From the time I was bedridden by illness until the time I was healed by God, I was being shown more clearly the kind of work God wanted me to do. This consists of the following four aspects:
Before I became ill, I not only visited various places to conduct special meetings, but I also had a great ambition to compose a good comprehensive commentary. I intended to devote much energy, time, and money in writing a large commentary consisting of about a hundred volumes. After completing The Spiritual Man, which I began in Nanking when I became ill, I realized that the task of expounding the Scriptures was not for me. However, since that time I have frequently met with temptation in this respect. After my illness, God revealed to me that the central point of the messages He gave me was not for expounding the Scriptures, preaching the ordinary gospel, paying attention to prophecies, or anything outward, but for laying stress on the living word of life. For this reason I felt I should resume publishing The Present Testimony to assist God’s children in spiritual life and warfare. Each age has a unique truth especially needed in that time. For us, living in the last days, there must also be some truth which we especially need. By means of The Present Testimony the testimony for the truth of the present age was borne. I am profoundly convinced that the present is the preparatory period. Children of God will be reaped, but they have to become ripe first (Mark 4:29). The time for us to be caught up is full; whether or not the church is ready is the most vital problem. God’s aim today is to expedite building up the Body of His Son, which is the church. As it is said in the Scripture: "That He might sanctify her, cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word, that He might present the church to Himself glorious" (Eph. 5:26-27), so that the enemy might be quickly destroyed to usher in the kingdom. I humbly hope that I may, in the hand of the Lord, have a little share in this glorious work. All that I have written has but one aim, which is that the reader will, in the new creation, give himself wholly to God and become a useful person in His hands. Now I wholeheartedly commit my writings, my readers, and myself to God, who preserves men forever, and hope that His Spirit will guide me into all His truths.
God has shown me that in every local church a group of overcomers should be raised up (as those mentioned in Revelation 2 and 3) to be the Lord’s witnesses. For this reason, every year an overcomer conference has been held to faithfully deliver the messages that God has given me.
When the Lord called me to serve Him, the prime object was not for me to hold revival meetings so that people might hear more scriptural doctrines, nor for me to become a great evangelist. The Lord revealed to me that He wanted to build up local churches in other localities to manifest Himself, to bear testimony of unity on the ground of locality so that each saint might perform his duty in the church and live the church life. God wants not merely individual pursuit of victory or spirituality, but a corporate, glorious church presented to Himself.
If the return of the Lord should be delayed, it will be necessary to raise up a number of young people to continue the testimony and the work for the following generations. Many co-workers have already prayed concerning this matter with the hope of providing a suitable place for the purpose of training young people. My thought is not to establish a seminary or a Bible institute, but to have young people staying together to live the Body life and practice the spiritual life. In such a place they would receive training for the purpose of edification, by learning to read the Scripture, to pray, and to build up a good character. On the negative side, there would be training for the purpose of learning how to deal with sin, the world, the flesh, and the natural life. At a suitable time, the young people would return to their respective churches in various places to be tempered together with other saints to serve the Lord in the church. I have purchased over ten acres of land at Chenru, in the suburbs of Shanghai. Planning for building on that site is in progress, and before long, young people will be able to go there for training.
In the future my personal burden and work will generally comprise these four aspects. May all the glory be to the Lord. We have nothing at all in ourselves, and though we have done something, we admit to being useless and unprofitable servants.
(Watchman Nee's Testimony, Chapter 2, by Watchman Nee)