LABORING TO COOPERATE WITH THE SANCTIFYING SPIRIT
Our visiting people is a preparation for the Holy Spirit to sanctify them. The Holy Spirit is the sanctifying Spirit (1 Pet. 1:2), and the first step of His sanctifying is to seek the lost sinners (Luke 15:8-10). However, in order for the Spirit to seek people, we need to visit them. If we do not visit a person, the Holy Spirit cannot seek that one. Our visiting people week after week is a reminding to them. Sooner or later the seeking Spirit will enlighten their heart. The seeking of the Spirit is in many different ways. However, one principle is certain: if no one goes to contact a person, the seeking Spirit has no “line” on which to “hook” that person. We need to throw out our line; sooner or later a fish will be on the hook.
When I was young I was very fervent in gospel preaching. I wrote gospel tracts and distributed them. At a certain point I became troubled by the fact that there was no fruit. Eventually, however, in my home town a church was raised up by the Lord through me. One day I baptized a person. Other Christians in my home town criticized me, saying that I was not a preacher or a pastor and I never studied in a school of theology. Nevertheless, I baptized more people than they did. Eventually, in less than ten years the attendance of the church raised up by the Lord through me might have been greater than the total attendance of all the other Christian groups in that city.
OUR LABOR IN THE LORD NOT BEING IN VAIN
Our labor in the Lord would never be in vain and could never be in vain. We should just labor. A very deceiving tactic of the devil is to keep us from laboring for the Lord. You may make an excuse, saying that you have been working in a particular place for three years and have not gained one person. Would you not try for another three years? Eventually, if we speak to people concerning Jesus, they may not believe, but they will hear a word concerning Jesus. They could never forget that. What we have done will never be in vain.
I have been working in the United States for thirty-one years. Seemingly, due to the opposition from Christianity, I have not gained many people. Actually, this is not the case. The Lord’s recovery has spread to five continents through this ministry. In 1949 when I was sent out from mainland China to Taiwan, there were fewer than one hundred churches outside the mainland, mainly in Southeast Asia, in countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. However, today there are at least twelve hundred churches around the globe.
We need to labor day and night. I do not have much time to go out to visit people. My time is spent mainly on preparing message outlines and speaking. The messages that I give are taped, transcribed, polished, and printed, and the books are sent to many places. In the past three years, six million pieces of literature, including Bibles and my books and Brother Nee’s books, have been distributed freely to more than one thousand cities in Russia. Do we think that all these have been in vain? No; these publications are still working there.
Although the United States is a Christian country, to my feeling the need of the American people for Christ is much greater than anywhere else. When I began to work in this country thirty-one years ago, the need was not as great as it is today. We need to go out to visit people and to give them a booklet or a tract. Whether we think they will understand it or not, we need to believe that whatever speaks about Christ will work. We do not know what word will touch people. If we give someone a tract, he may throw it on the street, but what one person throws away another may pick up and bring home. Then the members of that family, their friends, and the visitors to their home will see it. We do not know what the result will be. Sooner or later people will be touched by Christ.
Of course, this also depends on much prayer on our side. However, we should not feel that we must pray purposely by kneeling down for ten or twenty minutes. We can pray at any time. While we are eating we can say, “Lord Jesus, remember the sinners. Lord, remember my cousin.” We should believe that our prayer will be heard and answered.
I am very glad that the Lord has saved me out of the world and that I have been working for Him for more than sixty-five years. I have never regretted this. I believe that a good number of people have received the benefit of my work. We need to do our best to labor for the Lord. Otherwise, our Christian life will become meaningless. We have been saved, we have been enlightened, and we know the church and the recovery, but we need to labor. Merely to work is not sufficient. Our work will not impress people; our labor will impress them. People know by their inner feeling whether we are laboring or merely working. If we contact people as a routine, that will not impress them. We must have a heart for them. We must have a desire to gain them and to labor on them. Within them there is the realization that we are for the Lord. They could never forget that. That is effective.
We all need to labor in love. We need to love the Lord, love His recovery, love the church, and love the saints. We should love the stronger ones and should love the weaker ones even more. We should desire to see them and speak to them. We must be on fire. This will cause us to be very contagious. Before and after each meeting I encourage you to build up a habit of contacting people. Our contacting of people will surely be worthwhile.
(The Training and the Practice of the Vital Groups, Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)