THE LACK IN THE LORD’S RECOVERY TODAY
In summary, we can say that the truth among us today is unprecedented in richness. Comparatively speaking, we are at a high point in the matter of life. However, we still have a great lack because after sixty-four years, the number of people in the Lord’s recovery is not very large. By His mercy, from the time the Lord’s recovery began in China until 1949 when we left the mainland, there were gatherings in the Lord’s recovery in all thirty-five provinces, but the number of people was not so great. After coming to Taiwan we labored industriously for twelve years. From 1960 to 1962, when the Lord brought us to the Western world, the work of the Lord’s recovery also entered into the English-speaking world. Through the convenient geographical position of the United States and the widespread use of the English language, in more than twenty years the Lord’s recovery has spread from the United States to the other four continents. Originally the recovery was confined to Asia. Then it went to North America, and from there it has spread to South America, Europe, Africa, and Australia.
According to the calculation we made a few years ago, there are more than six hundred churches on the six continents of the globe. This number is not small, but it is not large either. With respect to the number in the meetings, it is still too small; on average, each locality has only two hundred people in the meetings. Thus, the total number of people in all the churches is about 120,000. A great part of these people are in Taiwan, because Taiwan alone has more than forty thousand, or one-third of the entire number. In the other localities most of the meetings have fifty to sixty people, others have twenty to thirty, and still others have about one hundred. There are not many localities that have reached two hundred or more. This is a great lack in the Lord’s recovery today, and it is something which we pay particular attention to in the move of the Lord’s recovery in the new way.
In the last sixty years, the truth in the Lord’s recovery has not been lacking, and even though our life has not been quite so rich, it is still adequate. There is only one matter which has really become a problem—the matter of increase and spread. According to the truth which the Lord has shown us and according to the life which He has given to us, our increase and spread are too poor. This is especially true of the ten years from 1974 to 1984 when our average worldwide rate of increase was less than two percent. It is for this reason that I have been pressed and burdened to the extent that I can no longer bear it.
Therefore, in 1984, apparently through my own decision but actually under the Lord’s leading, I returned to Taiwan. I felt that the situation could not continue in this way. I saw clearly that the truth among us cannot be changed and the life we have cannot be shaken, but the way we work must be changed in order to keep up with the need. It is true that no one can change the globe, because it was created by God. Man’s standard of living on the globe, however, has been improving throughout the ages. One hundred years ago it took at least six months to sail from the West Coast of America to the East Coast of China, but today the methods of transportation have improved so much that one round-trip flight in an airplane takes only one day. This does not mean that the globe has changed or shrunk; rather, it means that methods of transportation have greatly improved, making travel more convenient.
Furthermore, the development of the television, telephone, and other telecommunication technologies has increased the spread of news. To prepare for the full-time training, nearly every day we have to make long-distance phone calls, and the calls are quite numerous. It is not like when I first went to America; back then I had to think carefully about what I would say before calling because I did not dare to waste a second. Now we have approximately seven hundred full-time trainees in the training center. They sleep, eat, and meet there without any problems. This is not a small matter. Just the matters of cooking three meals a day and arranging the sleeping quarters require our painstaking preparation, almost all of which has been accomplished entirely by fellowshipping on the telephone. This shows us that the globe has not changed, but the activities, the means of transportation, and the technologies of communication on the globe have been improved again and again. The messages we release here in Taipei can be heard simultaneously by telephone in numerous places in America.
This is why we must have a change in the system. In the recent ten years, I have been continuously and tirelessly exhorting the young co-workers in Taiwan, telling them that they must make a change. Almost every time they went to America I mentioned this matter to them. I told them that Taiwan has been reformed and is still improving in business, industry, education, and all other aspects, but in our church life we have made no reforms or improvements. Take the Gospel Bookroom as an example. The packaging of other bookstores has improved and changed for the better, but in our bookroom we have been doing things in the same way that we did thirty years ago without making a single change. I certainly never imagined that in the end I would have to return to Taiwan to lead all the churches to have a change.
I was very busy with my work in the United States and was bearing a heavy burden with no possibility of leaving, but in 1984 when I finished writing the footnotes to the last book of the Life-study of the New Testament, I told myself that I would return to Taiwan. The saints in America can all testify that when I returned this time it was not an easy thing. I put aside all my work in Anaheim and completely devoted my heart to Taiwan. My burden was to bring the Lord’s recovery into a change of system here in Taiwan. We cannot change the Lord’s recovery itself, nor can we change the truth and life, but surely we must change the rate of increase in the churches. I hope that in the matter of changing the system, Taiwan can become the “fellowship center” for the entire globe.
I have been speaking for the Lord for more than fifty years, but I never used the term push because I believed that it signified human effort. Now, however, I have changed, and I intend to use this word a lot. All the full-timers are my helpers to help me push the elders and the church in Taipei. The church in Taipei is like an old car which cannot be pulled or pushed, so I need these more than seven hundred full-timers to push together with me. In saying this word I might greatly offend the elders in Taipei, but my intention is good and proper. We have changed neither the truth nor the life. Rather, we still highly regard them as much as in the past. We are only changing our ways of working by correcting our errors and making improvements. If pushing does not work, then we will have to “stir” and “incite.” Pushing is for something moveable, stirring is for something living, and inciting is for something weak. If the church in Taipei still would not move, I will have to ask these more than seven hundred full-timers to help me pick it up and carry it on our shoulders.
We are all one family. I am like the eldest in this family, and when I see the second, third, and even fourth generations among you being raised up, I am full of emotion in my heart. Especially among the elders, there are many who are only a little over thirty years old, of whom I feel very proud. However, if you do not move, cold water will be poured upon my pride. I am not blaming you. I am only blaming the fact that we have waited so long to change the system, because as early as 1974 I should have promoted this change. Even though it is now ten years too late, I believe the Lord will give me a period of time for us to have a success. My wife is very concerned about my physical health and hopes that this time while I am here, I can work less and rest more. But I am only concerned about one thing—changing the system. We absolutely must change the system.
(The Furtherance of the New Way for the Lord's Recovery, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)