34. A Christian Spiritual Awakening
By Lingwu, Japan
I’m a child of the eighties, and was born into an ordinary farmer household. My older brother was feeble and prone to illness from the time he was little. My father was wounded in an accident when I was 10; he became completely paralyzed two years after that. Our family was poor to begin with, and we went heavily into debt for my father’s medical treatment. Our friends and relatives didn’t want to lend us any money because they were afraid that we would never be able to pay back the debt, so, left without any options, I was forced to drop out of school at 16 to go find work elsewhere. Deep in the night when everything was still, I would often think: “When we were all little, my peers were free to play after school, while I would have to go to the fields to do farming work; now we’ve all grown up, and they’re still in school, acting like spoiled brats in front of their parents, but I have to start working at such a young age and suffer all kinds of hardships to support my family.” At that time, I blamed my parents for having me in the first place, wondering why I had come into this world just to suffer and toil. But there was nothing I could do about it—all I could do was accept this reality. At the time, my greatest wish was to work hard and earn money so that my parents could live comfortably and no longer be looked down on by others.
I started out working in a privately-owned aluminum alloy factory. Since I was a child laborer, the boss always took good care of me with my food and housing. After a year had passed I started to feel that my wages were too low, so I decided to move on to working in a furniture factory, doing lacquer spraying work that other people didn’t want to do. At the time, I would do any kind of work at all if I could make more money, as long as it wasn’t against the law. That was because my only goal was to become well-off, so that I never had to live like a poor person again. At some point later one of my relatives got me into a company that had opportunities to leave the country for work, and to my surprise, a few years later I actually did get to go abroad.
In the spring of 2012, just as I had hoped, I came to Japan and began my new life. I was involved in the shipbuilding industry, and I signed a three-year contract with the company. When I started work, I didn’t know how to cook so I ate nothing but instant noodles for a month until I started to feel like I was going to throw up every time I had them, forcing me to learn to cook. I have no idea how many days I ate half-cooked rice. We were foreigners in Japan, so it was inevitable that local employers treated us somewhat unfairly. They made us do a lot of dirty, tiring, and dangerous tasks. Particularly when I was spraying lacquer I often felt pretty scared, because if the gas came into contact with any fire it would ignite, and if my attention wandered for a moment my life could be in danger. But whether it was suffering in my life or danger in my work, whenever I thought about making more money to send back to my family, plus being able to buy a car and a house after I went back to China so that I could lord over others and no longer live a life of poverty, looked down on by others, I felt that my suffering at that time actually wasn’t too bad. Three years of my life passed in the blink of an eye working there. Just when my visa was about to expire, I learned that the company had a policy of renewing contracts; in order to make more money, I decided to go ahead and do that, and continue to work in Japan. What pleasantly surprised me was that not long after I renewed my contract, the gospel of the kingdom of Almighty God came upon me.
In September of 2015, a friend I had met in Japan told me about Almighty God’s work in the last days. When she first started talking to me about things having to do with faith, I wasn’t remotely interested, thinking it was just some sort of belief. I felt that believing in God wouldn’t change my fate. Soon after that, I shared my perspective with my friend and asked her, “Can believing in God change my fate? I’m just an ill-fated person, I’ve suffered so much since I was little. If I had money I wouldn’t need to suffer anymore. I think right now what’s most real for me is making more money. For me personally, faith in God is something remote.” In response, my friend read to me a passage of God’s words: “Where you will go every day, what you will do, who or what you will encounter, what you will say, what will happen to you—can any of this be predicted? People cannot foresee all these occurrences, much less control how these situations develop. In life, these unforeseeable events happen all the time; they are an everyday occurrence. These daily vicissitudes and the ways they unfold, or the patterns they follow, are constant reminders to humanity that nothing happens at random, that the process of each event’s occurrence, each event’s ineluctable nature, cannot be shifted by human will. Every occurrence conveys an admonition from the Creator to mankind, and it also sends the message that human beings cannot control their own fates. Every event is a rebuttal to humanity’s wild, futile ambition and desire to take its fate into its own hands. … From these daily vicissitudes to the fates of entire human lives, there is nothing that does not reveal the Creator’s plans and His sovereignty; there is nothing that does not send the message that ‘the Creator’s authority cannot be exceeded,’ that does not convey this eternal truth that ‘the Creator’s authority is supreme’” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique III). These words made a lot of sense to me, and I couldn’t help but think that being able to renew my contract seemed like something that had been arranged by Heaven. I also thought about the family that I had been born into, about my life with my family, and everything that had happened around me—they were all things that were out of my control and that I could not anticipate. I had the feeling that somewhere out there, there is a Sovereign Ruler in control.
My friend then had me read a passage from God’s words in The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique III, which mentions six junctures that a person must pass through in life. The first juncture is birth; the second juncture is growing up; the third juncture is independence; the fourth juncture is marriage; the fifth juncture is progeny; the sixth juncture is death. I was amazed after reading these words from God. I had never imagined that God had spoken so clearly about man’s destiny throughout his life. But the facts are indeed as He described. The family a person is born into is absolutely not up to them to choose, and they can’t choose what kind of parents they have, either. After they grow up, the kind of spouse they have is also not up to them. The more I pondered them, the more I felt these words were very practical, and I then began to believe within my heart what Almighty God had said, that fate is not something that you can change on your own. After that I became more and more interested in faith; I believed that God exists and that a person’s fate is not under his own control. But because I didn’t know much about God, I felt that He was very remote from me. However, through an experience not long after that, I genuinely felt that God is beside me, watching over and protecting me.
It was raining that day, and I got to work on time as usual. A little past 10:00 in the morning I was working on the jobsite when I suddenly heard a bang. Something, I didn’t know what, had fallen to the ground hard, and it gave me an icy shudder of fear. When I turned my head to look, what I saw stunned me—it was a long iron pipe with diameter of about 40 centimeters and a length of about 4 meters, weighing about half a ton. It had fallen from a crane. It had crashed down to the ground behind me, less than half a meter from where I was standing. I was so terrified in that moment that I was totally speechless, and it took a while for me to regain my composure from the shock. In my heart I was crying out nonstop: “Thank You God! Thank You God! Without You there watching over and protecting me, the iron pipe would have come straight down onto me, and my insignificant life would have been over.”
After getting off work I told the brothers and sisters about what had happened that day, and they fellowshiped to me that it had been God’s protection. They also read to me from the word of Almighty God: “In the long course of human life, almost every individual has encountered many dangerous situations and faced many temptations. This is because Satan is standing beside you, its eyes constantly fixed on you. When disaster strikes you, Satan revels in this; when calamities befall you, when nothing goes right for you, when you become entangled in Satan’s web, Satan takes great enjoyment from these things. As for what God is doing, He is protecting you with each passing moment, steering you away from one misfortune after another and from one disaster after another. This is why I say that everything man has—peace and joy, blessings and personal safety—is in fact all under God’s control; He guides and decides the fate of every individual” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique VI). After reading God’s words I understood that people live every day in Satan’s net, and may face all manner of dangerous temptations from Satan at any moment. They may meet with disasters, calamities and any number of things that don’t go as they wish. Without God watching over and protecting them, people would have long since been swallowed up by Satan. Thinking of the danger I encountered in my own work, with an iron pipe weighing nearly half a ton falling and hitting the ground just half a meter from me, I knew that this was not just my own luck. Rather, it was God watching over me and protecting me that allowed me to dodge that bullet. I don’t know how many times I’ve benefited from God watching over and protecting me all those years, but even so, I never understood God or worshiped Him; I truly had no conscience. From that very moment, I gained a better understanding of God’s grace of salvation. The fact that I was still alive was all thanks to God’s loving hand protecting me; I thanked God from my heart. I also decided that from then on I would do all I could to follow God. In the days that followed, I frequently attended gatherings, read God’s words, fellowshiped and shared experiences and understandings of God’s words, and sang hymns in praise of God with brothers and sisters. I felt free and liberated within my heart. We, brothers and sisters, helped and supported each other in our spiritual lives. Not one of them looked down on me, nor was there anyone who had disdain for the poor and fawned over the rich—I felt I was able to live with dignity. Living in this big, warm, and happy house of The Church of Almighty God, changes gradually occurred in my life. I no longer felt the anxiety, suffering, and emptiness of days gone by. I felt much happier and fulfilled than I ever had before.
One day, something bad happened to a longtime employee in our company; he was Japanese and had worked in the company for more than a decade. He was really strong in both safety awareness and more technical domains, but that day on his shift, he was driving a lifting truck and was doing some work twenty meters up in the air. In the course of operating it, the truck’s liquified gas started to leak as a result of his inattention. Another worker was doing some welding suspended in the air just above him. A spark fell onto his clothing, came into contact with the leaking gas—just like that, there was a massive fire. All of us there just looked on as our longtime colleague was engulfed in flames, but there was absolutely nothing we could do. There wasn’t enough time for anyone to go save him, and within just a few minutes, he had been burned alive. Many who looked on as this tragedy occurred felt terrible for him, and came to a realization about life: What is it, after all, that people are living for? Because of something like this happening right next to me, I truly realized that if someone distances themselves from God and doesn’t have God watching over and protecting them, then their lives are hanging by a thread. Faced with any kind of disaster, human life is so very fragile, unable to withstand the slightest blow. I also deeply felt that no matter how great a person’s skill is or how much money they have, they have no control over their own destiny, and they are particularly unable to save themselves from disasters and death.
Not long after that, I read this passage of God’s words: “Because of the Creator’s sovereignty and predestination, a lonely soul that started out with nothing to its name gains parents and a family, the chance to become a member of the human race, the chance to experience human life and see the world. This soul also gains the chance to experience the Creator’s sovereignty, to know the marvelousness of the Creator’s creation, and more than that, to know and become subject to the Creator’s authority. Yet most people do not really seize this rare and fleeting opportunity. One exhausts a lifetime’s worth of energy fighting against fate, spends all of one’s time bustling about, trying to feed one’s family and shuttling back and forth between wealth and status. The things that people treasure are family, money, and fame, and they view these as the most valuable things in life. All people complain about their fates, yet still they push to the back of their minds the issues that are most imperative to examine and understand: why man is alive, how man should live, what the value and meaning of life are. They spend their entire lives, however long they may last, merely rushing about seeking fame and fortune, until their youth has fled and they have become gray and wrinkled. They live in this way until they see that fame and fortune cannot stop their slide toward senility, that money cannot fill the emptiness of the heart, that no one is exempt from the laws of birth, aging, sickness, and death, that no one can escape what fate has in store. Only when they are forced to confront life’s final juncture do they truly grasp that even if one owns vast wealth and extensive assets, even if one is privileged and of high rank, one still cannot escape death and must return to their original position: a solitary soul, with nothing to its name” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique III). After reading these words of God, I was deeply stirred: People’s souls come from God, and come into the world because of what God has preordained. Even so, people still don’t want to believe in or worship God; they don’t treasure this opportunity to experience the Creator’s authority personally. Instead, the only thing they know to do is live for money, fame, and affection. They are madly dashing hither and thither in order to escape what’s already been arranged for them, but what can people gain by seeking these things? When death is upon them, which of these things—loved ones, fame, or wealth—can save them? Wasn’t my colleague’s passing the best illustration of this fact? And when I thought about the things I had sought in the past, weren’t those the same? When I came abroad to work, I would take on any job—filthy, tiring, or dangerous—just to earn more money, gain others’ high regard, and claw my way out of poverty. In spite of intense suffering, changing my lifestyle never even occurred to me. I just kept plodding down that same road. In my heart, I didn’t know if there was a God or if man’s fate was in God’s hands, but just relied on my own hard work to change my destiny. I strove to escape from God’s orchestrations and arrangements for my life. Wasn’t I on the road to ruin? If it hadn’t been for God’s salvation, if it hadn’t been for God watching over and protecting me, I’m afraid that my meager life would have been snatched away by Satan long ago. Then how could my life be as fulfilling and meaningful as it is now? In that moment, I finally saw that the meaning of life isn’t to seek wealth or fame, nor is it to seek to get ahead of others so that they look up to us, but rather, it is to come into the presence of God and to accept His salvation. Only by worshiping and submitting to God can we break free from Satan’s harm and live in peace and happiness. The more I think about this, the more moved I am. I’ve seen that my ability to have faith is God’s special grace for me. I thank Almighty God for saving me!