THE PRACTICE OF THE CHURCH
Both Matthew and Acts show us that the practice of the church is that the unique church in the universe is expressed in every locality by taking the principle of one church in one locality. At the beginning, when the Lord first brought His recovery to the United States in order that His recovery may spread to the Caucasian Americans, we did not pay much attention to the Chinese-speaking work. Rather, we worked actively on the Caucasians. Thus, some brothers and sisters who immigrated from Taiwan were lost. Many of these brothers and sisters who immigrated to the United States, which is an English-speaking country, cannot speak English. They can neither understand the messages nor pray in the meetings. Now since more and more Chinese have immigrated to the United States due to changes in immigration laws, we have also begun to pay attention to the Chinese-speaking work. The Lord has confirmed what we are doing by giving us very good results.
However, we must be clear that doing the Chinese-speaking work is not doing a work in addition to the work of the church. We do this only for the sake of language. To change language is not an easy matter. Chinese students who have obtained a doctorate degree in the United States may be able to speak about what they have learned in their field, but they are incapable of speaking biblical truths. Therefore, we need to have a Chinese-speaking work all the time. Nevertheless, the Chinese-speaking work is not done outside the church. Rather, it is a part of the work of the local church. It exists only because there are Chinese speakers in the church who do not understand English and therefore need to have Chinese as an alternative. This means that the church can have only the boundary of locality but not the boundary of language. We should not form a church because of language, since in the church there are no differences in nationalities, races, and languages (Col. 3:10-11).
Hence, the Chinese-speaking work in every place in the United States must be done in the fellowship of the local church. Never make the Chinese-speaking work a Chinese-speaking unit apart from the local church. To do so is to create division and fall into Babylon. The first church, the church in Jerusalem, also experienced the language problem, but they were able to have the spread and the building up in one accord by keeping the fellowship of the apostles (Acts 6:1-7). Similarly, the brothers and sisters who are involved in the Chinese-speaking work in every place also need to submit to the elders in their respective local churches and be built up together regardless of language. If they do this, the church will be enriched and will increase. On the other hand, the elders should not allow the Chinese-speaking work to have such unlimited freedom that it becomes a separate unit. The elders must always render fellowship, guidance, and supervision for the testimony of the oneness among God’s people.
We thank the Lord that under His sovereignty He has brought so many Chinese to the United States, and He has also brought His recovery here. In 1938 I was working in Peiping, which is now Beijing; at that time I never dreamed of coming to America. A certain saint who had studied in America sent me two checks and told me, “Brother Lee, I feel that you should go to America. America needs to hear the truths which you preach. Enclosed are two checks: one in the amount of sixteen hundred American dollars is for your traveling expenses, and the other in the amount of twelve hundred Chinese yuan is for your family’s living expenses for one year. I hope that you can go to America to work for one year.” In reply I told that saint that I had no burden at all to go to America. She said, “You don’t have the burden now, but I believe that later the Lord will send you there. Therefore, keep the two checks with you. When the Lord sends you, you go.” Afterwards, her prophecy was fulfilled. Twenty years later I passed through America, and after another three years, I came to America to officially start the work.
We did not come to America to seek refuge; rather, we brought the Lord’s recovery to America. It is truly the Lord’s mercy that so many Chinese are in America. Hence, we have to be faithful to live out the testimony and present it to the Americans that there can be the real spread and multiplication in every church. Instead of producing a Chinese-speaking unit, we should do the Chinese-speaking work only because of the language problem and use such a work as a bridge for the brothers and sisters to be built up so that our Lord may not suffer a great loss. Therefore, the Chinese-speaking work in every place must listen to the church and be one entity with the church. Do not do anything without fellowshipping with the church; neither do anything of which the church disapproves or in which the church refuses to participate. This is a principle. Only in this way can we keep the ground of oneness of the church.
The local churches are the expressions of the church in localities. The church is the Body of Christ; hence, a local church is the expression of the Body of Christ locally. The Body of Christ is only one and has no differences in nationalities, races, languages, and social statuses. Rather, Christ is all and in all (Col. 3:10-11). Language is related to practice, but in order to be considered proper practices, all church practices must take the locality as the boundary and keep the ground of oneness.
(Four Crucial Elements of the Bible, The—Christ, the Spirit, Life, and the Church, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)