The saints who register for the semiannual trainings are required to give a donation. This donation enables the Living Stream Ministry to cover the costs of conducting the trainings and to carry out other aspects of the publication work. It also helps the saints to place a higher value on the training. In the following excerpts Brother Lee explains the purpose of requiring a donation:
According to our many years of experience in serving the saints, we know that all human beings are the same in that they are very happy to receive grace, but they are not as willing to take responsibility, nor do they have a sense of responsibility. Therefore, I asked the saints who registered for the trainings to make a small donation. In America anything that is free is considered to be of no value, no matter what it is. According to this concept, anything that is freely given must not be of high quality. Based on the average income in America in 1974, we decided to require a donation of fifty dollars. (CWWL, 1984, vol. 5, p. 184)
[Requiring the trainees to offer a donation] serves the purpose of providing a better estimation of our budget for the arrangement of various aspects of the work.
Concerning this point, I learned the lesson from Brother Nee’s practice. At the beginning, when he published The Present Testimony, he did it by faith; that is, the number of issues he published depended on the offerings he received. If there were not many offerings, he would wait. Hence, sometimes nothing was put out for two years, and at other times two issues were put out in a single year. When the offerings came, he would put out an issue, and when the offerings did not come, he waited. This made it difficult to work and to spread. For instance, if persons are hired for the publication work, but later no offering comes, do those who are hired stay or leave? This is a problem in the service. Hence, when he published The Christian, Brother Nee had the subscribers pay a dollar per year, which was to be used by the work. Our trainings are carried out according to this same principle. (CWWL, 1988, vol. 2, pp. 429-430)
Brother Lee also required those who attended the semiannual trainings by video to offer a donation (see CWWL, 1984, vol. 5, pp. 185-186).
The Standard of the Video Trainings
After carrying out the semiannual trainings for a few years, the ministry in the Lord’s recovery decided to videotape the live trainings and then provided a way for the churches to hold video trainings. This decision was made, in part, as a provision for saints living in faraway places, especially outside the United States, to participate in the semiannual trainings while sparing them the costs of long-distance travel, lodging, and the loss of vacation time. Although the video trainings allow the saints and the churches to save a considerable amount in expenses, the churches holding video trainings were required to maintain the regulations of the live trainings in order to preserve the standard of the training (see CWWL, 1984, vol. 5, p. 185).
If a locality wants to have the video trainings, it must keep Living Stream Ministry’s regulations; this is the proper way to do things…[We] hope that the trainees would have some exercise for the development of their character so that they would not be loose, sometimes coming early to the meetings and sometimes coming late, looking all around the room while in the meetings, and greeting people loudly and loosely. We hope that we can give the attendants in our trainings some exercise for their character to teach them how to meet and how to study the Lord’s Word. (CWWL, 1984, vol. 5, p. 187)
Brother Lee also hoped that all the responsible brothers in all the churches, as the “parents” in their locality, would cooperate with the training so that their “children” might receive benefit and the training might be effective. (CWWL, 1984, vol. 5, p. 187)
Given the importance of the video trainings, Brother Lee stated that “the elders and co-workers in all the churches should help the brothers and sisters to have a heart for the video trainings” (CWWL, 1984, vol. 5, p. 186).
Praying for the Semiannual Trainings
All spiritual work is a warfare between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan (Matt. 6:10; 7:21; 12:26, 28; Isa. 14:12-14). Releasing the deep and high truths in the Bible through the semiannual trainings surely involves fierce spiritual warfare. This is, in part, because “Satan hates the high peak of the divine revelation concerning the ultimate goal of God's economy” (CWWL, 1994-1997, vol. 1, p. 359). While the ministers of the new covenant labor to open people’s eyes and enlighten them to see the economy of God (Acts 26:18; Eph. 3:9), Satan as the god of this age seeks to blind their minds and thoughts so that the gospel of the divine economy may remain veiled to them (2 Cor. 4:4). Therefore, we need to pray in one accord to exercise the authority given to the Body by the Head to bind Satan, his blinding work, and his evil stratagems against the semiannual trainings and to loose the divine truths in the Word of God through these trainings (Matt. 16:19; 18:18; Eph. 6:10-20). In harmony with the apostle Paul’s request for the saints to pray concerning his apostolic ministry (1 Thes. 5:25), we need to pray that God will open a door for the word, for the speaking brothers to speak the mystery of Christ (Col. 4:3), and that utterance will be given to them in the opening of their mouth, to make known in boldness the mystery of the gospel, enabling them to speak boldly, as they ought to speak as “oracles of God” (Eph. 6:19-20; 1 Pet. 4:11). In 1979 Brother Lee encouraged the saints, especially the sisters, to pray much for the Lord’s up-to-date speaking through the semiannual trainings:
This is a training to put out the word. We need a high standard to turn out the highest speaking…We need much prayer. You sisters have more time than the brothers; please bear the burden to pray. (CWWL, 1979, vol. 1, p. 92)
In 1986 Brother Lee reiterated the need for the saints’ prayer for the ministry of the word in the semiannual trainings:
I must obey my Lord who sent me, who charged me, who gave me this commission to help His recovery, and who gave me this burden of the ministry of His word to release His word. At my age I could go to be with the Lord at any time. Therefore, I am very concerned before the Lord as to how I should use my time. I feel that the first place I should use my time is in doing everything I can to finish the life-study of the Old Testament. Please bear the burden to pray about this. (CWWL, 1986, vol. 3, p. 70)
We thank the Lord for answering the prayers of the saints and enabling Brother Lee to complete his life-study of the entire Bible in 1995. The blessings bestowed upon the Lord’s Body through the opening of the Word in the life-study trainings are incalculable.
May the Lord grant us to highly value the semiannual trainings and encourage others to have a heart for these trainings, and may the Lord grace us to bear the burden to pray for the semiannual trainings so that He as the seven Spirits of God may have an unhindered way to continue to speak the present truth to the churches (Rev. 2:1, 7; 2 Pet. 1:12; Acts 28:31).