So many of you have been praying much for us over these past months
of far-flung ministries, and I feel it is due to you to let you know
how wonderfully the Lord has answered your prayers. It has indeed
been a time of tremendous demands and opportunities, but, once
again, we have a glowing testimony to the Lord's faithfulness and
mercy. It is quite impossible to give a full account of these first
three months of the year in the Far East, and we feel reticent in
speaking about it at all lest, on the one hand, our motives should
be misunderstood and, on the other hand, Satan should react to
injury. It is not boasting, but just giving you occasion to
'Spontaneous expansion' is a term which has gained currency in the
realm of Christian enterprise. It is a fascinating idea and
captivates the imagination. It is the one thing more than any other
which is desired and sought. The defining of it may result in
conflicting conceptions and interpretations. To be absolutely true
to the very words, surely it means that kind of expansion and growth
which cannot be attributed - in the first place - to human effort,
organization, machinery, institutions, publicity, propaganda,
business acumen, financial support, etc., but is just the organic
expression of life, and that, in this connection, the mighty
life of the Holy Spirit. In spite of rocks, storms, blasts, and many
inimical and opposing forces, human and satanic, it just goes on
expanding, multiplying, increasing, and growing. Without noise,
display, or demonstration, the greatest and most persistent
opposition is made as though it did not exist - in the long run and
ultimate issue. There is "the hiding of his power" so that, while
very great difficulties and opposition are overcome, it is never as
by an earthquake, cataclysm, or display. The power of the Spirit is
so great that He never has to call attention to it, and even those
most closely related are left wondering as to what He has done and
how He did it.
It is a wonderful thing to be in the way of these 'goings of God'.
In our own case and this ministry the history of these past
thirty years has been very much like that. There could not have been
less of the natural factors and features which men would regard as
essential to the growth which has so silently taken place; from
something so small and local to something which has reached
literally to the ends of the earth and into all nations; something
to which people of God, servants of God, in so many different places
and connections, bear testimony as to its spiritual helpfulness. On
the other hand, we have wondered whether anything could have more
opposition in every form, human and satanic.
But this is not about ourselves. We have just returned from a
further three months in the Far East, and there, once more, we have
beheld "the wonderful works of God". Day after day in continuous
sessions we have been privileged to minister to some five hundred
and more hand-picked and specially selected Christian (Chinese)
workers; and night after night to about 2,000 to 2,500 believers and
workers. We have, in addition, spent a whole week in visiting
assemblies in many places, sometimes three or four in a day, where
the believers, radiant in Christ, awaited our arrival and eagerly
devoured the ministry. All this work and these assemblies - ranging
in numbers from one to sixteen hundred - have 'spontaneously' arisen
and are spontaneously growing. A principle and maxim of the servant
of God who was His instrument in the beginning of this work - even
when it was growing very greatly - was 'Try to keep things small.
Never try to make the work big. If it is of God it will grow in
spite of everything. We must fill the trenches with water. If it is
not of God we do not want it.' That principle is held to and
enunciated today. I refrain from giving many details or even a
general presentation of this work, for publicity is dangerous. Our
range of ministry was the Philippines, Formosa, and Hong Kong, but
the work reaches wider ranges.
No work or believers could have had greater opposition, or have been
made to suffer more than those related to this work. Politically,
spiritually, and - grievous to say - from Christian bodies, it has
suffered almost unbelievably, but on it goes by the momentum of
inherent spiritual life, by the power of the Spirit of Life.
If the secrets are sought, we would say unhesitatingly and with deep
knowledge that they are four.
1. The deep inward work of the Cross in the life of the believers,
individually and collectively.
2. The sovereignty and government of the Holy Spirit in all
direction and government.
3. A true and clear conception and expression of the Church as the
Body of Christ, a spiritual organism on heavenly ground.
4. "The fellowship of his sufferings", a counting of all things as
loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, a life of
sacrifice and abandon to His interests and glory.
If the question is asked 'Is there no organization in such a great
work?', we say at once, Yes, there is, and it is as near perfect as
anything we have known. But, there is a difference. The
'organization' (if you must use that word) never produced or
preceded the work or the life. It is just the order into
which life must be directed to prevent confusion. A garden full and
overflowing with living organisms requires direction and control to
make it beautiful, but you do not begin with your controls and then
try - by means of them - to get life. When someone referred
to the order in their work and used the word "organization", a
leading responsible brother just quietly said 'But we are not
conscious of the "organization", we are only conscious of that which
makes it necessary'.
Well, it is a joy in these times to be in that which has ever been
our vision and prayer, albeit fraught with such cost, a work for
which the Spirit of God takes responsibility. May it be preserved
unsullied and unspoiled.
We do most deeply thank all of you for the faithful prayer-support
and encompassing during these weeks of such heavy demands,
physically and spiritually, and we are so happy to say - 'You have
not prayed in vain'!
Within a few days of our return we were launched into the Easter
conference at Honor Oak. This was a time marked by the presence and
blessing of the Lord in a very real way. The numbers were larger
than ever. A considerable number of countries were represented. In
addition to friends from various parts of England, Scotland, Wales
and Ireland, there were those from Germany, Holland, Denmark,
France, Finland, Switzerland, India, China, etc.
The Lord led us to circle round the question of Isaiah 53:1, "To
whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?" Through the eleven
meetings we considered the various applications of the Cross which
secure and provide the ground upon which the arm of the Lord can be
When we came to the end we felt that, in a very real way, that arm
had been revealed to us over that season, and we were living in the
good of its fulfilment in the case of God's Beloved Son, the
suffering, but now exalted Servant of Jehovah. Surely the great need
of our time is a new revealing of that mighty arm, and, just as
surely, if God has His ground, He will reveal it. We have
seen that to be true in these recent months.
Again, warm thanks for all your prayer and fellowship.
Yours in the grace of our Lord Jesus,