THE STAGES OF THE LITERATURE WORK IN THE LORD’S RECOVERY
Up to now, the publication work in the Lord’s recovery can be divided into two stages. The first stage was during the time of Brother Nee, which was from 1922 to 1952. The second stage began from the publication of the magazine The Ministry of the Word in 1952 until now. During this time, publications of my writings began to appear more and more. Prior to 1952, all the literature work was done by Brother Nee.
In 1928 Brother Nee discontinued the publication of his first magazine, The Christian. By 1934 it was resumed. At its resumption I was entrusted with the editorial work. He took up editorship of another magazine of a deeper nature, The Present Testimony. The first few years that I edited The Christian, I spent all the time working on Brother Nee’s messages. After I was done with most of them, I also put out some of my messages concerning the kingdom.
We have to know that the literature work among us was absolutely a personal ministry of Brother Nee. It could not even be considered a work of us co-workers. At that time, I only took a part in the service of it by editing the resumed The Christian magazine. The scope was not wide. Besides me, there was another brother, Brother Yu, who had a part. He paid much attention to the inner life, promoted the writings of the mystics, and did some translations. But on the whole, the Gospel Bookroom then was the literature ministry of Brother Nee.
By 1948 there was a great revival among us. The ministry of Brother Nee was recovered. He made fresh arrangements with the literature work of the Gospel Bookroom. Four magazines were simultaneously put out. The deepest of them was The Present Testimony; it was taken up by Brother Nee himself. A simpler one was The Way, in nature quite similar to The Christian, which Brother Nee asked me to take charge of. Other than these two, there were a gospel magazine and another one called The Ministers. This latter one was equivalent to The News of the Churches. I was one of the editors of this magazine also. By then, the scope of the literature work was expanded a little. But within a year’s time, the Communists took over mainland China, and the literature work was interrupted. I then left the mainland to come to Taiwan.
Hence, 1952 was a watershed. The first thirty years were mainly Brother Nee’s writings. Since 1952 I continued in this ministry with the publication of The Ministry of the Word. By 1963 when I went to the United States, I put out The Stream magazine in America and established the Living Stream Ministry. By 1974 I began to put out the Life-study Messages. Both the number of messages as well as the number of copies printed were big. This is a short history of the literature work.
THE DIFFICULTIES AMONG US COMING MAINLY FROM CHRISTIANS
I mention the history because for all these years I have contacted mostly co-workers and elders. What bothers me within and gives me difficulty is the humanity of some of them. During the past years, and especially during the first thirty years, I saw this bothering happen to Brother Nee.
In 1922 the first church in the Lord’s recovery was raised up in Brother Nee’s hometown of Foochow. It was the actual beginning of the Lord’s recovery. During the subsequent twenty or more years, Brother Nee encountered many sufferings. There were hard times, criticisms, judgments, and attacks. I have seen them coming wave after wave. The few of us co-workers who were close to Brother Nee always felt that he did not seem to have a single day of peace. The storms came one after another. Most of the difficulties came from the Christians and not a few from co-workers and elders.
From 1950 on, I began to work overseas. In the beginning I was in Taiwan. Later I moved from Taiwan, passing through East and Southeast Asia and eventually reaching the West. During the past thirty years, I also have encountered many difficulties, and most of them have been from Christians.
Brother Nee was not welcomed at that time in mainland China by Christianity. This is because the light that he saw, the way that he took, and the ground that he stood on was not welcomed by Christianity. Hence, some difficulties in the mainland came from Christianity. We are not too concerned about these oppositions. What concerns us is the oppositions that have arisen from among the elders and co-workers in the Lord’s recovery during the past sixty years.
One time fifty years ago, Brother Nee came to me and said, “Brother Witness, look how even Christians can lie!” At that time I was quite surprised also. It was hard for me to believe. That was the first alarm I received. Furthermore, the Christian who Brother Nee referred to was not an ordinary Christian. He was a seeking, pursuing Christian. Yet he lied. Since then, the difficulties I encountered were one upon another. They caused great turmoil within me.
(The Glorious Vision and the Way of the Cross, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)