Watchman Nee—A Seer of the Divine Revelation in the Present Age, by Witness Lee


During his school days Watchman Nee’s seeking after the Lord brought him into frequent contact with Margaret E. Barber. Miss Barber, an Anglican missionary, was sent to Fukien, China, in the latter part of the last century. Her co-missionaries became jealous of her and fabricated a serious charge which caused her to be recalled from the field. Miss Barber had come to know the Lord in a living way. She had deeply experienced the cross and practiced continually the lessons of the cross. For this reason, she decided not to vindicate herself concerning the charges made against her. She remained at home in Great Britain for a number of years. At a certain point, the chairman of the mission board became aware that the case against her was misrepresented, and he asked her to tell him the truth. He said he realized that she was seeking to learn the lesson of the cross and that she would say nothing in her own defense, but as one in authority over her, he commanded her to tell the truth. Miss Barber then told the whole story. She was fully vindicated before the mission board, and the decision was made to send her back to China. However, she resigned from the mission, considering that it was the right time to do so, even though she still had the burden to return to China for the Lord’s interest.

Before this time Miss Barber had come in contact with D.M. Panton. Mr. Panton was both a great student of the Word and one who had learned the evils of denominationalism. Through her relationship with him, Miss Barber also became clear concerning the denominations.

After spending much time in prayer, she felt the Lord Himself was sending her back to China. She did return to China, but this time not in connection with any mission. From a human standpoint, she went back on her own in the early part of this century. She settled in a suburb of Foochow, Watchman Nee’s home city. She lived there with little traveling and no publicity. She simply remained at home, praying much for the Lord’s move in China and helping those who sought her counsel in seeking after the Lord. She was, no doubt, a seed sown in China by the Lord for His recovery. She composed a number of poems, many of which have been adapted for inclusion in our hymnbook (Hymns, published by Living Stream Ministry). All of them exhibit a deep experience in Christ.

Margaret Barber lived by faith. She had no outward means of support. According to Chinese custom, all bills must be fully paid at the end of the year. But at the end of one year, she discovered she was short one hundred twenty Chinese dollars. With only two days remaining until the Chinese new year, she prayed desperately to the Lord for this need. On the last day of the year, a cable arrived from D.M. Panton in London through the British bank in Foochow. The amount sent was exactly one hundred twenty Chinese dollars.

Through his relationship with Miss Barber, Watchman Nee was greatly edified and perfected. Whenever he had a problem or needed spiritual instruction or strengthening, he would go to her. She treated him as a young learner and frequently administered strict discipline.

At that time over sixty young brothers and sisters received help from Miss Barber. Being deep in the Lord and exceedingly strict, she frequently rebuked the young people concerning many things. After a short time most of these young people stopped going to her. The only one who continued to see her was Watchman Nee. When he visited her, she rebuked and reproved him. Frequently she pointed out that as a young man he could not serve the Lord in this way or that way. However, the more she rebuked him, the more he returned to be rebuked. By deliberately putting himself before her to be rebuked, he received untold help.

(Watchman Nee—A Seer of the Divine Revelation in the Present Age, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)