Author Spotlight: Who Is Watchman Nee?
Did you know that besides offering free copies of the New Testament Recovery Version to US residents, we at Bibles for America also offer a selection of free Christian e-books? These can be downloaded from anywhere in the world.
Bibles for America chose to give away these particular books because they’ve helped us know Christ and God’s purpose. Our ardent desire is that our fellow believers would have the opportunity to benefit from them as we have.
The authors of these books are Watchman Nee and Witness Lee. It’s beyond the scope and ability of a blog post to present a complete biography of each of these two men of God. But in this post, we’ll present a very brief biography of Watchman Nee. We hope it will give you a glimpse of his depth as a believer and the ministry of life in his books.
The backdrop to Watchman Nee’s life
Starting in the early 1800s, God worked in the hearts of many Christians in the West and put in them a strong desire for the people in China to hear the gospel. These believers began to pray earnestly, and eventually, some traveled to China to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ where it hadn’t been proclaimed before. As a result of their prayers and labor, many who had never heard the name of Jesus were brought to Christ to receive Him as their Savior.
In 1900, the violent Boxer Rebellion in China caused great upheaval. Chinese believers and Western missionaries alike were persecuted and even martyred. Yet Christians in the West persevered in offering up fervent prayers for China.
In the 1920s, the Lord began to answer these prayers by calling young people in China to Himself, including many college students. 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 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 in 1903. However, as an unsaved, educated young man, he considered Christian preaching to be the lowest occupation on earth. He was very intelligent and capable, and he had big plans for his future.
In 1920, when Watchman Nee was 17 years old, a well-known evangelist came to preach the gospel at his parents’ church. As a result, many in the congregation believed in the Lord and were saved. But although Watchman Nee was in attendance and was moved by the gospel message, he wasn’t immediately saved. He realized that receiving Christ as his Savior also meant receiving Christ as his Lord and would require him to serve the Lord for the rest of his life.
This realization caused him great inner turmoil. Not long after he heard the gospel preached that day, 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. As he confessed his sinfulness to the Lord, he felt the burden of sin lifted. For the first time in his life he had real peace and joy. His immediate response was to consecrate himself to serve the Lord Jesus for the rest of his life.
Watchman Nee’s testimony
After he was saved, Watchman Nee sought to know the Lord Jesus in the Word of God and through the spiritual writings of other believers. He read voraciously and, blessed with a keen mind, he was able to retain what he read.
In a short time, he began to write on matters related to the Christian life in magazines, tracts, and books. He also translated important Christian works from English into Chinese so other Chinese-speaking believers could benefit from them.
In addition to carrying out his ministry through writing and publishing, Nee also spoke in various places in China. These messages were then printed as books. In 1938, he traveled to Europe and gave messages there that eventually were collected and published as The Normal Christian Life.
It was clearly manifest that Nee was a particular gift from God to the Body of Christ. He ministered from the Word of God in a country that had long been deprived of both the basic and deeper truths revealed in God’s Word.
Through Watchman Nee’s ministry, the Lord raised up thousands of believers and hundreds of churches throughout China.
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Watchman Nee’s imprisonment and martyrdom
In 1952, after the Communist Revolution in China, Nee was arrested by the Communist Chinese government for his faith. After being falsely accused and condemned, Nee was imprisoned. He was never released and died in a labor camp in 1972. Yet during the 20 years of his imprisonment, he remained steadfast in his faith. 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.”
Watchman Nee’s ministry
Countless believers have received light and spiritual nourishment through Nee’s written ministry. Even today, his writings continue to have a great impact on Christians all over the world.
In 2009, the United States Congress recognized Watchman Nee for his devotion to his faith and his contributions to Christians worldwide.
A biography of Watchman Nee titled Watchman Nee—A Seer of the Divine Revelation in the Present Age was written by Witness Lee and published by Living Stream Ministry. For more detailed information on Watchman Nee’s life and ministry, you can visit watchmannee.org.
In addition, Bibles for America is currently giving away free hard copies of Basic Elements of the Christian Life, vols. 1-3. These booklets contain writings from both Nee and Lee and will help you experience the Lord Jesus in a personal way and grow in the life of God. If you live in the US, you can order your free set here. They are also available to download as e-books here from anywhere in the world.
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