WATCHMAN NEE AND WITNESS LEE; Congressional Record Vol. 160, No. 62
(Extensions of Remarks - April 29, 2014)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E621-E622]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                      WATCHMAN NEE AND WITNESS LEE


                          HON. JOSEPH R. PITTS

                            of pennsylvania

                    in the house of representatives

                        Tuesday, April 29, 2014

  Mr. PITTS. Mr. Speaker, a little over four years ago my esteemed 
colleague from New Jersey, the honorable Chris Smith, rose in this 
chamber to bring due attention to one of the great Christians of the 
twentieth century--the noted Chinese teacher and church-planter, 
Watchman Nee. Today, I rise to complete the circle on this compelling 
story by honoring Watchman Nee's closest co-worker, Witness Lee. 
Together they labored tirelessly in China from 1932 until the conquest 
of mainland China by the Communist Red Army under Mao Tse Tung in 1949. 
Today, the story of Watchman Nee is somewhat well known, given his 
numerous writings that have become Christian classics, such as The 
Normal Christian Life and Sit, Walk, Stand. Capping his inspirational 
biography was his martyrdom in a Chinese labor farm in 1972.
  Witness Lee's story is less known in the West but is in no way less 
significant. Although Nee was the clear leader when they labored 
together in China, it was left to Witness Lee, to preserve and continue 
their work outside of China and to spread it far beyond the Chinese-
speaking world. When it became apparent in 1949 that the Communists 
would prevail in China, Watchman Nee insisted that Witness Lee emigrate 
to carry on their work in Taiwan and throughout the Far East. Lee 
agreed. Subsequent developments not only validated Nee's insight (he 
was imprisoned shortly thereafter, and the churches raised up under his 
and Lee's ministry were forced underground), but also confirmed that 
their message and ministry had the potential to reach far beyond China.
  Almost immediately Lee's ministry began to have a profound impact in 
Taiwan. Tens of thousands turned to Jesus Christ for their salvation 
and began congregating in simple, New Testament churches, as their 
Chinese brethren had done in China during the previous two decades. 
Today, there are more than 200 such local churches in Taiwan with more 
than 200,000 believers. It is a similar story in the Far East and 
Australasia, with churches established in the Philippines, Indonesia, 
Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and Australia.
  Witness Lee did not confine his work to Asia. In 1962 he came to 
North America and began to minister from Los Angeles, where he 
established Living Stream Ministry, the publisher of Watchman Nee and 
Witness Lee in English and over fifty other languages. Witness Lee's 
speaking and writing continued to emphasize ``Christ as life'' and 
God's desire to ``build His church'' on the basis of the oneness of 
God's people, rather than on any ethnic or cultural differences. This 
was the same message that he had learned from his spiritual mentor, 
Watchman Nee. Since the early 1960s the spread of the local churches 
under Lee's ministry throughout the North and South America, Europe, 
and Africa has been remarkable. There are more than 4,000 churches and 
400,000 believers meeting on every inhabited continent, including 200 
churches and several thousand believers in Russia and the Russian-
speaking world.
  Inside mainland China the number of ``hidden'' believers following 
the ministry of Nee and Lee has continued to grow despite the Chinese 
government's often extreme measures to suppress and openly persecute 
them. Historically, members of the churches in China who appreciate the 
ministry of Nee and Lee have been among the most harshly persecuted. 
Thousands have been imprisoned, countless beaten, and many even 
martyred. It is estimated today that there may be two million believers 
and thousands of local churches in China that draw their spiritual 
nourishment and supply from the ministry of Nee and Lee.
  Recently, reports have reached the West that Christian believers in 
two provinces have been imprisoned merely for possessing copies of the 
Recovery Version, a study Bible published by Living Stream Ministry and 
Taiwan Gospel Book Room, the publishing entity Lee established in 
Taiwan. Today Watchman Nee is still labeled as a ``dangerous 
counterrevolutionary,'' and Witness Lee is officially branded as a 
``cult leader.'' The writings of both men are banned in China. It is 
tragic that Watchman Nee died in a Chinese prison farm, totally unaware 
of how profoundly his life and ministry would impact the entire world. 
It is a similar tragedy that Witness Lee died in 1997 with such a 
blatant, gross distortion hanging over his name and his ministry in his 
  It is ironic that at a time when China is taking such a prominent 
role on the world stage in so many areas of society, it is missing an 
obvious opportunity to further improve its reputation with in the 
international community.

[[Page E622]]

Rather than slander the names of two faithful men of God, China should 
take national pride that two of its own, neither of whom were political 
in either their message or their leadership of the flock, have had 
extraordinary impact far beyond the Chinese-speaking world.
  Mr. Speaker, I call upon the Chinese government today to release all 
those being held simply because of their faith in Christ and to abandon 
this national campaign to discredit and distort the record of two brave 
followers of the One who came with the message of salvation, 
forgiveness and peace, and instead, to celebrate with us the 
contributions of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee to believers the world