12. Faith Means Relying on God
By Cheng Cheng, Italy
Almighty God says, “It is only from within your faith that you will be able to see God, and when you have faith God will perfect you. Without faith, He cannot do this. God will bestow upon you whatever you hope to gain. If you do not have faith, then you cannot be perfected and you will be unable to see God’s actions, much less His omnipotence. When you have faith that you will see His actions in your practical experience, then God will appear to you, and He will enlighten and guide you from within. Without that faith, God will be unable to do that. If you have lost hope in God, how will you be able to experience His work? Therefore, only when you have faith and you do not harbor doubts toward God, only when you have true faith in Him no matter what He does, will He enlighten and illuminate you through your experiences, and only then will you be able to see His actions. These things are all achieved through faith. Faith comes only through refinement, and in the absence of refinement, faith cannot develop. What does this word, ‘faith,’ refer to? Faith is the genuine belief and the sincere heart that humans should possess when they cannot see or touch something, when God’s work does not align with human notions, when it is beyond human reach. This is the faith that I speak of” (“Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words tell us that having true faith in God is critical. No matter what kind of trials we may encounter or how great our difficulties are, God wants everyone to believe His words and have faith in Him, to truly rely on God and cooperate with Him. That’s the only way to witness God’s almighty rule and His deeds through experience. Thanks to God’s guidance, I’ve personally experienced this a bit.
The morning of November 18, 2016, I got a message online from an older brother from Italy saying he felt spiritually parched and wanted to know more about The Church of Almighty God. When I read it, I could feel the urgency in his longing and waiting for the Lord’s return. I started communicating with him through translation software. He was feeling disappointed by the corruption and depravity in the Catholic Church, so he’d been searching high and low for a true church since 1991. He’d also read Watchman Nee’s and Witness Lee’s books, but he never got any real spiritual sustenance. He said that living without the Lord was painful, lacked meaning, and was devoid of hope. He saw some videos and images from The Church of Almighty God online and was immediately drawn in. He said it really seemed like a true church and he wanted to learn more about it. Seeing how urgently he was seeking from everything he said left me with an even greater sense of urgency. I was overflowing with things I wanted to tell him, but I couldn’t express them in Italian. I wanted to read Almighty God’s words to him, but the Italian translation hadn’t been published yet. I wanted him to watch some gospel movies, but the Italian versions of those hadn’t been released, either. He didn’t know any other languages. All I could do was send him a music video because music and dance are a universal language. But he felt even more anxious after watching it and said in a supplicating way, “Tell me just as soon as the Church has an Italian website.” Seeing this from him reminded me of something Almighty God has said: “How will you pass on what you have seen and experienced to those pitiable, poor, and devout religious believers who hunger and thirst for righteousness and are waiting for you to shepherd them? What kind of people are waiting for you to shepherd them? Can you imagine? Are you aware of the burden on your shoulders, your commission, and your responsibility? Where is your sense of historic mission? How will you adequately serve as a master in the next age? Do you have a strong sense of masterhood? How would you explain the master of all things? Is it really the master of all living creatures and of all physical things in the world? What plans do you have for the progress of the next phase of the work? How many people are waiting for you to be their shepherd? Is your task a heavy one? They are poor, pitiable, blind, and at a loss, wailing in the darkness—where is the way? How they yearn for the light, like a shooting star, to suddenly descend and dispel the forces of darkness that have oppressed man for so many years. Who can know the full extent to which they anxiously hope, and how they pine, day and night, for this? Even on a day when the light flashes past, these deeply suffering people remain imprisoned in a dark dungeon without hope of release; when will they weep no longer? Terrible is the misfortune of these fragile spirits who have never been granted rest, and long have they been kept bound in this state by merciless bonds and frozen history. And who has heard the sound of their wailing? Who has looked upon their miserable state? Has it ever occurred to you how grieved and anxious God’s heart is? How can He bear to see innocent mankind, whom He created with His own hands, suffering such torment?” (“How Should You Attend to Your Future Mission?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). After reading this, I saw that God has entrusted us to spread the gospel and bear witness, but even in the face of God’s urgent requirements, I felt like my hands were tied. I wasn’t able to bear witness for God’s work of the last days. I couldn’t help that brother, who’d been lost in darkness and grasping at straws for years, gain the sustenance of God’s words. I felt terrible. I practically wanted to cry when I saw his messages, and felt I was between a rock and a hard place. If I pulled back, I’d delay his investigation of the true way that he sought and longed for. If I went forward, I’d rely on inaccurate translation tools since I couldn’t speak Italian. Sometimes they weren’t accurate even with simple things, never mind spiritual terms. So how could we communicate? I felt like I was mute. My eyes were wide open, but I couldn’t do a thing. I also thought about finding a brother or sister who knew Italian, but I couldn’t find anyone who fit the bill. I was really at a loss at that point and I thought, “All I know how to say in Italian is ‘Hello’ and ‘Goodbye.’ So no matter how I try, I’ll never be able to bear witness to God’s work of the last days.” I felt really down.
Early the next morning, I got a message from him saying that the very first thing he thought of when he woke up was to ask me about The Church of Almighty God. The fact that he kept messaging me left me really anxious. I said an urgent prayer: “Dear God, I’ve never studied Italian and I really don’t know how to share the gospel with this brother. God, please guide me.” This passage of God’s words suddenly came to mind after my prayer: “You must have faith that everything is in God’s hands, and that humans are merely cooperating with Him. If your heart is sincere, God will see it, and He will open up all paths for you, making difficulties no longer difficult. This is the faith you must have” (“Entry Into Life Is Most Important to Faith in God” in Records of Christ’s Talks). “You need not worry about anything while you perform your duty, as long as you use all your strength and put your heart into it. God will not make things difficult for you or force you to do what you are not capable of” (“Entry Into Life Is Most Important to Faith in God” in Records of Christ’s Talks). Reading this bolstered my faith and courage. It’s true that all things are in God’s hands and all things are possible with Him. What God wants most from us when we run into difficulties is our sincerity and cooperation, that we truly trust and rely on Him and do our best to work with Him. Then God will help solve our problems. But when I faced that kind of problem, I realized God didn’t have a place in my heart. I was living within my own notions and imaginings, thinking that since I couldn’t speak Italian, I couldn’t communicate normally with that brother, so there was no way I could bear witness to God’s work. I became mired in this difficulty, feeling negative and reticent. How could I get God’s guidance and witness His deeds that way? I needed to truly rely on God and do everything in my power to cooperate with Him, and trust that He’d open up a path for me. With that mindset, I suddenly thought of some Italian Bible verses I’d put together two nights before prophesying God’s work in the last days. I figured I could use those to communicate with the brother. So, one morning I sent them to him to help our communication. That afternoon I was pleasantly surprised to see that the trailer for an Italian version of a movie, The Mystery of Godliness had been released. I sent it to him right away. He later said he’d understood that the movie talked about the biblical prophecies of the Lord’s return. He asked me excitedly, “Has the Lord returned? Is He in China? What’s His name now?” In that moment, I felt like he was a lost sheep who had suddenly heard his shepherd’s call and was looking everywhere for its source. Choking back tears, I wrote back, “His name is Almighty God, and He’s what was prophesied in Revelation, ‘Which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty’ (Revelation 1:8).” At this point, I saw how every stage of God’s rule neatly fits into the next. I knew no Italian aside from a few simple greetings, but this experience gave me a deep awareness that I’d communicated smoothly with that brother through God’s guidance, and I’d even seen some results. I saw that everything is in God’s hands, that we should genuinely trust and lean on God and earnestly work with Him.
I faced another test after that. This brother was always asking me when I’d give him testimony of God’s last-days work. I was eager to do that, too, but we still had the same language barrier and I still couldn’t find a brother or sister to help. If I found an unbeliever to translate, they wouldn’t understand the spiritual terms and might not do a good job. Thinking of these problems left me in despair. I didn’t know what to do. I was like a cat on a hot tin roof. I called out to God over and over: “Oh God, my hands are tied. I don’t know what to do now, and I don’t know what I’m supposed to learn from this. Please guide me and open up a path for me.” After praying, I thought of Moses crossing the Red Sea. Moses faced all sorts of difficulties as he led the Israelites out of Egypt, but he never lost faith in God. He prayed and cooperated with God, and witnessed so many of God’s wonders. Without the Red Sea and the army chasing them, and without his 40 years in the desert, how could Moses have such faith and witness? Without facing those difficulties in my duty, how could I gain true faith in God? Not to mention, I wasn’t facing anything like crossing the Red Sea. And since I’d met that brother online, God had always opened up a path for me and I’d witnessed lots of His wondrous deeds. I knew I should have more faith in God and rely on Him more. At this thought I suddenly realized that God wanted to perfect my faith and reliance on Him through these difficulties to give me more practical understanding of God’s almighty rule through my actual experiences. Once I’d understood God’s will, I had no doubt God would open up a path for me. We set a date to meet online, and brothers and sisters arranged for a 15-year-old sister who’d studied Italian to come with us to interpret. I heard a 15-year-old sister would be helping interpret. I thought about myself and that young sister. I was really young, I hadn’t believed in God for long, and I’d never preached the gospel. Would it work to have such a young girl helping to preach the gospel? I was feeling really uncertain. But when I heard this young sister fluently reading God’s words in Italian and she said she memorized new words right away, I was both surprised and ashamed. God had assembled all the right people for the work of spreading the gospel. This reminded me of a passage of God’s words: “When a commitment or promise is uttered from the mouth of God, all things serve its fulfillment, and are maneuvered for the sake of its fulfillment; all creatures are orchestrated and arranged under the dominion of the Creator, playing their respective role, and serving their respective function. This is the manifestation of the Creator’s authority” (“God Himself, the Unique I” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Through that experience, I saw that God would guide me as long as I sincerely leaned on Him, and I’d see His wondrous deeds.
After finding this young sister to translate, I was finally able to communicate normally with that brother. A great weight was lifted from me. But before I knew it, I didn’t have such an earnest desire to lean on God and that sister had something important come up, so she couldn’t help translate anymore. I felt like collapsing when I heard the news. There was so much I still wanted to tell that brother so he could lay a foundation on the true way. But without my interpreter, there was nothing I could do. Then I heard about someone seeking the true way who’d been misled by the rumors spread by the CCP and the religious community, so they didn’t dare keep looking into it. I was afraid that if he wasn’t watered in time, this Italian brother would be hindered, too. I felt powerless and really didn’t know what to do. Then one day I saw that brother share this on his own page: “Friends, brothers and sisters, Jesus Christ has returned! Rejoice!” Seeing him post that made me break out in a cold sweat because he had over 3,000 religious friends. If just a few of them were antichrists who could mislead and disturb him, how would he fare? I was feeling apprehensive, so I came before God in prayer. “Oh God, without an interpreter, this brother can’t be watered right away and I’m afraid he’ll pull away after being misled by others’ arguments. How should I experience Your words and learn a lesson in this situation? Please guide me.” I read this in God’s words after my prayer: “People spend most of their time living in a state of unconsciousness. They do not know whether they should rely on God or on themselves. They then tend to choose to rely on themselves and the beneficial conditions and environments around them, as well as on any people, events, and things that are to their advantage. This is what people are best at. What they are worst at is relying on God and looking up to Him, because they feel looking up to God to be too much of a bother—they cannot see, they cannot touch—and they feel that doing so is vague and unrealistic. Thus, in this aspect of their lessons, people perform the worst, and their entry to it is the shallowest. If you do not learn how to look up to and rely on God, you will never see God work in you, guide you, or enlighten you. If you cannot see these things, then questions such as ‘whether God exists and whether He guides everything in the life of mankind’ will, in the depths of your heart, end with a question mark rather than a period or exclamation mark. ‘Does God guide everything in the life of mankind?’ ‘Does God observe the depths of man’s heart?’ For what reason do you make these into questions? If you do not truly rely on or look up to God, you will not be able to give rise to genuine faith in Him. If you cannot give rise to genuine faith in Him, then for you, those question marks will forever be there, accompanying everything God does, and there will be no periods” (“Believers Must Begin by Seeing Through the World’s Evil Trends” in Records of Christ’s Talks). God’s words awakened me and I finally realized I’d forgotten God again. When God put me in a situation where I felt helpless, where I couldn’t communicate and didn’t know what to do, I saw God as my lifeline. But when the right conditions and right people were there, I immediately just relied on other people because I felt that was more practical. When that young sister came to help in my time of need, I knew it was God’s doing. But afterward, I still thought whether the brother would accept God’s work of the last days totally depended on that interpreter. I still lacked genuine faith in God. I thought of something the Lord Jesus said: “My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand” (John 10:29). God’s sheep hear His voice. No rumors, lies, or hardships can wrest God’s people from His hands. This is a manifestation of God’s authority. I should believe God’s words, do my own duty, and explore every avenue to fellowship with that brother. Whether he was misled by rumors and lies wasn’t for me to decide.
I read this in Almighty God’s words after that: “Satan has been corrupting mankind for thousands of years. It has wrought untold amounts of evil, has deceived generation after generation, and has committed heinous crimes in the world. It has abused man, deceived man, seduced man to oppose God, and has committed evil acts that have confounded and impaired God’s plan of management time and time again. Yet, under the authority of God, all things and living creatures continue to abide by the rules and laws set down by God. Compared to the authority of God, Satan’s evil nature and rampancy are so ugly, so disgusting and despicable, and so small and vulnerable. Even though Satan walks among all things created by God, it is not able to enact the slightest change in the people, things, and objects commanded by God” (“God Himself, the Unique I” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words helped me to let go. It’s true that all things are under God’s rule, and no one can stand in the way of what God wants to do. No one can take God’s sheep away. If one who is not God’s sheep gets into God’s house, they’ll be exposed and eliminated one day. This is God’s authority and power. I saw I really didn’t understand God. I was a living example of that. Before accepting Almighty God’s work of the last days, I’d listened to the lies of the religious world and the CCP for five years. Though a lot stood in my way, God’s words drew me to accept His work of the last days. And now, no amount of heresies and lies that they spread can stand in the way of me following Almighty God. They just help me see Satan’s hideous countenance more clearly and strengthen my faith to follow God. This was all achieved in me by God’s words. I thought back over nearly a month of communicating with that brother. We didn’t share a language and couldn’t communicate normally, but we kept going until he accepted God’s work of the last days. He even mentioned spreading the gospel and establishing a church in Italy. Could any of that have been achieved without God’s guidance, without God’s words conquering people? I saw I was really lacking understanding of God. When I spread the gospel, I’d say that God’s authority is unparalleled and no force can hinder His work, but I was always analyzing things logically. When faced with the difficulty of a language barrier, I was afraid that brother would be driven away by rumors and antichrists’ lies. I was living in a state of fear. But in fact, whether or not he could accept the true way was in God’s hands, it was ordained by God. Instead of having groundless worries, I should just do my duty well and be responsible. At that thought, I said a prayer to God, willing to submit to His rule and arrangements. Surprisingly, before long, that young sister sent me a message to let me know she was free and could help with interpreting again. I could finally communicate smoothly with the Italian brother.
Even though sometimes I’d felt totally disheartened and sometimes I was incredibly anxious in the process of sharing the gospel with that brother, when I really relied on God, I witnessed His guidance and deeds over and over. I saw that all of God’s work is done by God Himself, and my faith in Him grew. This was all God’s grace and mercy. I used to think that sharing the gospel was saving other people, but then I realized that in that process, I was experiencing God’s work and words. Through this experience, I, a “doubting Thomas,” truly experienced God’s authority and faithfulness. Just as it says in God’s words: “When someone encounters an especially thorny difficulty, when they have no one to turn to, and when they feel particularly helpless, they put their only hope in God. What are their prayers like? What is their state of mind? Are they sincere? Is there any adulteration at that time? It is only when you trust God as though He were the last straw that you clutch onto to save your life, hoping that He will help you, that your heart is sincere. Though you may not have said much, your heart has already stirred. That is, you give your sincere heart to God, and God listens. When God listens, He sees your difficulties, and He will enlighten you, guide you, and help you” (“Believers Must Begin by Seeing Through the World’s Evil Trends” in Records of Christ’s Talks). Knowing God requires us to truly practice and experience God’s words through people, events, and things we encounter every day, and in the process of doing our duty. That’s the only way to truly know and fear God. My experience has taught me to appreciate this. Thanks be to Almighty God!