John So Testimony - Manila Gathering, March 1990
Well, this time when I came to the Philippines, I never
dreamed that the things would happen this way. But in such a situation like
this, I think we have to leave it to the Lord’s sovereignty. As our brother has
shared, and I appreciate his word very much, I also hope that our sharing here
is not for anyone to be able to take any sides, regardless of who is right and
who is wrong. I think the ground of the church is not for any church to take any
sides, right? Because a church or the churches should be standing on the ground
of oneness. So I do appreciate our brother’s word. And I have prepared a little
outline here knowing that tonight I have no choice but to share something
concerning the matter. I will try my best to just follow the outline.
We all know the ministry of brother Witness Lee for many years. I’m quite surprised that this book came out [Fermentation of the Present Rebellion]. This is the first time I saw it—in Manila, I mean 2 days ago. I hope it is not the ministry, you know. I’m very sorry that due to my being here, you all had to spend 8 long hours to watch the videos. I believe it is a real suffering to all the saints. In the recent past two years I have been unfortunately branded as, even as, a “minister of Satan”, as a “wolf”, a “false brother”, even 1 John chapter 2, the “Antichrist” was referred to me; I’m a “rebellious one”, a “conspirator”, a kind of conspirator, a “dishonest man”, a “pretender”, and more. Therefore, I am being quarantined. Right, I am being quarantined. And I am thankful to the Lord that in spite of all this, you’re still here willing to hear what I have to say. I mean without fear of being contaminated. I think the Lord will be able to disinfect you. Please bear with me, I really have a very hard time to prepare this. The Lord knows my heart. If I didn’t have to do it tonight, I wish I didn’t have to do it. I can testify this before the Lord.
Yet I am forced to do it. It was at your request and partially also at Witness Lee’s request through his challenge that encourage me to say a few words. Brother Lee said he waited two years to do this, I only have less than two days. So I hope that these few words will settle this matter once for all. I don’t think it’ll take 8 hours, let’s aim at 80 minutes. Let’s try to make it short and to the point. Really it is impossible to talk about this book and about 8 hours of video in a couple of hours. It is really hard. Let’s come right to the thing here, let me see where that outline is, ---I would like maybe to just go through brother Lee’s outline, you know, it says the rebellion began to ferment from Stuttgart in 1986. Well, what I would like to do is just give you the chronological events of what took place.
I will only deal briefly with things concerning myself, concerning Stuttgart, Europe, things which I personally know quite well. I don’t know, and I am not familiar, or thoroughly familiar, with what went on in Hong Kong. I really do not know and I cannot say anything in details. And I didn’t know exactly what happened and what took place in Anaheim in the very beginning. So I cannot speak for brother John Ingalls. And I cannot speak for brother Joseph Fung. I really cannot. And when things happened in Rosemead, I really have no idea what was going on there until I read the literature that they had put out. So all of these places do not concern me. I wrote down this sentence here, the last sentence: I like to just read it to you. I did not even know that we had ever formed together an international conspiracy ring until Witness Lee said so. I am quite surprised. Okay, Witness Lee claims that rebellion and conspiracy started to ferment in Stuttgart in 1986. I’m going to start at this point.
Using his own term, really the fermentation started at Stuttgart in 1986. made by the coming of 5 brothers sent by Witness Lee and sent by his office, Philip Lee. Ironically, things didn’t start with us, really did not start with us. At that time Witness Lee was invited by us to come to Germany and we were all expecting brother Lee to come, really. But to our disappointment, brother Lee didn’t come. He said he was busy and instead he and his office sent 5 brothers to come to Stuttgart. I think brother Ray Graver came, brother Benson Phillips, brother Minoru Chen, Brother Ken Unger, and Brother Dan Towle. The Lord knows when we were in disappointment, we brothers had had fellowship just before the brothers came, and I told the brothers, and all the brothers could testify for me, that we should receive these brothers just as Witness Lee himself. We shouldn’t make any difference, we should not make any difference.
So the 5 brothers came. Now, of course, speaking now, you have to realize I’m speaking retrospectively—I’m looking back. At that time we thought their intention was to give a conference, even the “one accord” conference that Witness Lee had just given in the elder’s meeting in Anaheim. So we welcomed them. But to our surprise, this 5 brothers themselves proclaimed that their burden was not the conference, but in the afternoon fellowship from the leading brothers from Europe. There were at least a hundred brothers present there. And they told us that their burden—and every afternoon from 3:00 to 5:30, 6:00 we had fellowship with these 5 brothers concerning the leading of the ministry office—to be one with the ministry office. And I do have the tapes of these meetings. They were on record and since the matter is opened up, I would certainly request the brothers in Stuttgart to transcribe all these messages and make it available to the public. In all these afternoons I was there present maybe just a few times and almost at the end sometimes at the end of these meetings. In these afternoons the brothers’ burden was very strong to propagate and to promote the ministry office, and at that time, really, none of the leading brothers had any idea what the office is; at one point, somebody was very ignorantly and innocently asking, “Well, what is the office, anyway?” And everybody was just laughing, you know, we don’t really know what is the office. Of course, we found out that the office is really brother Lee’s son, Philip Lee.
You know, it is open information for everybody perhaps, except to the brothers in Europe. Now, this was the motive of these brothers’ coming. This is not my judgment—this was their proclamation. They said it themselves.
At that time my understanding of the office of Witness Lee, the business office of Witness Lee, was exactly what Witness Lee publicly proclaimed it to be. “It is an office to take care of his tapes, to take care of printing books, and to take care of distributing books to serve all the churches.” That was my understanding. That was really my understanding. And for some reason, there was a lot of problem in Anaheim in the home office of the Living Stream in Anaheim. And it was really at that time not so nice. The fellowship there between the churches in Orange County and the office was not very nice, and I happened to be in one of the meetings, that must be in 1982, and Witness Lee was sharing quite strongly to all the serving ones, especially regarding the Chinese work and the serving ones in the LSM office. And obviously there was a conflict between the office, which is brother Lee’s office, which is also brother Lee’s son, and many serving ones there. And brother Lee again emphasized in those meetings—He said, “Should my private cook in my house also be a spiritual person? What if I hire an unbeliever to print books, this is my business office. My printer doesn’t have to be a spiritual person. And I do have the right to hire my son to be manager of my office to take care of this business for me.” I fully agreed. At that time, I really said, “Fair enough, fair enough.” The Lord knows. And in fact one of those afternoons—I wish they had printed this out—because they did print out what I shared in these pages in page 21-25. If you say this is the beginning of rebellion I do ask you to read every word of what I shared there. I’m glad they printed it out. I really am glad. Because if you read what I shared here word for word, I was not at all rebelling., I would challenge you to find one rebellious word here. In fact, I was supporting these brothers according to my understanding of what the business office of Witness Lee is. I’m glad it was printed out.
At that time, I really meant what I said according to what my understanding of what the business office is. And I do understand a little bit, the problematic between the office and many serving ones. Witness Lee did say in his videos that I married his son-in-law’s sister. That means I’m somewhat a distant relative of Witness Lee. So I do know a little bit background and I did understand why there was such problems, and I fully agree with Witness Lee that if it is just a business side to print books, to put out tapes, you know, we brothers should accept it. And cooperate. In fact, I did openly say and brother Lee printed it out and I stand to what I have said in those days. And I still meant it today. That in the earlier years in Germany we had enjoyed marvelous liberty to print books, to translate books. In fact in 1981 when the Irving office was being built, the brothers in Germany asked me, “John, maybe you should go and ask brother Lee to see if they want the publishers in Germany to be all under one administration, because we don’t want to be doing our own thing. Really we don’t. I went to brother Lee that summer and in his own home I shared what the brothers asked me to tell Witness Lee. Brother Lee says, “No, no, no, no, you are doing a good job. Go ahead.” So I really appreciated that.
Well, the question is this: I was accused here [in the book] of pretending to be one with them. but really against them. Tonight let me say a word. I don’t want to vindicate, but I just like to share at least the way we look at it. Everything has two sides. I’m sorry to say it’s not that I’m pretending, it is because the LSM office really has a double standard. There is a public declaration that the office is only for the business side to print books, to duplicate tapes, to serve the churches to send out on the business side. But to my realization, I began to realize that there is another aspect expected of us. During the visit of these two brothers, I’m sorry—these 5 brothers in Stuttgart, two of them stayed with me in my home—two of them. And these brothers began to somehow fellowship with me concerning how that the office is really brother Philip Lee and that brother Philip Lee is the closest and most intimate co-worker of Witness Lee. And that I need to get into the fellowship and that our brother, Witness Lee, he needs his son. And almost after every meeting in Stuttgart, there was a long-distance call to report everything that is happening to the office. To the office.
I was, in short, expected to do the same. I told the brothers in a very good way—we were not fighting—I said, “Brothers, I’m sorry, in short, I just cannot do that. You have the grace to do it, that’s fine, but I just cannot do that.” I told the brothers maybe some other German brothers, like Jorn Urlenbac could do it. I was told, “No, no, no, you are the right person to do it. I said, “Thank you, but I can’t do it.” This to my realization caused problems. This had become a problem. Looking back, it had become a problem. I didn’t realize it at the time, but as time went by, we had problems. Listen to this, dear saints. When I encouraged the brothers to follow the office and to cooperate with the office 100%, I meant it. And we did. We did. The office wanted us to stop printing books and send all of the camera-ready pages to Irving to be printed and then they will print the book and send it back to us. Which according to our feeling, the Germans are very logical people, you know, it was not logical because we have the whole facilities right there in Stuttgart, right next to it, you know, it’s just like in the kitchen, you knead the dough—after you knead the dough to make the bread—the oven is right there, you pull it out and you bake the bread. But we can knead the dough, but we can’t bake the bread. We have to send the dough, the kneaded dough, somewhere to South Africa, I don’t know where, to America, and then they will bake the bread and send it to us, you know. For a German mind this is a little bit illogical, you know the Germans, right? They are very systematic, they are very logical. We did it, believe it or not, we did it. In fact, at that time, some brothers are slightly irritated. I told them, I said, “brothers, listen. “All the books bears Witness Lee’s name, he is the author. It does not matter where the books are printed.” You may not believe we sent within a year and five months, four thousand, one hundred some pages of camera-ready pages to be printed. We did not get an answer, we did not get at that time one page printed, nothing…nothing…!
I’m not following the chronological order any more or what I’ve written down. Maybe it’s better that way, in fact, brothers, listen, in spite of our hearing nothing from them, the brothers wrote a letter to Philip Lee on March 2, 1987. You see, when I say follow the office I meant what Witness Lee publicly said about the office—I do it 100%. The brothers wrote to Philip Lee himself because Witness Lee says, “Please don’t come to me concerning the books. Concerning the books, you all have to go to my son, Philip Lee.” So they write, “Dear brother Philip: We would like to fellowship with you briefly regarding the future publication of the ministry in European languages here.” You could read this. You could really read this. In spite of sending already at that time so many pages and yet we heard not one word, the brothers called. Nothing happened. No acknowledgment of receipt. We still sent a letter to brother Philip Lee. Let me just read a little bit. Okay we reported to them all our activities, pending until that time, because we were already in the program we want to finish that and then we want to ask them what is next. What should we do next?
In point 5 I would just like to read that. “We are concluding the translation work of the following books which were started earlier and we hope to complete them by the end of April, Life-study of John, Message 1 to 51. Life-study of Hebrews, Message 1 to 69, Life-study of Romans, Message 1 to 31, Life-study of Philippians, Message 1 to 31. We would appreciate your fellowship with us concerning the books we should start working on after this time. If you have the time to see us, we would be happy to meet with you for further fellowship. We hope to hear from you soon.” The brothers are even willing to go all the way to Anaheim to see this brother to coordinate with them concerning the books. No reply. This is written on March 2, 1987 until this very day we did not receive the reply from this person, from the manager of the office. So you cannot say that on one hand I say I am for the ministry office, on the other hand, I am not doing it. But I like to let you know something more is expected of us. Let me come back to this.
So here I would say, here is the proof, this letter, in our sending of 4,100 pages of camera-ready copies and kept our mouths shut, not complaining, waiting until the books will come—nothing came. Nothing came. Okay. Witness Lee then asks a question in page 38 here. Let me read page 38. Witness Lee quoted my saying, “All the brothers in Europe could testify of the strong promotion of your office when the brothers came in.” Of course, this was later on, in retrospect. And then he compared the _____________. He says, “You see, he said he is so one with the office and now he says the 5 brothers are promoting strongly the office.”
Well that was another kind of promotion that we later realized. Witness Lee should know the fluctuation. Why? He knows why. My goodness, if he knows about the consideration of the whole earth, my goodness, this is a little matter. He should know why. But, I’m sorry, I don’t know why he didn’t put it down here, you know. Well, let me tell you of the story why.
Later maybe. Let me continue. Okay, I’ll tell you why. Report went back because I refused to do what they were doing. In my view it has nothing to do with the office, because to me the office is just purely business. According to Witness Lee’s public declaration, I go according to that. But these brothers are telling me that his son is his closest and most intimate co-worker. I say I never heard that. But these two brothers assured me that brother Lee doesn’t say this publicly. Well, I say, if I haven’t heard it, I just haven’t heard it. Anyway, a report was brought back. Somebody wasn’t happy with me. I was happy with everybody, but somebody wasn’t happy with me.
I went to the summer training with an open heart to seek fellowship with brother Philip Lee. Because the two brothers shared with me that our brother desired to have deep fellowship with me, I jokingly, at that time says, “Well, no need for deep, you know, just fellowship, you know. It’s very good.” So I went there to Irving training in 1986, really desiring, seeking for fellowship and Ray Graver promised me he is going to set up a time, but it never happened. I kept asking Ray Graver—but nothing happened. So I went back without seeing anything. I mean having fellowship with this particular brother.
Then that summer training, I was asked by brother Lee through Andrew Yu to go help with the training to take the advanced class or something like that. That’s not important. But I really on one hand couldn’t make it, on the other hand, I do have some other reservations. Everybody has reservation. Why shouldn’t I? But, nevertheless, I feel since our brother is asking me to go, I like to go on one hand to see what the Lord is doing there, on the other hand, to learn what the Lord is doing and thirdly, to help whatever the brother wants me to help with. I went there. I passed by Manila, I think you remember, 1986, something like October. I passed by a few days, and I was encouraging you all to go to Taipei, right? I don’t know if you remember that.
I wasn’t opposing or anything fermenting within me. I’m sorry to say, dear saints, I think there is a plot, a conspiracy, there, not on our part, but on somebody else’s part to bring the churches in Europe and myself under a certain leading—under the, sorry to say, the hidden function of the office. That I must confess I do not, I just cannot fully agree. But that doesn’t mean that if I don’t agree, I oppose. I went to Taipei. I went to Taipei. I joined the door knocking. Okay, I enjoyed it. You might not believe me, but I really enjoyed it. In fact, I fully submitted to the group. You can ask my group leaders, I baptized a few people, really. And I am quite fond of that whole group. But when I was there, listen, one major leading brother in Taipei every time he saw me, he told me that the statistics were manipulated. That’s the word I think he used. I said, “Are you sure brother?” He said, “Yes.” I said then, “Why then don’t you go and see Witness Lee? If it’s manipulated, you have to tell Witness Lee.” He told me, it’s very hard to see him. I tried several times, but I can’t get through. So that makes me a little concerned.
Of course, I’m not a piece of wood, brothers, I’m a brother, right? I’m not only a person, I’m serving the Lord and if that was really so, I’m concerned. Don’t say I’m criticizing—I’m concerned.
Well, I went one time to see brother Jim Batten. I love him. He is a very fine young man; I’m really very fond of this brother. I went to him. Of course, I shared with him a little bit of my concern. Brother, wouldn’t you share your concern to hear such a thing from a major leading brother there? My goodness, if we are doing and nobody dares to say anything, my, your work must be a super, super, super, super work. Let me turn to that page, page 40. And page 139, brother Jim Batten’s testimony is here. I just want to show you, I cannot go into every testimony, okay. I like to. I like to and I want to. If possible, Let me go to that page there, page 40.
Brother Lee was talking about the fermenting, you know, I’m beginning to criticize. I’m beginning to oppose the training, etc. Let me read to you [from Fermentation]. “In that visit, John stayed in Taipei for ten days. During his stay, he said what the training did in the way of baptizing people could be done in Taipei, but if such a thing were done in Germany, the people there would baptize them instead. “I did say that believe it or not. I did say that. But I’m saying it out of my own experience in Germany.
When we went door knocking and tried to baptize people in the bathtub, my goodness, two days later a newspaper came out warning everybody that a group of people are going about door knocking and are going to put you in the bathtub in Eve’s costume. Eve’s costume—that means with nothing on. And warning the public to be careful about those people who are going about and going to dump you with no clothes on in the bathtub. I’m glad they couldn’t identify us. My goodness, if they could identify us, that’s their baptizing us, and this says they’re baptizing us. I explain to the brothers and sisters, I said, “How many times do you take a bath with clothes on? Take a shower with clothes on?” Of course, do you expect this unbeliever—you talk about—“Oh, I’m going to baptize you in the bathtub.”—do you expect them to think right away they’re going in there with their clothes on.? Immediately, they say, “What are you going to do with me there?” Okay.
The Lord knows, I’m not criticizing. We already had baptized people in the bathtub 20 years ago when we were in Germany. When I went to Germany we had no place to baptize people—the best place is to baptize them in the bathtub. I went to East Germany and that was before the new way came, we baptized five people in the bathtub. East Germany. I am not against baptizing people in the bathtub. Don’t think I am. Okay. Then here is the point. He also says, “John So also said that what brother Lee was doing in the training in Taipei was just for Taipei, but that he (John So) had to consider the situation on the whole world.” My goodness. You think I am stupid to say that. If you get into the context what I’m trying to tell our dear brother, young brother Jim Batten, is that this may work in Taipei, but we have to consider the situation of each part of the earth, of the world, may not be the same. Suppose you go to a Moslem country, Saudi Arabia, you go door knocking, you might lose your head! That’s what I mean. But you see, if you manipulate just one word, my goodness, you will think, “My, John So thought Witness Lee is just caring for that little Taipei, but John So cares for the whole world.”
And that is printed here. Yeah, it is fermenting you see. Fermenting John So is opposing the training. I’m sorry, brother, but if this is a testimony against me, I think they will have to deal with it before the Lord. It’s printed, sent to the whole world, Okay. It is sent to the whole world
Jim Batten further said that I considered the new way as a Rolls Royce, as a Rolls Royce, page 42. Yeah, that’s right. Let me take a look at the Rolls Royce. Oh Lord Jesus. He said, “John So told me”—and that was already much later—when they went back to Europe—I can’t even remember that time. I think that must be in 1987 sometime. I can’t remember the time. I’m sorry. I went to Europe, I went back to Europe. And I went back to England in those days.
In England. Especially Blackpool was fully destroyed. I’m going to go to that point. Okay, I’m going to go to that point, soon. Was fully destroyed to the ground. Through the establishing of the LSM office. And by that time nobody cared for the church in Blackpool. And nobody cared for those brothers, those poor brothers in Blackpool. And there they are…door knocking, and boasting how many thousands got baptized in California. If brother Jim Batten would be honest before the Lord, and I have witnesses there. Eddie Wong was there. Some other brothers were there. I was very considerate of him. And I had no intention to convince him of anything. In fact, I explained to him, I said, “Brother, go and door knock. That’s fine. That’s good. But do not forget about our brothers who were in much trouble in Blackpool. Please take care also of these brothers in Blackpool..” And I just made an illustration what is more important? A best car, you know Rolls Royce is the best car. I didn’t compare the new way with Volkswagon or you know, Fiat, Manila jeepneys, you know. I compared it to Rolls Royce, my goodness, what is better than Rolls Royce, right? Don’t you want to have a Rolls Royce? But, I said, “No matter how good it is, your body, your health, is more important.” My! You are criticizing the new way! Brothers, let us be logical. Don’t believe in such a way that you become superstitious. Just anything that doesn’t sound that you are for it, you are blowing cold wind. You say the new way is Rolls Royce. What should I say? A chariot, a heavenly chariot? Okay, I can say it. You know Elijah went with a heavenly chariot of fire and is gone. Okay. If you think that’s better than a Rolls Royce, well, compare it. This is not the way. Really, brothers this is not the way. Let us be normal. Let’s be able to talk in a normal way. My, that is already fermenting, oh my, you see. And that is a testimony written here to prove that I am rebelling. It’s fermenting in me. Our brother Na Ning said that you’re not the jury. I’m going to consider you tonight as the jury. Whether you like it or not, Na Ning. I’m going to consider you as a jury and I’m not afraid to be judged by you here. One day I’m going to be judged by the Lord anyway. And let’s bring this book to the Lord, and let Him judge. Just by this alone they want to prove that rebellion and conspiracy was fermenting within me. I don’t like to talk about these things—the Lord knows. I had a hard time preparing this crazy thing.
Anyway, anyway, at least, I hope they will correct the mistake. Maybe they will find other witnesses that are correct. Okay. They can always put another piece of paper into the book and say, “Correction, that witness is wrong.” Otherwise, you should write in here, “With false testimonies; maybe it’s a misprint.”
Let’s go back to my experience in Taipei. I’m not through with that yet. When I was there in Taipei—this book mentioned about Howard Higashi and Lin Rung—they invited me for dinner. Shortly before I was leaving, do you think I would be so stupid if I am going to rebel, I’m going to tell them right off in their face. I’m rebelling? I’m not that stupid yet. I am not that clever but I still got some sense in me, you know, I was trying to think back, ‘What did I do there with Lin Rung and Howard Higashi?” Then I began to realize, “Maybe, I told them that my burden—(because I saw so many high schoolers) I just had a little suggestion that maybe it would be important and quite easy to gain all the high schoolers also.”
My you are not in a position—you are not following the burden of the ministry now.” My goodness, you cannot expect me to go to Taipei without opening my mouth and say a little bit of my feeling. I am not a piece of wood here. Okay, then because of some unfinished business I had to do for my brother by the Lord’s sovereignty, I had to go back to Germany. I was very polite. I went to ask one leading brother, I’m leaving.
“No, you should go and tell that brother you’re leaving.” I went to that brother, that brother says, “Yes, good that you tell me. You should go to that brother and I went to that brother and I said, “I’m leaving”.
Yes, you have to call the United States, you have to call brother Philip Lee and tell him that you are leaving.” By that time I said, “I came here freely, I go back freely, you know. I’m a free man, my goodness.” So I told Howard Higashi very clearly—I said, “Brother, I thought Witness Lee’s burden is to tear down the hierarchy.” If I am conspiring, if I am rebelling, I won’t tell that to Howard Higashi. It’s because I’m not, and I hope that brother Lee would know what’s going on. Maybe I’m wrong. Okay. Boy, that must be a big conspiracy—I don’t know…I don’t know what they thought—but that must be a terrible conspiracy. Or rebellion. Okay. I said goodbye. I didn’t call Anaheim, my goodness, you know. I’m sorry, Sometimes I am really a little bit rough and tough. I don’t know why, but you know, I’m a human being, okay. But within my heart I have no intention to rebel against anybody. Okay, then I went back.
I that time Witness Lee did say he also sovereignly was sick and had to go back to the United States. I went back to Germany. Also sovereignly. When I went back to Germany, my goodness, a big turmoil was going on in England. In England. A big turmoil happened in England. I made a copy of some letters here.
Oh Lord Jesus, I made a copy of some letters. What happened, I was really shocked. You know, in the summer of 1986 about 25 saints from England went to the Living Stream office in Irving to serve. And I encouraged them to go. Can you imagine that? They were there for approximately 2 months. When they came back, they began to say strange things. Stuttgart is resisting and John So is resisting the activities of the ministry. And John So is controlling. And that we are withholding tapes of the Living Stream Ministry and not distributing it to other churches. My goodness. The whole church in Blackpool and the whole…the saints -- all the churches in England became chaotic. Who did this chaos? Where did that storm come from? Certainly not from Stuttgart. It fermented, I think, in Irving. There was a conspiracy in Irving to go back and destroy us. Who was conspiring? Me? Conspiring? Rebelling? And I didn’t know. I even went to Taipei to try to help. And I accidentally came back to Stuttgart. And then the brother came and told me, “And this brother wrote a letter full of respect—a five page letter. Let me just read some excerpts. You may have it—you may like to have copies of them. Brother Bill Kirkham of England then wrote a letter to Witness Lee. This letter was written 11 of November, 1986. This is all in 1986. Okay. Yes, Witness Lee is right, something is fermenting, but the problem, the trouble is, the question is: WHAT? What is fermenting, my goodness? And who is conspiring? All of a sudden they drop a bomb in England. Listen, Witness Lee--he said in himself here--he said he begged me to go to Taipei, okay? He begged me to go to Taipei. And I went.
And then when I’m in Taipei, they dropped the bomb in England against me and against the church in Stuttgart, and against the publishers in Germany. Saying that since they’re not cooperating, the blessing has not come to England. And they [LSM] sat up one brother who also testified here [in Fermentation]. I’m going to spare him tonight okay? I don’t want to be a bad guy telling everybody. This one brother really was the most problematic one in the whole of England as the head.
I better calm down a little bit. I think I’m going to drink. I was shocked. I was shocked. The brother, Bill Kirkham, wrote a letter to brother Lee and sent me a copy. He sent me a copy. He said, “Dear brother John, I’m enclosing a copy of the letter which I have just sent to brother Lee. These matters have been troubling me so much that I felt I had no alternative, but to write to our brother. I hope that brother Lee may have time to write to help clear up this situation. If you have any fellowship regarding it, that you feel would be helpful to me, I would surely appreciate it. I strongly pray that nothing will come between the churches in Europe to cause damage to the Lord’s testimony, your brother in Christ, Bill Kirkham”.
Let me ask our dear brother Lee, who is conspiring? Yes, somebody’s conspiring. Yes, rebellion is fermenting, but I like to know where it is? Where’s the source of it?
He wrote brother Lee five pages. Let me just read to you. The first part is about that dear young man, who was set up to be the head. They were so concerned for the LSM…oh they thought they got the wrong guy there…there’s so many good guys. Why you got the wrong guy? Not because they are jealous…it was because they were concerned. And then the second point is about all the lies spread against me, against the church in Stuttgart and about the German publishers. That’s the second point. The third point—let me read to you the third point. I’m going to read to you the third point. “In all the years of the Lord’s recovery in Europe, we have never had any shadow of division between here and Germany, but now we are hearing things that will cause such a division.”
I’m not sure whether or not I should mention the fourth category because it concerns brother Phillip Lee. [Bill Kirkham writes:] - “but I think that I must stress that I have never had, nor ever will have any problem or personal feeling against brother Philip, nor have I ever had reason to have had.” (I am reading it like this to show you how careful our brother is, because he is desperate.) “In your recent letter to us in Great Britain you told us, you brother Lee, told us that we should ‘not follow a man’, nor should there be ‘any intrinsic element of exalting any human being or promoting any movement (this is in Witness Lee’s writing) so that the enemy will have no ground to damage the Lord’s recovery with discord any longer.’ But now here in England the situation is just contrary to what you have said. It is being strongly promoted that we must follow brother Phillip Lee absolutely 100 % and while serving in Living Stream affairs, we should serve in complete obedience without asking any questions. And it was shared that the church life is not up to the standard of the kingdom, but the office is, so if you want to be in the kingdom life, you should come and serve in the office. Among the things I have heard I would like to share with you two or three examples. In general, fellowship with the saints concerning how we should serve, it was being promoted that we should serve like the saints do in the Living Stream office, that is, when brother Phillip speaks, the saints drop everything and run.” This letter, you can read it, it was sent to Witness Lee. The brother was more blunt and frank and straightforward knowing that, well, not knowing what’s going to happen, he might get it in his head.
(Continued reading of letter:) “to help to put the point across more clearly, maybe I should relate the following story to you. This story was used to promote this:
“While working in the tunnel in Taipei, there was a problem with water considered by brother Philip Lee to be a leak and not a problem of ground water. After digging, and searching for some time to discover the source of the water, brother Ray Graver asked a young brother from Manchester, England, what he now thought the problem was, in order to test him. The brother thought, ‘Well, it was ground water, that may be.’ Ray told him, “If Philip Lee says it’s a leak, then it’s a leak.”
This brother in England, I’m sorry to say, he is not very tactful, you know. Oh, he shouldn’t have—if I were to write this letter I probably would eliminate this. But nevertheless, he’s honest. At least he wrote it.
(Reading of letter continues:) “This was an example of how we should follow absolutely. Rather, Ray also told Chris Lee that you told him to do everything that Philip said. There is a young brother in the church here who recently related to someone that he had been told that the thing now is to follow Phillip Lee 100%.” Etc., etc.
I think that’s enough reading. Because it’s too much junk. If you cannot take that, are you fermenting? Conspiring? Rebelling? You judge. Now you are not the jury, you’re the judge. I let you be also the judge. If you want to execute me, you judge if I am conspiring, you can come down and hang me.
What was the reply [to this letter from Bill Kirkham]? I’m sorry, he [Witness Lee] forced me to have to say this. Oh, Lord Jesus. What was the reply? Witness Lee replied with two pages. This is the first page. The second page is the signature. Okay. This is his reply. Let me read to you the reply to such a grievous, to such a grave letter:
[Witness Lee reply to Bill Kirkham] “Thank you for the fellowship conveyed in your letter dated 11/Nov/1986 which caught me one day before I left Anaheim for Taipei in November. Sorry, I couldn’t find a time to fellowship with you in answering your letter during the four weeks I was there in Taipei. I came back to Anaheim five days ago and am ready to go to Irving tomorrow for winter training. After that I will be back to stay in Anaheim till the beginning of February, then I will go back to Taipei again for three months or more to complete the Chinese Recovery Version of the New Testament. Your prayers and the church’s will be much appreciated. This morning I got some time to fellowship about the points in your letter. Above all, I would like to say it would be wise and profitable not to make an issue of anything. However, one thing solid I would like to let you know: the Living Stream does feel burdened to set up a little branch office in London for the distribution of both the video and audio tapes in UK and the continent. Although the Living Stream is not organized with any church, we earnestly expect that all churches, especially the nearby churches, would render much help in the carrying out of our purpose in the ministry of the Lord. Since brother Chris Lee came to the summer training in Irving and rendered some help in working on the tapes, and since he does have a heart with a burden to carry out this purpose, the Living Stream has asked him to start in this matter in London.” (Which was really in Blackpool—it was started in Blackpool.} “I do look to the Lord that this could be a real blessing for the furtherance of the Lord’s move in His recovery in European countries. Your brother in Christ, Witness Lee.”
What would you think if you received such a letter? In the meantime, the whole church in Blackpool was destroyed to the ground. Destroyed to the ground. One sister wept continuously for eight to nine months. Nothing was done to rectify any situation and meanwhile they were still boasting [about] continuing at that time. And am I rebelling?
Conspiring? Are we rebelling in Stuttgart? Only the Lord knows who is really conspiring. Oh, Lord Jesus. Meanwhile, still in 1986.
Our saints were in the training in Taipei. We sent about 25 to 30 young people there. They were the best of our young people. If we are conspiring, we wouldn’t send anybody there. I would send the worst of our young people. Of course, in the church life, everybody is the best, okay? They began to tell our young people [from Stuttgart]—the young people in Taipei--: “Stuttgart stinks like garlic. Don’t go back to Stuttgart.”
Listen, we sent our young people there to Taipei to be trained, not for you to tell them that they stink. Maybe they smell the fermenting there, their own fermenting. I don’t know if fermenting smells or not—I am not an expert, you know. They told our young people, “Don’t go back to Stuttgart. Stuttgart stinks like garlic.” That shocked our young people. That’s worse than my telling Jim Batten, you know that if you baptize people in Germany, they’re going to baptize you. What is worse, tell me? You judge. Na Ning, you challenged me tonight—you judge what is worse?
I never told people Taipei stinks. But they told our young people: “Stuttgart stinks.” Using this word: “stinks”—oh, my goodness. When I heard that, what did they smell when they came.to Stuttgart? The 5 brothers. Maybe they smelled something in Stuttgart, but at least if we stink, please tell me. But the German saints liked the stinking Stuttgart. They probably were “used” to the stink in Stuttgart so they came back. They wanted to come back. So they are disobedient now: “we tell you not to go back, yet you want to go back—you are really this bunch of rebellious people. They are contaminated by John So.”
So they want to go back, they want to go to the training in Irving on the way to stinking Stuttgart. They want to go to Irving training. Fine, you know, go. Even you said we stink, we still let them go to Irving. So the training in Taipei ended on the 15th. These dear young people were so tired out after the training, you know, digging and the full schedule—my goodness—they all lost weight. They want to rest in Anaheim. They made arrangement with the church in Anaheim to take them for hospitality. Al Knoch says, yes, praise the Lord. We’ll take you”. My, my, my. The office found out.
What? Anaheim is going to give hospitality to our young people and they already make plane arrangement to go to Anaheim. Authoritative word came down, “No, you cannot give hospitality to these saints from Europe.” Poor Al Knoch, he had to come there and says, “Sorry dear saints, we cannot give you hospitality.” You know Al Knoch, right? He was so embarrassed. Well, the saints said okay, then we will go straight to Irving. So they change the ticket again. Each time you change, you have to pay fifty dollars each, okay? And these people are not very rich, huh? Like the Filipinos here, right? So they change to go to Irving. Then word came again, “sorry, we cannot take you that early. You should just come one day before the training starts.” And they change again. A 150 dollars altogether each. Then they flew to Irving one day before the training starts.” And when they arrive there, in the office to register they were told, “we are not sure whether you could attend the training…come back tomorrow. By that time our young people are boiling already. You cannot realize, it’s not only fermenting, it’s boiling. It’s really boiling.
You know the Germans, right? You know the Germans. If they boil, they really boil. So they came the next day. “Okay, we’ll let you with a special red tag called the mercy seats, a disciplinary section, right in the back a red section. You have to sit there to show everybody you’re under discipline.” Now they are steaming—from fermenting to boiling to steaming. Do you think they can enjoy the training like that? Sometimes if it’s not the Lord that contains me, I’ll steam up.
One of our leading young brothers there says, “I demand to have an explanation?”
“I don’t know one brother said.” Ray Graver said, “I don’t know who made this arrangement.” What are you doing? Training, or are you playing? Maybe that’s part of the new way, I don’t know. I’ve never heard that before. That’s something new. Then one brother said this, Do you really want to know? Do you really want to know the reason?
“Ask John So.”
Ask John So? What did I do? And, if it’s really my fault, let me sit there and give me the red tag. What does this young people—these 35 young people—what do they have to do with me? I am not their father, I am not their commander-in-chief. I am not their source. I am not their apostle. Under such circumstances, brothers, tell me who of you have an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches? Jesse, would you have an ear to hear? Under such a circumstance? And I’m rebelling?
You don’t know when these saints came home, it was quite late already. When they came home to Stuttgart, they were just angry. And, I had to calm them down. And, I had to assure them that has nothing to do with the ministry of Witness Lee—but I guess I’m a little mistaken.
I can tell these stories inside out. I can even dream these stories when I am sleeping. Send a tape to our dear brother Lee with my compliments. I have nothing to hide. Too many things happened. Then brother Lee meanwhile had a time with brother Jorn and brother Roland—he printed that conversation here [in the book, Fermentation], I’m sorry he didn’t print out everything. He thought I sent brother Jorn to him, but I didn’t. You know, brother Jorn is a very wonderful but peculiar brother. So, brother sent me that confidential tape, you can read it for yourself. But it’s not complete.
In that tape brother Lee accused me of criticizing even the guards and he told me in that tape that I didn’t ask you to go to Taipei to be a teacher. I wanted to rescue you because if you don’t go to Taipei, after three years you will be completely useless. And even if you think you are a five-star general—my goodness, your weapons are old. Okay, that’s fine, you know. I’m not mad at that. And, I didn’t complain at that. I never thought I was a five-star general. My goodness, I’m not even a drill sergeant. You know what a drill sergeant is? It’s probably the lowest ranking officer. I’m not even that. And then accused me of fooling his son. I’m fooling His son. I’m making a fool of His son. My goodness, I said, “what on earth is happening?” I think he should print that. He forgot something, you know. There’s always a dot, dot, dot—he forgot to print it. He should have a good memory because he really said he had the best memory and I really agree.
I got the shock of my life. I was already shocked, but this thing shocked me a little bit more, okay? I thought I am already quite shocked, but then another shock wave came and I was shocked again. I wrote Witness Lee a letter. Remember, brothers, at that time, the Lord knows, I still respected brother Lee. But I am beginning also to boil. I am not a superman, you know. I am not the first class apostle that cannot shed tears. I wrote him a letter, and this is the letter. I wrote him a five-pages letter: one, two, three, four, and five. Four and a half pages, okay? To explain to him, and I did not expect an answer from him, because I still respected him. At that time, I still thought, maybe, he didn’t know exactly what was going on.
Let me backtrack a little bit before I go on, let me finish this, let me finish this. We can make a movie of this, you know. Forgive me, I have to let out some air, you know. I wrote him the letter. I answered quite a few of his charges. He showed this letter in the video. I didn’t see the video yet, because I don’t think I can stand to see it. But I know that this was shown. Out of five pages our dear brother showed five lines to give picture, to give a wrong picture. A wrong impression: “You see, you see, he changed, he changed. Look, he changed.” Why you just show five lines? I wrote five pages. If you want to show, show all the pages.
Then Witness Lee called me about two months later. This paper was written January 11, 1987. It was written there to him. When Witness Lee called me on the phone. That was the end of February. He said, “John,” Oh, the misunderstandings are so numerous, it is impossible to clear up.” I told brother Lee, “I wrote you this letter just to keep the record straight and that’s it. I don’t expect you to answer me.”
“Yeah, yeah, I knew you would say that, I know you would say that.”
That’s it. I was not going to make any more issue out of that. Something was definitely fermenting. But at that time, it was no longer just fermenting. I don’t know what’s happening. And I don’t know on which side it’s fermenting.
Let me stop there and backtrack a little bit, because brother Lee mentioned about that letter signed by all the brothers. He used that, you see. He said specifically, “John So” signed this letter with all those brothers. How come he changed?
Okay, coming back, just let me backtrack to 1986. I like to be as complete as possible and short. I wrote brother Lee in January of 1988. At that time I told him I was wrong in signing that letter. I violated my conscience. And, I explained to him why. Because when all the brothers, including a couple of brothers from Germany were there in the elders’ meeting, February of 1986. signing that letter, we brothers got together in Stuttgart and felt should we also follow the churches? And also sign such a letter? But we felt, “no it’s not necessary. If we are really one—we are really one. There’s no need to sign such a letter. And beside, people might think, you know, what? Do you belong to Witness Lee? They will misunderstand us. So we said, ‘no, no no, we shouldn’t sign it. It is not right.” That doesn’t mean we are against the one accord, okay.
Please, please, this is the whole trouble again—I want to say we are believing so much that just you say a little bit different, my goodness, you are against the one accord. Don’t be like this, please. Let’s learn something out of this. Don’t have a chicken heart. Do you know what a chicken heart is? How big? It’s a very small heart. It’s a very small heart. And then if you still have the cardiosclerosis, that’s it. That’s the end. If you have a chicken heart, enlarge your heart, please. Let’s enlarge our heart a little bit. What happened? What happened?
The five brothers, and finally one of them suggested at the end, “Let’s write such a letter to Witness Lee. My goodness, they are promoting so much the one accord at that time—it’s not that we are not one accord, okay? I think that we are just as much one accord at that time, but we just feel it is not so right to sign it. So, we brothers said, “Let’s sign it”. We signed it. We signed it. I wrote Witness Lee and said, “ For the sake of one accord we signed it, but really it is not according to our feeling to sign such a letter.” I don’t mean we are against the oneness, okay? Please, you know that is the whole problem, right? We always try to misunderstand one another instead of understanding, huh? So we signed, we signed.
My goodness, when problems came in Anaheim and in the United States in December 1987, we saw the videos, we saw the videos.
Brother Lee told the brothers, I want to remind you that this is your pledge. The good-will letter becomes a pledge. If any of you elders here remember watching that video, Witness Lee pulls that letter out in the midst of the problem there, please, you pledge. It becomes a pledge. When the German brothers saw that pledge, pledge? What we pledge our lives to him? We didn’t mean that. They were mad. It was I who calmed them down. I said, brothers, don’t worry about that. Such a letter really doesn’t mean too much.
They are going to write brother Lee, all of them, and sign the letter that says send us back the letter. It was I who stopped them, and tried to convince them, no, no, no. We’re going to get into more trouble if you do that. I told him about our feeling concerning signing the letter, that should be enough. I said there is no need for all of us to write another letter and retract that.
Who is conspiring? There was no conspiracy. There was no conspiracy.
Okay, You remember I told you about the publishers, right? The publishers. Boy, we sent them 4100 pages and we wrote a letter to Philip Lee even wanting to go see him. Okay, we wanted to go see him. The brothers would like to fly there to go see him concerning the books. No reply. Nothing. Then Neuchatel was afraid that their books would also be boycotted in Switzerland so they quickly called and called and called. That was in June or July. They called and finally in September or something, I can’t remember the date, they got the answer from Benny Danker. Yes, yes, you may print your Italian and French books in Switzerland under one condition. Uh? That they are not to be printed in Stuttgart. My goodness. And if you cannot print them in Switzerland, send them back to Irving. We’ll print them for you.
When the brothers in Stuttgart heard that, it was firstly up to here, then it was up to here. Now it was up to here. Finally, it was up to here. They said, that’s it. This is a proof that they intentionally want to give us trouble. That’s it.
What happened? They wrote a letter to Witness Lee in December 1987. I’ll read to you that letter of December 1987.
Dear brothers, [It’s to the LSM with a copy Witness Lee enclosed invoice.]
Since December of last year 1986 we have sent you a total of approximately 4190 camera-ready pages of the following materials which concluded our translation projects started over two years ago, etc, etc. [Those are the life-studies and truth lessons, etc.] Until the present, we have not heard any word from your office. However, we did hear that the Living Stream Ministry and Benson Phillips have told brother Vincent Jornod of Neuchatel emphatically not to have their French books printed in Stuttgart but in Switzerland. In view of the above facts we see no need to continue operation of the Verlag-der Strom (which is the German publishers. We therefore kindly ask you to pay the cost of translation, correction, and proofreading, computer typing, paste-up work, phototypesetting, materials, and utilities which amount to DM 137,026.50 Please remit payment as soon as possible to the following account so that we could cover our debts accumulated due to the above mentioned work and close our books properly according to government regulations here.
(We sent them this. What do you expect me to do? What do you expect the brothers there to do?)
Signed Gert Reimer and Jim Frit-Fritz cc Witness Lee
At that time in November of 1987 brother Lee called me and said, “John, you have to come.” That was before we wrote this letter. “Let’s have some fellowship.” I said I cannot come right now but definitely in January I promise you I’ll come. On January of 1988. But things are heating up. It’s not fermentation. I don’t know what’s heating up. Okay.
In that December training in Irving of 1987 one of our brothers, an elder from Germany, his name is Hans Gunter Vop. He went to the training there in Irving. One day I receive a call from him. I got a call from him. ‘John, you have to come.” You must come because there’s so much rumors here going on about Stuttgart, about you. Stuttgart is the coldest cold windblowers. And all this junk. You have to come.” By that time I felt no. Since there is so much rumors about us I said because of that I said I will not go. I wrote Witness Lee a letter.
I wrote Witness Lee a letter January 7 of 1988. You may have a copy to read it.
Dear brother Lee,
Originally, I did plan to go to Anaheim to have some personal fellowship with you as you requested by phone early December. (I must say at this time I was not too polite any more. If you would consider that as maybe a rebellion, that’s fine with me. Consider it as a rebellion. Conspiracy, that is also fine with me. I don’t care what you consider it. I just like to be faithful to my feelings and I do not want to play politics. In my last page, the last word to him I told him) – Please do not think that I’m against you or am opposing you because of my writing you this letter. I do not have the slightest intention to oppose your work or your ministry. Neither do I have any desire to convince any brother. By the Lord’s grace, I like to be straightforward and follow my conscience, not to hide anything and not play politics, not to please anyone, or to offend anyone. May the Lord have mercy on all His churches. (I ended the letter that way.)
I wrote him all the basic issues. Brother Lee kept on saying [in the book Fermentation of the Present Rebellion] that I said in his home, “there is no basic problem. We don’t have any basic problem.” In this letter that I wrote him, I even wrote him, it’s written down. It was sent to him. I deal with all the basic problems in the letter. I pour out everything that is on my heart whether he wants it or not, whether I offend him or not. I’m sorry. I have no intension to do it but if I was wrong, then I was wrong. I started to tell him beginning from the saints in England coming back from Irving. Brother Bill Kirkham wrote you a letter. In your reply you said it is wise and profitable not to make any issue. However, to Jorn Urlenbruc and Rowland in Irving you strongly said Bill overstepped. It was not printed out there. And, it was just recently that I heard of what Dave Slack from Manchester said to Bill that the reason he avoided Bill after returning from Taipei was due to your fellowship with him and Mike Ward in Taipei in the presence of Chris Lee and Philip Lee, you told them regarding Bill’s letter that the one who wrote this letter wants something for himself.
I said what is this? You told Bill one thing. You told Jorn another thing and you told a young brother from England another thing. And not only you did not help, you put gasoline, you put oil in it to widen the fire in England. When brother Lee, when I was in brother Lee’s home, he called me to come at that time, and I went. I told him, I said Bill Kirkham wrote you that letter. It’s like somebody’s house is on fire and called the fire department and the chief of the fire department says, “Oh, don’t make an issue,” and hang up.
After writing this to our dear brother, do you think I would say to him there is no problem? That I have no problem, that everything is alright? At his home, brother Lee said to me let’s draw a line and forget about the past. It’s all over. I said, how can it all be over? What have you done? I said to him brother Lee I have nothing to tell you because what I want to tell you is already in the letter. He said, oh, I didn’t have time to read the letter.
I said that’s fine. At that time we were still friendly. I’ll come to that. I’ll come to that point.
Well, can we have a little bit more time? I’ll take another twenty minutes, okay? I told, I wrote this letter to Witness Lee. At the same time—the Verlag wrote this letter to Witness Lee, and he got both of these letters. Then he called me in March, the end of March. Three times he called me. We had a long talk each time in March.
Listen, the last conversation there. Let me just read a few things to you. Brother Lee really did his best to convince me, and he did pay, he paid quickly in March and apologized for what the LSM has done. He paid this with two checks, I think. I don’t know because it was not sent to me.
Telephone conversation with brother Lee, April 4, 1988. I was supposed to tell brother Lee these things. This is what I was supposed to tell brother Lee after the fellowship with the brothers. Listen, he said, “It’s my meeting.” Number one. The brothers were encouraged that you called but actually no one has the heart to talk about all the things. They want you to know that the whole issue was never to cut off fellowship with you. They accepted your apology concerning all the trouble caused by your office in relation to the Verlag.
And then the brothers in England were there. And they told me to tell brother Lee that since his LSM branch office in England has caused so much trouble, the brothers in England requested you to do something in writing. Not for an apology. They don‘t even want an apology from Witness Lee but to clear up the things spread in order to restore fellowship among the brothers in the churches.
The brothers said they “accepted your apology concerning all the troubles caused by your office in relation to the Verlag, the German publisher, although they did find it hard to believe that you don’t know anything about what was going on.” Because Witness Lee kept telling me he doesn’t know. Of course, I’m sorry, I still don’t believe he doesn’t know. Okay? If he could sit there and know the conspiracy in the whole world, my goodness, from the North Pole to the South Pole, east and west, he knows the whole conspiracy and then he doesn’t know what his office is doing. I don’t believe that too much anymore. Maybe at that time I believed it, but now I’m sorry to say, I don’t believe that too much. Maybe a little bit. Maybe. Maybe a little bit. If I try my best.
They find it hard, “although they find it hard to believe that you don’t know anything about what was going on because the brothers who came here in May 1986 assured us that everything that went on in the office is in close fellowship with you. They really assured us.” Brother Lee, in answer to that said it is not true that everything that went on in the office is in close fellowship with him. Okay. So, you judge if it is or it is not. I don’t know who is telling the truth. I don’t know.
But nevertheless, we accepted his apology. I have to convey to the brothers, okay, what you said several times to me on the phone that it is in your heart that they should not close down the Verlag but continue printing because brother Lee asked me to convey that to the brothers. And I did.
The brothers responsible for the Verlag acknowledge this but they can only do this now on a very, very small scale because all of them except one have already gone back to work. We already closed down at that time. Etc.
And then. Number three, concerning England. England wants me to tell them something. And I told brother Lee. And then this is what I told brother Lee. He wanted to come. It’s so long now I cannot remember exactly what happened. I told brother Lee that the brothers are not against his coming but that they feel now is not the right time.
Nobody likes to bring up all the things again which is not good for both you and us. It’s better to wait for a little time until things cool down. It’s why you come to open up old wounds?
[Three minute gap on tape]
[The brother says we said, “NO”. Witness Lee must come—“NO”. Maybe he was dreaming I don’t know. If you feel that it is better that I visit later, Witness Lee says, it’s okay. According to my schedule I have time at the end of May, beginning of June. If not, after the summer training. John, that means I said I think it is better after the training. I will fellowship with the brothers. I will be there in Anaheim in July and we can talk about it. I said that to him.
Now he blamed me that when I went there in the summer I wouldn’t go see him. There was a reason. Witness Lee promised that he was going to take care of the situation in England. And all the brothers in England were quite happy. Nobody was mocking. It seems that some weight was gone.
Okay, let me show you what Witness Lee did. He said he was going to write something. I’m going to backtrack, okay.
When Witness Lee wrote that answer to brother Bill Kirkham, listen, we were all just, we sank, okay, we sank, because such a grave, serious letter you answer in such a way and in the meantime everything is crumbling. Okay. Instead of blessing, there was certainly no blessing. Still Bill Kirkham respected him at that time. This was the letter. You read what Bill Kirkham said.
Dear brother Lee, (that was the 16th of January Bill Kirkham wrote.)
Thank you for the fellowship conveyed in your letter dated the 17th of December which I received on January 6th. I do trust and respect your ministry and appreciate your answer to my letter. I see that it is wise and profitable not to make any issue of anything. I together with you look to the Lord for the furtherance of His move in His recovery in Europe. I will do whatever I can to help.
Now, does this sound like a brother who wrote that letter who wants something for himself? Okay. After 1988, after my conversation with Witness Lee and he promised he is going to do his best to deal with the whole situation there in England, this is what he did. This is the way he wrote the letter.
“Dear Brother Bill,
I have to thank you first for your precious letter of the 16th of January 1987. (Listen. That was over a year later. He wrote that. Okay. That was a reply to a letter written by Bill Kirkham over a year ago.) And your word through brother John So, that was our conversation in April 1988 has been conveyed to me over the long-distanced phone talk when I was in Anaheim for which I am also grateful to you. I do have a burden of much interest for the Lord that I would have a time to fellowship with you face to face. I do look to the Lord for the right time to visit you again in His mercy and grace. I left Anaheim with my wife for Taipei last week and will stay here probably till the end of May. Then we will go back to Anaheim for the summer training. Your prayer will be much appreciated.”
That is all that he did to clear up the situation in England. When the brothers in England read that letter, they phewwwww, what, what, what is this? How are we going to clear up all the divisions and problems and what-not caused by the office in England with that letter. You just tell me. You judge. How can, how can, how can the brothers use that letter to clear up anything? When we saw that letter, we, oh my goodness, what is this all about? What can we do? The brothers were, I give up, I give up.
Nevertheless, I went there in summer. I thought I have nothing to talk to him anymore. I really have nothing to talk to him. My mother-in-law told me, you are not polite if you don’t call him. I said, I said. Mom, I don’t want to play anymore, I don’t want to play politics. I have nothing to say.
And brother Lee called me and asked me to come to his home. I went. I was not against him in anything. And that was when I told you a little bit of our conversation. And brother Lee claimed that I say there is no basic problem. That’s impossible. I wrote him all the basic problems and our dear Dan Towle accused me and confirmed that in the testimony and why didn’t he also write what he said. He said, “John So,” he said, “John, you are a dangerous man.” Why didn’t he write that? He should also testify that. He might get a double star for saying that. I said, “I beg your pardon. I didn’t come out for lunch or dinner with you to be accused like that. Would you mind explaining what you mean I’m a dangerous man.”
He said, “So many brothers talking to you all become basket cases.” I said, “name one.” He named two. He named Ken Unger and he named Ned Nossaman. I said, “They’re not basket cases. I just saw them a couple of weeks ago. Who else?” He said, “No more.” I said, “You said many.” Then I told him. “Well aren’t you afraid to talk to me? You might become the third basket case.” I said, “I think we better go home before you become a basket case.”
Right after that day that I talked to Witness Lee. Oh, Witness Lee called me when he called me for fellowship at his home, I already had a breakfast appointment with a brother. And Witness Lee told me that he wants me to go there at nine o’clock in the morning. I said, I’m sorry, I try my best to be early but I cannot because I already had an appointment and I cannot cut it short just, you know, to please somebody. I had no more intention within me to please anybody. Even myself, okay. I was, I don’t know, up to where, okay.
I went at 10:15 and later I found out he was so offended that I let him wait. But I told him that I had a time that I already had a breakfast appointment. Okay. After talking to Witness Lee (it’s useless to talk about the content anymore), that evening I was invited by a family for dinner and lo and behold another couple was also invited. And this couple was one of the most, this sister was one of the most trusted employees of the LSM office and got involved in some misconduct. [This is referring to Philip Lee's immoral conduct]. And after that night of fellowship I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t sleep.
The next morning, lo and behold, brother Lee’s son-in-law called me, “I heard you had a talk with Witness Lee. What was the outcome?”
“Well, I said, “we really didn’t talk too much because, you know, we agreed at that time right there not to say anything and I had nothing to say.” I already wrote him a letter. Right. I had nothing to say. So, we had nothing to say. But, I told him, last night I couldn’t sleep because of such and such incident. I talked to a certain person. And, I went away after that conversation. I went away for a breakfast appointment with another person. And, when I came back my wife said brother Lee called you, urgently, urgently. He asked you to call him back. I forgot whether he beat me to it or not because I was just going to the phone. I don’t know whether I called him or he called me. Okay, I don’t know. And, anyway, we got on the phone again. My heart is quite heavy and very upset.
Brother Lee said I heard from my son-in-law you want to talk to me, that you have some questions to ask me. I said, no, it must be a misunderstanding. But I will tell you anyway what happened, and I told him what happened and with whom I had fellowship about the matter [Philip's misconduct]. And I told him, “brother Lee,” I said, “I realize now why the churches don’t have blessings in all these years.”
“Oh, there’s lots of blessings.”
I said, “Where?”
I said, “I’m not very sure. I’ll see it for myself,” I said.
“You should come, come, come right now. Let’s have a talk.”
I said, “Brother Lee, I don’t have the heart and I’m not in condition to talk to anyone right now. Just wait till my heart cools down, calms down.” Something like that”. I never told our brother that there is “no basic problem”, that everything is all right. I don’t remember that I would have said that.
This book said that many times he asked me if there was any problem, and that I said no, there was none. This isn’t correct. Actually, I told him exactly what I heard and what I knew. I was quite disgusted. After that, it was after that I talked to Dan Towle. I do not remember wrongly. My conversation with Dan Towle was after I talked to Witness Lee. So how can Dan Towle testify that I said to Witness Lee there’s no problem? It’s still a mystery to me. A mystery to me.
So when we went back to Germany still nothing happens. Finally, the churches, the brothers in Manchester, the church in Blackpool, wrote a letter to Witness Lee and the church in Stuttgart wrote a letter to disassociate with some of the things that have been occurring and happening in the LSM which we feel for the testimony’s sake before the Lord, we just have to do it. Right or wrong, we’ll let the Lord judge.
This is in brief the whole thing that had happened.
Lastly, I like to go to one testimony [from the book, Fermentation]..One testimony of this dear brother, Chris Lee of England. In all of his testimony, the impression he gives about John So is altogether negative. He said that John So was the first one to spread the rumor that a number of those baptized in Taipei was false. If it was a rumor, it surely was not I who started it. Somebody told me, quite a reliable brother there told me, and he was one who instigated the young people to have a negative attitude toward the trainer and the impression he gave is that John So is supposed to have said that he could raise up an army of brothers in the United States who are unhappy with the training. Supposed to have said. Such kind of testimonies [blank] the heavenly court.
Did I or did I not say or supposedly to have said. Such testimony is a bogus testimony. He did not care so much for the condition and faith of the saints. My goodness, I thought, who is not caring for the condition and faith of the saints.
This is what’s happening and what had happened. If this is conspiracy, that’s fine. I don’t know what it is. Okay, I’m not accusing anybody of anything. And here I don’t want to defend myself. You forced me to do it. And you don’t have to believe me. I don’t have tonight hoards of testimonies. I don’t think I need them. And I’m not here to vindicate myself.
And let me tell you, the church is not any man’s church. It is the church of the saints. You’re free to follow Witness Lee, but not in such a way that would damage the testimony of the church. You’re free to reject me if you if you think you will be contaminated. I won’t fight for whatever. I don’t know what people are fighting for. If you want to receive me, that’s fine. If you want to reject me, that is also fine with me. But at least I have been in the Lord’s recovery for the last twenty years, and I have seen a few things, and whatever I wrote, I wrote it hopefully to help us come back to the right track. I am not assuming anything, but I do feel that I’m responsible before the Lord just to share a few things that I feel we can correct ourselves. Right?
Don’t divide yourselves because of any men. It’s not worth it. We are nothing. Nobody’s anything. If you don’t want me to come back to Manila, I don’t live here so don’t be afraid of me. I don’t think my home is in Manila. It’s too hot for me. Too many mosquitoes. And I’m afraid of amoeba. I hope that this little time of fellowship could clear up a few things and I have no intention for you to take any side or say, oh, he is vindicated. No, forget about it. After you hear this message, forget about it. That’s fine with me.
Tonight, even last night preparing this was the hardest time of my life because I have no intention to argue about these things. I don’t think there is any need for any more questions. If you believe whatever you believe, that’s fine. You know. It’s ten o’clock. I told you just eighty or ninety minutes. It’s a little bit over, but at least it’s not eight hours, okay. Well, thank you for your patience.