My Chinese Hero — Watchman Nee

I found a book when I was about 20, by Watchman Nee from China. I couldn’t put it down. It was as if he was writing just to me, setting my heart on fire. The book was called: The Normal Christian Life.

Watchman Nee was describing an exciting type of Christianity that I have been searching for ever since — relational, dynamic, revelatory, personal, heart-felt, life-changing, and full of power. After that, I read every book I could find by Mr. Nee: What Shall This Man Do?, The Spiritual Man, The Release of the Spirit, The Overcoming Life, and many others.

Watchman Nee ministered in the first half of the Twentieth Century. He broke with the Western churches in China and began to found small, independent, house churches (organic church) across the country. Most of his books were written down by others who heard his teachings, collected them, and published them in the West.

When the communists took over China, Watchman Nee was arrested for being a Christian leader and kept in prison for the rest of his life because he was unwilling to renounce His intimate, personal relationship with the living Jesus Christ.

The house church movement he helped start is estimated to have 50 million members today. After decades of persecution, they continue to grow. They are all across China risking persecution, jail, and financial ruin to proclaim the wonderful news: Jesus Christ is alive today and working powerfully in our world! 

Here’s a brief Watchman Nee sample: “Christianity always involves a personal knowledge of God through His Spirit, and not merely the knowing of His will through the medium of a man or a book.” — “Anything short of a personal, inward revelation of the Lord is not Christianity.” — “Christianity is not based on information, but on revelation.” — “Most of us will agree that outward Christianity today is in a sorry state. It manifests all the ailments and weaknesses of the world. Its work is reduced to a little preaching and a little social service. Its impact on man is negligible.” —

About Steve Simms

I like to look and think outside the box. In college I encountered Jesus Christ and I have been passionate about trying to get to know Him better ever since. My wife and I co-lead a non-traditional expression of the body of Christ in Nashville based on open participation and Spirit-led sharing. We long to see the power and passion of the first Christ-followers come to life in our time. I have written a book about our experiences called, "Beyond Church: An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible--Ekklesia" that is available in Kindle & paperback @
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7 Responses to My Chinese Hero — Watchman Nee

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  4. Chris Thomas says:

    My story is similar. I had just finished my first year of college and my head was spinning. On the last day of school I walked into a bookstore and saw The Normal Christian Life and said that is what I want! As I read it, their was an immediate witness that the same Spirit that had inspired that book was the self same Spirit that was in me. I have read much of Nee and Austin-Sparks since, but I particularly enjoyed What Shall This Man Do and have given away many copies of Nee books. I was pretty sure you had to be a like minded individual from reading a couple of your last posts.

    I have known people who read Nee, but you couldn’t tell it by what they did or even said. I have met others who were completely baffled or even frustrated by Nee. One fellow student at college who was 3 years behind me, claimed I set him up for years of frustration and disillusionment by introducing him to Nee! We just reconnected after almost 30 years and I was able to help him understand a few things. I guess it is a sad commentary on Christianity that what Nee talks about is so radically different from what most people see and experience in the church. Of course, like the Bible itself, many could read Nee and come away with any number of understandings and applications.

    Blessings to you and your journey!

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