Elders' Training, Book 09: The Eldership and the God-Ordained Way (1), by Witness Lee

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About four years ago, in October of 1984, I went to Taipei to have some new things tested out as an experiment for our practice of the church life. Before I went, I told some of the brothers that I was going to Taipei to try to do something new. I also said that in those three to five years, I would not be able to do much to help the churches in the United States. What I would do was to come back two times a year for the trainings on the Life-study of the Bible. Then what I would do in Taipei would be tested out, and I would have a finished model to bring back to the United States. The churches in United States would be able to follow this model and do something according to it. When I went to Taipei, I told the brothers there that I came back to have a new start and that I would call this a new way. But I did not have the assurance how much this way would succeed or work out. I told them that what I was going to do would be a trial, a test, an experiment. At that time close to eighty new elders were established. I told these elders that their being appointed as elders was not something permanent. Their appointment was also subject to experiment. Maybe after a short time, some would find out that they were not suitable persons for the eldership and they would feel to resign. Or maybe I would find out that some were not so fitting in this responsibility. I repeated this word again and again—we are conducting an experiment. I said that the training center in Taipei was a lab, that is, a laboratory.

Regretfully, I was not strict in keeping my word to raise up a model in Taipei and then return to the United States with the finished product. When the saints in the United States heard about this, many of them wanted to go there to attend the training. I hesitated but I gave in to their request. Now I regret this. At that time, I should have kept my principle strictly to say "no" to the saints. I should have asked all the saints to please stay in the United States while I tested and experimented various things. Then I could have properly found out whether or not those things worked. I should have kept this principle, but I did not. That was my negligence, and I feel regretful for this.

Many saints from the United States went to the training in Taipei. In principle the training should have fit the situation of the saints who came from the United States. But I did not have the time to oversee the training that much. I was occupied to the uttermost with the work on the Chinese Recovery Version. I could not even be involved that much with the training. If I had had the time, I would have considered the particular need of the saints from the United States. The training was planned and formed just to fit in with the need of the island of Taiwan. It was not designed to meet the need of saints coming from other countries. My negligence was in accepting these saints to be trained and not doing anything to prepare the training to fit in with their situation.

Within such a short time of training, we baptized over thirty thousand new believers. If I were able to repeat that time of training again, I would not let the trainees baptize so many. We discovered that we could baptize many people, but then we realized that we did not have the manpower to take care of the new ones.

(Elders' Training, Book 09: The Eldership and the God-Ordained Way (1), Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)