45. Lost and Found Again
By Xieli, United States
I came to the U.S.A. to work as hard as I could in pursuit of a happy life with a high standard of living. Though I suffered no little over the first few years, with time I was able to start my own company, get my own car, my own house, etc. I was finally living the “happy” life that I’d dreamed of. During this period, I made a few friends; in our free time we’d go out to eat, drink, and have some fun. We all got on pretty well together, and I thought I’d met a good bunch of guys. But then I came to realize that they were all just drinking buddies who didn’t have a single substantial thing to say, and when I was worried or depressed there was not one of them I could go to share my troubles with. Not only that, but they schemed to rip me off: One of them lied to me about his mother in China being really ill and when I lent him some money he disappeared without a trace. Another, from my hometown, told a bunch of lies about needing financing for a project and cheated me out of some money. And even the person nearest and dearest to me—my girlfriend—betrayed me and cheated me out of a large sum of money that it had taken me years of blood, sweat, and tears to accumulate. The heartlessness of these people and the indifference of society left me depressed and disheartened. For a time I lost the confidence to keep on living; my heart was empty, and I was in pain and helpless. After that, I often turned to eating, drinking and having fun to fill the emptiness within me, but I knew that these temporary physical pleasures couldn’t resolve my spiritual suffering at all.
In the fall of 2015, by accident of fate, I became acquainted with the woman who is my wife today. At that time she had already accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days. When she shared the gospel of the kingdom with me, having faith seemed well and good to me, but because I was so busy with work I said to her: “I don’t have time for faith in God, but if you want to believe, go ahead. Knowing in my heart that God exists is enough for me.” One day six months later my wife had me watch one of the videos from The Church of Almighty God with her—The Days of Noah Have Come. What I saw in the video really startled me: When faced with disasters mankind was tiny and fragile, unable to withstand the slightest of blows. I suddenly felt that no matter how much money a person has, how much luxury they enjoy or how high their status is, it’s all meaningless. In the face of disaster, when death is coming upon us, all these things are worthless and useless. As Almighty God’s words say: “However, I must tell you that in the time of Noah, men had been eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage to such an extent that it was unbearable for God to witness, so He sent down a great flood to destroy mankind, sparing only Noah’s family of eight and all kinds of birds and beasts. In the last days, however, those spared by God are all those who have been loyal to Him until the end” (“Did You Know? God Has Done a Great Thing Among Men” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Now look upon the present age: Such righteous men as Noah, who could worship God and shun evil, have ceased to exist. Yet God is still gracious toward this mankind and still absolves them during this final era. God seeks those who long for Him to appear. He seeks those who are able to hear His words, those who have not forgotten His commission and offer up their hearts and bodies to Him. He seeks those who are as obedient as babes before Him and do not resist Him” (“God Presides Over the Fate of All Mankind” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). In these words I could feel the urgency of God’s intention to save mankind. I thought about how in these times nobody seems to love positive things or long for God’s return. People’s hearts are full of selfishness, arrogance, and trickery. For the sake of fame and gain, they plot and scheme against one another, cheat one another, and even resort to killing one another. People are slaves to their sensual desires, and constantly violate morals and virtue and bury their conscience. People have lost all humanity…. The degree of corruption of mankind in the last days really is far beyond that of the age of Noah. However, God hasn’t outright destroyed mankind because of this wickedness and corruption, but instead is raining down various kinds of disasters to warn mankind and give us the chance to turn back toward God. When I pondered over God’s words, my heart was deeply moved by God’s love. I also thought about how the world was becoming more evil and corrupt by the day, disasters were becoming bigger and bigger, and about how when God vents His rage upon evil mankind and destroys humanity, all of the money and status that I had been pursuing would not be able to save me. Only by coming before God and seeking the truth can a person gain protection. When I thought all of this through it was like waking from a dream—my intuition told me that I should come before God and accept His salvation, as this is the only way to be saved. If I were to lose my chance at attaining salvation for the sake of the temporal enjoyments of the flesh, that would be a lifelong regret! Consequently, in May 2016 I began to believe in God and take part in church meetings.
Not long after gaining my faith, I was surfing the web and came across some negative propaganda condemning and slandering The Church of Almighty God. Reading that left me momentarily stunned. What was this “making people donate money and not respecting the boundaries between men and women” stuff? What I read seemed to be rational, making difficult for me to distinguish right from wrong, fact from fiction. I became adrift in confusion, and the burning fire of my faith in God was instantly extinguished by the negative stuff I was reading. And just at that moment, I overheard my mother-in-law on the phone with my wife talking about donating money to the church, which made me even more inclined to believe what I was reading online. After that, I stopped my mother-in-law from donating money and also urged my wife to give up her faith so that we wouldn’t be taken in. But she didn’t listen to me at all, and told me unequivocally: “The reality of the situation is nothing like you’ve read online. The stuff online is all rumors, all false testimonies! …” She then got a book of God’s words to fellowship with me, but I’d already been blinded by the rumors and didn’t take in anything she was saying. Not long after, some brothers and sisters came to our home, but I wouldn’t pay them any mind, either. Over those few days I was living entirely within darkness, always worried about my wife and mother-in-law being cheated. I was constantly on edge—I couldn’t get food down, I couldn’t sleep well at night, and was tormented psychologically. Seeing how I was suffering, my wife tried to fellowship with me again. She opened up a book of Almighty God’s words and chose this passage to show me: “I do not want people’s notions or thoughts, much less your money or your possessions. What I want is your heart. Do you understand? This is My will; moreover, it is what I wish to obtain” (“Chapter 61” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). She then read some of the principles for managing church life for me: “The church does not allow anyone to ask for donations in sermons, nor to ask for donations for any other reason” (Work Arrangements). She shared this in fellowship with me: “In The Church of Almighty God there are strict required standards and principles for every aspect of church life. As for donating money, the words of Almighty God state very clearly that God does not want mankind’s money or material objects. The church’s work principles also clearly stipulate that the church does not allow anyone to preach about donating money or to encourage people to donate money for any reason. Since I’ve been following Almighty God, the church has not asked me to donate a single cent. Not only does the church not call on people to donate money, but it even gives all the brothers and sisters who are true believers all sorts of books, CDs, and other things free of charge. Now, my mother wants to contribute something to help out some of the brothers and sisters who are experiencing difficulties. She’s doing it of her own free will; nobody is forcing her to do it. Anyway, helping people in need is a good deed, so there’s no reason for reproach, right?”
After reading Almighty God’s words and listening to my wife’s fellowship, something that one of the sisters had shared with me in fellowship before suddenly occurred to me: The Church of Almighty God does not accept monetary donations from new members, and anyone who wants to donate money has to first go through several rounds of prayer until they are sure they are completely willing to do so, and that they will never regret it. If they are not more than willing, the church absolutely will not accept it. When I remembered this, some of the worries and concerns that I had were somewhat alleviated, but the knot in my heart was not entirely loosened. My wife saw my frown, and knowing what I was thinking, she said: “Don’t believe those rumors. In order to disrupt and sabotage God’s work of saving people and prevent us from coming before God and accepting His salvation, Satan will say all sorts of garbage and give all sorts of false testimonies. God is holy and God detests mankind’s evil. As for those with bad reputations and who don’t know how to behave properly around members of the opposite sex, The Church of Almighty God never accepts them. This is something that Almighty God has spoken very explicitly about.” My wife then opened up God’s words and read: “Many people will kneel down for mercy and forgiveness because of the peal of the seven thunders. But it will no longer be the Age of Grace: It will be the time for wrath. As for all who do evil (being those who fornicate, or deal in dirty money, or have unclear boundaries with the opposite sex, or who interrupt or damage My management, or who do not understand spiritual matters, or who are possessed by evil spirits, and so on—all except My elect), none will be let off, nor any pardoned, but cast down, each and every one of them, to Hades, where they will perish forever!” (“Chapter 94” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Almighty God’s utterances are majestic and wrathful in order to produce fear and reverence in people’s hearts; this made me aware of God’s righteous disposition that will not tolerate mankind’s offenses. God is incredibly disgusted by those who engage in promiscuity, and those people will eventually suffer God’s righteous punishment. Some of my concerns were alleviated. My wife then fellowshiped the following with me: “When God was doing His work in the Age of Law anyone who behaved promiscuously would be stoned to death. This fully reveals God’s righteous, majestic and wrathful disposition. In the Age of Kingdom, God’s rules within His administration are even stricter regarding men and women consorting with each other. As it says in God’s words: ‘Man has a corrupt disposition and is moreover possessed of emotions. As such, it is absolutely prohibited for two members of the opposite sex to work together unaccompanied when serving God. Any who are discovered doing so will be expelled, without exception’ (“The Ten Administrative Decrees That Must Be Obeyed by God’s Chosen People in the Age of Kingdom” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).”
When my wife read this out, I recalled an incident that had occurred in the spring of 2016. At the time, I hadn’t yet properly investigated Almighty God’s work of the last days. I was driving my wife and one of the sisters from the church to another state. On the way, we stopped so that my wife could attend to something, and when she got out of the car that sister also got out. It was cold and windy outside, and the sister stood beside the car stomping her feet to keep warm. I called to her to get in the car but she said: “It’s okay. I’ll stand outside for a bit.” It was quite a while before my wife returned, and only then did the sister get back into the car. Seeing that she was visibly shivering from the cold my wife asked her: “It’s so cold outside. Why didn’t you stay in the car?” She replied: “There’s an administrative rule in our church that a man and a woman can’t be alone together or have physical contact. This is one of the requirements that God has of His chosen people, and we have to strictly abide by it.” On hearing this, I felt that the people with The Church of Almighty God truly are different from the people of the world—even in such trivial matters they keep themselves in check. With this in mind, I couldn’t help but smack my head in self-disgust for not properly investigating the facts and instead blindly believing those online rumors. When I thought about all of the times I’d interacted with the brothers and sisters of The Church of Almighty God and seen how clearly delineated the boundaries between men and women were, how proper and decent they were in speech and action, how principled they were when associating with people or attending to affairs, it was obvious that those rumors online didn’t hold any water. At that point I felt very ashamed—it turned out that those online rumors were all fabrications, slander, outright distortion—yet I blindly took in those lies and developed doubts about Almighty God and The Church of Almighty God. I was such a confused idiot! My wife then continued on in fellowship: “In the last days, God becoming flesh and expressing truths to judge and cleanse people is to thoroughly save mankind from Satan’s domain and to rid us of our corrupt dispositions—our arrogance, trickery, deceit, selfishness, vileness, evil, and filth—and to help us to achieve transformation in our life disposition so that we may live out a true human likeness. God knows that mankind has been very deeply corrupted by Satan and doesn’t have the capability to overcome sin; so in order to ensure that people don’t offend God’s disposition when they are accepting God’s salvation and thus be eliminated and punished, God has laid out the administrative rules of the Age of Kingdom in order to keep believers in check. Anyone who violates these rules will be punished by God, and serious offenders will be expelled from the church and lose any chance of salvation. God issuing these decrees for the church is to have us gain some real knowledge of God’s unoffendable righteous disposition, and also so that we have rules to keep us in check. This way, in all of our behaviors there will always be a line that can’t be crossed, and if we keep within these boundaries then we can avoid many of Satan’s temptations. This is God’s way of protecting us and, even more so, it is God’s true love for us!” Listening to my wife’s fellowshiping I found myself involuntarily nodding my head, and thus the knot in my heart was completely untied and the pain suffocating my heart was released. After that, I started attending church meetings again.
Every time I recall this experience there is always some lingering fear in my heart. I saw how damaging these rumors are; I was nearly taken in by them and almost lost the chance for God’s salvation of the last days. In the Age of Grace, the Israelites were also deluded by false rumors and did not acknowledge the Lord Jesus as the coming of the Messiah. They rejected the Lord Jesus and thus lost the Lord’s salvation. This made me realize just what huge obstacles such rumors are on the path of true faith! But what I still couldn’t make heads or tails of was why there are so many false rumors and false accusations about The Church of Almighty God online when it clearly is a good church. So, during one of the church gatherings I brought up this question with the brothers and sisters so that we could openly fellowship on it. They played one of the church’s gospel movies for me, Break Through the Snare, which completely resolved my confusion. With a bit more fellowshiping from the brothers and sisters I gained even more clarity. Using rumors to disrupt and sabotage God’s work has been Satan’s consistent tactic. When the Lord Jesus was doing His work, the Jewish chief priests, scribes and Pharisees wanted to ensure that they kept permanent control over God’s chosen people, and so they created many false rumors about the Lord Jesus. They blasphemed the Lord Jesus by saying that He relied on Beelzebub’s power to exorcise demons, they falsely accused the Lord Jesus of not letting people pay their taxes to Caesar, and they also gave false testimony by saying that the Lord Jesus’ physical body was stolen by His disciples and that He hadn’t been resurrected. I’m sure that if the Internet had existed then, those religious leaders would have put all of their rumors and false testimonies online in order to blaspheme, attack, and condemn the Lord Jesus. Nowadays, in the Age of Kingdom, Almighty God is doing the work of words to judge and cleanse mankind; the government of China as well as the pastors and elders in the religious community are acting as Satan’s tools. In order to achieve their goal of controlling and ensnaring people, they are blaspheming and condemning Almighty God, wantonly fabricating rumors and false testimonies, and smearing The Church of Almighty God in order to confuse people and keep them in the dark. In their arrogance, they think they can make people abandon God’s work of salvation of the last days and follow them in resisting God. Satan really is just so evil and loathsome!
Then the brothers and sisters read out another two passages of God’s words for me: “On earth, all manner of evil spirits are forever on the prowl for a place to rest, and are endlessly searching for human corpses that can be consumed” (“Chapter 10” of God’s Words to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Satan is ever present devouring the knowledge of Me in people’s hearts, gnashing its teeth and flexing its claws in its final death throes. Do you wish to fall prey to its cunning schemes at this time? Do you wish to ruin your life at the time when My work is finally completed?” (“Chapter 6” of God’s Words to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh). They also shared fellowship with me that Almighty God’s words tell us the truth about the spiritual battle, which is that in order to block people from coming before God and swallow them up, Satan carries out all sorts of trickery. This includes the deception of spreading rumors and false testimonies on the Internet, getting religious leaders to harass and threaten believers, and getting family members to coerce them and prevent them from following Almighty God. In short, anything which makes us doubt, deny or move away from God comes from Satan. If we are unable to seek the truth, then we will never be able to see through Satan’s trickery, will easily lose the chance to gain God’s salvation, and will sink into disaster along with Satan. Thanks to God’s leadership, I was able to more clearly see Satan’s evil and despicable essence and see through Satan’s schemes through watching The Church of Almighty God’s gospel movie and listening to the fellowshiping of the brothers and sisters.
Since following Almighty God I’ve gained true release and freedom. Now, whenever I encounter difficulties I can read God’s words and pray to God to help me find a path of practice. The brothers and sisters in the church all abide by God’s requirements and seek to become honest people. Their mutual relationships are uncomplicated and open; they help and support each other. There’s no need to worry about someone trying to put me down, deceive me, or rip me off. I feel truly happy and content, and this is the life that I always want to live.