Behold How Good and How Pleasant it is for Brethren to Dwell Together in Unity (Psalms 133:1)
I am currently in charge of the marketing and human resources departments in a retirement facility. On my day off I volunteer with another Christian sister at the Amana Christian Bookstore in Berkeley. I find that being with other believers on this one day is much more pleasant and refreshing than dealing with all other earthly matters.
Having been brought up by atheist parents, I praise the Lord that I was able to receive the gospel and be baptized in the local church during my senior year in high school. What attracted me most was the sweet care I experienced from the families and other students. I was especially touched that one sister diligently called me several times each week for prayer, prayerful reading of the Bible, and fellowship. I felt very much at home when I was with this family, and also spent much time with their three young children. It was during this time that I learned to say, “I love You, Lord.”
I went to a private Christian college for one semester after graduation. Having only been saved for a few months, I thought that this would be a positive experience because, after all, it was Christian. To my surprise, the atmosphere was very dead spiritually, having many requirements but no life. The closest local church was an hour away, yet many times the believers in that local church came to take me to the meetings. I was deeply moved by their care, but I knew I needed to move back closer to home, and more importantly, closer to the church.
For the remainder of my college years I lived with a young family and another sister meeting with the church. I thoroughly enjoyed being with them and sharing the Lord together. They helped strengthen my prayer life and encouraged me to attend many church conferences and retreats. Many families opened their homes and hearts, inviting students for dinners, providing spiritual and physical nourishments, a peaceful atmosphere for studying, and on occasions a shoulder to cry on. Even the times of doing household chores became a pleasant experience, as we would pray and sing while completing various tasks.
These precious experiences caused me to realize that I cannot live the Christian life on my own. Often I look to other believers as a source of encouragement. Moreover though, I know I need to stop trying to do things on my own and just trust in the Lord in every situation. Thank you, Lord, for bringing me to the local church.
Living by God’s Life in Me
I began meeting with the local churches in 1986 when I was working as a resident in urology. Prior to that time, I had attended gospel meetings of several different Christian groups and I had realized the need of salvation through Christ as my Savior and Lord. However, I did not understand many aspects of the mystery of Christ (Eph. 3:4) nor did I have any experience of living by God’s life in me.
After I began to meet with the local churches, and through the writings of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee and the cherishing and nourishing of many brothers and sisters, I gradually began to see what is the mystery of Christ, God’s eternal plan, and the purpose of human life (Ephesians 3:9). I also enjoyed a daily supply of the Word of God through fellowship with other believers in the local churches.
After a few years, I realized that the full enjoyment of Christ and the Church is not merely to have the knowledge objectively, but through daily living to experience the living Christ as the all-inclusive Spirit in my spirit so I can live by God’s life in me. The Lord Jesus while living on earth was the first who lived a perfect human living according to the divine life within Him. All the riches of God’s life and nature were fully expressed in His human virtues. The Apostle Paul also lived by God’s life in him. He said, “It is no longer I who live but it is Christ who lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20) I want to live the same way.
During the latter part of 1996 until early June 1997 I had the privilege of caring for brother Witness Lee as a physician for his illness. Through my personal observation and fellowship I observed that brother Lee lived by God’s life within him. He had not only described this kind of living but personally lived such a life. He constantly shared Christ each and every time whether in good health or in sickness. Although I did provide medical care to him, I received much more supply and nourishment of the divine life of Christ through his sharing and living. Whenever a decision in therapy needed to be made, he always sought the Lord as well as the Christian brothers and sisters taking part in his care. Through the physical sufferings in his illness even until the end of his human life, he enjoyed more and more of the sufficient grace of Christ and the power of His resurrection (2 Corinthians 12:9; Philippians 3:10). I am deeply grateful and praise the Lord for giving me such a wonderful pattern to observe. I want to continue my living in the same manner until we meet again in the kingdom.
Challenged, Enlightened, Nourished, and Fulfilled
I am a physician-researcher at a university medical center, a father of two, and a seeking Christian since I met the Lord in a definite way in my youth. I want to express that I have found the ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee to be a precious resource to me in my daily walk with the Lord. Their writings reflect a profound and intimate knowledge of the Bible. The language of their writings is simple, making it readable and understandable. It lacks the grandiosity of most theological writings I’ve come across, so I don’t get lost in complex language; yet more than a cursory examination will reveal that the thoughts conveyed by these two servants of the Lord are indeed deep and solidly based in Scripture.
Through their writings I have come to love the Bible. It is a rich, deep mine, containing the revelation of God’s heart’s desire to man. The Bible to me is tremendously difficult to understand, especially to see past the stories and commandments and to seize upon its central message, to peer into the heart of God. I cannot pretend to have the capacity or insight to grasp its contents. The ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee has, for me, unlocked the Bible to a great degree. I am prompted to pause at almost every page of their writings, challenged to consider and reconsider, to think, to muse, and to pray over what has been said. At almost every page, in the Lord’s presence, I also receive the shining of His divine light. Lately I have been re-reading many of the footnotes of Witness Lee in the Recovery Version of the New Testament. Truly enlightening! The Bible is becoming an opened book, and a never-ending source of spiritual nourishment.
These brothers’ writings not only present the truths, the doctrines of the Bible, in a very clear way, but they also lead me into the normal, healthy experience of Christ. I was helped to see that the Bible is not a dead book, but the living breath of the living God, requiring me to receive it and practice it in a living way (2 Timothy 3:16). For instance, during a busy day, exhausted by deadlines at work and responsibilities at home, I enjoy calling on the name of the Lord, as Jeremiah did, breathing the Lord’s name out of a low dungeon (Lamentations 3:55-56). Through this, I receive the riches of Christ (Romans 10:10). What a fulfilling experience that a man on the earth can be joined to the Lord as one spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17)! This is but one example of a scriptural practice that has helped me in my personal life, family life, and professional life.
I am glad to see such writings in wider distribution nowadays. I believe that many will receive the benefit that I have received. God desires that all men come to the full knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4), and I thank the Lord that the faithful ministry of these two brothers in Christ has helped me toward this goal.
Thou, O Lord, art Satisfied!
My coming to the local churches to pursue Christ began in my senior year in high school. My brother invited me to a young people’s meeting his friend had been taking him to. My brother had said, “It’s good. You can ask questions.” So I went along. We were brought up Catholic and the many Sunday schools I attended never seemed to satisfy. The Sunday Mass was boring to me and not so glorious. Most attendees were sullen and the fellow Sunday school students were not very friendly outside of Sunday school. In the meantime, by the Lord’s mercy, I read the New Testament little by little before going to bed many nights and had gained some knowledge of God’s word. I began to wonder, “How do we know that the way we are worshipping God is the way He wants us to worship?” And “When the Bible says that we shall love the Lord our God with all of our heart and all our strength, it must be true; otherwise, why would He write it?” Although the young people meeting didn’t answer these questions specifically, I felt something different about these young people. They knew the truth in the Word, and were genuine lovers of Christ to whom I was already attracted. With them, I spontaneously began calling on the Lord Jesus.
When I went to college, a lot of things were new to me, especially the many different fellowship groups that existed on campus. That first year I attended Protestant, non-denominational, Catholic and social groups. My roommate and my best friend in the dorm were Christians, and my friends in the same academic department joined Chinese associations and attended the dance parties. At the same time, some Christian sisters from the local church, one of whom I knew from high school, also visited me in the dorms. They ate lunch, read ministry pamphlets and prayed with me once a week. When one of them could not join us, another would always be there. They were so busy with school but never ceased to take care of me. I occasionally went to dinner and a home meeting with them on Friday nights. But other Fridays I would be out with friends. Some weeknights, I would visit other fellowship groups. OnSundays I would attend Catholic Mass. Nevertheless, the brothers and sisters in the local church always gave me the best impression. I not only always felt welcomed but felt that they were genuinely godly and loving.
Finally, I was tired of all the running around. I made a little prayer to the Lord to just bring me to where He is happy. One Friday night at a dance party with friends, I found myself asking in my heart, “What am I doing here?” I all of a sudden felt very out-of-place. From then on, I never returned to those social events, but rather began to meet with the brothers and sisters in the local church in the Friday night home meetings more often than before. Every time I went there, I just felt really satisfied and at home. Later, on one occasion, sitting down and watching all the dear brothers and sisters busy with practical matters in the meeting hall, I sensed a real peace and joy within; here is where I felt that the Lord was really happy, satisfied and glorified through them.
The summer after my first year of college I was baptized. Since then the Lord has been more and more real to me. I still recall one gospel meeting held in Berkeley. In that meeting, I first saw the eternal economy of God like never before. From one brother’s sharing after another, I felt the Bible was being opened to me, answering all my questions. God,in the beginning in Genesis, has a heart’s desire to have man filled with His life. The man will match Him and be one with Him for His expression and authority. Though man fell, God did not give up. In the end in Revelation He gains this one man who matches Him, His Bride, and He is the Bridegroom. Everything in between in the Bible speaks of Christ, the God-man who is the prototype of that which He had desired. This Christ is also the means, the way and the life to make us into His Bride to accomplish this desire in His heart. When I finished hearing this, I praised the Lord! The Bible is really a book, with beginning and end, and could have been written by none other than God Himself. At the time, the Lord was shining strongly within me through the speaking, making everything I’d heard, read, questioned in the Bible and about God real, clear and answered. I went back to the dorms feeling wonderfully happy and set free. I even wanted to read the Bible more. Every verse I read was so living and new. Even the footnotes by Witness Lee compiled in the Recovery Version of the New Testament were so rich! Later, the Lord also showed me that He wants to wrought His very self into my being. This is wonderful, loving and wise.
Because of the Lord’s mercy and grace, He has found me and brought me to a place to pursue with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart (2 Tim. 2:22). In my experience, there is no better place than here where I can love and know Christ, get the truth and its riches, serve Him and be built up with others for His making us a part of that Bride He wanted from beginning to the end. I really enjoy this portion of a hymn
Oh, what a joy to have this blessed oneness!
We sense that Thou, O Lord, art satisfied!
And we too share this blissful satisfaction–
Sweet foretaste of the Bridegroom with His Bride.
God has Shown Me the Church
I was raised and saved in denominations in Hong Kong. Somehow I never asked myself why there were so many different churches and why they emphasized different things. “Church” to me was just the building. I came across the term “the Body of Christ” in the Bible and didn’t really know what it meant until I came to the United States.
In the fall of 1985, I started going to college at UC Santa Cruz. I went to visit the pastor of a Baptist church nearby. I got the schedule of their Sunday’s Service and I was planning to attend the following Sunday. Then something happened on that Saturday. My roommate and I missed the bus which was ahead of schedule. We felt pretty bummed out since we would have to wait for another hour at the bus stop. Luckily my roommate’s friend was driving by and offered us a ride. Her friend, an American, started practicing his Chinese on me in the car. I was very curious and asked him where he learned his Chinese. He told me there were a lot of Chinese in his church. I asked if I could check it out.
It took me awhile to find the meeting hall of that church since it did not look like any church I had ever seen, nor did it have any obvious sign. And the way they conducted the meeting was totally different. There was no pastor and everybody was calling “O Lord Jesus” very sincerely and very loudly. As I got to know the members of that church, I found that they were genuine believers who loved the Lord. I even became roommates with one of the college age sisters who was also from Hong Kong. We were able to fellowship very often. I was totally amazed by how much truth she knew. I got more help from her speaking than I got from the pastor in Hong Kong. I started to read the books of Watchman Nee. That’s when I started to realize that the Church is the Body of Christ which is constituted of all the believers. And due to practicality, there are churches in different localities. But there’s only one Body of Christ in the universe. Since God is living, His Church is also living.
It is great to be saved. Yet it was such a revelation when I saw that I belonged to the Body of Christ that would become God’s ultimate expression. I saw that I was a member of the Body and every member has a function in the Body (just like in our human body). I started attending the training of Witness Lee. I saw eventually that he was just a faithful servant of God like the apostle Paul. And I was much blessed by his ministry.
It’s been 15 years since I started meeting with the local churches. There’s no other place I’d rather be. Here God’s leading and God’s words are always fresh and new. Although I was only looking for a church, God showed me something more.
Seek and You shall Find, Knock and It Shall be Opened to You
My initial seeking for God began with a simple prayer when I was in elementary school. One evening, I bowed down on my knees and made my request. "God, I do not know You, but please reveal Yourself to me. How can I get to know You? Today, there are so many places that worship You...it's very confusing. Which one is the 'right' one? Please don't let me waste my time wandering. Please lead me and clearly show me which is Your choice." This is my testimony of how He faithfully answered my prayers.
At the age of twelve, I was saved through a friend of the family who met with the local church in Berkeley. After presenting the gospel, she helped me to offer a simple prayer to receive the Lord as my Savior and life. This was His first step in answering my prayer. Although I did not have any rush of emotion, I found that I really enjoyed praying to Him. Almost every night I would kneel by my bed and offer a prayer. When I was in elementary school, we had quiet time in the beginning of class to pray. I began to treasure those times, and wished those times were longer.
However, since I was the first member in my family to have some interest in the Bible and desire to meet with other Christians, most of my early experiences in the local church were quite limited. The family through which I had been saved lived in a different city. So most of my early church experiences consisted of a few Sunday Bible meetings and bi-annual local church retreats. Though my meeting with the believers was limited, He continued to show His faithfulness, as I was baptized in one of the retreats.
Nevertheless, there was still a longing to have regular meetings with Christians. In my hometown was a non-denominational Christian group to which my junior high classmate invited me. I went to a few summer sessions about the Bible. There were a lot of activities and the people were very kind. But as I entered into high school, I needed something more. My good friends in junior high were going to go to a private school and I was left alone. Furthermore, my high school was quite rough—being influenced by alcohol, smoking and parties. This was a very difficult time for me. My parents did not understand the difficulties I was facing. Time and time again, I cried out to Him for comfort and relief. He answered in His own way and own time.
By my sophomore year, I was able to drive a car. Finally, I had the means to attend more Christian meetings! I drove to the church gatherings in my hometown. However, to my disappointment, most of the gatherings were more like social gatherings with very little focus on the Bible. I recall going to a Sunday meeting in the Christian gathering in my hometown so thirsty for even reading a few Bible passages. The Bible session consisted of just a booklet with pictures of Jesus and warnings about hell. I needed companions with whom I could seek Christ, not social gatherings! I needed the truth, which could set me free!
The friend of the family from the local church would occasionally call and encourage me to attend some of the young people’s meetings in a neighboring city. I had declined several offers since I did not personally know the people meeting in the nearby city. Finally, after a few months, I decided to go. That night, my desperate cries were answered. I walked into a small home where about 10 people were gathered. They were singing hymns and calling on the name of the Lord. It wasn't a loud or an outwardly impressive meeting, but these believers were genuinely seeking Him! I was so peaceful and satisfied. I was home at last!
Through the faithful labor and ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee, I have enjoyed the continual supply, light and opening of His Word. These brothers have been faithful to speak not only the words of grace in a rich and abundant way, but also are faithful to speak the word of righteousness in their publications. Time and time again, when I wander away from Him, I just open to this ministry and faithfully it brings me back to Christ and His purpose and ultimate goal, the New Jerusalem. Time and time again, I am reminded to be faithful to what God has graciously given.
Furthermore, from this ministry I have realized that to be a Christian is more than just salvation from the lake of fire, and more than just doing good works. How wonderful it is that I am redeemed, but much more I am being saved in Christ's Life (Rom. 5:10). He today is the life-giving Spirit to supply my spirit with the divine life that enables me to do what I cannot do. I can grow in the divine life by enjoying the riches of His Word as my milk and solid food in order to reach full maturity. More importantly, to be a Christian is not an individual matter. He has broken down the middle wall of partition not only to have a peaceful relationship between all peoples, but to build up the Body of Christ that consummates in the New Jerusalem.
Throughout the centuries, the Lord has revealed Himself and His purpose to His believers. I know that for myself, it would take many, many years to absorb and digest all the unveiling of God's Word. I am thankful for both Watchman Nee and Witness Lee's diligence to stand on the shoulders of those who went before, to whom God had revealed His Word.
The Reading of Faith
It was a happy day when Jesus took my heart from the black of night into the kingdom of His light! I had grown up attending children’s church meetings and had always heard about the Lord Jesus, but as a young person I was cynical and rebellious. I would not participate in any church activities, except for competitive ones, knowing that by my cleverness I would win prizes. Yes, my heart was softened toward the Lord after I had a major illness at the age of 12, but soon after that I fell back into my old state of godlessness.
It was not until I left my country to go to Canada, sent by my parents to pursue a “higher and better education”, that the Lord fully captured me. I was bored with high school, so I spent a lot of time reading novels. Since my older sister was a fervent lover of Christ, she would often take me along with her to the meetings of the local church. Sometimes I would sit for hours as they watched a videotaped message of an old gentleman, Witness Lee, speaking on the book of Exodus. In the meetings, the believers would call on the name of the Lord and sing with great happiness. Witness Lee’s speaking was profound and mysterious to me, but nonetheless I somehow enjoyed listening to him. Though I had heard of him, I had never heard him speak until now. Soon afterward, I decided to try reading some of his writings and that of his close co-worker, Watchman Nee, and through this the Lord took the opportunity to slowly draw me. I would end up spending hours reading these books, something quite different from reading my usual novel! I was so captivated and refreshed, and I would feel so happy and inwardly satisfied after reading just a few sentences.
I didn’t realize that the Lord was already working in me to save me into His wonderful purpose through the precious truths revealed in the writings of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee. I began to apply and experience the Lord washing me and cleansing me of my past with His precious blood (1 John 1:9). I also began to experience many the truths that were presented in the Bible through their writings, such as regeneration (John 3:6-7), renewing (Romans 12:2), and transformation (2 Corinthians 3:18).
By now, I had fully fallen in love with the Lord Jesus. I would look forward the bi-annual Bible trainings held by Witness Lee, which always emphasized not only the doctrinal truths of the Bible but also encouraged us to subjectively live and experience all the truths we heard. I am very thankful for the faithful teaching of Witness Lee and Watchman Nee. I would like to “continue in the things which [I] have learned and have been assured of, knowing from which ones [I] have learned them” (2 Timothy 3:14). Without their faithful and unadulterated ministering of the pure Word of God, this believer in Christ could only be superficial and shallow, and God would not be able to accomplish his purpose either.