Meeting with Stephen Kaung
This page is courtesy of Living water, the group and website Tod Burros is a part of.
From Wikipedia: Stephen Kaung is a Chinese Christian speaker and writer in Richmond, Virginia.
At an early age, Kaung was converted to Christianity and was active in the Methodist Church in China, with whom his father was a minister. He first met Watchman Nee in the early 1930s and joined Nee's indigenous Christian work full-time, working with him until 1949 when he left China and became involved with Christian work in other areas of the Far East. Author of many books of his own, including: "Discipled to Christ", "The Splendor of His Ways", "Seeing Christ in the New Testament", "The Songs of Degrees: Meditations on the Fifteen Psalms"
Note: Most of the writings of Watchman Nee that were written in English are co-authored by Stephen Kaung (translator) as Watchman Nee did not learn the English language, so without Stephen Kaung's translations we would not have been able to read the works of Watchman Nee.
In 1987 some xCOBU brothers and sisters had begun to attend a church where they were expecting an elderly Christian brother named Stephen Kaung to visit and speak. He met with them and listened patiently to them and spoke to them;
Speaker: Stephen Kaung
Well, first of all, I think, from what you have said about The Church of Bible Understanding that you come out from; I think probably there are a few things. One of course is, it may have begun as something from the Lord, but gradually you find that it has changed its course and basically the reason, as you’ll find in all these cultish or semi-cultish groups, you’ll find that oftentimes it began well, but then some person began to dominate the whole thing. In other words, instead of holding fast Christ as the head, a man became the head and when that thing happens, invariably the thing began to move, to go astray. I mean, that is the history you can find in every, what we call cult or semi-cult, these things. Of course some may have begun wrong from the very beginning, but many of them began well. It is of the Lord and it seems to be used of the Lord, but then somebody took the place of Christ and then when that happened, you know it always went astray.
So, when one person became the authority; and I think it begins, it began about 20 years ago, is that it? Roughly, that was the time that a lot of these began, it is a kind of reaction. In the beginning it was a time when all these young people wanted to be free and then out of that comes the young people who wanted to go in the opposite direction and wanted to find authority. It is around that time. First of all you find this Jesus movement and things like that, and subculture began to develop and people just wanted to be free with no authority, no organization, nothing, throw away everything, but then a reaction came in and as a result, out of that you find the different groups, for instance, like The Children of God, is one of them.
And it began as a person who took authority and young people just reversed their feeling because they are looking for an authority and somebody came and became that authority. The result is the people who are in that group begin to loose their individuality. They cannot make any decisions because they are not supposed to and they don’t want to, because if someone can make the decision for you, it takes all the responsibility away from you and that is easy. And the result is, you find that it began to aggravate.
Now, somebody took authority and then the others began to submit to the authority and really desired for that authority and that authority became more authoritative, until finally you find that if any person, no matter how spiritual he is, if he should take the place of Christ, sooner or later wrong teaching will come out. You know, it can’t be avoided.
He will teach something that is extra-spiritual or scriptural and the result you find is: instead of real spiritual, it is a kind of pseudo-spiritual. He tried to maintain a form of spirituality: ‘Now, if you do certain things then you are spiritual.’ You strive for spirituality and yet it is a kind of pseudo-spirituality in two ways: one is, you become more and more legalistic; it is bound to be that way. You become more and more legalistic, you do certain things and you are “alright”.
The other is, you become less and less human, you cannot be a normal person any more. They take the abnormal, abnormal as spiritual, so if any one tries to be normal, you will be considered as “not spiritual”. That kind of feeling will be created. It is inevitable. Every cult or semi-cult are all that way and furthermore you will find that the teaching invariably will be: “This is the Lord’s best, the only place, if you leave it you’re finished” and that kind of thing is brainwashing.
After you have been brainwashed for a few years, whenever you leave that group, you are spiritually wrecked. I have met people completely wrecked. That guilty feeling is always there, because they fell, they have left God’s will, and now they are finished. I’ve met people like that, who began to see some things wrong and they come out of it and yet the effect upon them is so strong, they’ve never been able to shake it off and they are a misfit everywhere. They cannot fit in anywhere else, they just become a misfit. It’s very sad, it’s very, very sad. Some people came out and saw what is wrong and yet when you talk to them you can see that they are still bound. It’s very difficult.
So, in one sense I feel that what you have experienced, you are the few lucky ones; because many people are wrecked for life. There is no way humanly speaking, it is a very sad story. Unless, by the grace of God, people begin to see that the whole thing is pseudo-spirituality and if you can really see this, then the deliverance begins.
And I think the deliverance begins with first not trying to be spiritual, but try to be human. As long as you are still thinking to be spiritual there is no hope. So, how can you help people? If that person still has that kind of ‘spiritual dream’ there, you cannot help him; but if he begins to see that what he has gone through is not spirituality, that it has made them less than a human and he really begins to try to be human, these brothers and sisters you can help.
So, I think the first step is, try to help these brothers and sisters to be human. Don’t try to make them spiritual, in other words, they have tried. It’s man-made spirituality, it’s not real, but the poison is still there, because they think if you don’t do these ‘things’ you are not spiritual. The poison is still there.
So, unless by the grace of God, they are willing to get rid of all these concepts…you really need to get rid of all these concepts and thank God that you can get your being. That’s where the deliverance comes.
Then, on there, you can base, gradually, instead of centered upon a person or a teaching, you can come together and just center on Christ and encourage each other in the Lord and gradually you can be healed.
So, if the Lord has really given you a burden, I do believe that the Lord will use you to help some of them. Humanly speaking or looking back into history, probably a great many will be just forever wrecked. It’s very sad, it’s very, very sad. Ask the Lord to really clear you completely from the past. I’m afraid the past: you’ve come out of it, but probably it hasn’t come out of you completely. You really need to ask the Lord to let everything in the past really come out of you.
So, when you come together and seek the Lord it will not be trying to return to: ‘the good old days’ as it were. Don’t have that kind of outset, it will be impossible and it should not be. I personally feel that when you come together, be as simple as possible. Don’t try to aim high. Just be natural as the Lord enables you and just come together. Love the Lord together and love one another and try to be human and gradually your human faculties can be restored.
If you just come together and meet together and pray for these people, I believe some will be attracted, some can be recovered. It may take some time; you probably can’t aim too high. Maybe out of one hundred, one or two can be restored and thank God for that, I think, unless the Lord has something else, otherwise, if some would be recovered that is probably the best.
If your fellowship is restricted to certain people, certain groups, it can be limited and the Lord has brought you out and given you opportunity to have fellowship with other people. To me, I feel, when you come together instead of thinking to recover the past, the Lord may have something much bigger for you and if you center upon the Lord and open yourself to fellowship with brothers and sisters I believe that the Lord will lead you to something bigger.
We really need to have something from the Lord that is positive and ultimate and this will come if we really seek the Lord together. So, I would suggest that when you come together, just seek the Lord together in simplicity and don’t try to do too much, because you did in the past.
The situation is almost like what you find in Colossians, you’ll find the church there began well, but through their anxiety to be perfect they were led astray by people telling them: ‘If you know these things or if you do these things you’re perfect’. It began in the spirit, but it ends up in the flesh, they were led astray.
The same thing happened with the churches in Galatia. If she can’t draw you down, she will push you overboard, so that’s what happened. So, since you have tried before, you shouldn’t try again. You should just look to the Lord and trust him. He is our hope! Christ within you, the hope of glory, and if you center upon that, it’s not by our trying; it’s by his being in us. If you center upon this you are safe.
So far as your burden for these brothers and sisters, that is correct, we ought to have these burdens. People who do not have the spirit, they do not understand, but you have gone through it, you know what it is about and your burden for them, I think is very right and you should continue to pray to the Lord and it is correct; but another thing is, I think you have to get rid of the thought that you belong to that group. You don’t belong. In other words, the Lord has released you from that group into something much bigger, so if you are burdened with them, that is fine, but you cannot try to confine your fellowship and your going on with the Lord still within that boundary; because if you do, you haven’t come out yet and the Lord wants you to come out. It is something that the Lord wants you to come out, just like the Lord said to the people of Israel: “Come out of Babylon”, you have to come out. If you want to help them, you have to come out. You cannot help them within, but as you come out, you have to be completely delivered from that bondage. If you still feel a burden for them is one thing, but you cannot be confined yourself to that boundary anymore. So, I don’t think there is any contradiction, if you meet together as people who have come out from that group and your main burden is to help the others to come out.
I have known people, even though they tell people, ‘don’t follow me’ and so forth, but unconsciously people are still looking to him and he is still controlling them. I’ve seen other people doing that, it is no use. People who have gone into this so deep that he cannot help himself.
Don’t try to set up anything, just come together and seek the Lord together and let the Spirit of the Lord, don’t try to have a sort of idea of what you are going to do or what you are going to be. Just start from the very foundation as believers coming together around the Lord, seeking the Lord. Don’t have any kind of definite idea as to what will transpire and if you can do that then you give the Spirit of God freedom to move among you towards that which the Lord himself is after. You have to start entirely from the very beginning; don’t follow the pattern of the past. Really start as simple Christians, that is the way to do.