星期三, 4月 27, 2005


By Angus I. Kinnear

一位弟兄來信盼望我能貼上工作的再思英文版, 再尋找的過程中無意間挖到另一寶礦, 其中蒐錄史百克及其同工們(包含倪弟兄)早期信息及見證,今先貼上兩篇: 一為Kinnear所寫的倪弟兄,另一篇為倪弟兄在1939五月在Honor Oak 所釋放的信息:

EARLY in July this year reliable news reached the West that on 1st June, at the age of seventy, Watchman Nee of Foochow passed into the presence of his Lord. At the time he was, we are told, somewhere in Anhwei Province, several hundred miles up the Yangtze. Less than eight weeks had elapsed since the completion of his twenty years' confinement in prison and labour camp. There seems no means of knowing whether he was ever aware of the powerful impact of his earlier preaching upon the lives of Christians round the world during this period.

Older readers of A Witness and A Testimony will remember the transcriptions over the initials W.N. of a series of addresses given in 1938 at Helsingor, Denmark, under the title "The Normal Christian Life". We too at the Christian Fellowship Centre, Honor Oak, London, were among the few Christian groups in Europe to hear, over a brief period in that and the following year, the inspired preaching of this gifted and clear-thinking Chinese brother. It is safe to say that all those who remember him thank God for his gracious personality and for his truly Christ-centred teaching and exhortation.

It was in February 1920 that a Chinese woman evangelist was preaching Christ in Foochow. The resulting dramatic conversion of Watchman's mother from a revolutionary agitator for Sun Yat-sen to a humble follower of the Saviour induced him, the eldest son, to attend the meetings in search of an explanation. A few days later, in a change of heart no less complex, he himself found the Lord Jesus as Saviour and King. From that day he made the Scriptures his special study, and set himself to bear witness to his Lord by life and word, preaching the good news first among his fellow students at the C.M.S. Trinity College, Foochow, and later more widely through the southern provinces.

Working from Pagoda Anchorage, Foochow, he was soon faced with the problem of what to do with his village converts. Not a few Chinese of his generation were finding the confusing variety of Western church traditions ill-adapted to their people's situation. Watchman and his young co-workers sought instead a simpler and more flexible pattern of church fellowship. (In this his reading of the New Testament was for a time coloured by the writings of the earlier Brethren.) By 1928 the centre of his work had moved to Shanghai, with well-attended meetings at Hardoon Road and a widely distributed devotional magazine.

The ensuing years saw household churches spring up far and wide throughout China, all with a strong evangelistic witness. The simple message of redemption and new life in Christ Jesus met a deep hunger among Chinese of all classes. His Rethinking Our Missions (English translation, Concerning Our Missions, Shanghai and London, 1939) indicates the point then reached in their strategic thinking. It was to be a long pilgrimage and a painful one, for because its methods were untraditional the 'Little Flock' (as the movement was nicknamed from the title of its hymn-book) was viewed with caution and even hostility by some in the establishment of the Western foreign missions. There were always those among them, however, who saw in Nee a Christian thinker and [81/82] missionary strategist of outstanding spiritual insight. On his visit to Britain in 1938-39 he enjoyed stimulating fellowship with Christian leaders like Mr. Norman Baker of the China Inland Mission, while particularly in Mr. T. Austin-Sparks, editor of A Witness and A Testimony, he made a close friend. And few who were present at the Keswick Convention of July 1938 failed to be moved by his prayer at its great missionary meeting.

With the ending in 1946 of the Japanese war, Watchman Nee began an intensive training of young workers to carry the gospel throughout China. His plan to evanvelise its unreached cities by group-migration of Christian believers into the far interior (an idea based on Acts 8:4) seems in retrospect an inspired preparation for the Church's enforced dispersal so soon to follow. After 1948, in a statement perhaps deliberately exaggerated, he was credited by the People's Government with heading the largest Christian denomination in the country.

But it was the Little Flock's very independence of foreign links and foreign support that enraged the Party representatives in the Christian Three Self Patriotic Movement, for it did not accord with their doctrine that all Christianity but their own was imperialist inspired. They framed Nee therefore, and he was tried on a series of wholly extravagant 'criminal' charges and sentenced to twenty years, which he served from April 10th 1952, mostly in or near Shanghai. Stories of his gross mutilation during this period are to be discounted, but if any positive Christian witness was possible it can only have been to his captors. His death this year was from a long-standing heart condition. His wife, Charity, visited him regularly in prison until her own death in October 1971. They had no children. A single final message from Watchman Nee himself, written in his own hand after her passing, mentions his ill-health but characteristically adds, "The inward joy surpasses everything."

Since 1966, throughout the People's Republic of Mao Tse-tung, all places of worship have been closed. On the surface there exists no longer a Church in China. What survives is hidden and informal. It is also surely still pilgrim, cast for its very existence upon God. Through the recent spread in the West of Watchman Nee's devotional writings, his name became for many a focus for their prayers on behalf of the oppressed people of God. I believe he would have urged us both to step-up and to broaden the scope of those prayers. We thank God from our hearts for the witness of this one dear brother in Christ. We must thank Him all the more, and with renewed hope, for the anonymous multitude who, like him disdaining release, conspire to set forth Christ crucified and risen and exalted, still triumphant over all. "The Lord sat as king at the Flood; yes indeed, the Lord sits enthroned as king for ever!"


The following is an extract from a testimony given at
Honor Oak Christian Fellowship Centre by Miss Joy Betteridge.

AFTER previous years of service for Christ in China, I returned to Shanghai in 1948. At that time Brother Watchman Nee was holding Workers' Conferences at a mountain resort near Foochow, his old home. The workers came from all over China and from other places in the Far East, and I was present at two of them. On the second occasion I was taking part as one of the workers, and it was then that the Communists came so near to Foochow that the conference had to be abandoned.

Brother Nee told me that those responsible felt that I should move off at once to Hong Kong, adding that if I had strong convictions that I should not go they would take responsibility for me. Much as I would have liked to have stayed, I felt it right to take this advice, and so I made one of a party which sailed immediately for Hong Kong. Mrs. Nee was one of the party. I had a great regard for her. She was practical in the home, and a quietly helpful influence among all the sisters. Later Brother Nee himself came to Hong Kong to stay with his wife for a while, but then they returned voluntarily to Shanghai, never to come out again.

I did not have many personal touches with him, for he was not a man for much light conversation, but I greatly profited from his ministry of the Word. At the conferences he always wore a dark blue Chinese cotton gown. I never saw him with any notes. He would walk up and down, with his hands behind his back, just speaking from his heart. He would invite questions after his messages to the workers, and his answers were always full of spiritual value. Every morning there would be one session given over to individual testimonies [82/83] from workers. They would speak freely for half an hour, after which the others were invited to give their criticisms and finally Brother Nee would sum up for the benefit of the one concerned. I remember how nervous I felt when I was asked to do this, but I did it, though with fear and trembling. Among other things which Brother Nee said at the end was, "We thank God for all that our sister knows. It will be good if she is led into some experiences where she discovers what she does not know." I understand now the point of that criticism and thank God for all His way with me since then. When inviting me there he had said "If you are only just with us, it will be a testimony that God's Church is not just Chinese". He never liked the use of the phrase 'Chinese brothers and sisters' preferring 'brothers and sisters in China', for he affirmed that all born-again believers are citizens of heaven.

I remember that last meeting at Foochow before we all scattered. Brother Nee knew that he must remain in Shanghai for the sake of the church there, and therefore at that conference he made the decision, regardless of the cost, which he already knew would be very great. I saw God's grace, as well as sorrow and foreboding, on his face as we commended Him to God for that. He could have stayed out, but he chose to stay in. And I remember that we sang a hymn which he had translated into Chinese from an English poem. He loved to sing it and we did so in the light of the fact that we were to be separated the next morning. A rough rendering of it includes such phrases as, 'If my way lead me to suffering: if Thou commandest me to pass through adversity, may there be intimate fellowship between us through it all. The longer the trial, the sweeter the fellowship. If earth's happiness grows less, I pray Thee give me more of heaven. Although the heart may be sorrowful, may the spirit still praise. If Thou dost separate me from the ties of earth's sweetness, may the link between Thee and me be more precious. Although the road may be lonely, I pray Thee to be my Friend, encouraging me so that I can finish the course. Lord I trust Thy gracious strength, hoping always to be a clean vessel through which flows Thy life.'