Dear Brethren and Friends, The warmth, love and unity at our most recent Council of Elders meeting last November was most encouraging—as it always is. It was very inspiring to hear reports from all over the world about the growth in the Work that Christ has given us to do.
Mr. Bruce Tyler gave an encouraging report about how we are moving forward in Australia, New Zealand and throughout all of Australasia. Mr. Syd Hull told us about growth in South Africa—and the unusual challenges God's people face there. Dr. Douglas Winnail—stationed in Ireland—told us about plans for moving our Church offices to a location north of London, and about continuing growth in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Europe and Northern Africa. Mario Hernandez gave an inspiring report about the growth in the Spanish Work—still a small Work, but with outstanding individuals coming along to help move us forward. I will be writing more and in greater detail about each of these developments in the future. Christ is certainly moving this Work to a higher level, and we are all grateful to have a part in what He is doing!
One of the most inspiring developments is that our station representative, Richard Janik, was able to meet two gentlemen in Canada who represent television outlets in the British Isles. He and our Canadian Director, Mr. Gerald Weston, were able to talk in detail with these men and convince them to come to our Headquarters here in Charlotte to discuss the opportunity to go on British television. Now, after so many years, it looks like we are going to be able to reach the British Isles and parts of Northwestern Europe via television for the very first time! There are tens of millions of potential viewers.
I have hoped and prayed for decades that God would help His Work really "get going" in reaching the "mother country" of our English-speaking world more powerfully. Way back in 1954, I had the opportunity to join Mr. and Mrs. Herbert W. Armstrong, and Dick Armstrong, in some of the earliest efforts to establish God's Work in Britain. I joined Mr. Armstrong in speaking briefly at small public lectures in Belfast, Glasgow, Birmingham and then London in the summer of 1954. Later, my wife and I were sent to London to expedite the growth of the Work there. Our first child, Elizabeth, was born in London. Then, in 1960, Mr. Armstrong sent me back to Britain to hold 12 solid weeks of evangelistic campaigns—four weeks each in Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester. We were able to establish regular Sabbath services in each of these areas and help lay the foundation for God's modern Work in Britain at that time. Mr. Armstrong then asked me to remain over for the first semester to help get Ambassador College established at Bricket Wood, England. It was a wonderful opportunity. I am grateful to have had a part in the earliest beginnings of the Work Christ established in Britain in our time.
However, with the massive apostasy that engulfed our former association, Christ's Work in Britain has dwindled to practically nothing! So now, I hope and pray—and ask all of you to please pray with me—that we can finally get Christ's message out with genuine power throughout the British Isles! We will do all that we can to expedite this. And with the backing of your prayers, I am sure Christ will help us do far more than we could ever remotely do on our own.
Another encouraging development is that we are now greatly expanding our use of the Internet. The worldwide Internet has absolutely tremendous potential to reach people in a way that nothing else does! We will be able—through this medium—to reach into communist China, into India, throughout the Muslim world, and into many other areas of Central and South America, Africa and elsewhere in a way we could not do by any other means. So please pray for our Internet Coordinator, Mr. Steve Stiffler—who is also director of the Tomorrow's World telecast—and for all of us on the "team" involved in this project! You will be hearing more about our use of the Internet in months to come.
Additionally, we are now working on plans for a Young Adult Training Program. This program will be designed to strengthen the Bible knowledge, leadership and capacity of scores or even hundreds of young people in the Church. It will strengthen the base of our Work and Church around the world, provide additional ministry and leadership in the Work, and help these young people to grow in grace and knowledge in a way they might not by any other means. With a number of years left to complete the Work, we still have a great need for future ministers and leaders—especially as many of our older ministers and leaders come to the end of their lives. We need to do everything we can to train future leaders, and will appreciate your prayers in this regard!
As this present age draws to a close, we need to go "all out" to reach this confused world with Christ's message—more than we have ever done. As most of you know, more of the senior ministers and leaders in our former association came with this present Work, to assist me in getting out this message, than went to any other group after the apostasy got underway. I am so grateful that we have such dedicated and experienced men and women to help us. Many of us spent decades helping build the Work that Christ did through Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong. We deeply appreciate what Christ did through Mr. Armstrong, and we appreciate the opportunity we had to assist. But, without question, the Work back then did not "complete the job." As Mr. Armstrong's final letter to the brethren stated: "The greatest work lies yet ahead."
So we are not trying to "outdo" what Mr. Armstrong did at all! It was part of our lives and our effort, also. If he were still alive, I know he would tell me: "Rod, of course you need to move ahead and do the Work more powerfully than ever—building on the foundation that Christ laid through me and all of us back then! I never would have wanted us to lie down and do nothing! A bigger Work does need to be done before the end of the age!"
I hope that each of you can "catch the vision" and join us in praying fervently for God's powerful blessing on this Work! As time goes on, dear brethren, I feel that we should help people realize that we are, indeed, continuing the Work that Christ began through Herbert W. and Loma D. Armstrong. For it was our work, also, and Mr. Armstrong would want us—so many of whom worked very closely with him in building the Work from the late 1940s onward—to feel that way.
As many of you know, I worked very closely with Mr. Armstrong—full-time in the Work from 1952 until his death in 1986. At one point, I was made Second Vice President—third man in the Work—for some 12 years. More than anyone still living and serving, I was active in meetings with Mr. Armstrong and others regarding plans for radio, television, campaigns, establishing congregations and managing the growth of the Work. So I do sincerely feel—in all humility—a special responsibility to carry on that Work under the leadership of Christ—the real Head of the Church and Work of God.
By the time most of you read this, it will be 19 years since the death of Herbert W. Armstrong, and it will be 12 years since the beginning of this present Work which Christ has been doing through so many of us. The Bible indicates that the number 12 is the number of "organized beginnings" (as Mr. Armstrong put it), so we are now at a point when truly big things should begin to happen! Everything now indicates that we are truly near the end of this age. Now that we are here and settled in Charlotte, NC, this Work is now set up and organized in a way that we can move forward far more swiftly and far more expansively than ever before. We now have a depth of organization, of unity and of experienced men and women so that we can complete the Work in a way that was simply not possible a few years ago.
Therefore, dear brethren, as some of the truly horrifying things begin to take place in world affairs and in our own nations—drought, famine, disease epidemics, earthquakes, storms and also religious persecution, we should realize that the "end" is truly near and that we need to "get going" in finishing this Work more than ever! I pray that every one of us may be more inspired to "cry out" to God for His guidance, help and power as never before! Truly, this is His Work—not the work of man. As most of you realize, we are, in fact, carrying out the Work that Christ began through Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong more fully than any other group on earth. We are not perfect. We are not "there" yet in many, many ways. But we do need to sense what is happening, and also to understand our responsibility to respond to Christ in order to "finish the Work" in the way He wants—and in the way Mr. Armstrong would have wanted us to do if he were still here.
Also, as I will explain more fully in the Editorial in this issue, we need to immerse ourselves in Bible study, meditation and prayer so that we can learn to put our full trust in God! Only in this way can we go through trials and persecutions and be able to "stay the course" as we should. I hope that this overview of our recent Council of Elders meetings and some of the plans we are making will encourage all of you and inspire you regarding this wonderful undertaking to which Christ has called us. May God encourage and inspire each of you to do your part with all your heart!