Nee Shu-tsu [Watchman Nee] was born of second-generation Christian parents in Foochow, China in 1903. His paternal grandfather studied at the American Congregational College in Foochow and became the first Chinese pastor among the Congregationalists in northern Fukien province. Nee Shu-twu was consecrated to the Lord before his birth. Desiring a son, his mother had prayed to the Lord, saying, “If I have a boy, I will present him to You.” The Lord answered her prayer with the birth of a son. His father later impressed this point upon him, saying, “Before you were born, your mother promised to present you to the Lord.”
Watchman Nee was exceptionally intelligent. From his entrance into elementary school through his graduation from the Anglican Trinity College in Foochow, he ranked first in his class as well as in his school. With many grand dreams and plans for his future, he could have been a great success in the world. At the age of seventeen and after considerable struggle, Nee was dynamically saved while in high school. At the moment of his salvation, his plans for his future were entirely abandoned. He testified, “From the evening I was saved, I began to live a new life, for the life of the eternal God had entered into me.”
After his salvation, Nee became burdened for his classmates to know Christ. Recalling his experience he said, “After I was saved, I spontaneously loved the souls of sinners and hoped that they would be saved. To this end, I began to preach the gospel and to bear testimony among my schoolmates. After a year’s work, however, no one was saved…A western missionary [Miss Groves] spoke to me frankly, “You are unable to lead people to the Lord because there is something between God and you. It may be some hidden sins not yet completely dealt with, or something for which you are indebted to someone…”
“She also asked how I was bearing testimony…She said, ‘You must speak to God first, before you speak to people. You should pray to God, make a list of your schoolmates’ names, and ask God which of them you should pray for. Pray for them daily, mentioning them name by name. Then when God affords the opportunity, you should bear testimony to them.'”
“After that conversation, I immediately began to deal with my sins by making restitution, paying debts, being reconciled with my schoolmates, and confessing offenses to others. I also entered in my notebook the names of about seventy schoolmates and began praying for them daily, mentioning their names individually before God. Sometimes I prayed for them once every hour, praying silently, even in class. When opportunity arose, I would bear testimony to them and try to persuade them to believe in the Lord Jesus…The fact was that they had no intention to listen.”
“I called on Miss Groves again and said to her, ‘I have fully carried out your instructions. Why is it not effective?’ She replied, ‘Don’t be disappointed. Keep praying until some are saved.’ By the Lord’s grace, I continued to pray daily. When opportunity arose, I bore testimony and preached the gospel. Thank the Lord, after several months, all but one of the seventy persons whose names were in my notebook were saved.”
Who is Watchman Nee?
Watchman Nee gave himself unreservedly to God and served the Lord Jesus faithfully as an evangelist, minister, and author. After the Communists came to power in China, Ne was imprisoned for his faith in Christ and spent the final 20 years of his life in confinement. In June 1972, Watchman Nee died on a Communist forced-labor farm. Before his departure, he left a handwritten note under his pillow, which read:
Christ is the Son of God who died for the redemption of sinners and resurrected after three days. This is the greatest truth in the universe. I die because of my belief in Christ.