Dear Brethren and Co-Workers with Christ: First visited New Zealand. There I attended the Summer Educational camp for teenagers, held on an island just offshore from Auckland. There were about 150 teen campers there besides a number of Ambassador College students serving as counselors and camp assistants, and ministers to supervise recreational activities and teach summer classes. Then I spoke on the Sabbath to 768 members at the Auckland church, and on Sunday flew to Wellington where I held a two-hour Bible study with 375 members of the Church. Also sixty bicyclists finished a cross-country cycling tour, composed of eleven college students and five college faculty members with forty-four teenagers — YOU members. Last night I held a one-and-a-half-hour Bible study before 1,020 Church members in Brisbane. Tomorrow I will visit the SEP camp here, where some 300 teenagers are finishing the summer camp. These summer camps are doing a magnificent job of showing teenagers a better way to have fun and study at the same time. The camps are doing much to "turn the hearts of the children to the parents." I will be preaching to brethren at Melbourne and Perth, then on to Malaysia, then a visit to Thailand, Hong Kong, Tokyo and back to Pasadena. Again, thank you, sincerely and deeply, for your prayers and help with Christ in His work.
April 1, 1984
Dear Brethren in Christ: This is a special personal letter to you members of God's Church, written in between monthly Co-Worker letters. I recently visited my brother, Dwight, who composed all of the music in our Church hymnals except for three or four songs we felt worthy of being included. He has devoted the last thirty-five years of his life to composing the music of these hymns for us. For years, even before that, I had felt we needed our own hymn book, with words from the Psalms (the word psalms means songs) and other scriptures from the Bible. I had noticed that in the hymn books sung in Protestant churches, the words are not scriptural, and sing the praises of the congregations of people instead of the praises of God. Wherever I travel over the whole earth, visiting our churches on all continents, I find you brethren all enjoying the same hymns and the same music with great joy and gladness. Perhaps most of you have not even realized it was my own brother, twelve years younger than I, who produced the beautiful music we have all come to love and joy in. On this recent visit to speak to the churches in the area of Vancouver, Canada, I stopped off to spend a few minutes with my brother. It was probably our last meeting together in this life. I found him in the last stages of cancer in the bone structure, going through the marrow of the bones. He is a little discouraged, not realizing what a real success his life has been, and with the mortgage on his home still not paid off as he faces the end of this life. He is not expected to live much longer. He has not had the opportunity to see and hear you brethren in congregations all over the world singing with such joy the music he composed for you, and I'm sure he can have no realization of how greatly he has contributed to God's Church and consequently what a successful life he has lived. He will be eighty, if he survives until September 15. He has continued up to the present to compose more and more new hymns, most of which have not been as yet published. These may come out in a new hymnal book, much enlarged over our present book .... However, if some of you brethren do feel you would like him to know how much his beautiful music has meant to your Christian life, and would care to just write him a few words of appreciation, I know that would brighten the few remaining days he probably has in this life. Write to his local pastor ....
Dacca, Bangladesh - November 18, 1984
Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ: I, with the small entourage accompanying me, am now in the midst of a five-week tour in the Far East. I am writing from Dacca, capital of Bangladesh. Bangladesh borders India on three sides. It is a country about the size of Wisconsin in area, but with approximately 100 million population — almost half of that of the United States. It is one of the poorest countries on earth. Less than 29 percent can read or write and many of this number can only barely be called literate. You people in America, Western Europe and Australia cannot conceive of the condition in which uncounted millions of human masses live in parts of the world such as we are visiting. We came from Nepal, where I had another meeting with King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya in the palace at Kathmandu, Nepal's capital. Nepal is in the Himalaya mountains with Mt. Everest and other peaks almost the same fantastic height. There also, 80 percent of the people are totally illiterate. Most of them have no idea of sanitation. One of our pilots, in a car driven out of the city in a more rural area, saw children on the ground picking lice out of one another's hair. You people in supposedly civilized countries have no conception of the poverty and ignorance of masses of human beings in this part of the world, or even in some areas in Africa and South America. Yet in our more "advanced" and supposedly civilized countries, we are plagued with crime, violence, illicit sex, drugs, excess alcohol, broken homes, and hospitals filled to over-flowing, and jails and prisons likewise. The evils are appalling in a Western world of awesome progress and advancement. We certainly should pray, as Jesus said, "Thy Kingdom come." Only the coming of Christ in supreme power and authority can save humanity. I visited this country about eleven years ago, soon after the end of the Pakistan war, when Bangladesh became a new country. I thought then that it was the most impoverished nation in the world. But great strides have been made since. This is due to two factors. The United States, Japan and other developed countries have poured many millions of dollars into this country to help get it started on development. This has resulted in many new modern buildings. The other cause we saw this afternoon. A one-hour drive to one of the villages to inspect one of the village elementary schools. I was driven in a government Mercedes, since I am here as a guest of the government. On the road to the village we had a flat tire. On the return we lost the muffler because of knotty tree roots protruding through the rough unpaved road. The schoolhouse was a dilapidated sort of shed built of old corrugated iron or tin, half rusted. One class of about sixty children were being taught in a shady spot outside this makeshift building. I visited a third grade mathematics class in a small room of thirty-five children. At least the country is beginning to teach many of the little children, although the Minister of Education told us many drop out because their parents can't see any need for education. On this present tour we have visited Tokyo, where I met several Cabinet Members and Congressmen who call themselves my "Japanese sons." One senator in the Diet flew here with us. In China I and my entourage were guests of the government that rules over nearly one fourth of all humanity. Our visit was on national TV and on front-page newspapers with nationwide circulation of some 200 million. It was even on Hong Kong television news. I was received in both Beijing and also in Shanghai with all the honors of the head of a nation. We were housed in both major cities in government VIP guest houses. In fact, I was told I slept in the same bed in Shanghai as President Reagan. Deng Xiaoping admitted to me that China has made some serious mistakes which he is trying to correct. It was heartening to hear so powerful a man admit mistakes and work to correct them. More than ever before I see the need to pray earnestly, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." I have been given opportunity to speak some very straight truths in China and Nepal, and I may have a similar opportunity at the banquet tomorrow night. Brethren, this world is being destroyed for lack of knowledge of and from God, as we read in Hosea 4:6. Through my personal visits, and the Plain Truth magazine, on TV and radio and through other literature, we are proclaiming that knowledge in power and authority. Some listen. It is God's last witness against those who do not. But we must drive right on until Christ comes! More than ever I need your earnest prayers. God's great Work needs your generous support. And you need the great matchless blessing that comes from having your part in such a wonderful Work. We go from here to Sri Lanka, then another visit to the King and Queen of Thailand, then Tokyo once again, then home. All my love to you all. PS: 11/19/84: Word has just come by telex and telephone of the death of my brother, Dwight Leslie Armstrong. He composed the music for all but twelve of the hymns in the hymnal used in all the local churches of the Worldwide Church of God. He died on Saturday morning, November 17, of cancer. A full account of his life and work will appear in The Worldwide News.
July 25, 1985
Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ: Many things have happened since I last wrote to you a month ago. The passing time seems to speed up. These are the summer months in which we cannot afford to bask lazily in the warmth of the sun in idle leisure. Rather, more than ever, we need a sense of urgency. Events in the world are not taking a vacation, but speeding to the climax of this world and civilization as we know it. Since my last letter I, with several members of the editorial staff and the television crew, attended the fortieth anniversary of the San Francisco Conference of 1945. Ambassadors to the U.N. from many nations were there. I was one of three or so who attended the entire Conference of forty years ago. Most are not still living. I was honored by sitting at lunches and dinners at the speakers' table, and introduced to all delegates each time. I was glad to renew acquaintance with General Carlos Romulo of the Philippines, with whom I have maintained an acquaintance on my frequent visits to Manila. The Ambassador from the Soviet Union spoke to me twice and said I am too hard on the Soviet Union on the air, although he admitted I was not as hard on them as other TV evangelists, and invited me to visit the Soviet Union. On June 25 I attended the twentieth anniversary of the church at my home city of Des Moines, Iowa. It was an experience to be photographed at the very spot where I was born, and to see the tremendous change that has come to the city where I grew up. The anniversary service was held in a new hotel located over the very spot where I worked for three years as editorial representative of the nation's largest trade journal — The Merchants Trade Journal — during the years of 1912-1915. Since, I have visited the YOU camp sites at Orr, Minnesota, and Big Sandy, Texas, and spoken to the campers at each. All international camp directors were in session at Orr. What these camps are doing for the youths of the Church is amazing. There is no other youth program in the world that remotely equals what is being accomplished at our YOU camp ...
September 12, 1985
Dear Brethren and Co-Workers with Christ: Since last December I have been working diligently on the largest and most important book of my life. In real fact I feel I myself did not write it. Rather, I believe God used me in writing it. I candidly feel it may be the most important book since the Bible. It is named "Mystery of the Ages". Actually it might be called a synopsis of the Bible in the most plain and understandable language. But first, before I tell you more about it, let me say I am overjoyed to be able to send you one of the very first copies off the press, hardbound — the same beautiful copy that will be sold in bookstores all over the United States — in gratitude for your cooperation and financial support of this wonderful Work of the great God. All baptized members will be given the book, one copy to a family, at the coming annual Feast of Tabernacles. All nonmember Co-Workers are being mailed your copies, but allow a few weeks for delivery, for this kind of mail goes much slower than this letter. We want to reach the largest audience possible with this book. I know you will feel the same way when you read it. There is a very large audience which would never request this book if offered free — who would never send their name and address to us — but would gladly buy a copy in the bookstore. By putting it in the bookstores we will reach a very great audience that we can reach in no other way. We will not sell the book ourselves, but it cannot be made available to this large audience of book buyers unless the bookstores do put a price on it. Now let me tell you something about this new book. The Holy Bible is the world's best-selling book, but not the most read, and certainly just about the least understood. Why should this be? Several reasons. First, God did not intend it to be understood until now, in these last days before the return of Christ and the setting up of the Kingdom of God to rule all nations and usher in world peace. For example, in Daniel 12, Daniel wrote that he heard what the angel was telling him to write, but he did not understand. The angel told him to write the words anyway — that their meaning was closed and sealed from understanding until the time of the end of this present world. Secondly, when the first man, Adam, rejected the tree of life — rejecting God and reliance on God, taking to himself the knowledge of good and evil, relying on himself instead of God — God closed the tree of life until the coming of Christ, the second Adam. And even then the gifts of the Holy Spirit and eternal life were still closed to all except those whom God the Father would draw to Him through Jesus Christ (John 6:44). The natural mind of man cannot understand the Word of God except by and through the Holy Spirit dwelling within. We read in I Corinthians 2:9 that the human eye has not seen, nor the ear heard, nor has it entered into the human mind, the spiritual things of God. But, verse 10, says God does reveal those things to us through, and only through, the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. No matter how great the human mind — no matter how many Ph.D.s or high degrees one may have after his name, he cannot understand what God has put in His Word — the Holy Bible — without the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes [mentally, educationally]" (Matt. 11:25). No others can understand the Bible, which is the Word of God. Thirdly, the Bible has not been written like the books written by natural-minded humans. It is a coded book, like a jigsaw puzzle divided into thousands of parts, and cannot be understood except these many different parts are properly put together. And they will fit together in only one way. They must be put together "here a little, and there a little" (Isa. 28:10). I feel like shouting "Glory, hallelujah" and "Praise God" that He has revealed His Word to His one true Church through the Holy Spirit which He has given to us. Daniel 12 continues to say that in these last days the wise would understand but all others would not. The Bible says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of understanding, and a good understanding have they who do His commandments. We of God's true Church do keep God's commandments. But the churches of this world say the commandments were done away. Therefore their eyes, even though they do not realize it, are blinded to the truth as revealed in the Bible. That is why the churches of "traditional Christianity" do not and cannot understand the Bible. This new book "Mystery of the Ages" does put many "pieces of the jigsaw puzzle" properly together. Because the world has been unable to do this, the Bible and the things in the Bible have certainly been a mystery. The Bible itself is a mystery to nearly all people. God and the nature of God — what God is like — God's purpose — have been a mystery. No religion on earth has ever truly understood just who and what God really is. Many people, and even different religions, have had some vague ideas about the unseen spirit world. Yet it has been a total mystery to them. Even the appearance of mankind on the earth and any purpose for human existence are a mystery people have never understood. Human civilization as it has developed is a mystery people simply do not understand. They cannot understand why twentieth century progress has made such phenomenal strides and yet its troubles and evils have escalated and multiplied. Even the existence of the Church is a mystery. Why should there be such an institution as the Church? The very gospel that Jesus Christ brought from God the Father — the good news of the coming world-ruling Kingdom of God — has never been understood. It, too, has been cloaked in mystery. This new book "Mystery of the Ages" unveils all these mysteries. It puts the many different parts of the "jigsaw puzzle" together. It is, in fact, a synopsis of the entire Bible. It is my prayer that you will read it along with your Bible — that it will make your Bible come alive and understandable. And with God's Holy Spirit dwelling in you, I feel sure that it will. I am now in my 94th year and I feel that this book is the most valuable gift I could possibly give to you. This book is a partial expression of my thanks and gratitude to you for being a co-laborer with me and with Jesus Christ. With all my heart, I do appreciate and thank God for your part with me in the wonderful Work these closing days.
November 25, 1985
Dear Brethren and Co-Workers with Christ: This has been the most serious year of the Work of God so far. Never before has God given us such a leap forward in television coverage and Plain Truth circulation as in these past six months. God's time has come to speed up His Work with dynamic and tremendous power! Time for completing the great mission of God in this dying world is fast running out on us! ... With the writing of the new book "Mystery of the Ages" God has helped me this year to do the best work of my ninety-three years of life! But now, for over three months, I have been suffering a serious illness that started from a flu bug in August. Since then I have been confined to my home, with a doctor, who seldom makes house calls, coming to see me every day — sometimes twice a day. I have been unable to rid myself of a fever that has left me with low blood levels and very little strength. Even so, I am working as energetically as possible from my home ...
December 9, 1985
Dear Brethren: At this time I feel I must make a statement regarding my own physical condition and also changes being made in the Work. I have delayed a definite statement about my health hoping that my physical condition would improve and that the statement I now make could be alleviated. Last August 3, I left Pasadena for Orr, Minnesota, having planned to continue to the Summer Education Program camp in Scotland, then to London, and from London across the North Pole to Tokyo. A trip has been planned from Tokyo to Seoul, South Korea, to meet with the President. I was to be accompanied by the Japanese Minister of Labor, Toshio Yamaguchi. I had become ill and was forced to return to Pasadena from Orr, Minnesota, early in the morning, too ill to be fully dressed. I returned immediately to my home. I was able to make a few trips to the office until the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles in late September. I have not been outside of my home since that day. From that date, my regular physician has been making daily, and sometimes twice daily, trips to my home. I had hoped for a turn to the better — so that I could return for daily work in my office — and a recovery from this illness, but unfortunately, that has not occurred. My blood level is far below normal and has left me in a very weak condition. I have not been able to dress further than bed clothes and robes since the day before the Feast of Tabernacles. My physician says that with blood transfusions I could go to the office for three to four weeks. But then another blood transfusion would be necessary. It is my judgment that such a transfusion would be risky and of very short duration. And my physician acquiesces in this decision. Frequently I have very serious and painful angina attacks of the heart. I have been able to make certain necessary decisions in a brief telephone contact with those at the office and will continue this as and when my very limited physical strength permits. Until the present moment I felt that God might provide a way for complete recovery, and He still may. So I have withheld this statement until now, but I feel it is better that you all know the condition. I am now in my ninety-fourth year. God may grant that I may continue in this very limited manner to direct the Work for some time, but the occasional severe heart pains that I have endured have made me feel the necessity of letting the entire membership know of the condition as it is .... Remember, brethren, this is the Work of the living Creator God. We are now very near the end of this present age. I will continue to give my all to the Work of God up to the last breath. I hope you will all realize the seriousness of the time in which we live and that nothing is important any longer than to be close to God and assured of a place in His soon-coming Kingdom. This world is not God's world, and of that we may all be thankful. It is now in its very last days. This illness has impressed heavily on my mind, more than ever before, the uselessness of this present evil world. Thank God we are all very near to its end. I thank you, beyond words to express, for your loving concern and for the many thousands of cards and well wishes that have been coming in from great numbers of you from all over the world. P.S. I have had to dictate this letter due to lack of the physical strength to type it.
January 10, 1986
Dear Brethren and Co-Workers, This is my first letter to you in 1986, and could very well be my last. Now in my ninety-fourth year I am in a very physically weakened state enduring severe pain and with virtually no strength whatsoever. I briefly described my condition in last month's Co-Worker letter to you, and now it has worsened. It may be that the Work God has given me to do is complete, but not the Work of God's Church, which will be faithfully doing God's Work till Christ, the True Head of this Church, returns. After much counsel and prayer over the past months God has led me in announcing a decision last week to appoint Mr. Joseph W. Tkach, Director of Church Administration, to the office of Deputy Pastor General, to assist me while I am in a weakened state, and should God choose to take my life, to place himself totally in Christ's hands to lead God's Church under Christ, succeeding me as Pastor General, in the difficult times ahead. Christ will lead in the decision about which men will continue the telecast. Remember, brethren, this is not the work of Herbert W. Armstrong, nor will it be the work of Mr. Tkach, or any man. It is the Work of the Living Creator, God. You are supporting this Work of God, and it is the Great God who will pour out His blessings on you for your generosity. Continue to sacrifice through 1986 to finish the commission God has given His Church. The greatest work lies yet ahead. Christ confirmed that in John 4:35, "Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh the harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest." Never before in the history of the Church has it been possible to reap so great a harvest. It has only been made possible through modern technology, beginning with the printing press, radio, television, and rapid mass transit and mass communication. I personally have seen nearly all of these technological advances in my lifetime, starting in the last century through the horse and buggy age to the current space age. It was prophesied in Daniel 12 that in the last days knowledge would be increased. This has been fulfilled, yet with this awesome progress we are experiencing even more appalling and continuous evils, which will culminate in the Great Tribulation ahead of us now. Then, just before humanity blasts human life off this planet, God will once again send His Son Jesus Christ. This time in power and glory as King of kings and Lord of lords to rule with all the power of the Great God and usher in utopian peace, happiness and prosperity. Thank God, Satan will then be gone. Are you ready for the return of Jesus Christ? Will you escape the Great Tribulation soon to occur? Christ said to watch and pray always, that you will be accounted worthy to escape (Luke 21:36). Now is the time of the end. Each of you must commit yourself to support God's Work, to fast and pray. God's Work must push ahead this coming year as never before. God is opening new doors in television and in the Plain Truth distribution. Help us walk through them. Praise and thank God, and pray for His Work. Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart for your prayers for me personally.