Copyright © Philadelphia Church of God
About February 1, 1943, the World Tomorrow program started on the powerful woai in San Antonio. Later that year, after we had been on the station a few months, I went again to San Antonio to put the program on the station “live.” It must have been the next night, Monday, that I held my first meeting in Texas.
This was announced on the air over woai on Sunday night. I had engaged a banquet or lecture hall on the ground floor of the St. Anthony Hotel. Every seat was filled. Several businessmen and their wives came.
On another occasion, Mrs. Armstrong and I traveled to San Antonio, and on the Sunday night broadcast I announced we would be holding “open house” through the following afternoon and evening in our hotel suite. It was encouraging and inspiring to receive a continuous stream of new Texas friends—some coming just to meet us—others with problems for counseling.
I was invited to speak before the Businessmen’s Bible Class of San Antonio. It was nondenominational, and met in a club room of a leading hotel for coffee and a short service before the Sunday school hour. Those who were members of various denominations proceeded on to their own Sunday schools or church services after this earlier Bible class.
As I wrote the above paragraph, I supposed this talk to the Businessmen’s Bible Class was a little later that same year—1943. But I remembered that I have with me the abbreviated notes from which I spoke to that class of businessmen. I am a little surprised to find it dated Sunday morning, November 9, 1944, toward the close of the war. So I am now getting ahead of myself by more than a year.
However, I felt our readers might like to read, now, a very brief summary of what I said to these businessmen on that occasion. Remember, this was only about a half year before the end of the war.
First I read from Psalm 127:1: “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.” “That,” I said to that class, “is a basic truth that applies to human activities generally—building a house for a home, building a city, a nation or a business. We are prone to take things for granted—even this war, as well as the economic system in which we find ourselves. We’ve been in the war about three years now—we’ve gotten used to it. You’ve been in this system of business quite a while—and naturally take it for granted.
“But there is tremendous significance to world events right now! They are fraught with meaning far deeper than realized. Let’s look at it from the standpoint of business. Basic and far-reaching changes are occurring in the industrial, distribution and commercial structure as a direct result of the war—and changes have been shaping during the past 40 years unrealized by most businessmen.
“Back in the years 1912–1915, I was making surveys of business conditions for a national magazine, which brought these changes into bold relief. This country was founded on the basis of decentralization. Today there is a rapid shift toward centralization in all fields—not only business, but government. But even in those years the little man in business was being squeezed out.
“The big headache then, in retail circles, was the encroachments of the giant mail-order houses, and chain stores were beginning rapid development. World War i put impetus to the centralization trend. As an aftermath of that war the flash depression of 1920 shook America, economic collapse rumbled through 40 other nations, finally producing our Great Depression of 1929–1936. All this time the machine age was developing rapidly in America, making possible three to 30 times the output per man-hour as compared to hand labor. There was sufficient raw material in the ground to have provided luxury for all the people.
“Yet no economic utopia came. Instead, we’ve had troubles, wars, depressions. Why? Unequal division of the proceeds of production is the reason. The profit system has been selfishly exercised!
“First, capital and management, being greedy, retained most of the increased wealth of mass machine production. Labor was not given its rightful share. Read the prophecy of this, in James 5:1-5: ‘Come now, you rich men, weep and shriek over your impending miseries! You have been storing up treasure in the very last days. … See, the wages of which you have defrauded the workmen who mowed your fields [or worked in your factories] call out …’ Verses 2 and 3 show the final fate yet to come on businessmen guilty of this unfair practice.
“But, second, organizers appeared and began to organize labor, with the equally wrong philosophy that capital and management are the enemy of labor, and that by organization labor ought to exact more than its fair share.
“Meanwhile, World War i spawned the Soviet power dedicated to overthrowing every other nation, government and economic system and ruling the world with atheistic communism. Now we are fighting to stop the Nazi onslaught to conquer and rule the world with national socialism. It all adds up to world revolution—chaos—destruction! They are producing the robot bomb and the rocket bomb—and working on constantly more powerful destructive forces. Mankind cannot stop! Mankind has now gone past the point of no return! Man will plunge on fanatically toward destruction, unless God Almighty intervenes—which He promises to do!
“God did not build this world’s house! Therefore they labor in vain that struggle to build it. They are reaping destruction. This world is not of God’s making. It is basically wrong! It is built on principles diametrically opposite to those right principles and laws set in motion by the living God.
“The basis of God’s law is LOVE. It is love toward God, and love toward neighbor. This is the principle of ‘give’ and ‘serve,’ not of ‘get’ and ‘be served.’ This world’s business is based on the foundation of competition. The competitive system is the relentless effort to take from competitors—to get the best of a deal.
“Also, the system underlying the world’s whole civilization is based on concentration in cities. We are now beginning to see the destruction of cities. They are not built on God’s pattern. God says He will destroy them—tear them down!” (Micah 5:14 and Isaiah 14:16-17 were quoted and expounded as prophecies, among many others, foretelling this.)
“God set apart 6,000 years to allow mankind to make their own choices—go their own ways—to write in human experience the lesson that only God’s ways can bring us the happiness, prosperity and joy we all want.”
I then explained a little of God’s economic laws, and gave a glimpse into the World Tomorrow when Christ puts down this world’s systems and establishes the world rule of the Kingdom of God.
The talk seemed to be well received, and I was presented with a card conferring honorary life membership of the Businessmen’s Bible Class of San Antonio.
Also I notice, on the back of the paper on which my notes were written, the following, which I remember one of the men of the class wrote there for me: “A city is an artificial development of an imperfect distribution system.”
By late August 1943, our year’s contract with station who was completed. We had then had 6½ months of broadcasting on woai, in addition to who. By this time most of our regular who listeners knew that the World Tomorrow could be heard on woai, so that going off who gave us no noticeable setback or loss of audience. However, at the time we went off who, or just before, I decided to put the program on one of the two leading local stations in Des Moines. Station krnt had opened a 45-minute earlier time, at 10:15 p.m. Sunday nights. This was a 5,000-watt station.
Also, station kma, a 5,000-watt station at Shenandoah, Iowa, had gained a reputation for having a very wide and responsive audience. This station cleared the same time—10:15, Sunday nights.
About this time, a smaller station, knet, in Palestine, Texas, solicited the program. It was so unusual to have a radio station actually come to us with an offer of time, that I took it—at 9:30, Sunday mornings.
And so it was that the November-December issue of the Plain Truth, for 1943, listed a log of 10 stations.
However, the three smaller stations, krnt, kma and knet, gave local coverage only, and we were not big enough yet to carry them long enough to make them voluntarily self-supporting. Remember, we never solicited contributions from the public—either over the air or in any of our literature, which was always all free. After one or two years, these stations were dropped.
Coming into the year of 1944, Bulletins in old files show that mail response and other methods of checking indicated the radio audience had grown to between a half and three-quarters of a million in the war years. That was a big jump from our small and humble start 10 years before.
The circulation of the Plain Truth had climbed to 35,000 copies, now reaching every state and province in English-speaking North America.
From the approximately $5 cost of printing the first issue of the Plain Truth, the printing cost in 10 years had mounted to $1,000 per issue.
A short decade before, just starting in 1934, our cost of radio time was $2.50 per week. In early 1944 it had soared to 100 times the original cost—an expenditure of $250 per week.
It was during these years—1943 and 1944—that we encountered another experience to teach us that the Apostle Paul was prophetically inspired of God when he warned the elders and ministers of the Church of God at Ephesus: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy [Spirit] hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch …” (Acts 20:28-31). The Moffatt translation renders it “fierce wolves.”
During those years I made occasional visits to Hollywood to resume daily broadcasting for a period of two to six weeks each time, on station kmtr. Also, when there, I continued holding Sunday afternoon services frequently at the Biltmore Theater or other large halls in Los Angeles. A former minister frequently called at the studio. He continually assured me that he certainly did fully accept and agree with everything I was preaching. As time went on, we became well acquainted.
I shall not mention this man’s name. He has been dead many years now, anyway. As a result of the broadcasting, the Plain Truth, and the personal meetings, a number of people were baptized in Los Angeles, and I formed them into a small local church. There were 23 at the start. I made this former preacher pastor of the tiny flock. This, I believe, was in the autumn of 1943.
Also our work paid his expenses up to Eugene, Oregon, and return, to assist me in an annual fall festival of meetings we were holding in our little church building in Eugene. This man had good personality, was friendly, flattered parents about their babies and children, and seemed well liked.
A year later I found the little “church” I had gathered together and turned over to his shepherding had disintegrated. I tried to follow up some of the people, but those I was able to contact had formed an extreme dislike for this “pastor” and refused to attend his services. Nevertheless, he came once again in the fall of 1944 to Eugene for our fall festival.
I have mentioned before that the Sunday night evangelistic services held beginning late 1941 in Seattle and Everett, and the personal work Mrs. Armstrong and I did in that area, had raised up a small church group, which met in Everett. They purchased a fairly old small church building there. These Seattle and Everett people seemed to like the minister from Los Angeles, and during the 1944 festival, attended by this entire group as well as our local Oregon people, he succeeded in worming his way into their affections.
His wife, we learned just prior to this festival, had been supporting him. She told Mrs. Armstrong that he would condescend to water the lawn with the hose, provided he could sit while holding the hose! Apparently she had given him an ultimatum to get a job preaching and support her, or she was going to refuse to support him any longer. She had been professionally employed at a rather good salary. So this man went on up to Everett, Washington, to become the pastor.
No sooner had he ingratiated himself in the affections of the “sheep” than he began “devouring” them. It began appearing he did not believe very much of the Bible truths I had been preaching, after all. One thing he had firmly believed—before going to Everett—was the biblical teaching on tithing. This Everett group were all tithers. They averaged considerably better incomes than the others who were co-workers with me, supporting God’s Work. In fact, about 25 percent of the entire income of the Work was being supplied by them.
But, once established in Everett as their local pastor, this man did a reverse-twist in his doctrinal beliefs. Suddenly he did not believe in tithing any more. The proportionately big lump of income that kept God’s Work alive suddenly stopped. By now, of course, I only received news from there indirectly, perhaps not 100 percent accurately, but the indication was that the new “pastor” did another reverse-twist, and did once again revive the tithing system among these people—only this time it all went to him.
When this large portion of the financial support for the nationwide Work was cut off, we suffered no pangs of consternation or fear. We did pray and commit the problem to the Head of our Work, the living Jesus Christ. And, somehow, the income for God’s Work did not drop. It kept right on climbing—just as if we had never lost the Everett income.
This experience did cause Mrs. Armstrong and me real sorrow to see those we had come to love so dearly—among whom we had labored diligently for approximately three years—fall by the wayside—cutting themselves off from God’s precious Work and thus from His true Church, which is His instrument carrying on God’s Work.Continue Reading: Chapter 47: Severe Financial Crisis