Knowing the Times, Knowing Events, and Knowing God to Match What God is Doing in This Age
Our brother, Witness Lee, shared in May 1991 that “Europe, in its geographical location, in its people, in its culture in history, and in its capacity in ability, is crucial to the present situation of the world…Further, Europe, in the consummation of the fulfillment of the vision concerning the great human image in Daniel 2, is also more vitally crucial than any other country and race…Christ is the great stone who will crush the two feet of the great image, which will be the crushing of the entire human image, the entire human government. We need to see this as a basis to understand the Lord’s mind. Before this crushing transpires, the Lord’s recovery must spread to Europe and be rooted there. The spreading of the truths of the Lord’s recovery will be a preparation for the Lord’s coming back to bring the recovery and restoration not only to Israel but also to the entire creation” (The World Situation and the Direction of the Lord’s Move, pp. 17-19).
Moreover, Brother Lee helped us to see the vital principle and the “historical fact that the world situation has always been the indicator of the Lord’s move on earth” (p. 8). “We should be those who know the times, know events, and know God so that we can match what God is doing in this age. Otherwise, we will fall behind in our service to God, and we will be unable to catch up with this age” (Serving according to Revelation, p. 74).
Recent months in Europe have seen historic developments in world history. In the midst of the uncertainty and upheaval that have taken hold in Europe, we are burdened to testify that our Lord is the Ruler of the kings of the earth (Rev. 1:5), and sets over it whomever He wills (Dan. 5:21). We believe that the events presently unfolding in Europe are under the sovereign hand of our ruling Christ to prepare the hearts of a generation to seek the Lord. Brother Lee, in relaying his experience of having to leave mainland China to go to Taiwan, concluded, “Many people have had a turn in their heart and are now open to the gospel because of the changes in the world situation…These people know in their heart that they cannot depend on anything in the world, so they are seeking the Lord. The Lord has used the environment to prepare people’s hearts” (Serving according to Revelation, p. 45).
Responding to the Lord’s Arrangement in Relation to the Refugee Crisis in Europe
In 2015 the Lord sovereignly moved approximately one million refugees from the Middle East through Turkey and southeastern Europe primarily to Germany. The saints in the Lord’s recovery responded to this migration firstly by the distribution of gospel tracts and other materials available through Rhema to the migrants as they passed through Greece. By the end of 2015, most of the migrating refugees had arrived in Germany.
Both the refugees themselves and the German people who welcomed them were greatly affected by this migration. In describing the experience of many migrants moving from mainland China to Taiwan, Brother Lee said that “originally, they had neither opportunity to hear the gospel nor the heart towards the gospel; now their environment forced them to come to Taiwan. Consequently, they were saved. This is a good example of how God accomplished His will through the change of environment. When we are alert to the environment about us, we can often touch God’s will and know His move for today” (The Experience of Life, p. 168). “If the war had not changed many people’s situations, who would have been willing to move from mainland China to Taiwan? However, when the environment changed, people had to move. Even though people suffered loss during the move, this was according to God’s good pleasure. Many people would not listen to the gospel or receive the Lord when they were in mainland China, but they were willing to open their hearts, listen to the gospel, believe, and receive the Lord after they moved to Taiwan” (Serving according to Revelation, p. 73).
In the early autumn of 2015 brothers in the work began to fellowship concerning how to meet the Lord’s need for the care of the refugees flooding into Germany. The focus was mainly on reaching migrants in the camps that were close to four cities in Germany: Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, and Stuttgart. In each of these cities there were a few saints. Serving saints from the United Kingdom began to move to these four cities to strengthen the testimony that was already there. For this unique time in history the saints in the United Kingdom were burdened to lay aside their ongoing labor in the United Kingdom and be brought more into a corporate view of the Lord’s interest by focusing their labor on the situation in Germany. These four churches began to labor to care for the refugees and to function as a net for newly-saved migrants as well as local German-speaking people. This prepared the way for many other saints to join in the labor on a shorter term basis.
In January 2016, approximately 200 FTTA and FTTL trainees and serving ones labored in Germany to contact the refugees. During this first gospel trip the visiting saints contacted and established initial connections with many refugees.
From February through June 2016 seven two-week follow-up gospel trips were carried out to continue to contact the new ones, to shepherd them, and to connect them with the local saints in the homes. During the later follow-up gospel trips, trainings were conducted in each of the four cities to establish the new believers in the truth and in the healthy life practices. There were nearly 1,000 saints both from Europe and overseas who joined in to care for the new contacts in Germany. The one accord among the participating saints was both the strong foundation and the top enjoyment of each gospel trip. In addition, saints all over the earth joined together to pray for the Lord’s blessing on these gospel trips and gave to meet the financial need.
This endeavor has resulted in the strengthening and building up of the churches in these four cities, including the local saints and the newly saved ones. Eight couples, including some with children, have moved to Germany from the United Kingdom as well as a couple and a family from Europe; three couples have also moved to Germany from the United States. More saints will be moving to Germany soon, but still many more are needed. In each of the four cities new ones gained through the gospel trips are regularly in the Lord’s Day church meetings, as well as in the saints’ homes.
Through the Lord’s prompting and the generosity of the saints, facilities have been acquired in three of the four cities to afford adequate meeting places. In Berlin the work and the church share a rented facility. Düsseldorf is in the center of the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region with 12 million people, the most populous metropolitan region in Germany. Recently, an arrangement has been made to rent a hall with an option to purchase. This facility is quite adequate. It is zoned for use as a meeting hall and is located near the main train station, making it very convenient for the saints in Düsseldorf and the surrounding region to reach. In Stuttgart a facility, which is zoned as an event center, has been leased with the option to purchase. Already this facility is being used for conducting trainings with the new contacts. In Frankfurt negotiations are presently going on for the purchase of a property in an excellent location that could be used as a meeting hall. These facilities are greatly needed as they provide a place for the saints and new ones to be trained and perfected for the building up of the church.
In May 2016 more than 650 adults and 92 children from 26 countries, including 67 newly-saved ones, gathered in Frankfurt for the annual German-speaking conference. This was the largest conference in the Lord’s recovery held in Germany in almost three decades. It was a great encouragement to the German-speaking saints. During the conference, all the saints celebrated the first Lord’s table meeting of the church in Frankfurt.
“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” (The World Situation and the Direction of the Lord’s Move, p. 31).
During all the gospel trips, the distribution of the German Recovery Version of the New Testament and other ministry publications, especially at the universities, was a primary goal. Bibles for Europe distributed over 2,500 German Recovery Versions of the New Testament. To meet the need for ministry publications in the Farsi language, the Living Stream Ministry is preparing four titles in Farsi for distribution in Germany. The Economy of God, The All-inclusive Christ, The Knowledge of Life, and The Glorious Church will soon be available to nourish and strengthen the Farsi-speaking new believers. There is virtually no other Christian literature in Farsi available in Germany today.
The distribution of the German Recovery Version of the New Testament is particularly significant as we near 2017—the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s publication of the 95 Theses and the start of the Reformation. “The Reformation was brought in through Martin Luther…In the Reformation the first thing Luther did was to open the Bible to the public” (The Testimony and the Ground of the Church, pp. 210-211). “Today we understand the Bible better than Martin Luther and J.
- Darby because we have inherited the truth they saw, and by the Lord’s mercy, we are standing on their shoulders and have gone on to see more.” (The World Situation and the Direction of the Lord’s Move, p. 35)
Two Further Countries
We are burdened that what the Lord is doing in Europe, especially in Germany, would continue to spread. In addition to Germany, there are two major countries we are burdened to strengthen soon: Poland and Italy. Some saints who have been through the training and who are serving in the United Kingdom will move soon to serve in Krakow, Poland. This is a major city with over 100,000 students, and it is near the venue for the European Young Peoples’ conference in Poland. Also, the Polish language Recovery Version of the New Testament is due to be published within the next couple of years. By the summer of 2017, a number presently serving in the United Kingdom are planning to join the labor in Italy, especially Rome, to help strengthen the Lord’s testimony there.
There is a continuing burden for many older ones to migrate to Europe and for open homes next to university campuses, as well as for students to go to study at universities in Europe. In recent years the number of students gained on campuses who have come to the full-time training in London has grown. Among the 40 current trainees (including the 2016 Spring graduating class), 12 were gained from university campuses. This is a result of endeavoring in the way described by Brother Lee in The World Situation and the Direction of the Lord’s Move, with some saints becoming “professional students…, contacting other students daily with the Lord’s truths” (p. 47), as well as couples and single ones moving next to a university, opening up a home, and laboring as a team to gain students (pp. 48-49).
Responding to the Lord’s Arrangement in Relation to the United Kingdom European Referendum—the Need for Training
At the treaty of Paris in 1951, six countries founded the European Coal and Steel Community: Belgium, France, West Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Italy. Over the following years, a series of treaties and a steady addition of European countries led to what we now know as the European Union or EU, a block of 28 member states with free movement of goods, services, people, and capital.
The United Kingdom joined this process in 1973. Over the course of its membership, and particularly in recent years, a growing feeling arose among parts of the population that the cost and restrictions associated with being in the EU did not yield sufficient benefits and undermined the United Kingdom’s ability to make its own laws and manage its own borders. Eventually it was agreed to hold a referendum of the people of the United Kingdom to ask them if they would like to remain in the EU or leave. Despite the fact that nearly all the political and economic institutions in the United Kingdom, Europe, and across the world advised that the United Kingdom would be safer and more prosperous within the EU, on June 23, 2016, the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave.
This is an unprecedented step in European history, and the implications for the United Kingdom and Europe are unknown. But in considering this matter before the Lord, our response is firstly to worship the Lord as the Ruler of the kings of the earth (Rev. 1:5). Secondly, we are touched again to give ourselves to prayer; “first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings be made on behalf of all men; on behalf of kings and all who are in high position, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all godliness and gravity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of our Savior God, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the full knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:1-4).
Finally, we feel that through these events the Lord is leading us “to continually endeavor…[to] put our heart, our strength, and our entire being into perfecting the saints” (Crucial Words of Leading in the Lord’s Recovery, Book 3, p. 58). With so many new ones being gained by the Lord, the practical building up of the churches all over Europe depends very much on the local saints being equipped, perfected, and trained. “After we labor in a place, there should be a number of perfected saints. Then the building up of the church will not stop when we leave; instead, it will be more active. This is the proper service, and this is the way that the Lord builds up the church” (The Perfecting of the Saints and the Building Up of the House of God, p. 35).
Our experience in Germany confirmed the benefit of taking the trained way. Many full-time serving ones from the United Kingdom played a crucial role in carrying out the gospel trips and bridging the gaps between the trips. Many full-time serving ones who had passed through the full-time training in Anaheim and its extension in Boston, the middle-age training, and the full-time training in London were sent for several months to serve in Germany. Without these trained serving ones, already located in Europe and available to serve, we would not have been able to carry out the eight gospel trips.
Now there is the need to labor in the churches throughout Europe, not to replace the saints but to perfect them and to activate their organic function (Eph. 4:12). This work of perfecting is carried out very much in the small groups and is strengthened through the training. In 1984 Brother Lee described the impact that training had in the early years in Taiwan. “There were several characteristics of the work that we began in Taiwan. One feature was to hold trainings that were comprehensive in nature. The best training was in 1953; it was a training on truth, life, the church, and the gospel. The aspect of the training that was on the church included service. Those who attended the trainings know that that particular training was comprehensive. As a result, the leading in the church was also comprehensive. We did not overemphasize any point; rather, we paid equal attention to truth, life, the church, and the gospel. These trainings were very successful, and our numbers in the churches increased greatly” (Crucial Words of Leading in the Lord’s Recovery, Book 3, p. 8).
The London extension of the full-time training was established in 1997, in line with Brother Lee’s speaking in The World Situation and the Direction of the Lord’s Move, “that Great Britain is very crucial for the Lord’s move throughout Europe” (p. 48). It began in a facility in West London, moved to the neighboring city of Reading and now resides in northeast London in the facility at Bower House. Since the Full-time Training in London (FTTL) began, 249 saints have graduated and over 70% of these graduates have served full-time afterward. Without these trained ones, the Lord’s move in Europe would have been greatly restricted.
Moreover, the training facilities have been used repeatedly since 1997 to conduct open trainings for all the saints in the churches in the United Kingdom and Europe. Following the great blessing brought in through the Life-study of the Bible with Witness Lee radio broadcast in London, many seeking believers were added to the church. By inviting them to a residential training, they not only were helped to grow in life, but they became very useful for the practical building of the church in London.
Since November 2010, we have been conducting one-week trainings for saints throughout Europe to come to be trained in the four great pillars of the Lord’s recovery: truth, life, the church, and the gospel. Despite our limited capacity, just over 1,000 individuals from 21 European countries and another 16 countries from outside Europe have participated, many of them more than once. Groups of believers, both those who have been in the church life for many years and those who have only recently touched the ministry, have been able to spend time being trained under the perfecting of the ministry.
The Burden and Need for a Larger Facility
The trainings and conferences are attended each year by more and more people from both the United Kingdom and Eu- rope, and for some time now the space at Bower House has no longer been adequate. Not only do we need more space and a more purpose-built environment for the existing trainings, but we would like to expand our capacity to have additional short- and long-term trainings and retreats for all the seeking believers in Europe.
We have recently been granted full permission from the local council to proceed with plans to build and expand the facili- ties at Bower House, and we will also be applying for permission to begin doing the same at Woodland Camp, ten minutes’ drive away. Additionally, we hope to be able to complete a purchase of an adjoining property to Bower House—Bower Farm—and once accomplished, begin to integrate that property into our expansion plans.
We do thank the Lord for all the training that has been carried out thus far, but we also realize there is the need for much more. We believe that as soon as we can expand the training facilities at Bower House, the Lord will fill these expanded facilities with trainees, and the practical building up of the churches all over Europe will be the direct result.
For information regarding migration, please visit: lordsmove.org
For information regarding Germany, please visit: germany2016.amanatrust.org.uk
For information regarding the London properties, please visit: amanatrust.org.uk/uk-building-project
For information regarding gifts toward the London properties, please visit:
lordsmove.org/ukbuildingfund or amanatrust.org.uk/uk-building-project
For information regarding gifts toward the continuation of the Life-study of the Bible with Witness Lee
daily radio broadcast, please visit: lordsmove.org/ukradio