Watchman Nee’s Testimony
Watchman Nee shared his testimony on three separate occasions in 1936. These testimonies were compiled in a book entitled Watchman Nee’s Testimony by Brother Kwang-hsi Weigh and initially published in 1974. (Brother Weigh’s own testimony concerning Watchman Nee is included in the section, Others’ Testimonies.) A revised edition of the book was published in 1981 and 1993 by Living Stream Ministry. The preface and a portion of the introduction to this book are reproduced below, followed by five representative passages.
PREFACE TO THE NEW EDITION
The following is a new edition of the original book Watchman Nee’s Testimony. The old edition that was first printed in 1974 was somewhat different from the original manuscript. We have secured the original unedited Chinese copy of the manuscript of the compiler, Brother K. H. Weigh, and have retranslated it into English. The result is the following revised edition of the book.
These three testimonies were given by Brother Watchman Nee in a co-workers’ meeting held at Kulangsu, an island off the southeastern coast of Fukien province, China, in October 1936. As far as I know, this was the only occasion in his life on which he spoke about his personal affairs in detail. Very seldom had he publicly related his own spiritual experience, probably “lest anyone account of me something above what he sees me to be or hears from me” (2 Cor. 12:6). The testimony which Paul gave in chapter twelve of 2 Corinthians was not publicly divulged until fourteen years later. I have often in the past been thinking of publishing these three testimonies, but in order to share his outlook, I have postponed until now—after the lapse of thirty-seven years. When he died in mainland China on May 30, 1972, I decided to make these testimonies public. I believe this is the right time. I hope that the readers will not pay attention to the person himself, but will pay attention to the work of the Lord in him, and to his willingness in allowing the Lord to perform His work. In this way, the glory of the Lord will be expressed through him. As Paul said, “So that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thes. 1:12).
The first testimony: Salvation and calling.
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.
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.
These three testimonies by no means comprise the whole of his spiritual life and work before 1936. When we read The Present Testimony, The Christian magazine, and open letters published by him before 1936, we can see that there were still a lot of testimonies and work done which were worth mentioning. In that co-workers’ meeting, he could not speak more because of the limit of time….
SALVATION AND CALLING
(Given on October 18,1936)
Scripture Reading: Acts 26:29; Gal. 1:15
I was born into a Christian family. I was the third child preceded by two sisters. Because I had an aunt who had borne six daughters in succession, my paternal aunt was displeased when my mother bore two girls. According to Chinese custom, males are preferred over females. When my mother gave birth to two girls, people said she would probably be like my aunt, bearing half a dozen girls before bringing forth a boy. Though at that time my mother was not clearly saved, she knew how to pray. So she spoke to the Lord, saying, “If I have a boy, I will present him to You.” The Lord heard her prayer and I was born. My father told me, “Before you were born, your mother promised to present you to the Lord.”
Saved and Called at the Same Time
I was saved in 1920 at the age of seventeen. Before being saved I experienced some mental conflict concerning whether or not to accept the Lord Jesus as my Savior and whether or not to become the Lord’s servant. For most people, the problem at the time of salvation is how to be delivered from sin. But for me, being saved from sin and my life career were linked together. If I were to accept the Lord Jesus as my Savior, I would simultaneously accept Him as my Lord. He would deliver me not only from sin but also from the world. At that time I was afraid of being saved, for I knew that once I was saved I must serve the Lord. Of necessity, therefore, my salvation would be a dual salvation. It was impossible for me to set aside the Lord’s calling and to desire only salvation. I had to choose either to believe in the Lord and have a dual salvation or forfeit both. For me to accept the Lord would mean that both events would take place simultaneously.
On the evening of April 29, 1920, I was alone in my room. I had no peace of mind. Whether I sat or reclined, I could find no rest, for within was this problem of whether or not I should believe in the Lord. My first inclination was not to believe in the Lord Jesus and not to be a Christian. However, that made me inwardly uneasy. There was a real struggle within me. Then I knelt down to pray. At first I had no words with which to pray. But eventually many sins came before me, and I realized that I was a sinner. I had never had such an experience in my life before that time. I saw myself as a sinner and I also saw the Savior. I saw the filthiness of sin and I also saw the efficacy of the Lord’s precious blood cleansing me and making me white as snow. I saw the Lord’s hands nailed to the cross, and at the same time I saw Him stretching forth His arms to welcome me, saying, “I am here waiting to receive you.” Overwhelmed by such love, I could not possibly reject it, and I decided to accept Him as my Savior. Previously, I had laughed at those who believed in the Lord, but that evening I could not laugh. Instead, I wept and confessed my sins, seeking the Lord’s forgiveness. After making my confession, the burden of sins was discharged, and I felt buoyant and full of inward joy and peace. This was the first time in my life that I knew I was a sinner. I prayed for the first time and had my first experience of joy and peace. There might have been some joy and peace before, but the experience after my salvation was very real. Alone in my room that evening, I saw the light and lost all consciousness of my surroundings. I said to the Lord, “Lord, You have really been gracious to me.”
Giving up my future
In this audience there are at least three schoolmates of mine. Among them is Brother Weigh Kwang-hsi, who can testify concerning what an ill-behaved student I was, as well as what a wonderful student I was in school. On the evil side, I often violated the school rules. On the good side, I was always first in every examination, because God had bestowed intelligence on me. My essays were frequently posted on the bulletin board for exhibition. At that time I was a youth with many grand dreams and many plans for the future. I considered my judgments sound. I can humbly say that had I worked hard in the world, it would have been quite possible for me to have had great success. My schoolmates can also testify to this. But following my salvation many new things happened to me. All my previous planning became void and was brought to nothing. My future career was entirely abandoned. For some this step might be easy, but for me, with many ideals, dreams, and plans, it was exceedingly difficult. From the evening I was saved, I began to live a new life, for the life of the eternal God had entered into me.
My salvation and calling to serve the Lord took place simultaneously. Since that evening, I have never once had any doubts about being called. During that hour I decided on my future career once and for all. I realized that, on the one hand, the Lord had saved me for my sake, and at the same time, He did so for His own sake. He wanted me to obtain His eternal life, and He also wanted me to serve Him and be His co-worker. As a boy I did not understand the nature of preaching. When I was older, I considered it the most trifling and base of occupations. In those days most preachers were employed by European or American missionaries. They were servile subordinates to the missionaries and earned merely eight or nine dollars per month. I had no intention of becoming a preacher nor even a Christian. I could never have imagined that I would choose the profession of a preacher, a profession which I despised and considered trifling and base.
LEARNING TO SERVE THE LORD
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 nearly a year’s work, however, no one was saved. I thought the more words I could speak and the more reasons I could present, the more effective I would be in saving people. But though I had much to speak concerning the Lord, my words lacked power to move the listeners.
Prayer for others’ salvation
About this time I met a Western missionary, Miss Groves (Margaret Barber’s co-worker), who asked me how many persons I had brought to the Lord in the year following my salvation. I bowed my head, hoping to forestall further questioning, and shamefully admitted in a low voice that, although I had preached the gospel to my schoolmates, they did not like to listen, and when they did listen, they would not believe. My attitude was that, since they would not heed the gospel, they would have to bear the consequences. She 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.” I admitted that such things existed, and she asked if I were willing to settle them immediately. I answered that I was willing.
She also asked how I went about bearing testimony. I replied that I pulled people in at random and began to speak, regardless of whether they were listening or not. She said, “This is not right. 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 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. My schoolmates often said jokingly, “Mr. Preacher is coming. Let us listen to his preaching.” 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, “Do not 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.
LEARNING THE LESSON OF SUBMISSION
In 1923 seven of us worked together as co-workers. Two of us took the lead, a co-worker who was five years my senior and myself. We had a co-workers’ meeting every Friday in which the other five were often forced to listen to the arguing between the leading two. We were all young then, and each had his own way of thinking. I often charged the elder co-worker with being wrong, and vice versa. Since my temperament had not been dealt with, I frequently lost my temper. Today in 1936 I do sometimes laugh, but I seldom laughed at that time. In our controversies I admit that many times I was wrong, but he was also at times in the wrong. It was easy for me to forgive my own faults, but not easy to forgive others. After having a dispute on Friday, I would go to Sister Barber on Saturday and accuse the other co-worker. I would say, “I told that co-worker that he should act in a certain way, but he would not listen. You should speak to him.” Sister Barber replied, “He is five years older than you; you should listen to him and obey him.” I answered, “Am I to listen to him whether he is reasonable or not?” She said, “Yes! The Scriptures say that the younger should obey the elder.” I replied, “I cannot possibly do this. A Christian should act according to reason.” She answered, “Whether there is reason or not, you need not care. The Scriptures say that the younger should obey the elder.” I was angry at heart that the Bible would say such a thing. I wanted to give vent to my indignation, but I could not.
Each time following the controversy on Friday, I would go to her to state my grievances, but she would again quote the Scriptures, demanding that I obey the elder. Sometimes I wept Friday evening after the dispute on Friday afternoon. Then I would go to Sister Barber the next day to state my grievances, hoping that she would vindicate me. But I would weep again after coming home Saturday evening. I wished I had been born a few years earlier. In one controversy I had very good arguments. I felt that when I pointed them out, she would see how my co-worker was wrong and would support me. But she said, “Whether that co-worker is wrong or not is another matter. While you are accusing your brother before me, are you like one who is bearing the cross? Are you like a lamb?” When she questioned me in this way, I felt very ashamed and I could never forget it. My speech and my attitude that day revealed that I was indeed not like one bearing the cross, nor like a lamb.
In such circumstances I learned to obey an elder co-worker. In that year and a half, I learned the most precious lesson in my life. My head was filled with ideas, but God wanted to see me enter into spiritual reality. In that year and a half, I came to realize what it is to bear the cross. Today in 1936 we have some fifty co-workers. Had it not been for the lesson of obedience which I learned in that year and a half, I fear that I could not work together with anyone. God put me in those circumstances that I might learn to be under the restraint of the Holy Spirit. In those eighteen months I had no opportunity to put forward my proposals. I could only weep and painfully suffer. But had it not been for this, I would never have realized how difficult it was for me to be dealt with. God wanted to polish me and to remove all my sharp, projecting edges. This has been a difficult thing to accomplish. How I thank and praise God, whose grace has brought me through!
Now I must speak a word to the young co-workers. If you cannot stand the trials of the cross, you cannot become a useful instrument. It is only the spirit of a lamb that God takes delight in: the gentleness, the humility, and the peace. Your ambition, lofty purpose, and ability are all useless in the sight of God. I have been down this path and must often confess my shortcomings. All that pertains to me is in the hand of God. It is not a question of right or wrong; it is a question of whether or not one is like the bearer of the cross. In the church, right and wrong have no place; all that counts is bearing the cross and accepting its breaking. This produces the overflowing of God’s life and accomplishes His will.
GOD AS MY FATHER
When I first became aware of my illness in 1924, I was feeling feeble, there was pain in my chest, and I had a slight fever. I did not know what was wrong. Dr. H. S. Wong said to me, “I know you have faith and that God can cure you, but allow me to examine you and diagnose your disease.” After the examination he spoke to Brother Wong Teng Ming for some time in a very low voice. At first, even though I asked, they would not tell me the result of the examination. But when I informed them that I was not afraid, Dr. Wong told me that I was afflicted with tuberculosis and that my condition was so serious that prolonged rest would be necessary.
I could not sleep that night; I did not want to meet the Lord without having completed my work. I was very depressed. I decided to go to the countryside for a rest and have more fellowship with the Lord. I asked the Lord, “What is Your will for me? If You wish me to lay down my life, I am not afraid to die.” For half a year I could not grasp the Lord’s will, but there was joy in my heart, and I believed the Lord could never be wrong. The many letters I received during this time did not convey encouragement or consolation; rather, they rebuked me for overworking and for not taking adequate care of my life. One brother reproached me by quoting Ephesians 5:29, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ also the church.” Brother Cheng Chi-kwei of Nanking invited me to his home where I could rest and at the same time help him translate Dr. C. I. Scofield’s Bible correspondence course. At this time some thirty brothers and sisters came to me for fellowship. I spoke with them regarding the question of the church. I came to realize that God’s hand was on me for the express purpose of turning me back to my first vision; otherwise, I would have ended up walking in the path of a revival preacher.
Day after day passed without my tuberculosis being cured. Though I exerted myself to write and to study the Bible, I found it exceedingly strenuous. I had a slight fever each afternoon, I could not sleep at night, and I frequently experienced night sweats. Upon being advised to take more rest, I replied, “I am afraid that I might rest to such a degree that I become rusty.” I felt that even though I might not live long, I should believe that God would increase my strength and that I must work for Him. I asked the Lord concerning any unfinished work He had for me to do. Whatever He wanted me to do, I would ask Him to spare my life to do it; otherwise, I felt there was nothing upon earth worth living for. For awhile I was able to arise from bed, but eventually I could not even do that. On one occasion I was asked to conduct a gospel meeting. I exerted myself to arise and asked the Lord to strengthen me. While walking to the meeting, I was forced to lean against a lamp post every now and then for rest. Each time this happened I would say to the Lord, “It is worthwhile to die for You.” Some brothers who knew that I had done this rebuked me for not sparing my health. To this I replied that I loved my Lord and would give up my life for Him.
After praying for over a month, I felt that I should write a book concerning what I had learned before God. My concept had been that one should not write books until he was old, but when I considered that I might be leaving this earth, I felt I should begin writing. I rented a small room in Wusih, Kiangsu province, where I shut myself up and spent my days writing. At that time my disease became so aggravated that I could not even lie down. While writing I sat on a chair with a high back and pressed my chest against the desk to alleviate the pain. Satan said to me, “Since you will soon be dying, why not die in comparative comfort rather than in pain?” I retorted, “The Lord wants me just like this; get out of here!” It took four months to complete the three volumes of The Spiritual Man. The writing of this book was a real labor of blood, sweat, and tears. I despaired of life, yet God’s grace brought me through. After completing each time of writing, I would say to myself, “This is my last testimony to the church.” Though the writing was done in the midst of all sorts of difficulties and hardships, I felt that God was unusually near to me. Some felt God was ill-treating me. Brother Cheng wrote saying, “You are exerting yourself to the uttermost; some day you will regret it.” I replied, “I love my Lord and I would live for Him.”
I wrote The Spiritual Man during my long illness. When it was ready for publication, about four thousand dollars were needed. Since there were no means on hand, I asked God to fill the need. Only four co-workers knew of this need. No one else knew. Before long the Lord provided four hundred dollars, and we entered into a contract with a printer to commence printing the book. It was agreed that should we fail to pay the subsequent installments, we would not only forfeit the cash down payment of four hundred dollars, but we would also pay for the default. We therefore prayed concerning this matter with one accord. At that time I was still confined to bed. Whenever the printer came for his payment, the Lord had always provided us with the means. Seeing that we were able to maintain good faith, the printer said, “No one but you church people make payments so punctually.”
Following the publication of the book, I prayed, “Now let Your servant depart in peace.” At the same time my disease worsened. I could not sleep peacefully at night, and when I awoke I turned incessantly from side to side. Physically, I was a bag of bones. I had night sweats, and my voice became hoarse. People had trouble hearing me speak, even when they placed their ear to my mouth. Several sisters took turns waiting upon me, one of whom was a veteran nurse. Whenever she saw me, she would weep. She testified, “I have seen many patients, but I have never seen one whose condition was as pitiful as his. I am afraid that he can live only three or four more days.” When someone told me of this, I said, “Let this be my end. I realize I am going to die soon.” One brother telegraphed the churches in various places, telling them there was no more hope for me and that they need pray for me no more.
One day I asked God, “Why are You calling me away so soon?” I confessed my trespasses before God, fearing that I might have been unfaithful concerning some matter. At the same time I told God that I had no faith. On that same day I devoted myself to fasting and praying and presented myself to Him once more. I told Him that I would do nothing but what He assigned me. From morning until three o’clock in the afternoon I fasted. At the same time the co-workers earnestly prayed together for me in Sister Ruth Lee’s home. As I prayed to God to grant me faith, He spoke His words to me, words which I could never forget. The first sentence was, “The just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:17). The second sentence was, “By faith you stand” (2 Cor. 1:24). The third sentence was, “We walk by faith” (2 Cor. 5:7). These words filled me with great joy, for the Bible says, “All things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23). I immediately thanked and praised God because He had given me His words. I believed that God had cured me.
The test came immediately. The Bible says, “By faith you stand,” but I was still lying in bed. A conflict arose in my mind: Should I get up and stand or remain lying down? We all know that human beings love themselves and consider it more comfortable to die in bed than to die standing. Then the word of God manifested its power, and ignoring all else, I put on my clothing, clothing which I had not worn for a hundred and seventy-six days. As I left the bed to stand, I perspired so profusely that it was as though I had been soaked through with rain. Satan said to me, “Are you trying to stand when you can’t even sit up?” I retorted, “God told me to stand,” and I rose to my feet. Being again in a cold sweat, I nearly fell down. I kept repeating, “Stand by faith, stand by faith!” I then walked a few steps to get my trousers and socks. After putting on my trousers, I sat down. No sooner was I seated than the word of God came to me that I should not only stand by faith but also walk by faith. I felt that the ability to rise and walk a few steps to get my trousers and socks was already something marvelous. How could I expect to walk further? “Where do You want me to go?” I asked God. He answered, “Go downstairs to Sister Lee’s home at number 215.” A number of brothers and sisters had been fasting and praying for me there for two or three days.
Walking within the room might be all right, I thought, but how could I walk downstairs? I prayed to God, “Oh God, I can stand by faith, and by faith I am also able to walk downstairs!” Immediately, I went to the door leading to the staircase and opened it. I tell you honestly that when I stood at the top of the staircase it seemed to me to be the tallest staircase I had ever seen in my life. I said to God, “If You tell me to walk I will do so, even if I die as a result of the effort.” But I continued, “Lord, I cannot walk. I pray that You will support me with Your hand while I am walking.” With one hand holding onto the rail, I descended step by step. Again I was in a cold sweat. As I walked down the stairs, I continued to cry out, “Walk by faith, walk by faith!” With each step down, I prayed, “O Lord, it is You who enable me to walk.” While descending those twenty-five steps, it seemed I was walking hand in hand with the Lord in faith.
Upon reaching the bottom of the stairway, I felt very strong and went quickly to the rear door. I opened the door and headed straight for Sister Lee’s home. I said to the Lord, “From now on, I will live by faith and will no longer be an invalid.” I knocked at the door just as Peter did in Acts 12:12-17, but without Rhoda to open the door. When the door was opened and I entered the house, seven or eight brothers and sisters gazed at me. They were speechless and motionless. For about an hour everyone sat quietly as if God had appeared among men. I also sat there full of thanksgiving and praise. Then I related all that had happened in the course of my being graciously healed. Exhilarated and jubilant in spirit, we all praised God aloud for His wonderful work. That same day we hired a car to go to Kiangwan in the suburbs to visit Dora Yu, the famous woman evangelist. She was greatly shocked to see me, for she had received recent news of my imminent death. When I appeared, I was looked upon as one who had been raised from the dead. That was another occasion of joyful thanksgiving and praise before the Lord. On the following Sunday, I spoke on the platform for three hours.
About four years ago, I went to an auction at the house of a German doctor. Upon inquiring I found that this doctor was the one who had taken x-rays of my chest many years ago. He had taken three pictures and told me that there was no hope. When I asked him to take another picture, he said that there was no further need. He then showed me another person’s chest x-ray and said, “This person’s condition was better than yours, yet he died at his home two weeks after this picture was taken. Don’t come to see me anymore; I don’t want to make money out of you.” When I heard this, I went home extremely disappointed. Then, four years ago, I read an advertisement in the newspaper concerning the auction of a building and furniture of a certain famous German doctor who had died. When I discovered that this doctor was the one who had taken x-rays of my chest many years ago, I lifted up my hands to praise the Lord. I said, “This doctor has died. He said that I would die soon, but now he is dead. The Lord has shown me His grace.” Under the Lord’s blood, I said, “This doctor, who was stronger than I, has died, but I have been healed by the Lord and am still alive.” On that day I bought many things from his house for memorial.
LOOKING TO GOD FOR SUSTENANCE WHILE WORKING
In 1923 Brother Weigh Kwang-hsi invited me to preach in Kien-ou in the north of Fukien province. I had only about fifteen dollars in my pocket, one-third of the traveling expenses. I decided to leave on Friday evening and continued my prayer on Wednesday and Thursday. The money, however, did not come in. I prayed again Friday morning. Not only was no money forthcoming, but also I had a feeling within that I should give five dollars to a certain co-worker. I recalled the Lord’s words: “Give, and it will be given to you.” I had not been a money lover, but on that day I really loved money and found it extremely difficult to give. I prayed to the Lord again, “O Lord, if You really want me to give away five dollars, I will,” but I was still rather unwilling inwardly. I was deceived by Satan into thinking that after praying I would not have to give away the five dollars. That was the only time in my life that I shed tears over money. Eventually, I obeyed the Lord and gave the five dollars to that co-worker. After the money was given, I was filled with heavenly joy. When the co-worker asked why I gave him the money, I said, “You need not ask; you will know later.”
Friday evening I prepared to begin my journey. I said to God, “Fifteen dollars was already insufficient, and You wanted me to give away five dollars. Won’t the sum be even more inadequate? Now I don’t know how to pray.” I made up my mind to go first to Shui-kow by steamer and then to Kien-ou by a small wooden boat. I spent only a little for the journey to Shui-kow. As the steamer was about to arrive, I felt that if I would not pray according to my own concept, the result would be much better. So I said to the Lord, “I do not know how to pray; please do it for me.” I added, “If You will not give me the money, please provide a boat for me with a little fare.” When I arrived in Shui-kow, many boatmen came to solicit business. One asked only seven dollars for my passage. This price was beyond expectation; the usual fare was several times more. I asked the boatman why his price was so low, and he replied, “This boat is hired by the magistrate, but I am allowed to take one passenger only for the space at the stern, so I do not care how much the fare is. But you have to provide your own food.” Originally, I had fifteen dollars in my pocket. After giving five dollars to a co-worker and spending a few dimes for the journey by steamer, seven dollars for the small wooden boat, and a dollar or so for food, there was still a dollar thirty left when I reached Kien-ou. Thank the Lord! Praise Him that His ordering is always good.
After I completed my work at Kien-ou and was ready to return to Foochow, the problem arose again: I did not have sufficient funds for traveling expenses to return. I had decided to leave on the following Monday, so I continued praying until Saturday. This time I had a feeling of certainty in my heart, recalling that before I left Foochow, God had asked me to give five dollars to a co-worker, which I then begrudged giving. At that time I read Luke 6:38: “Give, and it will be given to you, and I laid hold of this sentence. I said to God, “Since You have said this, I beseech You to provide me with the necessary money for traveling expenses according to Your promise.”
On Sunday evening a British pastor, Mr. Philips, a true brother, assuredly saved and loving the Lord, asked Brother Weigh and me to dinner. At dinner Mr. Philips told me that he and his church had received great help through my messages, and they offered to be responsible for my traveling expenses both ways. I replied that there was already someone who had accepted this responsibility, meaning God. Then he said, “When you get back to Foochow, I will give you The Dynamics of Service written by Mr. Padgett Wilkes, a gospel messenger greatly used by the Lord in Japan.” I soon felt that I had missed a great opportunity; what I needed then was money for traveling expenses, not a book. I somewhat regretted that I had not accepted his offer. After dinner Brother Weigh and I returned home together. I had refused Mr. Philips’s offer for my traveling expenses so that I might look solely to God for help; nevertheless, there was joy and peace in my heart. Brother Weigh was unaware of my financial situation. I had a slight thought of borrowing money from him for my expenses and then reimbursing him when I returned to Foochow, but God would not allow me to divulge this matter to him. I was under full conviction that God in heaven is forever dependable, and I wished to see how He was going to provide for me.
When I left the following day, I had only a few dollars in my pocket. Many brothers and sisters came to see me off, and some carried my luggage. While walking I prayed, “Lord, surely You wouldn’t bring me here without taking me back.” Halfway to the wharf, Mr. Philips sent someone with a letter. The letter read, “Though someone else has assumed the responsibility for your traveling expenses, I feel that I should have a share in your work here. Would it be possible for me, an aged brother, to have such a share? Please be good enough to accept this small sum for this purpose.” After reading the letter, I felt I should accept the money, and I did. It was not only sufficient for my return expenses to Foochow, but also for printing one issue of The Present Testimony.
Upon my return to Foochow, the wife of the co-worker who received the five dollars said to me, “I have the feeling that when you left you did not have enough money yourself. Why did you suddenly give five dollars to my husband?” I then asked her what had occurred in connection with the five dollars, and she replied, “We had only one dollar left in the house on Wednesday, and that had been spent by Friday. On Friday we prayed all day. Afterwards my husband felt that he should go for a walk, and then he met you, and you gave him five dollars. The five dollars lasted us through five days; then God provided for us from another source.” At this point she continued with tears, “If you had not given us the five dollars on that day, we would have suffered hunger. It does not matter that we suffer hunger, but what about God’s promise?” Her testimony filled me with joy. The Lord had worked through me to supply their need with the five dollars. The Word of the Lord is indeed faithful: “Give, and it will be given to you.”
This is the lesson I have learned in my life. I have now experienced that the less money I have in my hand, the more God will give. This is a difficult path to follow. Many people may feel that they are able to live the life of faith; but when the trial comes, they are in fear. Unless you can believe in the real and living God, I do not advise you to take this path. I can bear testimony today that God is the One who gives. To be sustained by means of ravens as Elijah was at his time is still possible today. I am going to mention something to you which you may find difficult to believe. It has been my experience that God’s supply arrives when I have spent my last dollar. I have had fourteen years of experience. In each experience God wanted to get the glory for Himself. God has supplied all my needs and has not failed me once. Those who used to give do not do so now. There is a constant change of offerers; one lot of people replaces another. All this does not matter, for God in the highest is a living God. He never changes! I say this today for your benefit. I must say this that you may go straight forward in the path of living a life of faith. There are ten to twenty more cases like these that I have already related to you.
Concerning the matter of offering the Lord money, one ought to set aside a definite amount—a tithe of your income or half of your income—and put it in the hand of God. From her natural being, the widow who gave two half-farthings might have grudged doing so, but she was praised by the Lord. We have to be an example for others; we need not fear, for God will not fail. We should learn to love God, to believe Him, and to serve Him as is His due. We ought to thank Him and praise Him because of His unspeakable grace! Amen.