February 2, 2018 Brethren Letter
During the Feast of Tabernacles a few years ago, one of our members spoke to a man near the city’s convention center. A larger Church of God group was also meeting there that year, and the man he spoke to attended with that group. Sometime during the conversation, the question was asked how much the man (from the larger group), knew about Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong. The man responded, “I don’t know much about him. He’s not discussed here.” Hopefully, after that conversation, that person chose to find out more about Mr. Armstrong by researching on his own.
Brethren, we should know the history of the man Christ used to begin the WORK of God in the twentieth century. Tonight, I thought I would send much of the letter written to the Plain Truth Subscribers, November 21, 1966. This letter is a great reminder of some of the small “mustard seed” beginnings of the Worldwide Church of God. As Mr. Armstrong wrote, “If you know your Bible, you know that when the Eternal GOD starts anything through human instruments it starts the very smallest, like the proverbial grain of mustard seed — but it grows — and GROWS — and GROWS, until it becomes the GREATEST!”
Please have a wonderful Sabbath!
Your Brother in Christ,
November 21, 1966
Dear Friend and PLAIN TRUTH Subscriber:
If you know your Bible, you know that when the Eternal GOD starts anything through human instruments it starts the very smallest, like the proverbial grain of mustard seed — but it grows — and GROWS — and GROWS, until it becomes the GREATEST!
This work started in Eugene, Oregon, January, 1934, WITHOUT MONEY, on faith, on one little radio station of the very smallest power — 100 watts, in a comparatively small community. Its growth has been gradual and steady. Today thirty-seven MILLION watts of radio power shout Christ’s Gospel to the whole world — to more than forty-five million people every week!
But HOW did it start?
I have explained in these semiannual letters before, the facts about how I was challenged and angered into the first real study of the Bible, in the fall of 1926. I had been reared as a child in a respected denomination — brought up to assume what most fundamentalist denominations believe, in general — though like most church members I never did really know much about the doctrines of the church.
But I was shocked to learn, in this first real study of the Bible, that it did not say what I had been taught as “Christianity” in many basic points of popular belief! But when I saw, with my own eyes IN THE BIBLE, the REAL TRUTH as “once delivered” — I had to face squarely the question, what would I do with it? It would mean giving up former business associates, many of whom were important men in the world. It would mean giving up my life’s ambition to become “SUCCESSFUL” in the world — giving up everything I had set my heart on, that I had worked and studied so hard to get a start in achieving. Although at the time circumstances beyond my control had brought financial reverses, I thought I could still go to the top in business. It meant accepting what I had previously regarded as HUMILIATING. It meant poverty — and I did have to go through 28 years of it!
Real conversion does not come easily! But, with God’s help, I did make the decision, and gave what I now considered a worthless no-good life in SURRENDER to God. I was baptized, and receiving God’s Holy Spirit, came to a totally new outlook.
Then everything changed! In financial poverty, I found real peace, happiness, and a burning, driving zeal to UNDERSTAND God’s revelation to mankind — the Holy BIBLE! I had been made willing to be corrected by the Bible — willing to learn TRUTH new to me. I continued studying the Bible almost night and day — much of the time on my knees. I have explained before how, 3 1/2 years later, I was literally thrust into Christ’s ministry.
And so, as I have written before, as the Apostle Paul wrote, so now also I certify to you, that the Gospel which is preached by me… is NOT AFTER MAN, for I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it BUT BY THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST, as He revealed it IN HIS WRITTEN WORD! Then when it pleased God, who called me by His GRACE, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him to the world, immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood (men), neither went I to any sect or denomination or human theologian, but I went directly to the WORD OF GOD, on my knees, surrendered, willing to be taught, corrected, reproved and instructed in God’s righteousness and TRUTH. (Compare Galatians 1:11-18.)
My first preaching to the public was three and a half years after conversion — and after three and a half years of intensive study of God’s Word and close spiritual contact with Jesus Christ. Nine months later, June, 1931, I was ordained, and entered the full-time ministry on a small salary. But by August, 1933, I had learned that, if I was to receive even the smallest salary from MEN I would have to serve MEN in man’s way instead of serving GOD. The salary was rejected.
At that point, Mrs. Armstrong and I solemnly dedicated our lives to look only to the GOD whom we served for financial needs. Jesus Christ had said the laborer is worthy of his hire. We were then paying $7 per month house rent — with no visible source for receiving even that next $7. We had no money ahead whatsoever. It was a real test of faith to begin trusting God completely. But Jesus Christ had said, take no anxious thought — have no worry — over economic need. Our heavenly Father knows we need these things! SEEK FIRST the KINGDOM OF GOD, and His righteousness, said Christ, and these material needs shall be added!
Six months later, God started us in the very mission Jesus foretold in Matthew 24:14. As soon as this Gospel of Christ’s coming Kingdom has gone to ALL NATIONS, the END of this world — this MAN-made civilization — this present age — shall come!
God did not start us in this, HIS Work, until we had cut loose from all obligation to MEN — UNTIL I was FREE from being MUZZLED by any man, group, denomination or organization. NEVER, since going on the air, have we been muzzled or controlled in any way, except by the living Christ!
In that manner, GOD started this work. He started it the very smallest. We were living, then, in Eugene, Oregon. A station of the very smallest power, KORE, then 100 watts, offered me time, for only $2.50 per broadcast.
When the door of radio opened before me, I knew God would not have me beg for money from the public over the air. But also I knew that God had led Moses to ask for contributions from God’s own People, Israel. I knew the Apostle Paul had asked converted Christians to GIVE of their means for the support of God’s Work (I Cor. 9; II Cor. 9:5-13; I Cor. 16:1-3; Rom. 15:25-28; etc.). But NEVER did a prophet, apostle, or true minister of God solicit contributions from the public — from any but God’s own people.
…After three years the Work doubled in size and power — we were then on TWO 100-watt stations weekly. After six years it had redoubled; and in three more — 1942 — that had doubled — then with a scattered NATIONAL audience!
By 1946 we were outgrowing facilities available in Eugene, Oregon. It was becoming imperative that the Work be moved accessible to Hollywood — radio headquarters for the nation. At the same time, we began to realize that future expansion of the Work demanded a college for the training of expanding personnel.There were many reasons why we selected Pasadena as our future site. Many times during 1946 I searched one end of Pasadena to the other for a location. One obstacle seemed insurmountable — lack of money!
Then, in early November of that year, the first unit of the present Ambassador College campus opened in a manner positively providential. There were no funds even for a down payment. This property included a four-car garage we could convert into an Administration office building, and a former residential mansion, built of institutional rather than residential design, a tennis court, and beautiful grounds with a lower garden ideal for outdoor classes, and Commencement exercises.
What happened sounds incredible, I know. It was providential. This fine property came to us, without any down payment, but on monthly payments actually $100 per month LESS THAN we had been paying in Eugene, Oregon, for office rent and recording of the broadcasts! The newly converted Administration Building provided much enlarged office space, and we set up our own recording studio in the building we now called “the College.”
In other words, THIS FIRST COLLEGE PROPERTY CAME TO US IN A MANNER THAT AMOUNTED TO BEING PAID $100 PER MONTH to accept possession and the deed to the property!
The college opened its doors October 8, 1947. There were only 4 pioneer students. The next year, the adjoining property, “Mayfair,” was offered on a very small down payment, which, providentially, we were by that time able to pay, and low monthly payments. It was then being operated as a high class rooming house, with tenants of professional status. The rentals paid the payments. We were glad to have them stay on the first year or two. This was an income-producing property, and thus it expanded our campus at virtually NO COST to us!
Later, the most fabulous property in Pasadena, the second estate beyond “Mayfair,” estate of the late Hulett C. Merritt, principal stockholder of U.S. Steel Corporation, wealthiest man in Pasadena, was offered to us. This superb property came to us at the unbelievably ridiculous low cost of less than the ornamental iron fence around the front would cost! Later, the other two of the five mansions along Terrace Drive — backing up to South Orange Grove Boulevard — came to us at similar exceeding low cost.
These had all been proud multimillionaire mansions.Of course some were overgrown with weeds — but hard work took care of that! These properties were all of a quality that necessarily set the standard of the Ambassador College campus. When God put Adam in the Garden in Eden, He told him to “dress it and keep it,” — NOT let it run down and deteriorate. We have diligently MAINTAINED these fine properties. Of course, these buildings are all 50 or 60 years old — but they were superbly constructed and under diligent care and maintenance, they are as fine and beautiful as new.
We have published beautiful pictures in full color, also, of the campus in England. Stately Memorial Hall, principal classroom building, was built in 1925 by one of Britain’s wealthiest multimillionaires. It equals in character and fine quality the fabulous Ambassador Hall (former Merritt estate) on the Pasadena campus. This proud and stately building, with the ornate formal garden in front, with large decorative urns, and an aviary; the beautiful large Rose Garden (finest I have ever seen) the exotic and breath-taking Japanese Garden with its winding little stream; the outstanding large informal English Sunken Garden; the expanse of gently sloping and contoured lawns with the very rare and stately Cedars of Lebanon — all this, as our first unit of the English campus came to us — believe it or not — for eight thousand pounds ($22,400) — less than the cost of a modern 2- or 3-bedroom home!
There were also superb horse stables, a cow barn, and an outmoded electric plant, beside surrounding fields, acquired at low cost. The horse stables and cow barns and electric-plant buildings have all been converted into dormitories, administration offices, dining hall, etc.
This gives you an idea of HOW these superb, beautiful, magnificently landscaped campuses, with their fine and stately buildings, came to us. They came, NOT through any “wealth” which we did not have, but through the providential BLESSINGS of the Eternal GOD, whose Work this is!
HOW HAS THIS WORK BEEN FINANCED? WHAT DENOMINATION?
Just as Jesus Christ joined NONE of the sects or religious denominations more than 1939 years ago, so this, HIS WORK today, is NON-denominational. It is, simply, the WORK OF GOD, carrying out CHRIST’S COMMISSION, preaching HIS Gospel straight from the shoulder, without fear or favor, not to please men but to please GOD — not by the will of men or by the sponsorship of any organization, but in THE POWER OF GOD!
We have looked to God for financial needs. GOD’S WORK is conducted GOD’S WAY. Therefore we cannot beg or solicit the public for money. We cannot put a price on the Gospel, or any Gospel literature. God’s Word says: “Buy the Truth and sell it NOT.” (Prov. 24:6.) But, according to Biblical example, we do remind those who voluntarily become Co-Workers with Christ, and with us in this Work, of the financial need and of the obligation Christ places on them in regard to tithes and offerings for His Work, even as Moses did, and as Paul did.
HOW, from then on, could I know who, of those on our mailing list, were God’s people? Jesus Christ said that where one’s treasure is, there will his heart be also. Therefore I was safe in assuming that when one had voluntarily, without solicitation, put contributions into the Work of God at least twice within six months, that person’s heart was in the Work of Christ’s GOSPEL.
Therefore I began to send to such people a letter explaining this, and telling them that I was placing their names on a special mailing list of Co-Workers, to receive a special monthly letter from me, telling them of the progress of the Work in which they now were interested Co-Workers — and, when funds were needed, ASKING THEM for financial help.
NO ONE is ever asked to become a Co-Worker. NO ONE is ever solicited for contributions — unless or until he or she has voluntarily become a Co-Worker by putting money into this Work twice within six months. Of the vast family who read The PLAIN TRUTH, only about one out of 32 has ever sent, or been asked to send any money for the support of this world-wide Work of God. And, of course, NONE of the many other MILLIONS who listen to The WORLD TOMORROW every week, has ever sent us, or been asked to send, a single penny for the support of this Work. HOW can SO MUCH be accomplished — be GIVEN — on so little? The living CHRIST heads and directs this Work — has given us, His instruments, the “KNOW-HOW” to make every dollar go the farthest. And I know of no operation of any kind where every single dollar accomplishes so much good! And again THANKING YOU sincerely, with gratitude, for your interest in the good things of God!
Sincerely, in Jesus’ name,
Herbert W. Armstrong