Notes 24-27 - Brother Dong's Displacement of Brother Lee's Publications
The earliest printed messages by Brother Dong were single messages published in 1985:
- A Visão do Tabernáculo [ The Vision of the Tabernacle]
- As Riquezas Insondáveis de Cristo [ The Unsearchable Riches of Christ]
Both series were heavily plagiarized from Brother Lee's messages in the Life-study of Genesis and Life-study of Exodus and also included portions that contradicted Brother Lee's ministry. No Old Testament Life-studies were published after the Life-study of Exodus, per Brother Dong's instructions to the EÁV editorial staff in the summer of 1985:
In 1985 I had traveled with Brother Dong on several occasions as he released the first messages he would publish later that year. It began with a series of messages under general subject As Riquezas Insondáveis de Cristo (The Unsearchable Riches of Christ). The second series of messages was A Visão do Tabernáculo (The Vision of Tabernacle). At first, these messages were published as individual messages to replace the individual messages of the Life-Studies of Genesis and Exodus, which up until then had been used weekly by the churches in their meetings. Brother Dong decided that, from the 1985 Summer Training on, the trainings and conferences sponsored by Living Stream Ministry would no longer be published in the Portuguese language. After publishing translations of the Life-study of Genesis and Exodus, the Life-studies of the Old Testament were replaced by books by Brother Dong covering Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Daniel, Minor Prophets, etc. (Personal Testimony of Laerte Salvador, June 18, 2008)
Brother Dong claimed that he was forced to replace Brother Lee's speaking with his own because Brother Lee's messages were too deep for the Brazilian saints to grasp.
Dong Yu Lan, International Conference at Estância Árvore da Vida, February 17, 2007, Message 1:
In 1975, a group of young people were brought into the church life through the practice of calling on the Lord. When they called, they were in the spirit, they grew in life, and their life was significantly changed. Long mustaches were gone and long hair cut short... Then I led them into the life-study in 1975. I took them to the Life-study training in the US... The life-study contains words of life, but we should not read it in a doctrinal way; rather, we should receive it as rhema that we may have life. Those young men who went were unable to fully grasp the meaning, so I re-spoke Br. Lee's words. Instead of simply repeating what he said, which they had already heard, I digested the messages and converted logos to rhema, thus leading them into life. We are not studying the letters in the Bible, but rather we are drawing out the spirit from the word. It is the Spirit who gives life. Therefore, since 1975, all the churches [in Brazil] have been practicing only these two things: calling on the Lord and pray-reading the word.
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Brother Dong even published such a claim in print in Daily Food: The Organic Study of John's Writings, Week 1, Saturday:
The young people we took to the trainings were not able to fully absorb the Lord's burden in the word because the messages were too rich. Then I began to ruminate the messages and pass them on to them. I began to digest and re-digest them in order for the logos word to become the rhema word, that is, for it to be the word the Lord speaks to us personally, in order to bring these young people into the word of life. In this way the messages were not mere doctrine, the black and white letter of the Bible, but became Spirit and life.
Brother Dong's assessment that "the young people we took to the trainings were not able to fully absorb the Lord's burden in the word because the messages were too rich" is in direct contradiction to Brother Lee's own appraisal:
I must tell you, it was a wonderful time! It shocked me, by what? By the ability, the capacity of all the attendants to receive such, not only a deeper truth, I would say, the deepest truth. I must tell you that through my over 50 years of speaking, this message, I mean, this topic was the ever deeper topic. No topic I ever had picked up was so deep as this one. Yet, you couldn't believe those Brazilian saints, my, they just devoured, and swallowed, and digested. From their sharings, from their reviews, I fully realized they got into these things. I really marveled at their receiving ability and capacity. (A Report Given by Brother Lee on His Visit to Brazil," given in Anaheim, California, March 25, 1984)
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Brothers who were close co-workers of Brother Dong see this as the beginning of the deviation of Brother Dong from closely following the ministry in the Lord's recovery.
Statement from Fernando Monte-Serrat, October 26, 2007:
As the years went by, especially from 1986, Brother Dong little by little, began to deviate from the ministry. Brother Dong began to say that the South Americans have no capacity to understand the high teachings of Brother Lee, and that he had to digest and transmit those teachings in a lower level for the saints to understand. This is how Brother Dong explained his practice to "filter" the words of the ministry, depriving the saints from the healthy food that produces the building up of the Body of Christ.
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Statement from David Franco, June 18, 2008:
At first Brother Dong excused the change in content both in public and in private by saying that the word ministered in the trainings was too high and consequently too difficult to understand, and that therefore he needed to digest the messages first and then adapt them to the local and regional situations. This, he said, would allow the saints to be nourished. The contents of his summer and winter training messages were completely different from the messages given in Anaheim, and even strange in their content. Because many of us knew English and some of us also attended the trainings in Anaheim, we became very aware of these differences in the messages. This situation caused most of the saints, however, to lose direct contact with the word of the ministry.
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The following facts show the extent to which Brother Dong's writings have supplanted Brother Lee's ministry in what is published by Editora Árvore da Vida (EÁV):
- As of December 2007, a review of the EÁV Book Catalog and the catalog of the Fundação Biblioteca Nacional showed the following breakdown by author of books published by EÁV:
Count Author 174 Dong Yu Lan 95 Witness Lee 22 Watchman Nee
In contrast, Living Stream Ministry published 462 titles by Witness Lee and Watchman Nee in Spanish, even though the Spanish section of LSM has historically been much smaller than and was established much later than EÁV.
- From 2003-2006 the number of pages of Witness Lee's ministry published by EÁV decreased substantially each year, as the following table indicates:
- The size of the printings of Brother Dong's ministry is significantly greater than the printings
of publications by Brother Nee and Brother Lee. For example, as many as 30,000 copies are printed of each
Daily Food, and it is this material that the saints in the churches are directed to use (see
- The strategy of putting out Brother Lee's ministry under Brother Dong's name was rationalized as a way of minimizing the resistance to getting the ministry out, but in the end it was used to promote Brother Dong's own personal ministry and views (see note 24), as the following statement from Laerte Salvador, dated June 18, 2008, makes clear:
- The vast majority of the "high peak" books of Brother Lee have not been translated and
published by EÁV. In 2007, ten years after Brother Lee's passing and fifteen years after he initiated the line of
ministry published in the "high peak" books, only three out of the forty-nine books were available in the EÁV
catalog. Three other "high peak" books had been translated and published but were no longer available. Even the
books that were in print were published not because Brother Dong wanted them to be available to the saints but because
some brothers who were subsequently expelled from Brother Dong's work took the initiative to publish them. According
to Laerte Salvador, who was for many years an editor for Editora:
During that time, Fernando Monte Serrat and I put out some of Brother Nee's and Brother Witness Lee's titles, including some from the high peak ministry, without seeking Brother Dong's approval (Statement from Laerte Salvador, June 18, 2008).
- Although a number of important titles by Brother Lee are listed in the EÁV catalog, many are not
available, including but not limited to:
- Elders' Training, Book 4: Other Crucial Matters Concerning the Practice of the Lord's Recovery
- Elders' Training, Book 7: One Accord for the Lord's Move
- Elders' Training, Book 8: The Life-pulse of the Lord's Present Move
- Experiencing Christ as the Offerings for the Church Meetings
- Life-study of Philippians
- Life-study of Thessalonians
- Life-study of Timothy, Titus, and Philemon
- The Mending Ministry of John
- The Speciality, Generality, and Practicality of the Church Life
- To Serve in the Human Spirit
- The Tree of Life
- Watchman Nee: A Seer of the Divine Revelation in the Present Age
English Title Page Count
Translated into Portuguese by EÁV
Translated into Spanish by LSM
In 1990, the opposition from Christianity against the Lord's recovery was used as a great pretext by Brother Dong, Peter Dong and Andrew Dong for Brother Dong to expand his private ministry and to put Witness Lee's ministry in a secondary position in our publishing. According to them, since Witness Lee's name was not so welcomed among the pastors, we had to become known under Dong Yu Lan's name in order "to open the Christianity door". I believed in this strategy and helped to promote it. Books were written with Witness Lee's words under Dong Yu Lan's name. Peter Dong, who was in charge of all the editors, himself added many of Witness Lee's words to books published under the name of Brother Dong. One example of this kind of "editing" by Peter Dong is found in the book [The] Seven Seals [of Revelation]. We were told that this would help to open doors to Witness Lee's books. Dong Yu Lan's books also began to be published and spread widely in the Spanish language. Thus, Brother Dong's work stole the hearts of the saints of the Lord's recovery in South America (2 Sam. 15:6).
I promoted this strategy, but loved the ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee. I understood that the final goal would be to promote the books of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee. However, later I began to realize Brother Dong's open opposition against Witness Lee's books in the EAV Board meetings, especially after Witness Lee passed away....
In early 2004, because Fernando Monte-Serrat had asked to see Editora Árvore da Vida's financial statement, Brother Dong became very annoyed with Fernando. Brother Dong spoke strongly in an EAV Board meeting that: "Editora is mine, the money is mine and Editora exists just to publish my books."
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Brother Dong's statement, "Editora is mine, the money is mine and Editora exists just to publish my books," is in direct contradiction to the stated purpose for which Editora Árvore da Vida was established and the way in which it was presented to the saints in the Lord's recovery (see note 27).
Elders' Training, Books 7 and 8 contain Brother Lee's fellowship concerning the need to have only one trumpet in the ministry in the Lord's recovery and his call to all the co-workers and elders to be restricted in one publication.
Letter from Eduardo Kalaidjian, Sr., October 24, 2007:
In 2001 I traveled to the United States. While I was there, I saw the need to bring all the LSM literature to Argentina because we didn't have all of it at that time. We were able to bring various copies of each book to make them available to the saints with a 40% discount. Brother Dong Yu Lan didn't like this because he just wanted to propagate his own books.
Dong Yu Lan, Daily Food: Practicing the Book of 1 Corinthians, Week 14, Saturday:
The Daily Food has been a great help to us all these years. This publication has become the indispensable, daily, spiritual supply of the saints. If they don't read the Daily Food, they feel a lack. However, many think that the Daily Food is just a devotional reading. Actually, it is more than that. The Daily Food is the result of the speaking ministered in the big conferences and the regional conferences. These conferences result from experiences lived out by the churches over a period of time. They are not messages that come from a study prepared in an office, but are the issue of visiting and fellowship among the churches. The words that are ministered are the present truth, which produces and promotes God's move.
Letter from Ricardo Quiroz and Roberto Prado of La Paz, Bolivia, June 2008:
In August of 2004, in a national conference held in Cochabamba, Brother Dong complained that some prefer the "uncle's food" instead of what he, as a loving father, prepared for us, making an allusion that some chose to read the HWMR and others the Daily Food.
In a similar fashion Brother Dong has resisted the airing of the Life-study of the Bible radio broadcast in South America. In approximately 1998 Rick Scatterday attended a conference in Cali, Colombia, at which Brother Dong was also present. On behalf of Living Stream Ministry, Brother Rick met with Brother Dong concerning the possibility of airing the Life-study of the Bible radio broadcast in Spanish in South America. In an e-mail dated July 17, 2009, Brother Rick recounted Brother Dong's response:
At that time the Living Stream had begun to produce the Life-study of the Bible in Spanish, corresponding to the programming that was being produced in English. Since I was going to the conference and Brother Dong was expected to be there, Andrew asked that on behalf of the Living Stream I present to Brother Dong what was being done to prepare the Life-study of the Bible in English, Chinese and Spanish, and that I seek his agreement for the Living Stream to approach Christian radio stations in Spanish-speaking cities in South America where there were churches in the Lord's recovery with a view to the airing of the broadcast.
During the conference I was able to have a personal time with Brother Dong to fellowship about this matter. The response that I was given (through translation) was that Brother Dong strongly advised against Living Stream seeking to air the Life-study radio program in South America. The reason he gave was that the Spanish-speaking people of South America would not be able to understand the program, that it would be spiritually "too high" for them.
Brother Dong has continued to oppose the airing of the Life-study of the Bible radio broadcasts in South America in spite of knowing of the enormous response experienced through the airing of the Spanish language radio broadcast in places such as Mexico. In the Spring 1999 International Training for Elders and Responsible Ones, which Brother Dong himself attended, brothers gave reports on the Lord's move in various parts of the earth. This included the churches in South America. Concerning the radio broadcast in Mexico the brothers reported:
Over the past year the number of those listening to the broadcast has steadily risen, until today it is the number one radio program in Mexico City, the largest city on earth with a population of twenty-two million. The radio program reaches forty million people with a regular listening audience of four hundred thousand people every week. Through the medium of the radio, the ministry is being spread to many hundreds of thousands of people per week. ("The Lord's Move in Many Places Throughout the Earth," The Ministry Magazine, vol. 3, no. 6, June 1999, p. 79)
In more recent years those places in South America that decided to support the airing of the Spanish language Life-study of the Bible radio broadcast have also reaped significant benefit.
Dong Yu Lan, testimony given in Taipei, Taiwan, November 23, 1981:
Concerning the literature work, because Spanish is the third largest language in the world, Living Stream Ministry has established the Spanish Language Section. After some fellowship with Brother Lee, we in Brazil also set up a Bookroom to publish Brother Lee's messages, translated from the English books published by Living Stream Ministry. These books are of three categories: first, life-studies, to supply food to all the brothers and sisters in the churches. Second, books to fight for the truth. Third, booklets to preach the gospel of glory, so that people would not just receive the gospel of grace but also hear the gospel of glory, thus being brought into the church life.
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" A 10,000 People Meeting Hall for the Universal Blending of the Body of Christ," a promotional pamphlet advertising the construction of Estância Árvore da Vida by Editora Árvore da Vida, p. 6: