The Lord’s servant, Miss Margaret E. Barber, became a seed of the divine life in China. She learned the lessons of life, strictly disciplining herself to follow the Lamb in detailed obedience while also becoming a pattern to train the younger believers. Through this process she became a faithful steward, committing her learning to faithful men who later became competent teachers also (2 Tim. 2:2). Perhaps the most notable of those under her training hand was Watchman Nee.
In taking up the burden to move from Great Britain to China for the Lord’s interest, Miss Barber deeply experienced the cross and learned to live by faith. Her poems, some of which are included in this volume, exhibit her deep experiences of Christ. She was very much in the Lord’s presence, and she eagerly anticipated His coming back.
She paid more attention to life than to work. In China she lived in a suburb of Foochow, traveling little and receiving no publicity. She simply prayed for the Lord’s move and helped those who sought her counsel in seeking after the Lord. Through Miss Barber, Watchman Nee obtained a foundation for his spiritual life. When the young Brother Nee would admire the eloquence, knowledge, ability, zeal, or natural power of persuasion shown by a Christian speaker, Miss Barber would point out that these things were neither of life nor of the Spirit. They could stir people up but could never minister life to people. She paid more attention to life than to work. She also warned the young brothers against doing a popular work, which would bring shipwreck to their spiritual life. By deliberately putting himself before Miss Barber’s instruction and strict rebukes, Brother Nee received much help.
In Witness Lee’s biography of Watchman Nee (Watchman Nee: A Seer of the Divine Revelation in the Present Age, Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1991, 18), he mentions the help Watchman Nee got from Dora Yu and Margaret Barber: “He frequently told others that it was through a sister [Dora Yu] that he was saved and that is was also through a sister [Margaret Barber] that he was edified.” It was Sister Barber who introduced Watchman Nee to the writings of D. M. Panton, Robert Govett, G. H. Pember, Jessie Penn-Lewis, and T. Austin-Sparks.