23. It Is Almighty God Who Saved Me

Li Tianhong

Lingbao City, Henan Province

I believe that every brother and sister in the Lord is expecting the Lord’s coming and is expecting the Lord to take us to heaven and into the glorious and beautiful home soon. Like you all, I also expected that all along. I remember that as early as March 1999, I had heard that there were a group of people of “the Eastern Lightning” preaching that the Lord had already returned, yet our leader said that that band of people were wrong and were cultists and antichrists…. He did not allow us to contact them lest we be deceived. So I, as an instructor of the Praise Church, actively cooperated with the leader and spread his words wherever I went. Moreover, I kept myself on full alert, always afraid that the brothers and sisters would be deceived by them.

One day in July 1999, several people of our village came to preach God’s end-time gospel to me. They told me that the Lord had already returned to do the work of judgment and chastisement and of unifying all denominations into one. As soon as I heard it, I shouted at them, “I won’t listen! Our leader has said that God hasn’t returned yet! Besides, you’re almost illiterate, yet you even come to preach to me? I teach the Bible every day. Don’t I know more than you? If God had come back, he would surely let me know first. Is it necessary for you to tell me? Go away now! I won’t listen!” As I said that, I drove them out. That night, I went to the church and told the brothers and sisters about how I had driven away those who preached the end-time gospel. I also told them to keep a strict guard and never let people of “the Eastern Lightning” take a “sheep” away from us!

In October of the same year, my leader assigned me to make rounds among the churches in a certain region. Once, I met several strangers in a host home. They said, “Do you know? God has returned and done a new work….” Before they had finished their words, I retorted immediately, “You are of ‘the Eastern Lightning.’ You are preachers of a false way. It’s a deceitful trick!” Then I said to the host family, “We can’t listen to them. Drive them away!” Later, I announced in the church seriously, “From now on, without my permission, no one is allowed to contact people of ‘the Eastern Lightning.’ Whoever disobeys will be expelled!” So, I made those rules wherever I went so as to seal the churches.

In May 2000, six or seven people of a church accepted “the Eastern Lightning.” After I learned it, I immediately went to disturb them with a co-worker. I said to them, “That band of people of ‘the Lightning’ use various means and tricks to deceive people. You have been fooled! You are small in stature and know little about the Bible, so you don’t have discernment. But as long as you confess your wrong and try hard to do good deeds to atone for your sins, you can come back. Never ever contact them again….” Then, the co-worker who came with me added, “People of ‘the Lightning’ are extremely brutal. It’s said that once you accept, they will take you out and force you to do this and that. If you don’t obey, they will gouge out your eyes, cut off your ears, break your legs, or use a knife to force you to commit adultery. …” At these words, they turned pale with fear and all stated that they would never contact people of “the Lightning” again. To further insure that the brothers and sisters would not contact “the Eastern Lightning,” I spent all my time bustling about among the churches everywhere, so much so as to neglect my meals and sleep. Sometimes, I even prayed all night long to curse people of “the Lightning.” Besides, every time I made rounds among the churches, I would tell with embellishment the rumors I had heard about “the Lightning” to the brothers and sisters so that they would stay away from “the Eastern Lightning.”

Because of the “price” I had paid, my leader thought more highly of me. But somehow the churches’ condition got worse and worse. The co-workers formed factions, had jealousy and strife, and scrambled for power and profit among themselves. The lectern became an emplacement, and the Bible became a weapon to attack each other. Whoever occupied the lectern had the opportunity to attack others, and even prayer became a way to dig at or fight against each other. In the churches the previous vigor had been completely lost, and even more, the love among the brothers and sisters had disappeared. The attendance at the meetings kept on dropping, and a meeting which had sixty or seventy people had now only four or five left. What puzzled me more was: There was a brother Fu in our church. He was only 42 years old and had been zealous in expending himself for the Lord all the year round. Now instead of receiving peace, he got cardia cancer. A good many people fasted and prayed for him, but it did not help. The brothers and sisters felt very puzzled, and I was also downhearted, not knowing why all these happened. However, I still forced myself to go on. On the one hand, I was afraid of being deceived; on the other hand, I was afraid of losing the position of “instructor.” I thought to myself, “It’s really not easy for me to get the position of instructor. I must ‘cherish’ it!” So, in order to preserve my position, I ingratiated myself with my leader and did the work of resisting God over and over again to gain his trust and favor.

One day in early June of 2001, I went to Yima City of my native province. There I gave a message about discernment to the brothers and sisters. Unexpectedly, a relative of the host family came. Through the introductions, I knew that he was also a believer in Jesus. So, we began to fellowship together. During the fellowship, I found that the light the brother had received was much higher than mine and that he had unique views on the Bible. I admired him from the bottom of my heart, but, as an instructor, how could I bow my head before him? Later, when we spoke of Paul, the brother said, “Paul is one we imitate. He suffered many hardships and ran around much for the Lord. His thirteen letters are very beneficial to the brothers’ and sisters’ experience of life. However, in his letters, there are also some things which are not after the Lord’s heart. For example, ‘I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness….’ (2 Timothy 4:7-8). These words revealed his intent and purpose in working for the Lord. The efforts he expended were to make a deal with God. Such a viewpoint of pursuit and such knowledge are not after God’s heart….” Before he had finished his words, I retorted immediately, “How dare you belittle Paul? If it had not been for Paul’s preaching, how could we have our today? Paul is one for us to imitate and is a model for us to follow in preaching the gospel. If people believe in Jesus not to gain anything, is there any meaning in such belief? Who will ever believe?” Then I pointed my finger at him and said, “You dare condemn Paul. Aren’t you arrogant? Paul suffered so many hardships and received so many lashes for the Lord! Have you suffered any? Paul could say those words boldly, can you?” I got so emotional that even my complexion changed, and I glowered at him, as if in a quarrel. But that brother did not get angry at all. He said gently, “Sister, don’t be angry. Let’s take our time talking about it. Here! Have a glass of water.” I did not even give him a look, but he did not mind at all. He continued, “Even though Paul suffered a lot for the Lord, as a created being he should…” I interrupted him again, “As the instructor of the Praise Church in Lingbao City, I know much more than you. I read The Bible for Intensive Study, The Bible With Commentaries, and Jia Yuming’s Essentials every day. Is there anything that I don’t know? Just drop it!” “Yes, what I know is very limited, but I’m willing to discuss this subject with brothers and sisters,” he said, still gently. At that time, I thought, “I treat him in such a way, yet he doesn’t get angry at all. Instead, he is so gentle, humble, sober, and natural. He is a preacher; am I not a preacher as well? But I get so impatient as to forget myself when encountering things. Why is that? …” “Sister, why are you silent? What are you thinking?” asked the brother. I hesitated a moment and then said, “Nothing, you may go on.” Afterward, through the brother’s dissection of the viewpoint of Paul’s pursuit, I understood a truth: It is only right and proper for a created being to worship God. He should not harbor his own intent and purpose, and even less should he use his suffering as the capital for receiving blessings to make a deal with God. That was what I had never heard before. I felt his fellowship was so good and so high.

Following that, the brother fellowshipped with me about many more verses of the Bible, and I felt that everything he said was very good and clear. However, when speaking of God’s work, he said, “The Old Testament records the work of the Age of the Law: God led people in the form of the Spirit and was called Jehovah. He worked in Israel, issuing the laws to make people conscious of sin. The disposition he expressed was righteousness, burning, and curse. The New Testament records the work of the Age of the Grace: God was incarnated to be man’s sin offering and was called Jesus. He worked in Judea, and the disposition he expressed was love, mercy, forbearance, and patience. Revelation prophesied that God would do a work of judgment and purification in the end time, that is, the work of the Age of the Kingdom. Since the age has changed and the work has become different, his disposition and name as well as the place he works in, and so on have changed accordingly. The disposition he expresses is no longer love and mercy but righteousness, majesty, and judgment. God is no longer called Jesus but the Almighty as prophesied in Revelation….” Hearing that, I could no longer hold myself back. “Our senior leader Qiao says that now there are a band of people preaching Almighty God. The one they believe in is a false christ and a deceiver. He also says that if we refuse to accept their way after listening to it, they will gouge out our eyes, cut off our ears, break our legs, or force us to commit sexual immorality. I think you are with them, aren’t you? I won’t be taken in by you….” As I said that, I got up to go. “Sister, from these days of contact, do you think I’m like what your leader says? Why do we not respect the fact but trust only one side?” “Right!” I thought to myself, “Through these days of contact with the brother, I have seen that he is very humble and gentle, and there is nothing in him like what our leader says. But I shouldn’t disobey my leader’s words. He can’t cheat me, and he can’t be wrong. Besides, what if my leader finds out that I have contacted them? Won’t I lose the position of instructor? Then won’t my years of pursuit be all in vain? I must go!” As I thought of this, I said to them firmly, “I have been out so long. I have to go back….”

The brothers and sisters saw me out reluctantly. All the way I kept thinking, “When I get back, I’ll tell my leaders in detail about how I debated with the people of ‘the Lightning’ and how I fought for the truth. They are bound to give me some credit.” When I got back to Lingbao, it was already past 8 o’clock at night. Immediately after I got off the train, I saw Brother Zhao and Brother Guo of my church. I greeted them joyfully, but they ignored me. Just when I felt puzzled, I saw my leader, Brother Li, who was not far away. He was staring at me and looked extremely displeased and fierce. As I saw this, my heart pounded as if I had done something to be ashamed of. A three-wheeler took us to a host home, and not long after we entered the room, they began to question me, “What did you do in Yima?” “How did you preach? Could it take such a long time?” “Did you actually preach? You didn’t commit sins, did you?” “Did they beat you? Did they force you to do anything? Have you contacted them? You have accepted, haven’t you?” “Never mind, all you have to do is to admit your mistake and speak out the inside story….” They bombarded me with questions, so that I lost my bearings. Their questioning in such a way hurt my self-respect terribly, and I felt as if my heart would break. “How come these people all become like this? …” That night, I could not fall into sleep. I wept and thought, feeling extremely wronged.

After a few days, I still could not get the better of it. The expressions shown that night by the leaders I looked up to and admired all along, and their questioning tones and cold words kept appearing in my mind and ringing in my ears. I felt wave after wave of grief piercing my heart, extremely distressed. At that time, I thought, “This time they will expel me. What will they say about me? What will the brothers and sisters think of me? …” In despair, I constantly reflected on the scenes in Yima. Not only was the way that the brother preached higher than ours, but he also behaved calmly and naturally, spoke gently, and was easy to approach. He was very pious during the fellowship and always treated others sincerely. Our leaders, however, were all full of arrogance and appeared superior and domineering. Even more, our co-workers had no love for one another but all supplanted each other and scrambled for fame and gain. Thinking of that, I did not feel like seeing them anymore, disgusted with their words and deeds. Those whom they called the people of “the Lightning,” however, constantly appeared in my mind. Their living out roused my admiration and respect. I remembered that at the time when I lost my temper and accused them of being wrong, evil, and false, that brother remained amiable, still treated me sincerely, and fellowshipped with me in a patient and painstaking way. I was simply filled with admiration for their magnanimity and love. I really could not figure out what kind of power was driving them to live out completely differently from us. Then I thought, “At that time, I didn’t accept their way after listening to their fellowship. Didn’t they still treat me sincerely? And isn’t it that my nose and eyes are intact and not a single hair of my head has lost? Doesn’t this even more prove that those words our leader says are purely lies?” Thinking of that, I could not help shuddering. I felt that it was not the people of “the Lightning” who were to be dreaded, but the leaders whom I looked up to and admired! They had the audacity to give false testimonies. It was really unbelievable! So, I decided to go to the people of “the Lightning” alone for a good talk without letting anyone know.

On June 19, I set out on my journey to Yima again. On the train, I felt it was so slow, and I wished I could fly to that unforgettable place instantly. At that time, I really felt that when the mind was bent on returning, it was like a flying arrow. After I got off the train, I headed straight to that host home. When I walked in the door, the brothers and sisters were all taken by surprise. They were stunned for quite a while and then said excitedly, “You are back. How surprising! Great! Great!” “Thank God! It’s God’s moving that causes me to come back here,” I also said excitedly, holding the sister’s hands tightly. … The next day, the brother fellowshipped with me again in detail about God’s three stages of works and God’s eager intention to save man. He also read me several passages of God’s word: “He has already descended, but people do not recognize him, nor do they know it, and they are just waiting for him aimlessly. Little do they know that he has already descended on the white cloud (the white cloud refers to his Spirit, his word, and all his disposition and being) among a group of overcomers he will make in the end time! How could people know: Although the holy Savior Jesus is full of lovingkindness and full of love for man, how could he work in the ‘temples’ that are full of filthiness and inhabited by swarms of unclean spirits? Although people are all waiting for his descent, how could he appear to those who eat the flesh of the unrighteous, drink the blood of the unrighteous, and wear the clothes of the unrighteous, and who believe in him but do not know him and yet keep extorting from him? People only know that the Savior Jesus is full of lovingkindness and full of mercy and that he is the sin offering full of redemption, but they do not know that he is God Godself who is laden with righteousness, majesty, wrath, and judgment and who is with authority and full of dignity. So, even though people all eagerly expect and thirst for the return of the Redeemer and their prayers have even moved ‘Heaven,’ the Savior Jesus does not appear to them who believe in him but do not know him.” “If people always call me Jesus Christ and yet do not know that I have opened a new age again and carried out a newer work in the end time but keep waiting for the descent of the Savior Jesus infatuatedly, I call all such people ones who do not believe in me, ones who do not know me, and ones who pretend to believe in me.” “Maybe many people do not pay attention to what I am saying. But I still want to tell every so-called saint who follows Jesus: When you see with your own physical eyes Jesus descending from heaven on a white cloud, it will already be the time the Sun of righteousness appears publicly. At that time, you may be beside yourself with excitement. But have you ever known this: When you see Jesus descending from heaven, it will be the very time you go to hell to receive punishment. That will already be the time God’s management plan is declared concluded and the time God rewards the good and punishes the evil. This is because God’s judgment has ended at the time when people have not seen miraculous signs but only the truth is expressed.” Hearing that, I felt much clear and regretted my past deeds very much. So, I came before God and prayed to God, “O Lord! Almighty God! Thank you for saving me so that I can have the honor of hearing your voice and seeing your work. In the past, because I was blind and ignorant and didn’t know you and blindly listened to my leaders’ words without seeking or investigating, I was deceived by the lies. Moreover, I slandered and blasphemed your work, and spread the rumors and sealed the churches everywhere. This has blinded many brothers’ and sisters’ eyes and closed many brothers’ and sisters’ hearts, so that they are now still unwilling to accept your end-time salvation and thus live in darkness. O God! I am indeed sinful and evil to the uttermost. Please give me an opportunity to repent. I’m willing to expose my evil deeds to the light so that those innocent brothers and sisters who are still being deceived by the rumors can see the truth of the matter and return to your family. O Almighty God! It is because of your moving and your revealing that I, a foolish, ignorant, numb, and obtuse person, begin to wake up. Now, I’m convinced that you are the One whom I have been expecting. I resolve to follow you and expend myself for you in all my life so as to repay your grace of salvation and repay your great love!”

Dear brothers and sisters, this is my personal experience. I wonder if it can give you some warnings. Now, are you still being deceived by rumors? Are you also looking up to your leaders? If so, then I advise you to drop the place for any man in your heart right now, for only the One who rules over everything can save us! May brothers and sisters see through satan’s schemes and not be deceived by lies or restrained by evil leaders anymore. Step forward boldly and take the initiative to seek. I believe God will surely make a way out for you and bestow to you abundantly! Amen!

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