Faithful Heroes: Watchman Nee
Watchman Nee established churches throughout China, before being imprisoned and persecuted for his faith.
Watchman Nee waws the third of nine children born to Ni Weng-hsiu and Lin He-Ping. He was born on November 4, 1903 in China. His grandfather was an Anglican preacher and Nee was raised in the Methodist church.
At the age of 13, he entered the Church Missionary Society for a Western-style education.
At the age of 17, Nee accepted Christ. He later wrote of the experience,
“On the evening of 28th April, 1920, I was alone in my room, struggling to decide whether or not to believe in the Lord. At first I was reluctant but as I tried to pray I saw the magnitude of my sins and the reality and efficacy of Jesus as the Savior. As I visualized the Lord’s hands stretched out on the cross, they seemed to be welcoming me, and the Lord was saying, “I am waiting here to receive you.” Realizing the effectiveness of Christ’s blood in cleansing my sins and being overwhelmed by such love, I accepted him there. Previously I had laughed at people who had accepted Jesus, but that evening the experience became real for me and I wept and confessed my sins, seeking the Lord’s forgiveness. As I made my first prayer I knew joy and peace such as I had never known before. Light seemed to flood the room and I said to the Lord, “Oh, Lord, you have indeed been gracious to me.”
After his conversion, Nee began to pray for his friends and the desire grew to share the gospel. He worked with British missionary Margaret E. Barber, who served as his teacher and mentor. When Barber died in 1930, she left all of her belongings to Nee.
By this time, Nee was a well known writer having published numerous magazine articles and books.
When he was bedridden with an illness for a while he spent much of time writing.
In 1934, he married Charity Chang. The couple did not have any children.
Nee also established churches throughout China and held many conferences to train Bible students and church workers.
After the rise of Communism, Christians in China suffered great persecution. Nee was arrested on April 10, 1952. A variety of charges were brought against him and he was sentenced to imprisonment. Only his wife was allowed to visit him while he was imprisoned.
Charity Nee died in 1971 and Watchman followed a year later on May 30, 1972, while still imprisoned.
His grandniece recounted picking up his ashes, “We could only see his ashes… Before his departure, he left a piece of paper under his pillow, which had several lines of big words written in a shaking hand. He wanted to testify to the truth which he had even until his death, with his lifelong experience. That truth is—”Christ is the Son of God who died for the redemption of sinners and resurrected after three days. This is the greatest truth in the universe. I die because of my belief in Christ. Watchman Nee.” When the officer of the labor farm showed us this paper, I prayed that the Lord would let me quickly remember it by heart… My granduncle had passed away. He was faithful until death. With a crown stained with blood, he went to be with the Lord.”