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Old 08-21-2008, 06:30 PM   #1
Bill W
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Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Moreno Valley,California
Posts: 8
Default My Journey and Experience in the Local Church

I am putting this letter on this web site from another web site in which it was posted to give anyone who desires an insight into my *personal experience" in the local church. Although I enjoyed many teachings of Bro.Witness Lee and experienced many wonderful times of fellowship,these were always overshadowed by the actual practices I saw among those saints.

I sent this post to numerous churches,elders,and family members I knew there a few years ago and still haven't heard any response from them.To the best of my knowledge the events are simply a sampling of my 18 years among the saints in the local church.You can multiply it by years,months,days,hours,and minutes to get a real scope of my experience. *

I am writting this testimony to the little brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering both within and without the local churches.Many whose regenerated spirits have been silenced and who suffer alone with no shepherd but Christ to guide them.Praise the Lord!Please feel free to use this as the Lord leads you.I am writting this testimony from a stand point of a little brother who was not so gifted in the eyes of man but loved the Lord and *His people more than anything in this world.

I was in the local church in Berkeley,Ca.and Long Beach,Ca.from 1972-1990.Eighteen years of my life were spent there so I feel I am qualified to say a little something about that fellowship.Initially,I was impressed with the community living the saints had in Berkeley,Ca.in 1972.All kinds of saints from every nation,tribe,and tongue in Christ lived near each other and ate over each others houses.The love of Christ abounded for He alone was the center and focus of our gatherings.

I went to hear Bro.Witness Lee after 1 month in Los Angeles,Ca.and knew about Watchman Nee prior to seeing him.He shared on the book of Mathew, and it was glorious and life imparting.I felt at last I was home at a place where Christ was truly all in all;even street people could come into a meeting;get saved,and were accepted as dear brothers and sisters in the Lord with no prejudice.During the training,the place I stayed was kind of strange I may add.I told a married brother where I was taking hospitality that it was a nice day outside,but he told me that we are not here for the weather but for Christ.This bothered me but I was so caught up in everything that I just thought it was part of the training.

When we got back to the local church in Berkeley,Ca.,my wife and I started our new life with the saints.Let me mention I had a beard at that time, and my wife looked like a typical "hippy"with a long dress,long hair,and wire rimmed glasses.I say this because I left her at an elders house while I went to Des Moines,Iowa bible school campus where we lived prior to that time.I had to pick up and ship my belongings to Berkeley .Ca.our new home.When I got back after 2 weeks of being away,to my surprise my wife had completely changed outwardly.Her hair style,dress,and even glasses conformed to what all the other "sisters"looked like.I was shocked , and told her so that evening after the meeting.

After that meeting in the Berkeley Meeting Hall a brother approached me and said to me several times,"Do you realize we follow Brother Lee as "The" Apostle ?"I was extremely bothered by this because I was taught that we should follow no man save Jesus Christ alone.When I got into the car with my wife, I told her about her radical outward change and what this brother had said to me.Bothered because of these two things,I thought we should get out of this fellowship now.She told me,"Bill ,this the way I am going either you take it or not I am staying."I had a choice either leave without my wife of one year or stay against my inward feeling before the Lord.Like Adam not wanting to lose his wife Eve to the fall,I stayed for the next 18 years.

The saints to me in Berkeley were very endearing in the beginning,Bro.Lee wasn't mentioned much and there was still a fresh first love for the Lord and his people.Anyone who knew the saints in the church in Berkeley during those days can testify we were crazy lovers of Christ and each other.Then,an unusual event happened a few years after we arrived.Bro.Lee had sent some "new elders"to the church in Berkeley without telling the original elders.Latter I found out it was because "they"were more absolute for Bro.Lee's Ministry.Within 1 week of this situation ,there was a huge fallout.The original elders along with half the saints left the local church .As a young believer, I was confused and devastated.Some of *the dear brothers and sisters I knew and loved were gone.On the Lord's meeting the remaining saints shouted ,"the Devil has been routed ,Jesus is Lord!"and,"We are for the LOrds'Recovery".I out of fear and my wife stayed in this situation, although I am ashamed that I ever participated in that meeting.

By that time I was starting to surrender my spiritual understanding and my conscience to obey at all costs Bro.Lee and those who followed him.Being a young believer,I visited some of the saints who had left.They were very angry and bitter that they were treated in such a manner being young believers themselves.There was nothing a little brother like me could do.Who would listen to me anyway?After this horrific weekend,it wasn't about how you were with the Lord,but it was how are you with the "ministry of Witness Lee".By then ,all the brothers looked even like Bro.Lee if you can imagine it.They wore gray suits,skinny ties like him,sweaters like him,shoes like him,and even some of the brother's hair was parted like Bro.Lee.My beard came off around this time because a sister ,who I worked for in a Chinese factory told me that even tho I loved the Lord she saw some darkness in me.She,being an elders wife and owner of the factory,made it clear that my beard was "the darkness".When I shaved it and looked like everyone else she said ,"Now I see the light in you brother"

By this time absoluteness and fanaticism for Bro.Lee and his ministry replaced the love of Christ and love for his people.Even prior to the earlier mentioned breakup,I personally saw a whole church in Sacramento cut off because they weren't one with "the ministry".Prior to their leaving I remember having the Lord's table with them not knowing they soon would be gone .I wept the entire meeting because I sensed in my spirit there was no love in that meeting.

From 1972-1978 in the church in Berkeley,all kinds of "flows"came from Bro.Lee in Los Angeles,Ca.that produced more confusion and lost of saints.A flow could be whatever Bro.Lee was fellow shipping at that time ,and all the local churches were expected to take that new way and practice it until the next new flow.Even ministry meetings with the leading elder in Berkeley were read directly off life study messages of Bro.Lee for fear of giving the impression he wasn't absolute for "the ministry".As a young brother in the Lord,I personally was devastated at this time and practically had no personal inward relationship with the Lord.Whatever the brothers said I just followed the followers who followed Bro.Lee with no questions asked.

During this aforementioned time,we were meeting 7 days a week with some local church life activity going on every night.There was absolutely no time to spend with family.I lived in a 16 unit apartment complex composed of all local church saints,I worked with local church saints,and I went to school with local church saints.I practically ate,drank,and breathed local church for many years with hardly any outside contact at all. In the morning ,they had "morning watch"in the hallways on all three floors of the complex.Morning watch was a time of pray reading the bible in a corporate way.If you didn't attend these meetings,then on the way to work or school you had to pass by all these bodies in the hallway while they called on the Lord.It made you feel "guilty"for not attending this early morning gathering.Also there was absolutely no "human communication"with the saints.If you saw a brother or sister it was always to either pray-read,call on the Lord,talk about a local church service group (ex.ushering or cleaning meeting hall), or go over Brother Lee's latest message.If you communicated anything else,usually that saint would put down their head and start calling on the name of the Lord.Over a period of years being under this practice,you began to think that any talk other than prayreading,calling on the Lord,service groups,or Brother Lee's ministry was rebellious and you became extremely self conscious of what you said around saints. There were exceptions to this rule,but peer pressure made you hide your social contacts with such saints who couldn't fit in.* Some of us wilder brothers would go to an ice cream place after meetings and talk like normal people,but we would usually feel condemned and not talk to each other for weeks for being so "fleshly".After these weeks,we would usually end up back at the ice cream place to talk normal again.This went on for several years in my life.


I was spiritually burnt out with no help coming from anywhere not even my wife who by this time was fully committed to do or say anything they wanted.By 1977,I had an incident that changed it for me.I hadn't been to a movie in years and in a spiritually depressed state, I went by myself basically crying out inside ,"Lord,I can't live like this no more!"In the movie,coming up the aisle toward my seat was a young leading brother from Berkeley(like an up and coming elder).I grabbed his arm as he came near me ,and he was shocked that someone caught him in the movie theater.This brother had always made me feel inferior to him because of his local church position so it was an unusual situation.I felt like Todo the dog, in the movie the Wizard of Oz who went behind the curtain and revealed the real wizard.This brother believe it or not released me from fear and bondage because I realized he was a sinner saved by grace just like me.He apologized but inwardly I was relieved and released knowing I wasn't crazy and that something was not right.This brother had a choice to either continue being something he wasn't or admit that like me he was bound by a system that produced superficial Bro.Lee clones.I know for me he could never be the same controlling robotic person he was in the meetings towards me.Sorry to say, he chose to keep living that lie,and a few weeks later left the church in Berkeley for another locality.I realized that something was wrong when brothers acted one way around each other but had a hidden life outside each other.

Fear kept me silent until the following event.My wife,some sisters,and myself were going to a city college around that time in Pleasanthill,Ca..One sister said that she wanted to be just like Bro.Lee and the other sisters said ,"Amen" in unison.I wasn't trying to be offensive or rebellious but I said honestly that I didn't want to be like Bro.Lee ,I wanted to be myself conformed to the image of Christ.I said that it was Satanic to want to be conformed to another brother ,and I wanted to be conformed only to Christ.Well,a week later I was called to the elders'office along with some other saints about something ,and after that meeting the (4)elders'asked me to stay alone.One of the elders said that he heard from someone that I called Bro.Lee Satan.I was floored especially since I didn't and that I still believed he was "the sole Apostle on the earth today,todays Moses".I said,"No brother ,I didn't could you please bring here the person who said that to my face?"He said that it wasn't necessary and that the meeting was now over.I was guilty as charged with no jury,no witnesses just myself and them.I left absolutely devastated because now these brothers thought that I was dissenting against Gods'delegated authority, and I had no one to defend me.Like the church in Sacramento and other saints who had been labeled negative, I felt next on the chopping block. In my heart, I felt I was finished with God and secretly found refuge in the world with drugs at that time to kill the inward pain within me and anxiety.Although I really didn't want the world ,but I simply wanted Christ and not all this confusion and mixture.

About 1 month after this horrible scene which broke me mentally,the elders approached my wife and I.They said that they felt the Lord wanted us to move to Long Beach,Ca.to be closer to "the ministry."Although I wanted to prove my dedication to "the ministry of Bro.Lee"I honestly felt within before the Lord not to move.I told the brothers that I didn't feel the Lord wanted me to leave the church in Berkeley.They said that if I didn't leave I was going against the "fellowship"of the brothers.How could I stay in a place the leading ones felt I didn't belong after that incident??.Against my own spirit and leading,myself,my wife and kids moved to Long Beach in 1978 to the local church there.

I arrived in Long Beach,Ca.spiritually depressed,burnt out,frustrated,humiliated,and the world which I never experienced before was creeping in as a relief valve.I had never moved before because of man,but always had the freedom to follow the Lord in everything.I justified the move in my mind by thinking it was an opportunity to get my marriage together and have a new beginning.Latter I heard in a meeting of Bro.Lee that the elders of various localities had sent their socalled "basket cases" to Southern California.Basket cases were those who were having a hard time in their localities.

The first meeting in the church in Long Beach was at the time the "one new man"flow came out.To them,one new man in the book of Ephisians met not standing up in the meeting and testifying by yourself but in groups of 2 or more.Anyone who stood up to share by oneself was given a local church boo by calling on the Lord's Name .This was a common practice throughout my years there in the local churches.Whenever you said or did something someone didn't like they simply began to call on the name of the Lord.You got the message that what you said or did wasn't "in spirit".Many saints especially leading ones became"fruit of the Spirit"detectors because of this practice.Bro.Lee initially shared this practice in a meeting to train saints to be"in spirit".

I couldn't deal with any of this religious bondage no more, and again I sought refuge in the world .I questioned many things at that time.My wife due to my sinful state and questioning things about the local church left me for one year, and I after she left me I left the LC for 1 year. About 6 mos.into my leaving,missing my kids, I called the elders in Long Beach.I asked them if the local church practices coming between a husband and wife.One elder told me,"Brother what is your stand regarding the local churches?"He said this justifying her leaving me because I was no longer meeting with them.Latter that elder repented for saying those things but the damage was done.

After one year ,I had no where to go and was confused.I had cut all ties with family,friends,saints in denominations,and everyone because of the local church.With nowhere else to go and no family members to turn to,I went back to the local church.I stayed with an elder(Bro.H) for 3 months in his home.During meetings,I,sat across the meeting hall from my wife and kids who didn't talk to me or acknowledge me.It was humiliating not to be able to hug or kiss my kids yet sit at least 100 feet from them.

After this time of being approved,the elders(not her)decided she should get back with me now that I am a "good brother".We got back together,but soon the same situation was there in my household.The local church was the "head of my household",and I was just expected to remain silent and go along with whatever was happening at that time.Around that time,the full timers move came along with door knocking move .I felt not only spiritually isolated but physically isolated from the current new Bro.Lee way.I wasn't a full timer and I wasn't door knocking so where was a little insignificant brother like me fit in? Especially one who had left and now was back?? Again,like Abraham I went into the world when there was famine in the good land(Christ) to keep my sanity.

I didn't want to live any longer at this point in my life.I couldn't fit in the world because it was under Satan's rule;I couldn't go back to denominations because they were divided and I had already been led away from there by the Lord,and I couldn't fit into what was going on in the local churches.The worse part was that I couldn't share with no one not even my wife the pain,suffering,and anguish I had experienced over the years at that time for fear of being labeled "a negative brother".My sinful state of being and my questioning again our violated marriage,the local church ,and everything ;my wife again left me again in 1983.That was the last time I would see her or my children who were 5 and 8 years old at the time.They are now 33 and 31 years old and living in Irving,Texas somewhere.

Funny thing about my wife leaving me was that she didn't go to another local church in Southern California,but she went to work for the Living Stream Ministry in Irving,Texas.How many people would have a problem in their marriage and leave to go work for the Lord?That action in itself should tell you something wasn't right.From 1983-1990,I repented for my sins and stayed in the church in Long Beach waiting for my wife's return again.The main elder there told me that I had to prove myself that I was a brother in good standing before they would contact my wife.For two years they watched me to make sure I was in every meeting and fellowship.When initially I questioned this "two year "situation saying it was an Old Testament principle to have to wait two years,they admitted it was Old Testament but was a good principle anyway to follow.I had no choice if I ever wanted to see my family again.

After two years ,they contacted my wife in 1985 and she rebuked them on the phone.Blaming me for this action,they told me that for now on we don't want anything to do with your private life.This was an utter *lie-they had everything to do with my private life!I waited 7 years total(1983-1990)for my wife to come back to me and she didn't.Oh by the way,I called the leading brothers in Irving,Tex.and inquired how someone could work for the Living Stream Ministry (LSM )and have a problem with their husband.One of the main elders said that they didn't care as long as people showed up to work.I wondered how they can have purity of the Lord's work when anyone can work there regardless of what their spiritual condition was.When I asked him about my wife and kids by pushing the issue after a couple of phone calls he said,"Bro.,forget your wife and kids and just go on with the Lord!"(This brother is now one of the major leading ones in Anaheim,Ca.) I was left alone with no help from anyone.Everything I held dear to me was gone except Christ.

Lastly,I would mention,from 1983-1990 the majority of saints in the church in Long Beach treated me like I was the plague.After every Lord's Day,saints invited each other over their houses for lunch and no one would invite me with the exception of 2 families over the seven year period.No one called me to see how I was doing,no one showed any concern about my family,and basically I was kept at arms'length by the only family that I had known for 18 years.Like the man that was beaten,robbed,and left for dead in the parable of the good Samaritan;these religious ones passed me by knowing I was hurting.An older brother latter told me he was taught to have not much to do with people who left and returned.He alone repented for his mistreatment of me.

My wife divorced me from Irving Tex.in 1988 although the judge in California told her lawyer that she had no right to take the children out of the state.I had visitation rights for my children but she kept them away from me and I could never find out where she lived.I never wanted a divorce,and I even wrote her via the Church in Irving,Texas saying I wanted reconciliation.

In the late 80's,the conference in Pasadena sealed my fate.Bro.Lee kept exalting himself and proclaiming who he was and demeaning anyone who would challenge him as being "the Oracle of God","the Apostle,etc.I heard enough to alarm my spirit,but still stayed in the local church awhile longer.Then in 1990,after much prayer an incident happened that changed my course of life.The brother who lived with me said that he wanted to stay with me until he got married, and he said this just before a conference.I said that was great and didn't think nothing more of it.After the conference tho,he had a change of heart and felt he had to move and live with brothers who were more absolute for "the ministry"than myself.Whatever happened to helping someone you thought was weak in the faith and restoring them??I said no problem brother and even helped him move out when no one else would move him.

I then was forced to move to Downey,Ca.but still wanted contact with the local church.I called the leading brother D and told him not to take me off the church list because I was moving to Downey.He seemed not to care that much about me which I was used to by now .I asked him an honest,bold,and straight forward question which I was afraid ever to ask an elder for 18 years.I said,"Bro,D,I don't get this matter of following a man who claims to be "the Apostle"on earth today?He said in his aggressive manner,"Bro.we know your standing!"I didn't even know my standing up till then, although I had a lot of unanswered questions, how could he?.Then I asked one last question,"Bro.D why for 7 years you never invited me over your house for dinner,you never visited me to see how I was doing,and you had nothing to do with me?"He said something that broke my heart.He said,"Bro.,outside of talking to you on the phone the Holy Spirit told me to have nothing to do with you!"

Unlike the Father in the parable of the prodigal son ,I was treated cruel like the brother in the house did to his lost brother when he came home.(Luke 15:11-32).I was dispised by them for coming back to what I thought was my home ,but the Father was loving me.Realizing that the Holy Spirit was pushing me outside the camp,that was the last time I have ever seen those brothers again.Since 1990 until now,I got remarried and have 2 sons and a beautiful wife from Guatemala in the Lord.By His mercy and grace the Lord has been restoring me from all the damage that years of neglecting Him as my Head,my Center,my first love,and my Everything can do.I am free now to follow the Lamb whithersoever He takes me with no strings attached.There is hope in Christ to all who draw near Him saints.

I still miss my children who I haven't seen since 1983.My son contacted me a few years ago and said that they wanted nothing to do with me.Where did he get his bitterness from seeing that he was only 5 years old when last I saw him??I forgive them,the saints in the LC,and even Bro.Lee for all the hurt and stumbling they caused me.If I offended anyone I hope you would forgive me too.Remember in 1972,I was just a young innocent lamb of 22 years(I am now 58 years old) of age that got thrown to wolves who tried to take me away from the God I loved.I loved the Lord then and I love Him even more now because He alone took care of me when others turned their back on me.That's why I can never forget what the Lord has done for me.He restored my soul and healed me by His tremendous Love!yours in Christ,Brother Bill W

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to share my experience.Please use it to help others like myself who only have Jesus.Please pray for my family and all the saints as I do daily.

P.S.In conclusion,I leave you with this quote from Brother Lee as to why I was treated so harshly even after repenting and doing everything that was required of me to gain acceptance by the saints and elders in the local church.Quote Witness Lee from a message entitled, No Politics, No Compromise :"No rebellious person could come back in a solid way. I have no confidence in them. It is not a matter of good or bad. If others want them, that is their business. Certain men rebelled against David and later repented. Years later, when dying, David warned Solomon to be careful of them. This warning proved true after David died." Now I ask you how was I to go on with the Lord when such a mindset has been ingrained in the saints in the local church? There was no way to go on with the Lord other than to leave their camp and go to Him (Christ)outside their fellowship.Now I am free from their abuse spiritually,pyscholgically,and even physically.I am free to follow Christ and Him alone.I consecrate everything of my life to Him because He alone is worthy of our all!



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Man creates circles and counts you out,but God through Christ made a circle and included you in.

Last edited by Bill W; 08-21-2008 at 07:18 PM.
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Old 08-21-2008, 06:41 PM   #2
finallyprettyokay
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Default Welcome

Bill W!!! Good to 'see' you here!!! Hope you are well.

finallyprettyokay





PS --- I should add that I have read your story a couple of times now, and it horrifies me and breaks my heart each time. I'm rootin' for you, brother. Take care of yourself.

Last edited by finallyprettyokay; 08-21-2008 at 07:32 PM. Reason: adding PS
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Old 08-21-2008, 07:38 PM   #3
Bill W
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Location: Moreno Valley,California
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Default Thank you finallyprettyokay

Thank You finallyprettyokay,I have been really enjoying the Lord this last year.His Love has drawn me deeper and deeper into His Dear Self.I heard a brother share that those three brothers who were thrown into the fire in the book of Daniel had a real experience of the Lord.Number one,when they were thrown into the fire its intensity devoured those who threw them in.Number two,in the fire they never were burned,yet the ropes that bound them were ,and number 3,the Son of Man was there in the midst of the fire with them.By Him being in the fire with them,it caused them not to want to leave but they were ordered out of the fire by the king.

This brother went on to say that it's in the fire that we are free from the things that bind us.Tho it may seem intense,yet it never burns us but releases us from whatever binds us.Also in this fire we don't want to leave because the Son of Man ,Jesus,is there comforting and supporting us to go through the experience.It was James who said,Count it all joy when you fall into various trials.You can see why these brothers didn't want to leave.

I have been asking the Lord that He would show me the "Joy "of being in such a fire as these brothers.An experience where the fire destroys our enemies,is intense yet doesn't burn us but frees us from whatever binds us,and causes us to realize that we aren't alone in the fire but He is there keeping us ,encouraging us,supporting us,and even praying for us.In such a place no wonder those brothers didn't want to leave!
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Old 09-18-2008, 07:40 PM   #4
Bill W
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Location: Moreno Valley,California
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Default Re: My Journey and Experience in the Local Church

A Further Word

Saints both within and without the local churches.My previous testimony took 18 years of my life.I am currently 58 years old,and I have been on this christian pilgrimage since July 1968.I made many mistakes as you have read in my testimony,and I probably will make many more before the Lord takes me home.Although the pilgrim's road has been long and hard for me,I have come to fall in love with a wonderful Savior who loved me and gave Himself for me.I am convinced like the apostle Paul that nothing can separate us from the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus.

Since it has been 25 years since I have seen my children Mary and Joey,I am asking you especially those of you who are Dads and Moms to pray for me regarding them.Those of you in the local churches who decided that I should pay to the uttermost for any shortcomings I ask you isn't 25 years enough?Hasn't the Lord forgiven you for your debt?If He has forgiven you ,then why have you allowed this situation to go on for 25 years? Is this the kind of God you represent to a dying world?

Futhermore,I have made attempts in the past to contact my children in Irving,Texas to no avail.They were 8 and 5 years old when last I saw them. It had to be others outside of themselves who have influenced them against me since they were still tender lambs when last I saw them. No saint of God should have to go through what I have been through with my former family.As I said before,I forgive all those who stumbled me and treated me so cruelly when I was reaching out for help.All I am asking is that before I leave this earth that there would be a restoration between myself and my children who I haven't seen in 25 years.Thanks to all who Love the Lord for your prayers and consideration of this matter.
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