17. God Is My Strength in Life
By Xiaohe, Henan Province
In what feels like the blink of an eye, I have followed Almighty God for 14 years. Throughout these years, I have experienced ups and downs, and the path has often been difficult, but because I have had God’s word, as well as God’s love and mercy to accompany me, I have felt especially fulfilled. In these 14 years, the most memorable experience was my arrest in August of 2003. While I was in custody, I was brutally tortured by the CCP police, and was left nearly disabled. It was Almighty God who watched over me and protected me, and who time and again used His words to guide me, which finally allowed me to overcome being tortured by those demons, stand firm, and testify. During this experience, I felt deeply the extraordinary power of Almighty God’s words and the might of His life force, by which I determined that Almighty God is the one true God who holds sovereignty over all and rules over all things. Even more so, He is my only salvation, the only One I can rely on, and no enemy force can take me away from God or stop me from following His footsteps.
I remember that evening, when myself and two of my sisters were meeting together, when suddenly we heard the dog barking outside, as well as the sound of people coming over the courtyard wall. Shortly after, we heard someone banging urgently on the door, shouting, “Open the door! You’re surrounded!” We quickly gathered our things and put them away, but just at that moment, the door crashed inward with a bang, and the glare of several flashlights shone straight toward us, blinding us so that we had to close our eyes. Immediately, more than a dozen people rushed into the room and forcefully pushed us toward the wall as they shouted, “Don’t move! Play nice!” After that, they searched the house, tearing through it like bandits. At just that moment, I heard the pops of two gunshots from outside, which was followed by one of the police inside shouting, “We have them! Three of them!” They handcuffed us, then roughly shoved us into a police van. By now, my senses had returned, and I realized we had been arrested by the police. Once we were in the vehicle, one of the police, electric baton in hand, shouted, “All of you, listen here: Keep still, because I’ll shock anyone who moves, and even if it kills you, I won’t be breaking the law!” On the way, two of these evil police had squeezed me into the middle of the seat between them, and one of them held onto my legs in his lap and pulled me to his arms. He said lecherously, “I’ll be wasting my chance if I don’t take advantage of you!” He clung to me tightly, even though I struggled with all my strength until another one of the police said, “Stop playing around! Let’s hurry up and finish the mission so we can be done with it.” Only then did he let go.
They brought us to the police station and locked us in a tiny room, after which they separately cuffed each of us to metal chairs. The person assigned to guard us sternly asked us our names and where we lived. I was nervous and didn’t know what I should say, so I silently prayed to God, asking Him for wisdom and for the right words to say. This is when God’s words enlightened me: “[A]lways having the interests of God’s family as the most important thing no matter what you are doing, accepting God’s observation, and submitting to God’s arrangements” (“How Is Your Relationship With God?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Right! I had to put the interests of God’s family first. No matter how they might torture or torment me, I couldn’t sell out my brothers and sisters, nor could I become a Judas and betray God. I had to stand firm and testify for God. After that, no matter how he questioned me, I ignored him. The next morning, as they were about to take us to the detention house, the lecherous police officer said, “We put out the dragnet to catch you! We had to keep looking until we found you!” As he handcuffed me, he groped my breasts, which made me furious. I never imagined that the People’s Police would harass me like that in broad daylight. They were nothing but gangsters and bandits! It was truly disgusting and hateful!
At the detention house, to make me tell them my home address and information about my belief in God, the police first sent a female officer to persuade me and flatter me by playing good cop. When they realized that wasn’t working, they forcibly took a video of me, and then said they would take the video to the TV station and ruin my reputation with it. I knew, however, that I was simply a believer in God who pursued the truth and walked the correct path in life, and that I hadn’t done anything disgraceful, nor had I done anything illegal or criminal, so in an offended tone, I answered, “Do whatever you like!” When they saw that their trick wasn’t working, these evil police decided to torture me viciously. As if I were a hardened criminal, they put me in handcuffs and shackles that weighed 5 kg, and then escorted me to a vehicle to take me to be interrogated. Because the shackles on my feet were so heavy, I had to drag them along as I walked. Walking was very difficult, and it only took a few footsteps before the skin on my feet was rubbed raw and broken. Once in the vehicle, they immediately put a black bag over my head, and I was squeezed between two officers. I suddenly thought to myself in shock, “These evil police lack all humanity, and there’s no telling what vicious things they’ll do to torture me. What will happen if I can’t take it?” So, I quickly prayed to God: “Almighty God! My flesh is weak in the face of the circumstances I’m about to endure. Please protect me and give me faith. No matter what tortures befall me, I wish to stand firm in my testimony to satisfy You, and I absolutely refuse to betray You.” We entered a building and they removed the bag from my head, then ordered me to stand for a whole day. That evening, a police officer sat in front of me, crossed his legs, and said to me in a savage tone, “Answer my questions cooperatively, and you’ll be released! How many years have you believed in God? Who preached it to you? Who is the leader of your church?” When I didn’t answer, he shouted angrily, “It looks like you won’t answer unless we make the alternative clear!” He ordered me to raise my hands above my head and not move as I continued to stand. Before long, my arms began to ache, and I couldn’t hold them above my head, but he wouldn’t allow me to lower them. Only when I was sweating and trembling all over and I couldn’t hold them up any longer did he allow me to lower my arms, but he still wouldn’t allow me to sit. I was required to stand until dawn, by which point my legs and feet were numb and swollen.
On the morning of the second day, they began to question me again, but I still refused to tell them anything. They removed one side of my (chained) handcuffs, and then their leader hit me violently in the back of my knees with a 10 cm thick, 70 cm long wooden pole, forcing me to kneel. He then jammed the pole into the crevice behind my knees, then pulled my arms under the pole and forced me to put the handcuffs back on. Immediately, my chest felt compressed, it was hard to breathe, and the tendons in my shoulders felt stretched to the breaking point. My calves were so tense they felt ready to snap. It was so painful that I trembled all over. About three minutes later, I tried to adjust my position, but couldn’t support myself, and with a thump I fell backward onto my rear, my face pointing upward. One of the four police in the room directed two of the others to go to either side of me and pull the wooden pole downward with one hand while pushing my shoulders forward with the other, and instructed the third to hold my head in his hands while kicking my back with his foot, putting me into a squatting position, which they then ordered me to maintain. But my whole body was in unbearable pain, and before long I fell over again, at which point they again put me into a squatting position. I continued to fall over and be pushed upright into a squat position over and over, and this torment continued for about an hour, until finally, once they were all out of breath and sweating, their leader said, “Enough, enough, I’m too tired for this!” Only then did they remove the torture implement. I felt weak all over, and lay on the floor gasping for breath, completely limp. By this point, the handcuffs had abraded away the skin on my wrists, and below the shackles my ankles were covered in blood. I was in such pain that I was sweating all over, and as my sweat seeped into my wounds, the pain was like being cut with a knife. In such misery, I couldn’t help but keep crying out in my heart, “O God! Save me, I can’t bear this much longer!” And at that moment, God’s words enlightened me: “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?” (“Chapter 36” of Interpretations of the Mysteries of God’s Words to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words immediately made everything clear to me. Satan knows people treasure their flesh, and that they fear death even more, so it was hoping to cruelly hurt my flesh in order to make me fear death, and to thereby make me betray God. This was its scheme, but God was also using Satan’s scheme to test my faith and my loyalty to Him. God wanted me to bear witness for Him in the presence of Satan, and thereby humiliate Satan. Once I understood God’s will, I again found my faith and strength, as well as the determination to stand firm and testify for God even at the cost of my own life. Once I swore the oath to put my life on the line to satisfy God, my pain felt greatly lessened, and I also didn’t feel so distressed and miserable. After that, the police ordered me to stand, and said angrily, “I thought I told you to stand! Let’s see how long you last!” And so, they forced me to stand there until dark. In the evening, when I went to the bathroom, my feet were swollen and covered in congealed blood because of the shackles, so I could only drag my feet across the floor a short distance at a time. It was incredibly difficult to move, as each time I moved I felt a cutting pain from my feet, and with each footstep there was a clear trail of fresh blood. It took me nearly an hour to walk the 30 meters to the toilet and back. That night, I couldn’t help but rub my swollen legs with my hands, and they were uncomfortable no matter whether I drew them close to me or stretched them out. I was in extreme pain, but what consoled me was that, because I had God’s protection, I had not betrayed God.
On the morning of the third day, these evil police again used the same method to torture me. Each time I fell over, the lead policeman would laugh maliciously and say, “That was a pretty tumble! Let’s have another!” And then they would pick me up, and I would fall again, and he would say, “I like you in that position, it looks good. Do it again!” They tortured me over and over like this for roughly an hour, until they finally stopped, sweating from their foreheads and exhausted. I collapsed to the floor, my head facing upward, feeling as though the sky was spinning. I couldn’t stop shaking, streams of salty sweat made it impossible to open my eyes, and my stomach was churning so badly I wanted to vomit. I felt like I was about to die. This was when God’s words flashed into my mind: “‘For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.’ … 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 God’s 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). God’s words made me understand that in China, a nation ruled over by demons where believing in God and following God ensures you will suffer a great deal of humiliation and harm, God intends to use this persecution to make a group of overcomers and thereby defeat Satan, and these are precisely the times we are to manifest God’s glory and bear witness for Him. That I was able to do my part for God’s glory is my honor. Guided by God’s words, I not only discovered a powerful strength, but I also declared to Satan in my heart, “Vile demon, I’ve steeled myself, and no matter how you torture me, I won’t submit to you. Even if I die, I vow to stand with God.” When the head officer saw that I still wasn’t answering their questions, he angrily removed the pole, and then said in a rage, “Go on, stand up! We’ll see how long your stubbornness lasts. We’ll play the long game with you. I’m sure we’ll break you yet!” I had no choice but to agonizingly rise to my feet, but my legs were so swollen and painful that I couldn’t stand up straight, and I had to lean on the wall. That afternoon, the head officer said to me, “When other people ‘ride the swing’ they all talk the first time. You can take quite a bit of abuse! Look at the state of your legs, and you still won’t talk. I don’t know where you get the strength….” After that, he looked at me again and yelled, “I’ve made so many people spill their secrets, and you have the gall to fight me? Hah! Even if we don’t loosen your mouth, we can still sentence you to 8 to 10 years, and we’ll make the prisoners curse you and beat you every day! We’ll fix you!” When I heard him say that, I thought, “God is with me, so even if you sentence me to 8 to 10 years, I’m not afraid.” When I didn’t respond, he angrily slapped his thigh, stomped his foot, and said, “We’ve spent days trying to break you. If everybody was like you, how could I ever do my job?” I smiled inside when I heard him say that, because Satan was impotent, defeated soundly by God’s hand! At that moment, I couldn’t help but think of God’s words: “God’s life force can prevail over any power; moreover, it exceeds any power. His life is eternal, His power extraordinary, and His life force cannot be overwhelmed by any created being or enemy force” (“Only Christ of the Last Days Can Give Man the Way of Eternal Life” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Every word of God’s is the truth, and that day I experienced it personally. I hadn’t eaten or drunk anything or slept for three days, and I had been tortured so badly, and I was still resisting, and this was entirely due to the strength given to me by God. It was God watching over me and protecting me. Without God as my strong support, I would have been broken long before. God’s life force truly is extraordinarily powerful, and God is truly almighty! After witnessing God’s deeds, my faith to bear witness for God before Satan grew stronger.
On the morning of the fourth day, the evil police forced me to stretch my arms forward and level with my shoulders and maintain a half squat, after which they placed a wooden rod on the backs of my hands. It wasn’t long before I couldn’t maintain the position. My hands fell, and the pole dropped to the floor. They picked up the pole and used it to savagely hit the joints of my fingers and knees, each blow causing piercing pain, and then they forced me to continue doing a half squat. After several days of torture, my legs were already swollen and in pain, so after squatting for just a moment, my legs couldn’t support my weight, and I collapsed heavily onto the floor. They picked me up again, but the minute they let go I collapsed again. This continued several times. My buttocks were already so bruised that they couldn’t stand to bump against the floor like this, and I was in such pain that I began to sweat all over. They tormented me in this fashion for about an hour. Afterward, they ordered me to sit on the floor, then brought in a bowl of thick salt water and told me to drink it. I refused, so one of these evil police grabbed the sides of my face, while another put one hand on my forehead and pried my mouth open with the other and poured it down my throat. The salt water felt bitter and astringent against my throat, my stomach instantly felt like it was on fire, and it was so unbearable that I wanted to cry. When they saw my discomfort, they said viciously, “You don’t bleed as easily when we hit you after you drink salt water.” I could barely contain the rage I felt when I heard that. I never imagined China’s supposedly upright People’s Police could be so sinister and malicious. These vicious demons not only meant to toy with me and harm me, they were out to humiliate me. That night, one of these evil police came up to me, squatted down, and touched my face with his hand as he spoke filthy words to me. I was so furious that I spat directly into his face. He became furious and slapped me hard, making my eyes see stars and my ears ring. In a threatening tone he then said, “You still haven’t experienced the rest of our interrogation techniques. If you die here, no one will ever know. Confess, or there’s a lot more fun we can have with you!” That night, I laid on the floor, unable to move at all. I wanted to go to the bathroom, so they told me to get up on my own. Using all my strength, I was able to slowly stand up, but I collapsed again after taking just one step. I couldn’t move, so a female officer had to drag me into the bathroom, where I passed out again. When I awakened, I was back in my own room. I saw that my legs were so swollen that the skin was shiny, the handcuffs and shackles were embedded deeply into the skin on my wrists and ankles, blood and pus seeped from the wounds, and it was more painful than I could describe. I thought of the rest of the torture techniques the officer who touched my face had just said they would use on me, and I couldn’t help but feel weak, so I prayed to God: “God! I don’t know what else these devils will do to torment me, and I can’t hold on much longer. Please guide me, give me faith, grant me strength, and allow me to stand witness for You.” After I prayed, I remembered the suffering God endured the two times He came incarnate in order to save humankind: In the Age of Grace, in order to redeem humankind, the Lord Jesus was toyed with, beaten, and insulted by the soldiers and the crowds, was made to wear a crown of thorns, and finally was nailed to the cross while He was still alive; today, God has taken an even bigger risk by coming incarnate to work in an atheist country and, silently and without complaint, He endured being persecuted and arrested by the CCP government, as well as enduring the wild resistance, rejection, and condemnation of the religious world. I again recalled God’s words: “Is not the suffering you encounter now the very same suffering of God? You are suffering along with God, and God is suffering along with people. Today you all have a part in Christ’s tribulation, kingdom, and patience, and in the end you will obtain glory. This kind of suffering is meaningful, but you absolutely must be resolved. You must understand the significance of today’s suffering and why you must suffer so. Seek a little truth from this, and understand a little of God’s intention, and you will then possess the resolve to endure suffering” (“Only by Pursuing the Truth Can You Obtain Changes in Your Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks). It’s true, God long ago endured the suffering I was undergoing. God was innocent, yet to save corrupt humankind, God bore every torment and humiliation, whereas the suffering I was enduring was purely so that I myself could attain true salvation. Considering the question closely, I realized that my own suffering was hardly worth mentioning next to the suffering God endured. I finally understood the immensity of the torment and humiliation God endured to save us, and I felt that God’s love for humankind truly is powerful and selfless! In my heart, I felt a longing and yearning for God. Through my suffering, God allowed me to see more of His power and authority, and to appreciate that His words are the life force of man, and could lead me to overcome any difficulty; through this suffering, God was also refining my faith, tempering my will, and allowing me to make up what I lacked and bring my own deficiencies to perfection. I understood God’s will, and realized that the suffering I endured that day was a great gift of God’s grace, and that God was with me, so I wasn’t alone. I couldn’t help but recall a church hymn: “God is my support, what is there to fear? I pledge my life to fight with Satan till the end. God lifts us up, we should leave everything behind and fight to bear witness for Christ. God will carry out His will on earth. I’ll prepare my love and loyalty and devote them all to God. I will joyfully welcome God’s return when He descends in glory, and meet with Him again when the kingdom of Christ is realized” (“The Kingdom” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs).
On the fifth day, these evil police continued to make me assume the half squat position. My legs and feet were already so swollen that I couldn’t stand at all, so the police surrounded me and pushed me from one to the other. Some of them also took advantage of my condition to grope me. I could only numbly let them play with me like a doll. I had already been tormented to the point that my head was spinning and my vision was blurry. But just when I couldn’t bear it any longer, I suddenly heard footsteps outside the door, which was followed by them running to the door, closing it, and ceasing their cruel game. I knew that this was God showing me mercy, and that He was alleviating my pain. That night, one of the evil police came to me, took off his shoe, and put his stinking foot in front of my face while saying lecherously, “What are you thinking about while you sit there? Is it about men? Well, how’s this? How do you like the stink of my foot? I think my foot stink is exactly what you’ve been missing!” His filthy language filled me with rage. I glared at him furiously, and as I looked at his shameless, disgusting face, I thought back on how again and again I had been capriciously tormented and humiliated. They lacked all humanity, they were worse than beasts, they were nothing but a pack of demons utterly devoid of reason, and I hated these devils to my core! Through my personal experiences over the past several days, I saw that the People’s Police whom I had considered the very models of respectability in the past were nothing but shameless villains, and this gave me the determination to forsake Satan and stand firm and testify to satisfy God.
By the sixth day, I began to involuntarily fall asleep. The head officer proudly declared, “You’re finally starting to fall asleep! You want sleep? Forget it! It’s sleep deprivation until we break you! Let’s see how long you last!” They watched me in shifts, and the moment I closed my eyes or nodded off, they banged on the table with their whips, or they used a thin wooden rod to hit my legs, which were so swollen that the skin was shiny, or they violently pulled my hair, or stomped on my foot, and each time I was startled awake. Sometimes they kicked my shackles, and when my shackles touched my festering wounds, the pain was enough to shock me awake. Finally, my head hurt so much it felt like it would explode, the room felt like it was spinning, and I collapsed head-first onto the floor and passed out…. Through my unconscious haze, I heard the doctor say, “You haven’t let her eat or sleep for days? You’re being too harsh. And these shackles are already embedded in the flesh. She can’t wear them anymore.” After the doctor left, the police put me in shackles weighing 2.5 kg and applied medicine, and only then did I return to consciousness. I knew I had survived only because of God’s omnipotence, and because God was secretly protecting me, easing my pain and lessening my torture by speaking through the doctor. I had more faith in God than ever, and I found the determination to battle Satan to the end. God was my strong support and my refuge. I knew that without God’s permission, no matter how Satan tortured me, it could not take my life.
On the morning of the seventh day, I was too fatigued to endure it any longer, and I kept falling asleep. One of the evil police saw my condition and constantly stepped on my toes, pinched the backs of my hands, and slapped my face. That afternoon, the evil police again asked me for information about the church. I quickly prayed to God, “O God! I’m so sleep-deprived I can’t think clearly. Please protect me and give me a clear mind, so that I can stand witness for You at all times.” Thanks to God’s protection, despite being awake for seven days and six nights, without food, water, or sleep, my mind became entirely clear, and no matter how they tempted me, I still didn’t tell them anything. After that, the head police officer brought out a list of missionary workers I had written, and then tried to force me to divulge other names. But after experiencing the cruelty meted out by these devils, I wasn’t about to let any of my brothers and sisters fall into their hands, so I called out to God to give me strength, and when the police officer wasn’t paying attention, I lunged forward, grabbed the name list, stuffed it in my mouth, and swallowed it. Two of the evil police angrily cursed me as they rushed forward and tried to pry my mouth open and hit me viciously in the face. The blows caused blood to flow from the corners of my mouth, and they sent my head spinning, and made my face swell up.
After several rounds of futile interrogation, they had no choice but to give up, so they sent me back to the detention house. The police at the detention house saw how badly I was injured, and were afraid of bearing responsibility if I died there, so they refused to accept me. In frustration, the evil interrogators were forced to take me to the hospital for oxygen intubation. After that, they returned me to the detention house, and I was in a coma for four days and nights. After the other prisoners wakened me, I again passed out twice more. Finally, the CCP government sentenced me to a year and nine months of reeducation through labor for the crime of “joining a xie jiao organization.” However, because I had been tortured so badly, I was paralyzed and couldn’t walk, and the labor camp wouldn’t accept me, so the police published a video of me on television. Three months later, my husband finally learned what had happened to me and spent 12,000 yuan as a bond to bring me out of prison for supervised release. When my husband came to pick me up, I was hurt too badly to walk, so he had to carry me to the car. After I returned home, the doctors who examined me determined that I had two dislocated spinal disks, that I would be unable to care for myself in the future, and that I was paralyzed for life. I thought I would spend the rest of my life lying on a bed, but thanks to God’s mercy and continued treatment, a year later, my body slowly began to recover. I genuinely witnessed God’s omnipotent power, as well as His love for me. Thanks be to God, I could resume my duties as a created being!
Through these sufferings and difficulties, even though I tasted pain to the fullest, I also gained the wealth of life. I not only saw clearly the demonic essence of the CCP government but, more importantly, I saw God’s wondrous deeds, I saw the authority and power of God’s words, and I felt the extraordinariness and vastness of God’s life force: At my weakest and my most helpless, it was God’s words that gave me strength and courage, and that gave me the faith to break free of Satan’s forces of darkness; when my flesh couldn’t bear any more torture and torment, God arranged people, matters, and things to ease my burden; when I was tormented by demons into unconsciousness, God’s wondrous work opened a path and delivered me safely out of danger…. After experiencing these things, I saw that God had always been by my side, watching over me, protecting me, and walking with me. God’s love for me is great indeed! God is my strength in life, my aid and support whenever I need them, and I wish to devote myself body and soul to God, seek to know God, and live out a meaningful life!