COMING TO NANKING THE SECOND TIME
Some doctors said that the disease I had contracted while in Amoy was probably fatal and that I could only expect to live a few months! I was not afraid of death, but I could not help but think of what I had learned from the Lord during the many years before and the lessons I had experienced—none of which had yet been put into writing. Surely all this ought not to go with me to the grave! At the same time Miss Lee and Mr. Cheng Chi-kwei both wrote letters to me to invite me to come to Nanking for a rest. By nature I do not like to receive free hospitality from others. Therefore, when I stayed in Nanking at Mr. Cheng’s house, in the midst of my sickness, I helped to proofread the Scofield correspondence course which Mr. Cheng translated. However, I only managed to finish the first four chapters and became so ill that I could not continue.
A year before I arrived in Nanking, I fellowshipped with Sister Lee concerning the truth of the church. However, since her attitude was very rigid and since she was not at all receptive, I made no further mention of it. Later she read a book on church history, saw that the origin of the denominations was not scriptural, and became somewhat clear. Eventually, I heard that she was baptized by immersion. Later she and several other sisters began holding bread-breaking meetings every Lord’s Day. When I visited Nanking, naturally I attended the meeting to remember the Lord with them. Because I had spoken a few times previously in Nanking University, gaining two brothers, we accepted them at the Lord’s table. This was the beginning of our work in Nanking.
COMING TO SHANGHAI
In order to devote myself to the writing of The Spiritual Man, I soon left Nanking and went to the village in the town of Tsao-chiao, Wusih. The sisters who worked there left that place because of the political situation at that time and entrusted their house to my care. In my sickness I wrote the first four sections of The Spiritual Man. In March 1927 there was military action in Nanking, and there were also armies in Tsao-Chiao. Because I was entrusted with the care of the house, I had to stay there. Fortunately, the army did not touch anything in the house. But because I heard that the condition in Nanking was unstable, and because it was impossible to communicate with brothers and sisters in other places, I left Tsao-chiao for Shanghai. Upon arriving in Shanghai, I learned that many brothers and sisters were arriving one after another from different places. Prior to my arrival in Shanghai, there were bread-breaking meetings in Sister Pearl Wang’s house at Hsin’s Garden. After we all arrived, our meeting place moved to Keng Ching Lane. At the same time, the Gospel Book Room moved to Shanghai from Lo-hsing Pagoda.
THE FIRST SPECIAL CONFERENCE
Toward the end of 1927 we had a prayer meeting every day. The believers in and around Pingyang, north of the Yangtze River, had been helped by our written testimonies, and they began to correspond with us. Realizing that they were ready for instruction and that the believers in China had a need, we considered holding a special conference for them. In January 1928 we rented some premises at Wen-teh Lane on Hardoon Road, Shanghai, and on February 1 we started the special conference. The central theme of the messages was solely that of God’s eternal purpose and the victory of Christ. We did not refer to other problems such as the truth about the church. Twenty or thirty brothers and sisters came from other places, but God illumined them and enabled them to see how they should walk along the path of life. Such problems as baptism, forsaking denominations, and other similar things were solved by themselves. In the four years since then, seven or eight hundred brothers and sisters have been saved or revived in about ten meeting places north of the Yangtze River, and over ten meetings have been raised up. In about the same number of meeting places in and around Pingyang and Taishun, some four thousand were saved or revived. All this work was done by the Lord Himself, and it did not start recently.
THE GENERAL SITUATION IN SHANGHAI
DURING THE LAST FIVE YEARS
After we moved to Wen-teh Lane in 1928, we continued to publish The Present Testimony since The Christian magazine had ceased publication. The issues of The Present Testimony published in the last five years were the new issues. Notes on Scriptural Messages did not start until 1930.
During these few years in Shanghai, our aim has been to lead people to follow the Lord Himself, the teaching of the Scriptures, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We do not, nor should we, expect anyone to give himself to us. This is not the so-called policy of exclusion, nor should it be taken to mean that we alone consider ourselves to be right. Our only wish is to be faithful to the end. I wrote The Spiritual Man while I was ill. When I completed it, I became worse and was bedridden practically all the time. Since the earthly tent of my tabernacle seemed to be on the verge of collapse at any time, I did not have regular work during my first few years in Shanghai. In the following two years, things were actually started. Last year there was again a special conference. The main message consisted of two enormous themes: the New Testament and the Wisdom of God. At this meeting there were more brothers and sisters from other places.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 18: Notes on Scriptural Messages (2), Chapter 8, by Watchman Nee)