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Preparing the Young People

Anyone who comes to join the training must take the purpose and goal of the training as his/her purpose and goal. You can read them here.

In an open letter to the young people, the brothers in FTTA tell our young people:

…This is a training of the Lord’s recovery according to God’s economy; its goal is high and its standard is uncompromising. You must have a soft and sincere heart that is open to be trained. You should not join the training because your parents or serving ones want you to come, because your friends are coming, or because you need to “fix up” your spiritual life. Without question, the Full-time Training is a place of enjoyment and glory, but it is also a place of discipline and exposure. Although the benefit one can gain from being trained is inimitable and unlimited, the Full-time Training is not for everybody… .

A young person must first and foremost possess a personal desire, no matter how weak it seems, to be perfected as a living, functioning, and overcoming member of the Body of Christ for the fulfillment of God’s eternal purpose. In other words, he or she must have a heart to be trained. We ask the churches to refrain from “pushing” their young people to join the training just because they have not been so good and need to be “rehabilitated.” Neither do we want to give them the impression that this is the “trend” or “culture” in the Lord’s recovery, and that they have an “obligation” to go. What every young person under our care needs is an encouragement to pursue the Lord so that he will have a personal realization that he needs to be perfected, and would personally desire to be trained.

Please refer to the list of qualifications and requirements of the training as announced in the advisory when sending trainees to the Full-time Training. Please make sure that they submit the complete set of application documents, especially ensuring that they have the proper elders’ recommendation.

This paragraph in the introductory word of the training manual explains:

The training is different from the church meetings. In the church, everyone has the full freedom to work or act according to his or her burden and preference; the church does not have any outward regulations. But the training has its specific goals; they are to help you to build up your character, mind, spiritual life, and knowledge of the truth. As such, there must necessarily be proper restraints. All these restraints are to help you to be disciplined in the proper direction. If you are to reap maximum benefits from the training, you must willingly submit yourself to these restrictions. If you are not willing to be restricted, the training will be of no use to you. You should know that the life of the Lord within you will supply you to meet all the outward requirements. Through these restrictions you will be led to the way of life. You must pray to the Lord that you would be able to meet all the requirements of the training, and that you would be brought to the proper experience of life through your obedience to the training regulations.

Anyone who desires to undergo training needs to have a revelation that the divine life grows in an environment of regulation and restriction. Thus, every prospect trainee must be armed with a spirit of submission and have the willingness to obey the training rules and arrangements.

The training maintains a high standard that matches the high calling of the Lord’s workers. This requires trainees to build up a proper character. Brother Lee speaks of being strict in the training and the importance of character:

We need to be strict in this term of the Full-Time Training. For twenty years we have suffered damage because the training has not been strict enough. This time I hope that we would have a completely new and strict beginning in the training. Anyone who has ever served in the military knows that once a person joins the military, he loses all his freedom. All his exercises and activities are directed by a single word of command. He is thoroughly changed from head to toe so that he may be freshly equipped to receive strict military training. Without rigorous training, an army cannot fight a battle. No looseness is allowed, because the improper conduct of one person during a battle could lead to the destruction of the whole army. In 1953 we held a training in Taipei that was very strict at the time. Later, however, I was troubled, because in my view none of those who were in that training had become useful. The primary reason was that they failed to build up a proper character. The work of the Lord’s recovery in the Far East has been greatly frustrated mainly because of the Chinese character.

Vessels Useful to the Lord, Ch. 5

In raising up the next generation for the church life in the Lord’s recovery, there needs to be the proper upbringing of the children in the church until their college age. The Full-time Training cannot make up for the lost opportunity of cultivating the young people in the church. Brother Lee’s intention is that the young people raised up in the church life can then be sent to the Full-time Training to be perfected in their usefulness and service:

Suppose these children begin to be cultivated in the children’s meetings at the age of six and are saved. They will continue to be cultivated through three years of junior high school, three years of high school, and four years of college. In all, they will receive a total of sixteen years of spiritual education and cultivation. While they will receive sixteen years of secular education, they will also receive sixteen years of spiritual cultivation in the church. How valuable this is!

After graduating from college, this group of young brothers and sisters should not hurry to look for a job. Instead, they should stay in the church and receive two years of full-time training. During the training, they will spend half their time learning the truth and pursuing the growth of life and the other half of their time learning to serve in coordination in the church. After two years they will know whether the Lord is leading them to serve full time for the rest of their lives. It may be that one-tenth of them will continue and serve full time, and the rest will get a job. No matter what they do, these saints will have received sixteen years of spiritual education together with two years of full-time training. When they enter society, they will be different from other people. Such a cultivation is valuable. It is not only a great help to the Lord’s work but also beneficial to society, people, and the country.

Crucial Words of Leading in the Lord’s Recovery, Book 5: Concerning Various Aspects of Church Service, Ch. 6

Our experience over a period of time shows that those who have received such continual spiritual cultivation from their young age gained much benefit from the training and became useful to the Lord.

Bother Lee also stresses the need for a proper education and the need to continually learn:

In 1952 and 1953 there was a co-workers’ training in Taipei. In those days education was not universally available, and the standard of education was not high. Because of this, in that training we accepted many brothers and sisters without a high education. They loved the Lord very much and were willing to consecrate themselves to Him. However, now that over thirty years have passed, experience tells us that the inadequate level of education is a great shortcoming and lack among our co-workers. Therefore, I have a deep realization that our training must have some requirements. The trainees must have completed a college education or at least graduated from a junior college. This is not only a requirement for the trainees, but it should be the minimum educational requirement for all of us. Even if some have already received a degree, even a doctoral degree, they should not stop learning. Serving the Lord requires continual learning. What is disappointing, saddening, and even shameful, is that not many who received the training here thirty years ago have continued with further learning. Therefore, there is very little manifestation of their function, and their accomplishments are not apparent. The reason for this is that they do not have a spirit of developing new territories, endeavoring to advance, and desiring to learn further. Hence, it is impossible for them to progress.

Bearing Remaining Fruit, Vol. 2, Ch. 10

The majority of the time in the Full-time Training is devoted to receiving, studying, and ministering the truth that is contained in the Bible and expounded through the ministries of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee. Reading the Bible and the ministry during high school and college age can lay a foundation of the apostles’ teaching which will allow the young people to reap the maximum benefit from the Training. We strongly suggest the young people read the following books before coming to the training:

  • The Bible (Old and New Testament)
  • The All-Inclusive Christ, Witness Lee
  • The Economy of God, Witness Lee
  • Young People’s Training, Witness Lee
  • Basic Lessons on Life, Witness Lee
  • A Young Man in God’s Plan, Witness Lee
  • A Brief Presentation of the Lord’s Recovery, Witness Lee
  • The Basic Revelation in the Holy Scriptures, Witness Lee
  • Character, Witness Lee
  • The Glorious Church, Watchman Nee

It is expected that young people who come to the training should have already completed reading the entire Bible

The training is a time for God to be able to work in the trainees. God’s work in us requires our cooperation:

If God wants to work in us but we do not cooperate with Him, He will use some ways to make us willing to cooperate with Him. Here we see that if we want God to work in us, we have to cooperate with Him; otherwise, we are asking for trouble. But what is the way to cooperate with God? First, it is a matter of our heart. If we want to cooperate with God and allow Him to work in us, first of all we must turn our heart to God, for those who are pure in heart shall see God. A pure heart in the Bible refers mainly to a heart that desires God. The object of those who are pure in heart is God Himself. They do not want money, position, or beautiful clothing and expensive perfume. They also do not focus too much on their husband or children. Their heart is solely for God… .

If Christians are willing to allow God to work in them, the first thing they have to do is to turn their heart to God. God does not have the way to work on many people because their heart is not set on Him. We cannot say that they do not want the Lord. They really do want the Lord, but they also want something other than the Lord Himself. The elderly sisters desire the Lord, but many also desire their children, and many also desire to find a good wife for their son.

The Pure in Heart, Ch. 1

The Full-time Training is a time for a young person to consecrate his whole being and focus his heart for God’s work. Courtship creates a distraction and should not be entertained by the trainee during training time. If a trainee feels that it is time for courtship, then he or she must give up the training.

In this day and age when relationship between males and females has become so loose and improper, Brother Lee gives a strong warning to the young people concerning fornication:

At this point I need to say a strong word, especially to the young people. Do not think that defilement is an insignificant matter. We were made by God in His image. Because we have the image of God, we are honorable, even according to our natural make-up. Although other sins may not damage our body, fornication causes direct damage to our physical body, a vessel of honor (1 Cor. 6:18; 1 Thes. 4:4). Because we have been regenerated, our body is now the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). Therefore, not only do we bear the image of God in our physical body, but after regeneration our body is the temple of God. Therefore, you must keep your body in an honorable way. Nothing damages your body as much as fornication. The practice of the world today is utterly hellish, devilish, and satanic. How devilish it is for young people to have contact with one another without any restriction! I wish to warn all the young people, even the young brothers and sisters in the church life, to exercise certain restrictions upon their contact with one another.

Brother Lee then gives us an example from his testimony as one who was trained under Brother Watchman Nee:

As a young brother coming into the ministry, I went to Shanghai to receive help from Brother Nee. During those days, Brother Nee had many long talks with me. The first instruction he gave me, as a brother in the Lord’s ministry, was never to contact a member of the opposite sex alone, but, for my protection, to always have the presence of a third party. I have never forgotten this word; it has been a great help and protection to me. By the Lord’s mercy, I have followed his word throughout the years.

Life-study of Genesis, p. 1248-1250

In the Elders’ Training, Brother Lee specifically points out the need to train the full-timers to flee youthful lust:

We also have to warn them strictly and strongly to not be alone with a member of the opposite sex. Their contact should only be for the work or other necessary purposes. They must be very careful and we must warn them. We have seen a number of young people who had a good beginning get snared by their youthful lusts. The unrestrained contact between the males and females in this present age is terrible.

Elders’ Training, Book 08: The Life-Pulse of the Lord’s Present Move, Ch. 11

This rule is specifically emphasized in the general rules of conduct of the training manual:

Brother Lee asked the saints in the churches not to contact the trainees for the purpose of courtship during the two years of training.

FTTMa Training Manual, General Rules of Conduct, item K

The training has rules detailing the conduct between brothers and sisters according to Brother Lee’s exhortation:

Someone asked whether a brother and a sister can coordinate together. This must be avoided. Even though this does not break the law, it violates the principle in the Bible. We must not allow the single brothers and single sisters to have too much personal contact. It is best for them to have as little contact as possible. There should be a distance between the brothers and the sisters. This has been our practice for many decades. We do not approve of two members of the opposite sex being alone together in a room, especially if the door is closed and the room has no windows. This is forbidden. Hence, we should not think that it is a matter of convenience… It is absolutely against our principles for a single brother and a single sister to do anything together. We must maintain this testimony.

People who have not received the Lord are not concerned when a man and a woman walk together or do something together, but when a brother and a sister walk together, they lose their testimony. … [Unbelievers] criticize the Christians who behave as they do. They know that the morality of Christians is very high and that Christians cannot be like other people. We cannot necessarily do things that other people do, even if it is legal. Some legal things are not up to our standard of morality.

This is especially important when we go to the towns and villages to preach the gospel, because the neighbors are watching us. They know that we are a group of people who are preaching Jesus, so they will watch us.

Three Crucial Matters for the Increase and Building Up of the Church, Ch. 19

Trainees are made clear about this matter during admission interview, and they signify their agreement upon signing the consecration agreement. (See item 7 on the FTTMa Consecration Agreement.)

The Bible shows us that those who desire to follow the Lord to be His disciple are asked to forsake their family, possessions, comfort, and even their own selves by bearing their cross. The training is also a time to follow the Lord absolutely to be His disciple. A consecration to be trained requires one to drop everything that one is and has in the natural life. For this kind of consecration to be solid and practical, one must give his entire being by presenting his body:

If Paul were to tell us to consecrate the heart or the soul, it would not have been so definite. The most definite thing is the consecration of our bodies. If a man has brought his heart and his mind here, is that person here yet? He is not necessarily here. But if his body is here, he is definitely here. If I ask whether or not you have consecrated your heart, everyone can raise up his hand. Some have consecrated their hearts, but they have not consecrated themselves. The desire of consecration has to spread from the heart to the body. It is like sickness which spreads from within a person to his body. With those who have only consecrated themselves in an inward way, their consecrations are intangible and impractical. Only those who have consecrated their bodies are practical. This is the only place in the whole Bible that speaks of the presenting of our bodies. The heart is abstract, and it is intangible. Only the body is practical.

The training demands that a trainee must be physically present in every training activity. All training activities, including classes, workshops, services and gospel assignments, are specifically designed to meet the goal of the training. If a trainee must attend to other affairs that are in conflict with the attendance requirements of the training, he or she should rather drop the training altogether. We encourage the church to practically help the trainees overcome such entangling affairs that distract from the focus of the training.

The training requires trainees to attend all training classes and activities, and submit training requirements. Absences not caused by an emergency or health condition must only be those which the training considers as valid, and should have proper permission approved at least one week before the absence. Trainees are not allowed to incur more than 16 absences from the sessions (or its equivalent in gospel assignment or service activities).

Serious illnesses and family emergencies are valid reasons for taking a leave of absence that do not require pre-approved permission, and may be remedied by make-up sessions or assignments. There are valid reasons for taking a leave of absence that must be thoroughly fellowshipped and pre-approved at least one week before the absence, such as weddings of siblings, funerals, academic requirements and service.

Even if the reasons are valid, the trainee should first seek the Lord’s clear leading in taking a leave. Long travels are discouraged. Travel bookings must be done after approval by the training and within the allowed dates.

For the detailed guidelines on attendance and absences, please refer to the training manual.

The Training may discharge and send home a trainee based on disciplinary or medical grounds.

A dismissal may be given to a trainee committing serious violations that result from an unwillingness of the flesh to be restricted and restrained, thereby giving no ground for or annulling the work of the Spirit (cf. Gen 6:3). A dismissed trainee incurs a permanent record of dismissal and may not be admitted into the training, nor be recommended to other Full-time Training centers. Dismissal is the strongest possible disciplinary action the training can give a trainee.

A suspension may be given to trainees who show unwillingness to cooperate with the training, have difficulty following the rules and arrangements, or have difficulty fulfilling the requirements and obligations in the training. A suspension nullifies the enrollment of the trainee on the current term, and takes effect only on the training term it was given. When the trainee is ready and willing to resume training (pending review and recommendation of the elders of the sending locality), his/her return is subject to the approval of the training. The training reserves the right to defer the acceptance of the returning trainee to a later term if it deems the applicant not ready to resume his/her training. A trainee returning from suspension will be reinstated to the same level/class as to the term of his/her suspension.

A medical discharge is given to a trainee who cannot continue the training due to a medical condition. This is not considered a disciplinary action and no record shall be written against the trainee on this basis. A trainee who has not completed the requirements of the training term due to medical discharge must return to the same class/level during the time of discharge, except when removal exams or remedial assignments can be applied to cover for the lost training sessions or activities, especially in cases when the discharge was issued near or at the end of the term.

For the detailed guidelines on attendance and absences, please refer to the training manual.

A trainee is considered to have completed a term of training if he/she has passed the examinations and requirements of classes, has completed the propagation activity required, has not exceeded the limit for absences, and has not been discharged. A trainee who has not completed all of the term requirements may not proceed to the next term of training until all requirements are fulfilled before the start of the succeeding term. A trainee who cannot complete the term requirements may repeat the same class on the following term of training.

A full-time trainee is considered to have completed the 2-year curriculum if he/she has completed four terms of training in good standing.

The detailed guidelines on completion of training requirements are stipulated on the training manual.

All trainees must agree with and sign this consecration agreement:

Consecration Agreement

I am requesting enrollment to the two year Full-Time  Training in Malabon and  I understand and agree to the following stipulation and guidelines of this training.

  1. I agree to consecrate myself first to the Lord and also to the training for this entire period, to be trained in Bible truth, life, gospel, service, and character, and to accept all rules, requirements, and arrangements established by the training.
  2. I agree to be responsible to the training and be accountable to it for every area of my life during this period.
  3. I agree to attend all the meetings punctually and to participate in all the activities designated by the training. I understand that there is to be no choice or option in this matter.
  4. I understand that all absences must only be with valid reason and with prior permission.
  5. I understand that I will be subject to the training’s testing, and I agree to do all the assigned homework in the truth study or any other matter assigned.
  6. I understand that my apparel will be regulated, and I agree to be corrected in my personal attire.
  7. I consecrate myself to utterly refrain from initiating or developing any form of particular relationship or association with any member of the opposite sex during my entire time in the training, including the term breaks, except for acceptable conversation and coordination which is necessary in training arranged activities such as gospel teams and service functions. I understand that the continuation of any prior relationship of this nature which was initiated before my coming to this training must be sacrificed for the entire duration of my training time, with the exception of a pre-existing formal engagement to be married. If engaged, I agree to limit my contact with my fiancé(e) in fellowship with the training.
  8. I will strongly exercise to avoid speaking any form of gossip, murmuring, or idle, light talk, and much more foul abusing speaking during the training.
  9. I am making the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom through the whole inhabited earth and the carrying out of the training’s burden my primary goal, and agree to drop any activity, such as education, board review, part-time work while in the training, etc., which is not in accord with this burden for the period of the training.
  10. I agree to take every precaution in diet, dress, exercise, and rest as prescribed by the training so that I will not get sick.
  11. I agree that I should take care of all my own belongings and not stealing things from others.
  12. I also understand that the training has the right to dismiss me at any time.
  13. I understand that I do not have the option of dropping this training after the second week.

I choose to abide all these conditions and desire to submit myself for this training.