The Full-Time Training in Anaheim (FTTA) is the product of a rich history of training in the Lord’s recovery. Beginning in 1936, Watchman Nee realized that, if the return of our Lord Jesus was delayed, it would be necessary to train young brothers and sisters to continue the Lord’s work and stand as the Lord’s testimony for succeeding generations. With this in view, he sought to bring young believers together, not in a seminary or Bible institute but in a training center where they might be equipped and perfected by the Lord in four main areas: 1) their realization of and constitution with the divine truths in the Bible through the Holy Spirit’s revelation, 2) their experience of and growth in Christ as their life, 3) the building up of their human character for their usefulness in the Master’s hand, and 4) the cultivation of their spiritual capacity and functions for a life of service to the Lord in the local churches and in the Lord’s work on the earth. In order to carry out this burden, Brother Nee began construction of a training center in 1936 near Shanghai. However, war broke out, and before the building could be completed, it was destroyed. Nevertheless, he was undeterred and began in 1940 to conduct trainings, continuing for several years until a change in the political climate in China made it impossible to continue.
In this Training they are brought into an environment that fosters the enjoyment of Christ’s riches as their life and life supply practically in their daily living. They also learn to apply the cross in their daily lives and live Christ in resurrection so that they may be living, functioning members of His organic Body.
While Brother Nee was imprisoned for his faith in 1952 until his death in 1972, his vision and burden for training believers were carried forward by his co-worker, Witness Lee. After many years of conducting shorter trainings, in 1986—more than 40 years after Brother Nee’s trainings had ceased—Brother Lee established an international Bible truth and church service training in Taipei, Taiwan (FTTT) with a burden to produce a group of young people perfected and equipped in the matters of life, truth, service, and the gospel who could spread the Lord’s testimony throughout the earth. Another training of the same nature began in Irving, Texas, in the spring of 1988 and subsequently relocated to Anaheim, California, in the fall of 1989, becoming the Full-time Training in Anaheim (FTTA). Eventually, as the Lord continued to bless the Training, larger, more adequate facilities were necessary. After much prayer, giving, and labor by the saints throughout the Lord’s recovery, toward the end of 2014, the FTTA relocated to the Living Stream Ministry campus, a major change after 25 years at its original facility.
The FTTA was under the direct oversight and administration of Brother Lee until he went to be with the Lord in 1997, and the Training has continued according to his burden and the curriculum that he established. In this Training the trainees attend a number of classes, some of which include: God’s Economy, The Full Ministry of Christ, The Triune God and His Word, The Spirit, The Body of Christ, The Experience of Christ as Life, and New Jerusalem. The FTTA is neither a theological seminary nor a divinity school; rather, it is a place where young believers can come to pursue Christ and learn to live Him in a normal, daily way. In this Training they are brought into an environment that fosters the enjoyment of Christ’s riches as their life and life supply practically in their daily living. They also learn to apply the cross in their daily lives and live Christ in resurrection so that they may be living, functioning members of His organic Body.
The benefits of this Training go far beyond the mere two years spent in Anaheim. Upon graduating from FTTA, those trainees who desire further perfecting to prepare for longer full-time service may continue to be trained in Boston for one year in the FTTA’s extension, FTTA-XB. In addition, a good number of FTTA graduates go on to serve the Lord full-time in His work in His recovery throughout the earth, and still others go on to graduate school or enter the workforce. But wherever the Lord leads them, we have the full assurance that the benefit they have gained in the training will affect their entire life. Brother Lee gave us the following assurance and encouragement in the book The Economy of God and the Mystery of the Transmission of the Divine Trinity:
I believe that after [the trainees] have been nurtured and equipped through the training, whether they stay to serve full-time or go to find employment, there will be no problem…They will have been trained and equipped, and they will have received the Lord’s burden. This will affect their whole life. I believe that after this kind of equipping, even if the trainees go back to their regular jobs, they will not be the same as ordinary people or even as they were before…No matter what they do in the future, whether taking care of a family, living, working, or operating a business, they will spontaneously be the Lord’s living witnesses…It will be a great thing if we can produce one to two thousand of this kind of people. (p. 137)
In the almost 33 years since it began, more than 5,000 believers have attended the FTTA, and more than 3,500 have graduated. Similar Full-time Trainings have been raised up in 16 other countries around the globe. All those who have been blessed to be under the edification of these Trainings have received a strong foundation in life, truth, and service that will enable them to meet the Lord’s present need by being produced as the overcomers in the local churches for the fulfillment of God’s economy in the present age.
A good number of FTTA graduates go on to serve the Lord full-time in His work in His recovery throughout the earth, and still others go on to graduate school or enter the workforce. But wherever the Lord leads them, we have the full assurance that the benefit they have gained in the training will affect their entire life.
We thank the Lord for His rich provision during this time, allowing the trainees to continue to receive the speaking in the classes online, study the truth, grow in life, be perfected in their living and character, and even participate virtually in the gospel and shepherding labor among the churches throughout the US and Canada.
The Lord has continually blessed the FTTA over the past 32+ years, calling many young brothers and sisters to be trained term after term. As with many things in the churches and throughout the world, the COVID-19 pandemic presented a significant challenge to carrying out the FTTA. However, a way opened for the Training to continue under the Lord’s covering and abundant blessing.
A few weeks into the Spring 2020 term, the trainees were sent back to their sending localities, and after a short recess the Training resumed remotely until the end of the Spring 2021 term. We thank the Lord for His rich provision during this time, allowing the trainees to continue to receive the speaking in the classes online, study the truth, grow in life, be perfected in their living and character, and even participate virtually in the gospel and shepherding labor among the churches throughout the US and Canada. Over the course of the terms conducted remotely, the trainees were able to group together in larger geographic clusters across North America until the Fall of 2021 when they were able to return to Anaheim to participate in the Training in person.
This period of remote training allowed for an increase in the fellowship and coordination among the churches and the leading brothers across the United States and Canada both with the Training and the trainees themselves. As the churches received back those they had sent and were able to more closely observe and care for them during their training, there was an outpouring of prayer and shepherding and a deeper realization of the Lord’s work in the Training on each one. Additionally, the trainees were able to enter into the local gospel and shepherding labor of churches throughout North America, laboring alongside the saints and learning of them to care for man in many different situations. As the remote Training progressed, many young brothers and sisters were called by the Lord to be trained, and their consistent testimony was that while they may not have received the training they wanted or expected, the Lord was faithful to give them the training He knew they needed.
Throughout the Fall 2021 term the trainees have been enjoying in-person classes and corporate pursuit of the truth, and have slowly begun to participate in the church life and gospel and shepherding labor in the surrounding localities. Also, the trainees have been encouraged to continue to care for their friends and acquaintances remotely, praying together while seeking the Lord’s leading for each one. This has been a great encouragement and has resulted in many family members and friends believing into the Lord and pursuing the Lord.
Even though we do not know what will happen in the coming terms, we know the going on of the Training depends fully upon the prayers of the saints in the Body and the Lord’s blessing. We fully expect the Lord’s continued blessing on FTTA, that He might produce young people to meet His need and participate in the turning of the age.
Three prominent New Testament verses strategically placed in the training center summarize the heart of the Training:
“Go therefore and disciple all the nations”
“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come!”
“Yes, I come quickly. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”