When GOD turns the down into an UP

When  God  Turns
the  Down  Into  an  UP!

Jim van Heiningen

Compare the Micro Story with the Macro One.

            Lin Huo-ping (1880-1950) was the mother of Watchman Nee (1903-72), famed Chinese church-planter and Bible expositor. She and her husband had nine children – Watchman Nee was the oldest of the boys. When he was 16, his mother surrendered her life to Christ.

Lin Huo-ping’s life was an extremely busy one. While raising nine children, she found time to be very active in politics, often as a public speaker – even meeting the founder of the republic, Sun Yat-sen. Things hadn’t always been like that for her. As a young girl her parents sold her as a slave to another couple in the coastal city of Foochow, because they could no longer afford to feed her. That couple in turn sold her to a wealthy merchant for adoption.

She was intelligent and showed plenty of initiative. Her role model was another young woman, Huo King-en. This lady had just graduated in medicine in the US, the second one from China ever to do so. Lin Huo-ping wanted to be the third one. She prevailed on her adoptive father to get the ball rolling so she could travel…

Then… disaster struck! Her mother intervened and entered into a marriage contract for her with Nee Wheng-hsiu. It was a bitter blow – there was no way out, she simply had to bow to the inevitable. Yet, even if the start was decidedly unhappy, the marriage turned out well, and Lin Huo-ping managed to serve her country in politics, if not in medicine.

Another young woman had also earned her great admiration – Dora Yu, a wonderfully effective preacher of the Gospel. Years before, Dora had been sent to the United Kingdom to complete her studies in medicine. However, during the long journey, Dora, already a Christian, became increasingly convinced that God didn’t want her in Britain, or even in medicine, but back in China to preach the Gospel. The ship on which she was a passenger had left the Suez Canal and was making its way through the Mediterranean, when Dora managed to persuade the captain to send her back on some other ship at the first port of call.

Friends and family received her back with mixed feelings, but soon it was undeniably clear that God’s hand was on her. When Dora came to Foochow for special meetings, Lin Huo-ping was there. And, more importantly, at 39, she at last allowed the Savior to be more than a “figurehead”, she allowed him to take over her life. From then on politics lost its importance to her.

Her son, Watchman, though being educated as a “Christian”, was very skeptical of Christianity. His mother’s conversion didn’t convince him either… Then the day came that she humbled herself before him and the rest of the family, asking him to forgive her for an unjust punishment meted out some time earlier. Such a humbling of a parent before a son or daughter was unheard of in Chinese culture. It was then that Watchman realized that something supernatural had taken place in his mother’s life. He was deeply touched and started to go along to Dora Yu’s meetings. As the Gospel did its work in his heart, a battle raged – he immediately realized it wasn’t just his heart the Lord was after, but his whole life… But it didn’t take long – Watchman Nee surrendered. At 17 years of age he was born again and radically converted! The rest is history.

That was the “micro-story” – a “disastrous” marriage arrangement that led to great and wonderful blessings. Lin Huo-ping’s plans and projects to study in the US were brutally shattered; instead, she was forced to marry a person she did not love. But the “disaster” wasn’t the end of God’s grace and wisdom. It brought forth a Watchman Nee – instrument of incredible blessing both in China and far beyond its borders.

Now for the “macro story”. Watchman Nee and many other Chinese preachers were seeing years of great blessing in the establishment of many hundreds of local congregations all over China. But waiting in the wings was another great leader of a very different sort. His presence began to cast a long shadow everywhere – then civil war broke out. Revolutionary Mao Zedong was on the march. In 1949 his communist guerillas won the war and established the People’s Republic of China. As they started to consolidate their power everywhere, it soon became clear that all things religious were from now on to be fully state-controlled.

As this new and very hostile regime forced itself upon them, the totally independent and indigenous work that Watchman Nee and companions were involved in, was not in disarray, but the workers were bound to greatly regret the loss of liberties, opportunities and “open doors”, which they had been enjoying and making such good use of. They were now forced to submit to the “disaster” of engagement with an atheist government – could we call it a “marriage contract”? – and it completely cut across their plans and projects. Abhorrent though this was, they simply had to bow to the inevitable. Watchman Nee and a number of coworkers were arrested and thrown into prison, others were executed, still others fled the country, a few were able to go into hiding.

Was that the end of God’s work in China? To those outside of China who were left without any news of the goings on inside, it may have seemed so. But behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep! (Ps. 121). When at long last in the 1970s China slowly began to open up to the outside world, it became apparent that the “disaster” had spawned a multitude of children…

Massive numbers of Chinese had believed in Christ in the worst possible conditions. Braving the threats and very real dangers, there they were and going on with their Lord, preaching the Gospel everywhere. Chairman Mao had driven the Christians “underground” – not an enviable situation, nothing glamorous about it – but their Lord had this to say: Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain! (Jn. 12:24). That is exactly what happened – He is faithful! There are now many thousands of house churches all over, most of them meeting in secret, and just about a 100 million Christians. In modern China persecution continues, but the effect is still to spur the persecuted on to be faithful to the One they love – whatever the cost!

 These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life:I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich)… Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation… Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.’” (Rev. 2)

Oh, how great a disaster…!
Ah, but not greater than the Master!

Find two of Watchman Nee’s works under

Answers for Workers