Who are Witness Lee and Watchman Nee?
The local churches have benefited greatly from the ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee. Who were they and what did they contribute to the Body or Christ?
Watchman Nee was born in China in 1903 to Christian parents. He received the Lord in high school and gave his life for the Lord’s service. Watchman Nee was quickly manifested as a unique gift to the Body of Christ. His ministry emphasized the believers’ experience of and growth in the divine life of God for the building up of the Body of Christ. After ministering for thirty years and establishing over seven hundred local churches throughout China, Watchman Nee was imprisoned in 1952 for the sake of the gospel. He died in prison on May 30, 1972. Under his pillow was found the following note:
Witness Lee was born in China in 1905 and raised in a Christian family. Like Watchman Nee, he consecrated his life to the Lord’s service from the time of his salvation. After meeting Watchman Nee in 1932, he to laid aside his own ministry and join himself to Watchman Nee’s work. He worked closely with Watchman Nee until the latter sent him out of China in 1949. Through Witness Lee’s ministry, the local churches in Taiwan experienced a hundredfold increase between 1949 and 1955, and those in the Philippines likewise flourished. In 1962 he immigrated to the United States from which his ministry spread to the entire globe, producing thousands of local churches on all six inhabited continents. By the time of his death in 1997, he had given several thousand messages, including a book-by-book Life-study of the Bible, in which he emphasized the need for believers to know and experience Christ as life.
Websites Featuring their Ministry
Living Stream Ministry publishes the authoritative and definitive collections of the works of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee. Many of those books are freely available online in their entirety at ministrybooks.org. A radio broadcast series based on Witness Lee’s Life-study of the Bible is available at lsmradio.org.
This site gives a broad introduction to the local churches and to the major themes in the teaching of Witness Lee. Here you can find historical background, resources concerning key points of the faith, and testimonies from respected Christians who have thoroughly examined our teaching and practice. You can also find a brief presentation of what we mean when we use the term the Lord’s recovery.
The Christian Research Institute, one of the earliest critics of Witness Lee, conducted a six-year, primary research project into the teaching and practice of the local churches, including firsthand experience of how we meet and worship. Read about their findings and experiences in a special edition of their bimonthly journal under the title “We Were Wrong.” CRI also has a YouTube channel with a series of short videos in which members of the research project talk about the significance of their findings.
What exactly are the local churches? What do we believe? What is our standing? This site gives more information about the local churches, providing an overview of our beliefs, our standing, our mission, and many other matters. You can also read many personal testimonies of those who meet with us all across the country and find contact information for many individual local churches..
This site contains more information about the local churches’ response to criticism of Witness Lee’s teaching and positive dialogues with Fuller Theological Seminary and Answers in Action.
Voices of Confirmation Concerning Watchman Nee, Witness Lee, and the Local Churches is a short compilation of affirming statements from a diverse sources, from former critics to members of the United States Congress.
Christian Research Institute, a former critic of the local churches, conducted a six-year primary research project into our teaching and practice and then published their findings in a special five-part issue of their Christian Research Journal. In their own words, they help to lend understanding to our teaching and practice while also shedding light on the how these things have been misunderstood and misinterpreted by some.