In this audience there are at least three schoolmates of mine. Among them is Brother Weigh Kwang-hsi, who can testify concerning what an ill-behaved student I was, as well as what a wonderful student I was in school. On the evil side, I often violated the school rules. On the good side, I was always first in every examination, because God had bestowed intelligence on me. My essays were frequently posted on the bulletin board for exhibition. At that time I was a youth with many grand dreams and many plans for the future. I considered my judgments sound. I can humbly say that had I worked hard in the world, it would have been quite possible for me to have had great success. My schoolmates can also testify to this. But following my salvation many new things happened to me. All my previous planning became void and was brought to nothing. My future career was entirely abandoned. For some this step might be easy, but for me, with many ideals, dreams, and plans, it was exceedingly difficult. From the evening I was saved, I began to live a new life, for the life of the eternal God had entered into me.
My salvation and calling to serve the Lord took place simultaneously. Since that evening, I have never once had any doubts about being called. During that hour I decided on my future career once and for all. I realized that, on the one hand, the Lord had saved me for my sake, and at the same time, He did so for His own sake. He wanted me to obtain His eternal life, and He also wanted me to serve Him and be His co-worker. As a boy I did not understand the nature of preaching. When I was older, I considered it the most trifling and base of occupations. In those days most preachers were employed by European or American missionaries. They were servile subordinates to the missionaries and earned merely eight or nine dollars per month. I had no intention of becoming a preacher nor even a Christian. I could never have imagined that I would choose the profession of a preacher, a profession which I despised and considered trifling and base.
After being saved, I continued on in school, though I had little interest in books. Others read novels in class, but I diligently studied the Bible. [Editor’s note: Although Brother Nee studied the Bible in class, he still came first in the end-of-term examinations.] Later, desiring to pursue spiritual things further, I left school and entered Dora Yu’s Bible Institute in Shanghai [Editor’s note: a famous lady evangelist]. However, before long she politely dismissed me, and I returned home. The reason she gave for her action was that it was inconvenient for me to stay there any longer. I realized that my flesh had not been dealt with. I was still fond of good food and fine clothing, and I enjoyed sleeping until eight o’clock in the morning. Dora Yu felt I was good material for the Lord’s interest and had good prospects, but when she discovered my laziness, she sent me home.
At that time I was thoroughly disappointed and felt my future was doomed. At that time I even questioned my salvation. But surely I was saved! I even considered that I was quite good and that I had been transformed in many ways, not realizing that there was much yet to be learned and much to be dealt with. Confident that the Lord had saved me and called me, I could not be disappointed. I admitted that I was not yet good enough, but I felt that with the passing of more time I would improve.
Since the time was not ripe for me to continue my spiritual pursuits, I decided to return to school. When my schoolmates saw me, they recognized that I had changed, but I had not changed thoroughly, for I still occasionally lost my temper and did some things wrong. There were times when I seemed very much like a saved person, but at other times I seemed very much like an unsaved person. Therefore, my testimony in the school was not very powerful, and when I witnessed to Brother Weigh, he paid no heed. [Editor’s note: Brother Nee’s prayers and guidance finally brought Brother Weigh to the Lord.]
After I was saved, I spontaneously loved the souls of sinners and hoped that they would be saved. To this end, I began to preach the gospel and to bear testimony among my schoolmates. After nearly a year’s work, however, no one was saved. I thought the more words I could speak and the more reasons I could present, the more effective I would be in saving people. But though I had much to speak concerning the Lord, my words lacked power to move the listeners.
(Watchman Nee's Testimony, Chapter 1, by Watchman Nee)