COMING TO SHANGHAI THE FIRST TIME
In 1922 I came to Shanghai. At that time, I only gave a little testimony at the Shou-jin Chapel on North Szechuan Road. I did not "establish [a] congregation" or "propagate [my] teaching," nor was I "not well received by the Shanghai community."
PUBLISHING THE PRESENT TESTIMONY
By the end of 1922 I had a burden to publish a magazine, because a number had been saved in Foochow, and the number was increasing. At that time, Brother Leland Wang was away in the Yangtze region doing evangelistic work. Only his wife and children were at home. He asked me to move into his house to help take care of the family. Daily, Sister Wang and I prayed for the magazine. I was at that time extremely pressed financially. After praying for more than a month, there was not a single dollar on hand. One morning I arose and said, "There is no need to pray —that would be a lack of faith. What I must do is start writing. God need not put the money into our hands before we begin to write! Henceforth, I will no longer pray for this matter, but will proceed with the preparation of drafts."
When everything was ready and the last word had been written, I said, "Now the money will come." Eventually, I knelt down to pray again, saying, "O God, the draft is ready for printing, but there is still no money." After praying thus, I felt wonderfully confident that God would certainly give the money. We began to praise God.
The amazing thing was that we had no more risen to our feet than there was a knock at the door. I thought someone was coming with the money. That house being Sister Wang’s, I let her answer the door. To my surprise, the one who came was a wealthy yet stingy sister. "Oh, since it is she," I thought, "there could be no money." But she said to me, "I have something extremely important to see you about." "Please tell me," I replied. Then she asked, "How should a Christian donate?" I replied that we should not adopt the Old Testament way of paying tithes, but follow the word in 2 Corinthians 9:7, which says that each person should give according to the order of God. He may donate a half, a third, a tenth, or a twentieth of his income. She then asked, "Where should the donation be made?" I answered, "Do not give it to a church which opposes the Lord, nor to those who do not believe the Bible or the redemption of the Lord’s shed blood. If no one contributes to them, they will not be able to carry on their preaching. Pray before each donation; then give it either to the poor or to some work, but never to any improper organization." She said, "The Lord has been speaking to me for many days concerning my excessive devotion to money. At first I could not reconcile myself to this, but now I can do so. When I was praying this morning, the Lord said to me, `There is no need for you to pray anymore. Just start giving away your money.’ I was rather disconcerted, but now I am here with thirty dollars for you to use for the Lord’s work." This money was just sufficient for the printing of fourteen hundred copies of The Present Testimony. Later, another person gave an additional thirty dollars, which was sufficient for the postage and incidental expenses. This is how the first issue of The Present Testimony was published.
THE BEGINNING OF REVIVAL
Later Brother Wang Lian-chun joined us. At that time, there were about twenty people; some had left the denominations and some had been saved. Brother Leland Wang had the intention to invite Sister Ruth Lee to come to Foochow to conduct meetings. At the beginning, I thought it was too much trouble to invite her to come from such a faraway place. Later, she was invited anyway by Mrs. Wang and by my mother.
In January 1923, Miss Lee came to Foochow, and we prepared ourselves for the meetings and gospel preaching. Before that, we were meeting in Brother Wang’s sitting room. Now that we needed to hold special meetings, there was no meeting place and no chairs. Moreover, we were afraid that no one would come. As a result, we decided to meet in the pavilion of Brother Wang’s house. Stools were collected from various places when needed, and we went about the neighborhood inviting people to come and listen. Because the Lord had started something, it was easy for many people to be saved.
Originally, we considered doing some work at the beginning of the Chinese New Year. But Miss Lee had some other engagements in Nanking and had to leave Foochow. We could only send her away. We also considered asking Miss M.E. Barber from Ma-kiang to come and help us. But she declined on the ground that she did not know what kind of meeting we had. I discussed with Brother Wang about whether or not to continue with our meeting. At that time, Brother Wang had a cold, and I had already sent letters to Brothers Faithful Luke and Simon Meek, who had gone home for vacation, to come back right away. We had no other way but to continue with the meetings.
Our method of inviting people was very effective: each brother wore a white vest bearing words like "You shall die" in the front and "Believe in Jesus to be saved" at the back. There were other similar slogans. With banners in our hands, we paraded everywhere, singing as we marched along the way. Those who saw us marveled. In this way, many people were brought to the meeting. We marched this way every day, and every day people came to listen to the gospel. They filled the sitting room, kitchen, and outside pavilion.
We had rented some stools for the meeting, but the rental period expired after two weeks. When the time was up, we had no money. The stools had to be returned to the owner. Must the meetings be suspended? I announced that anybody who wished to attend the meeting in the future would have to bring his own stool. That afternoon, the whole hill, Tsang Chien Hill, was the scene of people, old and young, boys and girls, carrying stools. Even the police were amazed at the sight. After every meeting, we announced that those who wanted to leave their stools behind could do so and that we would try our best to take care of them. I also mentioned that if there were any loss, we would not be responsible for them, and that those who wanted to carry them back should do so. In this way, we conducted meetings three times a day, and every time, people brought their own chairs.
Thank the Lord, through His special blessing, a few hundred people were saved. On that occasion the foundation of salvation was clearly laid down. Until this time, many believers in China were not clear about salvation. But seven or eight years since, through those meetings and the preaching of our brothers in various places, many have now come to understand it.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 18: Notes on Scriptural Messages (2), Chapter 8, by Watchman Nee)