BIOGRAPHIES by Rozalia Makai
Istvan Varga & Rozalia Makai website

The Life of Watchman Nee (1903-1972)
and His Testimony

(that he told on 18 and 20 October 1936, and
on the basis of the document written
by Kuang Hszi Vei)

Compiled by Rozalia Makai

           Watchman Nee's original name was NI To-seng. He was born in Fuocsou, in the Fukien province of South China in 1903.
            "My birth was an answer to a prayer. My mother was afraid of that she would follow her sister in law, and would have six daughters. It is because Chinese people prefer boys to girls. She already had two daughters before me, and even if she probably did not understand completely the power of prayer, she cried to God: - If I get a son, I will give him to You. - The Lord listened to her prayer and I was born. Later on my father told me that my mother had already promised me to God before I was born."

His getting saved

            In 1920 when he was 17 years old, Watchman Nee got saved in Christ. About this in 1936 in Kulongszu, an island on the South-Eastern coast of Fukien province of China, on a meeting held for Christian colleagues, he said the followings:
           "On 29 April 1920 in the evening I was alone in my room, and I was struggling with deciding to believe or not in the Lord. First I resisted, but when I tried to pray, I saw how big my sins were, and the reality and power of Jesus as Redeemer. In front of me, with the eyes of my heart I saw the Lord's open arms on the cross, as if He accepted me gladly and said:

"I am waiting for you here, to receive you."
- I understood that Christ's blood could wash my sins. This love won over me and I received Christ. Earlier, I had laughed at people who received Jesus, but that evening in my life it became reality too. I was crying, and I confessed my sins, and I was looking for the Lord's pardon. When I first prayed, I experienced such a joy and peace that I had never before. As if light entered the room and I said to the Lord:
- "Oh, my Lord, You gave me a very big grace."

The beginning of his service

            On the advice of a western missionary, Miss Grose, he wrote the name of his 70 friends for whom he prayed every day, sometimes even during a class. From the grace of the Lord, in some months, seventy but one of these 70 people were saved. A hard probation arrived in his life, because the lord wanted him to renounce himself and love Him with his all heart.

"Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you." (Psalm 73:25)

"The writer of the psalm 73 can say this about himself, but not me." - I said to myself. The reason of this was my relation with a young lady who later on became my wife and to whom I already talked about the Lord, but she only laughed at me."

            Finally, on 13 February 1922 he was ready to put this relation apart, and he experienced a big joy then. In Fucsou town of Fukien province, he put evangelical posters on the walls, and he distributed tractates. More hundred people were saved, and with the exception for one, those whose name he wrote in his notebook.

            More than a thousand tractates were distributed a day, two or three million a year, to supply the different churches.
            Towards the end of 1922, he felt more and more necessary to publish a Christian paper. He started his work as a writer. That time he lived in very hard circumstances. So they did not have any money for publishing. They prayed for more than a month, but they still did not have enough money. Then he sat down and he wrote the article, and after that he knelt down, and turned to the Lord again: - "My Lord, the article is ready, we only need to print it out, but we still do not have any money.
After the prayer I was completely sure that God was going to give the money for it, so we praised His name beforehand for it. It was wonderful.
As we stood up, somebody knocked on the door. I thought somebody was bringing the money."
As a surprise he saw that the person who arrived was a rich but mean Christian woman. She said: - "When this morning I was praying God told me: Now, what you need to do is not praying. First give the money to them. I was very surprised, but I brought you 30 Dollars, use it for the Lord's purpose." This amount exactly covered the printing costs of the 1400 examples of the paper entitled "Testimony Today".

            Shortly after he was saved, strong love woke in him for the Lord, and he felt more and more stimulation to preach the good news in his narrower and wider surroundings, in both convenient and inconvenient times. Thanks for his evangelization, almost all of his school mates got to know the Lord, and among the walls of the institution an awakening started that in 1923 reached the population of his home town in wide number. More hundred people were saved and started to live a new life.
            Watchman Nee did not study at theology or a Bible school. He collected his knowledge about Christ, about the Holy Spirit, and the Church mainly from the Bible itself and from the books of spiritual men. He was an excellent Bible commentator, and he had an extraordinary talent to select, elaborate, reflect on, and memorize what he read. He could determine the main message of a book, its main points easily, almost with an only one glance.

His living faith

            Due to the lack of the necessary rest and suitable nursing, in 1924, at the age of 21 Watchman Nee came down with a pulmonary disease. His illness turned to be so serious that some news about his death started already spreading. This critical period gave him the instinct to exercise his trust in God stronger than ever before. "Shortly later, brother Csen Csi Kvei wrote me and invited me to their house in Nanking so that I could rest there, and at the same time I could help him to translate the studies curriculum of Dr. C. I. Scofileld Bible Correspondence Institution." A famous German doctor made his radioscopy but did not accept any money because in his opinion he had 2 more weeks left. - "I felt that even if I do not live for a long time, I have to believe that God gives me strength and I have to work for His goal. After that I asked the Lord which was the uncompleted work He wanted me to finish." Seriously ill he went to hold an evangelization occasion. He asked strength from the Lord, and hanging on one lamp post after the other and having more rest he arrived at the scene. After praying for more months, he felt that he has to write a book on all what he had learnt from the Lord. He rented a little room in Vuszi town in Kiangszu province, where he closed himself and wrote all day. By that time his illness got so serious that he could not even lie down. He pressed his breast to the desk in order to decrease his pain. He finished the three volumes of "Spiritual Man" within four months. For the printing they needed 4000 Dollars. He asked the Lord to fill in the need. Shortly the Lord gave 400 Dollars, and they stipulated the contract with the printer to start the printing. They were praying with heart for it, and the printer came to ask for the parts. The Lord always gave them. The printer saw that everything went all right, he said:
            "Nobody pays so exactly like you, Church people, do."
            After the book was published, he prayed: - "and now let your servant go with peace." That time he was barebones.
"One day I asked God:
            "Why are you calling me home so early?"
- Then I confessed my sins, and at the same time I told Him that I had no faith. That day I dedicated myself to fasting and prayer from morning till 3 pm, saying to God that I do not want to do anything but what He wants. At the same time my colleagues seriously prayed for me in the house of Ruth Li. When I asked God to give me faith, He gave me a Word that I will never forget. The first sentence was this: "The righteous will live by faith" (Romans 1:17b), the second one: "because it is by faith you stand firm" (2Corinthians 1:24b) and the third one: "we live by faith" (2Corinthians 5:7).

            Big joy filled me because the Bible teaches that "Everything is possible for him who believes." (Mark 9:23) After this I gave thanks and exalted God because He gave me His Word as a gift; I believed that He had cured me. He immediately tested me because the Bible says "by faith you stand", but I was still lying in bed. [...] That time God's Word showed His power and not thinking of anything else I started to dress up, even if for already 176 days I had not had street clothes on. When I wanted to get up from the bed, to stand up, I started to sweat so much as if I had got completely wet outside in a rain.

            Satan tempted again: - "Why do you want to stand up, if you are not able to sit either?" - I replied: - "God told me to stand up", and I stood up. I had cold sweat again, and almost fell. I was repeating that "I have to stand by faith". After that I had to do some steps to be able to put on my trousers and socks. After dressing up, I sat down. But I hardly sat down when God's Word told me that I should not only stand by faith but also go (live) by faith. [...]
            "Where do you desire me to go?" - I asked God.
God answered: "Go to the house of Mrs Li, number 215."
- There more brothers and sisters had been fasting and praying for me for two or three days.
I thought: I was able to walk in a room, but how could I go down the stairs? I turned to
            God in a prayer: - "Oh, my Lord, I am able to stand by faith and I am going to be able to go down the stairs too! - I immediately went to the door that lead to the staircase, and opened it. I confess frankly that when I was standing on top of the staircase it seemed to me I was seeing the biggest staircase of my life in front of me. I told God: "Because You told me to go, I do it even if I die of it. My Lord, I am not able to walk; I ask you to support me while walking." - Stepwise from one stair to the other I was going down, while I was hanging on the banisters, in cold sweat again. While I was going down, I continued shouting "walking by faith" - and I was praying at each step: - "Oh, my Lord, You are who makes me able to walk." After going down 25 stairs, it seemed like by faith walking with the Lord hand in hand. When I reached the bottom of the stairs, I felt strong, and I went quickly to the back door. I opened it and went straight towards the house of Mrs Li. In the meantime I told the Lord: - "From now on I am going to live by faith, and I am not going to lie back again any more."
- I knocked on the door like Peter did (just it was not Rode who opened the door, see Acts 12:12-17), and when I entered, seven or eight brothers and sisters were staring at me, enable to say a word, staying still, and after that for about an hour everybody was sitting in a big silence as if God appeared among people. I was also sitting there filled with thanksgiving and praise. After that I told them everything what had happened to me and how I got cured. In spirit all of us were exulting and were cheered up very much, and then we also loudly praised God's wonderful work."

            God mercifully cured him of the pulmonary disease; however, in a sovereign way He left his heart problem, angina pectoris. Brother Nee's heart was only half as big as a healthy person's. Any moment he could die. This involuntarily prompted him to trust his life completely to God. He existed from one moment to the other by the faith in God, and the Lord kept him for long years with His graceful care, and with the strength deriving from resurrection. Through these physical problems Watchman Nee experienced and enjoyed God's presence in such a degree that would have been impossible without this complicated and exhaustive illness. He experienced his recovery as God's wonderful intervention.
            The practising of the living faith in God's unfailing Word resulted in that the life that was carrying the strength of resurrection - by grace - strengthened him physically starting from inside, while in his spiritual life a development appeared. This was not only a miracle that proves God's power, but also the evidence of the presence of the grace and divine life.

His life and work

            Every time when people asked him a question, Watchman Nee gave always a practical, essential, understandable answer filled with divine oil. Thanks to his direct, open personality, it was easy to make contact with him. He did hard work and had a great loving heart. At the spiritual field he conquered tops, and sank in depths. He had got rich vision and experience on the principles and goal of God's plan. He always left a very nice impression on people, at the same time he raised respect in everybody. He treated other people with tenderness and in a gentle way, and his words were always saturated by divine oil. He never kept a big distance with people who talked to him, and in his presence people felt as if they were fed and got to drink. Both his way of speaking and his behaviour had an unforgettable effect on everyone. Watchman Nee recognized that in the Christian service not the quantity but the quality is what counts, the real service: the overflow of Life.

His imprisonment and death

            After long time spent in prayer and consideration, in February 1949 Watchman Nee decided to stay in Sanghaj. Its reason was partly due to his feeling responsibility for the churches and his colleagues, partly his mission to spread the good news within China. He perfectly trusted in God's sovereign power, and at the same time he clearly saw how big the risk was, and he was ready to sacrifice his life for giving testimony of God.
He was arrested and imprisoned for his faith in spring 1952. After a legal action that took a long time, in summer 1956 he was sentenced to fifteen years prison. However, he could never come out of prison. During his imprisonment only his wife was allowed to occasionally visit him. On 7 November 1971, though, his wife passed to the Lord. Her death meant a very big pain for Watchman Nee, and the last link between him and the outer world got broken by this. Shortly after this, on 1 June 1972 Watchman Nee also arrived to the end of his pilgrimage on Earth.
On the day of his release - according to some people's opinion - he was poisoned. He moved to his Lord, and took a rest at Christ, for whom he was even ready to give his life all along. Under his pillow a small piece of paper was found on which with a shaking handwriting these great lines were written:
            "Christ is God's Son, who died in order to save the sinners and resurrected on the third day. This is the biggest truth that exists in the universe. I am dying because of my faith in Christ."


Some of his great thoughts

            "It is important for us to accept the way God arranges the circumstances. This arrangement serves the Holy Spirit's disciplinarian work. Any time we escape from our circumstances disposed by God, we lose a possibility to increase our strength. A believer can never remain the same after going through sufferings."
            "When I started to serve the Lord, I had some distress about my living. Since I wanted to follow the way that I got from God, I also could only wait for His support as for it. In 1921 and 1922 very few preacher lived exclusively reclining upon the Lord. But when I turned to the Lord, I received this answer from Him:"If you cannot live by faith, you cannot serve me." I understood that I need living work and living faith if I want to serve the living God. God has filled in all my needs, has never betrayed me."

            Watchman Nee's service is well known all over the world by the believers who look for God. His writings have given and give help to many people in the Spiritual life and in their relation with Christ. However, not many people know the other side of Watchman Nee's service, even if it has the same importance that emphasises practising church life and building up Christ's Body. Brother Nee equally wrote many books on Christian life and church life. As an excellent commentator of God's Word, Watchman Nee served as the Lord's big gift for His Body until the end of his life.

            "I offer my writings, my readers, and myself to God with all my heart..."
Watchman Nee

"The true people's memory is blessed!"
Compiled by Rozalia Makai

Translated by Eva Varga


Jesus is my life, strength, peace.
Jesus is my companion, my joy.
I trust in You. You are the Lord.
I do not have any fears any more because You live in me.
I do not have any fears any more because You live in me.

Jesus lives! Halleluja!!!


Some experience with ill people by Istvan Gazdag

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