After the purchase of the camellia nursery, and the Green Street properties, we felt that Ambassador College was really on its way!
The camellia nursery would give us an athletic field. It was small—there would not be space for a quarter-mile track, a stadium, or football field. But there was sufficient ground for an eighth-mile running track, and two new tennis courts. There was also room for the pole vault and broad jump, and space for the high jump and the shot put.
Then the Green Street houses could be converted into men’s dormitories. Mayfair could be made exclusively a girls’ student residence.
We felt that, with a classroom building, an administration building, both men’s and women’s residences on campus, and an athletic field, even though small, we were coming to have a college campus.
First ‘FRUITS’ of College
During 1950 I had been able to issue only four numbers of the Plain Truth—and they were all reduced to mere eight-page numbers. I have stated before that one reason was my personal inability to fully execute all the fast-growing responsibilities of this expanding Work in mere 24-hour days.
By the autumn of 1950 I was having to teach four different classes in theology, and now three hours each class. That meant 12 hours of teaching each week.
Up to this time I had written every word that went into the Plain Truth. I had been doing a half-hour broadcast seven days a week.
The early years in Eugene, Oregon, had resulted in the raising up of several small churches in the Pacific Northwest, through evangelistic campaigns I had conducted. But there were no pastors to minister to those churches. Only two remained—in Eugene and in Portland.
All these years the broadcasting work was expanding. By the end of 1942 it had grown to a national audience. This necessitated my absence from Eugene and Portland much of the time beginning with 1943, and all of the time after April 1947, when we moved to Pasadena.
The whole Work was a one-man ministry in those years. In my absence, attendance at Eugene dwindled from around 100 to about 30. You know what the Israelites got into when God called Moses away from them for just 40 days at Mount Sinai; the people abandoned God and made for themselves an idol.
“As for this Moses,” they said, “we wot not what is become of him.” And then, in effect, “Come on, let us make an idol god of our own to worship.”
At Eugene, three would-be leaders said, in effect: “As for this Herbert Armstrong, we wot not what has become of him. Come on, let us make an idol god of our own to worship in the form of a local social club, like all the worldly churches.” And so even the 30 members remaining were split into two differing camps.
The Portland and the Vancouver, Washington, churches had consolidated into the one church at Portland. And even that had diminished to 11 or 12 members.
A one-man ministry could not maintain several local churches, an expanding broadcasting work, editing and writing all the articles for a fast-growing magazine, teach four college classes, and act as executive head of a growing college, without something slipping backward somewhere.
But 1951 was the year that produced the first “fruits” of the new college.
In April of that year we began the first activity toward an enlarged Plain Truth. I was still unwilling to publish, in the Plain Truth, articles written by students. Yet something had to be done.
A new idea was born. The Plain Truth circulation had grown to more than 50,000 copies, and it was too costly to publish every month on our income of that period. That, combined with the fact I simply could not find time to write the entire edition every month, by myself alone, forced the new idea.
I decided to completely scrap the entire mailing list!
We would start building a new mailing list from scratch. That would solve half the problem—the lack of funds to publish a 16-page magazine every month.
Twelve years before I had started a second magazine, called the Good News. It was to have been a Church membership organ, edited exclusively for baptized Church members. The Plain Truth was to continue as the general magazine for as many of the general public as would request it. But at that time—February 1939—I had been unable to continue publication of the Good News beyond the first issue! The reason? Same reason—lack of funds, and inability of one man to do so much.
But now, 12 years later, I decided to bring the Good News back to life. It would circulate, at the start, only to co-workers whose tithes and offerings made this growing Work possible.
If we could no longer afford to offer the Plain Truth to the entire radio audience, it seemed to me imperative that we provide, at least, a regular monthly publication for those who voluntarily financed God’s Work and Ambassador College. And our students could share with me the burden of writing the articles.
Consequently, in April 1951, the Good News was re-born!
Now, for the first time, our students began to make active contributions to the activities of this expanding Work!
The New Good News
The leading article, beginning on the front cover of the April 1951 Good News, written by me, expressed the situation.
Here is a condensation of what it said:
“A new idea is born! The Good News is reborn!
“With the turn of the war in Korea world events speed up in the chaotic plunge to oblivion! And beginning now, the all-important Work of God also must speed up! The pace must be accelerated! It must expand now to dynamicworldwide activity!
“It is later than we think!
“When God first started Ambassador College, many brethren and co-workers lacked faith. They couldn’t see God’s hand in it. Some felt your pastor’s duty was solely to preach the gospel to the world—not realizing that one man alone can’t do it all!
“They had forgotten that Jesus, Peter and Paul surrounded themselves with specially God-called men whom they trained to assist them in their great mission.
“Some said, ‘Why, there isn’t time! It will be four years before the first students graduate, and even then they will still be just youths without maturity or actual experience.’
“But there was, and still is, enough time—though there is not a day to lose. The end of this age can’t come until this very gospel of the Kingdom has been preached and published in all the world as a witness to all nations (Matthew 24:3, 14).
‘Students Now Ready’
“Our students have been gaining actual experience during their college years!
“By their fruits we know they have been called of God for their important parts in this great commission of Christ. They are trained and ready. They are consecrated and Spirit-led.
“Already more than 150, brought to repentance and conversion through this Work, have been baptized by these competent disciples (and the word ‘disciple’ means student, or learner).
“It is already ably demonstrated that God made no mistake when He started Ambassador College!
‘The New Idea’
“And now, with this issue, a new idea is born. Through Ambassador College students, The Good News is reborn! With this issue, our students launch a new activity in Christ’s ministry—and at the same time, a new college activity.
“It was back in February 1939—12 years ago—that with only Mrs. Armstrong’s help, from a little stuffy inside office without windows or ventilation in Eugene, Oregon, the first issue of the Good News was printed—on a secondhand mimeograph. …
“But the commission to ‘feed my sheep’ is second to the great commission, ‘This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world.’ One man alone could not carry on a campaign of evangelism then expanding from local to national, and conduct a personalized ministry to so many at the same time. And so no other issues of the Good News were published—until now.
“But now, at long last, the Good News is reborn, as one of the first fruits of Ambassador College—one of the evidences that this college was necessary.”
But, even with the editorial help of students, finances permitted the publication of only four 16-page issues during the remainder of 1951—plus one 16-page Plain Truth, issued October 1951—written wholly by me.
Still Struggling Upward
All this history, in retrospect, about the struggle to publish the Plain Truth, will remind the reader, once again, that it has been a long, hard and persevering upward struggle to bring God’s Work to its present position of worldwide activity, power and influence.
But back, for a moment, to this April 1951, Good News. In it appeared the very first article by Herman L. Hoeh we had ever published—and even this was not—yet—in the Plain Truth. Its caption sounds, to me today, rather tame compared to many he has written since. It was “Are Good Manners Good?” It had to do with the right or wrong of etiquette.
The radio log shows that, at that time, The World Tomorrow was being broadcast on only seven stations: xeg, seven nights a week; a local Pasadena station, kali, at 7:30 seven mornings a week; and all others were Sunday only—stations wait, Chicago; xerb, Southern California; kxl, Portland, Oregon; kvi, Seattle; and xent, Mexico, just below the Texas border.
In the second issue of this re-born Good News appeared the very first article we ever published under the byline of Roderick C. Meredith. It was the lead article starting on the front cover: “College Atmosphere at Ambassador.”
In the November 1951 number, my picture appeared—for the first time in the 18 years of this Work. The caption at the top of the page was “You Asked for It”—followed by this sub-caption: “Ten thousand of you have demanded Mr. Armstrong’s picture. For the first time in the 18 years of this Work, he has finally consented. Here are four pages of pictures of Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong, faculty and students, and the campus of Ambassador College.” There were 30 separate pictures—mostly of faculty members, students and campus scenes.
Why Picture Finally Published
I remember how it came about that my picture appeared. For many years I had not even permitted a picture to be taken of me. If anyone came around with a camera, I ducked, dodged or ran. But when Mrs. Armstrong and I went to Europe in 1947, it was obligatory that passport photos be taken.
We had arrived in Washington, D.C., one morning. We had to obtain passports and visas, and take the train next afternoon for New York. We hurried, first thing that morning in Washington, to a photograph studio for passport photos. We had to have these before applying for passports.
Those photographs were more than four years old by November 1951. But they were all I had, except a few camera shots I had finally allowed to be snapped after our first college commencement exercises on June 15 of that same year.
Why did I refuse, prior to this time, to be “shot” by a camera—or to have my picture published? No scriptural reason, certainly. It was merely my own personal feeling in the matter.
I reasoned this way: God had called me to preach His gospel—not show off my person. It was Christ’s message I sought to focus attention on—not myself. In my pre-conversion years I had been vain, egotistical, conceited. I knew full well that God had brought me low, especially in an economic way—to crush out the ego, and to bring humility. Consequently, from the time of conversion, I did my best to keep down the self.
But what, then, changed the attitude—induced willingness to allow pictures to be published? It was a letter I received from a radio listener. I can’t quote that letter word for word—but it said, in effect: “What have you got to hide, Mr. Armstrong? Why do you refuse to let us listeners know what you look like? Are you trying to cover up something? Suppose you attend a church service, and the pastor hides behind the pulpit. Suppose he lets the congregation hear his voice, but he hides his face. Wouldn’t you get suspicious? Wouldn’t you think he was covering up something? When I go to church, I want to see what the preacher looks like, as well as to listen to his sermon. A man’s character shows in his face. Are you ashamed of yours? Why won’t you publish your picture?”
That did it!
I simply could not answer that man’s argument any way except to let him—and all our readers—know what I looked like. So, in this November 1951, Good News, I came “out of hiding,” so to speak!
At Last! Publishing Monthly
The results of the college were beginning to show. Without it the Work never could have expanded much beyond its status in the ’40s.
In 1952, for the first time in our history, we were able to publish a 16-page magazine every month—12 full issues! The rapid development of students—and, now, our first graduates—made this possible. Ten of these issues were of the Good News. But the June and August numbers were the Plain Truth.
The very first time that any articles, written by someone other than myself, appeared in the Plain Truth, was the issue of August 1952. Reporting from London, articles were published under the bylines of Richard D. Armstrong and Herman L. Hoeh.
In a sense, that was the very beginning of the larger, regularly published Plain Truth of today.
The following month the Good News was published. The lead article, starting on the front cover, was by Richard D. Armstrong, written from Paris. This number contained also an article written from Frankfurt, Germany, by Herman L. Hoeh.
This was the first tour abroad taken by Ambassador graduates. It was the high-spot of Dick Armstrong’s life, up to that time.
Speaking Like a Native
For years, seeing Paris had been the great dream of my son Dick’s life. He had taken his preliminary work in the French language while in high school at Eugene, Oregon.
One policy I had been determined to set for Ambassador College had to do with teaching foreign languages. I wanted them taught so thoroughly that a student would learn to speak the language he pursued precisely as that language is spoken natively in its own country—without any accent whatever.
French has always been taught here by men who grew up in France or French-speaking Switzerland. Dick took to French as a duck takes to water.
Actually we have learned that some students have the “knack” of adapting themselves to a foreign language. Others have no such aptitude, and probably could never learn to speak such a language natively—unless they had started learning at about age 6.
Under old Prof. Mauler-Hiennecey, Dick became very proficient after his four college years. It was the fulfillment of his life’s dream when, near graduation time, 1952, he learned he was really going to be sent to Paris after graduation.
Dick still had enough “boy” in him to want to see if he could pass himself off in France as a native Frenchman. In Paris he bought a beret, dressed like a Frenchman, and sallied forth to see if he would be accepted as a native.
He was! It was a great thrill to him.
Later, in 1954, Mrs. Armstrong and I were being driven by Dick in his British Hillman-Minx car from Paris to Luxembourg to visit our radio station there. It was a hot afternoon. Mrs. Armstrong and I were thirsty, so we decided to stop at the next town for a Coca-Cola. Dick drove us up to a soft-drink parlor. He needed to fill the fuel tank with petrol, so he let us out saying he would join after gassing up.
In the soft-drink parlor we had a terrible time making the proprietor understand what we wanted. Coca-Cola may be “everywhere,” as its commercials and advertisements say, but this Frenchman simply could not understand our way of saying it. Finally I pointed to a Coca-Cola sign I found on a wall. He nodded assent and served us.
In five or 10 minutes Dick drove up, parked outside, and strolled in. He began talking to the proprietor.
“I don’t understand!” said the proprietor, in French. “You are a Frenchman; these people seem to be your parents—but they are Americans; and your car is English with a British tag on it. It’s all confusing!” he exclaimed with a French shrug.
He was sure that Dick was a Frenchman! Then how could Americans be his parents? All this gave Dick very great satisfaction. And me, too—for here I had evidence that Ambassador College taught French so students could speak it natively, without accent!