An Overview and

Time-Line of My Life

and Ministry

 

My daughter asked me recently to give her a timeline of my life and early years.  She said I have never really spoken about them, and she is very interested.  I thought perhaps others would also be interested, so here is a brief overview of God’s dealings in my life. 

 

William F. Dankenbring

 

Birth

 

I was born in Jacksonville, Florida, January 30, 1941 – the same year the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. I don’t really remember much about that year.  All I know is that my Father, Milton Ralph Dankenbring, was in the U.S. Navy, he had enlisted when he was only 17, and got away with it.  He left home early because his family was poor, and had suffered great reverses in their fortunes, and he had memories of not having much to eat as a child.  He married an Alabama girl, “Judy” Richardson, one of T.Q. Richardson’s brood, from the little town of Kinston, Alabama, population around 200 (T.Q. was the “Mayor” of the city for three successive terms, and was a successful farmer and nursery man).  He had eight daughters – Thelma, Clemmie, Rebecca, Marilyn, Fanny Jewel (“Judy”), and Nellie – and the last one born was Fred.  As a sailor stationed at Mobile, Alabama, at the time, Milt dated Judy, and they married, and I was born not too long thereafter.  How long we lived in Jacksonville, I don’t know, but because of World War II, he was sent to Central America, to help guard the Panama Canal, and our small family, Mom, myself, and my brother Bob, born January 8, 1942, went to live with Granddad TQ and family in Kinston.

 

Early Years

 

From 1942-44, my mother, brother and I lived at Kinston, Alabama, at granddad T.Q. Richardson’s farm, while my father was away.  He was stationed in Costa Rica or Nicaragua.  During that time, I vaguely remember our being on rationing stamps for butter and other foods, and having a black plastic bomber, a “P-38 Lightning” airplane, a toy which I treasured but lost somewhere in moving. 

 

During 1945-46, we lived at Vero Beach, Florida.  We loved going to the beach, but I was not yet a swimmer. We experienced my first hurricane at that time.   A tree was  broken in our front yard, our swing was down, and the front door of our house was smashed open, and our wood toy box was flooded!  We had stayed at the brick home of a naval officer during the hurricane.

 

Then in 1946-47, our family moved to Seattle, Washington.  My Dad was stationed at "Sand Point." At that time I began school.  We had a little dog, “Candy,” who was not yet housebroke.  One day my Mother, brother and I walked to a nearby store to buy some candy, and had to cross a major street.  Candy got out of the  house, and ran to follow us.  She ran across the street, and a lady in a car ran over her.  The lady was heart-broken, and gave us a $20 bill.  Of course, we were devastated to see Candy lying there dead.  I remember a little about going to Kindergarten on a school bus and I used to listen to “The Lone Ranger” on radio once a week – my favorite radio program.  

 

In 1948-49, I think it was, we again moved – this time to Edgemar, California, south of San Francisco, because my Dad was transferred by the Navy.  He was transferred about every two years, it seems.  People say, “A rolling stone gathers no moss.”  I never fully understood that expression, but think it applied to us.  We never got a chance to “settle down” anywhere, and were not able to make any long-lasting childhood friends. 

 

Bob and I loved to hike over the local hills, with our BB guns.  Once we threw rocks at the windows of an empty house (and ran).   Another time I shot my BB gun through the window of girl who lived across the street from us.  She had come over to play lawn croquet with Bob and I, and began to wreck the game we were playing in our back yard by her bossiness, complaining and griping.  I took my punishment, of course.  Later, playing in the street riding on a little scooter, and coming down a hill, I fell off and broke my collar bone. 

 

At school, I did well.  I learned the A, B, Cs.  We rode the school bus to school.  One day a classmate decided to “trade punches” with me while waiting at the bus stop. It got a little out of control.  He knocked my wind out.  I avoided him thereafter.  He was a sort of “class bully.”  Dad later bought two pairs of boxing gloves and taught my brother and I how to box, to teach us “self defense.”  He also taught us a little about wrestling.  At that time, he also took us to see my first and only live boxing match at Treasure Island. It was also during those years that I saw the movie Bambi, and cried when his mother was killed by those horrible, nasty “hunters.”    

 

Our mother was a wonderful, sensitive, warm person.  He maiden name was actually Fanny Jewel Richardson, but everybody called her Judy.  She would not tolerate lying.  One day, after Bob went down the street, she came and asked me where he went – and I lied to her face, deliberately.  I was checking out to see if I could get away with lying – whether it really mattered or not.  She caught it, and was very upset with me.  She punished me with a real thrashing – so I learned early to never lie, or else the consequences would be very severe.  This singular event taught me to have a great appreciation for the truth, and the importance of always telling the truth.   

 

Korean War Days

 

Then about 1949, we moved back to Kinston, Alabama, for a while.  We drove cross country, and upon our arrival, our Grandparents wanted a big hug from us.  I felt it was so embarrassing, that I tried to avoid it.  But they got their hug anyway, laughing about it.  Shortly thereafter, one day, Bob and I were playing in the barn, and Bob got a book of matches out of his pocket and began gathering corn husks together into a pile, and struck a match and lit the pile on fire.  It began to grow, and I was very nervous, and yelled, “FIRE”!  Everybody rushed out of the house, and Granddad quickly stamped out the growing flames.  Bob and I ran as fast as we could under the house (which was built up a foot off the ground.  We hid there, fearing punishment, for hours, while they pleaded for us to come out.  Finally, after a few hours, I did, and sure enough – they whopped my butt but good.  Bob stayed under the house, where no one could reach him, for another four hours or so, until about midnight, or so it seems.  When he finally came out, no one was upset any more, and he wasn’t punished like I was.  I was mortified, and angry because he was the one whose idea it was to start the fire in the first place! 

 

Not long after that, we moved to Norfolk, Virginia, and Dad shipped off on the Battleship Missouri, BB 63, to fight in the Korean war.  Norfolk was a Navy town, and we used to hear and see Navy fighter planes streaking and roaring over our  house, only about 100 feet in the air above us, numerous times during a single day.  We began riding bicycles in Norfolk, exploring the neighborhood, and used to play “Hide and Seek” and “Kick the Can” at night, and watch the many iridescent “fire flies” and “lightning bugs” light up at night. 

 

Our Dad returned from sea duty after six months.  The ship was put in dry dock in Newport News, Virginia, undergoing refitting and repairs.  We used to eat dinner once a week on board the ship, after it was re-floated.  It was a very classy affair, with silver, china, several courses, at a long table, with Filipino servers, etc.  Afterwards, we saw a movie.  One I remember clearly was “The Thing” – a horror film which gave me nightmares for months!  It was about a space alien found frozen in the ice by a military-science post in Alaska, which came to life when someone inadvertently left an electric blanket over the ice-covered giant monster.  It melted; the monster disappeared, then people began dying one after the other, their blood drained out.  Ugh!

 

When the battleship Missouri BB 63, left to return to the war in Korea, it got stuck on a mud bank in the Chesapeake Bay.  The scandal made headlines. 

 

In Norfolk, at school, about the fifth grade, I used to draw pictures of  U.S. Saber-jets in aerial dog fights with Soviet MIG 15s, and Navy ships in battle.  These proved to be quite popular among some of the students, so I sold some of them to other students for a nickel or a dime apiece.  As Dad served on the Battleship Missouri, pounding the facilities of the North Koreans with her 18” shells, the sailors had to wear ear-muffs to safeguard their hearing.  My Dad became a full Lieutenant, and I began reading all books we had on WW II, and its naval battles.  This helped teach me to read far above my grade level at the time.  As a family, we enjoyed music.  Most of the songs were romance type, or popular, like “Beer Barrel Polka,” “Shotgun Buggy,” “How Much is that Doggy in the Window?”, “Tennessee Waltz,” “Goodnight Irene,” and cowboy songs, like “Boots and Saddle,” “The Old Chisum Trail,” “Red River Valley,” and others.  

 

Kinston

 

After the battleship got off the mud bank, it went back to sea.  Dad went back to the war in Korea, and Mom and us boys returned to Kinston, to live with our grand-parents. 

 

I had to “prove” myself to the local boys at school, by wrestling with one of them.  They seemed to think I was a “Northerner,” even though I had lived in Virginia, which was part of the Confederate South.  Dad had taught me the “scissors” technique by catching and holding an opponent between my two legs and never letting go, so I did that – and successfully held him trapped, unable to do anything.  They accepted me after that. 

 

One day, my teacher asked me to recite the 23rd psalm before the whole school in a parent-child assembly.  I memorized it for weeks, and when the time came, she said I could use notes.  I tried to do it by memory, and half-way through my mind went blank – but then I remembered and finished it.  What an experience!  My first in “public speaking”!

 

During that time, there was much dust in the yard which had no grass.  It was a farm, remember.  The dust caused me to develop a severe asthma condition.  Combined with a severe cold, I spent 2-3 weeks home in bed, thinking I might die.  My mother nursed me back to health.  I remember plenty of Vicks vapor rubs and the like.  After recovering, we saw the movie “Wake Island” at the Opp, Alabama movie house, and then “War of the Worlds” – the original science fiction version – which was captivating.  In the original movie, the world was saved by prayer in the churches, and turning to God, which “saved the day,” as then the aliens began succumbing to the earth’s jillions of tiny microbes, had no immunity, and all died.  

 

One day while holding penny in my mouth, it got stuck in my windpipe – I couldn’t breathe – I felt desperate, and silently cried out for “help,” and it dislodged thankfully.  This really scared me.  Grandma had a picture of “Jesus” on the living room wall, praying, and one showing Him calming the sea, as I recall.  This impressed me, but we never discussed religion.  She was very religious, but Granddad was not. 

 

While in Kinston, we used to go fishing down at Granddad’s pond.  One day I left my pole at the bank, with bait in the water, and went scouting around.  Upon returning, the pole was in the middle of the lake, with a fish pulling it!  We threw rocks making the pole come near the shore, and I pulled in a nice 4-5 pound trout!

 

Later, in 1950, we returned to Norfolk, Virginia, and the battle ship Missouri returned from the war again.  I remember going down to the dock and watching the huge ship come into the port, and all the sailors and crew standing at attention, as the crowd of families on the shore waved and the band played.  When the sailors came ashore on the gang plank, I saw our Mother rush forward into the arms of my Dad, and they hugged it seemed like a long time.  It made me feel very wonderful, knowing that they loved each other so very much. 

 

Introduction to Prayer

 

While in Norfolk, we used to visit Chesapeake Bay, go crabbing, fishing, ate oysters, visited the Beach at Norfolk and Virginia Beach often, learned to swim, hated the jelly fish (you had to beware of them).   We used to eat occasionally at a “Fisherman’s Restaurant, and once, at least, I ate fried oysters.  (We used to eat oysters on the half shell, as Dad said they made a “man” of you.)  That night I got deathly sick and my stomach felt like it was killing me, and I went to my Mother and asked what we could do.  I guess they had no emergency rooms then.  Anyway, she said to “pray” to God about it.  I asked her, “What do you mean?  What is prayer, and how do you pray?”  She said you simply talk to God, and He will hear you and heal you.  So I closed my eyes and prayed fervently, and within two minutes or less my stomach ache was GONE completely!  This really stuck out in my mind – something I never forgot.

 

            We used to enjoy going shopping with Mom.  Whenever we went out, we would get a real treat – a delicious “chili dog” from “Buzzie’s Chili Dogs.”  Several years ago, my wife Cappy and I took a trip back to the East Coast, my old stomping grounds, and visited Norfolk and Virginia Beach.  I found our old house on Nesbitt Court where I had lived, but never found “Buzzie’s” hotdogs again – my mouth was watering for a taste of one of those best chili dogs I remembered from those days! 

 

            One other incident stands out in my mind from those days.  Dad was home on one of his infrequent furloughs, and as I was passing through the kitchen-dining room, I got real uppity and snotty, and exclaimed, “I don’t love America, I hate America.”  Why I said it, I don’t know.  But my Dad jumped out of his seat, grabbed me by the scruff of my neck, carried me into the bedroom, and began to whack on my behind with my Mother’s plastic hair brush.  Oh, that hurt.  I screamed and yelled and tried to thrash about, thinking that my butt would be broken forever.  I learned my lesson but good, and became a steadfast, loyal, true-blue patriot ever since! 

 

While in Norfolk, as the Korean war continued, I became very interested, and read the newspapers on the war’s progress every day, as the US soldiers retreated to Pusan, in the south, and were being defeated.  I could not understand why we kept giving up ground.  Then Gen. Douglas MacArthur made a strategic landing at Inchon, and we cut off all the North Korean soldiers, and began conquering North Korea.  Then the Red Chinese invaded the North to fight us, out-numbering us 100-200 to one or more.  But Pres. Truman wouldn’t allow the U.S. to bomb the bridges over the Yalu river, connecting North Korea to Manchuria, a satellite country governed by China.  I was furious.  MacArthur was outspoken in his negative opinion of Truman’s pusillanimous policy toward Red China and Russia, and Truman “fired” him as commander-in-chief of the U.S. forces.  That was really a terrible thing, and I was outraged!  I thought Truman was crazy, very irresponsible, weak and arrogant at the same time, and made a horrible mistake.  MacArthur then retired.  I remember hearing his final address over the radio at West Point, and his words, “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.” 

 

Heart Attack and Funeral

 

Mom was a wonderful, sensitive, warm person.  He maiden name was actually Fanny Jewel Richardson, but everybody called her Judy.  As a child, she had rheumatic fever and it weakened her heart.  She died in 1950, at the age of 30.  This was of course absolutely devastating to Bob and me and our Father.  I had once seen her at the dinner table in the farmhouse at Kinston, seated, watching as Grandma counted the money TQ had brought in from a trip in his nursery business – it was the princely sum of $5000 cash.  In 1948-49, this was a large sum – in today’s money, it would be about $100,000 dollars.  Suddenly her chest seem to almost explode, as her heart began beating very rapidly.  I was awestruck.  It stopped shortly thereafter, but it was a harbinger of things to come.  Our mother died after the family took a trip to the “Blue Ridge Mountains” in Virginia. She was then sent up to Philadelphia, to a hospital, for a very risky operation, and she died.  We were all dumfounded and totally at a loss. 

 

Mom's funeral was in Kinston, Alabama – at the main Church, where the family had gone to church as children.  During the funeral service, both Bob and I “lost it.”   The finality of it all hit us very hard, and we bawled and wailed loudly as if there was no tomorrow.  I thought to myself later, musing over the tragedy, wondering, where would life go from here?   Mom was the linchpin of our life, the one who held us all together, who raised us since Dad was gone most of the time.  This event caused me to think very seriously about life, death, the future, and what life would have in store for me.  I was full of unanswered questions.  Mainly I wondered, “Why?  Why?  Why?” – ????   But looking back over it, now, I know that God had His reasons.  “All things work together for GOOD to those who love God, to those who are called, according to His purpose” (Rom.8:29).  God was working out a plan and purpose in my life.  I didn’t know it yet, but this great loss was a pivotal part of that ongoing process of calling, training, and development!   

 

In the fall-winter of 1950, Dad, Bob and I moved to Seattle, traveling in our old Plymouth or Pontiac coup.  As we fled through Nebraska, Dad used to drink a bottle of beer while driving along the highway.  He would finish a bottle of beer, and then hurl it at passing telephone poles.  Once in a while, he hit one.  We saw a lot of “Burma Shave” signs posted along the highway, and it was a humorous delight to read them.  

 

It was toward winter, and we had to drive through snow and icy road conditions several times.  We went off the road once, into a ditch, in Wyoming, and later in Idaho.  Dad would pull out a flask of brandy, and give us boys a swig, and then tell us to crouch down on the floor in the back seat and cover our eyes and “not look,” as he drove fearlessly over the snow and ice.  It was pretty scary, but we made it just fine.

 

Dad was transferred to a Naval post in Seattle, at Port 91, I believe, to be in charge of the brig.  It was sad when we left the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Blue Ridge Mountains, and the many memories we had there.   (I loved Virginia and wept as we left).  

 

Seattle, Again

 

I was now 11 years old, so in Seattle I joined a Boy Scout Troop at the Lutheran Church.  My Dad had been a Boy Scout in Clarkston, Washington, on the Snake River, and became an Eagle Scout (except for the final “service project”).  Our troop met each week in the church basement, and as Dad was an active parent, we went on hikes, camping trips, as well as family fishing trips.  I soon became a Tenderfoot scout, and then 2nd class scout.  At school we played flag football, and I was a very good runner.  Bob and I passed the football back and forth in our front yard, practicing, so I also became a very good passer, and one day hoped to play quarterback for the Washington Huskies, like Don Heinrich.  But it was not to be. 

 

In 1953 our Dad remarried, to Hattie Pearl Vestal, a woman Lieutenant, and then he was transferred to Taiwan, Tsoying Naval Base. 

 

Arkansas

 

Our new step mother, Bob and I moved to her dad’s farm in Strong, Arkansas, pop 839.  Bob and I joined the local baseball team (a “Piggy League” team, one step up for older boys from “Little league”).  I had become a very good pitcher, having learned the fast ball and curve ball from a friend in Seattle who lived across the street.  We used to throw baseballs with each other, taking turns pitching and catching.   While in Seattle, one day we took the bus to see the Seattle Rainiers play.  So in Strong,  I became one of the two pitchers on the team.  (They marveled at my curve ball – when I snapped off a good one it would break 3-4 inches.  But it was hard to sometimes get it across the plate, and umpires often didn’t know how to call it).  

 

To play on the local team, we had to attend a local church, so Bob and I attended the Baptist church where most of the ball players went (Brother “Gulledge” was the preacher).  We attended Sunday school mostly, but once in a while we went to regular church services.  Afterwards, we would often go out and play baseball, to practice. 

 

Early Religious Experience

 

Church was all very mysterious to me, because I had only gone to a church for our Mom’s funeral.  As a 5 year old, our Mom once insisted that we go to a Sunday School in San Francisco.  This was across from the apartments we lived in at the time.  We boys went – just once.  Then we complained, “Well, YOU don’t go, so why should we have to dress up and go???”  She had no answer and never insisted we go again. 

 

So church in Arkansas was a mystery – but it enabled us to play baseball.  I remember only one sermon the minister gave on “God.” He made Him seem to be an amorphous mass which is everywhere.  I remember one Sunday after church, a local school boy who was always in trouble with teachers and the principal, came up to me and said, “Have you been SAVED?”  I had no idea of what he was talking about!  But since HE had asked it, I didn’t think too much about it.

 

Then on one Sunday, after services, Bob went up the aisle to “join the church.”  What was going on, I wondered.  Finally a boy in the balcony told me.  I didn’t want to be left out, so I went up the aisle, too.  Easy, I thought.  Why, I thought I’d just sign a roll card – and presto, I’d be a “member.”  Oh, was I mistaken!  When I got up where the preacher was, he had me bow my head, and then he asked if I repented of my sins, accepted Christ as Saviour, etc – I was stunned.  Was this how you “joined” the church?  I wasn't sure of anything, but I felt very embarrassed, so I nodded “yes” to everything, afraid to chicken out.  Two weeks later both of us were “baptized” in a tank of water at the church.  

 

This event got my goat, and offended me.  Now I was REALLY curious – and a little emotionally upset.  It angered me to think I had been “dragged” into something which I did not understand, against my will.    What was a “Christian,” anyway?  I decided I had to know what I had gotten myself into.  Maybe I didn’t want to be a “Christian,” after all!  It really bothered me, and I intended to do something about it.  First thing on my agenda, was to find out what a Christian really was!  I didn’t want to waste any time, either!  This was important to me!  I was 14 years old at the time.

 

Formosa-Taiwan

1954 – zap!  The scene changed.  Bob and I moved to join our Dad in Formosa (modern Taiwan), off the coast of China.  Hattie Pearl refused to come, so Dad later divorced her.

 

Bob and I were taken by a troop transport ship, the USS Robert J. Sultan, to Taiwan to join our dad.  We lived there till 1956. 

 

Strangely, the first thing our Dad did when we arrived in Kaoshiung, where he lived, was to take us to a local “Bar” – i.e. brothel – where the sailors all went.  While there, he had some beers, and the local “girls” laughed and tittered, and tried to get us to go “upstairs” where they had little rooms, for “you know what.”  Very dubious, and feeling that would not be right, or certainly not the “Christian” thing to do, I strongly declined the offer. 

 

Later on Dad started up a local Boy Scout troop there, and I was the senior scout being a 2nd class, so I became the “Senior Patrol Leader.”  We had two “Patrols,” and Bob was the “Patrol Leader” of one of them.  We met every week, had planning meetings, and I soon became a 1st class, then Star, and then Life scout.  We enjoyed many camping trips, hiking, camp-outs on the beach, Jamborees, and a summer camp in Okinawa.  At summer camp, Reveille woke us up every morning, and Taps was played every night. 

 

At the summer camp, a night of entertainment was held, where a boy was chosen from each troop to represent that troop in a boxing match.  I was chosen from our troop and fought two rounds with a Chinese or Okinawan boy.  I had learned some boxing at home and at school and was pretty good at it, but didn’t want to do it, but was pressured into it anyway.  It was a good fight – I tore into him in the first round, but he compensated better in the second round, and the officials called it a “draw” (the politically correct thing to do, of course). 

 

While in Formosa, as we called it, we did biking, swimming at Tsoying Naval Base beach, road local Mongolian ponies for $5 yen an hour (about 20 cents, US), and visited Hong Kong once.  Our school was a small two room building, 4 or 5 grades per room, I was in 8th grade, beginning of 9th grade.  

 

Becoming a True Christian

 

Still wondering what a Christian was, Bob and I began going to a Missionary Sunday School, with 5 or so others, taught by an elderly missionary woman.  I wanted to learn all about the Bible and “what a Christian” was, since I was now supposed to be one of them.  I wasn't sure if that was really what I wanted – it was all new to me – so the missionary woman gave me a New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs.  I began reading it every Sunday.  Then I decided that was ridiculous, and hypocritical, so I began reading it DAILY, at least a chapter per day, and 5 chapters on Sunday.  I became more and more intrigued, and engrossed in the contents of this book which recounted the life of Jesus Christ, and how the Church got started, and the letters of the apostles, concluding with the very intriguing and mysterious book of “Revelation” – a book which described prophetically what was to occur in the “End of Days,” leading up to the return of Jesus Christ in glory and power to rule the world.

 

About the same time, I began reading a small booklet on what it meant to be a “Christian” – that is, one who followed and believed in the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Quoting from the Scriptures themselves, the little booklet was very clear and well presented.  I learned one had to repent from sin, learn who Christ really was, accept Him as personal Saviour, the need for baptism, receiving God’s Spirit, giving one’s life to Christ, bearing fruit, enduring to the end, serving God. 

 

            Some of the key scriptures the booklet stated were:

 

            “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt.4:19).

 

            “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom.3:10).

 

            “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom.3:23). 

 

            “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6)

 

            “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

 

            “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19). 

 

            “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit” (John 15:16).

 

            “Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4).

 

            “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.  By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (John 15:7-8).

 

            “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:27).

 

            “These things have I spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.  This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:11).

 

The message struck me like a thunderbolt from heaven.  It was a mind-boggling revelation to me.  Suddenly I saw deeply that I was not even yet really CONVERTED, that my Arkansas “baptism” was a phony, a fraud, as I hadn’t even begun to understand about the sacrifice of Christ, and His life, and really much of anything.  I wept broken-heartedly, and I REALLY, earnestly, fervently prayed and with tears streaming down my cheeks, I totally gave my life to Christ, 100 percent, that night, to serve Him from then on, whatever He wanted me to do, however He wanted to use me.  I placed myself completely in His hands.  From that time, I went on a rampage to learn all I could about Christ, the Bible, and studied His Word as never before.  I began memorizing Scriptures and studying the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs, over and over.  

 

During those days, a pilot in the Chinese air force began teaching a weekly Bible study-session on the book of Daniel.  The Chinese pilot, at the end of the several week study of the book of Daniel and his prophecies, asked if any wanted to be baptized.  Two of us did – I knew I needed to be re-baptized, and so I was.  

 

Another Encounter with Answered Prayer

 

Sometime about that same time, our Boy Scout troop went to the Beach at Tsoying, for a troop swim.  My Dad was the Scout Master.  The water was very rough that day, and the current was very strong.  Suddenly someone shouted for everyone to get out of the water – there was a very dangerous undertow, which could carry us out to sea.  We managed to warn and pull all the Scouts out of the water, except two.  My brother Bob was trying to help a kid named Richard, and they both got dragged out to sea by the terrific undertow.  They looked like mere pinpricks, little black dots, way out in the ocean.  It was a desperate time. 

 

Being a new Christian, and studying the miracles of Christ, and His life, I went apart a little, and began praying earnestly, fervently, with my whole heart, for God to send angels and RESCUE my brother and Richard.  I had no idea of how He might do it, but I didn’t let that faze me – I prayed stubbornly, entreatingly, without fear or negativity, just simply and believingly, knowing that God heard and that He could do anything, in Christ’s name, as He commanded us to pray.

 

Someone cried, “Look!”  I looked down the beach, about a quarter mile away, and saw a group of Chinese soldiers with a huge pontoon raft, wading out into the surf, and then paddling out to where Bob and Richard were bobbing up and down.  We had almost lost sight of them.  The soldiers eventually arrived, dragged them on board the raft, and paddled back to where we were watching and waiting, breathlessly.  They were all right – but it had been very close – a close shave.  Bob said Richard “lost it” few times and dragged him underwater a couple of times. 

 

The Trip Home

 

The Formosa adventure came to an end in 1956.  We were soon to depart for the United States.  The missionary woman gave me a whole Bible, Old and New Testaments, as a going away gift.  I was enthralled. 

 

Soon thereafter our family – Bob and I – returned to the USA on board the USS Gen. Daniel L. Anderson, another troop transport.  I think Dad must have flown back to get things ready.  During the two-week trip, every night I studied and read my new Bible, reading some 40-50 chapters a night, beginning with Genesis.  I didn’t understand much of the genealogy chapters, or the sacrifices and Levitical priesthood chapters, but I figured there had to be a reason for them, and one day I would understand.  The Bible was absorbing, and the personal stories in Genesis were a fascinating and interesting history of families God was dealing with.  I also read two novels, one about “Mountain Men,” and one about an adventure in China, and I read Billy Graham’s new book at that time, which talked about Christianity, but was rather incomprehensible in places. 

 

At that time, our Dad bought some property, 2-3 acres with a house on it, up in Richmond Highlands, just north of Seattle, and we moved into the house.  He subdivided the property, and began building houses, one at a time.  He did quite well, bought more acres up in Alderwood Manor, subdivided it, and built more houses.  

 

Searching for the Truth

 

Meanwhile, I was finishing my freshman year of high school at the time.  Upon reaching Seattle, I began listening to every Christian religious program on radio, and worked for my Dad in construction, and went to high school.  I heard Billy Graham’s “Hour of Decision,” Dr. DeHaan’s “Radio Bible Class,” “Back to the Bible,” and others – and then one night at 10:30 pm, I heard the World Tomorrow program, with a certain Herbert W. Armstrong, and then Garner Ted Armstrong.  I wrote for literature from all of them, and attended for a short time a non-denominational church near Richmond Highlands. 

 

One evening as I was getting ready to go to a special service,  Dad told us that our cousin Gene, who was a flyer in the Navy, was flying near Portland, Oregon, when his plan caught fire, and was forced to bail out.  Everyone was very worried about his safety.  That night at the special church meeting, the minister asked if anyone had any prayer requests.  Somewhat embarrassed, I nevertheless raised my hand, told everybody about my cousin Gene’s trouble, and asked for prayer.  The pastor had a grave expression on his face, and we all bowed our heads, and he prayed.  The next report we got was that Gene was all right – he survived, and had some burns on his body and face, but would be all right! 

 

Sometime around 1957-58, our Dad remarried.  He met a wonderful, red-haired, beautiful woman with a gregarious, outgoing personality and a spirit of fun.  She was a real blessing to him, and to us boys.  Her name was Lynn, formerly Lynn Antipa, and she became our new step-mother.  She was a very thoughtful, wise, and understanding woman, and knew how to deal with Dad when he got into a “mood.”  She was a diplomat and peace maker, and could tease him out of his angry flare-ups.  This was a very much appreciated quality at that time, because my Dad and I were becoming very opposed to one another regarding religious faith.  As it began to turn out, I found there were many DIFFERENCES between the religious programs I was listening to on the radio – the teachings of these various “Christian” programs were NOT all the same!  I found that especially between Herbert W. Armstrong’s World Tomorrow and all the others, there were MAJOR controversies.   Who was right?  Who was teaching the truth?  I had to know.  I had to find out the truth.    

 

Hiking in the Olympics – a Spiritual Odyssey

 

In 1957, I went on a summer week hike and camping trip to the Olympic peninsula, with our small Explorer Scout troop, made up of about 8-10 explorers, 5 of which were to receive their Eagle Scout awards.  We did, later that year, and were on King-TV after the awards were received.  

 

I had become a serious-minded and very devout young man, very intensely seeking the truth of God.  I went off one night for a walk, high in the Olympic mountains, to commune with God.  I quietly sang hymns and spiritual hymns in worship of God, and prayed earnestly that He would guide me in my life and protect me from any error and guide me into His truth.  I was betwixt and between – who had the truth?  Billy Graham, who I thought was a powerful witness, said one thing.  Herbert Armstrong taught something else.  Who was right?  HWA, to me, sounded like a heretic!  But he always challenged people, “Don’t believe me, or any other man, believe what you read in your BIBLE!”  He challenged us to “PROVE ALL THINGS” by checking up on everyone and looking at what the BIBLE really says! 

 

I took him up on his challenge.  I intended to fully PROVE HIM WRONG!  So I studied very piece of literature I received from him, the Plain Truth magazine, and slowly but surely came to see he was teaching what the BIBLE says!  That finally convinced me that he was teaching the TRUTH!

 

Persecution Begins at Home!

 

This caused immediate problems in my life.  I stopped doing any “work” on the Sabbath day, like vacuuming the house, washing dishes, working in the yard, etc.  Dad was furious.  But after he married Lynn, she helped him to become more reasonable, and helped him to calm down, and become more at peace with the situation.

 

It also posed problems with my plans to play football in high school.  I had just turned out for the school team, and wanted to try out for quarterback.  But games were on Friday night and Saturday.  So there went my football “career”!

 

Meanwhile, I examined ALL the doctrines and teachings, comparing every word with the Bible itself, to see who was right (Acts 17:11 shows that the Bereans studied the Scriptures daily to see whether the things taught by the apostle Paul were right or not).  I found out from the Bible and history, that Herbert W. Armstrong was right on many basic teachings, and the mainstream Protestants were in ignorance, and not really following the teachings of Christ.  I tried with all my being to find flaws and errors in Armstrong’s doctrines, and booklets.  I wrote to Pasadena with hundreds of questions.  I read every back issue of The Plain Truth and Good News magazines I could get my hands on.  I studied every booklet, and LOOKED UP EVERY SCRIPTURE reference.  I memorized, and studied, and got library books on creation versus evolution, fossils, and the books by Immanuel Velikovsky on Earth in Upheaval, Ages in Chaos, and Worlds in Collision.

 

My Dad was not happy with my new religious mind set, so he sicked a Jehovah Witness on me one fine day, hoping he would dissuade me.  I met with him in my room, and we talked for 3 hours or more.  He tried to make me see things the way Jehovah Witnesses do, but I kept bringing up scriptures which he had no answer for.  He left, and I felt much invigorated with the knowledge I had received through my study.

 

In 1958 or so, I began attending the Tacoma, Washington church of God under the pastor Jimmy Friddle, a graduate of Ambassador College, the church’s “West Point” for ministers and laborers.  I attended there for about two years, and became a member of the “Radio” Church of God, as it was called then, and also became a member of the “Spokesman’s club,” which was patterned after the “Toastmaster’s club,” and I made plans to attend Ambassador College. 

 

During this time, I did very well in high school studies.  For the first three years, I was a 4.0 student.  In “American History” class, for a term report, I wrote a 125 page research paper on the “Spanish-American War.”  The teacher was astounded, and gave me about six or seven “A+” grades for the paper.  And typing it up greatly facilitated my typing prowess.  But because of becoming involved in church activities, and missing 2 weeks of school early in my senior year to go to Big Sandy, Texas, to keep the Feast of Tabernacles, my grades suffered somewhat in the twelfth grade.  In the summer of 1959 I graduated 4th in my high school class of about 350 students.   My plans were to attend Ambassador College, where I had been accepted as a new freshman.

 

In fall of 1959, my parents bought me a new suit, and I packed up and went to Ambassador College.   Jimmy Friddle warned me in advance not to expect it to be “The Kingdom of God.”  He said it was far from perfect, that not everybody there was a converted church member.  He was very right.  How little did I know. 

 

The Ambassador Experience

 

At Ambassador, I continued studying and learning and proving “all things.”  I kept my eyes open.  I was very unhappy with many of the college classes, as I felt they were very inferior. I took a class in “Psychology” my freshman year taught by Jack Elliot.  It was little more than a reading of “How To Win Friends and Influence People.” Some classes, like that one, were hardly even high school level!  I also took “World History” under Herman L. Hoeh, that year.  The first day, as we were all being introduced, when I mentioned my name, he wrote it on the blackboard, and exclaimed, “That’s a good name for a writer!”  I suspect the college admissions committee had taken note of my high school term paper, and it was thought that I might become a “writer” for the church! 

 

On the whole, the Bible classes were overall very good, and the history courses were excellent.  Ambassador was quite an experience.  We all ate at the Mayflower dining rooms, which were on the ground level of a woman’s dormitory.  Yet the experience was sort of like being a fish in a fishbowl.  Everyone was “looking.”  You were always being evaluated, watched.  Moral standards were very strict.  One young boy from Scandinavia was caught holding hands with a girl, or giving her a kiss, and he was sent packing from campus – sent home. 

 

But I also saw a lot of problems in the college and the church.  The headquarters church which then met at the “Shakespeare Club” in Pasadena was commonly regarded as being a “cold” church.  (This was blamed on the fact that the students all attended there, and many of them were new, unconverted, and so forth).  There were “prayer closets” connected with every dormitory.  At first glance, it seemed like a very spiritual place. 

 

Over the years, however, I noticed  a lot of flattery of men, far too much “worship of men,” a spirit of authoritarianism, and strong-handed government.  It seemed like the church was paranoid.  I did not see very much of the love of Christ and gentleness and humility and fruits of the Spirit of God which should have identified the true Church, or its leaders, or a true Christian.  I did not see this distinction at first, mind you, but gradually my eyes were opened more and more as my experience grew. 

 

            At the end of my freshman year, I decided to do as the Freshman Bible teacher, Roderick C. Meredith advised, and arranged to counsel with him about my summer plans.  I intended to return to Seattle and work for my Dad in building houses.  All I remember about that first and only counseling session with him was his enormous negativity.  He stared at me, and even though I had been a top student in his Bible class, he didn’t know or even seem to care to know me, personally.  He stared or glared down upon me, and pointed out that at that time he was the “third most important man in the Universe – after Herbert Armstrong, and Garner Ted Armstrong.”  That is, he was then the number “3” man in the Work.  He stared at me and thumped his chest, and said, “You’ll never be a iron-lunged evangelist like me.”  He thought I might wind up teaching in Imperial Schools.  That experience was so nerve-wracking and negative, that I lost any respect for him, and never counseled with him again.  I said nothing and left. 

 

Strangely, for a college that boasted it was “God’s West Point,” I found a lot of negativity at Ambassador.  At times, I reached the point where I didn’t want to stay, but didn’t know where else to go.  I had given my life to Christ, to serve Him, however He saw fit – and I had proved that this church had more understanding of the Bible than any other at that time.  But the fruits didn’t seem to fit.  So I often prayed about it, and put it in  God’s hands.  I prayed a great deal, and fasted in those days, once undergoing a five day spiritual fast, even though I kept attending classes, and doing regular work on the campus, as I secretly fasted.  I even joined the college fellows at 6:00 am every morning to do vigorous calisthenics, exercise routines and, jogged a mile to begin each day.

 

During my Junior year I was placed in the Letter Answering Department, a ministerial job, answering people’s spiritual and Bible questions.  I was very fast and good at it, and developed writing skills and expounding/teaching skills.  

 

Then the “Big Day” – graduation!  In 1963 I graduated from Ambassador with a Bachelor’s Degree.  I then became a full-time member of the Letter Answering Department, and also began writing “question box” articles for the Plain Truth.  

 

Becoming a Writer

 

In 1964-65, I began writing articles for the church magazines, but they were ignored.  I had written for the student newspaper, the Portfolio, and had been encouraged to write.  Finally I got testy about all the “rejections,” and wrote David Jon Hill a note saying, “I guess you’ll throw this one in the trash, too.”  It was an article for the “Good News” magazine on “The Ugly Christian,” about how hypocritical Christians drive people away from the truth of God.  He sent it back with a curt note saying, “Repent – then I’ll consider it!”  So I sent him back an apologetic note and lo and behold – he showed it to Garner Ted, who approved it, and my first article was PUBLISHED!  At the same time, Dr. Herman Hoeh took an article I had just written for the Plain Truth, entitled “Alcoholism – a Worldwide Curse!” and published it!  Suddenly I became a WRITER!  I then began writing articles for the Good News and Plain Truth, and then later, Tomorrow’s World.  

 

By the year 1966, everything looked rosy.  My star was rising, and I attended my first ministerial conference.  In fact, to my surprise, I was being praised and announced as the head of a new booklet department.  Herbert Armstrong told me to stand up, so he could recognize me.  As all the ministers looked on, Garner Ted Armstrong said my work was equal to “six or seven men in the field.”   I was praised to high heaven.  Alas, how fickle is the fate of fortune!

 

By the last day of the conference, five days later, a minister, one Richard Plache, took a copy of the Good News, which had an article I had just written on Christmas, and strode up to the podium where Herbert Armstrong was seated.  He opened it and showed him a paragraph I had written, saying it would be all right for a church member to “handle Christmas decorations” in a store window.   This was the teaching of the church at the time, and what the Letter Answering Department sent out to people as a staff letter.  However, the fuse was lit.  At the moment, Herbert Armstrong was pounding on the fact that we must “NEVER COMPROMISE” with God’s truth, or pagan holidays, or any truth of God.  Herbert Armstrong blew a gasket, big-time.  (Over a tiny point which he took out of context, it seemed)  He hit the warpath.  He thundered, “I don’t want ANY thing these young men write to be published UNLESS it is checked over BY FOUR EVANGELISTS first!”  Suddenly, I was persona non grata, and my writing “exile” lasted for about 3-4 months.  My boss, Evangelist Jon Hill caught up with me walking out of the building and smiled and said, “Well, you’ve just had your ‘baptism by fire.’  Now what you need to do is ‘hide under a rock’ for a while, and it’ll all blow over.”  

 

            I wrote many influential and powerful articles for the magazines during those fruitful years – “Why Christians Have Trials,” “What is Genuine Humility?”, “Fasting,” “How to Conquer Frustration,” “The Power of Positive Prayer,” “The New Testament Teaching on Law and Grace,” etc.  Many, if not all of them, were written from the depths of personal experience!  I was only in my early twenties, but people who read the articles thought I was an older, mature man of 40 or 50 or so, judging by the articles I wrote! 

 

The “Repent House”

 

But then trouble struck once again.  My “path to stardom” was once again interrupted, and set back a notch.  In November 1966, or thereabouts, I innocently wrote an article on “What Is Real Repentance?”  Dr. Hoeh, the editor, thought it was a fine article.  It came from the heart.  But one day Loma Armstrong began reading it while the Plain Truth signature containing it was lying on a flat in the printing plant, waiting to be joined together with other signatures, and mailed out.  She read the first paragraph, and then showed the opening paragraph or so to Herbert.  Once again, he went off like a volcano, or a skyrocket being launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida.  He immediately called in Herman Hoeh, the editor, and blasted him, saying, “I plucked you off a chicken farm, still green behind the ears,” etc.  At five o’clock the next morning, Herman Hoeh rang me up on the telephone and told me what happened, and said the article was fine, but Herbert had a problem with it, and I was to meet him at 10:00 am in the “Penthouse,” his office over the Library.  It was often called the “Re-pent house,” because those called there generally would be roasted over the coals, and would have to “repent” of whatever they were accused of doing.  With some trepidation, I took my fateful walk up to the Penthouse, and was ushered to Herbert’s grand office (but not nearly so grand as the one he later created for himself in the new headquarters building, called “Hall of Administration”).  As it turned out, Herbert was actually very mild and quite friendly.  He read the offending paragraph, and explained that it could offend many people in the “Bible belt,” so the entire signature of the magazine containing it was thrown out, costing the Work probably some $30-40,000 dollars.  He then went on and said the rest of the article was fine.  “Just like what one of our ministers in the field would teach,” he opined. 

 

            During this conversation, which was mostly one-sided, he then gave me a real, deep insight into his own heart.  He said that NONE of the ministers of the church, including Garner Ted Armstrong, Albert Portune, Rod Meredith, Herman Hoeh, or the other evangelists, HAD ANY WISDOM!  He then confessed, “I lack wisdom, too.  God never gave me wisdom.”  I sat there astonished.  Astounded beyond measure.  I couldn’t say anything, because it would be considered disrespectful, but I thought to myself, “How can this be?  If you lack wisdom, all you have to do is ASK God for it.  For James wrote, ‘If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him’ (James 1:5).  ‘But let him ask IN FAITH, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind’ (verse 6).”

 

            Here was a most remarkable thing!  Herbert Armstrong knew and confessed his own weakness.  Yet he never overcame it during his whole life!  He could not recognize the “fruits” of people.  He was a poor judge of character.  He later chose Stanley Rader to be his chief assistant, an unconverted man, a Jewish lawyer, and later he was shown evidence that Rader was plotting behind his back to take over the church!

 

 Further Ministerial “Training”

 

After this meeting, I was held back from writing for the magazines, and was sent off to “gain experience” by serving in the field ministry as a “second man.” 

 

At that time I was sent up to San Francisco, to work as a ministerial assistant under Dennis Luker, for 6 months, giving sermonettes, leading songs, doing Bible Studies, visiting the members, and accompanying Dennis as he made his rounds.  One of the first things on his agenda, it seemed, was to take me to a North Beach club in the Tenderloin District, to have a beer and watch a “nudie cutie” gyrate naked on a stage to the song, “Michele, My Belle.”  I suppose this was to help me become more “mature.”   Frankly, I think it was ridiculous, and showed how far the Church leaders had plunged into foolishness and had departed from the pure and upright ways of God!  During this time, Dennis treated me like a boy, thinking I suppose that I needed to be ‘humbled.’  He put me to work weeding his flowers, taking his leased Chrysler Imperial automobile to be washed, taking his suits to the cleaners, etc.  But on the Sabbaths, I led songs, gave sermonettes, and grew in experience, grace, and knowledge, and confidence. 

 

            Prior to being sent to San Francisco, I had begun dating Capitola O’Brien Callihan.  Actually, I first danced with her after my graduation from college, at a single people’s dance in the church, at the Farnsworth Country Club, at the top of Fair Oaks Avenue in Altadena.  I guess I enjoyed it too much, because she was very attractive, a beautiful blonde, and we must have danced too closely, in the eyes of the supervising, eagle-eyed “chaperones.”  They told us about three times not to dance so closely.

 

A year or so later I asked her out on a date.  We went to the home of Harold Wells, a concrete finisher, and long-time church member.  It was a wonderful lunch, and we went across the street to play Tennis.  I was the better player, but it was fun to be with her.  She plied me with many questions, which I answered, amazing her with my comprehensive knowledge.  I don’t remember how it came up, but at one point I told her that Guglielmo Marconi invented the radio.  She was aghast!  How could I know that? 

 

I dated Cappy for four years, about once a year, from 1963 to 1966.  Meanwhile I was searching for a mate, a woman to spend my life with.  I thought she was wonderful, but would marry an older man, as she was four years older than I.  I was searching among the younger graduates and students of Ambassador, which she had never attended.  Dr. Hoeh had told her it wasn’t necessary, as she had all the polish she needed already, having graduated from Loma Linda University, a Seventh Day Adventist school, and becoming a Registered Nurse.

 

Finding a Soul-Mate

 

After four years of fruitless searching for the “right one,” a true “soul mate,” I was getting very frustrated.  Nothing seemed to work out.  Finally, in 1966, I decided to counsel with Mrs. Loma D. Armstrong, who was sometimes consulted about such matters.  She saw me, and we talked.  I was interested in another girl at the time, but Loma said she was still immature and not ready for marriage.  It was a pleasant meeting, and made me stop and think.  I had learned before that time not to take any dating or marriage advice from ministers in the church.  Herman Hoeh once at dinner at his home asked me what I thought about a particular older graduate.  I was horrified.  I thought she might be a nice person, but I would sooner marry a lamp post.  I did not consider her attractive at all, certainly not for me!  She reminded me, probably unfairly, of Basil Wolverton’s masterpiece prize-winning sketch of “Lena the Hyena.”   Jon Hill’s advice was no better.  I told him about a girl I was dating, and whom I felt ambiguous about, far from convinced I should even consider her, and he jovially said, “Marry her!  It doesn’t matter!  Why, we only have five years left till the coming of Christ, anyway!”  Of course he was dead wrong – that was in 1966 and this is the year 2006 – forty years have passed since his ludicrous advice!  And Christ still has not come! 

 

Well, in 1966, a miracle happened.  Suddenly the scales fell from my eyes.  After counseling with Loma Armstrong, I once again had a date with Cappy Callihan.  We met at the front porch of Mayfair, and my eyes were dazzled!  They almost popped out of my head.  She was wearing a soft blue sweater, and filled it out in just the right places.  I was mesmerized.  It was like I had never really seen her before.  And best of all, she was a woman of sterling character, and she was not yet taken by any man, although many had sought her hand.  She had been through her different suitors, and “romantic interests,” and here she was, sitting on the ledge along the Mayfair porch, waiting – for me.  I felt that maybe, hope, hope, hope,  that SHE was the right one for me.  

 

The next few weeks I really courted her.  We had wonderful dates.  We went to movies.  We drove to Henry’s for apple pie and rum sauce.  We went on walks, took in a concert at the Hollywood Bowl.  We went to basketball games in the college gymnasium.  I dated her 2-3-4 times or so a week, my interest in her growing by leaps and bounds each time.  We often had long-lasting conversations, after a date, lasting for hours.  We spoke on the telephone for hours.   It was getting all very, very interesting.  But – then I was sent up to San Francisco!

 

We corresponded, of course.  I even thought to invite her to come up for the Feast of Unleavened Bread, so we could be together.  David Jon Hill said he would tell her about this so he did, in his own inimitable way.  I guess he thought it was a “sure thing,” and just up and told her she was going to San Francisco for the Feast!  I tell you, she hit the roof!  Nobody had told her, she hadn’t been properly asked, and here he was springing this thing on her!  Oh, no she wasn’t!  She got her back up and refused to come.  I was chagrined – mortified.  What to do?

 

I told Dennis Luker I had an emergency down in Pasadena.  He let me leave, and I gave up giving sermonettes and song leading at the Feast of Unleavened Bread in Fresno.  I drove back to Pasadena, and met with Cappy, and she was downright cool.  The frost was palpable.  I searched for an explanation of her sudden hostility, and gradually got the picture.  Jon Hill’s approach had set her off, and she thought I was responsible.  But I was a victim, just like her.  I had trusted him to handle the invitation wisely, but he acted like a bull in a China shop!  So I tried to pacify her, make peace, and put the scattered pieces back together.  She unloaded on me, and told me I needed a new suit, needed to choose my ties more carefully, etc., etc, etc.  I said I appreciated her comments, and would do something about it.  So I bought a new suit, and some new ties, and returned to San Francisco.   Then I wrote her a very nice letter, expressing my thanks for her comments, and essentially said “good bye.” 

 

My letter achieved miraculous results!  Cappy wrote me back with a changed attitude, a wonderful sharing letter, and suddenly I realized that all was not lost!  So I wrote her back, and we corresponded, till I returned to Pasadena around July 1967.  Then we picked up dating again.  In the meantime, I was still thinking in the back of my mind about another possible girl, so I dated her once again as well.  One afternoon, after church services, Cappy saw me talking with this other girl, and made a bee-line to join us.  I got the distinct impression she did not want anyone else intruding on her territory – or making time with “her man.” 

 

Joys of Marriage

 

After a couple of months, I felt certain that we were ready, and she was deeply interested and committed, so I bought a ring, took her to a nice restaurant, called “The Tahitian,” and then proposed to her and gave her the ring.  Dibar Apartian, a long-time evangelist in the church, and a dear friend of Cappy, performed the wedding.  We were married on Sept.24, 1967, at the lower gardens on the campus.  Dan Salcedo sang “Holy, Holy,” and Alys Jones sang “Hawaiian Wedding Song.”  It was wonderful.  We spent our first honeymoon night at the Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, where I picked up a biography of Conrad Hilton (it was free).  We then set off for Carmel, a beautiful picturesque village on the coast of California, north of Big Sur, visiting the William Randolph Hearst castle on the way (where I picked up a biography of Hearst for free).    We stayed in a lovely cottage in Carmel. 

 

            The following year, 1968, we traveled to Minehead, England, for the Feast of Tabernacles.  Our chalet was very dusty and I got a bad case of asthma and caught a cold there.  After the Feast, Cappy and I visited London, saw the Changing of the Guard, visited the Tower and saw the Royal Jewels and Crowns, and the dungeon where prisoners were kept.  We visited the British Museum, and toured London in a red double-decker bus. 

 

            From London we traveled to Paris, France, and visited the Eiffel Tower, rode the underground, went to a night show of the “Follies,” and my cold get better.  From Paris we flew to Rome, Italy, where we stayed at a small Pensione.  Upon arrival we were told the Pope was making an appearance that very day, in about 30 minutes, so we hurried to a bus, caught it and went to St. Peter’s, and were just in time to see the Pope and a vast throng of people, standing in awe of him, crying, “Viva Papa.”  We then toured St. Peter’s basilica, and saw the small black stature supposedly of Saint Peter (Peter was not black; the statue was probably an old idol stature of Nimrod, the world’s first conqueror, a son of Cush and grandson of Ham, and a black man).  We toured the catacombs, and walked over the ruins of the Coliseum, where many Christians were slaughtered and killed by lions and wild beasts during the heyday of the Roman Empire. 

 

            From there we went to Switzerland, where we visited the church offices in Geneva.  We rented a car and drove through Switzerland for five days, visiting the Jung Frau, taking a cog railway train to the village of Zermat, at the foot of the Matterhorn, and enjoying Swiss fondu and beer and the thick “comforters” on the bed in our hotel in Zermat.  From there we went to Zurich, and flew to Munich, Germany, where we had beer and radishes in an underground German pub, with lots of polkas.  We toured the Nazi concentration camp located near there, and I remembered reading a great deal about Hitler’s Ovens and the atrocities committed against the Jews during World War II. 

 

About two years later, on September 29, 1969, our son William Nathan was born.  About two years later, on December 29, 1971, our oldest daughter Natalie Elizabeth was born.  Then on January 19, 1973, our youngest daughter, Nancy Margaret was born.    

 

“Back in the Saddle”

 

From 1967-68 until the year 1974, I served in many capacities in the Work, as we called it.  I continued taking classes at Ambassador College on a graduate level, and received a “Master of Arts in Theological Journalism.”  I kept taking classes until I qualified for a “Doctorate.”  But as the church was seeking accreditation for the college at the time, the new administrator of the college, Michael Germano, didn’t want to give me a doctorate, since I wasn’t working as a professor in the college, so he asked me if I would settle and forego the doctorate if the Work would pick up my tab for all the classes I had taken.  I agreed.  I didn’t want to upset the applecart for accreditation.  He told me what I already knew, that the college wasn’t really qualified to issue doctorates although some, like Herman Hoeh and Roderick Meredith, had received them in earlier years.

 

I worked for a while in the Letter Answering Department, wrote a booklet called “Hippies, Hypocrisy, and Happiness,” and began writing for the magazines again.  Soon I was transferred to work for Richard Sedliacik, in the Correspondence Course department, and truth to tell he was the best “boss” and employer I had during my sojourn in the Work.  I wrote several lessons, from about lesson 57 on, and then wrote some on the Laws of Health, and Proof of God.  Then the Correspondence Department was suddenly cut in a budge move, and I worked for the Plain Truth staff, under Arthur Ferdig.  The whole department was rearranged, with a certain Paul Kroll put in charge under Ferdig.  They apparently did not trust me or appreciate my experience in the Work and writing, and after a few months, I began working for the Good News department, under Jon Hill again.  It was like musical chairs. 

 

During this time I also began writing for the new Tomorrow’s World magazine, and wrote a booklet on “How to Quit Smoking.”  Tomorrow’s World was canceled due to budget restraints, by Herbert Armstrong, and I was transferred back to the Plain Truth staff.  It had been reorganized again, and Herman Hoeh was once again the chief editor.  I was made his assistant, and placed over the writing staff.  In this capacity, I traveled to Houston, Texas, to do an article on “Space,” and visited a Saturn V Apollo launch at night at Cape Canaveral, Florida.  I visited Washington, D.C. on the same trip. 

 

Another trip took me to interview Prof. Frank C. Hibben, at Albuquerque, New Mexico, to discuss the evidence for catastrophism in Alaska, during the time of the Ice Age and the Mastodons and Wooly Mammoths.  I also visited Colorado Springs, and toured the headquarters of NORAD, the North American Defense command.  From there I drove to Idaho to pick up my family, who were visiting Cappy’s aunt Anne and uncle Jack in Idaho Falls, where he gave me a tour of the AEC nuclear facility, with its experimental plutonium reactor. 

 

While on our trip, we broke down near Baker, Oregon, and had to stay there for a week.  I was running out of money, so phoned Dr. Hoeh to explain the situation, and that I needed $200 for the repairs.  He was very reluctant to provide it, it seemed, but finally agreed.  I could never understand his reluctance, but he was notorious for being a parsimonious skin-flint and tightwad when it came to expenses.  I then went up to the Richland nuclear energy complex, in Richland, Washington, to tour the plant and do an interview, which was followed by an article on Nuclear Energy I wrote for the Plain Truth.   

 

It seemed as if I had found a niche in the work for years to come, but again, the “best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.”  I was sent on a tour to Mexico City, to research an article on “Who Really Discovered America?”, interviewing Dr. Alexander von Wuthenau on his pre-Columbian pottery figurines, and Chichen Itza, and toured the Mayan ruins on the Yucatan peninsula. On our way homeward, my family and I stopped for a day at Acapulco, and Mazatlan, to be refreshed, and then flew back to Pasadena.

 

“Fired!”

 

Wow!  What a reception I got upon returning!  Suddenly, I was told that I no longer had a job!  I would be terminated at the end of the next month.  I discovered that Herman Hoeh had been cashiered by Garner Ted Armstrong from being over the Plain Truth once again!  And the entire Plain Truth staff was terminated, except those whom the once-again new department head, Art Ferdig, wanted to keep around.  So I was let go.  Just like that.  It was “politics as usual.”  What with the staggering revelations about that time of the sordid sexual hanky panky going on in the Work, especially adulteries and covert cover-ups of the hundreds of sexual liasons of Garner Ted Armstrong, I felt it was probably “time to go.” 

 

When I left, Brian Knowles opined that I was “one of the walking wounded.’  Dibar Apartian and Herman Hoeh thought I would do well on the outside.  Herman had once said he would “go to the wall” to defend my job, when he hired me to become his assistant, but he was no longer in charge.  The “merry-go-round” had come around again.  It was little short of ridiculous! 

 

Interestingly, Art Ferdig got rid of me, for his own personal reasons, and replaced me with two men.  The Plain Truth, meanwhile, under Ferdig, was turned into a mere newspaper, made on poor quality newsprint – a terrible blow to its prestige and value.  This degrading change, ordered by Ted Armstrong, was soon seen to be a mistake, and the Plain Truth was put under Brian Knowles who resurrected it as a serious magazine again.  That’s more or less how I remember those ill-fated days. 

 

As I said earlier, it was about 1973-74 that I first discovered Garner Ted Armstrong’s enormous sexual adulteries, and rampant fornications, and was very angry at the vast conspiracy and cover up. 

 

The Cover Up

 

One night at Bible study, Herbert Armstrong thundered to the congregation, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ NOT to look into this matter.  Ted’s problem was simply a result of too much of a work load.  It was mental.  NOT MORAL!”  Later, Time magazine ran article about the ADULTERY of Garner Ted Armstrong.  He was sent into exile for a few months, in Colorado.  Supposedly rehabilitated, he rejoined the Work with all his responsibilities restored.  But later he was caught again, in flagrante derlicto – caught in bed with an Ambassador coed.  This time he was exiled to Hawaii, of all places, where he secretly stole away from his supervisor, who was to keep tabs on him, and visited a prostitution parlor.  One of the women there recognized his face and had been watching him on TV, beginning to get interested in the church!  She complained to the Madam who ran the whorehouse, and she called up the Work in Pasadena, and issued a stunning complaint about this hypocritical minister who totally unnerved her employee!    As the skein of adultery unraveled, it turned out that he had been having sexual relations with hundreds of coeds, prostitutes, perhaps even other men’s wives, and commanded them to say nothing to anyone else, or they and their parents would be cast out of the church – so I was told by what I considered unimpeachable sources. 

 

Many of these coeds later became the wives of ministers in the church, and when they learned about it much later, the anger and outrage contributed immensely to the vast ministerial rebellion that first occurred in 1974.  But Herbert himself was not so innocent.  As the saying goes, “The acorn falls close to the tree.”  As it was reported in David Robinson’s book Herbert Armstrong’s Tangled Web, Herbert Armstrong himself had committed incest with one of his own daughters for a period lasting at least ten years, from about 1936 to 1946, give or take a few years.  Ambassador Report also gave evidence that he had sexual relations with his wife-to-be, Ramona, two or three years before they got married.  And sometime after evangelist Albert J. Portune left the church, about 1974, I met with him clandestinely, where he was working in the plumbing business.  Portune confided in me that he had discovered that Herbert Armstrong had brought two lovely young Filipino girls back to Pasadena and put them up in an apartment.  When he learned later that they had gotten boy friends, he shipped hem back to the Philippines.  If you can add two and two, you can figure out the rest. 

 

Here was one who claimed to be an “apostle of Jesus Christ,” himself in flagrante derlicto!   Later, I learned that one of Herbert secretaries, who accompanied him on a trip to the Philippines, saw him get totally drunk at a dinner hosted for him, and he had to be helped up to his room as he couldn’t walk by himself. 

 

            These are absolutely stunning revelations, regarding one who was highly esteemed as an “apostle” of Christ by multiple thousands – a man whom many considered to be the “Elijah” to come and whom some still think was “Elijah”!  Of course, many still cling to their illusions, and false beliefs, not willing to “prove all things” and face up to the sordid and incontestable evidence! 

 

A woman in the church who later came with Triumph Prophetic Ministries (Church of God) had my wife and I over for lunch one day several years ago.  She had been the secretary for Evangelist Richard Rice who was over what was then called “Personal Correspondence Department.”  She told us an intriguing story.  A church woman who lived in an apartment building in Pasadena came to counsel with Mr. Rice.  She was very distraught.  After counseling, it was late, and Mr. Rice asked the secretary to take her home.  The lady then unloaded her story on her, telling her that a well known prostitute lived right across the hall from her.  One day she saw Stanley Rader bring Herbert Armstrong to the prostitute’s apartment, where Mr. Armstrong remained for perhaps an hour or so.  This happened several times. The lady felt the burden of this knowledge was so great that she could hardly stand it. 

 

The Leopard’s Spots

 

Even Penthouse magazine, a well-known pornographic “girlie” magazine in the United States, ran a story about Garner Ted’s transgressions, entitled “America’s Playboy Preacher.”  There was a heavy run on that month’s issue in Pasadena.  But the water was leaking through the dike, and the cover-up was unraveling and coming apart. 

 

I had hoped as the scandal unraveled, that Ted would admit his sins, and change his way of life.  The damage was great, to many people.  Many suffered great hurt, and left the church.  Others decided, if the piper played, they would all dance.  They decided to follow his example of sexual promiscuity and adultery, and some began swapping wives, holding nude parties and orgies, smoking marijuana, and using other drugs.  Ministers’ children were found following suit.  Ted’s own children held such a sexual fest at his home while he was away, witnessed by Raymond McNair, an evangelist in the church, who lived right behind him in an adjoining home on “minister row.” 

 

 I hoped Ted would repent, but he never did.  As Jeremiah wrote, I saw it to be terribly true – “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots?  Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil” (Jer.13:23).  A full color magazine came out in the early 1980’s, with the cover story entitled, “In Bed with Garner Ted,” and another titled, “America’s Profligate Preacher,” the first one written first-person by an Ambassador College coed, and the second one by Evangelist Al Carrozzo (who had been disfelloshipped earlier, partly due to his part in exposing and uncovering the dirt about Garner Ted’s flamboyant and prodigal life style.   Even into the 1990’s, Ted’s affairs caught up with him, and he was caught on video tape attempting to rape a masseuse in Tyler, Texas.  A lawsuit was filed against him and the Church of God, International.  Portions of the video tape made it onto nationwide television programs throughout the United States.  As a result of this and other serious breaches of conduct, Ted was finally disfellowshiped from the Church of God, International, which he himself had started!

 

What To Do?

 

At that time, many broke away from the church.  I thought about it, but where would I go?  Where else was the truth, such as it was, being preached?  Who else even had the annual holy days, the Sabbath, and other teachings I had proved?  Who else understood the identity of the American people in the Bible and prophecy? 

 

So rather than bolt the church and join those who were trying to begin their own church, changing doctrines, and acting “superior,” I elected to remain in the church, trying to make the best of what was left, realizing no one else that I knew of had the Bible understanding and knowledge that Worldwide did concerning obedience to God, and keeping the commandments of God.  

 

Sadly, the leaders of the Worldwide Church of God obviously KNEW the truth on many points – but like the ancient Pharisees, they did not PRACTICE the truth (Matt.23:1-3).  They by their fruits were proving to be just modern day “Pharisees” – another bunch of religious  “Hypocrites.” 

 

If you want to dig deeper, and know more about these matters, write for my articles “How Have the Mighty Fallen!”, “Back to Babylon,” “Where the Church Went Wrong,” and “The Prophetic Errors of Herbert W. Armstrong.” 

 

            Ted Armstrong himself broke away from his father, after a dispute arose between them about the fate of Ambassador College.  Ted thought his father had given control over the Work to Ted, so in 1978 he began plans to close down Ambassador College in Pasadena and move it to Big Sandy, Texas, where the sister campus existed.  The Business Department, with Ray Wright, presented a document showing Herbert Armstrong, then staying in Tucson, Arizona, that the move would cost some $5 million dollars.  Herbert once again hit the roof, and cancelled the move, taking control back from Ted.  Ted, furious, held a press conference defending his actions.  Herbert then, seeing rebellion and self-justification, fired and disfellowshiped him once again – on the spot! 

 

            Seething, angry, and feeling disenfranchised, Ted began a competing church, called the Church of God, International.  Ron Dart, an evangelist and buddy of Ted, went with him.  It soon had about 2-3,000 members, but never really caught fire.  Most people stayed with Herbert Armstrong. 

 

The Receivership Crisis

 

            In 1979, a new crisis hit the Work of God.  The state of California seized the assets of the Church and appointed a California judge to be the Receiver, because of complaints from some ex-members regarding financial improprieties, misspent money, alleged gold bullion being hidden away, and sundry other accusations.  The college was locked down, officers of the court seized offices and files, but Stanley Rader, the church Attorney, convinced Herbert that the state must be fought, or it would all be over.  He would lose complete control. 

 

            The church fought back vigorously.  Herbert Armstrong wrote a sizzling letter to all the members and coworkers, telling them to send their tithes and offerings to him, personally, in Tucson, Arizona.  The funds flowing to Pasadena dried up.  The state’s Receiver could no longer access church monies to carry on their frontal assault against the church’s leaders.  Meanwhile, Herbert Armstrong began to run full page ads in major newspapers throughout the country, accusing the state of interfering with freedom of religion and engaging in an unconstitutional action.  Church members blockaded the Administration Building in Pasadena, keeping the state officials and police out of the building.  The stand-off continued for weeks. 

 

            Eventually, the state of California legislature passed a new law, called the Petris bill, to prohibit state officials from interfering with Church operations and “freedom of religion” as is guaranteed under the U.S.  Constitution.  The very bad “press” and Herbert Armstrong’s advertisements were too much for them to deal with. 

 

In 1974, five years before these things happened, I was let go with about $5,000 severance pay.  On my own, I began publishing to keep alive the truth of God.  As I saw the church of God plunge rapidly into political mayhem and back-biting, sin and adulteries, I saw a need to keep the truth afloat.  I had offered to write books for the church, beginning with one on Creation versus Evolution.  I had already written it on my own, and hoped the church would be interested. But Wayne Cole, then placed over publishing, took the subject up with Ted Armstrong, and he was definitely not interested.  Wayne came back to me and said they didn’t want the book, it was mine to do with as I pleased; the Work was not in the business of publishing books, Ted had told him. 

 

Strangely, a few years later, Ted himself published a book called The Real Jesus.  Unfortunately, much of the book was ghost-written, and Ted was either too lazy  or merely wanted to take credit for other people’s work.  A certain Robert Kuhn wrote much of it, which was later edited slightly by Garner Ted Armstrong.  Sadly, the book itself was replete with errors and false conclusions about the life of Christ! 

 

So in the meantime, I set out to publish my first books.  I formed a company called Triumph Publishing.  I first published The Keys to Radiant Health, which was later published in a mass market paperback edition.  Then I wrote and finished a second book, book, entitled The First Genesis:  A New Case for Creation.  This was later republished with a slightly different title, First Genesis – the Creation-Evolution Controversy.   Following on the heels of that, I wrote and published The Children’s Creation Book, with many full-color pictures of some of the mysterious creatures in Nature.  Then came The End of Days, Beyond Star Wars, The Last Days of Planet Earth – A Survival Guide to the End of the World, Overcoming Satan, Satan’s Fate, and Escape from Armageddon.  These were all published between 1975 and 1987.  

 

            I also published books by other writers.  One was Faith and Doctrines of the Early Church, by a Church of God, Seventh Day, author.  I published Health Secrets from the Bible, by Ronald Woldyga, and later by the same author, Supernatural Phenomena.  One of the most popular hardcover books I published was Ascent To Greatness, about the rise to power of the Anglo-Saxon peoples, primarily Britain and America.  It was written by evangelist Raymond F. McNair, whom I got to know pretty well.  He was to do a sequel for me, on the Lost Ten Tribes, but later cancelled our agreement unilaterally.  He was afraid of doing so because, he said, my name was becoming in “bad odor” in the church.  How had that occurred?

 

Persecution from the Church!

 

            I had bought advertising space in the Big Sandy newspaper, a whole page, for the Feast of Tabernacles, advertising my books, including his.  I was still a church member at the time.  Well, the Feast co-ordinator at Big Sandy, Don Ward, took exception to the ad, and at first wouldn’t allow the paper to be sold to the brethren.  Then he relented on that score, but announced from the pulpit that the books advertised in my ad were “not approved by the church, any more than the Dairy Queen” in Big Sandy, was. 

 

In the audience was Herbert Armstrong.  He nodded to a minister next to him and asked what that was all about.  Then it all passed over, but the damage to my reputation had been done, so Raymond McNair “chickened out” and would not allow me to publish his manuscript, which I had put a great deal of work into editing and setting to type.  It would have been a great book, at the time.  But publication was foiled!  God will be the judge of such matters, broken promises, and political cowardice, and unfaithful friends. 

 

Over the years, jealousy set in amongst the church leaders, and I was virtually ignored, and sometimes even spoken evil of by various ministers.   I sold many of my books to church members at the Feast of Tabernacles sites, by advertising in Festival brochures which at that time were produced by private businesses.  Later on, the church saw a bonanza in doing the feast advertising brochures and selling advertising, themselves, so I purchased advertising space for my books from the Festival office. 

 

Things came to a head in Squaw Valley, the Feast site in Northern California.  I had purchased advertising space in the church’s brochure, full color, at quite an expense.  Then a merchant who was selling Bibles, books, and gift items in the front of the Arena, put my books on display.  Coming to Squaw Valley for the first couple of days that year was Garner Ted Armstrong.  He saw the books and literally saw red!  He asked who put those books there, and said to have them immediately taken out! 

 

I was notified, and took them to the nearest Safeway and Lucky’s grocery stores, which all the church people would be visiting.  I had a leaflet distributed in the Feast parking lots by two local girls, telling people where they could obtain the “banned” books.  Clearly, Ted had over-reacted, since the church had sold me the advertising space to begin with, and signed a contract.  His snap decision broke a legal contract, and caused injury, both to the project, and to my reputation, which seemed to be getting worse.  I learned in Pasadena, when meeting new people at various church functions, that many thought I was no longer in the church.  They would meet me and say, “Are you still in the church?  I heard you had left.” 

 

Things were getting so bad that one year the “Ministerial Bulletin,” put out by Joseph Tkach, published an article answering the question, “Is Bill Dankenbring a member of the church?  What does the church think about his books?”  The article went on to say that I was indeed a member, but the church did not espouse or recommend my books, they were a private publishing venture.  It went on to throw mud in my eye, by saying that the church had always had members trying to sell various things at the Feasts.  It concluded by quoting out of context a statement I had made recently in a letter to Herbert Armstrong (which they had intercepted).  They quoted a line where I said to Mr. Armstrong, “I may not agree with you on every little point, but we are surely all coming into the unity of the faith and knowledge of Christ” (see Ephesians 4:13).  I meant that none of us is perfect yet.  But Tkach, who really had one of his writers ghost-write the article for him, went on to say, “What seems little to Mr. Dankenbring may be A BIG THING in God’s sight!”   I only heard about the blistering attack, from ambush, on my books, through a friend who secretly informed me, and from a minister, who showed me the article.  It was unsigned.  However, later I found a volume of all the church’s publications, looked up that article, and saw the purported author was Joseph Tkach himself! 

 

Clearly, I was being slandered and attacked, cunningly, and stealthily, by those in high office, who didn’t care for my independent publishing.  Things got much worse after Herbert W. Armstrong died, on January 16, 1986.

 

The Tkach Rebellion

 

In early 1986, the long-time “apostle” and leader of the Worldwide Church of God, now in his early nineties, died.  There were plenty of mysterious circumstances around his death.  Some suspected that he was murdered in his bed, after a confrontation with Joseph Tkach.  Some claim that Tkach forged his signature on a document giving Tkach supreme rulership of the church after his death.  Mysteriously, a young man on security at the Armstrong home, the night he died, later disappeared and was never heard from again.  Was he frightened for his life?  It was reported that there was no nurse on duty the night Herbert died.  Only Tkach was there, in the room with him.  According to one tale, Tkach told Herbert he was going to take over the church, that HWA had signed a document to that effect, and Herbert, true to form, exploded in rage at hearing that stunning announcement.  And with high blood pressure, and a heart condition, he had a heart attack, and died on the spot.  Some even claim that Tkach himself helped facilitate his death by holding a handkerchief over his mouth and nose.  That however has never been proved.  These tales, true or false, do add a cheerful footnote to the Armstrong legacy and legend.

 

At any rate, however it happened, there is no doubt that Herbert W. Armstrong suddenly died, and  Joseph W. Tkach took over.  At Herbert’s funeral, Tkach said, “No one can ever fill his shoes, but I will walk in his footsteps.” 

 

He did so do for about a year.  But then the changes in Church doctrines started coming thick and fast.  The healing doctrine was among the first to go, then the identity of the British and Americans and lost ten tribes, and then the Ten Commandments, and then the doctrine about being “born again” at the resurrection, and then the nature of God, the “Trinity” doctrine was introduced, the pagan “cross” began to be worn, and finally – most devastating of all – Tkach announced the Sabbath was not necessary to keep, the Holy Days were not commanded to be observed, unclean meats could be eaten – and everything was turned topsy-turvy, totally upside down! 

 

            Exactly one year after Herbert died, when the apostasy began in real earnest, Tkach got rid of one remaining fly in his ointment.  Me.  I was a pestering nuisance, since I was publishing books which TAUGHT the basic doctrines of the church, and I proved them in my book Overcoming Satan.  This just simply would not do. 

 

            So on January 17, 1987, one year precisely from Herbert Armstrong’s death, Tkach and his lackey Larry Salyer, who was then head of the Ministerial Services department,  sent Jim Reier, the pastor over the “Imperial” church congregation, which I then attended,  and Curtis May, his assistant, to my home in Altadena.  Reier read me the riot act, accused me of being a false prophet, and suspended me from church. The next week he returned and formally disfellowshiped me.  The third week he called my wife Cappy and said she probably shouldn’t come to church that week, for I was going to be “marked” from every pulpit around the world and condemned as a “heretic.”

 

            I fasted for three days at that time, and prayed, and saw that I had not sinned, or done anything worthy of being disfellowshiped or “marked,” so I set my jaw and determined to CONTINUE OBEYING AND SERVING GOD ALMIGHTY, and His Son Jesus Christ, regardless of what mere “men” thought to do to me!  Within a few weeks, Cappy, seeing how wicked and evil they were, stopped attending as well. 

 

A New Beginning

 

            The stage was set.   In 1987, I began publishing Prophecy Flash magazine, which began as a 24-page news and prophecy newsletter.  It began with about 40 subscribers.  It grew and grew until we reached about 4,000 subscribers and 88 pages of meaty content, published every two months.  We shortly began holding meetings with a few people in our home, and taping Sabbath Bible studies to send out to interested people around the world.  It was a small beginning.  But as God said to Zerubbabel, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD” (Zechariah 4:6).  God said, “For who has despised the day of small things?  For these seven rejoice to see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.  They are the eyes of the LORD which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth” (verse 10). 

 

            From this point on, God has blessed us with incredible new revelations, and old recaptured knowledge, of the truth of His Word, and Bible prophecies.  Read my article on “Statement of Our Beliefs,” of the Triumph Prophetic Ministries (Church of God).

 

            God has opened our minds to see both the errors of Herbert Armstrong, as well as the magnified errors of Joseph Tkach, and all the various splinter groups which came out of the Worldwide Church of God.  I was able to observe from the sidelines all the political chicanery and back-stabbing and in-fighting which began to display itself in Worldwide, and the many church groups that began to split off from it. 

 

Sadly, they ALL have plenty to repent of, in order to get right with God.  They all have a lot of spiritual baggage and garbage they need to jettison and dump in a spiritual Dump site and Garbage disposal unit somewhere.  For more understanding of these things, write for our articles, “Crisis in the Worldwide Church of God,” “Joseph Tkach – Apostle or Apostate,” “The Monster Apostle,” “Where the Vultures Gather,” and “The Church of Laodicea.”

 

Apostasy Magnified!

 

Joseph Tkach himself led the life of a “king.”  He flew in the church’s private  Gulf Stream jet aircraft, visited churches around the world, stayed in the best suites in the most expensive hotels, with his entourage of lackeys and assistants.  It was rumored that he was a homosexual and bisexual man, as well.  In fact, it was told that many at the church’s headquarters were closet homosexuals. 

 

At the same time, John Trechak, of Ambassador Report fame, a newsletter which followed the perambulations and pereginations of the Worldwide Church of God, and later its many offshoots, published a great deal about Tkach’s background, the lies which many had used to make him seem a church hero and superstar apostle, and his connections with gangster figures.  He even rode around Pasadena with a bumper sticker which read “Mafia Staff Car.” 

 

Tkach, according to John Trechak’s trenchant reporting, was committing adultery with his secretary, Ellen Escat.  During that time, a lady in Chicago wrote me a personal letter, in which she claimed that Tkach, when a local elder in Chicago area, had come by to visit her soon after the death of her husband.  He comforted her, she said, by hugging her, then taking her to bed, and committing sexual coitus with her!  She felt very guilty and unclean thereafter, and years later wrote to me about the sordid episode. 

 

But even worse, spiritually, Tkach began turning the church around and going 180 degrees back to the protestant church teachings.  Using some of the mistakes and sins of Herbert Armstrong as an excuse, he decided to “clean house” of ALL of Herbert Armstrong’s personal writings, article, booklets, and his books – such as his Autobiography, Missing Dimension in Sex and Marriage, Incredible Human Potential, and Mystery of the Ages. 

 

It was this sadistic spiritual Monster that had me "disfellowshiped" as being a heretic, a year after he took control of the Worldwide Church of God, and had me 'marked' from the pulpits around the world.  

 

Finally, around 1990-92, he completely got rid of the Sabbath, permitting golf or sports activities on the Holy Sabbath, abolished the annual Festivals, and embraced paganism in the church, including displaying the cross, celebrating Christmas, Easter, and turning the church back to mainline Protestantism. 

 

Shortly after this, Tkach himself died of a rapidly metastasizing cancer which spread throughout his body.  It was reported that he had 40 spots of cancer.  He boasted shortly before his death, that he wouldn’t be pushing up lilies very soon.  But contrary to his expectation, that is exactly what happened.  He was buried in the same cemetery as Herbert W. Armstrong.  His short career as head of the Worldwide Church of God was cut off by one of the worst plagues God sends upon errant human beings.  For his apostasy and rebellion against the laws of God, he will have to answer before the Supreme Court of Heaven when the final day of judgment comes!

 

Retrospective Reflection

 

Of course these scandalous and unsavory events all devastated our children and family when all these things happened.  But I believe our children soon got over most of the trauma, and were very grateful to not have anything to do with the Worldwide Church of God or any of its authoritarian off-shoots.  

 

In the meantime, of course, out of conscience toward God and His Word, I could not go along with the apostasy, and determined to obey God and do what I had originally set out to do back in 1956 – about 50 years ago – in Formosa, as I made my decision to follow CHRIST and devote my life to Him.  I decided to keep on studying the Bible, learning from God, and to follow the word of God, and serve God however He made it possible for me to do so.  

 

Looking back over my life, I think it has been all one vast training ground, for future service.  All my experiences were to my eventual profit and spiritual benefit.  Even all  the trials, tests, persecutions, and slanderous attacks, have been for my good!

 

As the apostle Paul wrote:  “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

 

And Christ Himself said:  “Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy!  For indeed your reward is great in heaven, for in like manner their fathers did to the prophets” (Luke 6:22-23).

 

Thanks and Praise to God

 

Therefore, I consider all the experience I received during the Worldwide years as being a TRAINING GROUND, and a testing ground, to help me to come “to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the Head – Christ – from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:13-16). 

 

I am thankful to God that He has been training, educating, and preparing and enabling me to serve Him, through the tools He has given to me – and the talents He has provided me – through writing, speaking, and teaching the truth of God’s Word, in a way that is plain, clear, and understandable.

 

That is my life story in a nutshell.  Of course, much has, of necessity, been left out for the sake of space and brevity.   I hope you, the reader, will find it to be interesting, informative, inspiring, and  helpful in your own spiritual journey through this mortal life.  We must all carry our own “cross” (Luke 14:26).  Obviously much water has passed under the bridge and gone out to sea, since many of these things.  I look back over my life, and revisit the many painful experiences and heart-aches, and if I had it to do over again, I would still probably make most of the same choices.  For I believe that God has been directing my life, and He has been in charge of my education, training and experience.  I was chosen to be His servant.  And His servant I am.  I can see that to be His servant, I had to be humbled, brought down to a clear, personal relation with Him, and learn to beware of men.  All the experiences, even the “bad ones,” were to teach me invaluable and important spiritual lessons and to help build holy, tenacious, righteous, strong, determined, godly CHARACTER. 

 

As Jesus Christ said to His disciples, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you” (John 15:16).

 

He said, “I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in Him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

 

David once declared:  “O LORD, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant; You have loosed my bonds.  I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD” (Psalm 116:16-17).

 

If I had some prescience, or knowledge of the future, I might have done some things differently, at times.  But who knows the future?  Only God does.  Yet as I look back, and cast my eyes over the life I have lived to this date, I see the hand of God carefully placed here and there.  All in all, I believe God has had His hand on me and led me through all the trials and difficulties and dangers of my life, safely and securely, and has blessed me, my wife, our children, and family very much.   My wife is a true pillar, and “woman of valor” (Proverbs 31). 

 

God said, “Blessed is every one who fears the LORD, who walks in His ways.  When you eat the labor of your hands, you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.  Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table.  Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD” (Psalm 128:1-4).

 

I have truly been greatly blessed.  Praised be the name of the LORD!   To my children, I say, had I not been at Ambassador College, and in the Worldwide Church of God, for a time, I would not have ever met the one who was to become your Mother -- a true treasure – and you, my children – Nathan, Natalie, and Nancy – would never have been born!  So let’s thank GOD that He has been in charge, all the time – and He will NEVER leave us, fail us, or forsake us – NEVER!

 

“Fiery and Passionate”

 

            Recently, mY daughter Natalie, in speaking with my wife over the telephone, told her, “Mom, I am like you and Dad in that I have two major character traits from each of you.  You hate having to confront people, and you are very sensitive.  So am I.  And Dad is both fiery and filled with passion.  And like Dad, I am both fiery and passionate in the things I believe in. Therefore, I’m like a ticking time bomb, waiting to go off!” 

 

As they talked, I overheard my wife tell my daughter, “You have an awesome Dad!”  And my daughter said, ‘I know.”   This interchange moved me deeply, and touched me.  Oh, I pray it will really be so – for I love my family very much.  And I love God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength! 

 

            The words “fiery and passionate” also struck me in a profound way, because as I think about it, I believe she is right.  She has a good sense about sizing people up.  She sees me as fiery and passionate.  Yes, she is right.  I am also strong-willed, sometimes stubborn, and uncompromising.  I have long prayed that God would help me to be like Phineas, the son of Aaron, whose zeal for the LORD was extraordinary, so that God said of him, “Phineas, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath, because he was zealous with My zeal among them, so that I did not consume the children of Israel in My zeal” (Numbers 25:11).  “Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace . . . because he was zealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel” (verse 12-13).

 

            I have also long prayed that God would fill me with His Holy Spirit – a double portion of His Spirit, as Elisha sought.  I have prayed to be “on fire” for God, seeking to please Him in all things, and not “men.”  For men cannot be trusted.  As David wrote, “Do not put your trust in princes [or, for that matter, “ministers” or religious leaders – they will break your heart and soul], nor in a son of man [margin, “a human being”], in whom there is no help [margin, “salvation”]” (Psalm 146:3).

 

            I believe in the power of God in our lives. I believe, as Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). 

 

            I have long sought to be fiery and uncompromising, like Elijah on top of Mount Carmel, in a face-down with the prophets of Baal.  Elijah declared to the children of Israel, massed before him, “How long will you falter between two opinions?  If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him” (I Kings 18:21). 

 

            James writes, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly [fervently] that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.  And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit” (James 5:17-18).  And as James pointed out:  “The effective prayer of a righteous man avails much” (verse 16, NKJV) – or “is powerful and effective” (NRSV) – “have a powerful effect” (Moffatt) – “The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]” (Amplified Parallel Bible).

 

            It gratifies me to think that Natalie sees me as being fiery and passionate about my work, my beliefs, and as the major character traits she received from me. 

 

            Perhaps we have done something right in raising our children.  They have turned out to be wonderful human beings, caring, compassionate, honest, hating dishonesty, strong, young men and women of character. 

 

Rejoice – and Rejoice Forever More!

 

So let’s ALL rejoice, and be thankful to God, for thanksgiving and gratitude are very becoming – like an ornament of gold and silver around the neck. No matter what happens in our lives, we can trust in God to deliver us! 

 

As the apostle Paul wrote, “Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support.  [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)!  [Assuredly not!] [Josh.1:5].  So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified].  What can man do to me? [Psa.27:1; 118:6.]” (Hebrews 13:5-6, Parallel Amplified Bible)

 

David declared, “Oh, give thanks to the LORD!  Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples!  Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; talk of all His wondrous works!  Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those who rejoice who seek the LORD!  Seek he LORD and His strength; seek His face evermore!” (Psalm 105:1-4).  David also wrote, “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!  For His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 107:1).

 

With promises like these, we can joyfully understand why the apostle Paul wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I will say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).   And why he declared, “Who shall ever separate us from Christ’s love?  Shall suffering and affliction and tribulation?  Or calamity and distress?  Or persecution or hunger or destitution or peril or sword?  . . . Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us.  For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom.8:35-39, Parallel Amplified Bible).

 

Suggested Reading

 

“The Power of Faith and Prayer”

“What Is Real Repentance?”

“What’s All This about Baptism?”

“What Is a Genuine Christian?”

“Faith and Prayer”

“How To Pray with Power”

“How to Walk with God”

“Is Obedience Required for Salvation?”

 

“How Have the Mighty Fallen!”

“Back to Babylon!”

“The Incredible Prophetic Errors of Herbert W. Armstrong!”

“Where the Church Went Wrong”

“Crisis in the Worldwide Church of God!”

“A New Look at Church Authority”

“How Should Ministers Be Ordained?”

“End-Time Apostasy!”

 

“Joseph Tkach – Apostle or Apostate?”

“Joseph Tkach – a Son of Perdition?”

“The Monster Apostle!”

“The Laodicean Church Rises Up!

“The Great Apostasy!”

 

“Where Is the True Church?”

“Our Statement of Beliefs”

“Truth about the Philadelphia Church of God”

“The Seven Churches of Revelation”

“The Plain Truth about Church Government”

“The Most Amazing Prophecies of Zechariah 11 Revealed!”

“Which Church Is God’s True Church?” 

“The True Story Behind Triumph”