THE BEGINNING OF THE MEETING
IN CHEFOO, SHANTUNG PROVINCE
Dear Brother Watchman in the Lord:
The second day after you left Chefoo, the young Brother Lee came to my home in the evening and wanted to bring you to Brother Lee of the Shin-feng Company to console the latter. Because you had left the day before, he began to talk with me. Later, we felt that my home was too hot, and we decided to go to the seaside and talk while we cooled ourselves off. On the way to the seaside, he suddenly brought up the subject of baptism, the Lord’s table, and denominations. When I heard this, I was overjoyed. I had never discussed these matters with him and had intended to go to him after you had left to discuss these matters with him in detail. After we sat down by the sea, I spoke to him about these questions based on the teaching of the Bible. By the time we finished, it was about ten o’clock. I was ready to go home, but he requested that I go into the sea to baptize him. (He was sprinkled as a baby.) When I heard this, I was taken by surprise and declined. Yet he insisted that I do it. After I thought about it over and over, I felt that I should not decline, and I went into the water and baptized him. After we did this, both of us were filled with joy in our hearts. God had led us this way, and through the circumstances above we met each other. Furthermore, we unintentionally ended up by the sea and happened to discuss the matter of baptism.
Two days later, two colleagues of mine at work, Mr. Tung and Mr. Ding, who had recently believed in the Lord (Mr. Ding being the brother of Brother Ding in the Shin-feng Company in Shanghai) heard about what had happened to Brother Lee. They came to me and asked me to baptize them. That evening I went to the sea and baptized them also. After these two incidents, God brought me in contact, on the street and at home, with other brothers almost every day. As a result of these contacts, on the Lord’s Day after you left Chefoo, we began to break bread together. Before this meeting, we had three meetings in which I spoke briefly on the matter of the breaking of bread. The first and second time we broke bread, we had eleven brothers. The third time, we were going to have fourteen, but three of them were busy with their business and could not come. As a result eleven people were again present. The fourth time (the Lord’s Day on the twenty-first of this month) we were going to have sixteen brothers, but two of them were not able to attend, and we broke bread with fourteen present. These brothers came out from the Baptist Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Chi-shan Church, the China Inland Mission, the Vine-hill Church, the Church of Christ in China, and the Bible Study. Some of them had been baptized before, and some of them had been sprinkled before. Some who had been sprinkled as babies came to be baptized. Some were sprinkled before they believed. When they believed, they wanted to be baptized. Some were neither baptized nor sprinkled before, and they were baptized by us. We have baptized six persons so far. Some of these brothers have asked for their names to be removed from the denominations, and some have severed their relationship with the denominations but have not yet removed their names. Some only come to our bread-breaking meeting, and go to the denominations for the other meetings, and still work in the denominations. Their professions include merchants, professors, preachers, students, workers, and clerks.
God has begun a work in Chefoo through useless vessels like us. We have witnessed many wonderful coincidences, which have forced us to acknowledge that this is God’s own work and leading. Other than a few brothers whom we had arranged to meet ahead of time, most of the other brothers who are presently breaking bread with us came in contact with us accidentally.
I should have written you earlier, but because I have been very busy lately, I could not fulfill my wish. There are people I have to deal with almost every day. Now there are six meetings a week. I am responsible for all of them. Tuesday evening there is a prayer meeting. Thursday and Saturday evenings there are Bible study meetings. On the Lord’s Day morning there is a message for general edification; in the afternoon there is a meeting for Bible study and prayer, and then we go out two by two to preach the gospel and pass out gospel tracts. In the evening, there is the table meeting. I have felt very weak lately and need to rest. The meeting place was not big enough because the sisters want to attend the table meeting and hear the messages. At this juncture my family found a new home with sixteen rooms. We can reserve three rooms for use in the meetings. We truly see God’s preparation. These three rooms can hold at least fifty people. The brothers have already gone to prepare chairs. Thank and praise Him!
When we obey God in this way, it is difficult to avoid ridicule and criticisms! Some people say we will not last. Some say we are too weak—without talent or money. But Isaiah 9:7 and 37:32, Nehemiah 4, and 1 Samuel 30:6 have strengthened me quite a bit. Please do not forget us in your prayers. I will write more later. May God bless us.
Your brother in Christ,
August 27, 1932
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 2) Vol. 25: Collection of Newsletters (1), Chapter 2, by Watchman Nee)