NEWS FROM SZU HSI, CHEKIANG PROVINCE
Greetings to the brothers in the Lord, Messrs. Kuang Jung and Watchman:
We have something to ask you now. The county government in our district has ordered every regional and town authority to form local militias which are mandatory. All men between the ages of twenty and forty, both unbelievers and believers, must draw lots and go to be trained for nine weeks in military skills; then they can leave the military. Farmers can continue their farming; workers can continue in their jobs. The second group will draw numbers and go in their turn to learn what the first group learned; then they can leave the service. In this way all the citizens of this region will be soldiers, and the soldiers will be citizens. This is the recent policy of the county government.
For this reason, in the past few days many brothers have come to ask me what they should do about this matter. I told them that according to the principle of the Bible, Christians should not be soldiers or government officials. Christians can only be killed by others; they cannot kill people. The brothers answered, "If that is so, then they will say we have broken the law, and they will punish us. If we go we will break the teachings of the Bible, and our conscience will not be at peace. If we do not go, we are afraid of what will happen." This really is a dilemma. Therefore, they asked me to write you to see if there is another way to go, a way in which they will not offend God and will not disobey the order of the authorities. Please answer quickly. On the one hand, please help us in the truth and establish us; on the other hand, please tell all the brothers and sisters who pray to pray for us.
Huang Lu Ch’uan
March 17, 1934
(Answer: It is all right to go and learn. The exhortation in Matthew 5 to go an extra mile particularly refers to the soldiers of that day pulling people in to help them. However, in a time of war, we would rather be punished than fight. This matter especially requires much prayer—Watchman.)
RECENT NEWS FROM P’ING YANG, CHEKIANG PROVINCE
To the dear one in the Lord, Mr. Nee:
It has been two months since we parted. We are physically in two different parts of the country, but we can fellowship in spirit. Have you gone out recently to work? Will you have the opportunity to come to P’ing Yang this year? All the brothers here have a common desire that you would come and we could see each other. We also hope to hear some message from the Lord through you. We have been hoping and praying for this for two or three years now. Now must be the time for the Lord to answer our prayers, isn’t it? Therefore, all the brothers say, "Mr. Nee will definitely come this year!" I think that there must be the same calling in your heart and spirit. May the Lord remove the barriers that we both could see our desires fulfilled. This would be a great blessing.
Brother Nee, I will now tell you some of my experience and feelings regarding the work. They are somewhat disorganized, but please be patient in reading them and do not feel bothered. In these past two or three years, the Lord’s hand used us few useless bondslaves in the area of Tai Sun, P’ing Yang to speak some of the truths that are crucial to the church today. In the meantime, the Lord opened His children’s hearts so that they were more receptive to the truth. Wherever we had a preaching conference, the brothers and sisters always crowded in and hungrily and thirstily desired to hear the Lord’s Word. We really thank the Lord for this. But what has made us even more joyful is that most of these people who hungrily and thirstily desired the Lord are very young brothers and sisters. They used to love the world very much. Our speaking did not cater to their heart to love the world. On the contrary, it shattered the world. These young people would have opposed this truth in the past, but the Lord gave them a new heart and a new will. Though alone and friendless, they were willing to drop the world and follow the Lord. The Lord Himself did this work. We useless servants cannot say anything but thank the Lord.
In these past few years, the messages the Lord has given us have all been for the believers’ spiritual cultivation. We have rarely mentioned the matter of the church. But once the believers receive the light, they spontaneously see the error of denominations and tradition. For this reason, many brothers and sisters have been raised up in all the places to leave the denominations they had belonged to and meet in the Lord’s name to break bread. This has caused fear in the heart of a group of leaders in the denominations. From what they say, they seem to think, "Many fine believers have turned to them (actually they have turned to the Lord), what will our future be?" In order to hold on to the status quo and keep their organizations, they have had several secret and open meetings. In the most recent days, there was a combined meeting of the Independent Church and the China Inland Mission. This combined meeting lasted for three days. The only thing they talked about was how to deal with the Church of the Little Flock (we absolutely do not confess to this name). Some scolded us mercilessly there. Some presented ideas for stopping our work. Some who were there heard and did not agree, so they spoke about this injustice. They all shouted awhile and then dispersed noisily. This is the attitude of the opponents. Their opposition of this nature cannot shake us. On the contrary, many brothers are seeing more and more what is truth and what is error. But there is one matter that worries us. There are quite a few brothers who appear to sympathize with us on the surface and attack the denominations strongly, but their spiritual condition is very poor. This type of person is causing us much damage and has been a barrier to the truth. I ask you to pray with us to ask the Lord to bind these people that they will not speak anymore lest the opposers have an excuse.
In the past two months, I have been thinking of something beautiful and sweet in my heart: "The Centrality and Universality of Christ." When I am working, I always feel that there is a fresh flavor and power whenever I mention this message. Oh! This glorious truth is a rich source for the spirituality of all the believers. It is the special focus of the co-workers’ work. This glorious news is also closely related to the cross. We can call it the other side of the accomplishment of the cross. I do not know whether you think this is right or not.
Brother Nee, when I had written to this point, I suddenly received Issue No. 47 of Notes on Scriptural Messages, "The Numbering of Spiritual Days." I read it and really felt both joyful and sad at the same time! I was sad that I do not know how much of my past years have been eaten away by the swarming locusts, the licking locusts, the consuming locusts, and the cutting locusts! I do not know how many of the days I have passed have been forgotten by God! I was very distressed about the number of days and years that I had wasted! But the Lord also promised to restore those years that were eaten up by the locusts. So my sadness turned into joy! Oh, one day within the courts of Jehovah is better than one thousand days in any other place! Oh, if God still gives me one day’s time, I really want to live that day before Him. May each day ahead recapture the thousand days that I lost before. Now I only ask that God would keep me to pass my remaining time with a godly heart! May the Lord’s grace be with you. Amen.
Chen Chin Fa
April 12, 1934
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 2) Vol. 25: Collection of Newsletters (1), Chapter 7, by Watchman Nee)