29. Faith Perfected Through Trials and Tribulations
By Shu Chang, South Korea
My mom developed a health problem in 1993, and as a result my whole family gained faith in the Lord Jesus. After that, she experienced a miraculous recovery and I went to church with her every Sunday from then on. Then in the spring of 2000, the joyful news of the Lord’s return reached our home. By reading Almighty God’s words, we became certain that He is the Lord Jesus returned and we accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days. We started reading Almighty God’s words every day, enjoying the watering and sustenance they provide. This really nurtured me spiritually. Thinking about how many people longing for the Lord’s coming still hadn’t heard God’s voice or welcomed the Lord’s return, I knew I had to considerate God’s will and share the kingdom gospel with them. I soon started doing my duty to share the gospel. But to my surprise, that got me arrested by the CCP.
It was January 2013 while I was in a gathering with six other brothers and sisters, when suddenly, more than 20 police officers burst in. Two of the men rushed to the front, guns in hand, and yelled at us, “Don’t move! You’re surrounded.” Two others had electric batons and shouted, “Hands up and face the wall!” One of the officers with a gun said, “We’ve been following you for a couple weeks now. You’re Xiaoxiao.” Hearing this gave me a fright. How did they know my alias? And he said they’d been following me for a couple weeks, so did they know everywhere I’d been recently? Had all those brothers and sisters been arrested, too? I couldn’t bear to give it any more thought. I just silently prayed for the others. Given the preparations the police had made, I knew they wouldn’t let me go easily. Anxious, I called out to God. Then these words from God came to mind: “You should not be afraid of this and that; no matter how many difficulties and dangers you might face, you are capable of remaining steady before Me, unobstructed by any hindrance, so that My will may be carried out unimpeded. This is your duty…. Be not afraid; with My support, who could ever block this road?” (“Chapter 10” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words brought me a sense of peace. I knew that all things were in His hands, even all those cops. God was my backup force, so I had to pray to Him and lean on Him. Realizing I’d been followed by the police all that time without realizing it, bringing such a big problem on the church, I hated myself for being so clueless and slow on the uptake. All I could do at that point was pray for my brothers and sisters. Setting my resolve, I said this prayer, “No matter how the police may torture me, I will never sell out my brothers and sisters. I won’t be a Judas and betray God.” I didn’t feel as scared after that prayer. I was filled with faith and strength.
The police turned the entire house upside down, acting like bandits. They confiscated our cellphones, eight video players, four tablets, dozens of gospel books and 10,000 yuan. They took me and two other sisters to the living room and forced us to squat on the floor. Just then the sound of the police beating the brothers nonstop started coming from one of the bedrooms. Incensed, I demanded, “We just believe in God, we haven’t done anything illegal. Why are you apprehending us?” One of the officers said hatefully, “Having faith is breaking the law, it’s a crime. If the Communist Party says you’re breaking a law, then you’re breaking a law. The Party doesn’t allow belief in God but you still dare do that in their territory. This is pitting yourselves against the Party. You have a death wish!” I said, “Isn’t freedom of belief legally guaranteed?” Laughing, they said, “You don’t know a damn thing! Freedom of belief is just for show, for foreigners to see, but this is what you believers get!” As he said this he gave me a slap across the face and a female officer came up and kicked me in the arm. I was infuriated and these words of God came to mind: “Religious freedom? The legitimate rights and interests of citizens? They are all tricks for covering up sin!” (“Work and Entry (8)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Having the Communist Party in charge is actually having Satan in charge. All of their laws are meant to deceive. They tell outsiders that there’s freedom of belief, but the reality is that they don’t allow anyone to believe in God and take the right path. They won’t allow anything positive. They arrest and harm Christians on a massive scale. Those cops were just bandits and rogues in uniform. It was ridiculous of me to try to reason with them! When they put me into the police vehicle, I saw that there were more than a dozen police vehicles surrounding us.
Once we’d been taken to the county’s National Security Brigade, an officer said to me, “We’ve reeled in a big fish with you. We know all about you. We know every city, every county you’ve been to in the past couple of weeks. You must be a church leader, otherwise we wouldn’t have mobilized such a large force to get you. We won’t interrogate you here. We’ve got a ‘nice place’ for that. I’m just afraid it’ll overwhelm you!” Only then did I realize that they mistook me for a leader in the church. I felt a little relieved then, knowing that the real leaders would be a bit safer. But I was still worried. I knew they wouldn’t let me off easily, for they thought I was a church leader. I didn’t know how they’d torment me. I prayed to God for faith and strength, to help me stand witness. After 11 o’clock that night, they put me into a police vehicle to take me to that “nice place.” In the car, a cop said, “You guys don’t know how to handle these believers in Almighty God. You have to take a really heavy hand to get anything out of them. We have to do whatever will work, otherwise they might not confess.” The other officer said, “Oh yeah, for sure. Word has it that you’ve got the ultimate trick with those believers. That’s why we have you on this.” Hearing this made me wonder what kind of torture they had in store for me. I silently prayed to God, and these words from the Lord Jesus came to mind: “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). “For whoever will save his life shall lose it: and whoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25). God’s words gave me strength in my faith. I knew my life was in God’s hands, that my soul was in His hands. I resolved to submit to God’s orchestrations and never betray Him, even if it meant my death!
They took me to the county’s police station and the second we got into the interrogation room, I heard the sound of a brother crying bitterly. An officer gave an order to turn off the surveillance equipment, then two others came over and handcuffed me, with my right arm twisted behind my shoulder and my left arm pulled up from below behind my back. They yanked the handcuffs up and down, and it felt like my arms were about to break. After that, they shoved an arm of the tiger chair between my arms and my back. I felt like my arms were being ripped apart. It hurt so much that sweat was just rolling down my face. An officer hauled on the handcuffs and said, “Hurt much? How does that feel?” Another said, laughing, “Why don’t you just work as an escort? Then we wouldn’t arrest you.” The rest of them all burst out laughing at that. I was nauseated by their total lack of shame. I’d never imagined something so disgusting could come out of the mouths of police officers. They’re lowlier than beasts! Then one of them said, “Let’s not rush this interrogation. She’ll be dying to tell us what she knows in the end. Starting now, don’t let her eat, sleep, or use the bathroom. Let’s see how long she can hold out!” Then he pulled hard on my arms, twisting them even as they were cuffed to a waist-high metal rail. I couldn’t kneel down or stand up, and my back and legs started to ache before long. They didn’t allow me to sleep or even close my eyes. The moment my eyes started to droop, the police would smack the table, kick the stool, or bang on the metal rails. Otherwise, they’d shout right into my ear or make all kinds of weird noises to frighten me. This left me in a state of high alert and I couldn’t find a moment’s peace. I silently prayed and called out to God nonstop and then thought of this in Almighty God’s words: “You must suffer hardship for the truth, you must give yourself to the truth, you must endure humiliation for the truth, and to gain more of the truth you must undergo more suffering. This is what you should do” (“The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words gave me faith. Suffering anything was worth it to gain the truth, and I had to stick with it, no matter how much I suffered. I was determined to stand witness and humiliate Satan.
The next morning, six or seven officers came to question me about the location of the church’s funds and who the upper leaders were. They smacked me viciously when I wouldn’t tell them anything. Right after they left, a few others came to ask me the same questions. They questioned me nonstop, 24 hours a day. After four days, my entire body was bloated and my calves were so swollen they were as thick as my thighs. I was starving and exhausted. A female officer saw me nodding off and kicked me in the feet as hard as she could. I had lost feeling in my entire lower body and my back was in unbearable pain, as if it had been broken. My eyes were swollen and stung terribly. It felt like my eyeballs would pop out at any moment. It was incredibly painful. The idea of closing my eyes or resting my legs for even a moment sounded like a true luxury. I didn’t know how much longer they were going to torture me. I felt my body had already reached its limit, that I couldn’t hold on much longer. I felt incredibly weak in my heart. I prayed to God, asking Him for faith and strength. Then I thought of these hymns of God’s words: “Have you ever accepted the blessings that you were given? Have you ever sought the promises that were made for you? You will surely, under the guidance of My light, break through the stranglehold of the forces of darkness. You will surely not, in the midst of darkness, lose the light guiding you. You will surely be the master of all creation. You will surely be an overcomer before Satan. You will surely, at the downfall of the kingdom of the great red dragon, stand up amid the myriad throngs to bear witness to My victory. You will surely stand firm and unwavering in the land of Sinim. Through the sufferings you endure, you will inherit My blessings, and will surely radiate My glory throughout the entire universe” (“Song of the Overcomers” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). “In the past, Peter was crucified upside down for the sake of God; but you should satisfy God in the end, and exhaust all your energy for His sake. What can a created being do on behalf of God?” (“A Created Being Should Be at the Mercy of God” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). God’s words encouraged me and bolstered my strength. I’d been subjected to cruel torture, but God had stayed by my side and He’d been guiding me with His words. I also knew that I was undergoing this kind of tribulation so that God could perfect my faith, and that I had to give victorious testimony before the great red dragon. If I betrayed God out of fear of fleshly suffering, my life would be left without meaning. It would be a great humiliation. I thought of all those apostles and prophets throughout the ages—they were persecuted and faced death, but they all kept their faith in God and bore resounding witnesses for Him. I was being tortured and ravaged by the police with God’s permission. My stature was small and I couldn’t remotely compare to the saints of the ages, but I was very fortunate to have the chance to bear that testimony for God. I was willing to put my life on the line to stand witness for God, to bring God’s heart a bit of comfort. Thinking over God’s words also seemed to alleviate my physical pain quite a bit. Seeing me dozing off, the captain grabbed my hair and yanked my head back and forth, and punched me in the head and the chest with his fist. They wouldn’t let me use the bathroom, either, saying I couldn’t go until a certain time. When I did go to the bathroom, a few male officers stood next to the toilet and said all sorts of vile things. I was so ashamed. I felt like I wanted to die. Then I thought of these words from God: “Perhaps you all remember these words: ‘For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.’ You have all heard these words before, yet none of you understood their true meaning. Today, you are profoundly aware of their true significance. These words shall be fulfilled by God during the last days, and they shall be fulfilled in those who have been brutally persecuted by the great red dragon in the land where it lies coiled. The great red dragon persecutes God and is the enemy of God, and so, in this land, those who believe in God are thus subjected to humiliation and oppression, and these words are fulfilled in you, this group of people, as a result” (“Is the Work of God As Simple As Man Imagines?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). The enlightenment from God’s words showed me that being humiliated and tortured for my faith was suffering for the sake of righteousness. It was God’s grace giving me that chance to bear witness; it was an honor for me. But when I felt a little embarrassed or experienced a little physical suffering, I lost my faith in God and even thought about death. I put too much stock in personally gaining glory or humiliation. How was that any kind of testimony? I had resolved that even if it meant my death, I’d stand witness for God, but I was thinking of ending it all just because of a little fleshly suffering. Wasn’t I falling for one of Satan’s tricks? Wasn’t Satan trying to get me to betray God? I couldn’t retreat and become Satan’s laughingstock. I had to keep on living, stand witness for God, and bring shame to Satan! Once I’d understood God’s will, I said this prayer: “God, I’m ready to put myself in Your hands. No matter how Satan may torture me, I’ll stand witness for You and never betray You. I’ll follow Your orchestrations and arrangements in all things!” I felt strengthened after my prayer.
Back in the interrogation room, the police turned on a computer where they brought up photos of a few sisters for me to identify. They also said that around 2 p.m. on January 24, they’d arrested brothers and sisters at quite a few different locations. It was a coordinated operation. I was so angry. Seeing I wouldn’t answer, they both threatened and enticed me, saying things like, “We already know all about you guys. There’s no use putting up a fight. Everyone else has talked, so what good is it for you to hold out for their sake? Even if we let you go now, your church won’t let you back in. Wise up—tell us who the upper leaders are and where the church’s funds are kept. Then we’ll get you home in time for the New Year celebrations.” I still didn’t say a word, so they yelled at me, “If you don’t tell us where the church’s money is, we’ll strip you down, hang you from the ceiling and beat you to a bloody pulp. We’ll savor every minute of it.” Hearing this scared me. I saw those devils were capable of anything at all and I didn’t know if I could take it. I was really on edge and I didn’t know what they’d do to me that night. Hit with wave after wave of fear and sadness, I felt incredibly helpless. I rushed to pray to God and ask for His protection. I thought of these words of God after my prayer: “When people are ready to sacrifice their lives, everything becomes trifling, and no one can get the better of them. What could be more important than life? Thus, Satan becomes incapable of doing any more in people, there is nothing it can do with man. Although, in the definition of the ‘flesh’ it is said that the flesh is corrupted by Satan, if people truly give themselves over, and are not driven by Satan, then no one can get the better of them” (“Chapter 36” of Interpretations of the Mysteries of God’s Words to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Through the enlightenment of God’s words I understood that I was terribly afraid of being shamed and of dying. Satan was seizing hold of my weaknesses to get me to betray God. That was its trick. If I could put my life on the line, what was there that I couldn’t take on? I also saw that their treating me that way wasn’t bringing shame upon me, but it was just the police being evil and despicable. My flesh isn’t worth anything. I became willing to sacrifice my life to bear witness for God and shame Satan. I knew it would be worthwhile if I could give testimony for God, that I wouldn’t have lived in vain. At this thought, I didn’t feel afraid anymore. I was filled with strength and faith.
Around 1 p.m. that afternoon, my heart started racing and I was having a hard time breathing. My legs felt weak and I just collapsed onto the floor. Seeing me like that, they just said, “Don’t bother acting like you’re about to die. We still won’t let you go. The Central Committee says that it doesn’t matter if we beat a believer to death. One more dead means one less believer! We could just dig a pit and throw your body in. No one would know.” Later on they saw I really wasn’t doing well, and afraid I’d die and they’d lose their lead, they took me to the hospital for a checkup. The doctor said my strength had been sapped and it had triggered a heart problem. He said I should get some food and rest. But they didn’t care if I lived or died. Half an hour after getting back from the hospital, they had me handcuffed to the metal rails again. Seeing they weren’t getting anywhere with their harsh approach, they switched to a softer one. One of the officers said to me in a fake gentle tone that he wasn’t against faith in the Lord, and his grandmother was a Christian. He also said he didn’t have a girlfriend, and seeing how pretty I was, he’d really like to find a girlfriend like me. Then another guy said, “Even if you don’t think of yourself, think of your parents. It’s almost Chinese New Year and everyone else is with their families. But you’re here suffering. Your parents would be so sad if they knew.” Another officer chimed in, “I have a kid about your age and I hate to see you suffer this way, too. Just tell me what you need—I have final say around here. I can also help you find a job. You can tell whatever it is that you know just to me.” Seeing this unctuous behavior on their part was nauseating for me, and I thought of God’s words: “You must be awake and waiting at all times, and you must pray before Me more. You must recognize the various plots and cunning schemes of Satan, recognize the spirits, know people, and be able to discern all kinds of people, events, and things” (“Chapter 17” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Satan was trying to use my emotions and some little favors to buy me off, to tempt me into betraying God. It was shameless and despicable! I knew I couldn’t fall for Satan’s tricks. After that, no matter how they threatened or enticed me, I didn’t say a word. They’d come in groups of six or seven at a time, and they took turns questioning me for eight days and nights. They used intimidation, threats, and torture to extract a confession from me, but they didn’t get any information out of me. Finally, one of the officers said, “You have incredible resolve, and your God is great.” Hearing this made me so happy—I’d seen Satan shamed and defeated.
They took me to a detention center after that. When I got there, a female officer conducted a strip search on me with the surveillance on. Once I got to the cell, all the other prisoners eyed me savagely, and the prison guards egged them on, saying, “This one’s another believer. Be sure to ‘take good care’ of her.” Before I could even get my bearings, a prisoner ordered me to take a cold shower, and I was trembling as basin after basin of cold water was thrown on my body. The other prisoners were off to the side just laughing. I had to carry dozens of buckets of water every day to clean the bathroom and do the cleaning, and at mealtimes they intentionally gave me less food. I could never eat my fill. At night, they’d kick my bed frame really hard so I couldn’t sleep. It scared me and set my heart pounding. It was awful. Later they made me sleep alone on the cold, concrete floor. Not only that, but the guards incited the head prisoner and some murderers to torment me, and the police were always questioning me and threatening me, saying, “You’re a political criminal. No one would care if you died. If you don’t talk, we’ll just keep you in here indefinitely. Don’t count on ever getting out of here!” Hearing that felt awful for me. Every day of those four months had been torture and I really couldn’t take it anymore. I didn’t know when it would all end. I felt I didn’t have the strength to keep on going. I was feeling really weak. I was wishing for death as an escape from the pain. I prayed to God in my pain, and cried bitterly as I prayed. I thought about how God became flesh, coming to the earth to express the truth and save mankind. I’d been enjoying the watering and sustenance of God’s words but I wanted to leave this world before I’d repaid God’s love. I was filled with guilt and regret; I felt terrible, as if a blow had been struck to my heart. Then I thought of these words from God: “Thus, during these last days you must bear testimony to God. No matter how great your suffering, you should walk until the very end, and even at your last breath, still you must be faithful to God and at the mercy of God; only this is truly loving God, and only this is the strong and resounding testimony” (“Only by Experiencing Painful Trials Can You Know the Loveliness of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Since you are a human being, you should expend yourself for God and endure all suffering! You should gladly and assuredly accept the little suffering you are subjected to today and live a meaningful life, like Job and Peter. … You are people who pursue the right path, those who seek improvement. You are people who rise up in the nation of the great red dragon, those whom God calls righteous. Is that not the most meaningful life?” (“Practice (2)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I felt really ashamed in the face of these words of God. God became flesh and came to the earth to express so many truths for our sustenance, and He needed people to bear witness for Him now, but I wanted to escape that situation through death, just because I’d experienced a little humiliation, because I’d physically suffered. That wasn’t true obedience. Wasn’t that rebelling against God? I thought about how Job lost all of his belongings and his children, and he suffered the torment of illness, but he never blamed God. He kept praising God’s name and he submitted to God. He was a resounding witness for God. And through the ages, disciples and prophets had given up their lives and shed their blood for God. I’d enjoyed so much from God, but what had I sacrificed for Him? I was so selfish and despicable, and I wasn’t living up to the price God had paid for me. I wasn’t even worthy of being called human! I came before God in repentance and prayer, saying, “Oh God, I’ve been wrong. I shouldn’t be thinking of death. I want to be like Job, like Peter, and no matter what I have to face, I wish to stand witness for You.” Praying gave me the strength to face whatever came next. Before long, the head prisoner was transferred to prison to serve out her sentence and a few other prisoners were transferred in, who started taking care of me. They shared some daily necessities with me and gave me clothing to wear for the season. I knew this was God’s orchestration and arrangement. Just as it says in God’s words: “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).
Later on, I met a sister in the detention center. It was really heartwarming for me. We copied out some of God’s words in secret to encourage each other and fellowship. My heart felt full and joyful. Then one day in September, the police came to question me again. They took my photo as soon as I got into the interrogation room and they said they’d use it to get online and find my identity. They threatened me, saying, “Your case is just about settled. Don’t even think of getting out! The Communist Party’s policy for Christians is to turn one-year sentences into three-year sentences, and three-year sentences into seven-year sentences. They can beat them to death on a whim and no one’s held responsible for it. We’ll see how long you can hold on.” Seeing how evil and despicable the CCP is made me hate Satan the devil even more. I would absolutely never give in and betray God. I said to them seriously, “You can just forget about that. I have no plans of getting out. As long as I can know God and stand witness for the Creator in my lifetime, it’ll be worth it, even if I die in here!” The police then stormed out in anger.
I was released in November 2013, after 10 months of being illegally detained by the authorities. Even though I suffered physically in my experience of being arrested by the Communist Party, God’s words were enlightening me the whole time, guiding me to triumph over Satan’s temptations and to stand witness. I truly experienced the power and authority of God’s words and my faith in God grew. I also clearly saw the CCP’s devilish essence of hating God and being His enemy. I completely turned my back on it and rejected it, and strengthened my resolve to follow God. Thank Almighty God!