Herbert W. Armstrong Visited King Leopold Expedition in New Guinea
On March 11, 1973, the internationally recognized ambassador for world peace touched down in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, for two days of meetings with state officials and the king of Belgium, at the site of one of the Belgian king’s historic expeditions.
Mr. Armstrong and his delegation were greeted by Indonesia’s protocol staff and Dr. Sarwono, chief of the Indonesian Educational and Scientific Institute, who had helped coordinate King Leopold’s expedition in New Guinea. In addition, awaiting them upon landing were Belgian Ambassador George Elliott, accompanied by the Belgian economic adviser.
Since his initial meeting with the king of Belgium in 1968, Mr. Armstrong ensured that Ambassador College supported cultural and humanitarian endeavors of the monarch. These were later formalized under the auspices of the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation in cooperation with the Leopold iii Foundation for the Exploration and Conservation of Nature. This collaboration was primarily centered in the fields of anthropology and exploration.
On March 12, 1973, Ambassador International Cultural Foundation officials met with longtime friend of Mr. Armstrong Indonesian Foreign Minister Adam Malik. At the time he was second in charge under President Suharto. Prior, he had served as the president of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
President Suharto was unable to join the meeting as he was addressing the National Assembly at the time. “But he sent greetings and his personal best wishes for the success of the expedition and an invitation to visit him on our next return to Indonesia” (Plain Truth, June 1973).
In the summer of 1972, the president and the unofficial ambassador met in Jakarta. So vital was the meeting that it was only a few months later that Mr. Armstrong devoted his “Personal” for the November edition of the mass-circulation Plain Truth magazine to his meeting with the leader of the world’s fifth-largest nation at the time.
Later that night, the delegation attended a banquet conducted for the king. The next day Mr. Armstrong recalled, “We flew to Biak in West Irian (New Guinea). It was a five-hour flight, at nearly 600 miles per hour. We must have flown over hundreds of islands, all part of Indonesia, many of the islands as yet uncharted” (ibid).
Upon arrival they were met by the local administrator, a general, who was accompanied by military staff assigned to guide and protect the king’s scientific expeditionary entourage. This armed escort was a necessity as the group was headed into some of the globe’s densest jungle, known to be inhabited by noted headhunters, many of whom had never interacted with foreigners.
Mr. Armstrong spent about an hour with the explorers discussing the project and posing for photographs before farewelling the king and Dr. André Capart, head of Belgium’s Royal Museum of Natural Science. The pair were to spend the night in Biak, then meet various scientists the next day at Djajapura (Jayapura), capital of Irian Jaya. From there, the expedition was to get under way.
Mr. Armstrong, whether contributing financially or with personnel via the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation, supported the anthropological study of societies and cultures. King Leopold iii’s exploration foundation was one of the first of various such humanitarian alliances contributing to the historic declaration of the message of good news as a witness to the world (Matthew 24:14).
Today, the legacy of this commitment and contribution continues through the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation. “We are an international humanitarian organization dedicated to serving the cultural and educational needs of people everywhere,” writes Chairman Gerald Flurry.
As its founder, Mr. Flurry goes on to describe its goals and activities, which first recognize “man is a unique being, possessing vast mental, physical and spiritual potentials—the development of which should be aided and encouraged.” Secondly, “that it is the responsibility of all men to attend to and care for the needs of their fellow men.”
These objectives are aptly summed up by the Apostle James, whose canonized words exhort, “If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well” (James 2:8).
For more information and to find out how you can support this philanthropic quest, download our foundation prospectus.