A story shared by
Lead Pastor, Rob McDowell
May is the month that we celebrate several different events…the most famous being Mother’s Day. But May is also the month in which we celebrate Asian Pacific Heritage in our country.
As a church, we are piggybacking on what our country is celebrating, but in a different way. We want to highlight those from those specific cultures and ethnicities who furthered the Gospel and impacted the Kingdom of God throughout the years.
One such person was a man named Watchman Nee. Watchman Nee was not an American, but his love of God, writings, and Christian service inspired millions throughout the years. And his influence has reached deep within the U.S. In 2009, the Honorable Christopher H. Smith, a congressional representative from New Jersey, addressed his colleagues in the House of Representatives. He wasn’t there that day to forward his political agenda. He wasn’t there to sway his colleagues to vote a certain way. He was there to bring honor and recognition to this saint who followed hard after Jesus Christ.
Here is an excerpt from that day:
“Madam Speaker, I rise today to acknowledge the immense spiritual achievement of Watchman Nee, a great pioneer of Christianity in China. Christianity Today magazine recently honored Watchman Nee as one of the 100 most influential Christians of the twentieth century. Watchman Nee died over thirty years ago but his life and work continue to influence millions of Protestant Christians in China. Today more than three thousand churches outside of China, including several hundred in the United States, look to him as one of their religious and theological leaders. Watchman Nee was an astonishingly devoted and energetic man, which I think can be seen from a capsule summary of his life. He became a Christian in 1922. In the 1930s, he traveled to Europe and North America, where he delivered sermons and speeches. Later his sermons were collected and published as books. By the late 1940s, Nee had become the most influential Chinese Christian writer, evangelist, and church builder. In 1952, the Chinese government imprisoned Nee and many other Christian leaders for their faith. Nee was never released, though during the 1960s and 1970s several of his books continued to grow in influence and popularity, particularly in the United States, and his best-known book, The Normal Christian Life, sold over one million copies world-wide and became a twentieth-century Christian classic. In 1972 he died at the age of 71 in a labor farm; his few surviving letters confirm that he remained faithful to God until the end.
Madam Speaker, it is estimated that China has more than one hundred million Christians, and millions of them consider themselves the spiritual heirs of Watchman Nee. Millions more are rightly proud of the contribution Watchman Nee made to global Christianity--he was the first Chinese Christian to exercise an influence on Western Christians--and indeed of his contribution to world spiritual culture. It is sad that the works of Watchman Nee are officially banned in China--even as they are being discovered afresh by a new generation of Western Christians. It is my hope that Watchman Nee's collected works can be freely published and distributed within China. After Watchman Nee's death, when his niece came to collect his few possessions, she was given a scrap of paper that a guard had found by his bed. What was written on that scrap may serve as Watchman Nee's testament: "Christ is the Son of God Who died for the redemption of sinners and was resurrected after three days. This is the greatest truth in the universe. I die because of my belief in Christ. Watchman Nee.''
As a pastor who has traveled to China several times and has the absolute honor of being the father of two beautiful girls whose stories originated in China, I am in awe and in debt for brothers and sisters like Watchman Nee who gave of their lives to point others to Jesus…who gave of their lives to help people find and follow Jesus amidst such overt persecution. Their faith and resolve is an inspiration to me and I hope they are to you. Our country would not be what it is without their sacrificial faith.
To God be the glory.