who is witness lee

Who are Watchman Nee and Witness Lee?

Both Watchman Nee and Witness Lee were raised in Christian homes in the early twentieth century. As young men they began to serve the Lord in the 1920s in their respective hometowns in the south and north of China. Both diligently studied the classic Christian writers, and both had ministries that bore the unmistakable sign of God’s blessing. In 1932 Witness Lee joined Watchman Nee in Shanghai to carry out one work emphasizing the experience of Christ as life and the building up of the church. What followed was a remarkable move of the Holy Spirit. The depths of the truths in the Bible poured forth through their ministry as they labored diligently to bring the believers into a personal and corporate living that matches the New Testament. Their work attracted tens of thousands of followers among native Chinese, most of whom were newly saved.

By the time the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was established in 1949, several hundred local churches, often called the “Little Flock” by outsiders, had been raised up throughout the country. The local churches were able not only to survive persecution but also to thrive and flourish under it, because they strongly emphasized the need of every member to have a daily time with the Lord in His Word, to learn to serve Him in the gospel, and to have regular fellowship with other believers, including meeting from house to house (Acts 2:46). This pattern affected much of the “underground church” in China. Today it is estimated that there are between eighty and one hundred million believers there. Many of them offer much credit and gratitude to Watchman Nee for the survival of the church in China.

In 1949, prior to the establishment of the PRC, Watchman Nee, with the support of his co-workers, charged Witness Lee to go to Taiwan with the hope of preserving all that the Lord had revealed and established through their labor. This decision was shown to be under the sovereign hand of God. Nee was arrested two years later, along with many leading ones among the local churches. He was never released, and his direct ministry ended at that time.

The extent and reach of the work of these two men is remarkable. Five years after Watchman Nee’s arrest, and totally unbeknown to him, notes were published from a series of messages he had given in Europe in the 1930s. These notes were published in 1957 in a book entitled The Normal Christian Life. Over the next ten years it became tremendously popular in Europe, North America, and eventually on every continent. It is widely considered a twentieth century Christian classic and is receiving renewed interest today. In ensuing years several other titles by Watchman Nee, including Changed into His Likeness, Love Not the World, The Normal Christian Church Life, and Sit, Walk, Stand, were also published in English. Each achieved great popularity, and by the mid-1960s Watchman Nee had become one of the most widely read authors among Christians seeking a deeper experience of Christ and a more satisfying and biblical approach to the church. Christians from an entire generation, across a wide range of theological orientations, acknowledge Watchman Nee as one of the major influences on their Christian life. Now a new generation is discovering the wealth of spiritual riches in the writings of both Watchman Nee and Witness Lee.

Upon his arrival in Taiwan in 1949, Witness Lee helped to bring about one of the most notable spiritual revivals of the twentieth century. From a modest beginning with five hundred believers, and in a country largely lacking the knowledge of Christ, tens of thousands soon embraced the Savior, and local churches were established in cities throughout the island. Within six years nearly fifty thousand believers were meeting in the local churches in Taiwan. Furthermore, the work spread throughout the Far East, with churches being established in the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Japan, and Korea.

In 1962, following the Lord’s leading and encouraged by a growing interest in Watchman Nee’s writings in the West, Witness Lee moved to Los Angeles and established the work of the ministry in North America. As in Taiwan, local churches spread quickly throughout North and Central America. Churches then sprang up in South America, Europe, Australasia, and Africa. Following the end of the Cold War, this spread continued into the Russian-speaking world. In recent years a number of local churches have been established in the Middle East. Today there are more than four thousand local churches outside of China. As there is no “headquarters” or formal affiliation, compiling the total number of members is difficult, but conservative estimates range from 1.5 to 2 million believers globally.

In addition to the extensive spread of the work that Watchman Nee and he began in China, Witness Lee left behind a remarkable breadth of written ministry. In total he published more than six hundred titles, many now available in more than fifty languages. His signature work, Life-study of the Bible, is an exhaustive expository commentary on the entire Bible with almost two thousand chapters and twenty-five thousand pages, all of which reveal and make practical the genuine experience of Christ as life and the proper Christian service for the building up of the Body of Christ. While he was ministering the Life-study series, he also wrote extensive outlines, footnotes, and cross references for a new translation of the New Testament called the Recovery Version. Many thousands of believers today, both within and outside the local churches, appreciate in Witness Lee’s writings the same spiritual quality and faithful, insightful development of the divine revelation found in Watchman Nee’s works. Most of the writings of these two servants of the Lord are available online at the LSM website ministrybooks.org.
Excerpt taken from an-open-letter.org

A Beneficiary of Witness Lee’s Ministry and the Recovery Version Study Bible

I have received much spiritual benefit from the ministry of Witness Lee. His ministry not only has brought me to believe in the Lord and get saved, but also has nourished me to grow in the Lord and to love the Lord Jesus to the uttermost. There are two specific times in which his ministry has had a direct impact on my spiritual life. Both times were from the reading of the Recovery Version Study Bible, which contains footnotes written by Witness Lee.

In college, I was seeking to answer the seemingly unanswerable questions `Why am I here?’, `Is there an absolute truth?’, etc. I was a Physics major, and at that time the only things I had confidence in were theories backed by experiment. I was agnostic, not knowing if there was a God or not. I believed that belief in God was only a mental exercise. I would seize every opportunity to argue with anyone who believed in God and try to overthrow their beliefs. During my last year in college, I came in contact with a Christian who got me to read the Bible. She gave me a Recovery Version Study Bible. My original intention in reading it was to find contradictions and flaws in the Bible in order to show her that the Bible was written by men, not by God. As I began to read the Bible with the footnotes, I found myself being attracted to this wonderful person, Jesus Christ. I began to realize that this person is more than just a man, but is God himself. This realization was triggered by one short sentence in the footnotes which says, “With darkness is falsehood, the opposite of truth” (John 8:44 note 3). I realized that the reason I questioned whether there was an absolute truth was because I was in darkness. The Lord Jesus Himself is the Light who unveils that His being God is the only absolute truth in this universe. This realization lead me, after a week of inward struggles, to open my heart and receive the Lord Jesus into me. I began a new life. I will remember that short sentence from the footnote for eternity.

Another time that Witness Lee’s ministry helped my spiritual life in a very direct way was to bring me to the realization that I needed to be baptized. After I received the Lord, I began to read and study the Bible. In the beginning of my Christian life, I had the concept that I didn’t need to get baptized. My concept was that baptism was merely a religious practice. I held to this concept quite strongly until I read the footnotes in the Recovery Version Study Bible. One particular footnote of Matthew 28:19 convicted me concerning baptism. It states that baptism has two aspects: the visible aspect by water and the invisible aspect by the Holy Spirit. “Without the invisible baptism by the Spirit, the visible baptism by water is vain, and without the visible baptism by water, the invisible baptism by the Spirit is abstract and impractical.” (note 3) I realized there was a need of an outward confirmation to the inward reality of my salvation. A few weeks later I got baptized. That was a big step forward in my Christian life.

These are two examples of the spiritual benefit I have received from Witness Lee’s ministry. I thank the Lord for the gifts He has given to the church, His Body.

The testimony of Scott Young taken from The Local Churches website.

Who is Watchman Nee?

Watchman Nee became a Christian in mainland China in 1920 at the age of seventeen and began writing in the same year. Throughout the nearly thirty years of his ministry, Watchman Nee was clearly manifested as a unique gift from the Lord to His Body for His move in this age. In 1952 he was imprisoned for his faith; he remained in prison until his death in 1972. His words remain an abundant source of spiritual revelation and supply to Christians throughout the world.

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.

-Watchman Nee

Watchman Nee’s Teachings – The Christian Faith

who is watchman neeWatchman Nee fully believed and taught the scriptural, fundamental faith held by all true Christians. He believed in the divine inspiration of the Bible and that the Bible is God’s holy Word. He believed that God is triune—Father, Son, and Spirit—distinctly three, yet fully one, co-existing and coinhering from eternity to eternity. He believed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, even God Himself, incarnated as a man with both the human nature and the divine nature, that He died on the cross to accomplish redemption, that He rose bodily from the dead on the third day, that He ascended into heaven and was enthroned, crowned with glory, and made the Lord of all, and that He will return the second time to receive His followers, to save Israel, and to establish His millennial kingdom on the earth. He believed that every person who believes in Jesus Christ will be forgiven by God, washed by His redeeming blood, justified by faith, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, and saved by grace. Such a believer is a child of God and a member of the Body of Christ. He also believed that the destiny of every believer is to be an integral part of the church, which is the Body of Christ and the house of God. These aspects of the Christian life are expounded in the following subsections.

For more on Watchman Nee’s biography and testimony, visit watchmannee.org

The above link provides Nee’s testimony of four parts:

1. The first testimony: Salvation and calling.

2. The second testimony: (1) Learning the lesson of the cross, (2) Leading in the work, (3) God as my healer, and (4) Four aspects of work entrusted by God.

3. The third testimony: (1) How to live a life of faith, (2) Attitude towards money, and (3) Looking to God for fulfilling the need of literacy work.