One of the authors whose books we give away is Watchman Nee. Have you ever wondered why we chose this author? And who is Watchman Nee?
Let’s take a little time to look at a brief biography of Watchman Nee. The testimonies of believers can be truly edifying and helpful, and more particularly, the testimony of Watchman Nee can give us a sense of his depth as a believer and thereby increase our appreciation for the ministry in his books.
The backdrop to Watchman Nee’s testimony
Starting in the early 1800s, God put a calling into the hearts of many Western Christians to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to China. Through much sacrifice, these missionaries gave themselves to preach the gospel in a place where it hadn’t gone before. As a result, slowly but surely, people who had previously never heard the name of Jesus were brought to Christ the Savior.
Then in 1900 during the violence and upheaval of the Boxer Rebellion, Chinese believers were persecuted and martyred. Many missionaries were also killed. In the aftermath of such sacrifice and loss, Christians in the West persevered in their burden for China and continued to offer up fervent prayers for its people.
In the 1920s, the Lord answered these prayers and began to call young people to Himself in China. The gospel reached the educated circles, and many college students were brought to Christ. One hundred years of missionary work and sacrifice, followed by years of desperate prayer, had paved the way for the Lord to raise up a whole generation of young Chinese Christians. It was from among that generation that the Lord called Watchman Nee.
Watchman Nee’s salvation
Watchman Nee was born into a Christian home in China, but he hadn’t received Christ as his Savior. As an educated young man, he considered Christian preaching to be the lowest occupation on earth. He was very intelligent, very capable, and had big plans for his future.
In 1920, when he was 17 years old, Watchman Nee attended his parents’ church where a well-known evangelist came to preach the gospel. Many in the congregation believed in the Lord and were saved right then. But Watchman Nee was not, for though he was moved by the gospel, he also realized that if he received Christ as his Savior, that meant he would also receive Christ as his Lord and serve Him for the rest of his life.
For a young man with such capacity and such dreams as Nee, this realization created great inner turmoil. Not long after hearing the gospel preached that day, however, Nee was alone in his room and recognized that he had no peace. Troubled, he was unable to sleep, so he knelt down to pray. One after another, his sins came before him. He saw that he was a sinner. He also saw a wounded Savior on the cross, with open arms waiting to receive him.
Overwhelmed by such love, Nee wept. He confessed his sinfulness to the Lord and immediately felt the burden of sin lifted. For the first time in his life he felt real peace and joy. His immediate and willing response was to consecrate himself to the Lord for His service for the rest of his life.
Watchman Nee’s testimony
After his salvation, Watchman Nee immediately sought to know the Lord Jesus in the Word of God and through classic Christian books and the spiritual writings of other believers. He read voraciously and, blessed with a keen mind, was able to remember what he read. In a short time, he himself began to write on matters of the Christian life in magazines, tracts, and books. He also translated important Christian works from English into Chinese for others to benefit from.
In addition to carrying out his ministry through writing and publishing, Nee also gave spoken messages in various places in China. In 1938 he gave messages in Europe that eventually were published as The Normal Christian Life.
Nee was manifested as a particular gift from God to the Body of Christ, ministering from the Word in a country that had long been deprived of not only the basic truths in the Bible, but also the deeper truths revealed in God’s Word. Through his ministry, the Lord raised up hundreds of believers and churches in China. Not only so, countless other believers have received light and spiritual nourishment from God’s Word through Nee’s written ministry. Even now, the writings of Watchman Nee continue to have great impact on Christians all over the world.
Nee was arrested by the Chinese government for his faith in 1952. He remained imprisoned for 20 years, steadfast in his faith until his death in a labor camp in 1972. In 2009, the United States Congress recognized Nee for his devotion to his faith and his contributions to Christianity worldwide.
After Nee’s death, a guard found these words he’d written on a piece of paper in his room:
“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.”
Why we give away books by Watchman Nee
The books Bibles for America gives away for free were chosen because of the tremendous help we ourselves have received from them and other writings by the authors, Watchman Nee and Witness Lee. We have greatly benefitted from the light and life in their ministry, and our ardent desire is for our fellow believers to have the opportunity to receive the same help that we have.
It’s beyond the scope and ability of the BfA blog to get into the full details of the biographies of these two men of God, which are truly edifying. But we hope the few facts brought out in this post about Watchman Nee’s life will inspire you, edify you, and lead you into the wonderful ministry found in his books.
Excerpts by Watchman Nee and Witness Lee are featured in the commentary of the Mosaic Bible, published by Tyndale House Publishers. A biography of Watchman Nee titled A Seer of the Divine Revelation in the Present Age was written by Witness Lee and published by Living Stream Ministry.
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