73. Maintaining My Duty in the Face of Adversity
By Zhongxin, China
In July 2002, several high-level church leaders in the three northeastern provinces were arrested. Then, the Communist Party began a frantic campaign to arrest more brothers and sisters. In my church, many were arrested, one after another. Because the arrests were too intense at the time, I had no choice but to leave home and go to a church in another place to perform my duty. One day, not long after I went there, a sister hurriedly came to me and said, “Several sisters in our church who were spreading the gospel were arrested by the police last night. It was the landlord who reported it. The landlord also gave the police your description and said you often go to that house, so you must be the one in charge. You need to be careful when you go out from now on!” When I heard the news, I was stunned. I thought, “All of those sisters were arrested, and the police will certainly torture them in ways I can’t even imagine. The police already know my description. This is a rural area, there aren’t many people here, and I’m an outsider. If the police investigate, they will easily find me. When I go to several group gatherings, I have to pass through the gate of the police station. If I continue going to gatherings and performing my duty, I will probably be arrested. The sisters who are arrested know me, so what if they break under the torture and give me up? What should I do? If the police learn that I’m the church leader, they will definitely torture me if they catch me!” The more I thought about it, the more frightened I felt. It felt impossible to stay where I was, so I thought I should speak to my superior and ask to be arranged to perform my duty elsewhere. But then I thought, “There are still some newcomers in this church who have just accepted God’s work and urgently need watering. If I just leave like this, they won’t be able to live the church life. What if they withdraw from the church? But if I stay, it’s too dangerous to perform my duty here.” Those days, I had no appetite, I couldn’t sleep well, and I didn’t dare to take off my clothes at night out of fear that the police would suddenly break into the house and arrest me. Although I outwardly performed my duty, I felt no real sense of burden. When my brothers and sisters had problems, I didn’t even think about looking for the relevant parts of God’s word to solve them, and I avoided group gatherings when I could. I knew this wasn’t in line with God’s will, but I felt very timid, and didn’t dare to perform my duty in that place. So, I prayed to God, asking Him to enlighten and guide me in resolving my state.
Later, I read some of God’s words, “What I desire is your loyalty and obedience now, your love and testimony now. Even if you do not know at this moment what testimony is or what love is, you should bring to Me your all, and turn over to Me the only treasures you have: your loyalty and obedience. You should know that the testimony to My defeat of Satan lies within the loyalty and obedience of man, as does the testimony to My complete conquest of man. The duty of your faith in Me is to bear witness to Me, to be loyal to Me and none other, and to be obedient to the end. Before I begin the next step of My work, how will you bear witness to Me? How will you be loyal and obedient to Me? Do you devote all your loyalty to your function, or will you simply give up?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. What Do You Know of Faith?). “Each of you believes yourself to be so compatible with Me, but if that were the case, then to whom would such irrefutable evidence apply? You believe yourselves to possess the utmost sincerity and loyalty toward Me. You think that you are so kindhearted, so compassionate, and have devoted so much to Me. You think that you have done more than enough for Me. But have you ever held this up against your actions? … When you perform your duty, you are thinking of your own interests, of your own personal safety, of the members of your family. What have you ever done that was for Me? When have you ever thought of Me? When have you ever devoted yourself, at any cost, to Me and My work? Where is the evidence of your compatibility with Me? Where is the reality of your loyalty to Me? Where is the reality of your obedience to Me?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. You Should Seek the Way of Compatibility With Christ). Facing with God’s questions, I felt ashamed. It felt that God was asking me face-to-face: Can you be faithful to God at this critical time? Can you satisfy God this time, without considering your own fleshly interests? Can you safeguard the interests of the church? I remembered I had previously sworn an oath in God’s presence that no matter what kind of dangers and tribulations I faced, I would be loyal in my duty, not consider my own life or death, and never betray God at any time. But now the actual situation had come, many brothers and sisters in the church had been arrested, and the newcomers who had just accepted God’s work did not understand much of the truth. If they didn’t receive watering in time, they were likely to be deceived by the Communist Party’s rumors, or they might be afraid of being arrested, withdraw, and lose their chance at salvation. At this critical moment, I was not at all considerate of God’s will, and I wasn’t thinking about the lives of my brothers and sisters and whether they could live the church life. I only thought about my own safety. Because I feared being arrested and imprisoned, I even wanted to flee this dangerous place as soon as I could. In the face of adversity, I realized I had no loyalty to God at all, and that I was selfish and despicable. I felt I had no conscience, so I prayed to God, “God, I don’t consider the work of the church at the critical moment. I only think about whether I will be arrested. I am too selfish. I wish to turn to You and rely on You to perform my duty.”
Later, I came to God to seek and contemplate how I could no longer be timid and perform my duty in dangerous environments. I thought of God’s word, “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? Whatever I say is done, and who among human beings can change My mind? Could it be the covenant I made on the earth? Nothing can hinder My plan from going forward; I am ever present in My work as well as in the plan of My management. Who among human beings can put his hand in to meddle? Is it not I who have personally made these arrangements?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God’s Words to the Entire Universe, Chapter 1). Indeed, God is almighty, God is sovereign over all things, and everything is in God’s hands. Weren’t the police also in God’s hands? No matter how adverse the surrounding environment, no matter how frantic the Communist Party became, the police couldn’t capture me without God’s permission. If I was meant to experience such an environment, even if I escaped to another place, I would eventually be arrested. I had always been timid and afraid that I would be arrested and tortured. This was because I didn’t know God’s almighty sovereignty and had too little faith in God, and so I was always controlled by the forces of darkness, and I always wanted to escape such environments. God knew my stature and what environments were most beneficial and edifying for my growth in life. I needed to calm myself and rely on God to water the newcomers, handle the aftermath of the arrests, and fulfill my responsibilities and duties. Even if I was arrested, this would happen with God’s permission, and there would be lessons for me to learn. This adverse environment was the best to perfect my faith and will to suffer. I had to stay, perform my duty well, and get through the difficulties together with the brothers and sisters here. Thinking of this, my heart was no longer governed by the power of darkness, I no longer wanted to escape this environment, and I felt very relieved. After that, I disguised myself and continued to water my brothers and sisters.
During the gathering, I saw that the newcomers lived in cowardice and fear of arrest by the great red dragon, so I ate and drank the sections of God’s word with them about God’s authority and sovereignty over all things, and also fellowshiped about the significance of God’s use of the great red dragon as a foil. This gave the newcomers an understanding of God’s work, and they became ever more confident. There was a sister who didn’t dare fulfill her duty because she was persecuted and constrained by her family. I read God’s words with her, as well as fellowshiped about my experience and knowledge, and how to be faithful in one’s duties. She understood God’s will, no longer felt constrained by her family, and began to fulfill her duty. During that time, I kept hearing news of brothers and sisters around me being arrested, but I didn’t feel so afraid anymore, and I was able to calm myself and perform my duty normally. Through eating and drinking God’s word, the brothers and sisters came to understand the truth and gained confidence in God. Little by little, church life returned to normal. Through this, I saw God’s almighty sovereignty, and I became more confident in performing my duty, for which I was especially grateful to God. After going through that period of time, I felt I had gained stature and faith in God, but when the facts revealed me, I realized I still had too little faith.
It was 2003. One day, a sister hurriedly came to me and said, “The leaders of several churches were all arrested by the police at the co-worker meeting. One of them, Xiaohe, couldn’t stand the torture and turned Judas. Right now, she is taking the police to identify the brothers and sisters’ homes. Xiaohe is very familiar with the conditions at these churches, so we need to notify the deacons of these churches to begin dealing with the aftermath as soon as possible.” When I heard the news, I was kind of at a loss and very nervous. The leaders of several churches were arrested, and Xiaohe had turned Judas. Now, the environment was even more dangerous. Xiaohe knew where I was living and where I often went for gatherings, would she bring the police to identify me? The landlord had already provided the police with my physical description last time. If they caught me this time, the police were certain to torture me! They were utterly ruthless and vicious with believers in God. They could kill us without consequence. If I ended up in their hands, I knew they would brutally torture me. I heard that after one leader was arrested, she was electrocuted, made to sit in a tiger chair, and tortured in many other ways. The police even injured her eyes with the soles of her shoes and made her eat feces from the toilet. Her interrogation continued for more than 70 days. The more I thought about it, the more afraid I felt, so I wanted to arrange for other brothers and sisters to inform other churches. But then I thought, “Only I can directly locate the deacons of these churches. If I don’t notify them in time, more brothers and sisters will be arrested, and that means they will all be tortured. If that happened, I would commit a transgression before God. It would be an evil deed, and I would have an uneasy conscience for the rest of my life!” So, I raced to disguise myself and rode a bicycle to the nearby church.
On the road, even after a long while, I wasn’t able to calm myself. Suddenly, I remembered that Xiaohe knew of a home where books were stored. The books had to be moved immediately. But now, Xiaohe was taking the police to identify the brothers and sisters. If I went to transfer the books and the police caught me, the police were certain not to go easy on me. During interrogation, they would definitely use torture, and I might even die. I felt that it was too dangerous to move the books, and I wanted other brothers and sisters to go. But then, I recalled God’s word, “Today, what you are required to achieve are not additional demands, but the duty of man, and that which should be done by all people. If you are incapable of even doing your duty, or of doing it well, then are you not bringing trouble upon yourselves? Are you not courting death? How could you still expect to have a future and prospects? The work of God is done for the sake of mankind, and the cooperation of man is given for the sake of God’s management. After God has done all that He is supposed to do, man is required to be unstinting in his practice, and to cooperate with God. In the work of God, man should spare no effort, should offer up his loyalty, and should not indulge in numerous notions, or sit passively and await death. God can sacrifice Himself for man, so why can man not offer his loyalty to God? God is of one heart and mind toward man, so why can man not offer a little cooperation? God works for mankind, so why can man not perform some of his duty for the sake of God’s management? God’s work has come this far, yet still you see but do not act, you hear but do not move. Are not such people the objects of perdition? God has already devoted His all to man, so why, today, is man incapable of earnestly performing his duty? For God, His work is His first priority, and the work of His management is of the utmost importance. For man, putting God’s words into practice and fulfilling God’s requirements are his first priority. This you should all understand” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God’s Work and Man’s Practice). As I contemplated God’s words, I felt very guilty. Although the current environment was dangerous, the work of the church was more important, as was protecting the books and my brothers and sisters. As a church leader, I had to be considerate of God’s burden and fulfill my responsibilities and duty. In particular, these books of God’s word were brought here by brothers and sisters at the risk of their lives, for the others to eat, drink, and enjoy. God’s word is the lifeblood of His chosen people. No matter how great the risk, I must protect the books of God’s word. Only those who can do this can be considered loyal to God. But I was too selfish and despicable. At the critical moment, I only considered my own interests and gains, and I didn’t think about the work of the church at all. How could I be said to be loyal to God? I thought of the disciples and apostles of the Lord Jesus. To spread the Lord’s gospel, they were persecuted by the rulers and authorities. Some were stoned to death, some were burned to death, and some were pulled apart by horses. To fulfill God’s commission, they sacrificed their lives, creating beautiful testimony for God in the process. Their deeds earned God’s approval, and their lives were valuable and meaningful. I had heard so many of the words expressed by God, and I had received so much supply of truth, yet I still wasn’t considerate of God’s will. When faced with a bad environment, I craved life, feared death, and couldn’t safeguard the interests of the church. I was truly lacking in conscience and humanity!
After notifying the brothers and sisters and returning home, I read another passage of God’s words, “In the nation of the great red dragon, I have carried out a stage of work unfathomable to human beings, causing them to sway in the wind, after which many quietly drift away with the blowing of the wind. Truly, this is the ‘threshing floor’ I am about to clear; it is what I yearn for and it is also My plan. For many wicked ones have crept in while I am at work, but I am in no hurry to drive them away. Rather, I shall disperse them when the time is right. Only after that shall I be the fountain of life, allowing those who truly love Me to receive from Me the fruit of the fig tree and the fragrance of the lily” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Seven Thunders Peal—Prophesying That the Gospel of the Kingdom Shall Spread Throughout the Universe). From God’s words, I understood that there is God’s wisdom in the fact that He works in the country of the great red dragon in the last days. The CCP’s frantic arrests and persecution reveal and test every believer in God. Some people don’t dare to believe due to cowardice, some fear being arrested and can’t perform their duties, while some people can’t stand the torture after being arrested, betray God, and become Judas. These people are all revealed as tares and chaff by God’s work, and must be cast out by God. However, some brothers and sisters, no matter how bad the environment, still persevere in performing their duties and safeguarding the work of the church. Even if they are arrested and tortured, they would rather die than become Judas. They rely on God’s word and stand witness, and their faith and love are perfected. These are the people who genuinely believe in God and are loyal to God. The service of the great red dragon reveals the true and false believers, as well as the tares and wheat in the church, and divides people according to their kind. Now, the leaders of several churches had been arrested, and someone had become Judas, which outwardly didn’t seem to be a good thing. However, through this environment, the evil people who infiltrated the church were exposed, which helped us gain discernment, and God also inspected whether we had faith and loyalty to Him. I could no longer be selfish and despicable, nor could I live for myself. No matter how dangerous the environment might be or whether I would be arrested, I had to rely on God and find a way to quickly transfer these books of God’s word to a safe place.
Afterward, I discussed with the sister hosting me how to transfer the books. Because Xiaohe knew most of the brothers’ and sisters’ houses, we couldn’t find a suitable place to keep the books for the time being. We prayed to God about this practical difficulty and asked Him to open up a way for us. After that, the sister remembered she had a relative who was kind and reliable, and we could temporarily store the books in her home. At that time, I was very grateful to God, but when I thought about the fact that I still had to move the books, I was still a little apprehensive. “This isn’t one or two books, this is several boxes of them. If I get caught, I will be sentenced to at least 8–10 years. What if I am tortured and killed?” The more I thought about it, the more frightened I became, so I silently prayed to God. Later, I read in God’s word, “You should not be afraid of this and that; no matter how many difficulties and dangers you might face, you are capable of remaining steady before Me, unobstructed by any hindrance, so that My will may be carried out unimpeded. This is your duty…. You must endure all; for Me, you must be ready to relinquish everything you possess and do everything you can to follow Me, and be ready to expend your all. Now is the time that I shall test you: Will you offer your loyalty to Me? Can you loyally follow Me to the end of the road? Be not afraid; with My support, who could ever block this road?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 10). God’s words gave me confidence and strength. With God as my support, what did I have to fear? My life was in God’s hands, and Satan couldn’t do anything to me without God’s permission. Even if I really was arrested and beaten to death, it would be meaningful to be able to stand witness for God. Even though those who become Judases may temporarily save their own lives, they seriously offend God’s disposition and their bodies, spirits, and souls ultimately suffer eternal punishment as they betray the brothers and sisters and even serve Satan by leading the police to arrest them. As the Lord Jesus said, “For whoever will save his life shall lose it: and whoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25). Becoming a martyr to fulfill one’s duty is a meaningful thing, something commemorated by God. Even if the body dies, the soul does not die. If I feared death and dragged out an ignoble existence, I would live as a walking corpse, which is a shameful thing. I thought of Peter. After Peter was arrested, he escaped from Jerusalem and the Lord Jesus appeared to him. When the Lord said He would be crucified again for him, Peter understood that God’s intention was for him to testify for the Lord, so he returned to the prison without hesitation. He knew that if he went back, he would sacrifice his life, but he did not consider the flesh, and was willing to be crucified upside down for God, creating beautiful and resounding testimony. With this in mind, I felt very inspired and had faith in my heart. My breath was given to me by God. My life was also given to me by God. Even if it put my life at risk, I had to move the books of God’s word. And even if I was really arrested and was beaten to death, I would not yield to Satan, nor would I become a Judas who drags out an ignoble existence.
After that, my sister and I packed the books together and delivered them to her relative on our bicycles. On the way, a police car came up alongside us and drove along very slowly as the police eyed us up. At that time, my heart was in my throat and my legs felt weak. I thought, “Did the police notice us carrying books of God’s word? Are they here to arrest us?” I kept crying out to God in my heart, and I suddenly thought of God’s word, “When people are ready to sacrifice their lives, everything becomes trifling, and no one can get the better of them. What could be more important than life?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Interpretations of the Mysteries of “God’s Words to the Entire Universe”, Chapter 36). Truly, if we put our life on the line, we will not feel constrained. Even if we are arrested or beaten to death by the police, becoming a martyr for God is something commemorated by God. With God’s words to guide and lead me, I calmed down a little bit. Whether or not I was arrested, I was willing to submit to God’s sovereignty. At this moment, the police car drove away slowly, and I couldn’t stop thanking God in my heart. After that, my sister and I successfully moved away all the books of God’s word. Once we were finished, I felt a great sense of peace and release.
Because I believe in God and perform my duty in the country of the great red dragon, I face the danger of being arrested at any moment. In the face of adversity, it was obvious that I had too little stature and too little devotion to God. It was God’s words that repeatedly led me through difficult times. Thanks to God’s almighty sovereignty and wondrous deeds, I had more faith in God. Thanks be to Almighty God!