Assembly Similarities with "Local Church" Outreach Methods
Brent T. first posted this on the original website. He said, "This piece is about The Local Church of Witness Lee. Everyone in the Assembly considers them to be a heretical cult. Indeed, all of Evangelical Christianity agrees with them about this. What I find so interesting is how the culture of the Assembly and The Local Church are so similar. Please read the following, which quotes from articles written and distributed by the Local Church, and note the similarities with many of the Assembly's practices, especially in the area of recruiting, or 'outreach', as it is called."
The Local Church movement is eager to draw a new supply of converts into its fold. The movement employs a number of activities that are designed to draw attention to its own gospel message. The following activities have attracted many converts and the great bewilderment of others.
As early as the seventies, the Local Church movement in the United States would conduct gospel marches, much like those carried out by "The Little Flock" movement in China and Taiwan many years before. A gospel march consists of members of one or more Local Churches gathered together for the purpose of marching in public areas, such as beaches, parks, public streets, and shopping centers, for evangelistic purposes.
This activity, usually carried out by the more-enthusiastic members of the movement, would involve the shouting of short phrases such as "O Lord Jesus," "Jesus is Lord," "Praise the Lord," etc.; the singing of Local Church hymns, often accompanied by cymbals, drums, guitars, and tambourines; and the wearing of gospel robes that have Bible verses or slogans printed on them. Local Church gospel tracts and other leaflets are handed out to the public during this time.
The following account, taken from an issue of the early Local Church publication, The Stream magazine, illustrates the enthusiasm members exerted during the early years of their movement as they proclaimed their faith.
On Saturday evening, Aug 20, there was a Gospel march and Gospel preaching meeting at the New Park in downtown Taipei. What a mighty and triumphant testimony this was for the Gospel in the whole city! There were 17 different marching groups, totaling 2,000 marchers altogether. One of the groups was composed only of American Caucasians, about 100 strong. Each of the 17 groups were dressed in gospel robes and were led by a drum corps to keep the marchers in step and attract people's attention.
In every direction from all over the city, these 17 regiments, marching by different routes, converged on the New Park. At the head of each group, a large banner was carried by four brothers declaring, "God so Loved the World", or another similar short gospel message. Six brothers and sisters handed out tracts on either side of each group as they marched along, while two brothers shouted slogans to the onlookers like "Christ is Life," "The World is empty," and "You need Jesus." When they shouted the slogan, the army said "Amen." As they went down the thoroughfares of the crowded city they sang, "You Need Jesus," in Chinese, or sometimes they simply marched to the beat of the drums, carrying the lanterns with gospel messages....
Every beat of the drums was like an arrow in the heart of Satan. Every shout was a victory cry. Such a sight - long lines of flowing white, marked with Words of Life in flaming red. Everywhere, all over the city, you could see them coming and hear the roar of "Amen." "Like a mighty Army moves the Church of God!" It was a real shame to the enemy and a glory to God.
Another early publication of the Local Church, News of the Churches, records other similar events carried out by members of the group.
On September 26, we (The Church in Houston) had our first Gospel march. As we marched in downtown Houston, we felt that we really touched something of the Lord's blessing and glory. The Lord had released strong prayer on the Wednesday before, and all we did was pick up the spoils. Many called on the Lord as we marched. We were full of rejoicing. In the Gospel meeting the next morning a few new ones called on the Lord and were buried.1
On December 19 the church (The Church in Chicago) took a gospel ride on the elevated train....In preparing for the ride, we preached the gospel by first caring for the Lord - pouring the precious ointment upon His head (Mk. 14) - and then caring for the people - spreading His sweet savor (2 Cor. 2). We decided to enjoy the Lord before the people by singing and praising, and let the preaching come out of the enjoyment. We were in 4 groups, each group in a separate car....The more we sang and praised, the more released we became!
After 2 round trips, we all combined for a longer ride, stopping midway at a crowded station. We came off the train singing, and formed a circle. For about one-half hour we sang, praised, shouted and testified. Several brothers gave a word to more than 200 people. Many were touched, and some called upon the Lord. Our return trip was a real victory ride! We sensed a deep satisfaction in our spirit. We had anointed our dear Lord and He had led us in triumph, spreading His fragrance abroad.2
On a recent Saturday afternoon, all the saints from fourth hall in East L.A. (The Church in Los Angeles) as well as a large number of young people from the other halls had a gospel stroll down the main street of Pasadena. Using guitars and singing in place of drums and trumpets, we casually strolled down the sidewalk, singing, shouting slogans, speaking to those we passed, and preaching the gospel. Looking like a large, happy family, we demonstrated how much we enjoy Jesus. The stroll came to a climax with an informal meeting beside a well-known religious seminary. Students watched from windows and front porches of the dormitories. Some who were contacted later came to our meetings and at least 2 new ones are now meeting with the church.3
Recently, one Saturday the young people (The Church in Atlanta) went to the airport and, with singing and enjoyment, met a young brother returning from Viet Nam. Our spirits were so uplifted as we gathered in the terminal and sang praises to the Lord. This was the beginning of a wonderful night of loving Jesus.
Leaving the airport, we made a "Jesus Run," driving as a caravan down the main street of Atlanta and through an area popular to this young generation. By shouting and calling from our car windows, we declared "We love Jesus" to all the people along the street. People were amazed as car after car passed them, full of noisy Jesus lovers! It was so releasing to look people in the eye and say, "I love Jesus!"
We regrouped at a drive-in restaurant, supposedly the largest in the world, to let them see the real food and drink. From there we went into the northern part of the city to another busy area. We found a very long line of people waiting to go to a movie. We lined up, and with singing and sharing, slowly moved along beside them, face to face on the sidewalk. There was deep inward satisfaction at releasing the name of Jesus in so many places in the city. Our love for Jesus is no secret any more.4
Our (The Church in Detroit) first gospel march and love feast were above all we could ask or think! Seventy saints from Chicago, Akron, Mansfield, and Toronto joined us in declaring that Jesus is Lord in Detroit, and, "We're crazy about Jesus." During the march, we demonstrated our love for the Lord Jesus, and preached the gospel of the kingdom, declaring Christ the Victor and telling the enemy that the church is here to evict him from the city.5
College Campus Outreach
The high school and college campuses are the primary focal points of the Local Church's evangelistic strategy, from which future generations of members will come. The Local Church sponsors and financially supports outreach efforts carried out by high school and college students placed on campuses. The Local Church successfully evangelizes college campuses in the United States, including the University of Texas at Austin, and Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, through their outreach ministries, under names such as "Christians at...University," "Christians on Campus," "College Christians," or simply, "Christians."
Local Church forerunners will survey campuses, obtain permission from the administration to set up shop, become familiar with the campus, select gathering places, coordinate with other Local Church members, and find a house or other building that can serve as a base of operations. Local Church members will set up tables, hang posters, and make public announcements during class registration with the hope of attracting many would-be converts. Love-bombing techniques are employed to gain committal to the group and its messianic cause.
The offer of a warm meal, a loving environment, and much-desired attention are offered in great abundance, provided that the prospective converts show some serious interest in joining the group. Frequent picnics, dinners, weekend outings, and student conferences, which are usually free or at low cost, are arranged to attract young college students, many of whom are away from home for the first time. The Local Church, as other groups, lures many by reaching out to these young men and women at the time they are most vulnerable, offering them what turns out to be quick solutions to many of life's problems.
In his publication, Preaching the Gospel on the College Campuses, Lee states:
In America many freshmen attend college away from home....Many of them are lonely and homesick. If we invite them into our living rooms for a snack or perhaps a dinner, they will feel at home and this will open them to the Lord and the truth. Furthermore, many young people do not have a goal and they are tired of their old manner of life. This situation is sovereign of the Lord....They are wondering what to do and where to go.... Therefore, we must take this opportunity to fill up the gap in their hearts with Christ. The best way to do this is by opening up our homes....
If the saints in every locality are well coordinated, the new ones will be inspired with what they see. They will see the real social life, communal life, and family life. Our service in coordination will touch, soften, and warm up their heart to receive the living, piercing word (Heb. 4:12). Once a freshman is brought into your living room, most of the work is already done....Suppose a locality has fifteen homes. Every home could serve at least ten to fifteen students. With just fifteen homes about two hundred students could be served. The freshmen, who have left their homes, may feel especially lonely and homesick on the weekends. Before the weekend, our young people should contact them and make appointments with them.6
Members Relocate Near Campuses
To reach young people on campus Local Church members are encouraged to locate, and in some cases, even relocate, near high school and college campuses, so that their homes may be used for outreach purposes. States Lee:
The way to open up the homes is in the Body in a coordinated way. Do not try to do it by yourself. I hope every local church will have a good coordination. Pray, fellowship, and see if there are any homes near the campus in your locality that are available. Try to get a home close to the campus. Even if you have to pay more rent for a house close to the campus, it is worthwhile. This matter requires much fellowship.7
In some cases church fellowships will purchase homes solely for providing a communal-style home environment for Local Church college students and prospective converts that are invited to live with them. States Ann Rodgers: For a non-organized work, LC groups display markedly similar practices from coast to coast. One distinctive mark is the LC house (or houses) on campus. Members of the LC are strongly encouraged to live with one another. Older families open their homes to student members. In addition, many groups purchase a house on campus in which LC students may live.8
This activity is confirmed by further accounts published in the publication, News of the Churches, during the seventies.
We (The Church in Los Angeles) also praise the Lord for the move among the highschool students. Out of a real burden and exercise, a large house has opened up directly across the street from Belmont High School. A number of brothers are anticipating moving in and opening the house for the winning of high school students to Christ and the church. There are already 18 from the church as students in this school.9
On April 15, with help from San Francisco and Santa Cruz, the church here (The Church in San Jose, California) moved into the large fraternity house near the San Jose State College campus with praise and thank offerings to our faithful Lord! Praise and singing rang from the basement to the third floor, as room after room was cleaned and painted amid the joyful noise. By 5 p.m. the new meeting hall emerged immaculate and shining. It is the most glorious and wonderful "reaping-in-station" the Lord could have given us! We thank and praise the Lord for His blessing! Many new ones have already come in to enjoy the Lord with us. We are expecting a real increase from the State Campus.10
This strategy, as taught by Witness Lee, is employed by most or all of the Local Churches, including The Church in Chicago.
This has been a very encouraging year at Northwestern (1988). Beginning with the first two days of the new student week of the fall quarter, students began to be touched by the Lord. With the help of the U.I.C. students, full-timers, and other saints, the brothers at Northwestern went out to visit the new students. During this time they shared "The Mystery of Human Life" and prayed with some.
Their main burden, however, was to sign students up for a new program sponsored by "Christians on Campus" entitled "Evanston Christian Families Adopt-A-Student." The saints in Evanston invited students to their homes for a meal, to read the Bible, sing songs, pray, and fellowship. The goal of the program is to save, baptize and eventually bring these students into the enjoyment of Christ and the church.11
A Student's Account of Her Recruitment
This strategy worked well in the case of the daughter of Carol Lowry, who, as a college student, had been wooed into the Local Church through similar contact and expenditure of attention on the part of Local Church members. Lisa Lowry was getting over a broken relationship and her sister's death at the time she was introduced to the Local Church.
"I was unhappy," says Lisa. "I wasn't living how I was supposed to be. In the course of that, I searched for new friends and a different place to live." Lisa answered an ad in the Arlington (Texas) newspaper which described a family looking for a Christian boarder to live in their home. "Over a period of time I visited their meeting," says Lisa. "I just felt so at home; it refreshed me and encouraged me. I just decided I wanted to meet there. That was October 1985." She thought her family would be happy she found her happiness. "That's standard operating procedure," says Carol Lowry, who has since formed an informal support-group of ex-members and parents of members. "They took her into their home, made her part of the family, and walked her right into the door of the Local Church."12
Controversy on College Campuses
Campus outreach activities conducted by the Local Church, however, have not always gone without a hitch. Controversy has followed the Local Church onto college campuses around the U.S.
In 1978 the Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram reported that members of "The Christians" harassed a wheelchair-bound student in the campus cafeteria of Long Beach City College. A campus religious group at Long Beach City College has been placed on "informal probation" because members harassed at least one student who refused to join, a campus official said. Members of the group - "The Christians" - confronted a wheelchair-bound student, Charles Jennings, in the campus cafeteria last month and, according to witnesses, cursed him and physically prevented him from attending class until he talked to them....
Jennings said the cafeteria confrontation April 24 followed his decision not to join the church, which he made after attending several meetings. Jennings said the meetings consisted of worship and testimonies by members condemning "anyone and everyone not in the church," a philosophy he found difficult to accept. "They believe any opposition to the church is (the work of) the devil," Jennings said. "They warn you ahead of time that if you tell your parents about the church they won't understand."
Three witnesses to the cafeteria incident said Christians' Vice President Doug Polson directed a pointed and threatening obscenity at Jennings when the young man refused to join the church. Polson refused to comment on the incident or the subsequent probation of the group. The campus sponsor, culinary arts instructor Jim Higashi, said that he knew nothing about the probation; that he had never attended a meeting of The Christians and that they seemed like a "nice bunch of boys and girls."
Higashi's brother, Howard, is one of three church elders in Long Beach, where there are nearly 300 Local Church members - including the student members of The Christians.... At LBCC, as on campuses across Southern California, The Christians recruit new members through fellowship meetings and by placing ads in campus newspapers. Recruits are invited to dinner at a member’s home, where a church meeting is also being held. Jennings and others at LBCC say that from that point on, prospective members are constantly pressed to attend more meetings and to move into corporate homes.13
The above-mentioned incident sparked an investigation by the campus administration and the campus newspaper, Viking. Then-associate editor Judee Kelly published a series of articles concerning Local Church activity on the campus. Other students came forward to offer accounts of their experiences with the Local Church. They came forward because they believed that Local Church students on campus were misguided young people who were encouraged by elders and Witness Lee to use unfair recruitment tactics.14
Controversy on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin suggests that some individual Local Church fellowships may deliberately conceal their relationship with their campus outreach ministries. Generally, most college administrations require that campus religious organizations are to be operated by students. A 1990 article in the Austin campus newspaper labeled the Local Church a cult and linked it with the Christians on Campus organization on its campus. Former members of a national religious group represented on campus are charging the organization with deceptively recruiting and retaining members at the University....
Kenneth Diller, professor of mechanical engineering and faculty adviser for Christians on Campus, said the group is not part of the "local church." "We are an autonomous Christian group on campus and we are Christians," said Diller, who said he is a "local church" member. "Some of the members meet with the [local] church in Austin. A lot of campus Christian groups tend to operate in one way or another in conjunction with a church." But Dudley Evans, a local engineer and "local church" ex-member, said Christians on Campus is "an arm of the `local church.' As far as the elders run it, they have the final say-so, but most of the day-to-day decisions are made by other brothers in the church," he said.15
The following year a lengthy article was published in the campus magazine, Utmost. Excerpts from that article alleged similar deceptive conduct on the part of The Church in Austin. Christians on Campus has been a UT student organization since Evans (Gary Evans), an elder at the Church in Austin, founded it in 1974, which suggests the church and the campus groups are intimately related. Yet leaders of both maintain the campus group is autonomous - not a recruiting arm for the Church...
Ard (Cary Ard, Local Church member and Christians on Campus officer) says, "To be in accordance with the University rules, our meetings have to be open to everyone, and we're happy to do this." Ex-members do not disagree. They concede the student organization would gladly welcome any Christian - in order to draw the student into the Local Church. "The whole purpose of [Christians on Campus] being there is to recruit college kids [into the Church]," says Linda, who was a "full-timer" on the UT campus for four years.
"They won't admit it to a reporter, but it's always been that way, I know." Jeff agrees. "I could detect the Bible study was just outreach for another ministry. They made it seem they were just a campus group, but it had a parent group. Christians on Campus is an extension of the Local Church," he says. Jan Bennett, who left the Local Church after almost 17 years, says, "Christians on Campus" is the recruiting arm of the Local Church. You will not meet a single member of Christians on Campus who is not a member of the Local Church."...
The UT Campus Activities Office lists 58 religious organizations, many of which, says Ard, have "an inner-relationship" with one particular Church. "We're not some special, set- apart kind of group in that type of way," he says. The difference, say ex-members, is that Christians on Campus is deceptive. "When I was first in [the campus group] they didn't invite me to Sunday night meetings, only when it seemed like I was for them," recalls Jeff. "People who join the Local Church aren't going to get the full story. They're going to gradually bring you into the ministry of the Local Church and Witness Lee. They'll sound impressive. They'll paint you a picture of how you think the church should be."
Linda, who worked with the UT Christians on Campus as well as on two other campuses, says, "We told them we were a group of students meeting on campus. Don Looper and Gary Evans would tell us `Don't tell somebody right away that we're involved with Witness Lee,' because when I was involved there was a couple of books that had come out that caused flack about the Local Church that was very much affecting their outreach."16
Local Church Recruiting on Christian College Campuses
What should be of more concern to Christians is Local Church evangelistic activity directed toward Christian schools. One major campus, the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, had been the object of considerable Local Church activity in past years. The Church in Chicago had sought to establish a student chapter on the campus for many years. Although their attempts have been rebuffed, a number of students had been drawn away and firmly rooted into the Local Church as the result of vigorous evangelistic activity.
During the early seventies, Local Church members in Chicago and from other localities had marched in, around, and through the Moody campus. States Ann Rodgers: The LC appears primarily on secular campuses, usually by the name "Christians on Campus" or "Christians at...University." They have also tried to start groups at Christian schools, such as Moody Bible Institute. According to Moody's (then) dean of students, the Rev. Bob Shackelford, they came on campus shouting "Babylon is falling" and "Moody is crumbling." Shackelford said, "At one point we wondered whether they meant physically destroying the place because they would stand in the courtyard and shout "Moody's going to burn!'"17
The publication, News of the Churches, records evangelistic activity directed at a number of Christian schools. The Local Church had specifically targeted the Moody Bible Institute and several other Chicago-area Christian schools:
The Lord has given us contact with at least 12 students from Moody Bible Institute, some of whom are already captured for the church life.18
One local Bible school here is now regretting the day that the flow of God's recovery ever came to Chicago. The head dean of this school informed one of the brothers by letter that several students who touched the local church have terminated their schooling. Therefore, opposition to the church has grown more intense.
The school administration now forbids brothers and sisters to come on campus even by invitation from students. On at least two occasions, school security personnel have personally escorted visitors from the church off of the premises. In spite of this, we feel led to go on contacting students who appear to be seeking the Lord and are interested in the local church.
Several of the "red books" (Christ vs. Religion) are in circulation on campus. These should be of service to those who seek the door into the pasture. To date, seven students from this Bible Institute have come into the church life-one very recently. We have prayed for 60 to come out. So the exodus is just beginning. Our Jesus was for us the door into the fold-then He brought us out through Himself. These dear Christian students have been "kept" long enough. Now they must be led out into fertile pasture before the thief comes.19
The young people have gone out to Jesus rallies, Old Town, and other places where people gather. We are burdened for the increase from places such as Moody, Trinity, Emmaus, U. of I. Circle Campus, Mayfair Junior College, neighborhood high schools, and neighborhood street gangs. Lord, bless and multiply us.20
The Bible Institute here has yielded about 10 but there are 1000 Christian young people there every semester! We are troubling the Lord to give many more of these a spirit of wisdom and revelation. At a recent meeting held there in honor of their founder, we passed out a letter entitled, "A Word From The Founder." Brother D. L. Moody was burdened also for the sadly divided state of today's Christians. We have found the way of practical unity!21
Evangelistic efforts conducted by members of The Church in Chicago during the early seventies prompted these comments by then Chairman of the Department of Theology, Moody Bible Institute, in the student newspaper.
There are certain forces that would like to see you leave Moody before you have completed your purpose in coming. One of these is "The Church in Chicago." Every student who has continued relations with "The Church" has turned against the purpose and program Moody stands for. Soon some friendly contact from the group may invite you "to fellowship with the brothers and sisters" and to have dinner with them. They will seek to influence you subtly away from your commitment to study the Word at Moody, for they stand officially opposed to Bible Institutes and seminaries ....
They deny the necessity of an intelligent, meaningful study of the Bible and substituted a mystical "inner light" that interacts with God when they "pray read" the Bible's words back to God....In unethical fashion and against repeated friendly and firm requests not to enter our private campus, they have invaded, invited, and insulted God's people at Moody. They have made students at Moody their target and your scalp a desired trophy. Don't feed their egos. If God led you here, don't be led astray by those who oppose our existence and purpose, calling us "ecclesiastical Babylon."22
Another method incorporated by the Local Church, adopted in recent years, by which they come into contact with the the public is the practice of "door-knocking." Local Church members will canvas neighborhoods, including college campuses, in groups of two or three, much in the same manner that Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses do, to present their own gospel message.
The Local Church uses their own gospel booklet, The Mystery of Human Life, to carry out their evangelistic work. This activity is carried out with the clear expectation of baptizing new converts in their own household bathtubs, all within a matter of a few minutes! One Local Church hymn from the 1986 winter training in Irving Texas expresses the Local Church's desire to propagate their faith.
1. In the Lord's new move we're going out to knock on every door and the mystery of human life make known, lead men into God's salvation, baptize them into the Lord, and begin with them a meeting in their home. I'm so happy knocking on the doors, seeing people call upon the Lord; there is no finer pleasure than to go from door to door And to baptize men into the Triune God!
2. Once the meetings in the homes are started in the Lord's new way, there's the need for us to stay and shepherd them; If we love our dear Lord Jesus, the Chief Shepherd of the sheep, We will feed and shepherd every little lamb.
3. It may never be so easy, but for that we just don't care, We will go until the earth has been subdued; We must multiply, be fruitful, spreading branches everywhere, Till the vine tree has been spread to all the earth!23
A Christian Bookstore
Chicago Bible & Books, a Christian bookstore in Chicago, provides us with yet another example of how this movement distributes their literature. The bookstore, which also serves as a Sunday school classroom, is located several doors down the street from their Chicago meeting hall. This store serves as the distribution point for the movement's literature to the membership of The Church in Chicago, to other mid-west Local Church fellowships, and to the general public. The store will freely advertise itself without the mention of its affiliation with Witness Lee and the Local Church movement, as depicted in their advertisement in the Christian yellow pages phone directory.24
Local Church publications, nearly all of which are by Witness Lee himself, are prominently displayed in the store along with acceptable Christian publications. Only publications agreeable with Local Church teachings are carried in the store. Local Church members in Chicago voluntarily staff the bookstore and encourage their unsuspecting customers to purchase Local Church publications. It is not uncommon to overhear bookstore staff recommend their favorite translation of the Bible - their own! Great "spiritual classics," including Watchman Nee and Witness Lee books, are also recommended.
Prospective members will be informed of Christian fellowship that is available down the street and in the neighborhood. The names, addresses, and phone numbers of customers are taken at the time of sale and are added to a mailing list, which is later used to send evangelistic literature. The bookstore manager comments:
The burden of the bookstore has been to make available to the public Bibles and the best of Christian literature, specifically Living Stream Ministry materials....Most customers enjoy spending time looking at the books and even fellowshipping with those serving. From such fellowship home meetings have been established. Some have come to church meetings and one brother was baptized. From the side of serving, the bookstore is an enjoyable and gratifying place to work, working with the saints and meeting other seeking Christians....the opportunity to share the gospel is always there.25
According to one convert to the Local Church, that is just what happened! This is what took place when he visited Chicago Bibles & Books.
You only go to a bookstore to buy books, right? At least, that's what I used to think. I recently found out it is also a good place to go if you need to be baptized, even if you didn't know you needed to be. I had been to Chicago Bibles and Books a few times, picking up study Bibles and other helps during the first week or two after I had been saved.
One day, someone there recommended the Recovery Version (the Local Church's New Testament) to me. For the first time the Bible became alive to me. After reading it for a day or two, I wanted to get as many of Brother Lee's books as I could find. So I went back to Chicago Bibles and books to see what books by brother Lee were available. When I got there Charlie...and John...helped me pick out some of his books. We got to talking and they asked if I had been baptized. I told them, "Yes, when I was a baby." Then they proceeded to show me that what I had thought was a baptism was nothing of the kind....Well, the next thing I knew I was in a bathtub at the meeting hall being baptized.26
Although the practice of encouraging of their customers to purchase particular publications is not improper, the biblically unsound theological framework this practice exists in and the deliberate concealment of their association with Witness Lee and the Local Church movement does raise some serious ethical concerns!
Evangelizing Eastern Europe
The 1991 Local Church publication, The World Situation and the Direction of the Lord's Move, outline's Witness Lee's burden for evangelizing Eastern Europe. The evangelistic strategy is usually the same. States Lee et al:
Recently, a group of brothers traveled to Eastern Europe and Russia, and they have testified of the openness and immense hunger of the people there for the divine truth. They visited one city in eastern Germany where they found a meeting of a group of about six hundred Russians who had migrated there. These Russians spoke to the brothers about six books that are being published in Russian. Two are by Brother Nee - The Normal Christian Life and The Spiritual Man. Four by me - The Experience of Life, The Knowledge of Life, The Economy of God, and God's New Testament Economy. They told the brothers that they could distribute one million copies of each of the six books in a quick way if they were available. This shows the hunger of the people there for the truth.
At this point I would like to ask one of the brothers who traveled to Eastern Europe to give a testimony of what he saw there....
Our goal was in going was especially to see the situation in the universities. We spent three days on three campuses. These campuses were in Leipzig and Berlin.
We found that, especially in the eastern area of Berlin that has been basically untouched by Western influence, the young people were preserved and were very open to anything that we said. Some of them had never seen an American.
During these three days, we spent our time going to the college cafeterias to meet the students. The students would sit with us, and we would speak the truth of the gospel to them....The first group of students to whom I talked happened to be English majors. Although we could communicate by using The Mystery of Human Life (a gospel booklet) in German, they followed more closely by using the English, which they had learned, in school.
I began to show them how man was made in three parts. For the first time their eyes were beholding the diagram of the three circles illustrating the tripartite man, and they saw how they were created with a human spirit to contain God. I shared with them the diagram of the processed Triune God entering into the tripartite man, and they were completely focused on this.
At one point, one girl said, "You have to tell us more about the Bible." This describes the kind of atmosphere that was with many of the ones to whom we spoke. A number in Leipzig prayed with us right there in the cafeteria. We plan to continuing the contact with them....
One of the students we spoke to was carrying a simple gospel tract which he had obtained, but nobody had ever led him to the Lord. A seed had been planted in him, but it had never been reaped. The brothers asked him to pray with them. He was open, and he prayed with them to receive the Lord....
In Berlin the brothers contacted a Russian-speaking woman who was baptized. She was our first fruit from eastern Berlin. She prayed with the brothers to receive the Lord, and then she invited them to her home that night for dinner. They baptized her that evening. This was real confirmation of the openness there.
The above testimony is a confirmation of the open door in Europe for the Lord's move. We have also received word that many of the people in Eastern Europe and Russia will only accept the writings of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee. They said that if w sent them millions of copies of our writings, they would distribute them. There is a famine of truth in that part of the world. Some of the people there have even begged the brothers to send people to teach them the Bible.27
I hope that many will go to Europe to teach the Bible. Some of the seeking ones in Europe have asked the brothers to send people to them to teach them the Bible. This is our burden.... The young people who are burdened to study in the universities there can talk to their classmates one by one about the truths concerning God's economy, God's dispensing, Christ, and the church. We will save and gain people in this way.
Some may also go to Europe to take a job or do a business. One brother said that many of the houses in eastern Germany are very old and need remodeling. He said that one of the best businesses for the brothers from the United States would be to go there to remodel these homes. As the brothers are working there, they can contact people to gain them for the Lord's recovery. The best way to prepare ourselves for going to Europe is by studying all the writings we have published to open up the holy Word. We need to learn the divine truths and then spread them to the whole earth.28
Today there is the need of the spreading of the understood divine truths for the Lord's recovery and restoration....If we have a burden to go to Europe, we must spend day and night to study the truths we have published. Then we will know what the Lord's recovery is, and we will have a real burden to go to Europe to teach people. The Lord charges us in Matthew 28:19 to go and disciple the nations. The Lord's word here shows us that we should be burdened to go and teach al the nations. There is the need of the spreading of the translated, interpreted, and understood truths for the Lord's recovery and restoration.
The Lord does everything by speaking. If there is no speaking of the Lord, there is no work of the Lord. There cannot be a recovery in Europe if there is not the speaking of the divine truths. Most of the millions of people in Europe are void of the knowledge of these divine truths.29
I expected that we would initially have forty saints who would be willing to be trained in the fall for emigrating to Europe, but thus far more than one hundred seventy have signed up for going to Europe. We hope that the saints who are burdened and will be trained in the fall will be able to leave for Europe by January 1992. By that time some of the books in different languages will be prepared.30
We are burdened to emigrate to the leading cities that have colleges and universities for us to work on. We are doing research so that we can find all the leading universities in Europe for our emigration there.31
Some can emigrate there to study in a school and serve the Lord. I would recommend that some go there to be "professional students." In other words, those who go to school should plan on remaining in school for the Lord's work on the campuses. The longer they stay in school, the better it is. This is because they can spend their time contacting the students for the Lord's interest. I hope that many young people among us would go to the universities in Europe to be professional students teaching the divine truths. It is glorious and worthwhile to be such a student, contacting other students daily with the Lord's truths.32
We are burdened to go to Europe in a team of at least four saints, including a couple between the ages of thirty to fifty, in whose home the meetings will begin. Every team of saints going to Europe should have a couple, and this couple may have some children. This family will be the center of the team. We will try to help them get a home close to a college or a university. Hopefully, this home will be big enough for keeping two or three guests. It could serve as a place for some emigrating saints to stay until they can become properly situated. The newly-contacted people can be brought to this home for fellowship. This will be our way.33
While not all of the above-mentioned practices are necessarily improper, the beliefs and practices of the group passed off as Christian does raise some serious concerns. The zeal of the movement, the practice of sheep stealing which the Local Church has been accused of in the past,35 the dividing of churches for the purpose of drawing away members36, and their silence regarding Christians on Campus affiliation with the Local Church movement, should be warning enough that they are determined to secure converts at any cost and by whatever means necessary. Only God knows the extent of harm caused by this cancer to the body of Christ.
Mature Christians firmly rooted in the faith should take up the challenge to reap the harvests on American high school and college campuses and on the foreign mission field. If we fail to do so, heretical groups like the Local Church definitely will! This early hymn of the Local Church, sung to the tune, The Marine Corps Hymn, typifies the devotion and enthusiasm of the group as it spreads "the church life."34
From the beachhead in Los Angeles
To the New York City bay,
We will fight the church's battle
In a new and living way.
We will spread the local church life
Throughout the U.S.A.,
Capturing each strategic city
As we move along our way. This is the Lord's recovery,
This is His move today;
Brothers, we must move together
In a strong, united way.
1 "The Church in Taipei," The Stream magazine (LSM: Nov. 1968) p.30. 2 "The Church in Houston," News of the Churches (LSM: Vol. 1, No. 2, Nov. 1970) 1, parenthetical note added. This early publication of the Local Church contained articles and news submitted by individual local churches from around the world, highlighting various church-related programs and activities. 3 "The Church in Chicago," News of the Churches (LSM: Vol. 2, No. 2, Feb. 1971) p.2, parenthetical note added. 4 "The Church in Los Angeles," The News of the Churches (LSM: Vol. 2, No. 10, Oct. 1971) p.5-6, parenthetical note added. 5 "The Church in Atlanta," News of the Churches (LSM: Vol. 3, No. 6, June 1972) p.5-6, parenthetical note added. 6 "The Church in Detroit," News of the Churches (LSM: Vol. 3, No. 6, June 1972) p.6, parenthetical note added. 7 Witness Lee, Preaching the Gospel on the College Campuses (LSM: 1989) p.26, 27-28. 8 Ibid, 27. 7 Ann Rodgers, "Lord, We Just Want to Eat You!," HIS Magazine (IVP: Feb. 1979) 8 This article concerns campus evangelistic activity of The Church in Chicago at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. 10 "The Church in Los Angeles," News of the Churches (LSM: Vol. 1, No. 1, Oct. 1970) p.5, parenthetical note added. 11 "The Church in San Jose," News of the Churches (LSM: Vol: 3, No. 6, June 1972) p.2, parenthetical note added. 12 Member of The Church in Chicago, Each One Part (Chicago: 1988) p.13, parenthetical note and italics added. This is a Church in Chicago publication highlighting the activities of this particular fellowship. 13 Rachel Alterman, "The Lord Works in Mysterious Ways," Utmost Magazine (Texas: Spring 1991) p.19, parenthetical note added. This is the quarterly magazine of the University of Texas at Austin. This article concerns the campus evangelistic activities of The Church in Austin. 14 LBCC Religious Group Placed on Probation," Independent Press-Telegram (Long Beach, CA: May 23, 1978) Part B p.1. 15 Judee Kelly, "Students Relate 'Christian' Experiences," Viking (Long Beach, CA: May 18, 1978) p.8. This is the campus newspaper of Long Beach City College. Kelly, then-associate editor ran a series of articles concerning campus activity and influence of Witness Lee and the Local Church. See also, Judee Kelly, "Cabinet Restricts Religious Advertising," Campus Club Tied to Nationwide Cult," "Indoctrination For Desert," "Investigation Spurs Action: Religious Club Restrictions?," "Local Family Prospers After Renouncing Cult," "Losing Our Rights By the Rules," and "Psychologist Says Lee Attracts the Insecure." 16 Leslie Wemberley, "Former Members Charge UT Group is part of Cult," Daily Texan (Austin TX: May 1, 1990) p.1-2. This is the campus newspaper of the University of Texas at Austin. See also, "Education on Cult Groups Advised," p.6 of same issue, "Local Church Neglects Morality," June 5th, p.4, and "Between the Lines: Giving another Side to the Story," May 7, p.4. 17 Rachel Alterman, p.16-17. 18 Ann Rodgers, p.7. 19 "The Church in Chicago," News of the Churches (LSM: Vol. 3, No. 12, Dec. 1972) p.6. 20 "The Church in Chicago," News of the Churches (LSM: Vol. 2, No. 1, Jan. 1971) p.3. 21 "The Church in Chicago," News of the Churches (LSM: Vol. 3, No. 6, June 1972) p.7. 22 "The Church in Chicago," News of the Churches (LSM: Vol. 4, No. 4, Apr. 1973) p.5-6. 23 C. Fred Dickason, Students: Beware the Church," Moody Student (Sep. 15, 1973) p.2. This publication is the campus student newspaper of the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. 24 Local Church, Hymn #7, 1986 Winter Training pamphlet (LSM: 1986) n.p. 25 Don Schlesak, ed. Christian Business Telephone Directory/Chicago Metro (Palatine, IL: 1991) p.6. 26 Manager of Chicago Bibles and Books, Each One Part (Chicago: 1988) 2. This is a private publication of "The Church in Chicago." The bookstore is privately owned and voluntarily operated by The Church in Chicago. 27 Ibid, 2, parenthetical note added. 28 Witness Lee, The World Situation and the Direction of the Lord's Move (LSM: 1991) p.14-16. 29 Ibid, p.27-28. 30 Ibid, p.31. 31 Ibid, p.48 32 Ibid, p.48 33 Ibid, p.47 34 Ibid, p.48-49.30. Ibid, parenthetical note added. 35 Neil Duddy and the Spiritual Counterfeits Project, The God-Men (IVP: 1981), p.110-113. 36 Jack Sparks, The Mind Benders (Thomas Neslon: 1977), p.224-225. 37. Hymn #236," Supplemental Hymn Book, tune: The Marine Corps Hymn. Jim Moran, Light of Truth Ministries.