45. Leaving the Madhouse
By Xiaocao, China
In January 2012 I accepted Almighty God’s gospel of the last days. After believing, the serious lumbar muscle strain and frozen shoulder I had been suffering with due to overwork in my business miraculously improved. My husband and son were thrilled—before, my arms had hurt so much that I could barely lift them, even brushing my hair or getting dressed had been difficult, and medicine had made no difference. Seeing that I’d got better, they were really supportive of my faith. But several months later, my husband saw some lies the Communist Party had spread online to smear, attack and condemn The Church of Almighty God, and from then on he began to oppose my faith. He said, “The government is against this God of yours. If you end up arrested for it, it could impact our son’s career. You should give this up.” One time, when I’d just come back from sharing the gospel, he said with a dark look on his face, “The National Security Brigade called me in and asked if you’re a believer, and if so, you need to hand in your books about God. They also asked me to identify people from a bunch of photos. You’re bound to get taken in if you keep on believing.” I responded, “Faith in God is the right path in life, and I haven’t done anything illegal. They’d have no right!” He said, “You’re so naive! The CCP especially has it out for you believers. If you keep believing, they could arrest you and rough you up, then you’ll see how ruthless they are. You can’t believe anymore!” With my husband opposed to my faith, it would definitely become harder to walk this path. I prayed to God in my heart and asked Him to guide me on the path ahead. I also resolved that no matter how my husband stood in my way, I would never give up my faith.
One day in December 2012, I was arrested and detained because an evil person reported me for preaching the gospel. The day they let me out, an officer warned me, “Once you get home, you’d better give up your faith. If you don’t, you’ll definitely be sentenced when you’re caught!” After half an hour or so, my husband came to pick me up looking really upset, with an awful look on his face. He went straight to the police office. I had no idea what they were talking about in there. When we arrived home, I saw my brother, sister, and brother-in-law all standing in the yard. My brother was a county-level leader, and he’d seen all sorts of Communist Party’s lies online condemning and blaspheming the Church. He tried to persuade me to give up my faith, and said that if I didn’t give it up it would implicate my son, and also would implicate him and lead to him losing his position as an official. I knew they were certainly there to try to push me into giving up my faith, so I said a quick prayer, asking God to protect me from these disturbances. My brother said, all smiles, “You should give up this God stuff. Stay at home and behave yourself. Taking good care of this family is the best thing you can do. Your son has a good job, and that will be in danger if you keep on with this. He’ll hate you forever.” Then my brother-in-law yelled at me, gesticulating, “Faith in God? Where is God? I don’t believe in Him and I have a perfectly good life!” Then my husband said angrily, “It wasn’t easy for our son to get a good job, to get noticed. What if he loses his job because of your faith?” My sister came over and pressed me, “You should let go of this. Your husband is so good to you and your son has a good job. That should be enough. Just take good care of your family.” Hearing all this, I thought, “My husband and I worked so hard to earn enough money for our son’s education, and now he’s found a good living, which was no easy task. The CCP is using my son’s work to intimidate me into betraying God, and if he really does lose his job because of this, won’t he hate me for the rest of his life?” But if I gave up my faith, that would be betraying God! As a believer I had learned some truths, and I knew worshiping God as a created being was ordained by Heaven and acknowledged by earth, and was the right path to take. God had healed my injuries. Having enjoyed so many blessings granted by God, I couldn’t be so devoid of conscience. I silently prayed to God in my heart, “God, my family is trying to force me to give up my faith, and I feel awful. Please give me faith and strength.” Then I remembered these words from God: “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). I saw that behind my family ganging up on me, it was actually Satan tempting and attacking me. My family had been taken in by the Party’s rumors and lies and was using my son’s work to intimidate me so I’d betray God. I couldn’t fall for Satan’s trick, and had to stand witness for God. Whatever job my son had was entirely presided over and arranged by God. No one could change that. So I said, “Having faith is right and proper, and it’s the right path in life. I haven’t broken any laws. The Communist Party arresting me and dragging you into it is the Party’s own evil. You shouldn’t oppress me along with it or stand in the way of my faith. All of you know, before I believed in God, my injuries were so bad I couldn’t even take care of myself. I completely recovered after gaining faith, and this was all thanks to God’s grace. If I betrayed God, would I even have any conscience? Not only have I recovered from my injuries since gaining faith, but I’ve also come to understand so many truths, my heart is full and I experience so much joy. These are all wonderful things. But you don’t understand, and you stand on the Communist Party’s side, opposing my faith. You’re just addled, and you can’t tell right from wrong! No matter how opposed you are, I am committed to my path of faith.” My husband, in a total huff, pointed at me, saying, “You’re a lost cause!” Then he and my brother exchanged a look and went to the back of the house together. I was confused. What were they talking about so sneakily? Before long, my brother returned and shot my sister a look, then said with a secretive smile on his face, “Let’s go get something to eat!” My sister and her son-in-law came right over to me and pulled me toward the car by my hands, one on each side. I felt like something was off. I shook their hands off and said I didn’t want to go, but they just pushed me into the car. The car stopped after about half an hour of driving, and to my surprise, I saw we were at a mental hospital. My brother and my husband got out of the car. I wanted to run, but I had been locked in. I saw them walking toward the hospital office and felt angry and disgusted. I couldn’t believe they’d taken me to a place like this. How heartless they were. So-called loved ones! I thought back on how, when my husband met me at the police station, he’d spoken to the police alone for a bit, and how my family had been exchanging meaningful looks when they said we were going to eat. I realized that this was very likely a plan hatched by the police. They were doing this to get me to betray God. I was incredibly upset, with tears welling up in my eyes. I said to my sister, indignant, “You’re taking me here to have me tormented, just because I believe in God. You’re the crazy ones! What you’re doing is offensive to Heaven and reason. You’ll get your comeuppance!” Just then, a couple of orderlies came out of the hospital, carrying restraints to put on me. My husband and brother just stood there looking at me, without saying a word. I was heartbroken and full of despair. I’d never in my wildest dreams imagined that my brother and my husband, just to protect their own interests, to avoid being implicated, would actually listen to the Communist Party’s lies and have me put in a mental hospital where I’d be tormented, with no thought for whether I lived or died, when I was perfectly well. They weren’t any kind of loved ones—they were demons! At that thought, I couldn’t hold my tears back anymore. I didn’t even want to look at them. I said to the orderlies indignantly, “There’s nothing wrong with me! They tricked me into coming here and being treated like a mental patient just because I believe in God. You haven’t even looked into this. Why are you restraining me?” But they completely ignored me. They admitted me as a severely troubled patient and locked me up in Ward 1.
All the corridors, doors and windows on Ward 1 had metal bars welded over them. My room was about 40 or 50 square feet and it was completely bare. There was just a single bed with a dirty quilt that had traces of urine on it. There was a pungent odor of urine. There was a unisex bathroom in the hall that was kept locked. I had to find an orderly every time I wanted to use the bathroom, and if they were busy, they wouldn’t open the door. I just had to hold it. The hospital was constantly filled with the sound of the mental patients wailing. Sometimes they’d sing or cry, or start shouting, “Let me out! Let me out!” They’d also smack the metal bars nonstop. The whole place sounded like it was filled with wailing ghosts and howling wolves. It made my blood run cold, “What kind of place for humans is this? As soon as I had been released by the police, my own family took me to be tormented in a madhouse. This is out of the frying pan and into the fire. How am I supposed to live like this? If it weren’t for the persecution of the CCP, my family wouldn’t be treating me this way.” I felt worse the more I thought about it, and started to cry sorrowfully. As I cried, I thought about we brothers and sisters in gatherings, singing hymns and praising God. I so wanted to read God’s words and do my duty alongside them, but I couldn’t get out, and had no idea how long I’d be kept in there. When would my suffering come to an end? I prayed to God, “Oh God, I’m locked up with mental patients. I’m so miserable. God, I don’t know how to get through this. Please guide me.” After I prayed, I remembered a passage of God’s words: “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?). I understood that in China, believers must undergo many persecutions of the CCP, because the Party is God’s mortal enemy, and it will not allow people to have faith and follow God. The Party is madly arresting and persecuting believers, and spreading all sorts of rumors and lies, and condemning The Church of Almighty God, to deceive those who don’t know the truth. It implicates believers’ family members, destroying their jobs and career prospects, arousing hatred of believers among their families, and using their families to force believers to betray God. The Party is despicably evil! Although undergoing this kind of persecution from the Party caused me great pain, it enabled me to discern the Communist Party’s evil essence, and it was also God testing my faith. I had to lean on God and stand witness to God. At this thought, I prayed to God, asking Him to stay with me and protect me from the affliction of Satan and evil spirits. The more the great red dragon oppressed me, the greater would be my faith in God.
The following day, an orderly brought medication for me to take. Incensed, I told him, “There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m perfectly normal, and I won’t take this!” I insisted that I wouldn’t take it. On the third day, a severely troubled person was admitted, and I was transferred to Ward 3 because Ward 1 didn’t have any spare beds. That ward wasn’t so tightly controlled—I could leave my room for activities. I saw that some of the patients’ pants were so worn that their bottoms were showing, their faces and necks were filthy, and their hair was like a bird’s nest. Some people had clothing that was so dirty it looked oily—it was absolutely nauseating. I had two cellmates in that ward. One was dull-eyed and expressionless, and would sometimes randomly mutter to herself. The other one would pace nonstop in the corridor every morning, smoking. They really frightened me. I was scared that during one of their episodes, they might hit me or pull my hair when I wasn’t paying attention, or they might choke me to death in my sleep, so I never got any deep sleep at night. Every time, I’d silently pray to God over and over, asking Him to protect me. That was the only way I could relax enough to get a bit of restful sleep. An orderly would come by every day and give us our medication, one by one. They would watch us, so I had to take it. Sometimes when they weren’t looking I’d get rid of it. Another patient saw this and said to me, “You can’t do that. I was caught by an orderly throwing out meds once. He smacked me a couple of times, then got a plastic tube that he stuck into my nose, and forced the medicine through that. It was really painful.” I never knew if that woman told the orderlies about me getting rid of my pill, but the hospital staff kept a much closer eye on patients taking their medication after that. The orderlies would stand at a square table two feet high every day to supervise us, making us open our mouths and using a flashlight to check whether we had swallowed the medicine. I had no choice but to take the pills.
A few days later, the hospital director came by to inspect the rooms and asked me out of the blue, “Is the great disaster on the 21st?” I thought it was really odd, and said, “Only God can say when the disaster will come.” His response was, “I can see you’re really unwell. We need to up your dosage.” After that, I had to take two pills instead of one. I was furious. The director had no idea if there was actually something wrong with me, but just casually doubled my dosage. He had no regard for human life. A hospital should be a place for curing sickness, but it had become a place where the Communist Party could persecute Christians. They were maliciously harming me only because of my faith. I hated the Party through and through.
Ten days after I took the medication, I started feeling really weak, and even walking was difficult. I thought of how I’d only been taking the medicine for several days and was already like this. I worried that if I continued taking it, it would make me sick even though I hadn’t been ill to begin with. And facing all those mental patients every day, being miserable and depressed, I felt like I was about to develop mental problems from the torment. I was praying to God a lot while in that environment, asking Him to guide me and give me faith. I remember one time after a prayer, I thought of the Lord Jesus letting Lazarus out of his tomb. He’d been dead for four days, and his body was already stinking, but God brought him back from the dead with a few words. God is almighty. He presides over mankind’s fate. Wasn’t my life also in God’s hands? I thought of something God said: “Of everything that occurs in the universe, there is nothing in which I do not have the final say. Is there anything that is not in My hands?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God’s Words to the Entire Universe, Chapter 1). Whether that medication would make me crazy and when I’d get out was all in God’s hands. I had to get through this with my faith and by leaning on God. This thought gave me faith and I no longer felt so afraid.
One evening a couple weeks later, I thought about calling my family to see if I could get out sooner. The next morning, my husband drove to the hospital. I told him this wasn’t a place fit for humans, that staying too long would make a sane person crazy, and that he should take me out of there. He called my brother to discuss it, and I could hear my brother say through the phone, “She must give up her faith! First have her sign a guarantee to give up her faith, and then she can come out. She can die in there if she keeps her faith.” I’d never imagined that my brother would say something like that. It was really chilling. What kind of family was this? This was merely a devil! Seeing my husband had no intentions of getting me out, I thought, “If he just discards me here and abandons me, never to be released, then how will I practice my faith?” So I feigned agreement. After he took me home, he followed me around constantly every day. He wouldn’t let me go to gatherings or read God’s words. Sometimes during my afternoon rest he’d even come in to see if I was reading God’s words. All I could do was secretly read God’s words with my MP5 player when he wasn’t paying attention. Then one morning he caught me when I was charging it. He took it away and yelled at me, furious, “How can you still believe? If you’re caught and you go to prison and our son loses his job because of you, how will you be able to face him? You’re not allowed to follow God anymore!” As he said this, he gave me a hard shove and my head hit against the side of the bed with a thud. I thought: I am just believing in God. I haven’t done anything wrong, but this is the way he is treating me. He not only had me institutionalized, but now he is raising a hand against me, and won’t let me read God’s words. Feeling worse and worse, I prayed to God, “Oh God! My husband is coercing me terribly, and I am weak. I don’t know how to stay on this path. Please guide me!” After I prayed, I thought of God’s words: “Today, most people do not have that knowledge. They believe that suffering is without value, they are renounced by the world, their home life is troubled, they are not beloved of God, and their prospects are bleak. The suffering of some people reaches an extreme, and their thoughts turn to death. This is not true love for God; such people are cowards, they have no perseverance, they are weak and powerless! God is eager for man to love Him, but the more man loves Him, the greater man’s suffering, and the more man loves Him, the greater man’s trials. … Thus, during these last days you must bear testimony to God. No matter how great your suffering, you should walk until the very end, and even at your last breath, still you must be faithful to God and at the mercy of God; only this is truly loving God, and only this is the strong and resounding testimony” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only by Experiencing Painful Trials Can You Know the Loveliness of God). By pondering God’s words, it became clear to me that even though the coercion and tribulations I faced were causing me suffering, without the disclosure of these situations I would not see my true stature, nor would I be able to have true faith. There was value in suffering these hardships. But I didn’t understand God’s will, and because I couldn’t endure the suffering I became negative and weak. I saw what a coward I was. The revelation of facts also let me see some things clearly. To press me to abandon my faith in God, my husband didn’t care if I lived or died, personally taking me to a mental institution, and now even hitting me—I truly saw that he was a God-hating, anti-God demon. I remembered what God said: “Believers and unbelievers are not compatible; rather, they are opposed to one another” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together). My husband and I were two different kinds of people on two different paths. I would keep following God no matter how my husband oppressed me. I would no longer be held back by him. So I said to him, “Let’s get a divorce. You’re on a worldly path, pursuing money, and I’m on a path of faith. We’re on different paths and we have nothing in common. You’re afraid for our son, so we should get a divorce. Then my faith won’t impact you two. I don’t need any of our assets. I just need a room, a place to live. As long as I can follow God, I’ll be alright.” He said, “I know you’re a good woman. I don’t want a divorce.” I told him, “If you don’t want a divorce, then give me my freedom. I’m a believer, and you can’t stand in my way.” He said, “You can have your freedom, but first you need to sign an agreement with me that you’ll stop believing in Almighty God!” I said, “I have to keep my faith—I cannot sign that agreement.” He was left speechless. After that, seeing he couldn’t keep me from believing, he didn’t stand in the way of me practicing my faith as much. I was able to live a life of the church and do a duty normally.
Some time passed. Then, one evening, I went to see a sister who lived nearby to discuss watering newcomers. My son showed up right after we’d sat down and said to the sister furiously, “You’re the one who converted my mom!” Then he tried to hit her. I rushed to wrap my arms around him, to hold him back. He dragged me back home in a fit of rage and said angrily, “You’ve got to give this up. Look at what they’re saying about your Church online!” Then he repeated a few of the Communist Party’s lies slandering The Church of Almighty God. After that, he yelled, “Dad, call the mental hospital and send her back in there!” I felt like my head was about to explode when I heard him say that. I’d never imagined that my son would send his own mother to the mental hospital, all for the sake of his job. It was brutal! I could hear my husband calling the institution, and on the phone I heard them say they were full. My husband hung up and said, “Let’s call the police and just have them take her away.” My son responded, “She can’t be locked up there. How about we just keep her in that dark room where we used to breed rabbits?” Then the two of them forcefully carried me into that room, locked the iron gate and left. Seeing how my husband and son had been deceived by the Party into being so brutal toward me was really chilling, and I hated the Communist Party from the bottom of my heart even more. I thought of God’s words: “For thousands of years this has been the land of filth. It is unbearably dirty, misery abounds, ghosts run rampant everywhere, tricking and deceiving, making groundless accusations, being ruthless and vicious, trampling this ghost town and leaving it littered with dead bodies; the stench of decay covers the land and pervades the air, and it is heavily guarded. Who can see the world beyond the skies? The devil tightly trusses all of man’s body, it veils both his eyes, and seals his lips firmly shut. The king of devils has rampaged for several thousand years, right up until today, when it still keeps a close watch on the ghost town, as if it were an impenetrable palace of demons…. Forefathers of the ancient? Beloved leaders? They all oppose God! Their meddling has left all beneath heaven in a state of darkness and chaos! Religious freedom? The legitimate rights and interests of citizens? They are all tricks for covering up sin!” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Work and Entry (8)). The Party arrests and persecutes Christians, spreads all sorts of rumors and slanders about The Church of Almighty God and implicates their family members. So my family was misled by the Party and went along with its coercion of my faith, even personally taking me to a mental hospital where I was tormented, and they were now locking me up. A perfectly happy family was reduced to this. The Party was the real ringleader and I hated this devil from the bottom of my heart. Before long, my son got a stool, came and sat outside the iron gate and said, “Mom, you should stop believing in God. You worked really hard when you were in business and funding my education wasn’t easy. Now I’m working and I have some money. How about I pay for you to take a trip?” When he said this, I realized it was a trick from Satan, so I told him, “Before I was a believer, I just wanted to earn money. It was a difficult, exhausting way to live. Now that I’ve found God and understood some truths, my life is much freer and happier. Can’t you two leave me be? I’ll keep my faith even if you reject me as your mother and your father divorces me. I’m committed to this path.” He didn’t say a word in response, but just walked off. I was really grateful to God for strengthening my faith, and I felt really steadfast and at peace. I started singing this hymn: “Almighty true God, my heart belongs to You. Incarceration can only control my body. It cannot stop my footsteps in following You. Painful suffering, a bumpy road, with the guidance of Your words, my heart is without fear, with the company of Your love, my heart is sated” (Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs, A Choice Without Regret). Singing this hymn, I could feel God by my side. Even sitting in that dark little room where I couldn’t see anything around me, I didn’t feel miserable. The next morning, my son unexpectedly opened the gate and let me out, and said, “Mom, we’ll leave you alone now. You can do whatever you want.” When he said that, I knew that Satan had been shamed and defeated, and I gave thanks to God.
Going through arrest by the Communist Party and my family’s oppression helped me fully see the Party’s demonic anti-God essence. It arrests and persecutes believers and spreads all sorts of rumors and lies to deceive people, leading believers to suffer the coercion and obstruction of their families. It is the mastermind destroying Christians’ families. For their own interests, my husband and son went along with the Party, coercing my faith, and even personally had me institutionalized with no thought to whether I lived or died. I fully saw that their essence is one of resisting God, and I’ll never let them hold me back again. This experience has shown me that only God loves us, and only God can save us. When I was at my most miserable and helpless, God used His words to enlighten me, to comfort and encourage me, and guide me through those difficult days. Now I’ve personally experienced that only God’s love is true. I am willing to follow God and do my duty well, and I will never regret it.