39. I Am Resolute on This Path
By Han Chen, China
A few years ago, I was arrested by the police for preaching the gospel. The Communist Party sentenced me to three years for “organizing and using a cult organization to undermine the enforcement of the law.” After I got out, I thought I could finally attend gatherings again and resume my duties. I didn’t imagine that the police would keep watching me and limiting my freedom. When my parents took me to the police station for my residential registration, the officer supervising me told me fiercely, “You must report to me if you want to leave the area, and you are forbidden from leaving this city or going abroad for five years. You also cannot practice your faith or attend gatherings. If I find out you’ve been to religious gatherings, I’ll put you right back in prison. And don’t think you’ll be getting out!” Scared I could be arrested again, my parents asked my older sister to keep an eye on me, to make sure I didn’t read God’s words or contact any brothers or sisters. My sister found me a job as a sales clerk, and if I came back home late she would call me and ask, “Where are you? What are you doing?” Once, when I was reading God’s words on my tablet, my sister noticed and pressed me on whether I was reading God’s words, and even tried to snatch the tablet away from me. I quickly blurted out that I was reading a novel, and she left me alone. After that, I had to hide under my blankets to read God’s words only after she was asleep.
One day, my sister found some words of God that I had copied down and questioned me, “You still have faith and attend gatherings, don’t you?” I answered angrily, “Having faith and worshiping God is right and proper. Leave me be!” She then rushed to call our eldest sister, who slapped me in the face as soon as she walked through the door, yelling at me, “How dare you still believe? Ever since you were put in prison, Mom’s been crying her eyes out every single day. She’s almost cried herself blind. If you get sent back there, think of what it will do to her! Can’t you just give up this God stuff and give her a break for once?” Hearing her say this was almost unbearable, and the tears flowed freely down my face. My mother had been so loving toward me ever since I was a child, and now that I was grown up I was making her worry about me. If I were arrested again, would she be able to manage? I was feeling some weakness, so I quickly prayed to God, asking Him to protect my heart. Later, I saw this in God’s words: “God created this world and brought man, a living being unto which He bestowed life, into it. Next, man came to have parents and kin, and was no longer alone. Ever since man first laid eyes on this material world, he was destined to exist within the ordination of God. The breath of life from God supports each and every living being throughout growth into adulthood” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God Is the Source of Man’s Life). My every breath comes from God. It was God who was watching over and protecting me as I grew up. Anyone who was kind or helpful to me had been arranged by God. The family I was born into and the kind of parents I had were also decided and arranged by God. I should give thanks to God and repay His love, that I was able to grow up without incident, that I was able to live to see today. If I were to deny God or betray Him due to my feelings for my family, it would be unconscionable. My mother was worried for me, and her health was deteriorating. Wasn’t all this because of the Communist Party? If they didn’t arrest and persecute me, my parents wouldn’t have to be afraid. The Communist Party was persecuting me and hurting my loved ones because it wanted me to betray God. I would not allow its schemes to succeed! At this thought, my resolve was restored: No matter how much my family stood in the way, I had to believe in and follow God! After that, while I worked, I also attended gatherings and shared the gospel.
In February 2017, I was getting ready to go to work one morning when I got a call. A man by the name of Chen, who was section chief from the Political and Legal Affairs Commission, told me: “Come in within the next two days to sign a statement saying that you do not believe in God. All the other local believers who were arrested and released have already signed, you’re the only one left.” Hearing this made me really angry. My faith just entails me attending gatherings and reading God’s words, but they put me in prison for it, tortured me, and forcibly tried to brainwash me. Now that I was out, they were still keeping tabs on me, trying to force me to sign a paper renouncing my faith. They would do whatever it took to make me betray God. They were truly despicable and evil! I could not let Satan’s trickery succeed. But then I thought, “If I tell him I would not sign, would the Political and Legal Affairs Commission send me back to prison? I don’t want to go back to jail and live that inhuman life.” Thinking of this, I said to him: “I’m busy with work over the next two days and I don’t have time. I’ll come in in a few days.” To my surprise, the next morning, Chief Chen sent me a text saying: “Your health insurance card has come through. Come by and get it today.” I thought to myself: “I never applied for a health insurance card. Is this one of Satan’s tricks?” I thought of something God said: “You must be awake and waiting at all times, and you must pray before Me more. You must recognize the various plots and cunning schemes of Satan, recognize the spirits, know people, and be able to discern all kinds of people, events, and things” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 17). God’s words reminded me that Satan has many tricks. By saying all of the local believers who were arrested and then released had signed except for me, Chief Chen was trying to trick me into going. Since that trick had failed, he used the health insurance card as bait. He really was crafty. Thinking through all this, I decided not to go in.
Then on the next morning, my father rushed to my work. Looking harried, he told me, “Yesterday, Chief Chen called me into his office first thing in the morning. He told me that the city was doing a special investigation into whether or not you were still practicing your faith. If you sign the paper asserting that you don’t, then you could lead a normal life like everyone else, and nobody will be monitoring or looking for you. But if you don’t sign, you’ll be sent to prison to be reformed. Listen to me—give up your faith and just go and sign your name!” I was indignant and disgusted to hear this. I said to my father, “Dad, you know that believing in God is the right path. So how can I renounce my faith in fear of persecution? Disasters are getting serious now. Almighty God, the Savior, expresses the truth to save people from sin and from disasters. This is our only chance at salvation. By disbelieving, we will surely perish in disaster. The Communist Party rabidly arrests and persecutes believers, forcing them to betray God, so they will end up punished in hell alongside it. Signing my name means betraying God and I will be destroyed in the end! I cannot sign that!” My father, scared and nervous, said to me, “If you don’t sign, the police will put you right back in jail. Do you really want to suffer in there again? Even if you won’t think of yourself, think about your younger sister. The Communist Party targets the entire family of a believer. Look at your older sister. She graduated from a teachers college, but she failed the political screening because of your faith and couldn’t get a job at a key elementary school. Your younger sister is graduating from a teachers college this year and will be looking for a job, and if you don’t sign, she won’t pass her political screening and definitely won’t find a good job. Aren’t you ruining her future? Listen to me, just grit your teeth and sign it. Can’t you just believe in secret? Why be so stubborn?” Looking at my father’s haggard face, with tears in his eyes, so anxious that there was a crusty film on his mouth, I just felt so terrible and conflicted: “If I sign, I will be betraying God, and I will be branded with the mark of the beast; this is the mark of bringing dishonor to God, and He will not approve of me. But if I don’t sign, my sister won’t pass her political screening and her future will be impacted. My whole family will hate me for the rest of my life. And what if the police put me back in jail and torture me if I don’t sign? What if they beat me to death?” Thinking about all that hurt me like a knife through the chest. I didn’t know what choice to make. I said to my father, “Let me think on it.” After he left, I prayed to God through my tears: “God, my heart is weak, please give me faith and strength, and guide me to stand firm in my testimony.”
After I prayed, I read a passage of God’s words. “When people have yet to be saved, their lives are often interfered with, and even controlled by, Satan. In other words, people who have not been saved are prisoners to Satan, they have no freedom, they have not been relinquished by Satan, they are not qualified or entitled to worship God, and they are closely pursued and viciously attacked by Satan. Such people have no happiness to speak of, they have no right to a normal existence to speak of, and moreover they have no dignity to speak of. Only if you stand up and do battle with Satan, using your faith in God and obedience to, and fear of God as the weapons with which to fight a life-and-death battle with Satan, such that you fully defeat Satan and cause it to turn tail and become cowardly whenever it sees you, so that it completely abandons its attacks and accusations against you—only then will you be saved and become free. If you are determined to fully break with Satan, but are not equipped with the weapons that will help you defeat Satan, then you will still be in danger; as time goes on, when you have been so tortured by Satan that there is not an ounce of strength left in you, yet you have still been unable to bear testimony, have still not completely freed yourself of Satan’s accusations and attacks against you, then you will have little hope of salvation. In the end, when the conclusion of God’s work is proclaimed, you will still be in the grip of Satan, unable to free yourself, and thus you will never have a chance or hope. The implication, then, is that such people will be completely in Satan’s captivity” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II). Thinking on God’s words, I realized the Communist Party’s persecution and my family’s interference were temptations and attacks from Satan. I thought about when Job was tempted by Satan. Everything he owned was stolen from him and he even lost his children. His body was covered in sore boils, his own wife attacked him and told him to abandon God and die, but Job never complained about God or denied Him. Job even praised Him, saying: “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah” (Job 1:21). Job triumphed over Satan’s temptations through his faith in and fear of God. Bearing resounding witness for God, he shamed and defeated Satan. After my release from prison, the Communist Party used my family to try to force me to sign a paper renouncing my faith. It was a temptation and attack by Satan. Satan was using my love for my family and concern for my sister’s future to get me to betray God. If I defended my family and fleshly interests by betraying God, wouldn’t I be in Satan’s captivity? I knew I couldn’t fall for Satan’s tricks, but had to follow Job’s example, standing witness for God and humiliating Satan.
I later read another passage of God’s words: “Regardless of how ‘powerful’ Satan is, regardless of how audacious and ambitious it is, regardless of how great is its ability to inflict damage, regardless of how wide-ranging are the techniques with which it corrupts and lures man, regardless of how clever are the tricks and schemes with which it intimidates man, regardless of how changeable is the form in which it exists, it has never been able to create a single living thing, has never been able to set down laws or rules for the existence of all things, and has never been able to rule and control any object, whether animate or inanimate. Within the cosmos and the firmament, there is not a single person or object that was born from it, or exists because of it; there is not a single person or object that is ruled by it, or controlled by it. On the contrary, it not only has to live under the dominion of God, but, moreover, must obey all of God’s orders and commands. Without God’s permission, it is difficult for Satan to touch even a drop of water or grain of sand upon the land; without God’s permission, Satan is not even free to move the ants about upon the land, let alone mankind, who was created by God. In the eyes of God, Satan is inferior to the lilies on the mountain, to the birds flying in the air, to the fish in the sea, and to the maggots on the earth. Its role among all things is to serve all things, and work for mankind, and serve God’s work and His plan of management. Regardless of how malicious its nature, and how evil its essence, the only thing it can do is to dutifully abide by its function: being of service to God, and providing a counterpoint to God. Such is the substance and position of Satan. Its essence is unconnected to life, unconnected to power, unconnected to authority; it is merely a plaything in God’s hands, just a machine in service to God!” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique I). Reading this gave me some insight into God’s authority and sovereignty. No matter how savage Satan is, it is just a pawn in God’s hands, a tool in service to Him. I thought back to my arrest and torture at the hands of the Communist Party. When my flesh was weak, God’s words bolstered my faith and led me through each and every difficulty. After I was released from prison, the Communist Party continued to monitor me, and my family, taken in by their lies, kept watch over me and hindered my faith, too. But through the guidance of God’s words, I came to understand some truths, triumphed over temptation after temptation, and my determination to follow God was strengthened. Through all that, I saw that Satan is just a tool for God to perfect His chosen people. There was nothing for me to be afraid of. God rules everything—He is in charge of everyone’s destiny. My life and death are in the hands of God. Whether my sister can find a job, what kind of future she will have—these things are all determined by God. The Communist Party can’t even control their own fate, so how could they control my life and death, and my sister’s future? Even if one day I were to be arrested and tortured by the police again, it would be because God let it happen. I would have to rely on God and stand witness. If I cherished my life, fretted over my family’s interests, and signed the paper betraying God, that would be a mark of shame. Even if I lived, I would just be a walking corpse. With that in mind, I steeled myself to resist any temptations and attacks from Satan, and to stand firm in my testimony and humiliate Satan!
That night after I got home, my older sister yelled at me: “The Political and Legal Affairs Commission gave you three days. Tomorrow is the last day. Are you going to sign the paper or not? Mom and Dad are getting old, they worry about you constantly. They barely ate or slept the whole three years when you were in prison. You’re out now, but they still live with their hearts in their throats. Are you fine letting them down like this? Do you even have a conscience? Would it kill you to sign that paper?” I realized that this was Satan attacking me through my family again. I thought of God’s words: “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. Put all your efforts into placing your heart before Me, and I shall comfort you and bring you peace and happiness. Do not strive to be a certain way in front of other people; does making Me satisfied not carry more value and weight? In satisfying Me, will you not be even further filled with eternal and lifelong peace and happiness?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 10). God’s words gave me strength. Faith in God is the right path, and I had to keep my faith in Him and follow Him no matter what. The Communist Party misled and pressured my family into keeping me from my faith. This showed me even more clearly the Communist Party’s demonic essence of hating the truth and being an enemy of God. I despised and rejected it from my heart. Even without any understanding or support from my family, I had to stand witness and humiliate Satan. At this thought, I told my sister: “Mom and Dad not being able to eat or sleep well, and constantly worrying, isn’t this all the Party’s fault? It’s right and proper to believe in God, be a good person, and follow the right path. But the Party not only arrested me, they also left us with no way out. The Party is the culprit!” At that moment, my eldest sister called, demanding an answer: “Are you going to sign tomorrow or not? You only have two choices. Either you sign the paper promising that you don’t believe in God and go on to work, earn money, and live a good life, or you don’t sign and wait to be thrown in prison!” I replied firmly: “Even if I have to go back to jail, I won’t sign that paper!” She angrily hung up on me, and my other sister just ignored me.
Later, I went out of town to perform my duties. Whenever I think back on that whole experience, I feel steadfast in my heart. I feel like it was the best choice I ever made, and I will never regret it.