THE FIRST PERSONAL CONTACT
Brother Du and I then went to our former denomination and proposed that they invite Watchman Nee to come speak to them. Although we had left that denomination, we left them with a very good impression of us. They accepted our proposal and invited Watchman to come speak. When Du Chung-chin was returning to Shanghai, I asked him to extend my invitation to Watchman to come visit our town, which he did. At the same time the Southern Baptist Seminary in Hwang-Hsien, a city close to Chefoo, also invited Watchman to speak there. So in the summer of 1932, he came to speak at these two places. I, with others, went to meet the steamship on which he was arriving, and when the two of us saw each other, immediately we knew one another. We had corresponded with each other for some time, and there was a mutual recognition. He put himself into my hands and spoke with me of the things that were on his heart. He spoke to a large crowd for approximately one week in the auditorium of the Chinese Independent Church. I received much help from his messages, and following that conference I also accompanied him to the Southern Baptist Seminary in Hwang-Hsien.
In those years the Pentecostal movement was very strong in north China, and the seminary where Watchman spoke had come under the influence of this movement. In those meetings I saw for the first time the strange practices of the Pentecostals. Some were jumping, some were laughing, and some were shouting. There were many strange sights. After the presiding pastor, with some effort, calmed down the meeting, Watchman gave his message. He gave an inspiring word on the gospel of God’s love from Luke 15.
Following the first meeting, Watchman and I walked home together. On the way I said, "What kind of way is this to have meetings—shouting, jumping, and rolling?" He replied that in the New Testament there are no ordinances telling us how we should meet. His word shocked me and made me wonder whether he was agreeable with those strange practices of the Pentecostal movement. Eventually, I discovered that he did not agree with that kind of practice, but neither would he insist on any outward form.
I was staying in the seminary dormitory. One afternoon while a Pentecostal meeting was being held in which Brother Nee was not speaking, I stayed in my room to have some time with the Lord. I read Isaiah 44:22 and deeply sensed as I read, "Return unto Me, for I have redeemed you," that the Lord was calling me to serve Him. I deeply felt that the Lord gave me verse 21 as a promise: "You are My servant; you will not be forgotten by Me." Also verse 23 seemed to be a clear word to me concerning the goal of His calling: "Jehovah has been glorified in Israel." The Lord’s presence was very real to me there, and I was thoroughly anointed, refreshed with His Spirit, and filled with joy and encouragement.
Following the meetings at the seminary, Watchman returned to Chefoo and stayed in my home for two or three days. We had some excellent fellowship concerning the Lord’s interest.
While staying in my home, he asked me to introduce him to Mr. Burnet, the founder of the Newton Brethren Assembly in my hometown. Mr. Burnet was an aged man and an excellent Bible teacher who had learned at the feet of the Brethren teacher Benjamin Newton. At the time the three of us came together, I realized that Mr. Burnet did not appreciate Watchman’s testimony for the Lord. Mr. Burnet stressed the accuracy of biblical knowledge, while Watchman emphasized the necessity of life.
My time with Watchman during those days deeply impressed me with the sweetness, loveliness, attractiveness, and newness of the Lord. Those days provided a new start for me in following the Lord and caused me to have a basic turn from knowledge to life. Because of those days with Watchman Nee, I began to have fellowship with the Lord in a more intimate way. The Lord became more precious to me. That experience was even greater than my experience of salvation. Those days with Watchman affected my pathway in the Lord throughout all the following fifty-nine years, since 1932. For eternity I can never forget those days! What a mercy and grace it was to me.
The day before he left, Watchman charged me to do nothing after his departure; otherwise, others would think I was following him. I replied, "How could I do anything? In this town no one is standing with me."
But on the day of his departure, something happened. In the evening a brother who was a member of the board of the denomination I had left came to ask Watchman if he would help another believer in distress. When I told him that Watchman was gone, we agreed to have a time of fellowship together. It was summer, so we went down to the beach. After a lengthy time of fellowship, about ten o’clock that night, this brother turned to me and said, "You must baptize me tonight in the sea." After much hesitation, I did it. Through this event a meeting started in my home. I wrote to Watchman explaining what had taken place. He came in April of the following year to confirm and strengthen us in the Lord’s recovery and was a guest in my home for about ten days. He ministered to us in our meeting hall in the evenings and spoke to the denominational Christians in the Chinese Independent Church auditorium in the mornings. His messages greatly edified all the attendants and helped the building up of the church there in the Lord’s recovery.
At this time I related how the Lord had called me to serve Him when I was with him in Hwang-Hsien the year before. To this he made no comment.
(Watchman Nee—A Seer of the Divine Revelation in the Present Age, Chapter 31, by Witness Lee)