A LETTER FROM CHANGCHOW, FUKIEN PROVINCE
To our brother in the Lord, Mr. Watchman Nee:
The people in the denominations here often say that our meeting is not according to the Bible because it is not organized and because in the Bible there are the titles of elder and deacon. Although we have the reality, it gives people an excuse to refuse us because we do not have the names. We do not know how to answer this kind of question. If there are people in the meetings that are like elders and deacons, would it be all right to openly acknowledge them before the brothers and sisters and give them the title? We hope you will instruct us.
We are writing about the condition of the meeting in Changchow in general and ask you, brother, to publish it in Collection of Newsletters. Although we have prayed much before writing about these matters, if there is any problem with the language or any punctuation that needs to be added, please give it to the brother responsible for Collection of Newsletters to freely edit and correct the punctuation.
Furthermore, we would like to make a suggestion concerning the names of the responsible brothers in each locality. If a list of these names could be printed and sent to each locality, then when brothers and sisters travel with letters of recommendation from the responsible brothers, whoever sees the letters would know immediately whether the letter is authentic and where they are from. We do not know whether this is a good idea or not.
Mr. Nee, if the Lord is willing, we really hope that you can come again to southern Fukien to help us. Please remember the churches in southern Fukien. We have been hoping for several years now! May the Lord lead. Peace!
Wu Feng Yuan, Chen Ch’eng Ch’ing,
Teng Chu Ch’in, Kuo Shu P’an
July 11, 1934
Mailing Address: 30 Po Ai Road, South Market End, Changchow, Fukien
According to the Bible, the church is not without organization. It has an organization, but it is not like the organization of man’s will today. The Bible shows us that a local church has elders and deacons. They are chosen and established by the apostles. Today the church is desolate. There are no apostles, so there is no one in the church today with the authority to establish elders and deacons. Nevertheless, we can act according to the principles used by the apostles in establishing elders and deacons and allow some of the older (especially in spirituality), more stable brothers to rise up and bear the responsibility of the elders. We can also allow some of the more spiritual brothers and sisters who can manage affairs to rise up to bear the burden of the deacons. We can let the brothers and sisters know that these people are bearing the responsibility for these offices in the meeting, but we cannot give them the title of the offices. This is because today no one has the authority to formally establish elders and deacons, so no one can formally give anyone the title of elder or deacon. Please see Issue No. 5 of this publication.
It would be helpful to all the localities to publish a list of the responsible brothers in each locality. However, we will not be able to print a book like this immediately. In the second issue of this publication we published the names of the responsible brothers in all the meetings in the region of Fu Ning County, northern Kiangsu. Beginning with this issue, we will do our best to publish the names of the responsible brothers of each meeting at the end of the news from that meeting. We hope that from now on when the brothers communicate with us they will tell us the names of the responsible brothers in their localities.—Editor
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 2) Vol. 25: Collection of Newsletters (1), Chapter 10, by Watchman Nee)