A Matured Shepherd as the Reproduction of Christ
Brother Xiang Chen
In the Chrch in Irvine, California, United States
Brother Runhuan Liu was the one who exerted the most profound spiritual influence on me. Thru my fellowship with him and observing every word and every deed of him, and the details in his living, I received a tremendous benefit. What Brother Run Huan Liu touched me most deeply was that both his fellowship and his humanity were exceedingly sweet, fine and even. One of his favorite Bible verses was what Paul said: “Be imitators of me, as I also am of Christ.”(1 Cor.11:1) Brother Liu was just like the apostle Paul, the wonderful, excellent, and mysterious God-man, who lived in the Gospels, continuing to live through one of His many members. (Acts 28:19, footnote 1)
In April of 1994, I met Brother Liu for the first time. In the former meeting hall of the church in Banqiao, he was sitting on the brim of the meeting place and looked inconspicuous. But under the Lord’s sovereignty, we were arranged in the same small group meeting. As a student majoring electrical engineering in National Taiwan University, I was full of pride in worldly things; although I was not equipped with the truth and was not mature in life, I liked to express a great deal “higher opinions” in the group meeting. Brother Liu, sitting beside me, not only did not correct me or condemn my spirit, but cherished and encouraged me by sharing his personal experience of coordinating with Brother Watchman Nee and Brother Witness Lee. His repeated sharing and fellowship exhibited the treasure of the New Testament Ministry of Brother Watchman Nee and Brother Witness Lee that I was attracted unconsciously to firmly asserted the way of the Lord’s recovery, which is the most noble and most valuable, and my whole life would be devoted into. Henceforth, not only was my life full of the enjoyment of the Lord, even more in my unversity life my low test scores became improving constantly; I had been transformed from the decadence of my will to become joyful and overcoming.
That Brother Liu took lead in pursuing the ministry books and the practice of the church life has exercised a very great and very profound influence. By our corporate pursuit of one ministry book entitled The Elders’ Management of the Church in 1994, I began to treasure the priceless treasure in God’s eyes—the Church. He, who had ever participated in the gospel teams in both Shanghai and Taiwan in the early days, had the burden to take the lead in the practice of preaching the gospel by door-knocking. He did not call many followers, just begining from few burdened brothers and sisters. When contacting people on the road, he always asked: “Did you believe in Jesus?” His question caused people to feel that only those who believe in Jesus are normal, yet those who do not believe in Jesus are strange. He, even imitated the pattern of Brother Lee in the early days, according to the map, leading saints to distribute the gospel tracts on the streets and lanes in Banqiao. One time when we distributed the gospel tracts in the former railway station in Banqiao, many people receiving the gospel tracts did not treasure them, and even some spat on the tracts. I saw on that very day the railway station was stuffy, and Brother Liu also seemed uncomfortable. Therefore, I asked him if he need go home, yet he said : ”For the Lord, I care for nothing!” Such a pattern encouraged me to develop a habit of distributing the gospel tracts and preaching the gospel.
Brother Liu acted as a stenographer of Brother Lee in 1950s. Because Brother Lee was taken by the Lord in 1997, from 1998 Brother Liu spent most of his time and energy to translate and sort out into word the short hand manusripts of the messages realeased by Brother Lee in 1950s, and then sent them to the Gospel Book Room to check and publish. When he was sorting out the messages concerning “How to Meet” and the Lord’s table meeting, he raised up the burden to lead brothers and sisters to exercise the bread-breaking that brothers and sisters might not only learn the high peak truths positively, but also lay a foundation on the fundamental truths and practice. When we were in a Lord’s table meeting one time, because I select a hymn concerning the New Jerusalem near the conclusion of the meeting and did not mention the worship of the Father, he solemnly rebuked me. He said that after we praised the Lord, the Lord, the Firstborn Son would lead us to worship the Father; if we did not worship the Father, He would not be satisfied, and the Lord’s table meeting would lack something. Henceforth, I exercised that wherever I was, even at the Lord’s table meeting in a small district in the United States, if the meeting was close to the conclusion, the saints haven’t worshipped the Father, I would be the first one to worship Him.
As to the separating line between brothers and sisters, Brother Liu’s attitude was very strict, and he also asked us to always remind this matter in the church life. He frequently mentioned that when he was still a young brother, the elders in the church in Shanghai laid hands on him and prayed for him: “Flee youthful lusts.” He also mentioned that in the last several training meetings, Brother Lee spoke many times concernning the distance and separating line of contacting the opposite sex (For example, we should not be alone with the opposite sex in a closed room). In addition, I also noticed that when he arranged chairs before meetings, he paid much attention to the distance between the chairs reserved for brothers and the chairs reserved for sisters. When a sister’s skirt was too short, he was also very wise to ask a properly dressed sister to help her.
Brother Liu, who considered himself ineloquent, due to being helped by the elder sisters as a co-worker in the early years, had received much perfecting in practical service. He regarded very highly the inner spiritual weight of Levitical service. He said that although we might not do better than the unbelievers concerning the practical matters, we need to exercise to allow the Triune God to pass through us during we cleaned and arranged the chairs before meetings. Therefore because the arrangement of the chairs in the meeting hall of Banqiao had passed through prayers, the spiritual atmosphere filled during the meetings.
In the timely word of the present ministry, Brother Liu was also our pattern. After Brother Lee was taken by the Lord, Brother Liu confirmed that the speaking of brother Ron and Brother Ed was according to the speaking of the ministry of Brother Lee. After I came to the United States for study, he encouraged me, in my spare time after I accomodated the new living and dealt with my assiduous study, to do my best to attend the meetings to closely follow the ministry and the leading of the Church. In addition, he mentioned that he hoped very much that I could testify for the Lord on campuses in the States. Because of his fellowship, I was not only blended into the church life in the States, but also coordinated with saints to bring those of different nationalities into the church life.
Brother Liu often cared for my personal living and spiritual welfare. Concerning my personal condition, he said: “Your natural ability needs to be broken and then be rebuilt by God.” “Being in the Body is something organic, there is no need to take natural effort.” “Don’t use the grace given by God to adorn ourselves. This is what displeases God.” “Our natural constitution would stir up others’ natural constitution, therefore we need to use the will to overcome the excessive emotion.”
In the aspect of the gospel preaching, sometimes I would feel that it might be maneuvered by the gospel friends, but Brother Liu answered that God was not afraid of being maneuvered by man, and God’s creating air was for man to breathe. In addition, the great help he had given to me was “guiding.” Because he had been serving the Lord in his whole life and knowing the Lord’s intention, I was willing to fellowship with him in whatever aspect such as my serving in the church, study, serving in the army, communicating with my wife, marriage, the birth and the growth of my children, etc. When I was preparing to study in the States, concerning choosing a school, he guided me to choose the school near Anaheim. As a result, I was protected during the turmoil, and enjoyed the benefit of coordinating and fellowshipping with the full-time trainees in that locality. Brother Liu was also very approachable, and did not have any spiritual haughtiness. Every time he met my son, he will hold him upon his knees to play games with him.
Brother Liu had ever said that although he was advanced in his age, and his memorizing of the word was not as good as that of the young people, his enjoyment of the Lord was still good. In the United States, when I could not fall asleep in the midnight, I would always call him by phone. Although sometimes he could not fellowship due to the declining of his brain, and we just could call on the name of the Lord for a period of time, then my spirit got restored. In the August of last year, when I returned to Taiwan, I came to his home for fellowship many times. At that time he could not speak for a long period of time, thus he just gave me some brief fellowships. But when I walked on the way home, I recalled and enjoyed the word of fellowship that he gave to me; I felt I was so close to the heaven and so near to God! The situation between me and Brother Liu, was just like the situation where Brother Watchman Nee visited Brother George Cutting （The author of “Safety, Certainty, and Enjoyment”）. After Brother George Cutting had lost a great deal of his memory, he still could say to Brother Watchman Nee: “Brother, I cannot live without Him, He cannot be without me.” Although the memory and health could be stipped of, and even the human life could be stipped of, in Brother Liu, what could not be stipped of and turn out to be something profound was God’s presence.