackass.
"Finally, in desperation, I threw myself on God's mercy. I said to God that I knew, now, that I was nothing but a burned-out hunk of junk. My life was worth nothing more to me. I said to God that I knew now I had nothing to offer Him -- but if He would forgive me -- if He could have any use whatsoever for such a worthless dreg of humanity, that He could have my life; I knew it was worthless, but if He could do anything with it, He could have it -- I was willing to give this worthless self to Him -- I wanted to accept JESUS CHRIST as personal Saviour!
"I meant it! It was the toughest battle I ever fought. It was a battle for LIFE. I lost that battle, as I had been recently losing all battles. I realized Jesus Christ had bought and paid for my life. I gave in. I surrendered, unconditionally.
"I told Christ He could have what was left of me! I didn't think I was worth saving!"8
Although the process of repentance and real conversion was, for Mr. Armstrong, an experience, painful almost beyond words, to describe, it brought with it a deep and lasting JOY that more than replaced the personal goal of being "important," that he had decided to reject.
In his continual study of the Bible, he began to come to see more and more spiritual truth, "a single doctrine at a time." Although the literature of many religious groups and churches was studied, the Bible alone remained the ultimate authority on doctrinal matters.
Mr. and Mrs. Runcorn introduced the Armstrongs to a small group of "Church of God" people at Salem and Jefferson, Oregon. They began to fellowship with these people.
Having seen the clear command to new converts to "repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ" (Acts 2:38), Herbert Armstrong became baptized, by total immersion in water. Following this he found that he could now really understand the Bible.
"It was like a miracle! And indeed, it was a miracle! The very Holy Spirit of God had come into and renewed my mind. I had been baptized by the Holy Spirit into the true Body of Christ, the Church of God -- but I did not realize that fact literally. I was still to search earnestly to find the one and only true Church which Jesus founded, before recognizing fully He had already placed me in it!"9
In August, 1927, Mrs. Armstrong became dangerously ill due to an unusual chain of circumstances involving a dog bite, tonsillitis, a "backset," and blood poisoning.
Quinsy developed and her throat became swollen shut. For three days and nights she was unable to eat or drink. Lack of sleep was leading to a state of near exhaustion. The red line of the blood poisoning was streaking up the right arm on its way to the heart; Mrs. Armstrong was not expected to live another twenty-four hours.
At this point it was suggested to Mr. Armstrong that a man and wife come and anoint and pray for Mrs. Armstrong.
Although feeling embarrassed at the prospect, Mr. Armstrong agreed.
The couple arrived, and after answering several questions on the subject of healing from the Bible, the man anointed Mrs. Armstrong and prayed in faith to God that He, in accordance with His written promise to heal, would totally heal her of all sickness. After sleeping deeply until 11 A.M. the next day Mrs. Armstrong arose from bed completely healed.
For the Armstrongs the nineteen twenties marked the beginning of more than a quarter of a century of financial hardship. Although suffering -- often to the point of going hungry -- the years also brought great personal happiness and joy of understanding more and more of God's truth.
"In those days we were constantly behind with our house rent. When we had a little money for food we bought beans and such food as would provide the most bulk for the least money. Often we went hungry. Yet, looking back over those days, Mrs. Armstrong was remarking just the day before this was written that we were finding happiness despite the economic plight, and we did not complain or grumble. But we did suffer.
"From the time of my conversion Mrs. Armstrong has always studied with me. We didn't realize it then but God was calling us together. We were always a team, working together in unity."10
As new doctrinal truths were uncovered one at a time, it seemed only natural that Mr. Armstrong should want to share them with others that he assumed would be overjoyed to receive them. He was sadly disillusioned to find that where obedience to God and His Word is involved few indeed had the motivation of faith to go against commonly held views. Even the "man of God" who had been used in the healing of Mrs. Armstrong was unwilling to accept a point of new truth which Mr. Armstrong had wished to share with him. The sad result was that God took away from him the wonderful "gift of healing" that he had up to that point been using.
Herbert Armstrong was also to learn by bitter experience that he was utterly unable to "get our families converted." The unconverted mind simply cannot understand spiritual things. No person can come to Christ unless God, through the Holy Spirit, "draws" the person.
A question which greatly concerned and perplexed Armstrong was -- where is God's true Church today? Which of the many hundreds of differing sects and churches -- if any -- constituted the real "Church of God" which Jesus established?
"My shocking, disappointing, eye-opening discovery, upon looking into the Bible for myself, had revealed in stark plainness that the teachings of traditional Christianity were, in most basic points, the very opposite of the teachings of Christ, of Paul, and of the original true Church!
"Could the original and only true Church have disintegrated and disappeared? Could it have ceased to exist? No, for I read where Jesus said the gates of the grave would never prevail against it. Also He said to His disciples who formed His Church, `Lo, I am with you always.'"11
This quest to find the true church finally led Herbert Armstrong to a small almost unheard of group calling itself "The Church of God," which ran a publishing house at Stanberry, Missouri. Part of the history of this group has been covered in an earlier chapter of this book.
Although it had the right name and obeyed the commandments of God (Rev. 12:17), it numbered only about 2,000 members and seemed to be almost totally lacking in real power and works. As it had more Bible truth than any other group, the Armstrongs began to fellowship with some of its scattered members in Oregon.
Some of the fruits of Mr. Armstrong's research were presented to the church in article form, and several such articles were published in The Bible Advocate. Other material, however, although privately endorsed as "new truth" by some of the leaders of the church, was not publicly proclaimed for fear that some members might become offended and withdraw financial support.
In 1928, after much urging by local church members, Mr. Armstrong preached his first "sermon" to a small congregation near Salem. His subject was the Sabbath Covenant. Leaders within the church began to show signs of concern and suspicion over the members; and opposition, which was to last for several years, began to develop.
That year, 1928, saw the birth of a son to the Armstrongs, Richard David. A year and four months later Garner Ted was born.
This period was one of severe financial hardship for the Armstrongs, but also one of real growth spiritually; a time when humility was developed and when they were forced to rely on God for many of the essentials of life.
Shortly before the birth of Garner Ted in 1930, the family suffered a severe trial. Mrs. Armstrong was anaemic and her condition, which was caused by a serious iron deficiency, threatened the safe delivery of the unborn child. No money was available for hospital bills -- even the bill relating to the delivery of Richard David had not yet been paid.
Mr. Armstrong was virtually driven to seek the solution to the problem by fasting and prayer. This period of self-examination to discover where he was wrong, led him to realize that a business project had been absorbing his mind to the detriment of a close relationship with God. He repented of this and within a very short space of time an amazing series of incidents resulted in all of their immediate material needs being satisfied.
"And, Ted, too, was born as a result of an almost incredible miracle of healing only three weeks before his birth! But God had need of these two sons.
"We dedicated them, of course, to God from birth -- for Him to use as He had need."12
In June, 1931, after some three years of preaching experience, Mr. Armstrong was ordained a minister -- not by the Stanberry, Missouri headquarters, but by the separately incorporated "Oregon Conference" of the Church of God. Not everyone welcomed this ordination.
"From the first, and for some time, I was treated by the ministers as the green-horn tail-ender among them. They used every practice and device constantly to humiliate me and belittle me in the eyes of the brethren. I needed this -- and I knew God knew I needed it! Aware of my need of humility, I felt, myself, that I was the `least of the ministers.' However, the brethren loved me and continued looking to me for leadership. The only `fruit' being borne resulted from my efforts. This, naturally, was the very reason for the opposition and persecution."13
For a time, Herbert Armstrong worked with various ministers of the "Sardis" era, and participated in several evangelistic campaigns. He was employed by the Oregon Conference at a salary of $3 per week. Members also provided the Armstrongs with sacks of flour, beans and other foodstuffs.
Mr. Armstrong came to an understanding of tithing during this period, and found out from experience that it really worked.
By 1933, opposition and persecution from those within the ministry had reached such a level that Herbert Armstrong felt compelled to reject the $3 salary in order to be free to preach the Word of God without restriction. Pressure had been growing within the ministry to dictate what should be preached. Although it was not realized at the time, this rejection of financial support from those who did not support Mr. Armstrong's work, marked the beginning of the "Philadelphia" era of the Church of God, as described in Revelation chapter 3.
"But, from that moment when we began to rely solely on God for financial support not only, but also for guidance, direction, and results, the Work began a phenomenal yearly increase of 30% for the next 35 years."14
For six weeks during the summer of that year, 1933, a series of meetings, with Mr. Armstrong speaking, were held at the Firbutte schoolhouse near Eugene, Oregon. A new Sabbath-keeping church of over 20 members was established as a result of this.
In September of that year an opportunity presented itself for Mr. Armstrong to speak on a local 100 watt radio station, KORE of Eugene. It was a morning devotional program lasting for fifteen minutes and was available, free of charge, to local ministers.
The first program brought a surprising response; fourteen letters and telephone calls were received by the station asking for written copies of the message. This was the first time that such a response had been received by a program of this type, and Mr. Frank Hill, the station owner, invited Mr. Armstrong to present a regular half-hour Sunday morning church service, for which a small charge of $2.50 per broadcast would be made.
Herbert Armstrong became aware that God was opening before him, in a small way to begin with, the door of mass evangelism. He had faith that God would provide the financial means by which the broadcast could be sustained.
"And, to finance what He opened before me, He added, slowly, gradually, but consistently to the little family of Co-workers who voluntarily wanted to have a part in God's WORK -- in changing hearts, changing human nature, preparing for Christ's coming to CHANGE AND SAVE THE WORLD! But I could not invite people to become Co-workers. I could welcome them with gratitude when GOD caused them voluntarily to become Co-workers with Christ -- but until they took the initiative I could not ask them. No other activity on earth is operated like this -- and perhaps none has grown so surely."15
The radio program was first called "Radio Church of God,"15 and was indeed a church service, including music provided by a mixed quartet. Later, when it was realized that the audience was drawn by the message of a speech-type program, the title was changed to "The World Tomorrow" and the format also gradually changed.
On the first Sunday in 1934, the Plain Truth magazine was first introduced to the public through the broadcast. That first issue was "a pretty amateurish, home-made looking sort of thing." About 250 copies were produced by hand on a mimeograph.
The aim was to publish a magazine going to the general public, not primarily church members, to make plain God's truth -- the true gospel of God's coming kingdom. For several years all articles were written by Mr. Armstrong.
Like the proverbial grain of mustard seed, the magazine was to grow, and grow, and grow in quality and circulation. By 1973 it had become a high quality, professional appearing, 52-page magazine with a circulation of over three million.
A "three-point campaign" was started which used the broadcast, magazine, and personal public meetings. Although some believed that people would never support this campaign because "you are preaching exactly what the Bible says -- people don't want to be told they are wrong," it was the critics who were proved wrong.
One crucial factor that few understand, or are willing to accept is that "there has been vision behind the planning and phenomenal growth of this great work. But this is the WORK OF GOD, not of man."16
The early public meetings drew crowds of about 100, but a measure of persecution and opposition was received from local religious sources.
For some years Mr. Armstrong and the little group that looked to him for leadership cooperated with the "Sardis" church but did not "join" it in the sense of coming under its authority.
Although the cost of producing The Plain Truth and radio broadcast in 1934 was almost unbelievably small by modern standards, members and co-workers seemed almost never to be able to provide those funds in full. At one point contributions fell short by $4.33 per month.
"I had no idea, then, where that additional $4.33 per month was to come from! But I felt positively assured that God had opened this door of radio, and expected me to walk on through it! And I relied implicitly on the PROMISE in Scripture that `my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.' And although God has allowed many severe tests of faith, that promise has always been kept!"17
Progress continued to be made, but not without effort and real sacrifice on the part of the Armstrongs and their little band of coworkers. The struggle was "uphill an the way." By August, 1935, the radio audience had grown to an estimated 10,000. The number of people attending the public meetings also gradually increased. By 1936 some meetings attracted 200 or more people.
It took time to learn that the Work was to move ahead on faith. When Mr. Armstrong began to rely on the promises of people rather than to simply walk through the doors that God was opening -- relying on God to provide the means --at such times the doors remained closed until faith was exercised. By the end of 1936 the broadcast was being carried by the three radio stations of the Oregon Network.
For a two-and-a-half year period, from August, 1935 to January, 1938 The Plain Truth ceased publication entirely. This was later seen by Mr. Armstrong as a punishment and means of correction resulting from his own lack of faith.
During 1937, steady progress was made towards "our goal of 100,000" radio listeners. Looking back on that period, Mr. Armstrong reflected: "WHAT A GOAL! That looked mighty BIG, then! Yet to-day (1973) our listening audience is estimated at some one hundred and fifty MILLION people per week."18
Despite persecution, and even attempts by some opposing ministers to stop the broadcast altogether, the Work continued and prospered. Soon it was being heard not only in most of Oregon, but also parts of Washington. Financial contributions, however, as usual seemed woefully inadequate-many were willing to listen to the message but few were willing to provide financial support to help promulgate it.
The Plain Truth was revived in January, 1938. Funds were still not available for it to be printed, however, and, as before, it was hand-produced on the mimeograph. The task of producing and sending out the magazine was handled by Helen Starkey, Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong, and a few volunteer helpers. By this time the mailing list had risen to 1,050.
Expenses for the Work (including living costs for the Armstrongs) had by that year reached $300 per month. The financial pressures were such that at one point Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong came close to losing their small home. They struggled on, and, by combining the May-June issue of the magazine in 1938, were able to present the first printed issue. It included, for the first time, the slogan, "A Magazine of Understanding."
Although reaching an increasingly large audience, many aspects of the "Work" at this time could only be described as crude: the "office" was no more than a small, inside, unventilated room. There were no filing cabinets -- just cardboard cartons, no addressing machine, mail was addressed by hand-even the office desk was an old scarred table.
As war raged in Europe, and the Battle of Britain reached its climax, the broadcast started on KRSC, in Seattle, September 15, 1940. This gave good coverage of the Pacific Northwest.
The Plain Truth then, as now, was speaking out boldly on world news subjects, as they related to Bible prophecy. The August-September issue for 1940 announced that "the invasion of the British Isles is awaited hourly -- may be in actual progress before this paper is in your hands -- may, possibly, not come at all."
By the end of the year the subscription list to the magazine had reached 3,000, and the estimated listening audience to the broadcast stood at 150,000. Publishing and mailing costs were in the region of $100 per issue of the magazine.
A growing number of listeners to the program were coming to recognize that they were hearing "God's very own message." A small number even began sending financial contributions. Letters were received which indicated that an increasing number of lives were being changed by the broadcasts -- atheists converted, a suicide prevented, many after searching for years were now finding a real purpose in their lives.
1941 was a year of rapid growth. The weekly listening audience from the three stations in Eugene and Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, grew to a quarter of a million. The Plain Truth circulation reached 5,000 and by this time it had become a printed 16-page magazine.
Real "growing pains" were experienced about this time. The dismal, cramped "office" with its antiquated equipment became quite inadequate to handle the increasing volume of mail.
In May of that year a larger, sun-lit office became available in the I.O.O.F. building in Eugene. Newer and more suitable office equipment was gradually purchased for a Work which was "growing up."
Mr. Armstrong became filled with an increasing sense of urgency to send out a powerful warning message to modern "Israel," the United States, Britain and other nations of northwestern Europe. Not just his message, of course, but God's.
In 1942 the church-service type program with its singing of hymns prior to the message was dropped and the format so well known to "World Tomorrow" listeners was adopted. The name of the program was also changed to "The World Tomorrow." With its increasingly professional presentation, the program became more acceptable to really "big-time" radio stations. A major step forward occurred when it was accepted by station KMTR, located in Hollywood.
Art Gilmore, the well-known coast-to-coast announcer, was employed to introduce and sign off the broadcast. The fact that Hollywood was the radio headquarters of the nation was a great advantage, as the Work was able to have access to top quality recording equipment.
Putting the "World Tomorrow" on a Hollywood radio station represented a big leap forward for the Work. It resulted in a doubling of the listening audience.
When an opportunity came to begin daily broadcasting over station KMTR, Mr. Armstrong accepted the offer as a matter of faith -- there were no indications at the time as to how the sudden jump in expenses -- a doubling in fact -- would be met. By now he had learned that when a door opened before him he had to walk through it in faith-relying on God to provide the needed finance. The check for the first week's broadcast took "every dollar we had in the bank."
The response to daily broadcasting was immediate and tremendous, the sudden big increase in financial contributions was sufficient to ensure that the broadcasts could continue. Faith was rewarded -- God did supply the funds as and when they were needed. The broadcast was now heard seven days a week in Southern California. It went out at 5:30 p.m. on weekdays and 9:30 Sunday mornings.
Such was the impact of the broadcast that when the Biltmore Theatre, Los Angeles, was hired for a Sunday afternoon personal appearance campaign by Mr. Armstrong, 1,750 people attended. After the meeting, when the two offering boxes were opened, they were found to contain, to within one cent, the exact sum needed to cover the expenses of hiring the building.
By 1943, the radio broadcast was being heard in every state. Stations had been added in Spokane and San Diego. Later the first superpower clear-channel station could be picked up in every state; one broadcast alone brought in 2,200 letters from listeners.
Shortly afterwards, a second exclusive channel station, the 50,000 watt WOAI, San Antonio, accepted the program; it went out at 11 p.m. on Sundays.
During this period, strong persecution was received from organized religious sources, much of it coming from New York -- there were many it seems who wanted "The World Tomorrow" broadcast put off the air.
As a result of evangelistic services held in the Chamber of Commerce auditorium in Seattle and smaller services at Everett, Washington, a small church congregation was established in that area.
By the end of 1943, The Plain Truth was able to list ten stations that carried the broadcast. One small Texas station even offered, without being approached by Mr. Armstrong, to carry the program. In 1944 the mail response indicated that the radio audience had risen to over half a million and the Plain Truth circulation reached 35,000 copies per month, sent out at a cost of $1,000 per issue. Each copy, at this time, had gone down from sixteen to only twelve pages.
During the decade between 1934 and 1944 the radio power used by the church rose from 100 watts per week to 91,000 watts. By 1962 it had reached more than 22 million watts per week.
Prior to the founding of Ambassador College, Mr. Armstrong was the only converted and ordained minister in what was then the Radio Church of God (the name was later changed to Worldwide Church of God). As small church congregations were raised up from the growing radio audience, no qualified and dedicated ministers were available to pastor these congregations.
The result was that "fierce wolves" began to enter in, "devouring the flock." This was one of the prime reasons which led Mr. Armstrong to establish the college. Qualified and loyal ministers were desperately needed by the growing Work of God.
In 1944 a major financial crisis developed for the Work. Ten thousand booklet requests went unsatisfied as funds were not available to print and send them out. Prospects of having the broadcast forever off the air induced the Armstrongs to sell their small home. They were determined to keep the Work going, even if "it took our all." For the time being the Work was saved. For Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong, however, the sale of their home meant three frustrating years with no permanent home. They, along with their unmarried children, were forced to move, every few days or weeks, from one temporary home (mostly auto courts) to another.
By this time, they placed no great importance on material prosperity or security. The tremendous spiritual blessings which they had come to enjoy, and the privilege of serving in God's Work, far outweighed the loss of worldly acquisitions.
During this period, the radio program was aired by means of electrical transcriptions. Programs were received on large size semi-soft acetate phonograph discs. Each disc recorded 15 minutes and was 15 inches in diameter. Most of the recording was carried out at a professional recording studio at Portland, Oregon. Where possible, Mr. Armstrong visited radio stations, especially the 50,000 watt ones, in order to speak to the listening audience "live."
The next big step forward for the Work came when "The World Tomorrow" was accepted by the 100,000 watt station XELO, of Juares, Mexico. This station had twice the power of any station in the United States and had an exclusive clear channel. It was heard across the United States and even into Canada. The program was aired at the prime time of 8 P.M. on Sunday.
The response was described by Mr. Armstrong as "fantastic," and resulted in a steady increase in circulation for The Plain Truth magazine.
In 1945, Mr. Armstrong, as a fully accredited press representative, accompanied by his wife, had the opportunity of attending the San Francisco Conference at which the United Nations Charter was drawn up. He was able to listen to many speeches given by world leaders in which they spoke of civilization's "Last Hope."
That year also saw "The World Tomorrow" broadcast on a daily basis, coast-to-coast. A major theme that Mr. Armstrong stressed at this time was that Germany, then conquered and devastated, would rise again to head a powerful and prophesied United States of Europe.
An even bigger door was opened to the Work when the broadcast was aired by station XEG, with 150,000 watts at 8 P.M., six nights a week. This was in addition to the Mexican station XELO which was also carrying the broadcast six nights a week. The Work during this period experienced rapid growth, circulation for The Plain Truth reached 75,000 copies per month.
It has been said that 1946 "marked the very beginning of the organized Work of God in these last days." Until this time it had been virtually a one-man operation, but one man, with the aid of his wife, simply lacked the time and opportunity to handle all the needs of a rapidly growing work.
Mr. Armstrong had learned by bitter experience that not every person or minister to whom he had entrusted responsibility was as capable or dedicated as the position required. A college was clearly needed, where suitable people could be properly trained and tested before being given ministerial or other important responsibilities. For some time while recording programs at the Hollywood recording studios, Mr. Armstrong searched the Pasadena area for suitable college premises. Several possible sites were examined but the big problem always remained that of raising sufficient funds to make a purchase.
About this time it was decided that the Armstrongs should conduct a nation-wide baptizing tour. Scores of listeners had written from many parts of the United States requesting baptism, and Mr. Armstrong was able to baptize several in local rivers, lakes or streams; some were even baptized in a bathtub.
After the tour it was discovered that a small mansion had come onto the market in Pasadena. It contained some eighteen rooms and was located on Grove Street, just off of South Orange Grove Boulevard -- Pasadena's "Millionaire's Row."
The building was set in magnificently landscaped grounds, which had become somewhat neglected over recent years -- it seemed an ideal setting for a college designed to instill culture and character-building qualities in the students. The one big problem was that it cost $100,000.
A contract was agreed with the owner in which Mr. Armstrong was to pay $1,000 per month until $25,000 had been paid; this would then be counted as a down-payment and then an option to purchase would be exercised leading to the eventual ownership of the property.
Walter E. Dillon, Mr. Armstrong's brother-in-law, agreed to inspect the college and afterwards accepted an invitation to become its first President. He held a Masters degree and had many years' experience in teaching and college administration.
In order to recruit students, the college was advertised in the January-February, 1947, Plain Truth. The article announced that "Ambassador offers superior advantages in location, beauty of campus, nature of courses of study, high academic standards -- advantages in our special recreational and social program, cultural advantages, physical education, as well as in religious instruction."
Ambassador College was not to be a Bible School or Ministerial College, but a general liberal arts institution. It was recognized that one must be called of God to the ministry; a person cannot select it of his own volition, as a career. At the same time, it was expected that God would call a proportion of students and that such would be evident by the "fruits" of their lives.
The college was to be a revolutionary new type of institution, progressive and forward looking, built on sound academic and Biblical principles.
In February, 1947, several months before the first Ambassador College was to open, Mr. Armstrong was told of another property which might be available in Switzerland. Stirred by the prospect of a second college where students would have an ideal opportunity to learn European languages, Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong set off at very short notice on the Queen Elizabeth.
During this trip to Britain and Europe, Mr. Armstrong came to see that the Work needed to expand beyond the confines of the United States. "WE MUST REACH EUROPE, AND ENGLAND, as well as America! Our work is just STARTING!"
From Lugano Mr. Armstrong wrote to those at home, have decided DEFINITELY and FINALLY on the Swiss branch of Ambassador." This was not to be, however. "I was to learn, later, that CHRIST had decided DEFINITELY and FINALLY otherwise."
A second college was established, thirteen years later, in 1960, not in Switzerland, but in England, not far from London. On the return journey to the United States, a hurricane was experienced in mid-Atlantic. The ship was in "mortal danger." Herbert Armstrong, remembering God's promise in Psalm 107: 23-30 regarding those in peril on the sea, prayed in faith, with his wife, that God would calm the storm. Early next morning he awoke to find a calm sea.
Immense problems surrounded the founding of the College at Pasadena. Looking back on those events many years later, Mr. Armstrong was to write that "it became crystal clear, now, why even Satan was so concerned that he threw at us everything possible to stop the founding of the Ambassador Colleges."19
The former owner, a Dr. Bennett, seemed to have no intention of moving out or turning over possession of the property. Subtle tactics were used to finally gain possession.
Opposition to the founding of the College was also experienced from within the church.
"But some in the Church did not like the idea of my moving to Pasadena to start a college. Several were becoming self-centered and local-minded.
"...Those who disagreed with the wisdom of founding the College -- who could not see God's hand in the College found sympathizers siding with them, until about half the Church members became antagonistic. They left it for Mrs. Armstrong and me to go it alone, in the struggle to found the College. But we were not alone. The living CHRIST never forsook HIS work!"20
As if this were not trial enough, the College next faced a $30,000 "headache." Building inspectors found that the College building did not reach the standard required of a classroom building. All walls and ceilings needed to be torn out and replaced with a one-hour-fire resistant construction.
The financial pressures became almost unbearable. Everyone, it seems, apart from the Armstrongs, "knew" that the College would "fold up" even before it opened its doors to the first students. Once again, however, faith was rewarded and donations covered the extra expenses.
The College did finally open on October 8, 1947, with four students and a faculty of eight. Like other aspects of the Work the College also started as small as the proverbial grain of mustard seed.
Another problem which Mr. Armstrong discovered was that the vision he had of the type of education which the college was to provide was not shared by the first members of the faculty. They never seemed able to grasp that the College was to be neither a "religious" school or a rubber stamp of other secular institutions. It was intended to be a liberal arts, co-educational institution-but based on God's revealed knowledge.
After leaving curricula-planning to the leading faculty members, Mr. Armstrong was dismayed to discover that his own theology course had been reduced to a two-hour minor subject. From then on he insisted that all students and faculty members attend his lecture. Everyone was to know what he and the College stood for -- even if not all accepted these precepts. Some attempts were made to inject atheistic and other views which were contrary to the policy that the Bible was to be the starting point in attaining knowledge. Such problems gradually faded out when converted Christians were added to the faculty.
Financial pressures, resulting from attempting to operate a College and radio broadcast with inadequate funds, led to a reduction in the program schedule and a "half-time" college for which teachers received half pay during 1948. Three women teachers failed to return to college after the end of the first college year.
At the end of 1948 a "supreme crisis" loomed for the Work. A lump sum of about $17,000 had to be paid on December 27, to cover taxes, insurance and interest relating to the College; this, of course, was in addition to all the other expenses and costs of running the Work. An amazing thing then happened. The normal daily income at that time was $500 to $600; for 15 days during the first half of December, as if by a miracle, the income soared to about $3,000. The result was that all outstanding debts were paid on time and the College survived.
During 1949 and 1950 the Work continued to experience a tight financial squeeze. Only four issues of The Plain Truth were printed in 1950, each copy reduced to just eight pages.
In 1951 the first two students to graduate, Herman Hoeh and Betty Bates, received their degrees. Additional property and land was purchased, which provided the small but growing College with an athletic field and dormitories.
The first "fruits" of the new College were produced in that year. The young Mr. Hoeh began to assist Herbert Armstrong with the teaching schedule. He handled some of the Bible courses. His articles also began appearing at about this time -- first in the publication for Church members only -- The Good News -- and later in The Plain Truth. Up to this time Mr. Armstrong had written all articles in church publications.
Another student, Raymond Cole, took over the duties of pastor of the Portland, Oregon church for several months during 1951.
During 1952 The Plain Truth increased its size back up to 16 pages, and was published on a monthly basis. Up to this time it appeared only when funds permitted, often no more than three or four copies a year. As time passed the College produced trained editorial staff which relieved Mr. Armstrong from some of his crushing responsibilities.
Richard D. Armstrong and Herman L. Hoeh took a trip to Europe in 1952. Their report was published in The Plain Truth, the very first material that appeared which had not been written by Mr. Armstrong. From that time on Ambassador College has striven to produce students who are able to speak foreign languages "like a native."
Mr. Armstrong's radio broadcast was heard on eleven stations in 1953, and this year marked the beginning of what came to be known as the "Foreign Work." On January 1st, on the nineteenth anniversary of the World Tomorrow broadcast, the program was first aired over Radio Luxembourg, the most powerful radio station on earth.
In October of that year the Work took a great leap forward when the radio program went onto the ABC, coast to coast, national radio network. It meant millions of new listeners every week and tremendous prestige. This move put the broadcast on some 90 additional radio stations every Sunday.
Shortly after the broadcast began on Radio Luxembourg, it became necessary to open an office in Britain to handle the mail response. In February, 1953, Dick Armstrong flew to London and arranged a mail address -- B.C.M. Ambassador, London, W. C. 1. He remained in Britain for several months, handling the mail.
For a time after this the British Monomark office forwarded the mail direct to Pasadena, but this proved an unsatisfactory, short term arrangement. It became essential that a permanent office be established in London, and that Mr. Armstrong should see for himself the plans that needed to be made to take care of the small but growing European Work.
Public meetings were held during 1954 in Belfast, Glasgow, Manchester and London, which gave Mr. Armstrong an opportunity to meet and address some of the World Tomorrow radio audience. Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong, along with their son Dick and Roderick Meredith, were able to do a little "sight seeing" in Britain and Europe as well as making arrangements for the promotion of the Work in those areas.
The public meetings in Britain drew crowds of up to 750 people, and the theme of the lectures was "What's Prophesied for Britain." During the visit Mrs. Edna Palin of Crewe was baptized by Dick Armstrong the first baptized Church member in Britain.
Very slowly the Work in Britain began to grow. A small church was established in London during 1956. As the radio program went out at 11:30 P.M.. (later changed to 6 P.M.), the response was poor. During 1957 a lecture series conducted by Mr. Meredith, and followed up by a period of intensive preaching and counseling, resulted in an increase in the church congregation to 30 people.
The task of feeding this little flock was taken over by Gerald Waterhouse in 1958, and steady growth continued. By the end of that year the circulation of The Plain Truth in Britain had reached about 12,000, and the fledgling church had increased to 75 members.
The dedicated ministry of Mr. Waterhouse produced steady growth. By July, 1958, when he left to take an assignment in the United States, the church congregation of London averaged about 45 each Sabbath. Mr. Raymond F. McNair arrived with his family that same month to assume responsibility for the Work in Britain.
During the summer of 1958, Mr. McNair, assisted by George Meeker, conducted a full-scale baptizing tour of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. About 60 people were baptized.
Between 1958 and 1966 a spectacular growth-rate in Britain took the membership figures from 30 to 1,030.
In 1959 Mr. McNair began conducting Bible Studies in Bristol and Birmingham. The Bristol meetings were held in the home of a local member, and attendance averaged 18. Early in 1960, Sabbath services began in the Grand Hotel, located in the centre of Bristol.
Mr. McNair, looking back on those days, reflects: "We averaged about 20 each Sabbath -- if I counted myself!"
An evangelistic campaign conducted in the summer of 1960 doubled the numbers of this struggling little congregation to 40 members.
The Plain Truth for June, 1960, carried an "important Announcement to Our British Readers" from Mr. Herbert Armstrong.
"I have important news for you! We are opening a campaign of dynamic evangelistic meetings in Bristol -- starting Monday night, June 20.
"Never has Bristol and its surrounding area heard the shocking, sobering facts that are going to be disclosed during this lively campaign -- facts I cannot give over the air!"
The theme of these meetings was: what lies ahead for Britain and the world in the immediate future, as described in Bible prophecy. Roderick C. Meredith was the speaker.
"Mr. Meredith is fully consecrated, utterly sincere and in earnest, stirringly dynamic. He knows what he is talking about! And he is going to talk! He is going to tell you things you can't hear from any other source! He is coming in the power of the living Christ, supercharged by his Holy Spirit!"
Potential listeners were warned: "Yes, you'll be shocked, surprised -- you'll hear more real truth in one night in these meetings than most people learn years of the preaching of our day!"
The lectures were held five nights a week at the Y.M.C.A., Colston St., Bristol.
Later that year, campaigns were held in Birmingham and Manchester. Church congregations of some 45 to 50 people were established at these locations.
During this period, advertisements were placed in the British editions of Reader's Digest magazine, which were said to have had "a terrific effect," with about ten thousand people requesting literature as a result.
On October 14, 1960, a second Ambassador College campus opened its doors at Bricket Wood, Herts., not far from London.
By 1966, several additional church congregations had been established in Britain. Attendance figures for that year were as follows: Bricket Wood, 300; London, 220; Warrington, 120; Birmingham, 120; Belfast, 115; Bristol, 78; Leeds, 57; Glasgow, 70; Newcastle, 45.
During the period of 1965-67, the British Work received a tremendous boost when the World Tomorrow was accepted by several commercial radio stations. These so-called "pirate" stations were located on ships, off the coast of Britain, and a powerful "witness" was beamed across the nation. Garner Ted Armstrong, who was the main speaker at the time, expressed his delight when he heard his own voice coming from several car radios as he was held up for a few minutes in a London traffic jam.
Although the Bricket Wood campus was forced to close down in 1974 due to financial pressures within the Work, a vigorous public lecture campaign, along with advertising The Plain Truth, has kept the British public aware of the Work, and a steady growth rate has continued.
The British Press has in general had a somewhat negative approach to the Work; its main concern has been over the question "Where does the money come from?" A measure of unrest was generated in 1976 when three of the top men in the British Work were disfellow-shipped. Since that time, however, the Work in this area has enjoyed a healthy increase in its income, and the policy of advertising The Plain Truth and booklets in newspapers and magazines has brought a response from several thousand new readers.
In 1955, the World Tomorrow broadcast was beamed to the vast Indian sub-continent over Radio Ceylon. The following year saw it going out over an Australian network of eight stations. An office was opened in Sydney during 1959, and within a short time a number of churches were started in the land "down under." An advertising campaign in the Australian and New Zealand editions of the Reader's Digest gave an additional boost to the Work in that region. Many radio stations were added, and by 1968 the broadcast could be heard in most parts of the island continent. A number of Garner Ted Armstrong one-hour TV specials and selected half-hour TV programs were later shown on Australian television. Thousands of Australians are now attending regular "Worldwide Church of God" Sabbath services.
The last twenty years has seen rapid growth for the Work in the Philippines, Malaysia, Burma, India and other parts of Asia. In 1974, Mr. Herbert Armstrong was received as an honoured guest by Philippine President Marcos. He also conducted several personal appearance campaigns which drew crowds of many thousands of local Filipino people. Church membership has increased rapidly in the area during recent years.
In 1960 the broadcast was carried on three Canadian radio stations, and a year later the Work opened an office in Vancouver, under the management of Mr. Dennis Prather. The modest two-room office suite was to soon prove inadequate for the soaring growth-rate of the Canadian Work. By 1974 the mailing list for The Plain Truth had passed the 200,000 mark, The magazine was available in both the English and French languages.
In addition to the radio broadcast, by the mid nineteen seventies, some 265 Canadian television stations carried the Work's telecast. By this period there were also over 8,000 people attending Church services.
Since 1954, the World Tomorrow broadcast has been carried by a number of radio stations in Africa which has stimulated a demand for Church publications far in excess of the available supply. In 1970 a major baptising tour of East, Central and West Africa was undertaken. Church membership in "Black" Africa now stands at 331 (May, 1979). Mr. Harold Jackson ministers to the spiritual needs of people in this area.
The Work has been able to use the tools of radio, television and publishing to send out a witness in South Africa and Rhodesia. Mr. Herbert Armstrong's meetings with political leaders in South Africa and South West Africa has given the Work increased prestige and Church membership has been steadily rising.
For many years the World Tomorrow broadcast has been going out in the French, German and Spanish languages, not only to European nations but also to areas such as Canada, South America, and the West Indies where a significant proportion of the local populations speak such languages. It can truly be said that, "The sun never sets on the worldwide work of the Worldwide Church of God!" The Plain Truth and other literature, including booklets on a host of subjects, is becoming available in an increasing number of foreign languages.
The true gospel is indeed being preached, and published, in all the world for a witness unto all nations (Matt. 24:14 and Mark 13:10).
In terms of figures and statistics, the output of the Work during its forty five year life has been truly amazing. By 1979 it had produced 4891 radio programs and 768 television programs. The total amount of literature mailed out added up to 288 million pieces, 224 million copies of The Plain Truth, 12 million copies of Tomorrow's World and 12 million copies of The Good News; a staggering overall total of 536 million items.
The Work by 1979 had received 37 million letters, which, if put in a stack would reach 14 miles high. Since 1973 it has received 2,090,000 telephone calls via the WATS telephone service. A total of 565 church congregations meet in various parts of the world, the 71,003 members are served by about 1,000 ordained ministers. Some 100,000 members and others gather for the annual Fall Festival, kept in 75 locations around the world.21
Several years ago the Worldwide Church of God recognized that it needed to play a part in serving the physical and cultural needs of the world, in addition to its important spiritual role. In 1975 the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation was founded. It is dedicated to serving mankind, of helping people to realize and fulfill their individual and collective potentials. To achieve this objective a number of humanitarian, cultural and educational projects and programs have been instituted throughout the world.
These activities include assisting handicapped children, promoting major cultural events, and sponsoring archaeological excavations. The elegant Ambassador Auditorium is used as a beautiful setting for A.I.C.F. sponsored concerts at which world renowned singers, musicians, dancers and entertainers delight the audience and raise funds for charitable concerns. The prestige of the Church has also been enhanced by such "good works."
Perhaps the most unexpected and inspiring aspect of the Work within the last decade has been the personal meetings which have taken place between Herbert W. Armstrong and a host of world leaders, which have included the emperors of Ethiopia and Japan, in addition to the kings, presidents and prime ministers of many nations around the world.
Many world leaders recognize Mr. Armstrong as a leading educator, spiritual leader, and as an "ambassador for world peace." He speaks to them of the "missing dimension" in world history, and of the fact that "a strong hand from someplace" is soon to restore peace and set up a world government.
In December, 1979, Herbert Armstrong made a very significant visit to the People's Republic of China. The first such visit of a leader from the world of Christianity since the Communists came to power in that country.
Chinese leaders greeted Mr. Armstrong with friendliness and the level of official honour that is reserved for high ranking political visitors from foreign countries.
Mr. Armstrong and his party were housed in the government guest State House of Peking (Beijing). They were able to visit the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, and other places of interest.
Mr. Armstrong was the guest of honour at several official banquets attended by high ranking Chinese leaders and also diplomats and ambassadors from 57 other nations.
In his address to such important gatherings, he was not lacking in the skills of a diplomat himself. In this atheistic nation he spoke of the return of Christ in the terminology of the intervention of a "strong unseen hand from someplace" that would usher in a time of world peace. Even some of the inscrutable Chinese seemed to be impressed by Mr. Armstrong's theme of the
"give" and "get" philosophy of life.
A one hour meeting was held with Vice Chairman Tan Zhen-Lin, one of the top men in the Chinese government. This man and his colleagues are responsible for moulding the thinking of one billion people (one thousand million), a quarter of the earth's population.
Invitations have been received for Mr. Armstrong to visit leaders in the Soviet Union, Poland, North Korea, and several other nations.
At an age when most men or women would be content with a quiet and dignified retirement, Herbert Armstrong, and the Church that he represents, seem intent on ensuring that the prophesied witness of Christ's return and the setting up of the Kingdom of God will without fail be "preached throughout the whole world."
FOOTNOTES -- Chapter 14
1. The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, page10.
2. Ibid., pages 76-77.
3. The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, 1973 ed. p. 205.
4. Ibid. p. 210.
5. Ibid. p. 221.
6. Ibid. p. 261.
7. Ibid. p. 263.
8. Ibid. p. 276-277.
9. Ibid. p. 286.
10. Ibid. p. 294.
11. Ibid. p. 309
12. Ibid. p. 344.
13. Ibid. p. 360.
14. Ibid p. 449.
15. Ibid. p. 451.
16. Ibid. p. 455.
17. Ibid. p. 499.
18. Ibid. p. 527.
19. The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, Installment 55.
20. Ibid. Installment 56.
21. See the Good News magazine, January, 1979.