In 1893 a son was born to a well-off farmer in Shaoshan, China. Ten years later and 800 miles away, a son was born to an officer in the Imperial Customs Service.
In 1952 their paths crossed and the farmer’s son ordered the officer’s son arrested and jailed for the rest of his life. The charges were many, and they were all false. Those who would not repudiate their beliefs were jailed.
The farmer’s son was Mao Zedong. The officer’s son was Watchman Nee. Most people know something about Mao Zedong, who successfully waged a Communist revolution against Chiang Kai-Shek, (known clandestinely as Cash-My-Check by his American supporters.) Mao not only defeated Chiang, he also fought the Japanese invaders and drove out the western “running dogs” of imperialism. Shortly after his victory he began to wipe out religions that rivaled communism, and that is where Watchman Nee ran afoul of the system.
For Watchman Nee was a Christian, a brilliant evangelist and an author. I read his books long ago and was challenged and inspired, then wondered whatever happened to him, but of course, Mao happened to him. Mao died in 1976 and his last words were, “I feel ill. Call the doctors.”
Watchman Nee had died in prison four years earlier and his grandniece was called to pick up his cremated remains. He had left a note:
“Christ is the Son of God who died for the redemption of sinners and resurrected after three days. This is the greatest truth in the universe. I die because of my belief in Christ.”
– Watchman Nee.