30. Escaping the Jaws of Death
By Wang Cheng, China
Almighty God says, “God is never absent from the heart of man, and He lives among man at all times. He has been the driving force of man’s living, the root of man’s existence, and a rich deposit for man’s existence after birth. He causes man to be reborn, and enables him to tenaciously live out his every role. Thanks to His power and His inextinguishable life force, man has lived for generation after generation, throughout which the power of God’s life has been the mainstay of man’s existence, and for which God has paid a price that no ordinary man has ever paid. God’s life force can prevail over any power; moreover, it exceeds any power. His life is eternal, His power extraordinary, and His life force cannot be overwhelmed by any created being or enemy force. The life force of God exists and shines its brilliant radiance regardless of time or place. Heaven and earth may undergo great changes, but God’s life is forever the same. All things may pass away, but God’s life will still remain, for God is the source of the existence of all things and the root of their existence” (“Only Christ of the Last Days Can Give Man the Way of Eternal Life” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). When I read this passage before, I only understood it in theory, but I never truly understood or appreciated it. Later on, I was arrested, persecuted and brutally tortured by the CCP, and it was God’s words that guided me to escape the jaws of death, time after time, while Satan ravaged me. I saw God’s wondrous deeds and experienced that the authority of His words surpasses everything. I gained some understanding of God and my faith grew.
That was back in 2006, when my responsibility in the church was getting books of God’s words printed. I remember once, during a delivery, some of the brothers and sisters who were responsible for delivering the books and a driver from the printing press that we’d hired were all arrested by the CCP police. Ten thousand copies of The Word Appears in the Flesh that were in that car were all confiscated. That driver sold us out, so around a dozen more brothers and sisters ended up being arrested. That case stirred things up in two provinces, and then the Central Committee started overseeing it. The CCP later learned that I was a church leader, and went so far as to dispatch armed police to investigate my scope of work. At the time, they confiscated the two cars and one truck from the printing press we’d worked with, as well as 65,500 yuan in cash from them. They also got more than 3,000 yuan off the brothers and sisters who were helping with the delivery. The police came to search my home twice after that, smashing the door open every time. They broke and smashed anything they picked up, leaving the house an absolute disaster. The CCP didn’t end up arresting me, but they detained my neighbors and others I was associated with, and tried to force them to divulge my whereabouts.
I had no choice but to flee to a relative’s home a great distance away to escape the CCP’s arrest and persecution. To my surprise, my third evening there, the police from my hometown coordinated with local armed police and criminal police, and over 100 people ringed my relative’s home so tightly nothing could get through. The police then charged into the house. A dozen or so pointed their guns at my head, and one of them shouted, “Make one move and you’re dead!” They fell all over themselves rushing to handcuff me, twisting my right arm back over my shoulder and yanking my left arm up from behind. They couldn’t get me cuffed, so they braced a foot on my back to drag my arm up, then forcibly handcuffed my wrists together. The pain was unbearable. They took 650 yuan they found on me and asked me where the church’s money was, telling me to hand it all over. This made me furious. What kind of “people’s police” were they? I attended gatherings, read God’s words, and did my duty in my faith, but they gathered such a huge force and went all that way just to arrest me, and now they wanted to plunder and embezzle the church’s funds. It was beyond a joke! Seeing I wasn’t talking, an officer came over and smacked me twice really hard, kicked me down to the ground. They then kicked me around like a soccer ball. I passed out from the pain. When I came to, I was in a cop car being driven back to my hometown. The police had put heavy shackles on me, with my neck chained at one end, and my feet at the other. All I could do was curl up in a ball, facing down, then lean on my chest and head to keep myself from falling down. Seeing the misery I was in, the police just laughed at me and said all sorts of degrading things. I knew very well that they were treating me that way because of my faith in Almighty God. This verse spoken by God in the Age of Grace came to mind: “If the world hate you, you know that it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18). The more they humiliated me that way, the more clearly I saw their ugliness and their satanic, evil natures of hating God. I hated them even more. I called out to God in prayer nonstop within my heart, asking for God to protect my heart, so that no matter what kind of torture I was about to face, I could stand witness and humiliate Satan. After praying, I thought of God’s words: “Be quiet within Me, for I am your God, your only Redeemer. You must quiet your hearts at all times and live within Me; I am your rock, your buttress” (“Chapter 26” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). It’s true. Everything of man is within God’s grasp and arrangements, and it’s God who has final say over whether we live or die. With Almighty God behind me, what did I have to fear? This thought renewed my faith, and I became willing to lean on God to face the brutal torture that was awaiting me.
I don’t know how many times I passed out from the pain over about 18 hours in transit. I just remember that it was after 2 a.m. when I got to the detention house in my hometown. It felt like all the blood in my body had congealed. My hands and feet were so swollen, they were numb and devoid of feeling, and I couldn’t move them at all. I heard a couple of officers talking about me, saying, “Is that guy dead?” After that, they yanked on my shackles and dragged me down. I felt the teeth of the handcuffs digging deep into my flesh, and then they dragged me roughly out of the car and flung me onto the ground. I passed out from the pain. Soon after that, an officer forcefully kicked me awake, then roughly dragged me into a death row cell. The next day, around a dozen policemen, all carrying guns, picked me up from the detention house and took me to a remote place outside of the city outskirts. There was a large courtyard surrounded by high walls. It looked really heavily guarded. There were armed police on guard, and “Police Dog Training Base” was written on the door sign. Once in the room, I saw all sorts of torture implements laid out. Seeing that made my blood run cold. The police first had me stand in the middle of the courtyard and ordered me not to move. They opened up a cage and let four ferocious dogs out of it, then pointed at me and gave the dogs a command, “Go, kill!” Those four dogs all bounded toward me savagely and I quickly shut my eyes out of fear. I was stunned and there was a buzzing sound in my head. I had just one thought: “God! Save me! Save me!” I called out to God within my heart over and over. After a little while, I suddenly realized that those dogs were just biting my clothing, and they hadn’t injured me at all. There was also a dog leaning over my shoulders, sniffing me and licking my face. It wasn’t hurting me, either. I suddenly thought of the prophet Daniel from the Bible. He was thrown into a lions’ den because he worshiped God, but God was with him. He sent angels to seal the lions’ mouths, so the hungry lions didn’t do Daniel any harm. That thought gave me greater faith. I truly felt that all is in God’s hands, and whether I lived or died was up to Him. I thought, “If I’m to be martyred today, that will be an honor and I will not complain.” I wasn’t constrained by the thought of death, and once I was willing to give my life to stand witness for God, I saw another of God’s wondrous deeds. I could hear those cops yelling, “Kill! Kill!” But the dogs just came over and bit at my clothing, sniffed me and licked me, and then turned around and ran away. The police stopped the dogs and tried to get them to come back and attack me, but the dogs scattered in panic and ran away, and they still didn’t bite me. The police were puzzled and said, “That’s so weird that the dogs won’t bite him!” Hearing this made me think of God’s words: “Man’s heart and spirit are held in the hand of God, everything of his life is beheld in the eyes of God. Regardless of whether or not you believe this, any and all things, whether living or dead, will shift, change, renew, and disappear in accordance with God’s thoughts. Such is the way in which God presides over all things” (“God Is the Source of Man’s Life” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Remaining safe and sound in the middle of a pack of police dogs was God quietly protecting me, showing me His almightiness and His wondrous deeds. My faith in God grew even more.
Seeing things weren’t turning out as they’d hoped, the police brought me into a torture room and suspended me from the wall with handcuffs. There was immediately a piercing pain in my wrists as if they had snapped. They still didn’t rest, though, but started hitting and kicking me. When one wore himself out, another would take over. I was beaten black and blue and had lost a lot of blood. Evening came and they still didn’t let me go. The moment I closed my eyes even a little bit, they’d tase me with their batons, and one policeman said as he hit me, “When someone knocks you out, I’ll wake you up in exactly the same way!” When I heard him say this, I knew that Satan was trying all kinds of cruel torture to get me to cave in, so that when I got tormented to the point of breaking down and I couldn’t think straight, they’d get information on the church out of me. Then they could arrest brothers and sisters and seize the church’s money. I gritted my teeth, enduring the pain, and warned myself: “Even if I’m hanged, I will never give in to Satan!” They kept torturing me like that until dawn of the next day. I felt like I was utterly sapped of strength, that death would be a reprieve, and I didn’t have the energy to hold on anymore. I was calling out to God nonstop within my heart: “Oh God! My flesh is weak, and I really can’t take this anymore. While I still have a breath to take, while I’m still conscious and alert, I beg You to take my soul. I will not be a Judas and betray You.” I thought of these words of God after my prayer: “In this round of God’s work God comes into the flesh and moreover is born in the dwelling place of the great red dragon, even more than before, He faces extreme danger by coming to earth this time. What He faces are knives and guns and cudgels and clubs; what He faces is temptation; what He faces are crowds wearing faces filled with murderous intent. He risks being killed at any moment” (“Work and Entry (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God is the Creator. He is so supreme, so honorable. He’s become flesh twice, enduring enormous humiliation to express the truth and save humanity, constantly hunted and persecuted by Satan, condemned and rejected by the religious world, and rejected by both generations. God’s suffering has been so great. Thinking about God’s love was so moving for me, and I resolved, “As long as I have a single breath left in me, I will stand witness and humiliate Satan!” Seeing that I wasn’t saying anything or begging for mercy for a long time, the police were afraid they’d beat me to death and couldn’t submit their report. They stopped beating me, but just left me suspended from the wall for two more days and nights.
The weather was really cold then. I was wearing really light clothing and was completely soaked, and on top of that, I hadn’t eaten for days. I felt like I wouldn’t be able to hold on much longer. It was at that point that the police tried another one of their tricks, calling in a psychologist to try to influence my thinking, to brainwash me. The psychologist said, “You’re still young, with parents and children of your own. Since your arrest, the other believers, including your leader, haven’t shown any concern for you. Isn’t it foolish of you to suffer so much on their behalf?” Hearing these lies, I thought, “If my brothers and sisters came to visit me, wouldn’t they be walking right into a trap? You’re trying to deceive me and lure me in with these tricks, to play on my relationships with brothers and sisters so I’ll misunderstand, blame, and reject God. I won’t let you succeed.” Thanks to God’s protection, I saw through Satan’s trick and wasn’t taken in. Defeated, the psychologist then shook his head and said, “This guy is beyond help. No matter what we do, we just can’t get anything out of him. He won’t budge.” Saying this, he shook his head and walked away in defeat.
The police immediately showed their true colors again and hung me up for another day. By that evening, I was so cold that I was shivering from head to toe and my hands felt like they were going to fall off. It was very painful. My mind got fuzzy, and I felt like I really couldn’t keep holding on. Just then, a bunch of officers suddenly rushed in, each one holding a stick about a meter long. They started viciously hitting me in the knees and ankles, and some other officers started pinching me. I was in so much pain that I wanted to die. That time, I really did fall apart. I finally couldn’t bear it anymore, and I started crying. The thought of betraying God crossed my mind. I thought that perhaps I could talk about my own faith as long as I didn’t bring my brothers and sisters into it. Seeing me crying, the police let me down onto the ground. They let me lie there, poured me a little water, and allowed me to rest a bit. They got out a pen and paper they’d prepared in advance, ready to take notes. Just as I was sliding deeper and deeper into Satan’s temptation and was about to betray God, God’s words suddenly clearly came to mind: “Toward those who showed Me not the slightest loyalty during times of tribulation, I shall be merciful no more, for My mercy only extends so far. I have no liking, furthermore, for anyone who has once betrayed Me, much less do I like to associate with those who sell out the interests of their friends. This is My disposition…. Anyone who breaks My heart shall not receive clemency from Me a second time” (“Prepare Sufficient Good Deeds for Your Destination” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). This made me realize that God’s disposition tolerates no offense, and anyone who betrays God will never gain His mercy. My mind suddenly cleared and I thought of Judas betraying the Lord Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Would I really betray God for a moment of physical comfort? If it hadn’t been for God’s words guiding and enlightening me just in time, I probably would have betrayed God and been condemned for all time! I thought of a line from a hymn just then: “My head may break and blood may flow, but the mettle of God’s people can’t be lost. God’s exhortations rest on the heart, I determine to humiliate Satan the devil” (Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). I softly hummed this within my heart and felt my faith grow. My life and death were in God’s hands, and I knew I should obey His arrangements. As long as I had a single breath remaining, I should stand witness and never yield to the CCP demons!
Seeing that I was just lying on the floor without moving at all, they kept wheedling me. One said, “Is it worth all this suffering? We’re giving you a chance to compensate for your wrongdoing, to tell us what you know. We already know everything, whether you talk or not. We have plenty of witnesses and evidence to get you charged and sentenced.” Seeing them trying every trick in the book to get me to betray God and sell out other believers, I couldn’t contain my rage, and I yelled at them, “Since you know everything, there’s no need to ask me. Even if I knew everything, I’d never tell you!” Exasperated, an officer said, “If you don’t talk today, it’ll be the death of you. Don’t even think about getting out of here alive!” In response, I said, “Since I’ve fallen into your hands, I wasn’t expecting to get out alive, anyway!” Angered, an officer kicked me in the gut, leaving me feeling like I had been disemboweled. They all swarmed around me again and started kicking and punching me, and I passed out from the pain once again. When I came to, I was strung up just like before, only higher this time. I could feel my entire body starting to swell and I couldn’t even speak. But thanks to God’s protection, I didn’t feel any pain at all. When evening came, four police officers stayed to watch me and they ended up falling asleep all over the place. Suddenly, my handcuffs just opened on their own and I fell lightly to the floor as if supported by something underneath. If I hadn’t experienced it myself, I never would have believed it! I then thought of when Peter was in prison, and an angel from the Lord saved him. At the time, Peter’s chains just fell off of him and the door to his cell opened up by itself. I didn’t dare believe that I was experiencing God’s wondrous deeds just like Peter had. At that moment I felt I’d truly been elevated and blessed by God! Incredibly moved, I rushed to kneel before God and offer up a prayer of gratitude. “Oh God! Thank You for Your mercy and care for me. I was tortured by Satan within an inch of my life so many times, and You were quietly protecting me every time, allowing me to see Your almightiness and Your wondrous deeds.” This prayer left me feeling incredibly moved and with a warm feeling inside. I really wanted to stand up and walk out, but I couldn’t move my hands or feet, so I didn’t leave. I then slept on the floor until the next day, when the police kicked me awake. Those evil policemen then began torturing me in a new way. They moved me to another room and had me sit on a tiger chair that was hooked up to electricity. They secured my neck and head with iron clamps and locked up both of my hands so that I couldn’t move at all. All I could do was silently pray to God. At that moment an officer flipped the switch for the electricity and the other dozen or so policemen snapped their gazes onto me, to see what I looked like when I was being electrocuted. They were shocked to see that I didn’t react at all. They checked all the wiring, and after a while longer, when I still didn’t react, one of them said, “Is the tiger chair broken? Why isn’t there a current?” Without thinking, he tapped me with his hand and with a “zap!”, the shock sent him flying a meter back where he lay there on the floor crying out in pain. All the other officers were so scared they ran out, and one of them tripped and fell in his rush to leave. Quite a while passed before two officers came back to unlock me, trembling with the fear of being shocked. I’d been sitting on that tiger chair for a full half an hour but couldn’t feel the electricity at all. It felt just like sitting on a regular chair. This was another of God’s marvelous works. I was so moved. At the time I felt like I was ready to lose anything, even my life. As long as God was with me, that would be enough.
They took me back to the detention house later. I was entirely covered with wounds and the pain in my hands and feet was unbearable. My whole body was limp and weak. I couldn’t sit up or stand, or get any food down. All I could do was lie there, prostrate. When one of the guys I was sharing that death row cell with found out I hadn’t sold anyone out, he really admired me. He said, “You believers are real heroes!” In my heart, I said a prayer offering up my praise to God. The police later tried to get the other prisoners to beat me and torment me, but surprisingly, they stood by me and came to my defense. They said, “This man believes in God, and he hasn’t done anything wrong. You’re about to torture him to death.” Afraid of things getting out of hand, the police didn’t dare say anything, but just slunk off, defeated.
Seeing they weren’t getting anywhere, the police switched to yet another tactic, and began working with the prison guards in the detention house to give me lots of extra labor to do. Every day they had me make two bundles of joss paper to burn for the dead, and each bundle was made up of 1,600 sheets each of tinfoil and flash paper. This was twice as much work as what other prisoners had to do. My hands were in terrible pain and I couldn’t pick anything up, and even working all through the night, there was no way I could have finished all that. The police used this excuse to mete out corporal punishment on me, forcing me to either take cold showers out in temperatures 20 below zero, or to have me work nights on end, or stand watch for long periods of time. I was getting less than three hours of sleep every night. I suffered this way for one year and eight months at that detention house. The CCP later slapped me with a charge of “using a xie jiao organization to undermine the enforcement of the law” without any evidence whatsoever, and sentenced me to three years in prison. When I got out I was still kept under close surveillance by the local police station. I wasn’t free to go where I wanted, and had to be ready to show up the moment they summoned me. I didn’t have any personal freedom whatsoever. I couldn’t attend church gatherings or do my duty. This was really difficult for me, and I thought that if I were kept under constant CCP surveillance and couldn’t do my duty as a created being, how would that be anything but a living death for me? So, I later left my hometown to go to another region where I could finally do my duty.
This experience of the CCP’s savage persecution is etched deep in my memory. I’ve seen its vile face, its demonic opposition to God and the way it harms people, and I hate it to the marrow of my bones. I also witnessed God’s wondrous deeds and His almightiness and sovereignty. It was God’s wondrous deeds that protected me so that I could escape from Satan’s grasp and that was what snatched me back from the jaws of death. Through the CCP’s brutal persecution, it was God’s words that guided me, and it was His life force that supported me so I could cling to life, and this strengthened my faith to follow God. Thanks be to God! May all glory be to Almighty God!