Chapter 7: One Year of Turnaround in My Spiritual Life
Jeremiah 10:23 I know, O Jehovah, That a man’s way is not in himself; It is not in the man who walks to direct his step
Proverbs 20:24a A man’s steps are ordered by Jehovah;
Before 1948, though I got saved thru grace, and have some service in the local church; but, I still have not completely consecrated, my life has not been dealt much with by the Lord, still did not understand much of the truths. In the beginning of 1948, my very good classmate Xiaduan Zhou, he recommended me to go to Tainan Normal School to be a lecturer there. This coincided with the time when the Church in Fuzhou invited Brother Witness Lee to have a conference, so I resigned from the teaching position from Wuyang Middle School, brought all my luggage and came to Fuzhou, planned on going to Taiwan for work after the conference is over.
The conference started on the lunar calendar January 1st. This time, almost all the co-worker from Fujian Province came to attended, my parents, Brother Wenqou Zheng and myself from Fuxing County came to this conference. The first few days of the conference is gospel-preaching by Brother Lee; I believe there must have been over a hundred signed up to believe the Lord. The next portion is to edify the saints by him. On the matter of life, he particularly focused that we need to live in the Life; to receive the Tree of Life, and not touch the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Towards the service in the church, he emphasized “Body service” and “Church gospel preaching”. Until the last one or two days of the conference, my old wounds acted up, it was extremely painful, adding that I pulled a tooth and it bled out. This time I had a feeling within, it seems going to Taiwan is not God’s will, that is why there are these obstacles. But, I already resigned from school work, my heart was wary. So I told my parents of this situation, father approved of me not going to Taiwan, to see how the Lord leads in the future. After the conference ended, many co-workers went home, I remained in Fuzhou. At that time, I also wanted to go to Baiyatan (where M. E. Barber worked) get help from Songfang Ye, and Xijiang Song these two elderly sisters, for a little bit of Bible study.
Just so happened that for those few days that I stayed in Fuzhou, after Brother Lee finished the conference, went with Peace Wong, and Lajie Lee these two sisters to go to the home of Brother Watchman Nee on Haiguan street, to have two to three days of intimate fellowship. During fellowship, Brother Lee found that in the six years since Brother Nee was forced to stop the work in 1942, had seen many important light in front of the Lord, which other co-workers had not seen. Thus, he begged Brother Nee let the co-workers from all over Fujian that are still in Fuzhou to come to the Nee household to receive Brother Nee’s help. Brother Nee agreed to it. Brother Lee was very glad, and immediately asked the responsible brother of the church in Fuzhou to inform all the co-workers that had remained in Fuzhou to come join. Brother Zhengguang Zheng of Fuzhou informed me to join as well. I was ecstatic, this is a great mercy from God!
First meeting at Brother Nee’s home on Haiguan street, I remember very well. At that time, there were about twenty brother and sister co-workers sitting in the living room. Before Brother Nee came out, everyone sat quietly waiting. After a while, Brother Nee walked out, he was wearing a black long outfit, walked into the hall, paused, smiled at everyone, and then he walked to his own seat and sat down. At this time, somehow, the atmosphere became very tense very stern, everyone almost not even dared to breathe, it was quiet enough that everyone can hear a needle fell on the floor. Then Brother Nee bowed his head and started to pray. His prayer was very quiet, but is prayer from within the spirit, can really touch our spirit. After he finished praying, he asked everyone if they had any questions. Everyone does not dare to mention it, and don’t know what questions to ask. After a pause, it was still Brother Witness Lee asked how to maintain the oneness of the Body of Christ. After this topic started, Brother Nee’s words flowed, like rivers of living water flowing out into us.
Brother Nee’s spiritual life is very rich, the next few days he talked about the issue of the church, along with many other spiritual matters. He felt that the co-workers must “hand themselves over”. If the co-workers do not completely, utterly hand themselves over, they won’t be able to escape the influence of mammon, and cannot have better coordination. Towards the work for the Church, he emphasized that church administration is local, but the work is regional. China is this big, according to the needs of the work, there can be several centers for work. Much like in the Book of Acts, the Church in Jerusalem is a work center, later on the Church in Antioch also became a center for the work. Because these two places all have a bunch of co-workers gathered there. A church that serves as the center of the work, the apostles can serve as elders in those churches. According to this law, at the time, there were many co-workers gathered in Fuzhou, Fuzhou can also become a center of the work.
After Brother Nee fellowshipped these truths, Fuzhou’s original few responsible brothers, after some fellowship through seeking the Lord, expressed willingness to hand over the Church in Fuzhou for the co-workers. As a result, the Church in Fuzhou had a conference in the meeting hall on Jinmen Street. In the meeting, the first few original responsible ones for the Church in Fuzhou started off, expressed that they’re willing to give the church in Fuzhou to the hands of the co-workers on the podium. Next, it was Watchman Nee, Witness Lee, Luosan Chen these three brothers leading the dozens of co-workers from all over Fujian Province up the podium. I, a little brother, was fortunate to be among them. After everyone took their seats, Brother Nee personally came out to speak. This is the first time he’s spoken on the podium in a meeting since his ministry stopped six years ago, everyone was excited. Brother Nee read Matthew chapter 25 verse 14 to 30, the verses about the “loyal servant” and the “evil servant”. He said, the vision he sees for the church is “every talent must be offered up, everyone must function”; the church is poor today, because everyone that has one talent all buried their portion. His words gave me a deep impression, so I later wrote “Offer up all the one talent” hymn.
Brother Watchman Nee first recovered his ministry in Fuzhou, not long after, the church in Fuzhou has a great turnaround. As soon as Brother Witness Lee returned to Shanghai, he immediately prepare for a national co-worker meeting. In this meeting, Brother Nee got invited to Shanghai to clear up some problems and released many messages. This recovered Brother Nee’s leading among the co-workers in this country. In his speaking, Brother Nee pruposed “the matter of handing over ourselves”. All the co-workers handed over themselves, in the summer of 1948, Brother Nee started the first training in Kuling. Co-workers from all over the country all eagerly registered to join. During the first training, Fuzhou had it’s first ever conference, with Caleb Yen, Chongjie Xu, Zijie Zhang, Fenglu Sun these few brothers especially speaking of the truth of “handing over ourselves”. Brother Wenqou Zheng, my father and I all joined this conference. At that time, Brother Wenqou Zheng and myself were a little wary of the how is our family going to live after we give up our livelihood. The two of us went to fellowship with Brother Nee separately. Under Brother Nee’s help and explanations, our uncertainty was all gone, the both of us all hand over ourselves for the Lord. Once I went back to Fuxing County, I sold off about ten mu worth of fields, and consecrated the money all to the church. Father also sold of a store, and gave the money to the church in Fuxing for propagating the gospel. Thru this, God turned my heart upon Him more, so that I may be gained by Him even more.
1948 is the year when my spiritual life took a turn. If I had not gotten the hindrances from going to Taiwan, then my later life would be extremely different. My best classmate, the one who recommended me to go teach in Tainan Normal School, in a couple of years, because the chairman of the education department of Taipei Normal School. If I had gone to Taiwan, I’d have similar impressive achievements in the worldly realm. But spiritually, I would not have been built up like I had been in Mainland, at least I would not have been able to attend the second Kuling training. And definitely not be able to take part of the fellowship of His suffering in the later years, to make up for the lack of Christ’s suffering. Thus, I felt that there is God’s intention behind His leading. His will is higher than that of men, His way is higher than the ways of man; I can only kneel and obey.