Chapter 56: A Supreme Crisis! Now Forced to ‘Fold Up’?
Now came the real troubles! We reached the crossroads. This was to be the real test. Ahead, now, was the possible transition from a small, struggling, virtually one-man work to a major-scale organization exerting a powerful influence on humanity the world around! Ambassador College was to provide the only possible means. It was to be the recruiting and training center, integrating into effective organization those whom God would call to surround me—to become this Christ-led and Spirit-powered organism.
But lying in wait, poised to spring at us in satanic fury, was a succession of such seemingly insurmountable obstacles, diabolical plots, persecutions and oppositions as I never dreamed of facing. As I think back, now, I realize, as I did not then, how these efforts to thwart the founding of the college seemed to come from all directions—and from within as well as without. Yet in actual fact all were instigated from one source—the same that had always sought to destroy the Work of God.
It seemed, however, as if the irresistible force met head-on with the immovable obstruction.
‘The $30,000 Headache’
The wily Dr. B., possessing the highest law degrees in the land and living by his wits, had tried to prevent giving us possession of “the college” on July 1, 1947. We called the building that is now the library “the college” in those days.
Then, in August, the city building inspectors came around to inspect our proposed college building. Dr. B. had assured me it was of solid concrete, fireproof construction. I had had it examined by two architects. They, too, said it was a solid concrete building. But the building inspectors bored inside the outer layer of hard concrete. It was a frame building, after all. It did not come up to codes to qualify as a classroom building!
They slapped on us what proved to be—as we then called it—a $30,000 headache. That’s a real costly headache!
Before we could be given official occupancy for a college building, they informed us, all walls and ceilings must be torn out and replaced with one-hour-fire-resistant construction!
Once we began tearing out walls, the inspector condemned all the electric wiring system and the plumbing pipes. New electric conduits were required throughout, and all new plumbing pipes!
I engaged a contractor, highly recommended by our next-door neighbor who then owned “Mayfair,” later to become our first girls’ student residence. The contractor agreed to do the job—on $4,000 weekly progress payments.
But where was I to get the $4,000 per week, on top of regular operating expenses? Our income at the time was perhaps $2,500 per week—all obligated in advance for the operational expenditures of the Work. Now I had, somehow, to raise an additional $4,000 per week!
I sent out a desperate emergency letter to Church brethren and co-workers. I made personal long-distance calls to those I felt might be able to help with larger sums.
A peanut and watermelon farmer in Texas sent in most of his life savings—a few thousand dollars. His education had been neglected. It was now too late for him, but he wanted to help others still young enough to obtain the higher education he lacked.
A doctor in Missouri sent a few thousand dollars, and then more later. He later became a trustee of Ambassador College, and the first director of its Bible correspondence course. Although he had had nine years of college education and a doctor’s degree, he came to Ambassador and earned an additional master of arts degree, in theology.
A radio listener I had never known before, in northern California, mortgaged his own new home for $5,000 and loaned it to me—without security. I was six months past the allotted year in paying it all back, but I made a business deal with his mortgagee, paying him a cash bonus, to extend the time six months on the unpaid balance.
The final week, early October, the contractor came up with a $12,000 bill and demanded immediate payment. I had planned for only $4,000, and had gone through a dozen nightmares to raise that. The pressure was almost unbearable.
Everyone—except my wife and I—knew the college had “folded up”—before it even opened its doors to students. And, of course, the living Head of His Church, Jesus Christ, knew it hadn’t!
How I finally raised that additional $8,000 within a few days’ time, I don’t remember now. I think that was the week when this $5,000 loan came in. But, somehow, God saw us through.
The Lesson in Faith
It became almost impossible to sleep nights. I never lost faith—really. I never doubted the outcome. Yet I had not yet learned the total, implicit, trusting faith that can relax and leave it quietly in God’s hands. I was under terrific strain. It was literally multiple nightmares condensed into a super one!
On one occasion, I almost snapped. I weakened to the extent that I actually prayed, one night, that God would let me die through the night, and relieve me from the almost unbearable agony. But next morning, I was deeply repentant for that, and prayed earnestly for God’s forgiveness. Twice I did give up, on going to bed at night. But next morning was another day, and I bounded back, repentant for having given up—if only momentarily.
Yet this “$30,000 headache” was only the beginning of troubles. Others were yet to come—from within and from without. It was not until early 1949 that things eased up. By then I had come to the place that I had to pray in final desperation for “six months grace” from this constant harassment. I humbly asked God to consider that I was human, with human weaknesses, and please to give me six months rest from the terrible ordeal.
He did. And during that respite I finally learned how to relax in faith, and shift the weighty burden of it over onto Christ! And, at least up to the time of this writing, God has enabled me not only to trust Him for the final outcome, but to let faith remove the strain of anxiety.
When troubles or emergencies arise, we should be tremendously concerned! We should not take these things lightly or nonchalantly. We should be “on our toes” to do whatever is our part, but trusting God in relaxed faith to guide us and to do His part which we cannot do for ourselves. We should be freed from destructive strain and worry.
This lesson of faith does not come easily. Sometimes it is achieved only through punishing experience. We need to learn that God does not do all things for us. He does many things in and through us. We have our part to do. But there are some things we cannot do, and which we must rely on Him to do, wholly, for us. It takes wisdom to know which is which.
We had received some 40 applications for prospective college students. But this reconstruction program had delayed the college opening. I had been compelled to notify all applicants that I would advise them when we finally were ready to open.
College Finally Opens
Ambassador College did finally swing open its big front door to students October 8, 1947. But by that time nearly all applicants had gone elsewhere. Besides our son Dick (Richard David), there was only Raymond C. Cole, who came down from Oregon where his family had been in the Church for years; Herman L. Hoeh, who came from Santa Rosa, California; and Miss Betty Bates from Tulsa, Oklahoma—four pioneer students—with a faculty of eight.
Did ever a college start so small? Or with a ratio of two professors to each student? But the things of God, through human instruments, always start the smallest, and grow to become the biggest!
Ambassador College had started! It was not born without agonizing birth pangs! But, as a mother is soon over the pangs of childbirth, so we are not suffering them today.
Yet the trials and troubles, oppositions and satanic plots to stop the college and the Work did not end on October 8, 1947! Even the worst was yet to come!
But in the end, even Satan will be forced to bow to the truth that God’s purpose
God has said His gospel
In His power and strength His Work continues to go forward!