33. A Story of Reporting a False Leader
In 2010, I was frequently in touch with one of the church leaders, Lucia. She often told us, “The last few years, God has always been gracious to me. My leaders always transfer me to churches that are having difficulties. Sometimes I don’t want to go, but I know this is God’s commission, so I can’t consider my fleshly interests. I have to be loyal to God, so I accept. At every church I go to, I do my rounds, host a couple of gatherings, and a church that was in chaos returns to normal, and church life and gospel work are effective again. Sometimes I encounter difficulties, but I pray to God, God opens a way forward, and everything goes smoothly. I see how wonderful God’s work is….” Hearing Lucia’s experience made me admire her. I thought she was able to bear burdens and was a capable leader. One time, before a gathering, I was casually chatting, and Lucia interrupted me to say, “Time here is precious, so let’s not chat while we are together. Let’s use this time to fellowship on God’s word.” Hearing her say that, I thought, “Over the years, I’ve met many leaders, but Lucia is the first one I’ve met who is so conscientious, so pious, and so dedicated to pursuing the truth.” I looked up to and admired her even more. But after interacting with her for a long time, I realized that although her fellowship was always well-reasoned, and she outwardly appeared like someone who pursues the truth, she very rarely gave fellowship on how she reflected on and came to know herself based on God’s word, or her practical experience of God’s word. Most of her fellowship was a disguised form of exalting herself and showing off to make others think she was someone cultivated and placed in important roles by the church, so that others would look up to her. But more serious than that was the fact that in some key matters involving the interests of the church, she didn’t practice the truth, and with her eyes wide open, she lied, deceived, and dodged responsibility. For example, Finn, who was responsible for Lucia’s work, committed misdeeds in the church. He embezzled and appropriated the church’s money, then was defined as an antichrist and expelled. Lucia was very aware of Finn’s wicked deeds, and she actually took part in them. But after Finn was expelled, not only did Lucia not reflect on herself or repent to God, she also did not admit to having any part in Finn’s wickedness. She portrayed herself as entirely clean of the matter, as if she didn’t know anything about it and hadn’t been involved in it. At that moment, I discovered Lucia was a hypocrite. Because Lucia was skilled at disguising herself and deceiving with lofty words, some brothers and sisters who had no discernment bore an expression of admiration at the mention of her name. When my partnered brother and I saw Lucia’s behavior and the consequences of her work and sermons, we applied the principles of discerning false leaders, determined that Lucia was a false leader, and wrote a letter reporting these matters about Lucia.
After we sent the letter, we waited for the upper leaders to verify and understand Lucia’s matter, but after half a month, we still hadn’t received a reply. My partnered brother and I wondered about this. One day, Lucia happily came to a gathering with us and said the upper leaders intended to cultivate her. I couldn’t believe it: “Rather than being dismissed, this false leader is being cultivated and placed in important roles? Did we incorrectly report her because we didn’t understand the principles of truth and lacked discernment?” Just over a month later, Lucia came again to say the church was planning an election for leaders, and that a majority of the brothers and sisters had a positive appraisal of her and intended to reelect her. When I heard that, I was stunned. I thought, “Lucia is sly and cunning. She isn’t fit to be a leader at all. I should write another letter to report her.” But as I was getting ready to write the letter, I hesitated. “Right now, so many people lack discernment of Lucia. They have all been deceived by her false outward appearance. If I write a letter to report her again, and the upper leaders don’t understand the real situation, will they think that I just can’t let the matter go? Beyond that, if Lucia finds out I was the one who wrote the letter, will she harbor a grudge against me and surreptitiously try to sabotage me? She is responsible for issuing us with the books of God’s word, sermons, and fellowship from God’s house, so if I offend her, she won’t need to actively suppress me in any way; simply ignoring me, not providing me with books, will be enough to put me in dire straits.” Thinking of those things made me feel very conflicted. Should I report her again, or forget the matter? As I considered my own interests, future, and fate, it felt as if there was an invisible dark influence binding and constraining me. I struggled for a bit, and to protect myself from being suppressed, I eventually decided to compromise. I decided to put aside reporting her for the moment. I found consolation by telling myself, “At least now we have discernment of Lucia, and will no longer be deceived by her, so this will do for now. Perhaps one day, God will expose her, and everyone will gain discernment regarding her and see her for what she is. She will be replaced as a matter of course.”
Over a month later, we received a letter from two sisters. Their letter said they had discerned Lucia was a false leader and wanted to report her, and they asked our opinions and whether we had any advice. I thought, “We haven’t received a reply letter since the last time we reported Lucia. If we report her again with these sisters, will the upper leaders say we have formed a clique to attack Lucia, and are disturbing church work? If that happens, it is very likely that, rather than Lucia being dismissed, it will be us.” With this in mind, my partnered brother and I replied to the two sisters with a letter saying, “You can report her on your own. We reported her once in the past, so this time, we won’t report her again.” After we replied, I felt very remorseful. I realized I was playing tricks to protect myself. It was compromising with and yielding to a dark influence. To spare myself from this internal condemnation, I used the same reasons as before to comfort myself: “For now, too many people lack discernment of Lucia. If we insist on reporting her and advocating for her dismissal, the brothers and sisters won’t allow it. They will try to protect her. We should wait until the brothers and sisters have discernment of her. When the time is right, she will naturally be replaced.” Even though that was what I thought, every time I saw passages of God’s word on exposing false leaders and antichrists, I felt condemned by my conscience. I had clearly found a false leader, and yet I wasn’t reporting her or bringing her to light. Wasn’t I tolerating Satan as it disrupted and disturbed church work? The brothers and sisters who hosted us all adored Lucia, and when we exposed her behaviors as a false leader, they did not try to discern her, instead they resented and blamed us, thinking we were attacking Lucia. I saw that this false leader had deceived people so deeply. I didn’t know how many brothers and sisters were victims of this deception, and I felt even more that false leaders are a hindrance and stumbling block to the life entry of God’s chosen people. At that moment, I wanted nothing more than Lucia to be replaced as soon as possible, but I didn’t have the courage to write the letter to report her again. Even simply to avoid offending the brothers and sisters who were hosting us, I didn’t dare expose Lucia’s behavior again. In my heart, I condemned and accused myself. I wondered how I could be so cowardly and useless. I saw a false leader disturbing the work of the church and didn’t dare report it. I didn’t even dare speak the truth. Wasn’t I just Satan’s lackey? I thought of God’s words, “All of you say you are considerate of God’s burden and will defend the testimony of the church, but who among you has really been considerate of God’s burden? Ask yourself: Are you someone who has shown consideration for His burden? Can you practice righteousness for Him? Can you stand up and speak for Me? Can you steadfastly put the truth into practice? Are you bold enough to fight against all of Satan’s deeds? Would you be able to set your emotions aside and expose Satan for the sake of My truth? Can you allow My intentions to be fulfilled in you? Have you offered up your heart in the most crucial of moments? Are you someone who does My will? Ask yourself these questions, and think about them often” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 13). Every one of God’s questions made me feel embarrassed and ashamed. Normally, I was good at yelling out slogans, saying I would be considerate of God’s will and would stand firm in my testimony to God, and I often prayed, saying I wanted to practice the truth and satisfy God. But the moment something happened and I needed to stand up and protect the interests of the church, I pulled my head back into my shell. I clearly knew that false leaders had to be reported immediately, but because I was afraid of being suppressed and dismissed, I didn’t dare to report Lucia again, and allowed her to continue harming and deceiving our brothers and sisters. Even worse was the fact that when I saw the brothers and sisters who hosted me deceived by Lucia, I didn’t think of how to help them gain discernment of the false leader. Instead, I made compromises. For fear that exposing Lucia would make them unhappy and that they would no longer host us, I stayed silent about Lucia’s false leadership behaviors. I truly was selfish and despicable! I enjoyed everything God supplied me with and was hosted and cared for by my brothers and sisters, yet I had no consideration for God’s will, and didn’t protect the work of the church. I had stayed on the sidelines and allowed a false leader to hold power within the church and disturb the work of the church. Where were my conscience and reason? I was completely unworthy to live before God!
After that, I read God’s words: “God’s family does not allow those who do not practice the truth to remain, nor does it allow to remain those who deliberately dismantle the church. However, now is not the time to do the work of expulsion; such people will simply be exposed and cast out in the end. No more useless work is to be expended on these people; those who belong to Satan cannot stand on the side of the truth, whereas those who seek the truth can. People who do not practice the truth are unworthy of hearing the way of the truth and unworthy of bearing witness to the truth. The truth is simply not for their ears; rather, it is directed at those who practice it. Before every person’s end is revealed, those who disturb the church and interrupt God’s work will first be left aside for now, to be dealt with later. Once the work is complete, these people will each be exposed, and then they will be cast out. For the time being, while the truth is being provided, they will be ignored. When the whole truth is revealed to humanity, those people should be cast out; that will be the time when all people will be classed according to their kind. The petty tricks of those without discernment will lead to their destruction at the hands of the wicked, they will be lured away by them, never to return. And such treatment is what they deserve, because they do not love the truth, because they are incapable of standing on the side of the truth, because they follow evil people and stand on the side of evil people, and because they collude with evil people and defy God. They know perfectly well that what those evil people radiate is evil, yet they harden their hearts and turn their backs on the truth to follow them. Are these people who do not practice the truth but who do destructive and abominable things not all committing evil? Although there are those among them who style themselves as kings and others who follow them, are their God-defying natures not all the same? What excuse can they have to claim that God does not save them? What excuse can they have to claim that God is not righteous? Is it not their own evil that is destroying them? Is it not their own rebelliousness that is dragging them down into hell? People who practice the truth will, in the end, be saved and made perfect because of the truth. Those who do not practice the truth will, in the end, bring destruction upon themselves because of the truth. These are the ends that await those who practice the truth and those who do not” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. A Warning to Those Who Do Not Practice the Truth). I saw that I was the type of person revealed by God’s word, the type of person who doesn’t practice the truth. I was someone who God despised. In everything, I tried to preserve and protect myself. Faced with a false leader, I dared not adhere to principles, report her and bring her to light. Was I not simply kneeling to and colluding with Satan? Outwardly, I wasn’t standing with Lucia and protecting her, but I hadn’t reported or exposed her to be a false leader. I allowed her to confuse and deceive the brothers and sisters in the church and disturb and disrupt church work. By doing this, I was standing on Satan’s side. God’s words say: “They know perfectly well that what those evil people radiate is evil, yet they harden their hearts and turn their backs on the truth to follow them. Are these people who do not practice the truth but who do destructive and abominable things not all committing evil?” God’s words revealed precisely my behavior. I thought of how the Lord Jesus said, “He that is not with Me is against Me; and he that gathers not with Me scatters abroad” (Matthew 12:30). In the battle between God and Satan, not standing on God’s side is to stand on Satan’s side. There is no middle ground. But in the matter of reporting the false leader, I was trying to be clever, to be neutral, to play it safe and protect myself. Wasn’t this just standing on Satan’s side and betraying God? I had thought that many people lacked discernment of Lucia, but once God had completely revealed her and the time was right, she would naturally be replaced. Outwardly, that idea seemed very reasonable, but actually I was avoiding my responsibility, and seeking excuses to avoid practicing the truth. I was merely waiting for God to reveal her, rather than fulfilling my own responsibilities to expose and report her. In essence I was indulging a false leader who was doing evil and disrupting the work of the church. It wouldn’t be over the line to call me a false leader’s accomplice. Thinking of all this, I hated myself for being so selfish, despicable, weak, and incompetent. I was useless, a lackey of Satan! I had no testimony at all in the war against evil. Truly, God despised this! I came before God and prayed to repent. I asked God for the strength to break through the control of the dark forces, to stand on God’s side, and to say “no” to the forces of Satan. I had wanted to write another letter reporting Lucia after I found more proof. But before I could, the church investigated and determined Lucia was a false leader who took the path of an antichrist, and replaced her. Later, I learned our letter to report her had been intercepted and detained by another false leader. That false leader was also replaced for not doing practical work. I was very happy to hear this news, but I also felt guilty, because I had acted as Satan’s lackey in this matter, had failed to protect the church’s work or to stand firm in my testimony.
After Lucia was replaced, a new sister temporarily took over church work, and I thought that was the end of this business, but it turned out not to be. Just over a month later, the brother I was partnered with told me that Lucia was still obstinate after being replaced. She was spreading among the brothers and sisters that the newly elected leader was a false leader, to deceive the brothers and sisters into sympathizing with her, and was forming a clique around herself to have the new leader dismissed so she could retake her position as leader. When I heard about this, I was quite anxious. I had to find a way to tell the upper leaders about Lucia’s evil behaviors as soon as possible. At that time, the new church leader was also writing a letter reporting Lucia’s situation to the upper leaders and was trying to decide how to clearly explain the situation. I’m quite good at writing, so I took the initiative and offered to write the letter of report on her behalf. The following morning, having finished the report letter, my partnered brother suddenly said, “Sign our names on the letter too.” I was stunned when I heard that, thinking, “Lucia is vicious, insidious, and knows how to deceive others. If we failed to report her this time, and she retook power and became a church leader again, given her history of abusing her power by expelling those she resented, she would definitely have us replaced, or even expelled. But not signing the letter couldn’t be justified, because it had been ghostwritten by us.” I thought for a moment, then said, “Let’s sign the letter as ghostwriters.” The truth is that I wanted to do my best to distance myself, so even if I was suppressed, it wouldn’t be as harshly. My partnered brother dealt with me then, “Why is it so hard to sign your name? You’re being so cunning!” That remark cut deeply into my heart. I realized that I couldn’t be cunning and try to protect myself anymore, and that I had to practice the truth and be an honest person.
Later, I reflected on myself. Why was it, I asked myself, that every time something happened involving the interests of the church which required me to express my opinion, I became afraid, shrunk back, and tried to protect myself? What nature was controlling me when I did this? I read the words of God: “Satan corrupts people through the education and influence of national governments and of the famous and great. Their devilish words have become man’s life and nature. ‘Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost’ is a well-known satanic saying that has been instilled into everyone, and that has become man’s life. There are other words of philosophies for living that are also like this. Satan uses each nation’s traditional culture to educate, deceive, and corrupt people, causing mankind to fall into and be engulfed by a boundless abyss of destruction, and in the end people are destroyed by God because they serve Satan and resist God. Some people have served as public officials in society for decades. Imagine asking them the following question: ‘You’ve done so well in this capacity, what are the main famous sayings that you live by?’ They might say, ‘The one thing I understand is this: “Officials do not make things difficult for those who bear gifts, and those who do not flatter accomplish nothing.”’ This is the satanic philosophy their career is based on. Are these words not representative of such people’s nature? Unscrupulously using any means to obtain position has become their nature, officialdom and career success are their goal. There are still many satanic poisons in people’s lives, in their conduct and behavior. For example, their philosophies for living, their ways of doing things, and their maxims are all filled with the poisons of the great red dragon, and they all come from Satan. Thus, all things that flow through people’s bones and blood are things of Satan. … Mankind has been profoundly corrupted by Satan. Satan’s venom flows through the blood of every person, and it can be said that man’s nature is corrupt, evil, antagonistic, and in opposition to God, filled by and immersed in the philosophies and poisons of Satan—it has become, entirely, the nature and essence of Satan. This is why people resist God and stand in opposition to God” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. How to Know Man’s Nature). Having read God’s word, I realized that I didn’t dare to confront false leaders and antichrists head-on because I lived by satanic logic, laws, and worldly philosophies such as “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” “The less trouble, the better,” and “Sensible people are good at self-protection, seeking only to avoid making mistakes.” There’s also “Let every man skin his own skunk.” Because I lived by these satanic poisons, I was especially selfish, despicable, cowardly, and deceitful. In everything, the first thing I considered was my own interests and potential gains and losses. When I first wanted to report Lucia, I didn’t dare do it, because I wanted to protect myself. Now, Lucia was forming a clique, contending for power in the church and disrupting and disturbing church work, and I still lacked the courage to stand up and practice the truth. I pulled my head into my shell to hide like a turtle, terrified that the moment I showed my head, I would be punished if I was discovered by the false leader and antichrist. In name, I believed in God and followed God, but there was no place for God in my heart. I even viewed God’s house just like the society, believing that God’s house was a place without fairness or righteousness where I had to constantly be cautious and learn to protect myself, or else run the risk of being suppressed and punished. This kind of viewpoint was nothing but slander and blasphemy to God! God’s house is not the outside world. Satan reigns in the world and the wicked rule, and the good can only be bullied and oppressed. However, God’s house is ruled by Christ and the truth. False leaders and antichrists find no place to stand in God’s house, and as God’s chosen people gain understanding of the truth and discernment, they will all be reported and brought to light, banished and cast out. This is God’s righteousness. God’s words say: “The wicked will surely be punished.” God’s word is the truth and facts that God will accomplish. I had also seen real examples of false leaders and antichrists being replaced or expelled. Was this not God’s righteousness? But I had been completely blinded by my own interests, and had thought only of how to protect myself. I believed in God, but didn’t believe in God’s word, His faithfulness, or His righteousness. I saw things from the viewpoint of an unbeliever. This was the manifestation of a nonbeliever! If I continued to live by satanic philosophies, didn’t practice the truth, and didn’t protect the work of the church, in the end I would be condemned and cast out by God. Realizing these things, I understood that in the matter of reporting Lucia, I had to fulfill my responsibilities to the utmost, and even if one day I was suppressed or expelled by Lucia, there would also be lessons for me to learn and it would be with God’s good intentions. Thinking on this I very calmly signed my name to the report letter. In that moment, I felt secure and at peace, and also a sense of pride. I felt I had finally stood up and became a decent person.
About a month after the report letter had been sent, we finally got the good news. Lucia had done so many wicked deeds and refused to change, so she was defined as an antichrist and expelled from the church. Those evildoers who followed Lucia in her evil deeds and disruption of church work were also expelled. Some who showed expressions of repentance were not classed as evildoers, and were allowed to stay in the church and given a chance to repent. A chaos that had continued for several months finally subsided, and normal church life resumed. I was very happy to see this result, but I also felt remorse and regret, because in the matter of reporting the false leader and antichrist, I had been selfish and despicable, protecting myself and even doubting God’s righteousness and the rule of truth in God’s house. A large portion of me was still a nonbeliever. I saw that I was deeply corrupt and that I owed God so much. I swore that the next time something like this happened, I would stand on God’s side.
Four years later, something similar happened again. The leaders of my church, Kayden and two others, because they spoke of letters and doctrines and did not do practical work, were condemned as false leaders and dismissed, and the church temporarily sent two leaders to take over responsibilities. When these two sisters came, Kayden spread the fallacy that our church didn’t take “charity handouts.” It meant that he didn’t accept the two sisters transferred from outside to be our leaders. They started to look for excuses to attack these two sisters, and wheedled other brothers and sisters into standing on their side and writing a report letter saying they should be recalled. Later, they also asked me to participate in this. As I read the report letter they wrote, I saw that some of the wicked behaviors they provided were just normal examples of exposing corruption, not wicked deeds at all. Others were outright exaggeration, and some were plainly false accusations and lies that distorted the facts. Their condemnations in the letter were overblown, wanton, and vicious. I realized the real purpose of their report letter wasn’t to protect the church’s work, banish false leaders, or protect God’s chosen people, it was to seize power, retake their positions as church leaders, control the church, and control God’s chosen people. They were antichrists! At first, I wanted to stay out of the matter, because my group leader had also been deceived by them and was participating in the report, and I was merely an ordinary believer, so these were hardly people I could afford to offend. But as I thought of how the antichrist Lucia had been reported and banished four years before, and how I’d had no testimony, I decided not to hide or shrink back again. I fellowshiped with the brothers and sisters around me so that they could clearly understand the real goals and intentions of the people who wrote this report letter and have discernment about them. After that, I reported and exposed to the church the evil deeds this clique had committed to contend for power. The church investigated and verified the situation, determined that these people were antichrists and expelled them from the church. When I saw that the notice expelling this group of antichrists contained some evidence I had supplied, I was very happy, and also comforted. I felt honored at having lived up to my responsibilities in this matter.
Experiencing these things allowed me to see the great wisdom of God’s work. God allowed false leaders and antichrists to emerge within the church so that I could develop discernment. Through them being revealed and expelled, I gained some knowledge of God’s righteous disposition, I saw how God’s house is ruled by Christ and the truth, and my faith in God grew. Thanks be to God!