- Oh, What a Life!
- My Questions were Answered
- Home in the Church
- Come and Dine!
- The Sweet Flow of Life in a Local Church
Oh, What a Life!
I come in contact with the local church in 1970; but later on in 1971, some members came here, to San Diego, from the church in Los Angeles to live. I then met with the church in San Diego. I came to a group meeting, called upon the Lord, and asked Him to forgive my sins. Oh, what a rich life this is, out of sin and darkness, into light.
I now have peace in my heart, joy, happiness and boldness in the Lord, thanking our Lord Jesus Christ for the church which helped to produce peace in my life.
I was also anxious about food, clothing, housing, and money, but now I am anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving I let my request be made known to God.
I took all my assets out of the world, and wasted them, but the church was waiting for me when I came home to it. The church gave me a robe, shoes, food, and the fattened calf, Christ (Luke 15). Now this is my life. Oh, what a life.
When I came to the church in San Diego, my life began to get better. I received the life of God and all its riches. I said, “Father, I want Your will in every area of my life, including my job, my home, my health, my children, my loved ones, and my service for You.” Amen.
My Questions were Answered
“How come Christians are so divided?” This question was frequently asked by many of the juvenile offenders when we preached the gospel at a Phoenix area detention center. I didn’t have the answer. It was 1978. I had been a Christian for 5 years and still didn’t even know the meaning of the term “born again”. Diligent reading of a book by the same name didn’t give me the answer; neither did my note-taking from 3 sessions of the basic youth conferences which the Lord initially used to attract my wife and me to Himself. I was also painfully aware that my human living did not match the standard set forth in the Bible.
Mercifully, the Lord caused us to seek answers to these questions. He answered our seeking by leading us to some books by Watchman Nee. I also read the series of messages on the Kernel of the Bible (which is Christ and the church) by Witness Lee. This was by far the richest thing I had ever read. I read it more than once, realizing that something deep within me was being touched. Then, my brother-in-law invited us to a local church conference on Ezra and Nehemiah in San Diego. This part of the Bible made it very clear that we could choose to come out of the divided situation in which we had been meeting. Both my wife and I saw this at the same time and we decided to move to a city where we could meet with the local church. A series of messages on the book of Ephesians further clarified our views. We were on the threshold of experiencing “the way” spoken of in the book of Acts.
It has taken the Lord many years to bring me out of all my religious concepts and superstitions that I had picked up in my youth. Initially, I understood the truths of the Bible in a warped and legalistic way, which caused me a lot of unnecessary suffering. I was very concerned that I might make a mistake, and at the same time I had a very strong German will that would attempt to “drive through” anything. Often in the meetings, my speaking and my emotions were up one week and down the next. The leading brothers were incredibly tolerant. I was gently shepherded over dinners with many other families after the meetings.
Eventually my questions began to be answered. I found out that it was my human spirit that had been “born again” (John 3:6 and Ezekiel 36). I also could begin to live by the Lord by eating the Word (Matthew 4:4b: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God”). I could easily eat the Word by speaking, praying, and singing it. My longing for the sweet milk of the Word was satisfied again and again. In the Word I learned that the will of God was to receive Him whom He has sent (John 6:29)! I am able to receive Christ through my spiritual breathing and drinking, by calling upon the Name of the Lord (Psalm 116). This wonderful fellowship of eating and drinking the Person of the Lord through His Word deals with all my opinions and harboring of offenses that would cause division.
Today, I have the view that I am part of the corporate bride that is being prepared by God to marry Him. “And with the joy of the bridegroom over the bride Your God will rejoice over you” (Isaiah 62:5b). He is delivering me from the world, particularly from the love of money and all self-interests, including the fear of failure. “Oh to be saved from myself, dear Lord, oh to be lost in Thee. …Oh that it may be no more I, but Christ who lives in me” (Hymns 591). This is all possible by the wonderful supply of the divine life in His body, the church, something all Christians are qualified to participate in by their spiritual birth.
Home in the Church
I was raised an unbeliever, but at the age of 21 I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior. From the beginning of my salvation I had some personal experience of Christ. I was hungry and ever seeking Him. I began to meet with a denomination but the Pastor there told me, “Don’t be spiritual.” Nevertheless, I considered loving the Lord and wanting to experience Him something which every believer seeks. Inwardly I was bothered and began a journey from meeting place to meeting place.
My interest in the Bible increased and I began to purchase books from a Christian bookstore to help me understand the Word. I was drawn to authors such as Jesse Penn-Lewis and Watchman Nee. I was impressed by one booklet by Watchman Nee on the silence of Christ during His earthly ministry as He suffered at the hands of men. I thought, “How could I be like this? Impossible!” Another book I enjoyed was Christ the Sum Total of All Spiritual Things, also by Watchman Nee. My eyes were becoming opened little by little. After ten years of wandering and even forming our own church, my husband and I stopped meeting with any group and stayed home on the Lord’s Day. We could no longer tolerate what we were experiencing in organized religion.
In the fall of 1982 I turned on the radio and heard a brother in the local church speaking the high truth of God’s economy. We called some of the brothers and invited them to come and visit us at our home. We were refreshed and our spirits were nourished. I finally felt a satisfaction in my spirit. I felt as if I had come home.
I can only praise the Lord for Watchman Nee and Witness Lee, for their diligence in giving us the interpreted Word. Witness Lee always brought me experientially to Christ and the church, and showed me my human spirit where Christ can be my all in all. My days of wandering and wondering were over when I came to the local church in 1982, and I am still here enjoying the riches of Christ.
Come and Dine!
At the creation of man, God presented man with a choice of two pathways—one which would lead to life and joy in God’s presence, and another which would lead to death and even enmity with God. These two critical pathways were whether man would eat of the tree of life or whether man would eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Rather interestingly, it only mattered to God that man would choose life – God actually did not desire man to choose either good or evil. (Genesis 1-2)
This question – “life or death?” – posed before humankind at its birth, has perpetuated and remains today. Today God still asks us – do we want death by being immersed in the concerns for good vs. evil, right vs. wrong, or do we want life by taking in what would nourish and supply us?
I graduated from the University of California, San Diego, in the class of 1999. Ten years before graduating from college, I came to know the ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee and also began meeting with the local church. I received tremendous supply and nourishment from the ministry and from the fellowship among the churches. By the Lord’s mercy, not long after, I realized that I was in a place that was full of life, joy, and rest. In fact, every time of fellowship was like another great feast.
Where did all this supply come from, however? Was it because I was enlarging my social circle, participating in fun activities, going to more places, or even getting free meals at people’s houses? Or was it because of more “spiritual” reasons – e.g., gaining more spiritual knowledge, learning spiritual songs, improving and sharpening my morale, becoming a regular churchgoer? … I would have to say, No!! There is only one place of real supply, and it is spoken of in the Gospel of John, chapter 6, where the Lord Jesus Christ declares that He Himself is the bread of life that satisfies (v.51), and in chapter 4, where He tells us that He will give us water that will truly quench our thirst (v.14).
So, as I was presented with the ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee, and with the fellowship among the local churches, I was brought to Christ-where the bread of life and the water of life is super-abounding and is the real satisfaction to all my hunger and thirst. This is a never-ending sure supply which has nourished me, and which will continue to supply into eternal life. (John 4:14)
The Sweet Flow of Life in a Local Church
On October 17, 1994 I came to the United States from Japan to get a masters degree in diplomacy, hoping that I would be a diplomat or worker in the UN. Three months after I came to the US, I met a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. Before I met this believer I used to associate with Christians who were a sort of religious people who just keep many laws with many repentances. But the Christian I met on campus did not seem to be constrained by such things, rather my impression was that she was just enjoying the freedom in the Lord. Ten months later, she introduced me to several Christians who had meetings in their home every Tuesday and Friday. I was so impressed by their tenderness, meekness, loveliness, and lowliness. They were so genuine and human that their living and existence persuaded me to believe into the Lord. My parents in Japan were so dismayed that I who once was absorbed in philosophy and grew up in Buddism started to talk about Christ. As I observed their meetings, I saw that there were no “Do’s” and “Don’ts” among them. They just loved and enjoyed the Lord with praise, singing and speaking to each other about the Lord. In spite of my drinking and smoking habits, they always welcomed me and helped me to enjoy reading the Bible. As I met them week after week and month after month, deep inside of me a desire rose up to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior. They often said that this is the wonderful and glorious church life- being with other believers in one accord and endeavoring to express the Lord. I did not experience any limitation or constraint, because, to me, these Christians were so acceptable, available, and reliable in everything. I am thankful to the Lord and to the Christians in the local church for bringing me into such a wonderful place. Now I am really enjoying getting to know the Lord in San Diego with lovely believers, and in Japan my mother and sister who were saved in January 1999, are enjoying and loving the Lord as well in the local church.
Enlightened Regarding the Author of Faith
By the Lord’s mercy and grace, the Lord has been bringing me into the enjoyment of all of His riches since I came to know the ministry of Witness Lee. Before I met this ministry of Witness Lee, I thought that a Christian is a person who loves the Lord to some extent, maintains good behavior, and eventually would go to heaven which is the place filled with flowers, pretty animals, smiling people and so on. But the ministry of Witness Lee penetrated my concept by the Word of God. Christ who is life wants to grow in my heart as seen in Matthew 13 which speaks about a parable of the seed of the kingdom. Witness Lee’s focus is just Christ. Christ is everything.
From the ministry I have been encouraged, enlightened, enlivened and vitalized in my Christian life. Here, I would like to quote a small portion of Witness Lee’s ministry that helped me. This is a footnote in the Recovery Version of the New Testament on Hebrews 12:2.
“… All the overcoming saints in the Old Testament are only witnesses of faith, whereas Jesus is the Author of faith. He is the Originator, the Inaugurator, the source, and the cause of faith. In our natural man we have no believing ability. We do not have faith by ourselves. The faith by which we are saved is the precious faith that we have received from the Lord (2 Pet.1:1). When we look unto Jesus, He as the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45) transfuses us with Himself, with His believing element. Then, spontaneously, a kind of believing arises in our being, and we have the faith to believe in Him. …”