72. Temptations in Brainwashing Class
By Xu Hui, China
At the end of July 2018, I was arrested for believing in God and preaching the gospel. One day in October, the police took me to a siheyuan (courtyard house) in an ecological park on the outskirts of the city, which served as a brainwashing center. At the time, I was a little nervous and afraid. Images kept flashing through my mind of brothers and sisters being interrogated and tortured in secret. I silently prayed to God, “God, I don’t know how the police will torture me. Please give me faith and strength. No matter what torture I suffer, I will not do anything to betray You.” After I prayed, I felt a little calmer.
The person responsible for reforming us there was a captain surnamed Lang, who looked very cunning and crafty. He made us stand in a line and said, “The classes here are divided into fast and slow classes. If you want to reform and finish up here quickly, you can choose the fast class. In the slow class, the beatings can come anytime and anywhere. They’ll become as regular as meals.” When I heard him say this, I was very angry. It was an obvious attempt to make us so afraid of his tyranny that we would betray God. I had been arrested, which I knew had happened with God’s permission, so I was willing to submit to God’s orchestration and arrangements. No matter how they planned to persecute me, I would never betray God. Thinking this, I said, “I’ll take the slow class.” That night, Lang asked the twelve of us who had chosen the slow class to stand in a row in the yard. There were four or five male police officers carrying electric batons, occasionally activating their switches so they made a crackling sound. They also had bottles of hot chili water and mustard water in their pockets, ready to torment us with them at any moment. Seeing this, I realized it was probably a test, a trial from God coming upon me, and I thought of something God said: “‘In the last days, the beast will emerge to persecute My people, and those who are fearful of death will be marked with a seal to be carried off by the beast. Those that have seen Me will be killed by the beast.’ The ‘beast’ in these words undoubtedly refers to Satan, the deceiver of mankind” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 120). The Communist Party uses fleshly torture to force people to betray God, and if you can’t put your life on the line, you’re at risk of being taken, of being cast out with the slightest carelessness. I silently prayed to God, “God, no matter how badly they will beat me today, I am willing to put my life and death in Your hands, and lay down my life to stand firm to satisfy You.” After that, Lang asked me, “Which class do you really want to be in?” I said, “The slow class.” He was furious when he heard this, so he kicked me into the flower pond. My ankle struck one of the bricks around the flower pond, and it was very painful. Then, he kicked the other eleven people to the ground one by one, and ordered us to stand up. Just as we were about to get up, a few policemen sprayed our faces one by one with chili water and mustard water. I instinctively dodged and fell into the flower pond behind me. My face was burning, and I was choking and coughing. The police then shocked our faces and bodies with electric batons. I felt like I was being stabbed by needles. It was very painful. They continued to torture us with beatings, kicks, and shocks for over an hour.
Next, they started giving us brainwashing classes. First, a man surnamed Huang played a video for us. The content was about how China has risen and become powerful and glorious. He also said things to condemn and blaspheme God. We debated with him, and he pointed out of the door, and with an ominous expression he warned us, “Whoever doesn’t want to be in this class can get out!” I knew that leaving the class implied some sort of heavy punishment from Lang, so I didn’t say anything more. Every day before lunch and dinner, Lang would ask us one by one what we had learned in class, if there had been any change in our thinking, whether we believed in God or not, and who we had chosen between country and God. One day, Lang ordered the twelve of us to stand in a row and asked me, “Do you still need to go to class? Can you sign a letter of guarantee, a letter of repentance, and a letter of renunciation?” I knew that signing the “Three Letters” would mean denying and betraying God, so I said, “No.” When Lang heard this, he slapped me violently, causing a burning pain in my face. Then he interrogated and beat the other brothers and sisters in the same way. After one round, he came back to interrogate me again. I said no, and so he slapped me again. He interrogated us like this for nearly an hour, pressing each of us nearly four times. For three nights in a row, they either beat and kicked us, or tortured us with chili water, mustard water, and electric batons to force us to deny and betray God, each time, for nearly an hour. My legs were shocked all over until they were covered in black scabs. After a while, my legs became unbearably itchy, and I had to scratch as hard as I could and bleed to feel better. The brainwashing, which lasted for more than ten hours every day, made me extremely nervous. I didn’t know what questions they would use to pick at and torment us with next. At that time, whenever I heard Lang’s loud command, “Guards, grab the batons, get to it!” My heart skipped a beat. As I watched the police come toward us with their electric batons flashing with blue light, my body trembled uncontrollably.
I remember one day, when a sister didn’t answer one of Lang’s questions as he wished, he became angry and said, “You dare to contradict me?! Kneel!” The sister did not kneel, so Lang and several police officers dragged her off to the unmonitored area while kicking her. After a while, we heard her heart-rending screams. Over ten minutes later, she was brought back covered in dirt and with her hair messed up. Again, Lang tried to frighten and threaten her into kneeling in front of him, then he kicked her to the ground and put a black plastic bag over her head. He sprayed chili water into it, causing her to shake her head, struggle, and cough continuously. They kept the bag on her for around two minutes before taking it off. Finally, she was forced to kneel before them. I was furious when I saw the atrocities Lang subjected her to. I really wanted to fight them, but I knew that not only would I not be able to help her by doing this, but that the rest of us would be beaten and tortured even more severely. That night, I didn’t sleep. My mind was filled with all the images of the police torturing people I had seen over the last few days. I felt depressed and miserable. I was watching the Communist Party spread all kinds of fallacies to deny and condemn God, yet I didn’t dare to refute them, and I suffered frequent punishment and beatings. I really didn’t know if I could stand firm if this continued. I silently prayed to God, “God! How can I overcome the weakness of the flesh and put everything on the line to stand firm in testimony for You? Please give me faith and strength.” As I contemplated and reflected, a sentence of God’s word emerged clearly in my mind, “Do not fear, the Almighty God of hosts will surely be with you; He stands behind you and He is your shield” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 26). After pondering God’s words over and over, my heart was brightened. I had God backing me up. Although I was in a dangerous situation and faced threats and beatings by the police every day, God was by my side supporting me at all times, and I wasn’t facing it alone. It’s just that I didn’t have true faith in God, so when I saw how savage and vicious the police were, I became afraid and unwittingly fell for Satan’s temptation. This situation had happened with God’s permission and under God’s sovereignty. Weren’t these police officers also in God’s hands? God knew what kind of torture I could endure, so I only had to sincerely rely on God and believe that God would give me faith and strength and guide me in overcoming the persecution of the police. Once I realized this, I felt a great sense of release, and I had the faith to face this environment. I couldn’t help but sing the hymn “Life’s Testimony” to myself: “If one day I become a martyr, and can no longer bear testimony to God, the kingdom gospel will still be spread like fire by countless saints. Though I do not know how far I can walk this rugged road, I will still bear testimony to God and offer up my God-loving heart. All I want to do is carry out God’s will and testify to Christ’s appearance and work. It is my honor to dedicate myself to proclaiming and testifying to Christ. Undaunted by adversity, like pure gold made in the furnace, from out of Satan’s influence emerge a group of victorious soldiers. God’s words spread all across the world, the light has appeared among man. Christ’s kingdom arises and is established within adversity. The darkness is about to pass, a righteous dawn has come. Time and reality have borne testimony for God” (Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). The more I sang, the more motivated I felt. I felt that it was a great honor and the greatest blessing in my life to be able to welcome the Lord’s return in the last days, to hear the Lord’s voice, to follow the Christ of the last days, and to preach the gospel and fulfill my duty. Now I was being tortured by the Communist Party, but this was being persecuted for the sake of righteousness, so this suffering was meaningful. No matter what kind of persecution I faced, I was completely willing to rely on God to stand firm in testimony, and not yield to Satan. In the following days, when faced with threats and beatings by the police, I was less afraid. I often sang hymns to myself silently and had a smile on my face. Once, a police officer said in a puzzled way, “We beat her every day. How can she still be smiling?” I thought, “You don’t believe in God, so you will never be able to feel the joy and peace that comes from God.”
One night, Lang asked the police to take us out to sign the letter of renunciation. Their purpose in brainwashing and torturing us was to force us to sign the “Three Letters” so that we would betray God and go to hell with them to be punished. I realized I wouldn’t escape torture that night. I prayed to God, “God! No matter how the police torture me, I wish to stand firm in testimony and satisfy You.” When a police officer saw that I hadn’t written anything in a long time, he kicked my leg hard. Lang came over, grabbed my collar, pulled me up by it, and slapped me hard, causing my face to burn with pain. Then he sent me to the base of the wall with another kick. The pain was so bad that I cradled my stomach and couldn’t stand for a while. He ordered me to stand up. Just as I got to my feet while leaning against the wall, a police officer kicked me again, and I fell to the side. Other police officers rushed over, some shocking my legs with electric batons, some slapping me in the face, and some kicking my stomach, waist, and legs, and I was tossing and turning on the ground. The beating continued for about half an hour, and I couldn’t help but scream as the pain rushed throughout my body. It was like a big, heavy stone pressing down on my body and suffocating me. Then, Lang grabbed me by the collar and pressed me into the chair, grabbed my hair, and yanked my head against the back of the chair so that I was looking up. In a threatening tone, he asked, “Will you write?” I didn’t say anything. He was so angry that he grabbed my hand and pressed it to the table, then told a male police officer to shock my hand. I bent my fingers and twisted my wrist as I struggled as hard as I could, so the male police officer didn’t know how to go about shocking me. We were stalemated for a moment, until Lang said, “Forget it, you might end up shocking me.” Then he let go of my hand. A while later, Lang waved a stack of papers in front of me and said, “They all signed. You’re the only one left!” When I heard this, I felt an indescribable sense of loneliness and desolation. There had been so many sisters suffering together, but suddenly, in a blink of an eye, I was left alone, and I didn’t know how the police planned to torture me, so I cried out to God in my heart. Seeing that I wasn’t saying anything, Lang scolded me, saying, “So you’re tough? You’re the only exception? Beat her!” After that, the police kicked and beat me again. About ten minutes later, Lang said the electric baton was too small and ordered his subordinates to get a bigger one. Thinking I would have to endure even heavier torture, I felt an indescribable distress. My mind was flooded with images of all kinds of torture instruments used by the police. I didn’t know if I could bear the torture, or whether I would sign the letters and betray God in a moment of weakness. I couldn’t help feeling restless, so I prayed to God, “God! Right now I’m very anxious. I am gripped by worry and fear, and I’m afraid I’ll do something that betrays You. Please give me faith and guide me so that I can stand firm in testimony.” After I prayed, Lang took me to a large room. One police officer pushed me into a chair and pressed my head down onto the table while other police officers held my arms, hands, and legs, making me unable to move. As soon as I struggled, they shocked my feet with electric batons. A police officer grabbed my hand and forced me to write the renunciation letter. I was furious, and thought, “You are forcing me to write a renunciation letter, but this doesn’t mean I’m betraying God. I believe that God observes everything.”
I stayed up all night and kept wondering how I should go through this situation. I thought of God’s word, “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). I realized that although I already had the will to put my life on the line to satisfy God, when I was faced with torture and torment, I became concerned with my flesh and always wanted to escape. Satan was seizing on my weakness to hound and attack me mercilessly. I was being forcibly brainwashed, tortured, and forced to sign the “Three Letters” to betray God. This was a fierce battle of life and death. If I wanted to continue believing in and following God, then I had to rely on God, have faith in God, and overcome Satan’s temptation by relying on God’s words. Once I understood God’s will, I had the faith to face what would come next. But when I thought about how some brothers and sisters couldn’t stand the torture and signed the “Three Letters,” I was quite shocked, and I found it hard to accept it for a while. I thought of God’s words, “Today, I do only the work that is My duty to do; I will bind all the wheat into bundles, together along with those tares. This is My work today. Those tares shall all be winnowed out in the time of My winnowing, then the grains of wheat shall be gathered into the storehouse, and those tares that have been winnowed out shall be placed in the fire to be burned to dust” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. What Do You Know of Faith?). In the last days, God uses the persecution of the great red dragon to reveal all kinds of people. He uses the arrests and persecution of the Communist party to reveal the true believers, the false believers, the cowardly, those who follow a crowd blindly, and the opportunists who hope to gain blessings. Those who do not pursue the truth and only seek to fill their bellies are exposed and cast out, while those who genuinely believe in God and love the truth are saved and perfected by God. This is the manifestation of God’s righteous disposition. When arrested, those who truly believe in God and love the truth will constantly pray to God, seek the truth, gain some knowledge of God, have true faith, be willing to lay down their lives to follow God, and gain the testimony of overcoming Satan. Those who do not pursue the truth and seek only to fill their bellies will betray God at even the slightest suffering and stop believing. They will naturally be revealed and cast out. In that environment, everyone must express their stance, everyone has to go through an ordeal, and no one can escape. It’s just as God’s words say, “Even if these trials consist merely of minor circumstances, everyone must pass through them; it’s just that the difficulty of the trials will vary from one person to another” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 41). God uses the service of the great red dragon to reveal and perfect people. Working in this way is so wise! Even if the others signed the “Three Letters” and timidly withdrew, I couldn’t let them influence me and I couldn’t just go with the flow. If I cared for my flesh and feared suffering, I would eventually fall as well. I swore to myself that even if I was beaten to death by the police, it would be better than dragging out an ignoble existence in this world after betraying God. No matter what circumstances I faced the next day, I would never betray God. Only later did I find out that several sisters were also forced by the police to sign the letter of renunciation. To force people to betray God, these police officers used all kinds of despicable and evil tricks. They were so sinister and vicious!
The next day, I was in class when Lang suddenly called me out. As soon as I went out, I saw my father and two cadres from my village. When my father saw me, he hugged me and cried, saying, “I finally get to see you!” As I looked at my father’s white hair at his temples and the exhaustion on his old face, a bitterness gripped my heart and tears welled up in my eyes. Lang then brought over a pen and paper and asked me to rewrite the letter of renunciation. I realized that the police were using my emotions to force me to deny and betray God, so I refused. One of the village cadres scolded me, saying, “Since when do the police beg you to write a letter of repentance? Even if they ask you to write it ten times, you have to do it.” Lang echoed, “Yes, write it ten times!” At that moment, Huang, the person running our classes, also came over and said with a sanctimonious expression, “Don’t be afraid. Just be brave and write the letter.” I was especially disgusted when I heard him speak. When he saw that I was ignoring him, he pointed at me and yelled, “You can’t leave if you don’t write it, so hurry up!” My father cried as he tried to persuade me, “Please, just write it. We can’t go home until you do. Do you know how much I had to run back and forth and how many people I had to seek out to find you? You have to write the letter. You can’t go to jail!” Lang also said angrily, “Almost a dozen people have signed the letter, and you’re the only one left. Are you really going to be the stubborn one?” The village cadres also tried to persuade me, “It’s easy. Just write a few words, and we’ll go home together. If you don’t write the letter, your household registration will be struck from the village. You won’t exist in the village, and you will never be allowed to return again.” Everyone in the room started discussing what to do. My father whispered some anxious words of persuasion to me, “Just write it, you don’t have to mean it. Let’s get out of here first. You can believe in secret later if you want to. Why are you being so stubborn?” I thought to myself, “Who wouldn’t want to leave this demonic place? But I can’t just casually muddle through this and leave. Signing the ‘Three Letters’ is something that betrays God and offends His disposition.” But faced with my father’s repeated begging and persuasion, I was at a loss. I thought, “Is God setting up this environment so that I take this chance to leave?” I constantly prayed to God to seek in my heart, “God! What is Your will?” At that moment, I suddenly realized that the price for leaving was signing a document that denied and betrayed God. I couldn’t do anything to betray God. I also thought about how the many saints in all eras of history would rather be imprisoned and tortured to death than betray God. The reason I was at such a loss in this situation was because I loved the flesh too dearly, and I was unwilling to suffer and pay a price. Thanks to God’s guidance, I was very calm at the time. I recalled God’s words, “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” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God). At this time, I understood even more clearly that their words were Satan’s tricks and temptations. They were a test for me, and this was the time I needed to bear testimony for God. My father had been deceived by the Communist Party into standing on Satan’s side to disturb my mind and shake my resolve. I couldn’t do something that betrays and blasphemes God to seek temporary comfort, much less could I be controlled by my emotions and fall for Satan’s tricks. After some time passed, Lang saw I wasn’t writing, so he had the police take me back into the classroom. A few days later, they brought back my father and my uncle to persuade me, and they also had my father cry and trouble me, as well as express his emotional disturbance in front of me, but in the end, their tricks didn’t work. Seeing Lang’s look of disappointment, I felt a sense of peace after relying on God to overcome Satan’s temptations.
To force us to sign the “Three Letters,” the police also used a despicable and lewd method. One night around midnight, Sister Jiang Xinming and I were being forced to stand still as punishment in the yard. Later several police officers took us back to the classroom. Lang ordered me and Xinming to take off our clothes. I thought, “Maybe he thinks we’re dressed too warmly,” so my sister and I took off our coats. Unexpectedly, both Lang and the police laughed. Then, Lang ordered Xinming to take off her pants, but she refused. A police officer rushed up and yanked her pants halfway down. She pulled them back up, and then he came to take off my clothes. I struggled to keep them on, so Lang nodded to another male police officer to come and help pull my pants down. At this moment, Yang walked in with a bottle containing a large brown spider with long, slender legs that skittered around its container. Yang took the bottle containing the spider, waved it in front of us and said, “Would you like to eat it?” Yang was picking out the spider while he was talking, and he put the bottle in front of our mouths. I was disgusted, so I turned my head and instinctively pulled back. The police officers all laughed. Lang said, “Put the spider in their crotch, or maybe on their chest, or maybe in their mouth.” I was filled with anger, hatred, and fear. What would I do if they really put it in my pants? At that moment, I suddenly realized that everything is in God’s hands, including the spider. Without God’s permission, the spider couldn’t do anything to me. I would lay it all on the line, and no matter how the police humiliated and persecuted me that day, I would not yield to Satan. Yang kept trying to pull the spider out of the bottle, but he couldn’t get it out. When he finally did, before he could bring it toward us, it fell to the ground. After a while, Lang told him to stop. I knew this was God’s protection for us. I saw that everything is in God’s hands. It’s just as God said, “Any and all things, whether living or dead, will shift, change, renew, and disappear in accordance with God’s thoughts. Such is the way in which God presides over all things” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God Is the Source of Man’s Life). Then, the police came to strip our clothes off again, until I was stripped to just my long underwear. Lang gritted his teeth and said, “Take it off! Take it off for me!” I struggled as hard as I could. The thought of being naked and being watched, ridiculed, and insulted by them made me feel ashamed. The more I thought about it, the more uncomfortable it made me. At that moment, I suddenly realized thinking like this made me vulnerable to Satan’s tricks. The police stripping our clothes off only proved how evil they were. To force people to betray God, they were ready to do anything sinister and evil. I was being humiliated and persecuted for believing in God. This was a glorious thing, and there was nothing to be ashamed of. The image of the Lord Jesus being crucified for the redemption of humankind came into my mind. God is supreme and holy, yet He silently endured these humiliations to redeem humankind. God has paid so much for humankind, and I was inspired, so I prayed to God, “God, no matter how deeply they humiliate me or what pain I endure today, I will never betray You.” I looked at the police officer angrily. He looked guilty, and let us put on our clothes and leave. I thanked God from the bottom of my heart for leading us in overcoming another of Satan’s temptations. That day, Lang threatened me, saying, “Now you are the only one who hasn’t signed the letter. Everyone else knows what’s best for them, but not you. If you don’t sign, then you will be the one to bear the blame for everyone!” I ignored him. He said in frustration, “Fine, on behalf of The Church of Almighty God, you win! You win! Congratulations!” He glanced at me, stood up, and walked out the door in despair. Seeing Satan’s humiliation and failure, I was very grateful to God, I knew it was God’s words and the strength God granted me that gave me the faith to get to where I am now, and I glorified God in my heart!
One day, Lang talked to me for the whole morning, and in the afternoon, all the people at the brainwashing center in charge of reforming me took turns persuading me to sign the “Three Letters.” They said, “If you sign now, you still have a chance to leave, but you won’t get another chance like this after today. You will be sentenced to eight to ten years in prison. How old will you be when you get out?” I listened to their words of temptation, but I didn’t care. I just felt they were foolish and ignorant, and that they were wasting their words. I thought of how, during my brainwashing and torture, God had always been silently by my side, leading me along, so what did I have to worry about? As for how many years I would be sentenced to and how much I would suffer, all these things were permitted by God. Even if I had to endure hardship and long-term suffering in the days to come, I was willing to obey God’s orchestrations and arrangements, as well as to stand firm in testimony for God. Around dusk, my father suddenly came. He negotiated with Lang for a long time, and finally paid a bail of 5,000 yuan, after which they released me. Later, I found out that a friend of my father had been transferred to work there during my brainwashing training, so my father had had the chance to pay some money to get me out. I knew that this was one of God’s miraculous arrangements. Otherwise, how could the police so easily release someone who wouldn’t sign the “Three Letters”?
After undergoing this persecution and tribulation, I truly saw the wisdom of God’s work. God used the persecution of the great red dragon to help me understand the truth and gain discernment, as well as to perfect my faith. Although I was in a dangerous situation and faced the threats, intimidation, forced brainwashing, and daily torture by the police, God was by my side, enlightening and leading me with His words, allowing me to overcome Satan’s temptations and stand firm in testimony for God. I also thoroughly saw the evil and ugly face of the Communist Party and its demonic essence of resisting and hating God, and I was able to hate and forsake it from the bottom of my heart. At the same time, I also truly experienced the authority and power of God’s words, and I saw that everything is in God’s hands, that God rules over everything, and no matter how savage Satan may be, it is only a tool in God’s service. No matter how many dangers and tribulations I face in the future, I will follow God to the end!