A TESTIMONY OF THE REVIVAL
IN THE CHURCH IN CHEFOO
Brother Lee: Since the end of 1942, I saw clearly that unless the problem with money is solved, there is no way for the gospel of God to go out effectively. God’s gospel has been preached in China for over a century. However, the gospel cannot spread to the inland regions. For over one hundred years, it has been Western money that has been supporting the gospel work. This money has been spent along the coastal regions. Many people became rich as a result of becoming believers. These brothers and sisters are no longer able to move, for they have been nailed down by money. At the same time, money was not able to go into the inland regions.
We saw that as long as money has not been released from the brothers and sisters, there is no way for there to be a genuine revival. On December 13, 1942, the Lord did a work among us. That afternoon, I was getting ready to preach a message on life. We had been preaching messages on life for two or three years. But that afternoon my message took a turn. From that day on, we saw that as long as the problem with money is not settled, God’s gospel can never be released.
Today, God cannot be released because the gospel cannot be released, and the gospel cannot be released because money cannot be released. I know that in a certain denomination in a certain place, a few rich people put their money together and built a chapel. Yet the men themselves were still collecting debts and exacting high interest on loans. Can God be released under such circumstances? On that day, some brothers in Chefoo had been without jobs for over a year. Some sisters had to take up embroidery work, which required fine labor, but which did not allow them to earn much money. As a result, not much was received from the offering box. For six months, we received nothing from the offering box designated for the co-worker sisters. But on that day, there was a great difference in offering; many envelopes were received. The offering on that day was not a result of my preaching. On the 20th, which was the following Lord’s Day, I went up to the platform again. At that time, we sang Hymns, #472, and many were moved to tears. They realized that the gospel had not been released because they had been holding back their money. By the next Lord’s Day, the 27th, the Lord’s work was even stronger, and we felt that we had to meet every day. Beginning from January 1, 1943, which was a holiday, we began to have conferences that lasted from ten o’clock in the morning until six o’clock in the afternoon. One brother was sick and could not sleep at night. The Lord touched him and asked him to consecrate himself. He could not resist the Lord, and in the end he yielded everything. In this way, about six to seven hundred people all consecrated everything to the Lord. Some consecrated their grant deeds. Others consecrated their stocks and shares. Many consecrated themselves for the work in northwest China. This lasted for three and a half months. We met every day for over one hundred days. One day I said, "Who is willing to go to northwest China for the gospel’s sake?" Almost everyone stood up. Many were willing to move their whole family including all their wealth for the gospel’s sake. The first group that went were laborers with lowly occupations, farmers, and manual workers. The second group that went had better occupations. Some were nurses, whereas others were doctors, or men with capital. The third group that went out were the preachers and the co-workers. When the first group moved out, it shocked the whole city of Chefoo, for the outsiders had reckoned that we would never be able to do this.
This kind of revival went on for three months, and we got ourselves into big troubles. This does not mean that we tried purposely to get ourselves into trouble. All the brothers and sisters had consecrated their everything. What should we do now? The brothers and sisters had emptied out their hearts and had offered up all their belongings. Some came laughing, while others came weeping. But all came with their belongings. For two nights, we waited on the Lord until after midnight, and we discussed again and again what we should do. On March 14, which was another Lord’s Day, after the bread-breaking meeting, we told the saints what they should do after they have consecrated themselves. During this period, everyone got into this revival. Many dared not even touch their clothes when they went home. The minute they touched them, the Lord would ask them to consecrate. If they kept anything back, they would not have any peace. But when they offered up everything, they had peace.
I realized that it was not right for the church to go into business, because the church was simply the brothers and sisters. Hence, we considered the general condition of the saints and assigned them to various businesses. We closed down some improper businesses. The consecrated lands could not come under the name of the church, and they could not be distributed. As a result, we put them temporarily under the names of the original owners, with the condition that when the church needed the money, they would sell the lands.
Nothing of what we did then causes me to have any regret. The only lack then was prayer. This gave the Japanese a chance to creep in. At that time, we did not see that Satan was doing everything he could to frustrate the work. At that time, because the brothers and sisters had offered up everything, including their time and all their possessions, the church had to make some arrangements. It was also at this time that I fell into trials. I became ill, and I separated myself from the work. Because of this, I was able to escape the hands of the Japanese. After the past five years, I look back and realize that what we did then was indeed the Lord’s way.
(Messages Given During the Resumption of Watchman Nee's Ministry (2 volume set), Chapter 54, by Watchman Nee/Witness Lee)