20. Living Through Cruel Persecution Has Strengthened My Faith in God
By Zhao Rui, Shanxi Province
My name is Zhao Rui. Due to the grace of God, my entire family began following the Lord Jesus in 1993. In 1996, when I was sixteen, I was drawn in by the love of the Lord Jesus and began to work in the church and give sermons. However, not long after, I began to observe many things within the church which left me bitterly disappointed: Co-workers engaged in intrigue against each other, excluded each other, and vied for power and profit. It was as if the Lord’s teaching that we should love one another had long ago been forgotten. Those giving sermons seemed to have nothing to say and there was no enjoyment to be had in living the church life. Many sisters and brothers had become negative and weak and had even stopped attending meetings…. Faced with the bleak and desolate state of the church, I felt particularly anguished and helpless. In July of 1999, by God’s miraculous orchestration and arrangement, I welcomed the return of the Lord Jesus—Almighty God. Through reading Almighty God’s words and engaging in church life, I once again enjoyed the work of the Holy Spirit. When I attended meetings with my brothers and sisters, the religious style of life I had once led was swept away; every person could say what they really felt, and we fellowshiped on the light provided us by the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment and discussed how we experienced God’s word, as well as how to rely upon God to rid ourselves of corruption. What’s more, the brothers and sisters lived in a very devout and dignified way; they were forgiving and tolerant of each other’s shortcomings and displays of corruption and provided each other with loving assistance. If someone was going through difficulties, no one would look down on or belittle them, but would seek the truth with them to find a solution to their problems. This was the church life that I had always wanted—the true way for which I’d searched for many years! I’d finally returned before God after having been lost for years on end! I made a resolution to God: “I will bring those innocent souls who still live in darkness before God, enable them to live with the guidance and blessing of the work of the Holy Spirit, and be watered by God’s living water of life. This is my calling as a created being and is the most meaningful and valuable way to live my life.” With that, I threw myself into performing my duties.
However, the CCP government, that hater of the true God, that truth-detesting atheistic government, would not allow us to follow God nor bear testimony to or spread God’s gospel, much less would it tolerate the existence of God’s church. In the spring of 2009, the CCP government carried out a large-scale campaign of arrests targeting the main leaders of The Church of Almighty God. Leaders from churches all over the country were arrested and thrown into prison one after another. At around 9 p.m. on the 4th of April, I and a sister with whom I was collaborating in performing our duties had just left our hosting house and walked to the road when three men in plain clothes suddenly leaped up behind us and dragged us forcefully by the arms, yelling, “Let’s go! You’re coming with us!” Before we even had time to react, we were thrown into the back of a black sedan that was parked by the side of the road. It was just like in the movies when gangsters come and abduct someone in broad daylight, except now it was happening to us in real life, and it was absolutely terrifying. I was completely overwhelmed and all I could do was call silently out to God over and over: “Dear God! Save me! O God, please save me….” Before I had recovered my composure, the sedan pulled into the main courtyard of the Municipal Public Security Bureau. It was only then that I realized that we had fallen into the hands of the police. Soon after, the sister from our hosting house was also brought in. The three of us were taken to an office on the second floor and an officer, without the slightest explanation, seized our bags and made us stand facing the wall. He then forced us to strip naked and performed a body search, forcibly seizing some materials about our work in the church, receipts for church money that was kept, our cell phones, over 5,000 RMB in cash, a bank card and a watch, among other personal belongings which we had on us and in our bags, in the process. While all this was happening, seven or eight police officers kept coming in and out of the room and two of the officers that were monitoring us even burst out laughing and pointed at me, saying, “This one’s a big wig in the church, looks like we caught ourselves a big one today.” Soon after, four plainclothes police officers put me in handcuffs, covered my eyes with a blindfold, and escorted me to a Public Security Bureau branch far outside the city.
When I entered the interrogation room and saw that high-up, iron-grated window and that ghastly, cold-looking tiger chair, the gruesome stories of brothers and sisters who had been tortured in the past came floating into my mind. Thinking of the unknown torture that the evil police officers would subject me to next, I became extremely frightened and my hands began to shake involuntarily. In this desperate situation, God’s words suddenly appeared in my mind: “You are still carrying fear in your heart. Is it not then the case that your heart is still filled with Satan’s ideas?” “What is an overcomer? The good soldiers of Christ must be brave and rely on Me to be spiritually strong; they must fight to become warriors and battle Satan to the death” (“Chapter 12” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). The enlightenment of God’s words gradually calmed my panicked heart and allowed me to realize that my fear had its source in Satan. I thought to myself: “Satan wants to torture my flesh so that I capitulate to its tyranny. I can’t fall for its conniving plot. No matter what may come, I trust that God is with me in secret, watching over and protecting me. At all times, God will always be my staunch backup and my eternal support. Now is a key moment in the spiritual battle and it is imperative that I stand witness for God at this time. I must stand at God’s side and I cannot give in to Satan.” Having realized this, I quietly prayed to God: “O Almighty God! It is with Your good intentions that I’ve fallen into the hands of these wicked policemen today. However, my stature is far too small and I’m panicked and frightened. I pray that You give me faith and courage, so that I may break free from the strictures of Satan’s influence, not submit to it and resolutely stand witness for You!” After finishing my prayer, my heart was full of courage, and I didn’t feel quite as frightened by those malicious-looking evil policemen.
Just then, two officers shoved me into the tiger chair and locked my hands and feet. One of the officers, a tall, hulking brute, pointed at some words on the wall that read “Civilized Enforcement of the Law” and then slammed the table and yelled, “Do you know where you are? The Public Security Bureau is the branch of the Chinese government that specializes in violence! If you don’t come clean, you’ll get what’s coming to you! Speak! What’s your name? How old are you？Where are you from? What’s your position in the church?” His aggressive nature coupled with his frank, personal acknowledgment of the true nature of this national enforcement agency, the Public Security Bureau, filled me with rage. I thought to myself: “They always claim to be the ‘People’s Police’ and that their goal is to ‘root out the wicked and let the law-abiding live in peace,’ but in reality they’re just a bunch of thugs, bandits and underworld hit-men. They are demons waging a targeted assault on justice and punishing good, upstanding citizens! These policemen turn a blind eye to those who break the law and commit crimes, allowing them to live beyond the arm of the law. Yet, despite the fact that all we do is believe in God, read God’s word and walk the right path in life, we have become the prime target of this pack of savages’ violence. The CCP government truly is a perverse inverter of justice.” Though I hated those evil policemen with all my heart, I knew that my stature was too small and I would be unable to withstand their cruel punishment and torture, so I called out to God again and again, entreating Him to grant me strength. Just in that moment, God’s words enlightened me: “Faith is like a single log bridge: Those who cling abjectly to life will have difficulty in crossing it, but those who are ready to sacrifice themselves can pass over, sure of foot and worry-free” (“Chapter 6” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). The consolation and encouragement of God’s words helped to ground me, and I thought to myself: “Today I should be ready to risk everything—if worst comes to worst and I die, then so be it. If this band of demons thinks they’re going to find out about the church’s money, work or our leaders from me, they can think again!” With that, I prayed to God: “Dear God! You are the Ruler of all things, and Satan is also in Your hands and subject to Your orchestrations. Today You are using Satan to test my faith and devotion. Though my flesh is weak now, I am not willing to collapse before Satan’s feet. I wish to rely upon You to become strong. No matter how Satan tortures me, I will never betray You or cause You grief!” Because of the guidance of God’s words, no matter how they interrogated me or tried to extort information from me, I didn’t say a word.
Seeing that I was refusing to talk, one of the officers became enraged and, after slamming the table, stormed over to me, kicked the tiger chair I was sitting in and then shoved my head while yelling, “Tell us what you know! Don’t think we don’t know anything. If we didn’t know anything, then how do you think we were able to capture the three of you so decisively?” Another tall police officer roared, “Don’t test my patience! If we don’t give you a little taste of pain, you’ll think we’re just making empty threats. Stand up!” No sooner had he spoken than he dragged me from the tiger chair over beneath a window, which was very high up on the wall and had an iron grating. They used one pair of spiked handcuffs for each hand, with one end locked around my hands and the other attached to the iron grating so that I hung by my hands from the window and could only touch the ground with the balls of my feet. One of the evil policemen turned on the air conditioner to decrease the temperature in the room and then viciously smacked me on the head with a rolled-up book. When he saw that I still remained silent, he shouted in a fit of rage: “Are you gonna talk or not? If you don’t talk, we’ll give you a ‘go on the swing’!” With that, he used a long military-grade packing belt to tie up my legs and then fastened the belt to the tiger chair. Two officers then pulled the tiger chair away from the wall so that I was hanging in the air. As my body moved forward, the handcuffs slid down to the base of my wrists and the spikes inside the handcuffs dug into the backs of my hands. I was in excruciating pain, but I bit down hard on my lip to prevent myself from screaming out because I didn’t want to let those wicked policemen have a laugh at my expense. One of them said with a sinister grin, “Looks like it’s not painful! Let me crank it up a little bit for you.” With that, he lifted up his leg and stepped down hard on my calves and then rocked my body from side to side. This caused the handcuffs to grip tighter and tighter around my wrists and the backs of my hands and it was finally so painful that I couldn’t help but scream out in agony, which sent those two wicked policemen into a fit of laughter. Only then did he stop pressing down on my legs, leaving me suspended there in mid-air. After about twenty minutes, the officer suddenly kicked the tiger chair back toward me, making a horrible screeching noise and I screamed as my body dropped back into position, hanging from the wall with only the balls of my feet touching the ground. Simultaneously, the handcuffs slid back up onto my wrists. With the sudden loosening of my handcuffs, the blood rapidly circulated out of my hands and rushed back into my arms, causing a throbbing pain from the pressure of the returning blood. Those two wicked policemen cackled sinisterly at the sight of my suffering and then proceeded to interrogate me, asking, “How many people are there in your church? Where do you keep the money?” This last question plainly revealed Satan’s despicable motive: The reason they were putting me through all this torture and torment, the reason they were using such diabolical and ruthless methods was all so that they could steal the church’s money. They vainly and shamelessly hoped to use the church’s money for their own purposes. Looking at their greedy, wicked faces, I felt enraged and continually beseeched God to not let me become a Judas and to curse this gang of bandits and brigands. After that, no matter how they questioned me, I refused to talk until they became so angry that they began to hurl profanities: “Damnit! You’re a tough nut to crack! We’ll see how long you hold out!” With that, they once again pulled the tiger chair away from the wall, suspending me again in mid-air. This time, the handcuffs caught tightly on the already open wounds on the backs of my hands, and my hands rapidly swelled and engorged with blood, feeling as if they were about to explode. The pain was even more intense than the first time. The officers painted vivid portrayals for each other of their “glorious past exploits” in torturing and punishing prisoners. This went on for all of fifteen minutes before they finally kicked the chair back over to the wall and I resumed my former position hanging straight down from the window with only the balls of my feet touching the ground. In the process, a rending pain swept through me once again. Just then, a short, pudgy male officer walked in and asked, “Has she talked yet?” The two officers replied, saying, “This one’s a real Liu Hulan!” That fat, evil policeman walked right up to me and slapped me hard across the face, viciously hissing, “Let’s see how tough you are! Let me loosen up those hands of yours.” I looked down at my left hand and saw that it was badly swollen and had turned purplish-black. Just then, the evil policeman grabbed the fingers of my left hand and began shaking them back and forth and rubbing and pinching them until the numbness once again gave way to pain. Then he adjusted the handcuffs so that they were at their tightest setting and signaled to the two other officers to pull me up into the air again. I was, once again, suspended in mid-air and left in that position for twenty minutes before being let down. They kept on pulling me up into the air and then letting me back down over and over, torturing me to the point where I wished I could die to escape the pain. Each time the handcuffs slid up and down my hands it was more painful than the time before. In the end, the spiked cuffs dug deep into my wrists and broke through the skin on the backs of my hands, causing profuse bleeding. The circulation in my hands had been completely cut off and they had swollen up like balloons. My head was pounding due to a lack of oxygen and felt like it was about to explode. I really thought I was going to die.
Just as I thought I couldn’t take it anymore, a passage of God’s words suddenly resounded in my mind: “On the road to Jerusalem, Jesus was in agony, as if a knife were being twisted in His heart, yet He had not the slightest intention of going back on His word; always there was a powerful force compelling Him onward to where He would be crucified” (“How to Serve in Harmony With God’s Will” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words gave me a sudden surge of strength and I thought of how the Lord Jesus had suffered on the cross: He was whipped, mocked and humiliated by the Roman soldiers and was beaten bloody. And yet He was still made to carry that heavy cross, the same one that they eventually nailed Him to alive, until every last drop of blood in His body had been shed. What cruel torture! What cruel torture! What unimaginable suffering! Yet the Lord Jesus endured it all in silence. Even though the pain was surely immense beyond words, the Lord Jesus willingly put Himself in Satan’s hands for the redemption of all mankind. I thought to myself: “Recently, God has incarnated for a second time and come to the atheistic country of China. Here, He has met with dangers vastly more perilous than what He faced in the Age of Grace. Ever since Almighty God appeared and began performing His work, the CCP government has used every means possible to slander, blaspheme, maniacally pursue and capture Christ, vainly hoping to tear down God’s work. The suffering that God has gone through in His two incarnations is beyond what anyone could imagine, much less endure. In comparison with what God has endured, the suffering that I face now is not even worth mentioning. What’s more, the reason why these demons are persecuting me like this today is because I am God’s follower. In reality, God is who they really hate and are trying to persecute. Given that God has endured so much suffering for us, I should have more of a conscience; I must satisfy God and bring Him comfort, even if it means my death.” In that moment, the travails of all the saints and prophets through the ages flashed through my mind: Daniel in the lion’s den, Peter hung upside down on the cross, James beheaded…. Without a single exception, these saints and prophets all stood resounding witness to God on the brink of death, and I realized that I should aim to emulate their faith, devotion and submission to God. Thus, I quietly prayed to God: “Dear God! You are innocent of sin but were crucified for our salvation. You were then incarnated in China to perform Your work, risking Your life. Your love is so great that I could never repay You. It is my greatest honor to suffer alongside You today and I am willing to stand witness to comfort Your heart. Even if Satan takes my life from me, I will never utter a single word of complaint!” With my mind focused on God’s love, the pain in my body seemed to diminish significantly. In the latter half of that night, the wicked policemen continued to torture me in shifts. Only at around 9 a.m. the following morning did they finally untie my legs and leave me hanging from the window. Both of my arms were completely numb and without feeling and my entire body was swollen. At that time, the sister I had been fulfilling duties with had been brought into the adjacent interrogation room. All of a sudden, eight or nine officers filed into my interrogation room, and a short, stout police officer entered in a huff and asked the evil policemen who were handling me: “Has she spoken yet?” “Not yet,” they replied. As soon as he heard their reply, he bounded over to me, smacked me twice across the face and yelled at me irately, “You’re still not cooperating! We know your name, and we know you’re an important leader in the church. Don’t be under the mistaken impression that we know nothing! Where did you put the money! How is your work scheduled and arranged?” Seeing me stay silent, he threatened me, saying, “If you don’t fess up, it will be even worse for you when we find out ourselves. Given your position within the church, you’ll be sentenced to twenty years in prison!” These evil police were in an utter frenzy to get their hands on church funds. Looking at their brutish features, my blood boiled with rage, and I couldn’t help but entreat God to curse them to the darkest pits of hell. Later on, they held up my bank card and asked for the name on the card and the pin number. I thought to myself, “Let them see, who cares. My family didn’t transfer much money into that account anyway. Maybe if they see, they won’t keep pestering me about church funds.” Having decided, I told them the name and pin number.
Later on, I asked to go to the bathroom and it was only then that they finally let me down. At that point, I had completely lost control of the use of my legs, so they carried me to the bathroom and stood guard outside. However, I had already lost all feeling in my hands and the commands from my brain were just not reaching them, so I just stood there leaning against the wall, utterly unable to undo my pants. When I still hadn’t come out after some time, one of the policemen kicked open the door and yelled at me with a lascivious grin, “You’re still not done?” Seeing that I couldn’t move my hands, he walked up to me and undid my pants and then refastened my pants when I was done. A group of male officers had gathered outside the bathroom making all kinds of snide comments and humiliating me with their filthy language. The injustice of these thugs and demons humiliating an innocent, twenty-something young girl like me suddenly overwhelmed me and I began to cry. It also occurred to me that, if my hands were really paralyzed and I was unable to take care of myself in the future, I would be better off dead. If I had been able to walk properly at that moment, I would have jumped out of the building and ended it right there. Just as I was at my weakest, a church hymn “I Wish to See the Day of God’s Glory” came to mind: “I’ll give my love and loyalty to God and complete my mission to glorify God. I’m determined to stand firm in testimony to God, and never give in to Satan. Oh, 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. Pain and hardships are predestined by God, I will endure humiliation to be faithful to Him. I will never again cause God to shed tears or worry” (Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). God’s enlightenment and illumination once more invested me with faith and my spirit was strengthened. I thought to myself: “I can’t be fooled by Satan’s tricks and I shouldn’t end my life over something like this. They are humiliating and taunting me so that I’ll do something that would hurt and betray God. If I were to die, I’d just be falling right into their conniving plot. I can’t allow Satan’s conspiracy to succeed. Even if I really have been crippled, as long as I still have one breath left within me, I must keep on living to bear witness for God.”
When I returned to the interrogation room, I collapsed on the floor out of exhaustion. Several policemen encircled me and yelled at me, commanding me to stand back up. That short, fat officer that had smacked me across the face bounded over to me, gave me a vicious kick and accused me of faking it. At that moment, my body began to tremble, and I became short of breath and started hyperventilating. My left leg and the left side of my chest began to convulse and contract toward each other. My whole body went cold and stiff and no matter how two officers pulled and pried, they were unable to straighten me out. In my mind, I knew that God was using this pain and affliction to open up a way out for me, otherwise they would have continued to cruelly torture me. Only after seeing the precarious state I was in did those evil officers finally stop beating me. They then locked me into the tiger chair and went next door to torture my church sister, leaving two officers behind to watch me. Hearing my sister cry out over and over in blood-curdling shrieks, I wanted so badly to charge over to those demons and fight them to the death, but as things were, I was collapsed in a heap and utterly exhausted, so all I could do was pray to God and beg God to grant my sister strength and safeguard her so that she could stand witness. At the same time, I rancorously cursed that evil, wicked party that had plunged its people into the depths of suffering and asked God to punish these beasts in human form. Later on, seeing me collapsed there, seemingly on my last breath, and not wanting to have to deal with someone dying on their watch, they finally sent me to the hospital. After I arrived at the hospital, my legs and chest began convulsing and contracting toward each other again and it took several people to pry my body back into a straightened position. Both of my hands had swollen up like balloons and were covered in clotted blood. My hands were all distended with pus and they were unable to start an IV because as soon as they inserted the needle, the blood would come flowing out of the vein, perfuse the surrounding tissue and bleed from the site of injection. When the doctor saw what was happening, he said, “We’ve got to get these handcuffs off!” He also recommended to the police that I be sent to the municipal hospital for further testing, because he was worried that I had a heart condition. Those wicked police didn’t want to do anything to help me, but after that they didn’t handcuff me anymore, and I knew that God had worked through the doctor to open up a way out for me. The next day, the officer that was interrogating me wrote up a statement full of blasphemy and slander about God to be used as my verbal deposition and demanded that I sign it. When I refused to sign the statement, he became exasperated, grabbed my hand and forced me to mark my fingerprint on the statement.
Toward evening on the 9th of April, the division director and two other male police officers escorted me to the detention house. When the doctor at the detention house saw that my entire body was swollen, and that I was unable to walk, had no feeling in my arms and seemed to be hanging on by a thread, they declined to admit me, afraid that I may die there. Afterward, the division director negotiated with the detention house governor for nearly an hour and promised that if anything were to happen to me, the detention house would not be held responsible, and only then did the governor finally agree to take me into custody.
More than ten days later, over a dozen evil police were transferred from other precincts and were temporarily stationed at the detention house to interrogate me in shifts all day and night. There are set limits on the amount of time a prisoner can be interrogated, but the police said that this was a big, important case of a very serious nature, so they just wouldn’t leave me alone. Because they were afraid that, if they questioned me for too long I might, given my frail state, have some kind of health emergency, they would conclude their interrogation at around 1 a.m. and send me back to my jail cell, summoning me the following morning at daybreak. They interrogated me for about 18 hours a day, three days straight. However, no matter how they grilled me, I didn’t say a word. When they saw that their hard tactics weren’t working, they switched over to soft tactics. They began to show concern for my injuries and would buy me medicine and apply ointments to my wounds. Faced with this sudden display of “kindness,” I let down my guard, thinking: “If I just tell them something inconsequential about the church, it’ll probably be alright….” Instantly, God’s words appeared in my mind: “Do not take a reckless approach, but draw closer to Me more often when things befall you; be more careful and cautious in all respects to avoid offending My chastisement, and to avoid falling prey to Satan’s cunning schemes” (“Chapter 95” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I suddenly realized that I had fallen for Satan’s cunning plot. Weren’t these the same people who’d been torturing me just a few days ago? They could change their demeanor, but their evil nature was inalterable—once a demon, always a demon. God’s words awakened me to the fact that they were just wolves in sheep’s clothing, and that they always harbored ulterior motives. Going forward, no matter how they tempted me or grilled me, I wouldn’t say another word. Soon after, God revealed their true colors; an officer whom they called Captain Wu fiercely questioned me: “You’re a leader in the church, and yet you don’t know where the money is? If you don’t tell us, we have our ways of finding out!” An old, gaunt police officer burst into a storm of abuse, yelling, “Damnit, we give you an inch and you take a mile! If you don’t talk, we’ll send you out and hang you up again. We’ll see if you still want to be a Liu Hulan and withhold information from us then! I’ve got plenty of ways of dealing with you!” The more he spoke in this way, the more determined I was to stay silent. He finally became exasperated and walked over and shoved me, saying, “With this kind of behavior, twenty years would be a light sentence!” With that, he stormed out of the room in frustration. Afterward, an officer from the Provincial Department of Public Security in charge of affairs of national security came to question me. He made many statements attacking and resisting God and continually bragged about how experienced and knowledgeable he was, which led the other officers to lavish praise on him. Observing his smug, self-satisfied ugliness, and hearing all of his truth-perverting, rumormongering lies and false-incriminations, I felt both hate and disgust for this officer. I couldn’t even bear to look at him and so I just stared straight ahead at the wall in front of me and refuted each of his arguments in my head. His diatribe lasted the entire morning and when he was finally done, he asked me what I thought. I said impatiently: “I’m uneducated, so I don’t have a clue what you’ve been rambling on about.” Enraged, he said to the other interrogators, “There’s no hope for her. I think she’s already been godized, she’s done for!” With that he slunk off dejectedly. I was overjoyed and thanked God for leading me to overcome crisis after crisis.
In suffering through the cruel persecution of devils, I experienced the hellishness of life devoid of any human rights in this country ruled over by the evil party of the CCP. For the CCP government, believers in God are like barbs in their eyes and thorns in their sides; they used every trick in their book to punish and torture me in the vain hope of putting me to death. However, God is my staunch backup and my salvation; He rescued me from the jaws of death time and again, allowing me to experience God’s true love and to see the kindness and goodness of God’s heart. When the evil police dragged me into my jail cell in the detention house and I saw that my sister from the hosting house was there in the same cell, the sight of this loved one sent warmth surging into my heart. I knew that this was God’s orchestration and arrangement and that God’s love was looking out for me, and I knew that God had done this because, at that time, I was practically crippled—my arms and hands were badly swollen and distended with pus, I had no feeling in my fingers, which were as thick as sausages and hard to the touch, I could barely move my legs and my entire body was weak and wracked with pain. For six months, I almost never moved from my brick bed and was unable to take care of myself. Only after six months did I regain some movement in my hands, but I was still unable to hold things (to this day, if I try to hold a plate with one hand, the hand becomes sore, weak and numb, and if I don’t use my other hand for support, I wouldn’t be able to even hold the plate up). During that time, my sister took care of me every day—she brushed my teeth for me, cleaned my face, bathed me, combed my hair and fed me…. One month later, my sister was released, and I was informed that I had been formally arrested. After my sister was released, thinking of how I was still unable to take care of myself and having no idea how much longer I’d be locked up, I felt incredibly helpless and bleak. I couldn’t help but call out to God: “O God, I feel like a cripple—how am I supposed to go on like this? I beg You to safeguard my heart, so that I may overcome this situation.” Just as I was at my wit’s end and feeling utterly lost, God’s words guided me exceptionally clearly from within: “Have you considered that one day your God will put you in a most unfamiliar place? Can you imagine what would become of you one day when I might snatch everything from you? Would your energy on that day be as it is now? Would your faith reappear?” (“You Must Understand the Work—Do Not Follow in Confusion!” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words were like a shining beacon illuminating my heart and allowing me to understand His will. I thought to myself: “The environment I am now faced with is the one with which I am least familiar. God wants me to experience His work within this kind of environment to perfect my faith. Though my sister has left me, God certainly has not! Thinking back over the path that I have walked, God has guided me each and every step of the way! With God’s presence, there is no difficulty that cannot be overcome. With God, there is always a way out. Given how cowardly and lacking in faith I am, how can I expect to comprehend God’s wisdom and almightiness in my experiences?” I therefore prayed to God: “Dear God, I am willing to put myself entirely in Your hands and submit to Your orchestrations. No matter what situations I may face in the future, I know that You will open a way forward for me. I will submit to You and not complain any longer.” After concluding my prayer, I felt a sense of serenity and calm, but I still didn’t know what God had planned or how He would guide me. On the afternoon of the next day, the correctional officer brought in a new inmate. When she saw my situation, she began taking care of me without my even asking. In this, I saw God’s wondrousness and faithfulness; God hadn’t abandoned me—all things in heaven and on earth are in God’s hands, including the thoughts of man. If it hadn’t been for God’s orchestrations and arrangements, why would this woman whom I had never met be so nice to me? After that, I witnessed even more of God’s love. When that woman was released from the detention house, God raised up one woman after another whom I had never met to take care of me, and they handed over my care from one to another as though they were passing on a relay baton. There were even some inmates who transferred money into my account after they were released. During this time, though my body did suffer somewhat, I was able to experience the sincerity of God’s love for man firsthand. No matter what kind of situation man is cast into, God never abandons him, but serves as his constant aid. As long as man doesn’t lose faith in God, he will certainly be able to witness God’s deeds.
I was detained for one year and three months and then charged by the CCP government for “working through a xie jiao organization to obstruct the enforcement of the law” and was sentenced to three years and six months imprisonment. Following my conviction, I was transferred to the Provincial Women’s Prison to serve out my sentence. In prison, we were subject to even more inhuman treatment. We were forced to do manual labor every day and our daily workload requirements were far in excess of what anyone could reasonably complete. If we were unable to finish our work, we would be subjected to corporal punishment. Virtually all of the money earned through our labor went into the jail guards’ pockets. We were only given a few yuan each a month for a supposed living allowance. The official line that the prison used was that it was reeducating inmates through labor, but in reality, we were just their money-making machines, their unpaid servants. By all appearances, the prison’s rules for reducing inmates’ sentences seemed very humane—by meeting certain conditions, inmates could qualify for a suitable reduction of their sentence. But in truth, this was just a front and was just for appearance’s sake. In all actuality, their so-called humane system was nothing more than empty words on paper: The orders personally issued by the guards were the only real laws of the land. The prison strictly controlled annual sentence reduction totals to ensure sufficient “labor” capacity and to guarantee that the prison guards’ income would not decrease. The “sentence reduction list” was a technique employed by the prison to increase labor productivity. Of the several hundred inmates in the prison, only ten or so would make the “sentence reduction list” and so people would work themselves to the bone, engaging in intrigues against each other to earn a spot on the list. However, most of the inmates that would end up making the list were those with police connections who didn’t have to perform manual labor in the first place. Inmates had no choice but to keep their resentment about this to themselves. Some committed suicide in protest, but after the fact, the prison would just randomly make up stories to appease the families of the victims, and so their deaths were all in vain. In prison, the guards never treated us like human beings; if we wanted to talk with them, we had to squat on the ground and look up at them, and if anything wasn’t to their liking, they’d berate and insult us with foul obscenities. If high-ranking officials came to perform inspections, we were made to play along with their pretenses, as they would threaten us beforehand, saying that we had to say nice things about the prison, such as: “Our meals are delicious, the guards are always showing concern for us, we never work more than eight hours a day and entertainment is often laid on for us….” At times such as these, I would become so angry that my entire body would shake. These demons were such hypocrites: They were clearly nothing more than man-eating ghouls, but they insisted on pretending that they were the kindest and most compassionate of people. How sinister, despicable and shameless! When the three and a half long years of my sentence finally came to an end and I returned home, my family could not disguise the anguish they felt in seeing me looking like a human skeleton, so frail and depleted that I was barely recognizable, and many tears were shed. However, our hearts were full of gratitude for God. We thanked God that I was still alive and for having protected me so that I was able to emerge from that hell-on-earth in one piece.
Only after I returned home did I learn that while I was being detained, the wicked police had come twice and wantonly ransacked and searched through the house. My parents, who both believe in God, had fled their home and spent nearly two years on the run to evade capture by the government. When they finally returned home, the weeds in the courtyard had grown as high as the house itself, parts of the roof had collapsed and the whole place was a dreadful mess. The police had also gone around our village spreading lies about us: They said that I had cheated someone out of their money to the tune of a million to upward of a hundred million RMB (about 150,000-15,000,000 USD) and that my parents had cheated someone out of several hundred thousand RMB to send my little brother to college. This gang of demons was a bunch of certified professional liars, the best in the game! In fact, because my parents had fled from home, my little brother had to use scholarship money and loans to pay his tuition and finish college. What’s more, when he went away from home for work, he first had to save up for travel expenses a little at a time by selling the grain crops our family raised and picking hawthorn berries to sell. Yet those devils acted unconscionably, framing my family with false incriminations, the rumors of which still circulate to this day. Even now, I am still spurned by my village because of my reputation as a convicted political offender and scam-artist. This gang of demons that murders without blinking an eye, this devilish government which shows scant regard for human life, these underlings of Satan making false incriminations and whipping up public opinion—I despise them all! Though the devil falsely incriminates, slanders and persecutes us, this only allowed me to see more clearly the God-resisting, perverse and heaven-defying evil nature and repulsive true face of the CCP government. It further enabled me to experience God’s love and salvation. The more the devil persecutes us, the more it strengthens our resolve to follow Almighty God to the very end. If I hadn’t experienced being subjected to cruel persecution at those demons’ hands, who knows when my spirit would have awakened or when I would have come to truly despise Satan and forsake it once and for all. Thinking back over my years spent following God, I had only accepted God’s words which expose the demonic nature and essence of the CCP government on a theoretical level, but had never truly understood them. Because, from a young age, I was instilled with the tenets of “patriotic education,” which conditioned and systematically deceived me into thinking a certain way, I even thought that God’s words were an exaggeration—I just couldn’t bring myself to abandon my idolization of our country, thinking that the Communist Party was always right, that the army protected our homeland, and that the police punished and eradicated evil elements from society and safeguarded the interests of the public. Only through experiencing persecution at the hands of those demons did I come to see the true face of the CCP government; it is supremely deceptive and hypocritical and has hoodwinked the people of China and the entire world with its lies for years. It repeatedly professes to uphold “freedom of belief and democratic legal rights,” but in reality it wantonly persecutes religious belief. All it really upholds is its own tyranny, forced control and despotism. In China, those who believe in the true God have to be extremely careful, and if they let down their guard just a little, they will likely find themselves in jail. As a result, in order to avoid being captured and arrested by the police, we have to spend all of our time hiding or fleeing and we can never stay in one place for too long. Even if we’re just listening to hymns in our own houses we have to keep the volume low. Just as when we fellowship God’s word with family members, we have to keep our voices down, and when we read God’s word we have to first lock our doors shut, for fear that the police might be monitoring and eavesdropping on us and may, at any time, burst right through the door. What’s more, in China’s prisons, the more one believes in God, the more likely they are to be persecuted, bullied and scorned. By contrast, the gangsters, murderers, thieves and embezzlers often have privileged relationships with the police, and act as their hitmen and head prisoners. These facts have long ago exposed China as a country that admires and abets evil while attacking and suppressing justice. The more evil someone is, the more likely they are to receive the praises of the CCP government, whereas the more morally good someone is and the more they walk the right path, the more the CCP will suppress and persecute them. When God came to do His work and save mankind, Satan was certainly not content to let us follow God and walk the right path, so it used every method possible to obstruct and persecute me. Though my flesh has been badly injured in the course of its cruel persecution, I understand that I was meant to endure this suffering, because I am a child of Satan, its many poisons course in my veins, and I have been subject to its deception and torment all along. It is precisely because I was unable to discern Satan’s essence and cunning plots that God permitted it to persecute me, thus allowing me to understand, through my suffering, what this Chinese government that I’ve always thought of as my “savior” is really all about. This has allowed me to see the base, despicable and corrupt inside story behind its claims of “greatness, glory and rectitude.” At the same time, it has allowed me to comprehend the magnitude of God’s saving grace, which, in turn, has motivated me to diligently pursue the truth, thoroughly renounce Satan and turn my heart toward God.
During that most difficult and agonizing period in my life, God’s love was always with me even when I was weak and in pain. When I felt weak, God’s words enlightened me and gave me faith and strength, allowing me to break free from the constraints of darkness and death. When Satan hatched its conniving plots, God’s timely warnings awakened me from my befuddlement, allowing me to see through Satan’s schemes and ploys, so that I could stand witness for God. When I was being cruelly tortured by those demons to the point where I wished for death, it was God’s miraculous orchestrations that opened up a way out for me, making me appear as if I were on the brink of death and, in so doing, causing the demons to cease perpetrating their violence against me. When I was suffering, helpless and unable to take care of myself, God raised up inmate after inmate to take up the cause of attending to my daily needs for six months, as though passing the relay baton of my care from one to another, after which point I recovered some feeling in my hands and was able to do some light work. This unique experience gave me a profound sense of God’s love and kindness and allowed me to clearly see Satan’s essence as the enemy of God. With these experiences, God has bestowed upon me the most precious wealth of life, thereby strengthening my resolve to pledge my life to forsake Satan and follow God to the very end. Just as Almighty God’s word says: “Now is the time: Man has long since gathered all his strength, he has devoted all his efforts and paid every price for this, to tear off the hideous face of this demon and allow people, who have been blinded, and who have endured every manner of suffering and hardship, to rise up from their pain and turn their backs on this evil old devil” (“Work and Entry (8)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I have now returned to the church and have once again joined the ranks of those performing their duties. I am fulfilling my duty by preaching and spreading God’s kingdom gospel, wishing only that even more people can escape Satan’s torment and receive God’s eternal salvation.