The Normal Christian Faith, by Watchman Nee

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Once a missionary to South America saw a man preaching before a crowd in an open space in a forest. The man forcefully and vehemently denied the existence of God. With enthusiasm he gave more than ten reasons, one after another, to prove the nonexistence of God. After he finished speaking, he asked, "Is there any one of you who would like to object? Please come up here."

For a while there was silence. The missionary decided that he should say something. He stood up and told the crowd, "Friends, I cannot give many reasons. I can only give facts and tell you a story. Yesterday I was walking along the bank of the big river which, as you all know, is very rapid and leads to a treacherous waterfall. I was at the bank and I heard a man shouting for help. He distinctly cried, `O God! Save me!’ I ran toward the sound and found a man in the midst of the river tumbling toward the waterfall. Without hesitation or thought of danger, I jumped into the river. The torrent was rapid, and I fought hard to keep myself from being swept under. Fortunately, I was quite strong. With one arm around him and the other swimming through the water, I managed to drag him ashore. After I did this, I felt quite happy. Do you know who the man who was crying to God for help is? Let me introduce him to you." At these words he pointed towards the man who just made the speech. "The one who called on God yesterday," he concluded, "is the same one who denies God today. This is what you call an atheist!"

All problems come from inside. When a man is on the border of life and death, he calls on God. When danger is over, he argues and denies God. In our heart we all know that there is a God; there is no question about it. We know it because there is a capacity for God. The capacity for God proves that there is God.


We should look not only at objective phenomena but also at our own subjective experience. We know that God answers prayers. Once I spoke to a person who resolutely denied the existence of God. I told him not to be too bold or presumptuous. The history of mankind is about five to six thousand years old. During this span of time, countless numbers of people both in Christianity and outside have prayed to God. Can you prove that not even one of these many prayers, throughout many years and among many people, has been answered? Are you so bold as to brush aside with one stroke the validity of all answers to prayers? These people prayed to heaven. Can you say that none of their prayers were answered? Let me testify that not only have there been one or two answers; there have been countless answers. Of course, one answer would suffice to prove the existence of God. Friends, do you think that there has never been an answer to prayer? Would you say that all answers to prayer are false? I personally have had at least two to three thousand answers to prayers. Is it conceivable to regard them all as mere coincidences? Many other people had their prayers answered. Are all those also coincidences?

Once a preacher was traveling across the Atlantic when a thick fog suddenly surrounded the ship. The vessel could not proceed and had to be anchored in the middle of the sea. The man went to the captain and said, "You have to hoist the sail again; I am scheduled to preach in Quebec on Tuesday." The captain replied, "Do you see the thick fog? It is impossible for the ship to proceed. If you can pray to dispel the fog, I will surely pull up my anchor." The preacher answered, "Go right ahead. I am going to pray right here while you pull up the anchor. There is no time to lose." He began to pray. The captain began to work on the anchor as the preacher prayed. When the anchor was up, the fog was gone. The ship arrived on time. Was this a coincidence?

(The Normal Christian Faith, Chapter 1, by Watchman Nee)