34. Released From the Shackles of Home
By Cheng Shi, China
In June of 2012, I accepted Almighty God’s work in the last days. Through reading the words of God, I knew for certain that Almighty God was the Lord Jesus returned, the Savior come to earth to save humanity, and I was filled with excitement. I thought of my husband who often used to go to church with his supervisor while he was studying as a graduate student in China. When he went abroad, he also used to go to church with the local Chinese community. I wanted to tell him the good news as soon as possible.
My husband returned to China at the beginning of September and I testified the work of Almighty God in the last days to him. It surprised me when, after he heard it, he found all kinds of rumors fabricated by the CCP and negative propaganda slandering The Church of Almighty God online. After that, he glared at me and shouted, “Look at this! What you believe in is ‘Eastern Lightning,’ which the CCP has been cracking down on for years. The minute they arrest you, you’ll be sentenced and sent to prison. You’re not allowed to believe in this anymore!” Then he tore up all my books of God’s word. At the time, I was furious, but then I thought my husband opposed me believing because he was momentarily deceived by the CCP’s rumors, but that he would understand later. I knew, though, that no matter what happened, believing in God was the correct path in life, and that I would never give it up. After that, my husband called me every day to track my movements. At the time, I was a graduate student, so to avoid his surveillance, I attended gatherings near my school, and only went home on the weekends. At the end of 2012, the CCP launched a campaign of more manic suppression and arrests against The Church of Almighty God. On the internet, television, and in newspapers there were rumors and fallacies slandering and attacking The Church of Almighty God everywhere, and the government used this as an excuse to arrest believers in God all over. My husband was afraid I would be arrested for believing in God, which might affect him and our daughter, so his restrictions on me became more and more severe. He also threatened me, saying that he would divorce me if I kept believing in God. This made me very upset. In China, believing in God doesn’t just carry a risk of being sentenced to prison for us, we also suffer persecution from our non-believing families. Things are so hard for us! If my husband and I divorced, what would happen to our daughter? For those few days, I had no interest in performing my duties. I was really miserable.
When one of the sisters learned about my state, she read me a passage of God’s word. God says: “In every step of work that God does within people, externally it appears to be interactions between people, as if born of human arrangements or from human interference. But behind the scenes, every step of work, and everything that happens, is a wager made by Satan before God, and requires people to stand firm in their testimony to God. Take when Job was tried, for example: Behind the scenes, Satan was making a bet with God, and what happened to Job was the deeds of men and the interference of men. Behind every step of work that God does in you is Satan’s wager with God—behind it all is a battle” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God). God’s words made me understand that these difficult circumstances outwardly were my husband restricting and persecuting me, but actually behind this was Satan’s manipulation and disturbance. God wants to save me, and Satan causes all kinds of disturbances and disruptions to make me betray God, lose His salvation, and eventually be dragged down to hell with it. Satan is so sinister and vicious! Knowing this, I prayed to God, “God, my stature is too small, so I ask that You give me faith and enable me to stand firm against the disturbances of Satan. Even if my husband divorces me, I won’t betray You, and I won’t fall for Satan’s schemes.” After I prayed, it wasn’t so hard to bear, and I continued to spread the gospel and fulfill my duty.
Not long after this, I was arrested by the police at a gathering. The police accused me of “disturbing social order” and detained me for 30 days. At my interrogation, the police threatened me, “Your school already knows you’ve been arrested for believing in God, and they plan to expel you. But, if you cooperate with us and tell us what you know, we will speak on your behalf to the dean, and your graduate studies can continue. Think hard about it!” After they left, I looked at the cold iron bars of the cell, and I felt utterly depressed and miserable. I thought, “If I am expelled from my school for believing in God, it will be a political issue and the matter will be recorded in my student record and police file, no hospital will ever hire me, and my dream of becoming a doctor will come to nothing. At just 30 years old, my studies, work, and future will be totally gone. How would I live on? How would I face the discrimination and ridicule of the people around me?” For a few days, I couldn’t eat or sleep well.
During that time, I prayed to God about this often. One morning, I found myself unconsciously humming a hymn of God’s word: “You are a created being—you should of course worship God and pursue a life of meaning. Since you are a human being, you should expend yourself for God and endure all suffering! You should gladly and assuredly accept the little suffering you are subjected to today and live a meaningful life, like Job and Peter. You are people who pursue the right path, those who seek improvement. You are people who rise up in the nation of the great red dragon, those whom God calls righteous. Is that not the most meaningful life?” (Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs, The Most Meaningful Life). As I sang that hymn, I felt especially touched, and I couldn’t stop my tears from flowing. I am a created being, and I should as a matter of course believe in and worship God. It’s natural and right that I do. God ordained that I be born into a family that believed in the Lord so that I would know of God’s existence from an early age. In the last days, God was gracious to me and He allowed me to hear the Lord’s voice and receive Him. He allowed me to enjoy the watering and supply of God’s word, accept its judgment and purification, and to receive a chance to be saved by God. This is an incredible blessing! I thought of many people throughout the generations who have followed God. To spread God’s gospel, they suffered persecution and hardship, and many even gave their lives. They all created beautiful, resounding testimony for God. What was my bit of suffering in light of this? I thought, “If I give up believing in God in order to protect my own interests and future, then do I still have a conscience? Am I worthy of being called human?” That thought gave me strength, and I swore an oath that no matter whether I was expelled or what my future and fate turned out to be, and regardless of how people around me rejected or slandered me, I would never betray God, and I would stand witness for God. At my final interrogation, I very calmly told the police, “If the school expels me, I only ask that you tell my husband to go to the school to collect my things.” When the police saw how determined I was, they left, looking very discouraged. I was very grateful to God.
After I was released, my husband angrily said, “The police told me that if you are arrested for believing in God again, it won’t just be a month of detention. This will affect me and our daughter as well. Our daughter’s university and job prospects will be affected, and she won’t be able to work in public service. Don’t you understand? Because of your arrest for believing in God, I suffered for a month too. I can’t tell you how many times I cried, and I nearly got into a car accident. To get you out of the detention center, I went about begging for help and thoroughly embarrassed myself! I don’t ever want to suffer like that again. Could you stop believing, and think more about our family?” After that, to stop me from contacting my brothers and sisters, he watched me like I was a criminal. He wouldn’t let me leave the house and didn’t give me any independence at all. When he went to work, he had his mother watch me. He called constantly to ask where I was and what I was doing. He also incessantly told me about various CCP revolutionary movements and about the violent methods used to let me know the consequences of disobeying the CCP and eliminate my ideas about believing in God. He also said, “I know the rumors the CCP fabricates about your church are false. You want to believe in God, but they don’t allow it. If you disobey, they will ruin your life. Look at the people who ended up dying so tragically during the Cultural Revolution and in the June Fourth Incident. If you offend the CCP, you can’t even escape abroad.” My mother-in-law joined in, saying, “The CCP is no good, but they hold power. We’re just unimportant, ordinary people, and we’re not strong enough to resist them.” After that, I was expelled from school for my belief in God, and my husband blamed all the bad things that happened to our family on my belief in God. Whenever anything bothered him, he would scold me, mock me, and take digs at me. This kind of life left me feeling very depressed, and on top of that, I couldn’t read God’s word or contact my brothers and sisters, so I was especially miserable, and I didn’t know when those days would end.
During that period, I often prayed to God to ask Him to enlighten me, guide me, and allow me to understand His will. One day, I remembered a passage of God’s word: “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…. Because it is embarked upon in a land that opposes God, all of God’s work faces tremendous obstacles, and accomplishing many of His words takes time; thus, people are refined as a result of God’s words, which is also part of suffering. It is tremendously difficult for God to carry out His work in the land of the great red dragon—but it is through this difficulty that God does one stage of His work, making manifest His wisdom and His wondrous deeds, and using this opportunity to make this group of people complete” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Is the Work of God As Simple As Man Imagines?). From God’s word, I understood that because the great red dragon loathes God and wildly resists Him, as believers in God in China, we are bound to endure much suffering, but this suffering is meaningful. God uses this kind of persecution and tribulation to perfect our faith and give us discernment. Only because I believed in God, the CCP had detained me, had my school expel me, and used my family’s work and future to threaten me and force me to give up the true way. The CCP truly is evil! My husband tried to stop me from believing in God because he feared their violent measures. Personally experiencing the CCP’s persecution allowed me to see its demonic essence of being ferociously evil and hating the truth. I thought, “The more the CCP persecutes me, the more I will reject it, forsake it, and follow God to the end.” Ten months later, I found an opportunity to get in contact with the brothers and sisters. When I could finally read God’s word again, I was very excited, and felt the preciousness of God’s word even more. The more I read, the more illuminated and invigorated I felt.
One day several months later, my husband found my devotional notebook in my room. When he knew I was still believing in God, he lost his temper and knocked me to the ground with one punch and then punched me at least 20 more times in the head. I was seeing stars, and I had bumps the size of a pigeon egg on my head. I remember the cold fury on my husband’s face and how my 6-year-old daughter was so frightened she started wailing, “Don’t hit mom! Don’t hit mom! …” My husband grabbed me by my collar and threw me out the door as he said furiously, “If you keep believing in God, then get out of my house!” When I saw how my husband had changed, how cruel and ruthless he was, and how he didn’t care at all for our years together, I felt my heart break. What was most unbearable was seeing how afraid my daughter was of his violent temper. The instant he approached me, she thought he was going to beat me, so she ran in front of me and raised her little arms to protect me and said, “You stay away from mom!” Sometimes, when I was upstairs, as soon as my husband came near the stairs, my daughter screamed at him not to go up the stairs. Every time I saw my daughter’s face so full of fear and anxiety, the psychological damage of dealing with domestic violence at such a young age, it was like a knife twisting in my heart, and I hated the great red dragon even more. All these disasters were caused by the persecution of the Communist Party.
One day, when my husband came back after work, he took out his cell phone and said angrily, “Look, the CCP has arrested so many people again. Do you still want to believe? Do you have a death wish? You can believe in God, fine, but don’t drag me and our daughter down with you. If you are arrested again, our lives will become impossible. If I knew you would take the path of believing in God, I never would have married you.” What my husband said hurt me very deeply. I thought back on the previous period of time, how he had given me less freedom than a criminal only because I believed in God, how frequently he had beat me, and how this hurt my daughter, and I realized I couldn’t compromise anymore, so I agreed to my husband’s request for a divorce. When he saw that I insisted on continuing to believe in God, he called my brother and asked him to persuade me. My brother always loved me, and he was always proud of me, but because I was persecuted by the CCP, I was expelled from school and forbidden from continuing my graduate studies. If I got divorced after that, I would complete my transformation into the village laughingstock. My brother would be so disappointed! I didn’t know how to face my brother, I cried out to God in my heart and asked Him to protect me so that I could stand witness for God, and so that no matter what happened, I would never give up my belief in God. Then, I remembered a passage of God’s word, “You must possess My courage within you, and you must have principles when it comes to facing relatives who do not believe. For My sake, however, you also must not yield to any dark forces. Rely on My wisdom to walk the perfect way; do not allow any of Satan’s conspiracies to take hold” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 10). That’s right. God created humankind, and belief in God and following God are natural and right. We must stand firm in the choice of our path, and we must not be fooled by Satan. We can’t let even the closest people interfere. After my brother came, my husband kept criticizing me in front of him, saying that I shouldn’t believe in God. When my husband saw how calm I was, he raised his hand to hit me, but my brother stopped him. My brother calmly said to me, “You’re a grown-up, and you can make your own decisions about your life. But you need to think about what happens to your daughter if you get a divorce. If you look at what happened to my daughter, you’ll know what will happen to your daughter. …” My brother’s words made me sad for a while, because I thought about his divorce, and how his daughter was often ridiculed and looked down on by the people around her. It’s such a shame for a child to be without a mother. As things were for me at that point, if I got a divorce, my husband would definitely get custody of our daughter, and she’d become a motherless child. Wouldn’t she suffer discrimination and ridicule from her teachers and classmates? Without me by her side, if she lived with her unbeliever father and grandparents, would she be able to walk the path of believing in God? When I thought of how young she was, I felt like I couldn’t bear to part with her. I was honestly miserable during that period of time, so I prayed to God, “God, I can’t let go of my daughter. I always feel sorrow at the thought of her future. I ask You to enlighten me, guide me, and protect my heart.”
After that, I read a passage of God’s word. “Besides birth and childrearing, the parents’ responsibility in their children’s lives is simply to provide them with a formal environment to grow up in, for nothing except the predestination of the Creator has a bearing on a person’s fate. No one can control what kind of future a person will have; it is predetermined long in advance, and not even one’s parents can change one’s fate. As far as fate is concerned, everyone is independent, and everyone has their own fate. So, no one’s parents can stave off one’s fate in life or exert the slightest influence on the role one plays in life. It could be said that the family into which one is destined to be born and the environment in which one grows up are nothing more than the preconditions for fulfilling one’s mission in life. They do not in any way determine a person’s fate in life or the kind of destiny within which a person fulfills their mission. And so, no one’s parents can assist one in accomplishing one’s mission in life, and likewise, no one’s relatives can help one assume one’s role in life. How one accomplishes one’s mission and in what kind of living environment one performs one’s role are entirely determined by one’s fate in life. In other words, no other objective conditions can influence a person’s mission, which is predestined by the Creator. All people become mature in the particular environments in which they grow up; then gradually, step by step, they set off down their own roads in life and fulfill the destinies planned for them by the Creator. Naturally, involuntarily, they enter the vast sea of humanity and assume their own posts in life, where they begin to fulfill their responsibilities as created beings for the sake of the Creator’s predestination, for the sake of His sovereignty” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique III). There’s one more passage. “People’s plans and fantasies are perfect; do they not know that the number of children they have, their children’s appearance, abilities, and so forth, are not for them to decide, that not a bit of their children’s fates is in their hands? Humans are not the masters of their own fate, yet they hope to change the fates of the younger generation; they are powerless to escape their own fates, yet they try to control those of their sons and daughters. Are they not overestimating themselves? Is this not human foolishness and ignorance?” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique III). From God’s words I understood that God created everything and has sovereignty over everything, and that people’s fates are all in God’s hands. Parents are only here to raise their children, they cannot, however, change their children’s fates. I always thought I could influence and control my daughter’s life, that she could find happiness as long as I was by her side, and that I could lead her down the path of belief in God. But on second thought, I didn’t even have control over my own fate, so how could I control my daughter’s fate? I thought of how my daughter fell ill and passed out a few days ago, and I couldn’t help ease her pain at all, I could only stand by and watch. I could only beg God to protect my daughter. My daughter tripped while climbing and fell off a cliff. I couldn’t do anything at all. But she was mysteriously saved by a dead tree at the edge of the mountain cliff. These incidents made me understand, that even if I took care of my daughter in every possible way, there was no guarantee she wouldn’t become ill or suffer disaster. People’s lives are in God’s hands. The suffering a person endures over the course of their life and what path they take were preordained by God long ago. People have no say and no influence over these things. Once I understood these things, I felt a great sense of release. I realized I should put my child in God’s hands and obey God’s sovereignty and arrangements. As a created being, this was what I should do.
Later, when my husband saw that I insisted on believing in God, he decided to divorce me. He asked me to move out of the house with nothing and refused to give me custody of our daughter. He even wanted to take away my visitation rights. When I asked him about the division of property, he even hit me over the head with a stainless steel cup. I used my hands to protect myself but my wrists were bruised, which meant I was unable to carry heavy objects for more than two months. He also viciously hit my back several times, which caused me to cough violently for more than a month. After all of that, he seized the hundreds of thousands I had saved from work. He said, “You believe in God, don’t you? Then ask your God to give you food and water.” When I saw my husband being so unreasonable and vicious, I recalled God’s words, “If a man becomes infuriated and flies into a rage when God is mentioned, has he seen God? Does he know who God is? He does not know who God is, does not believe in Him, and God has not spoken to him. God has never troubled him, so why would he be angry? Could we say that this person is evil? Worldly trends, eating, drinking, and pleasure-seeking, and chasing celebrities—none of these things would bother such a man. However, at the very mention of the word ‘God,’ or of the truth of God’s words, he flies into a rage. Does this not constitute having an evil nature? This is sufficient to prove that this is man’s evil nature” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique V). What God’s words revealed allowed me to clearly see my husband’s evil nature of resisting God. In the beginning, when my husband learned I believed in Almighty God, he was particularly hostile, and he even tore up my books of God’s word. Later, he started to frantically try to stop me from believing in God and he treated me like a prisoner, didn’t give me any freedom, and often viciously beat me. It seemed like he wanted to kill me. When we divorced, he seized all of my assets to force me into desperation and make it impossible for me to live my life. His goal was to make me betray and deny God. Now I clearly see the essence of my husband’s nature. He was a devil who hates and resists God. My husband and I had no common language. Living with him, I had no freedom, and I was beaten and restricted. This was agonizing! How could this be a home? These were nothing but shackles. This was hell.
After my divorce, I was no longer hindered and restricted by my husband. I was able to go to gatherings and read God’s words normally, and I quickly took up duties in the church. I felt a deep sense of ease and release. Thank God for saving me!