Brother Andrew Yu’s Tribute to Brother James Churng
The publication work in the Lord’s recovery occupies a special place in the economy of God. Whereas the service of a local church is local, the service of the publication work is universal. Particular areas of work, such as, the young people’s work, meet the needs of the Body of Christ partially; the publication work meets the need of the whole Body. The ministry of the word comprises both giving and publishing messages. Whereas messages spoken in conferences and trainings are transient in nature, the publication work is permanent. Many can say that they have seen and heard the words of life, but the few who are involved with the publication work can say that they have “handled with their own hands” the words of life (1 John 1:1). Whether one is involved in editing translation, proofreading, typesetting, printing, or packing, he can say that he is handling the words of life with his own hands. Many enjoy the free flow of the stream of life as it spreads out in the broad and fertile plains, but those upstream involved with the publication work enjoy the restricted flow high in the mountains under blue skies and fresh air. Certainly, no one other than God can be the source of the ministry of the word, yet those who participate in the publication work contribute to the “completion of the word of God” (Col. 1:25). In this sense we may say that the publication work in the Lord’s recovery is universal, eternal, spiritual, and vital.
At the end of his life brother Lee summed up his ministry with a single word: sacrifice. All the saints involved in the publication work in any capacity have made sacrifices, Whether with regard to fame, wealth, position, health, or family. Since they are human beings, they cannot avoid going through periods of ups and downs. However, as soon as these saints begin to work on their assignment, they need to set aside all of their natural feelings and considerations and take up the mind that is in Christ Jesus (Phil. 2:5). In the New Testament, the Greek word translated “longsuffering” is composed of two words: Long and temper. Among those participating in the publication work, there is no room for temper or mood fluctuations. The sacrifice required for these saints is not only psychological and financial; it also involves a challenge to their physical wellbeing. Long hours of sitting at a desk is not conductive to their health; constant staring at a computer is detrimental to their eyesight; and occasional overtime and overnight shifts took their toll on them and their family. Their photos are seldom seen, their voices seldom heart, and their names hardly ever mentioned. Nevertheless, they do everything before God, not to before men. They shoulder the burden, yet the credit often goes to others. Just as a grapevine pours itself out to produce cheering wine for others, so also many of these serving once frequently need to endure long hours of work under the pressure of impending deadlines, and when the deadline is met, they have no time for self-congratulations but must rise to new challenges. Often they need to “labor,” “struggle,” and “travail” m bringing forth messages until they fulfill the stewardship assigned to them (Col. 1:25; Gal. 4:19). Even though the work is heavy, the support is meager, just enough for them to feed themselves and their family, not enough for them to become wealthy. Such thankless, unknown jobs can attract only those who have a vision and a calling to the publication work. These sacrifices are mostly hidden to those who get to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Yet all the serving ones who are involved in this labor can testify concerning the privilege mentioned in Brother Watchman Nee’s poem “Let Me Love”: “pouring out oneself for others’ blessing and giving up one’s peace for other’s comfort.” Although the serving ones need to pour themselves out and give themselves up time and again, their greatest joy is to see others blessed and comforted. Like Mary these ones have “chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away” (Luke 10:42). The issue of their life of sacrifice is portrayed in a stanza of one of Sister M. E. Barber’s poems: “Buried? Yes, but it is seed / From which Continents may feed; / Millions yet may bless the day/ When that seed was laid away.”
For thirty-five years, Brother James Churng participated in the editorial work of the Chinese section of Living Stream Ministry. He was involved with the translation of the Chinese New Testament Recovery Version under the oversight of Brother Witness Lee, the translation and preparation of the Chinese Old Testament Recovery Version, the translation and preparation of outlines for various conferences and trainings, the translation and editing of the Collected Works of Witness Lee, and the translation and preparation of various ministry books and periodicals. He served the Lord and His ministry faithfully and quietly for many years. He did not want any individual recognition or special praise when he died. Therefore, this brief note is written as a vindication of, and a memorial to, his service.