61. Twenty Days of Agony
By Ye Lin, China
One day in December 2002 around 4 p.m., as I was standing on the side of a road making a phone call, I was suddenly grabbed from behind by the hair and arms, and before I could react, my feet were swept from under me. I lost my balance, and hit the ground really hard. Several people immediately had me very firmly held down, with my face pressed hard against the ground and both my hands cuffed behind me. They then hoisted me up off the ground and dragged me into a sedan. I realized I’d been arrested by the police. Their savagery was evident, and I remembered brothers’ and sisters’ accounts of brutal torture after their arrests. I was really nervous and afraid, and worried I wouldn’t be able to withstand the torture and I’d become a Judas. I was praying to God throughout the entire car ride, asking Him to give me faith and strength so I could stand firm in testimony, and not cave in to Satan.
The police brought me straight to a small hotel where they ripped off my shirt and shoes, pulled off my belt, and made me stand barefoot on the ice-cold floor. There were lots of officers in the room and someone was taking photos of me. Then, one of them showed some footage of me and another brother at a bank making a deposit, and demanded to know where the money had come from, who it was being sent to, and where they lived. I was stunned. I realized these officers hadn’t been surveilling and tailing me for just one or two days, and with so many officers there that day, I could see they weren’t going to let go of me easily. This thought terrified me, and I silently prayed to God over and over. I recalled some of His words: “Be not afraid; with My support, who could ever block this road? Remember this! Do not forget! All that occurs is by My good intention, and everything is under My observation. Can you follow My word in all that you say and do? When the trials of fire come upon you, will you kneel down and call out? Or will you cower, incapable of moving forward?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 10). I didn’t feel quite so nervous or afraid knowing that I had God beside me as my support. I knew that God had permitted my arrest, that He was using this situation to test whether I had faith in and devotion to Him. I couldn’t let God down, but I had to lean on Him to stand firm in my testimony and bring shame to Satan. I silently resolved that no matter how the police tortured me, I could never give away the location of the church’s money, or be a Judas, even if it meant my death! When I didn’t say anything, an officer gave me several hard smacks and demanded to know who our church leader was, where the church’s money was kept, and who the person making the deposit with me was. He smacked me some more when I still wouldn’t answer, then when his hands started hurting, he picked up my shoes and used the heels to hit me in the mouth. My mouth started swelling up pretty soon, some teeth were knocked loose, and blood was flowing from the corners of my mouth. They tortured me for more than an hour before finally letting up. They started taking shifts watching me in pairs, making me stay standing, never letting me sleep. I stood like that for three days and three nights straight. I didn’t know until later that that’s a torture method called “exhausting the eagle” that the police frequently use in interrogations, in which they make someone stay awake continuously until they break their spirit, and then they interrogate them when they can’t think clearly. They use this tactic to get people to betray God. My whole body was unbearably sore and I was fatigued both physically and mentally. I could even fall asleep standing up, but the moment I nodded off, an officer would smack me viciously, kick me really hard, or suddenly shout right in my ear so I’d be scared awake. I felt like my heart was going to beat right out of my chest. Sometimes I felt lucid and other times I felt dazed, and I didn’t know what was real and what was a dream. I was in agony and felt like I couldn’t take anymore, and I feared that if that went on, I’d be turned into an imbecile or a lunatic. I prayed to God in my heart, asking Him for the faith and strength to stand firm in testimony to Him.
One morning, a couple of officers came to question me. They said, “Don’t think that you can just slide right through this by not saying anything. Once you’re here, you absolutely have to answer our questions clearly! To tell you the truth, we’ve been following you for several months. We used a satellite positioning system to get you and we’re familiar with all of your movements. By telling you to confess, we’re giving you an opportunity. You have several different SIM cards and have contacts in quite a few different locations. You must be a leader, right?” Then they pulled out a record of my calls that was over a meter long, and told me to tell them what was discussed in each one. I was shocked—if the police already knew that much about me and thought I was a leader, who knows how they would torture me from here on out! I’d gone without sleep for four or five days and already felt like I couldn’t take much more. I’d heard before that if you don’t sleep for seven or eight days continuously, you can just die spontaneously. I wondered if I would die in there if they kept depriving me of sleep. Feeling kind of fainthearted, I quickly said a prayer: “God, my flesh is weak and I’m afraid I won’t be able to withstand this, but I don’t want to betray You or sell out my brothers and sisters. Please give me faith and strength.” Some of God’s words came to mind after my prayer: “Faith is like a single log bridge: Those who cling abjectly to life will have difficulty in crossing it, but those who are ready to sacrifice themselves can pass over, sure of foot and worry-free. If man harbors timid and fearful thoughts, it is because Satan has fooled them, afraid that we will cross the bridge of faith to enter into God” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 6). His words woke me up—aren’t my life and death in God’s hands? If God doesn’t allow me to die, Satan can’t do anything to me. I was lacking faith in God; I was timid and weak because I was clinging abjectly to life. Thinking through this calmed me down a bit and I didn’t feel so afraid. Seeing I was still keeping quiet, one of the officers punched me in the head. I was seeing stars and my whole body went numb, as if I’d received an electric shock. I nearly fell over. Another officer got a wooden coat hanger and pushed it up hard against my chin. In unbearable pain, I asked them, “What law does my faith in God break? The national constitution clearly stipulates that the people have freedom of belief. What’s your basis for beating me within an inch of my life? Is there any law in this country?” One of them said, “Law in this country? What is the law? It’s the Communist Party! Now that you’re in our hands, if you don’t tell us what we want to know, don’t even think of getting out of this alive.” I was nauseated and furious to see how savage and shameless they were, and didn’t acknowledge them further.
One day a couple of officers said to me menacingly, “We have our ways to get you to open your mouth, it’s just a matter of time. Refusing to talk can only lead to more suffering. So you’re a tough eagle? Do you know how eagles are exhausted? You have to have patience, but when the time comes, that eagle will be nice and obedient….” By that point, I’d already been tortured to the point that I wasn’t very lucid and I didn’t know how many more days I could hold on. All I could do was try to force myself to stay alert and do my best to stay lucid. I kept praying and calling out to God over and over. I remembered these words of God: “My work among the group of people of the last days is an unprecedented enterprise, and thus, so that My glory may fill the cosmos, all people must suffer the last hardship for Me. Do you understand My will? This is the final requirement I make of man, which is to say, I hope that all people can bear strong, resounding testimony to Me before the great red dragon, that they can offer themselves up for Me a final time, and fulfill My requirements one last instance. Can you truly do this? You were incapable of satisfying My heart in the past—could you break this pattern in the final instance? I give people the chance to reflect; I let them ponder carefully before finally giving Me an answer—is it wrong to do this? I wait for man’s response, I await his ‘letter of reply’—do you have the faith to fulfill My requirements?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God’s Words to the Entire Universe, Chapter 34). God’s words helped me understand that He was allowing the great red dragon to arrest and persecute me to perfect my faith and devotion. He was also giving me a chance to stand firm in my testimony to Him before Satan. God was scrutinizing my every word and action. I had to lean on God and stand firm. This thought revived my faith and strength, and I felt much more lucid, not as sleepy, and more energetic. The two officers standing off to the side commented to each other, “This guy is really something. He still has so much energy after all these days without sleep, but a dozen of us are totally worn out.” I knew that was entirely God’s mercy and protection for me, and I thanked God from my heart.
After that, they forced me to stand in a squatting position. After seven days and nights without sleep and hardly any food, where would I find the strength for that? It didn’t take long before I couldn’t hold on and I fell to the ground. They hauled me back up again to squat some more. Truly devoid of strength, I fell down twice and couldn’t hold a squat after that. Then they ordered me to kneel down facing them. I was incensed and thought to myself: “I only kneel to worship God, and I’m absolutely not going to kneel before you demons.” When I steadfastly refused, two of them grabbed my arms in a fury and kicked my calves to force me into a kneeling position. I still wouldn’t do it, so they stepped on my calves, pressing down really hard. It hurt so much that I broke into a full-body sweat. It felt like death would have been better than that. They tortured me like that for about an hour, leaving my calves blue-green and swollen, and for a long time after that, I walked with a limp.
They still weren’t letting me sleep by the eighth day. I was feeling foggy, had a high fever and my ears were ringing. I couldn’t hear things clearly and I had double vision—I’d faint if I went just a single minute without being hit. It was still snowing outside, but the police propped me up in the bathroom and splashed bitingly cold water onto my head. The moment they let go I’d just collapse onto the floor. I was lucid one moment and confused the next. I was on the verge of a mental breakdown and I’d reached my physical limits, too. The thought that I had no idea when those horrific days would come to a close weakened my spirit, and I didn’t even want to eat.
On the evening of the ninth day, someone who looked like some sort of leader came in. He pointed at a bed and said, “All you have to do is tell me where that money came from, where that man who made the deposit with you is, and who the leader is. With a single word from me you’ll be able to shower and sleep, then we’ll let you go home.” I was physically exhausted to my absolute limit and I’d already fallen to the ground several times. I felt like I could die at any moment if I didn’t get some sleep. I thought to myself, “Maybe I could say something that’s not very important? If this goes on, then even if I’m not beaten to death, I’ll die from exhaustion or sleep deprivation!” But then I realized immediately that that would make me a Judas. I quickly said a silent prayer: “God! I can’t take it anymore. Please give me faith and strength. I want to stand firm in my testimony and shame Satan.” While praying, I remembered some of God’s words: “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). God’s words reminded me that this was exactly when I needed to stand firm in my testimony to Him, and that this requires being able to suffer and show devotion to Him. But I didn’t want to suffer, and I was even thinking about selling out the interests of the church to preserve my own life. I was so selfish and vile—how was that having any humanity? How was that testimony? This thought restored my faith and strength. I knew that even if it meant giving up my life, I had to stand firm in my testimony and satisfy God. And so, I remained silent. Seeing this, that man with the air of a leader said to the officers watching me, “Keep an eye on him. He’s not allowed to sleep, not until he talks.” Then he turned around and walked out.
On the afternoon of the tenth day, the police arrested several sisters. They wanted to interrogate them separately and since they didn’t have enough people to watch me, that night I finally got to sleep. The next morning, a police captain surnamed Cai said, “We went to your house. Your mom’s getting old and she’s not in great health, plus, she has to take care of your two kids. Their life is really hard. Your wife isn’t at home, your kids are small, and they need their parents’ care and they really miss you. Things really are tough for your family. We figured we’d give you another chance, and you’d better take it. Yesterday we got a few more people, so just tell me which of them is the leader, who keeps the money and where they live, and I’ll let you go immediately. You’ll be able to go home and reunite with your family, and we can help you find a good job in the area so you can take care of them.” I couldn’t hold back my tears when I heard him saying this, and I was in pain, feeling weak. My mom and kids were suffering and I had no way to help them. I felt like I was really letting them down. At that moment I realized I was in the wrong state, so I quickly prayed to God and asked Him to guide me and watch over my heart. I remembered these words of God: “At all times, My people should be on guard against the cunning schemes of Satan, guarding the gate of My house for Me … so as to avoid falling into Satan’s trap, at which time it would be too late for regrets” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God’s Words to the Entire Universe, Chapter 3). God’s words reminded me again that this was one of Satan’s temptations. Satan was using my affections to tempt me into betraying God and selling out brothers and sisters so the police could steal the church’s money and hurt God’s chosen people. I couldn’t fall for Satan’s trick, and I would never sell them out, and drag out a shameful existence. Shortly after this, they brought the sisters in one by one to have me identify them, making them do a slow, 360-degree turn so I could see them clearly. From the corners of my eyes, I could see the three officers observing my expressions, so I prayed to God, asking Him to watch over me so I didn’t betray them. I felt very calm, and for each one, I looked at them expressionlessly and slowly shook my head. Captain Cai slapped me furiously and shouted, “I don’t believe you don’t know a single one of them. How about you get 10 more days of the eagle treatment, then see if you behave?” Then they kept hammering me with questions about where the church’s money was kept and who the leader was. I wouldn’t speak, so they kept torturing me day and night, not letting me sleep at all. One of them would slap me, kick me in my calves, pull the hair on my temples really hard, or shout with both hands cupped around my ears whenever I nodded off. They’d burst out laughing every time they saw my expression of fear and pain when I was startled awake. I was miserable, and didn’t know how much longer I could withstand that living death. Especially when I recalled the police said that there was no time limit to “exhausting the eagle,” and that it ended when the person confessed, I weakened even more.
By the twentieth day of my torture, I saw there was no sign of the police stopping, but I’d already reached my physical limit. Every time I fell to the floor, I didn’t even have the strength to get back up or even open my eyes. My awareness was getting fuzzier and fuzzier and even breathing was difficult. I felt like I could die at any moment, and I was really scared. I heard an officer yell, “It doesn’t matter if we beat diehards like you to death! We can just bury you anywhere and no one will ever know.” I completely fell apart when I heard that. What would my mom, wife, and kids do if I was beaten to death? My mom was elderly and she had heart problems and high blood pressure. Wouldn’t that be the end for her if I died? And how much would that hurt my wife? My kids were still so young—how would they get by? I didn’t dare keep thinking about that. It felt like there was something stuck in my throat and tears rolled down my face. Right when my pain and weakness were reaching a certain point, I heard an officer say, “Just tell us where you’ve been staying and we’ll close this case! Otherwise, we won’t be able to. We don’t want to stay up late and suffer alongside you here every day.” I thought to myself, “If I don’t tell them anything tonight, I really don’t think I’ll be able to get through it. Maybe I could say something inconsequential. The older sister hosting me is just a regular believer and has very little information on the church. Admitting I stayed at her house shouldn’t do any real harm to the church. Besides, it’s already been 20 days since my arrest, so all those books of God’s words in her house would have been moved out. If they can’t find any evidence of her faith, they wouldn’t do anything to an old lady, would they?” I didn’t pray to God after this occurred to me, then when the police showed me a sketch of the area around my host sister’s house, I told them which one it was. As soon as the words left my mouth, I became completely lucid, wide awake, and I suddenly felt a real darkness in my heart. I realized I’d been a Judas and offended God’s disposition. I was terrified and dumbfounded, wracked with guilt and regret. How could I have been a Judas and sold out that sister? Then one of the police asked, “Which house is the money kept in? Who’s the leader? Where are the copies of God’s words printed?” One of them kicked me when I wouldn’t tell them anything else. But at that point, physical pain didn’t matter. The pain in my heart was a hundred times worse than the pain in my body. It was as if I’d been stabbed through the heart, and I desperately wished I could turn back time and retract what I’d just said, but it was too late. I felt like I’d lost my soul and didn’t make a sound. They transferred me to a detention house, seeing they weren’t going to get any information from me.
In the detention house, right in front of everyone, a corrections officer made me strip naked for an examination and took photos of me. I hadn’t washed my face or brushed my teeth in 20 days, and I absolutely reeked. And in winter weather of around 10 degrees below zero, they didn’t give me warm water, only letting me wash with cold water. Since I was exhausted to the point of collapse and didn’t even have the strength to speak, the corrections officer kicked me violently in the chest when he thought I answered too quietly during roll call. It hurt so much it felt like all my internal organs were displaced, and it took me quite a little while to catch my breath again. They also had me recite the rules of the detention house, and I had to wipe the floors and clean the toilets as punishment when I couldn’t recite them correctly. There were cracks all over my hands that bled really easily, and every night I had to get out of bed to stand watch for two hours. I could take all that physical pain, but ever since selling out that sister, I spent my days plagued by guilt, feeling that I owed God and I owed her. I couldn’t forgive myself. She’d disregarded her own personal safety to take me in, but I’d sold her out to protect myself. I didn’t have any humanity! These words of God were especially poignant for me: “Toward those who showed Me not the slightest loyalty during times of tribulation, I shall be merciful no more, for My mercy only extends so far. I have no liking, furthermore, for anyone who has once betrayed Me, much less do I like to associate with those who sell out the interests of their friends. This is My disposition, regardless of who the person may be. I must tell you this: Anyone who breaks My heart shall not receive clemency from Me a second time, and anyone who has been faithful to Me shall forever remain in My heart” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Prepare Sufficient Good Deeds for Your Destination). God’s words were like a knife to the heart, and made my conscience feel even more accused, like I didn’t have the dignity to face God. I knew well that God’s disposition is holy and righteous and tolerates no human offense, that He despises those who protect themselves at the expense of brothers and sisters, and who only want to save their own skin. I’d sold her out, becoming a shameful Judas. That was incredibly hurtful to God and was absolutely abominable to Him. Thinking about this was like having my heart ripped apart, and I couldn’t sleep all night. I was mired in pain and guilt.
Captain Cai came to the detention house two more times to interrogate me on where the church’s money was and who I’d shared the gospel with. Once, he brought photographs of two sisters for me to identify, and warned me that if I didn’t tell the truth, he’d make sure I got prison time. Before, I’d only wanted to save my own neck, so I’d sold out that sister and really wounded God’s heart. Being punished and sent to hell wouldn’t be overboard. This time, even if I got a life sentence, even if I died, I would never give up any more information. So I said without any hesitation, “I don’t know them!” Then Captain Cai said emphatically, “Take a good look! Give it some thought, then answer.” I repeated decisively, “I don’t know them!” Seeing my determination, another officer gave me two hard smacks, leaving my face burning with pain. But this time I felt totally at peace.
Later on, I reflected on the reasons for my failure. One part of it was that I was too caught up in my affections, so when the police tortured me and threatened my life, I couldn’t let go of my mother, children, or wife, afraid that they wouldn’t be able to go on if I died, unable to withstand that blow. I had betrayed God and sold out that sister for my carnal affections, becoming a treacherous, shameful Judas. I really lacked all humanity! Actually, my family’s fates were all in God’s hands, and how much torment and pain they were going to suffer in life had already been determined by God. Even if I didn’t die and I could stay by their sides, I had no way to change how much they were bound to suffer. I hadn’t seen this, but I was held back by my feelings. This was really foolish. Another aspect of it was that I didn’t fully understand the significance of death. I couldn’t bear to part with life, which meant I didn’t remotely have genuine faith in God. By the twentieth day of the exhaustion torture, my awareness was getting cloudier, I was struggling to breathe, and I felt like I could die at any moment. I was really scared, afraid my time had come. I thought of all those saints throughout the ages who had worked to spread the gospel of the Lord. Some were stoned to death, some were beheaded, and some were crucified. They were all persecuted for the sake of righteousness and their deaths were all testimonies of triumph over Satan, of disgracing Satan, and were commemorated by God. Though they died in the flesh, their souls are in God’s hands. I recalled the Lord Jesus saying, “For whoever will save his life shall lose it: and whoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25). I had been arrested and tortured because of my faith. This was suffering persecution for a righteous cause. If the police really had beaten me to the point of disability or death, that would have been a thing of glory. Thinking through this gave me a real sense of release, and I resolved that no matter how much I suffered after that, even if I had to give my life, I would stand firm in my testimony to God, atone for my past transgression, and absolutely not continue living in such disgrace.
Late January 2003 came around, and it had been nearly two months since my arrest. I’d lost more than 30 pounds, and when they let detainees outside to get some air, I could only do a few laps around the courtyard before I was left gasping for breath. I was in a really frail state and the officials were afraid I’d die on their hands, so they ended up giving me just an 18-month sentence that could be served outside of prison. After my release, I was required to call the Public Security Bureau twice a month and report on my whereabouts, and report to them on my ideology every three months. After I got home, all my unbeliever family and friends came to gang up on me and scold me. I felt really awful. In prison I’d been tortured by the great red dragon to within an inch of my life, and now that I was back home, I had to tolerate my family’s misunderstandings. All I could do was swallow that bitter pill. I later discovered that after my arrest, the police had gone to search my home and they had deceived my family, saying things like I’d been engaged in fraudulent activities to make money. I was furious. The police had arrested and tortured me, pushed me into being a Judas and selling out a sister, and even fabricated lies to stir up trouble and get my family to reject me. I hated those Communist Party demons with every fiber of my being!
It wasn’t long before the police were after me again, so I had to go on the run. I became one of the CCP’s wanted fugitives. I had to do odd jobs under fake names, with a home I had no way of returning to. I also lost contact with the church. Being pursued by the police, rejected by my family, and not even able to live a life of the church was extraordinarily painful for me. The incident of being a Judas and selling out that sister, in particular, felt like a brand on my heart. I constantly felt like I’d committed an unforgivable sin, that my path of faith had already come to its end, and that I had no chance of being saved anymore. These thoughts left me in agony and feeling feeble.
I reestablished contact with the church in May 2008 and took on a duty again. I read this in God’s words after that: “Each person who has submitted to being conquered by God’s words will have ample opportunity for salvation; God’s salvation of each of these people will show His utmost leniency. In other words, they will be shown the utmost tolerance. As long as people turn back from the wrong path, and as long as they can repent, God will give them opportunities to obtain His salvation” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. You Should Put Aside the Blessings of Status and Understand God’s Will to Bring Salvation to Man). “God’s handling of each person is based in the actual circumstances of that person’s environment and background at the time, as well as in that person’s actions and behavior and their nature and essence. God will never wrong anyone. This is one side of God’s righteousness. For example, Eve was seduced by the serpent into eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but Jehovah did not reproach her by saying, ‘I told you not to eat it, so why do you do it anyway? You should have discernment; you should know that the serpent spoke only to seduce you.’ Jehovah did not reprimand Eve like that. Because humans are God’s creation, He knows what their instincts are and what those instincts are capable of, to what extent people can control themselves, and how far people can go. God knows all this quite clearly. God’s handling of a person is not as simple as people imagine. When His attitude toward a person is one of loathing or revulsion, or when it comes to what this person says in a given context, He has a good understanding of their states. This is because God scrutinizes man’s heart and essence. People are always thinking, ‘God has only His divinity. He is righteous and brooks no offense from man. He doesn’t consider man’s difficulties or put Himself in people’s shoes. If a person should resist God, He will punish them.’ That is not how things are at all. If that is how someone understands His righteousness, His work, and His treatment of people, they are gravely mistaken. God’s determination of each person’s outcome is not based in man’s notions and imaginings, but in God’s righteous disposition. He will repay each person according to what they have done. God is righteous, and sooner or later, He will see to it that all people are convinced, through and through” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). Reading these words from God moved me to the point where I couldn’t hold back my tears. I was like a child that had committed a horrible wrong and didn’t dare return home, finally returned to his mother’s embrace after years of wandering out in the world. I could truly feel the benevolence of God’s essence. I had sold out that sister and betrayed God, so I deserved punishment, but God didn’t treat me in accordance with my transgression. He gave me a chance to repent. I could see that God’s disposition not only contains judgment and wrath, but also mercy and tolerance. God is incredibly principled in His treatment of people. He doesn’t delimit them according to their momentary transgressions, but according to the nature and context of their actions, and their stature at that time. If someone is treacherous because of human weakness, but they’re not denying or betraying God from their heart and after the fact they can still repent to God, God can still forgive them and allow them another chance. I saw how righteous God’s disposition is. God hates mankind’s corrupt disposition and betrayals, but He still does His utmost to save us. This left me overflowing with gratitude toward God and I felt even more indebted to Him. I’d hurt God way too much and I really wanted to smack myself. I resolved that no matter what my outcome was, I would treasure this God-given chance, seek the truth, and perform my duty to repay God’s love.
After undergoing the CCP’s brutal torture, I saw its demonic essence and evil face of hating and opposing God, through and through. I hate Satan more than ever! I also personally experienced that God’s work to save mankind is so practical and wise—He used the great red dragon to perfect my faith and devotion, allowing me to gain some understanding of God’s righteous disposition and see the authority and power of God’s words. This whole experience has shown me that hardship and trials are God’s blessing for me, and it’s also His love and salvation! No matter what sort of oppression or adversity I may face in the future, I’m utterly determined to follow God until the end!