Mr. Willis was a self-taught Greek scholar and a missionary in China for many years. He had brought with him that evening a book which he gave me called Treasures of the Greek New Testament. It was written for children and I accepted this gift as an honour.
Not long after that he returned to Hong Kong and then several years later he retired to a small town in Canada.
Here is what my sister wrote about this time when she was living in Hong Kong with Mr. Willis' sister Helen Willis.
- In 1972, an event taking place in the meeting in Canada turned the world upside down for Mr. Collier and the Hong Kong mission. Mr. Christopher Willis, older brother of Helen Willis and the leading missionary of the Brethren's China mission, was suddenly expelled from the Exclusive Brethren Fellowship. He had been living in retirement with his daughter in Canada, when certain brothers in the meeting where he worshiped decided that something that he had written was heretical and succeeded in having him excommunicated from the fellowship. This was a rare occurance among the Brethren, usually taking place only when some sexual misdemeanor had been exposed. Expulsion in one place meant that the individual was excluded from fellowship in all meetings arond the world. The heresy of which Mr. Willis was accused was on an abstruse point, having to do with the saving power of the blood of Christ on the cross. Was it the blood flowing from his side, or from the nail prints in his hands? Mr. Willis was convicted of preaching a "bloodless salvation" because he insisted Christ's words on the cross "It is finished." meant that salvation was achieved before the soldier had pierced his side.
The house was turned upside down as our father became the leader in defense of Mr. Willis's integrity. He attended meetings and took phone calls day and night. He stewed for hours over obscure isolated Bible verses. This went on for over a year.
I was 16 and the only one at home who read Greek well. More than once my father sat down with me at the dining room table with the Greek New testament and we reviewed Matt. 18:18-20.
- 18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
Mr. Willis was never unexcommunicated and then he died. That is all. Then we left. Don't ever ask me if you should study Greek. It will not save you. But you should learn the right answer to whether it is the blood that flowed from Christ's hands or his side.