An Opening Word
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
One of the hopes this weekend is to see the churches recover the function of the booksales service in their localities. We hope that there will be saints, brothers and also sisters, together with leading ones in each local church who are burdened for such a service—a service that makes the publications of the Living Stream Ministry available to the local saints, and also a service that actively promotes the reading of the publications of the ministry of the age among the local saints.
Many years ago, when you walked into a local church meeting, the first thing you would see was a wall full of books for sale; almost every church had a prominent booksales service, which was crucial for the church life. At that time, the LSM office did not deal with individual saints. Instead, all the books were sold to the local saints individually through the booksales service of each church; each church’s booksales service received packages of books from Living Stream and distributed them to the saints week by week. Many churches devoted an entire room at the front of their meeting hall just to display the books of the ministry. When the ministry station began in Anaheim in 1974, four individual messages were printed every week and sent out in packages to all churches. These messages were eagerly anticipated by the saints, and they would eagerly and earnestly wait for them to arrive like infants waiting for their next feeding.
Unfortunately, this was lost over the years until nearly no churches maintained a bookroom display or a booksales service. More important than the lack of a physical display of books, the burden to promote the publications also was lost, and individual saints were left to themselves to pursue the reading and the purchasing of the publications. Part of the reason for this loss is that during the past few storms, some of the local booksales services had become a hindrance instead of a help to the distribution of the books. Some churches, because the leading ones or the serving ones had become negative towards the ministry, did not want the saints to have access to the ministry publications. Instead of being held hostage by these negatives ones, the Living Stream Ministry started the Direct Mail Service (DMS), whereby saints could deal directly with LSM and LSM could mail books directly to the address of each individual saint. On the one hand, this made the ministry more accessible to the saints, but on the other hand, the booksales services in the local churches gradually felt that their function had been taken over by the LSM directly. First they stopped actively promoting the ministry, and eventually, many remove their physical displays altogether.
In the 1990’s Living Stream began to publish The Holy Word for Morning Revival, and over the years, it has become the regular subscription for most of the saints in the Lord’s recovery. We thank and praise the Lord for this, but in Brother Lee’s mind, he never intended that this would be the only publication circulated among the churches to meet all their needs.
The hope today is that every church in the Lord’s recovery would rise up to recover the burden of the booksales service. This is like in the time of Nehemiah when the wall of Jerusalem had been torn down and the city left in desolation. Nehemiah rose up at night to examine the poor condition, and then he called the people together to charge them to build. The result was that some leading ones as well as ordinary citizens rose up to answer the call. Local groups within each district of the city took care of their local situation and built their own gates or their own part of the wall; soon the whole wall was finished, and the enemy was driven away. Some of these builders were elders, others were full-time serving priests, but many were just local residents. Nevertheless, each group took care of its part of the city, and they built their own gates. It did not matter that what one group built was not the same as others; they all recovered the same function. With the building of the gates and the wall, there was now a line of communication and supply to both the city armory and the city granary; that is, the supply of food and weapons could quickly be distributed to every part of the city, and the need of every district in the city could be conveyed quickly to the armory and the granary. Thus, every gate became a node or joint to serve its own district.
We hope to see in the coming days that there would be the recovery of such “gates” in each local church throughout this country. With a healthy booksales service recovered in every church, whether there are 500 or twenty saints, a healthy channel of supply and communication would be restored, and hopefully the saints would be helped to become more educated, equipped, nourished, and supplied by the ministry. Not only will there be the healthy communication between the churches and LSM, but there will be a healthy communication and blending between all the various “gates.” Thus, the blessings received by one church can be shared among the other churches, and many more people will be ushered into the city through these gates in all four directions.
This cannot be the work of one “Nehemiah” alone; it must the work of the burdened ones in the whole congregation of God’s people. At the same time, if such a healthy booksales service is recovered and built up in every locality, it would be a big help to LSM, to seeking believers throughout the country, and to the promotion of the ministry of the age. But as it is true with everything else, no one person or group can do it alone; it will take the whole Body to rise up and to take up this burden.
We hope to see that besides the Lord’s Table meeting and the prayer meeting, every local church would have the booksales service as a high-priority service in the church to meet the internal need and for external propagation. Such a service must become a crucial part of the church life. We cannot imagine a church in the Lord’s recovery without the Lord’s Table meeting or the prayer meeting. In the same way, hopefully there will be healthy booksales services within each local church in the Lord’s recovery. May the Lord bless His recovery, and may He bless this weekend.
July 26, 2018