A VALUABLE SECRET
In all my experience in the local churches throughout the years, I have learned a secret. In the early years when different ones came to complain regarding something in the local churches, I would always listen to them. Then I would go to the elders to say something. The elders, then, would be unhappy with me and say that it was too easy for me to listen to others. If the brothers came to complain about the sisters, I would say something to the sisters. Then the sisters would be unhappy with me and say that it was too easy for me to listen to the brothers. Likewise, when the sisters complained about the brothers, I would say something to the brothers, and they would say it was too easy for me to listen to the sisters. Finally, I learned the lesson and the secret. This secret really solved many problems. When someone came to me, complaining about what the elders had done I would answer them in this way: “Probably you are right. Why don’t you go and tell them yourself.” They would immediately answer that they could not do it. Then I told them, “If you say it, you must also be willing to do it.” This solved many problems.
One day a brother told me that the men’s restroom was not clean. I asked him, “Why don’t you clean it?” Another brother spoke to me regarding the lack of anyone from the church standing on the street to distribute tracts. I told him to go and do it. Eventually, the brothers began to learn that if they spoke to me about anything, I would tell them to do it. This is a good secret and solves many problems. It also stops many from being critical. Do not complain about the leading ones or about this and that. You must put the burden upon yourself. The church can only be built up by you directly. You are the direct builder.
Do not think if a certain brother came, he would help you. If he is a proper prophet, he will charge you to do it. The more the real prophet comes, the more burden you will have. The prophets do not come to release your burden, but to increase your burden. Be strong and work. Do not return to the clergy-laity system.
After the war ended in 1945, all the brothers from the interior of mainland China returned to Nanking, the capital, and invited me to their place. They were so happy that I had come, but I told them, “Brothers do not be so happy. I did not come to release your burden, but to put the burden upon you. I have come with a heavy burden, but I plan to put it on your shoulders. The longer I stay, the more my burden will be reduced and your burden will be increased. After a certain period of time, I will have no burden and you will be fully burdened.” That was in 1946. The next year I was fully released and departed; all the burden was left with the brothers. The next time they wrote me to come and help, I told them to do it themselves.
We all must realize that the building of the local churches is not in the hands of the prophets. All the prophets did was strengthen the priesthood, the kingship, and all the people. “O Zerubbabel, O Joshua, and all ye people, be strong and work!” This is all the prophets did. You must never put the building up of the local church upon others’ shoulders. You must bear it yourselves.
CONSIDER YOUR WAYS
The second thing that the prophet Haggai told them was to consider their ways. “Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages, earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the Lord. Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house” (Hag. 1:6-9). Then the Lord said, “And I called for a drought” (Hag. 1:11). The Lord called for dryness upon all things. Whatever they did, they had the sense that it was so dry.
Look at today’s Christianity. There is so much labor—they sow the seed, they try to eat and drink, they try to clothe people, they try to earn something, but eventually they get nothing. In most Christian work today there is a sense of drought. All their preaching and teaching is dried up. Why? Their prayer meetings, their reading of the Bible, and all other kinds of meetings are so dry. Why? It is simply because they have neglected the house of God.
In 1954, after we had been on the island of Taiwan for about four or five years, an American missionary came to see me. We were preaching the gospel, and he had visited all of the halls. At that time, we had only about five or six halls in the church in Taipei. He was so surprised to see that every hall was full and overflowing. The people were even crowded outside the halls. He asked, “Please tell me your secret. How do you bring so many people in?” Then he went on to explain that only a few weeks ago, they had a gospel campaign with a famous preacher. They put an advertisement in the newspapers in huge characters, announcing the preacher of world fame who was coming to speak. Yet they drew only a handful of people. He said that when he asked our people in the different halls who was going to speak that night, they did not know. He was really perplexed. He asked, “How could you have such a large crowd, and yet your people did not know who was going to speak? Tell me your secret.” I said, “Brother, it is really difficult for me to tell you the secret. If you want to learn this secret, you must come and stay with us for two years. Then you will know.” Why have they sown so much, yet they bring in so little? They have Bible study after Bible study and revival after revival, yet they are still so dry and unsatisfied. Why? “Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house.”
In the summer of 1968, over one hundred and forty brothers and sisters went from the United States to visit the churches in Taiwan. One night the church in Taipei had a baptism for about four hundred people. During the baptism, an American missionary came to the hall and began to speak with some of the American brothers. He told how the missionaries had worn out the soles of their shoes toiling in Taipei, but with little fruit. He was very bitter toward the church in Taipei because they had so many. He even claimed that many of those who were being baptized were probably the result of missionaries’ work. But I told the brothers that if he could point out one of the four hundred who were baptized who had first been contacted by them before coming to us, I would lose the case. He was very bitter because they had worked so hard, and yet had nothing. Why? It was simply because they labored for their own work and not for the Lord’s house. The secret is the local church! The secret is the building up of the local churches. This is the building up of the house of the Lord.
This is not only true with spiritual things, but with material things as well. I am fully assured that if we mean business for the Lord’s recovery, the Lord will grant much blessing, even materially. If we are on the proper ground and mean business with the Lord for His recovery, the dew will fall from heaven when we are in need. Whatever we do, far from being dry, there will be an abundance of water. There will be not only dew, but a river. There will be real blessing both spiritually and materially.
Wherever I go I am always asked these questions. First, “In what way do we meet?” I always tell them to come and see. Second, “Where is your headquarters?” I always tell them we do not have any headquarters, unless it is in the heavens. Then they always ask, “How do you raise your money? With such a large work, there is the need of much money. How do you get it?” I tell them, “Yes, we do spend much money, but we do not have any way to raise it.” There is really no way, and we never talk about money. I do not like to talk about money, I like to speak about Christ! But, praise the Lord, we have never lacked money! Why? “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts” (Hag. 2:8). If we are only for the building up of the Lord’s house, everything is for us.
When we began to publish the hymnal, we did not even have one dollar in our hands. Eventually, we put in more than $31,000 for its printing. When we began we did not realize it would cost nearly so much, but praise the Lord! We never had any lack. And now we have such a good hymnal for the local churches.
If we are going to work for the Lord, the most blessed place to work is in the local churches. Just a little sowing brings in so much. By just a little eating and drinking, we are filled. Just five loaves and two fish feed 5,000, with an abundance left over. Brothers, this is the Lord’s way. If we are for His building, all He is and all He has is available for us. Really, it is not for us; it is for His purpose of building up the house of the Lord, the local church. Praise the Lord!
(The Recovery of God's House and God's City, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)