Watchman Nee

Watchman Nee

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Watchman Nee is considered one of the most important indigenous church leaders and thinkers in the history of Chinese Christianity. There are few leaders in the history of Chinese Christianity whose influence is as prevalent as Watchman Nee's. Nee produced more than 40 volumes of devotional, sermonic as well as theological works. His writings were translated into many Eastern languages such as, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, Tagalog as well as Western languages, such as English, French and Spanish. His books continue to influence many Christian groups ranging from charismatic renewal groups to mainline churches all over the world. He is the founder of the "Little Flock", the largest Protestant Christian denomination in China at the time of the Communist regime in 1949. The "Little Flock" began in 1923 with a few members and in less than 20 years grew to become more than 700 congregations with 70,000 members. At that time some estimated that out of the 700,000-1,000,000 member Protestant church community in China, the "Little Flock" had 100,000 members. Regardless of the numbers, this 20-year-old Christian movement proved to itself to be a tremendous achievement. Even under Communist oppression and persecution during the 50's and 60's, the "Little Flock" continued to grow. And today, the movement is still active throughout China. Moreover, the distinctive "Little Flock" theology, practice and spirituality is rooted in many Chinese Christian circles whether in China or overseas. Watchman Nee was born into a family with a Christian heritage. His grandfather, U Cheng Nee, was the one of the first ordained Chinese ministers of the Congregational missions in the Fukien Province of China. Nee was the third child of nine, but the first male child. Since Chinese tradition favors sons, relatives despised families with no male children. When Nee's mother was expecting the third child she prayed to God earnestly asking for a son and dedicated this third child to God similar to Hannah in 1 Samuel 1:1-20. God heard her prayer. On November 4, 1903, Nee Shu-Tsu (later known as Watchman Nee) was born. Nee later changed his name to "Duo Sheng" ("Watchman" in English) meaning, "sound of the gong," or a watchman to raise the people of God for service. Throughout his youth, Nee attended schools founded by the Church Missionary Society in Fuzhow, China. And in all areas he showed extraordinary intellectual promise. When he was 18 years of age, Nee dedicated his life to Christ through the preaching of Miss Dora Yu, an ex-medical student, who forfeited a lucrative occupation and dedicated her life to the preaching of the word of Christ. Nee, at that time, knew it was all or nothing. When he was baptized, he declared, "Lord, I leave my world behind. Your cross separates me from it forever, and I have entered into another. I stand where you have placed me in Christ!"1 Nee and other students who had a common zeal for the spreading of the gospel among the young people in their town and local schools and colleges gathered in prayer and Bible study. They set up their own meetings and engaged in vigorous street evangelism. Between the years 1923-1928, Nee published the magazines Revival and Christian, as well as the book The Spiritual Man. Nee was instrumental in the spiritual revival among students at that time.
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