Is the Lord’s Recovery a Cult? A personal experience with the Local Churches

I have been praying and musing about this post for a couple of weeks now. I am here to testify about my positive experience in the local churches. 

In 1994, my parents, along with many other families, were captivated by the speaking in the ministry to the point that they “abandoned their nets” to follow the ministry. I was 3 years old. My parents were forcibly removed from a Pentecostal denomination because my dad could not contain himself anymore: he had found out about his human spirit.

He had read a book by a Christian brother, Watchman Nee, called The Normal Christian Life, and he was captured by the Lord. Four months later all the ones who had walked out of organized religion found the brothers and sisters of a local church in their city.

That’s where I grew up. I grew up being completely loved, cherished, nourished, and protected by all the brothers and sisters from my locality.

I never grew up hearing anyone talk about “one man only” or “one organization.”

I grew up hearing Bible stories, singing Christian songs, and having a joyous childhood.

That’s my experience.

My parents instilled in me a love for the Bible, a reverence for God, and respect for the older ones. They never exalted one man and never said we were part of any organization. On the contrary, my father would tell me during our car rides that we follow God, His economy, and nothing else.

Man will fail. Man will disappoint us. God will never change. His purpose and will on this earth will never change.  So Witness Lee and Living Stream Ministry were never an “exclusive” thing that I was taught. Again, that’s my experience.

At the age of 9, I had asked my mom: how can I be saved from burning in hell for all eternity? She led me to the Lord Jesus Christ and I received Him as my Lord and Savior. From that day on, I knew that I had Jesus in my heart and that He was never going to leave.  

Throughout the years, I became the young person who caused everyone to have some sort of headache. I always needed to know the answers to everything. I needed to know the why’s and why not’s? I needed the answers to how could that happen? and I challenged people to give me the facts and then you’re right.

I never took anything “just because.” How I thank the Lord for that.

During my first semester in college, I took a religion class that specifically emphasized cults and other religions. I came to a conclusion during one of my classes that I was going to find every fault I could in the Bible and get answers. I needed answers. I went to my father and told him that I needed to know why there was such negative speaking out there about the local churches and why the word cult had been thrown around. He never discouraged me.

On the contrary, my father encouraged me to challenge and struggle with the Lord to find the truth. That began the journey between the Lord and me. I took philosophy classes and religious literature classes and watched numerous documentaries. I read books upon books, and nothing seemed to give me the answer.

Then, during one of my philosophy courses, my professor said that Friedrich Nietzche’s conclusion is the best one we will ever get: human beings have a black hole in their being that will never be satisfied. I was left in utter confusion.

I share this experience with you because as this was all going on, the ones that I had known growing up, the ones who had cared for me in my locality, the ones that I got to know through the Christian Students club on my campus, never “blacklisted” or “marked me out” as a bad person. They loved me. The serving ones were there for me whenever I had questions or just felt like complaining.

Never was I discouraged to not read other materials.

I knew they were praying for me. In the sweet words of a brother, “you are where you are until you are somewhere else.” This has been my experience.

After I moved away and attended another university, I met a few saints in that locality. Once again I was met by the full-timers there who would open the doors of their homes, their fridges, and their hearts to me. I did not make it to all the meetings, and sometimes I would be rolling in late wearing whatever I wanted to, and I was never met with a look of condemnation or of disappointment. On the contrary, my elders, the full-timers, and the students shepherded me.

They had no ulterior motive. I could sense the genuineness in their care for me. That opened the way for the Lord to become so real to me.

Up to that point in my life, no one (including my parents) had ever told me that I was supposed to go to the Full-time Training in Anaheim (FTTA), CA.

No one had given me a “recipe” of needing to go to college, get through Bible school, get a husband, go serve, and have children. Never.

The Lord on the throne sovereignly arranged every situation in my life to get me to turn back to Him and restore my fellowship with the fellow members. I followed the Lord to the FTTA, and my life has not been the same ever since.

In the FTTA the Lord gave me all the answers that I had been looking for.

It was not Witness Lee. It was not this teacher or that teacher.

Yes, the Lord spoke through them and flowed out of them words of life, but I saw the Lord Himself. Day after day, as I read the pages of my Bible, I saw more and more of this Person, Jesus Christ. Each time a question or a doubt came up, I would grab a post-it note, mark it in my Bible or in one of my ministry books, and ask one of the trainers. I never left without an answer.

Their transparency changed my life.

The brothers serving in FTTA and LSM are not hiding anything. Our trainers, the ones who have poured out their lives for us, are not hiding anything. The co-workers are not hiding anything. I witnessed that. I experienced it. I asked the uncomfortable questions. I wanted the why’s and the how’s.

I was not going to take the word mingling just because it was in a ministry book. I had to research it. I had to find it in theological books.

The more I knew about church history, the more I became reassured in the faith. When I interned for Defense and Confirmation Project (DCP) for 7 weeks, I asked the questions and respectfully let them know my doubts. The brothers serving there cared for me, loved me, and took me under their umbrella. They answered my questions, and all I received from them was life. DCP is not hiding anything.

Now, I am a serving one. Never did I ever think my life would turn out the way that it has, but the Lord has me exactly where He wants me. No one – not LSM, not the FTTA, not the brothers from DCP, not one brother or sister – has ever told me that my sole purpose in life is to drop all of my hopes and dreams, take care of children, and just serve the brothers.

That accusation against the local churches has caused me much trouble in my being. According to my experience and observation, this accusation is simply not true.

I serve because I have a burden to give all of my time to the Lord and to the brothers and sisters in the local churches. I serve because the One whom I have seen, the glorious vision, will not have me anywhere else. When He calls me to this or that, I will pick up and go. That’s it. We follow the Lamb. Here is a quote from brother Witness Lee in the book The Glorious Vision and the Way of the Cross:

“Everyone who serves the Lord must have a glorious vision. It is not the seeing that is glorious; rather, it is the object which we see that is glorious. This in turn makes the seeing itself glorious. This is what we mean by a glorious vision.”

My dear brothers and sisters, we can be either joining a movement or following the glorious vision, which is Christ Himself.

If anyone is outwardly following a set of regulations or feel that they have to “check off a box” by serving, then their vision is not clear.

In a class named “Life and Service” a brother shared something that will never leave me:

“God saved us not only so that we will be saved from eternal perdition. We have been saved to serve the living and eternal God.”

That has never left me.

It was not because I was being controlled by an organization or because I was brainwashed by one man that I decided to serve the Lord.

It is not that I am any better than the person next to me. The ones who serve are not an elite group, and we are not better or higher than anyone else.  The dealings are there. The shining is there, but so is the love. I have received support emotionally, mentally, and spiritually from so many of the co-workers and elders and their wives. I have been welcomed with listening ears.

I do not live in a utopia, nor am I an idealist to think that there is never anything wrong in the local churches.

The purpose of this post is not to speak of anything other than my positive experience being in the local churches and to stand with my fathers who are being attacked.

There are many more of us who have received the boundless support, life, care, and supply from the co-workers, from the brothers serving in FTTA, from the serving ones, and from the ministry produced by our brothers Watchman Nee and Witness Lee.

We hold the Bible as the sole authority and the breath of God.

But we can also not deny the riches of the ministry of our brothers. In the words of one of the co-workers in the July 2019 semiannual training, “Do not steal my food away from me.”

Watchman Nee, Witness Lee, the ministering brothers, and the leading ones and serving ones in the local churches are my fathers who have fed me the spiritual food.

Some may not agree, but this is where I have found the riches.

I finish this testimonial by thanking all of my fathers. Thank you for your labor in the Lord.

 I stand with you, my fathers.

Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

– 1 Cor. 15:55-58

What is the Full Time Training in Anaheim (FTTA) Like?

To have a better idea of what the Full-Time Training in Anaheim (FTTA) is like, here is a personal testimony from a Christian explaining their experience in the first week of the Full-Time Training in Anaheim (FTTA).

Each day of [this] week was filled with six different classes, so basically I have a ton of enjoyment from last week alone. But one point that stood out quite strongly was something I’ve never heard before:

When we think about life, we can boil it down to: the plant life, animal life, and human life. But there’s one more life: the divine life of God. The plant life is for the animal life. The plant life and animal life is for the human life. But, what is the human life for?


The human life is for the divine life, and the divine life is for the human life. God desires that His divine life and our human life be mingled together. This divine life in God Himself is perfect. So it doesn’t need any growth – like our human life does. BUT, when the divine life is mingled with the human life, then this mingled life needs to grow. 

…What is the best way for this mingled life within us to grow? Through restrictions and regulations. Life grows by regulation.
An example of this is that when trees grow, often they are bound and have poles stuck to them (restricted and regulated) in order that they might grow up straight and not sideways, crooked, leaning over, etc.I thought originally [I was here for] just learning the truth and knowledge about the Bible, but that’s not all of it. I’m also here to be regulated and restricted so that I can grow in life. If there’s no growth, there’s no maturity. If there’s no maturity, there’s no ability to function.So I’m praying the Lord would continue working in me, being the inward regulator so that the divine life within will grow.

– R.C.

For more information about the Full-Time Training in Anaheim (FTTA), visit their website: ftta.org

This article is part of a series of posts. Other articles in this series are:

WHAT IS THE FULL-TIME TRAINING IN ANAHEIM (FTTA) LIKE? TESTIMONIES FROM CHRISTIANS WHO HAVE BEEN TO THE FTTA

Are you wondering what the Full-Time Training in Anaheim (FTTA) is like? Do you know someone who is going to the Full-Time Training in Anaheim (FTTA)? Are you concerned for them because you’re not sure what it is or what exactly they’ll do there? It’s understandable to be wary of the unknown and our mind can quickly fabricate concepts about things, especially about things we aren’t familiar with. So, it helps to hear from people who have been there/done that.

This is yet another post to share some personal testimonies from Christians who themselves have attended the Full-Time Training in Anaheim (FTTA). To access the previous posts, follow these links:

Testimony #3 from the Full-Time Training in Anaheim (FTTA)

[During my time in the Full-Time Training in Anaheim (FTTA)] I’ve realized that God doesn’t just want a mouthpiece that He can speak through. We aren’t just robots He can use. He wants coworkers. People who will cooperate with Him and choose to follow His will. For us to really be useful for the Lord, we need to prepare ourselves properly for the Lord and cooperate by getting the Logos (the written Word) into us so that His Rhema (the instant Word) can flow through us when we speak. But my experience this week of trying to put this into practice was so scary! I had studied and paid attention in class, and I felt that the Lord was pushing me to stand up and share something. But I didn’t feel like I had properly prepared something to share! I stood up anyway, and just started praying. “Lord, you clearly want me to share something, but I feel so unprepared! I’m scared, but I trust You. Lord, come into my speaking right now!” And after I prayed I just kept calling on the Lord, “Oh Lord Jesus”, and as I did the experience became so sweet. The more I called the more I felt supplied, and it kind of felt like He was holding my hand as I was standing. When I finally shared, I recall that I was sober in mind, but burning in spirit! And that He just supplied me with the words to say.
To sum up the experience, it’s just really sweet to depend on the Lord since He is always ready to be our supply of life and grace.
*Prophesy- This term is often associated with oracles and people who tell the future, but to prophesy is actually something scriptural, and means to speak for God and forth God. Being able to tell the future is just a small portion of speaking for God. In 1 Cor. 14:26 it says, “Whenever you come together, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up”. And 1 Cor. 14:31 says, “For you can all prophesy one by one that all may learn and all may be encouraged”. Based on these verses, prophesying is something that every believer can do, and should do, because it builds up the church! We each have our own experiences and portions of Christ, and we should exercise to share our portions with each other!
My going on is for you, and your going on is for me!
– P.C.
Testimony #4 from the Full-Time Training in Anaheim (FTTA)
So I came into the [Full-Time Training in Anaheim (FTTA)] expecting the Lord to do a lot.
To change my outward behavior, to change my way of thinking, attitude, etc, etc, etc.
And now it’s been a little over one month since I’ve been in the training and….not much has changed.
This week as I was thinking about how time had gone by so fast, I was kind of disappointed to realize that I’m still VERY MUCH the same person.
And this made me kind of sad. Well, maybe not sad….but disappointed.
But during one of our classes this week we were going over how we need to be transformed into the image of Christ. This is a metabolic transformation, a gradual, inward, day by day process that takes time. So even though there won’t necessarily be an outward display of change, I was a bit comforted to know that inwardly the Lord is adding Himself into me to replace my old self with more of Himself.
I might not seem to be the best trainee, or the most patient person, or the most happy person, or the most whatever person, but inwardly the Lord is doing something. And perhaps one day that inward dispensation of Christ will manifest itself outwardly.
-R.C.

Testimony #5 from the Full-Time Training in Anaheim (FTTA)

Something that I really enjoyed from this week [in the Full-Time Training in Anaheim (FTTA)] was seeing how God uses time in His economy, His plan. We can even see that life operates according to a certain timetable. The brother that shared in our character class spoke almost half of the time about growing up on a ranch. Every season, according to the time, they would do the “works” on the cattle, including their vaccinations, branding, etc. He shared that every season they had to know the perfect time to do the works, and actually this could be a matter of life or death for the little calves.

This example being said, it’s so important to know the times, to know the seasons. Life revolves around certain seasons and is governed by seasons and times. Some verses brought out where:

“And He said, I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and then Sarah your wife shall have a son.” (Gen. 18:10)

“Is anything too marvelous for Jehovah? At the time appointed I will return to you, according to the time of life.  (Gen. 18:14)

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” (Ecc. 3:1-2)

“And this knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to be raised from sleep; for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” (Rom. 13:11-13)

How important it is to discern the time, and to know how God operates according to certain seasons. Even being able to recognize when God is operating in one of our family members, classmates, or friends.

Our God carries out His purpose in time. Even the Lord Jesus came at the “fullness of the times.” He knew to meet the Samaritan woman in John at a certain time of the day. I was just so refreshed to see how our Lord uses our times on earth, and I want to be one who redeems my time here on earth, constantly expecting and hastening His coming back.

Something that also really touched me in this class was to see that certain aspects of our experience of Christ can only be experienced now in the flesh. In the next age, there will not be struggles, pain, or whatever personal environment we are in. We are blessed people to know that we can experience Christ in the midst of these things. We don’t want to miss Christ in anything, and all of these experiences in this age become an eternal memorial to us. This is what it means to redeem the time. To realize that every day is a opportunity for us to gain Christ.

-J.B.

Full-Time Training in Anaheim (FTTA) Website 

Photo Credit: Internet Monk