LEARNING TO CARE FOR PEOPLE THROUGH THE GOSPEL
If we are truly growing and have growth, we need to practice at least four things. First, we must care for the unbelievers. Regardless of how spiritual we are and what kind of spiritual attainment we have made, even if we are as experienced as the apostle Paul, we still need to care for people by preaching the gospel. Brother Watchman Nee gathered one hundred forty-seven names within one and a half years. He constantly prayed for these names. We all have to practice this. We have to go to the Lord to consider all the people surrounding us—relatives, neighbors, friends, schoolmates, colleagues, and others, not only the people whom we know locally but also those we know who are far away. If someone is far off, we still need to bear the burden for him. We should fellowship with the Lord. Then He will lead us to take care of certain ones. This is something for the long run. We must not expect to bring people to the Lord too quickly. Rather, we have to pray for them daily. This requires a real fellowship with the Lord.
In order to pray, we ourselves have to be dealt with. If we have a separation from the Lord, we will be hindered. We will not be able to pray with a pure conscience, and we will not have the boldness, the assurance, and the faith that our prayer can be answered. Therefore, we need to be dealt with. If we mean business with the Lord to care for others, we will constantly be dealt with by the Lord. This will help us to grow. The more we are willing to be dealt with by the Lord, the more we will grow, and the more we grow, the more we will have the abundant life to share with others.
We must practice to pray. We do not want to give the impression that we are legalistic or formal, but in some places the saints, especially the young ones, made the decision to pray for at least five people. I do not want to make a regulation of this, but we practiced this way when we were young. When I was younger, I always carried some tracts in my pocket. At that time I walked for thirty minutes to the office where I worked. As I was walking, I would always pass the tracts out to every kind of person I met, and if there was the time, I would talk to a few people.
When the Lord first began the work in my hometown, I was by myself. One evening a friend of mine came to talk with me about a certain matter. Before that time, we had both been members of the Chinese Independent Church, where, being about ten years older than I, he was one of the elders. Because that was in July, the hot time of the year, I suggested that we go to the beach to have a time of fellowship. As we sat on the sand, he asked me about various matters, such as baptism and the Lord’s table. After two or three hours, I suggested we go back home. Instead, he wanted to remain, and he asked me to baptize him. That was the beginning of the work there. I baptized him even though I was simply a layman, a young person, not a pastor, preacher, elder, or deacon. We two were in the heavens. He said to me, “Mr. Lee, from tonight I will drop the Chinese Independent Church. Let us two pray together and read the Bible.” I agreed to this.
On the third day afterward, I asked one of my office colleagues concerning that person. He wanted to know why I was asking, so I said, “I will tell you a secret. The day before yesterday, I baptized him in the sea.” Right away he said, “Mr. Lee, this afternoon after work you have to baptize me.” This man had been saved through me. I told him to wait a little, because there was another man who was saved who might also want to be baptized. A few minutes later that other person came, and we checked with him. He said, “I am willing. Let us do it.” So on that day another two were baptized. Then we were four. That was a Thursday, and by the next Lord’s Day, we had eleven people. We were like the early disciples, just eleven brothers meeting together to have the Lord’s table. After that, the Lord sent more people to us.
The principle here is that the Lord will send people to us if we have a real testimony in life. We all have to learn the lesson to care for others. We have to pray for certain names and make this kind of preaching a part of our life. We are living here for this. This is not merely our work or activity; this is a part of our life. I can testify that it is altogether true that if we pray for others, sooner or later they will be saved. It takes time. Learn to bear this burden.
In the past twenty-five years, I saw a good number of spiritual persons. However, they went to an extreme. The more they became spiritual, the more they neglected this kind of preaching. That is one hundred percent wrong. We need the balance of preaching with spirituality. The more we become spiritual, the more we have to bear the burden of preaching. This is the first thing we have to practice.
(Preaching the Gospel in the Way of Life, Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)