Thursday, May 29, 2014

May 29 - Watchman Nee, Convert, Avid Reader, Prisoner,

Watchman Nee was glad that his mother--who had passed only two years previous--was not around to watch her firstborn son be arrested by the Chinese government as a dissident and rebel. But, she wouldn't have been surprised. After all, Watchman had made it abundantly clear that he would not compromise his faith for anything because he was stunningly confident that this was not an option that Jesus had afforded him. Ever since that day when he was seventeen and he had struggled with whether or not to convert to the faith of his mother and his teacher, he had known that to be converted to that faith meant the devotion of his life wholly to the Lord and Savior he only desired to be an acquaintance of, at first. He was not interested in only seeking some eventual salvation if it did not also come with transformation and lifelong calling. So, that night he prayed even though he didn't have the words for it. As he waited in that wordless silence he felt something for the first time in his life: the weight of the sin that hung around his neck. In a flood of moments he was suddenly reminded of the countless times he had rejected God and chosen the path of self-obsession. With the weight of this new discovery, he found himself broken before the God to whom he hoped to pray.

In that moment of quiet and wordless desperation Watchman felt another new feeling: undeserved and merciful forgiveness. As he knelt beside his bed he saw Jesus on the cross with arms wide open and blood flowing freely. He saw and knew God's love flowing from the wounds of God and knew with one sudden and startlingly clear moment that Jesus was calling him near. Though his arms
were outstretched so that he might die it was clear to Watchman that those same arms were open to him to call him to life-giving and saving faith. Watchman heard Jesus say to him "I am here waiting to receive you." So, Watchman went to Jesus and committed himself to a faith that intimidated him but demanded all of him, as well. To the Jesus who stood with arms

outstretched to accept all who might avail themselves of his furious love Watchman cried "Lord, You have really been gracious to me." With that, Watchman was converted and accepted a calling to a life of ministry and devotion--a life of sharing what he had received.

So, Watchman followed after his Lord and found himself living on only a third of the money he made. He spent a third of his money on others and the final third was spent on reading material which he would read--and memorize large portions--and then give away to others. He read voraciously and applied his keen intelligence to the texts and scripture that he read with regularity. He began to start churches throughout China and insist that Christians were called to be a part of a caring community that accepted no division or separation even while accommodating doctrinal disagreements. For daring to start churches in a country that was quickly succumbing to the seduction of communist rule, he was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to spend fifteen years in prison. He served his sentence and died in confinement on the 30th day of May in the year 1972 at the age of 68. In the wake of Watchman's ministry in China there were many Christians who had heard his story and were willing to carry on the ministry of preaching and spiritual direction that Watchman started.

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