86. Faced With the Danger of Arrest
By Wang Fan, China
One day in March 2020, I received a letter from a leader saying that the leaders responsible for our work and six other primary co-workers had been arrested, because they were sold out by a Judas surnamed Sun. She asked me to immediately notify all the other brothers and sisters Sun knew, and tell them to take precautions. My heart sank when I read this. I was thinking that Sun had been in contact with me, too, and I didn’t know if he’d sold me out or not. There were security cameras in every intersection—the people arrested often attended gatherings at our church, and I had frequent contact with them. If the police retrieved security footage, they’d definitely find me, so continuing to go out and do my duty would put me in danger of arrest at any moment. The Communist Party brutally tortures the believers they arrest, and they can beat them to death with impunity. I already wasn’t in robust health, plus I had a heart problem. I wasn’t sure I could withstand their torture if I really were arrested. If the police knew I was a church leader, they’d be even harsher in their interrogation and torture. Would they beat me to death? The more I thought about it, the more scared I got. I even thought about giving up my position as a leader. But Sun knew many brothers and sisters, the consequences would be unthinkable if I didn’t let everyone know right away to be on their guard. Knowing it couldn’t be delayed, I rushed to get started on that work. All I could do was steel myself and get busy, but I was filled with trepidation. In gatherings with brothers and sisters, any sound of a doorbell made me nervous, deeply afraid the police were about to burst in and arrest all of us. I just couldn’t quiet my mind. I saw my brothers and sisters were negative and weak, and afraid to attend gatherings or do their duty. I knew that as a leader, I had to fellowship on the truth to help and support them, but I felt like every extra minute in a gathering increased the danger of being arrested, so I just shared some simple, succinct fellowship, then rushed to wrap it up. Sometimes there was some church work that needed to be done urgently, but afraid that always showing my face would be too dangerous, I wanted to shrink back, and I handed off work to the sister I was partnered with. I was always on tenterhooks, just doing the bare minimum in my duty, and I was feeling more and more darkness in my soul.
Realizing I wasn’t in a good state, I came before God in prayer, asking Him to guide me to understand His will and know myself. I thought of some of God’s words after praying: “At present, there are some who carry no burdens for the church. These people are slack and sloppy, and only care about their own flesh. Such people are extremely selfish, and they are also blind. If you cannot see this matter clearly, you will not carry any burden. The more mindful you are of God’s will, the greater the burden He will entrust to you. The selfish are unwilling to suffer such things; they are unwilling to pay the price, and, as a result, they will miss opportunities to be perfected by God. Are they not doing themselves harm?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Be Mindful of God’s Will in Order to Attain Perfection). Pondering this was really poignant for me. Wasn’t I precisely the type of selfish person that God was exposing? Leaders and workers had been arrested and there was so much that needed to be done in the aftermath. As a church leader, at that critical time I wasn’t thinking about how to uphold the church’s work and protect brothers and sisters, or thinking about how to guide brothers and sisters to understand the truth and get through this situation, full of faith. Instead, I was just thinking about my own personal safety, living in cowardice and fear. I didn’t even want to do my duty anymore, and though I was doing it, I was just doing the bare minimum and not taking responsibility. I was even fobbing off my duty on my partner to protect myself while I stayed in hiding to ensure my own safety. How was that any different from a soldier deserting on the battlefield? How was that being devoted to God? Wasn’t that a betrayal of God? I felt guiltier the more I thought about it. Later on, I read this in God’s words: “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? 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). Through God’s words, I understood that it was with God’s permission that plenty of brothers and sisters were arrested. God uses these sorts of environments to expose and test people, to show who have genuine faith and who don’t. Those who are able to continue reading God’s words and devoutly doing their duty through danger and hardship, who can stand firm in their witness before the great red dragon after being arrested, are those with true faith in God. They are the ones who gain God’s approval. But those who are timid and fearful, protecting themselves and afraid to do their duty, or who even betray God, are like deserting soldiers. They are the tares exposed by God’s work, the nonbelievers, and will ultimately be cast out. In the face of adversity, I was only thinking of my own safety and even considered giving up my duty and betraying God. Wasn’t God exposing me that way? Before, when I hadn’t actually faced danger, I felt like I was very solid in my faith and really pursued the truth. I was very engaged in my duty every day. It was only through what the facts revealed that I saw how lacking in devotion I was for God, that my faith was pathetically trivial. I thought about Peter, who truly pursued love for God and was able to be crucified upside down for God—he sacrificed his own life. But I became terrified when I was just faced with the danger of arrest. I didn’t have any testimony at all. That must be so hurtful and disgusting for God! So many brothers and sisters were being arrested and there was so much work in the church that needed to be done. God was seeing what sort of attitude I had in such a dangerous environment, if I was actively protecting the church’s work, or if I was constantly living in fear, giving in to the great red dragon and not doing my duty anymore. I knew I couldn’t keep disappointing God, but I had to have faith in Him, and lean on Him to do the duty I needed to do. Whether I would be arrested or not was entirely in God’s hands. Realizing this alleviated some of my fear. After that, I went out every day to help with the work after the arrests, and to have fellowship with brothers and sisters. I was concerned I might be arrested, but through prayer I didn’t feel as constrained anymore. All the brothers and sisters who were in danger ended up in safe places and our church projects weren’t impacted—they could proceed as usual.
About 20 days later, I went to the house of my partner, Sister Lin Zhengxin, like always to discuss our work. The moment her daughter-in-law saw me, she said nervously, “My mother-in-law was taken off by the cops last night.” I was so scared when I heard this that my heart started pounding like crazy, and I went limp all over. I don’t even remember how I left Zhengxin’s place. On my way back, I thought about a sister a few years before who, without knowing what had happened, went to the home of another sister who had been arrested. She ended up arrested by police who were there lying in wait. I had no idea if there were police staking out the area around Zhengxin’s house—what if they were following me? I got more scared the more I thought about it, and I was calling out to God nonstop, asking for His protection. Since I was potentially in danger and I wasn’t the right person to deal with post-arrest issues, I wrote a letter to a co-worker who wasn’t under threat to tell him about Zhengxin’s arrest and hand off some important matters to him. After taking care of all that, I didn’t feel safe to return home, so I went to an unbeliever relative’s home to stay.
I was really unsettled for several days. I was thinking, “Zhengxin and I were working together every day and just yesterday was totally alright. Now she’s been arrested. Could I be the next one?” This thought filled me with terror, and I was afraid the police could burst in and arrest me. Then unexpectedly, the gospel deacon and a few other sisters were arrested a few days later. Upon hearing this news, I hardly dared believe that a church leader and a deacon had been arrested within one short week. I’d been meeting with them practically every day before their arrests. If the police got surveillance footage, they would certainly get a good look at my physical attributes, and if any of the brothers or sisters couldn’t take the torture and named me as a church leader, would the great red dragon let me get away? I felt like continuing to go out and do my duty was too dangerous. If I really were arrested, it would just be a matter of days before I was tortured to death. And if I didn’t die, they’d just pulverize me. I was thinking about giving up my position as a leader. But then it occurred to me that it was precisely the time the church needed people to support its work, so if I gave up on my duty, wouldn’t I become a coward? I felt like I was between a rock and a hard place, and really didn’t know what to do. Since I’d been living in a state of fear, though I noticed some of the church’s work hadn’t been taken care of very well, and brothers and sisters hadn’t been able to receive God’s new words in a timely manner, I hadn’t taken on a burden for that. I just stayed in my room, not even daring to turn on the lights at night. Feeling really weak, I prayed, “God, I’ve seen how dangerous being a leader is and I’ve wanted to retreat. I know that’s not Your will. Please give me faith and strength so that I can stand up and protect the work of the church at this critical time.”
I read this passage of God’s words later: “Regardless of how ‘powerful’ Satan is, regardless of how audacious and ambitious it is, regardless of how great is its ability to inflict damage, regardless of how wide-ranging are the techniques with which it corrupts and lures man, regardless of how clever are the tricks and schemes with which it intimidates man, regardless of how changeable is the form in which it exists, it has never been able to create a single living thing, has never been able to set down laws or rules for the existence of all things, and has never been able to rule and control any object, whether animate or inanimate. Within the cosmos and the firmament, there is not a single person or object that was born from it, or exists because of it; there is not a single person or object that is ruled by it, or controlled by it. On the contrary, it not only has to live under the dominion of God, but, moreover, must obey all of God’s orders and commands. Without God’s permission, it is difficult for Satan to touch even a drop of water or grain of sand upon the land; without God’s permission, Satan is not even free to move the ants about upon the land, let alone mankind, who was created by God. In the eyes of God, Satan is inferior to the lilies on the mountain, to the birds flying in the air, to the fish in the sea, and to the maggots on the earth. Its role among all things is to serve all things, and work for mankind, and serve God’s work and His plan of management. Regardless of how malicious its nature, and how evil its essence, the only thing it can do is to dutifully abide by its function: being of service to God, and providing a counterpoint to God. Such is the substance and position of Satan. Its essence is unconnected to life, unconnected to power, unconnected to authority; it is merely a plaything in God’s hands, just a machine in service to God!” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique I). It’s true. All things are in His hands, even the great red dragon. No matter how savage it may be, it can never surpass God’s authority. Whether I’d be arrested or not was entirely under God’s rule and arrangements. Without God’s permission the police could never lay their hands on me, even if I went out to do my duty every single day. Some brothers and sisters were always hiding at home, just going out to do their duty every once in a while, but were still arrested by the great red dragon. Some brothers and sisters constantly put themselves in danger to do their duty, and it looked to us like they were in danger of arrest at any moment, but God didn’t allow that, so they were perfectly safe and sound. Thinking about it this way gave me faith, and I didn’t feel so afraid.
After that I read another passage of God’s words: “In mainland China, the great red dragon continues its brutal suppression, arrests, and persecution of believers in God, who often face certain dangerous circumstances. For example, the government conducts searches under various guises for people of faith. When they find an area in which an antichrist lives, what is the first thing the antichrist thinks of? They do not think of properly arranging the work of the church; rather, they think about how to escape this dangerous predicament. … In the depths of an antichrist’s heart, their personal safety is of utmost importance and the central issue which they are constantly reminding themselves to consider. They think to themselves, ‘I absolutely must not let anything happen to me. I can’t get arrested, no matter who else does. I need to keep on living. I’m still waiting for the glory I’ll gain with God when His work is done. If I get caught, I’ll be a Judas—and if I’m a Judas, I’m done for; I won’t have an outcome and will be punished as I deserve.’ … Can an antichrist do work? Given that their thoughts and arrangements for their own safety are so detailed and apt, they can do specific tasks. Deep down, they know how to do them, but because their heart is not in the right place, and they seek nothing but profit, and they are sick of the truth, even though they know what they are doing is contrary to the truth and is selfish and despicable, they still cling to their course and are bent on arbitrary, rash action. Everything they do is for the sake of their own personal safety. Once an antichrist has gotten themselves safely settled and feels that nothing bad is going to happen to them, that they are not threatened, only then will they do some superficial work. An antichrist arranges things very carefully, but it depends on who they are working for. If the work is beneficial to themselves, then they will think it through very thoroughly, but when it comes to the work of the church or anything to do with the antichrist’s duty, they will show their selfishness and vileness, their irresponsibility, and they have not a jot of conscience or reason. It is due to such behavior that they are characterized as an antichrist” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Two)). God exposes antichrists as having a particularly selfish nature. The moment something encroaches on their personal safety, all they think about is their own interests. They never think about the work of the church, much less do they have any devotion for God. I realized, wasn’t I behaving exactly the same as an antichrist would? When there wasn’t any danger, when nothing impacted my personal safety, I could serve as a leader and I could expend myself and pay a price. But when I saw the brothers and sisters around me being arrested, one after another, I felt like being a leader was really dangerous. It seemed to impact my own life, so I pulled back out of fear, only thinking of how to keep myself away from any risks. When I saw brothers and sisters in a bad state, I wasn’t in a hurry to resolve that. I was too afraid to deal with urgent post-arrest affairs, but just kept making excuses to shirk my responsibilities. I just wanted to save my own neck and I only thought of myself—I wasn’t remotely thinking of the interests of the church. I didn’t have any humanity. I was so selfish and despicable! I was a church leader, but when the great red dragon was madly arresting God’s chosen people and wreaking havoc on the work of the church, I washed my hands of it and betrayed God. I wasn’t fully throwing myself into upholding the work of the church, helping and supporting brothers and sisters. That was so hurtful for God! I thought back on my years of faith. I’d just enjoyed the watering and sustenance of God’s words, all for nothing, without repaying God’s love. Then when God tested me, I was just concerned with the flesh, afraid of being arrested and beaten to death, and afraid to do my duty. I’d become a laughingstock for Satan and I wasn’t worthy of living before God. Then I thought of something 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). I thought back over all those saints through the ages. So many people were martyred in their efforts to spread God’s gospel—Jacob was beheaded, Stephen was stoned to death, and Peter was crucified upside down for God. They all stood firm in their witness and ultimately gained God’s approval. They did die in the flesh, but their souls remained in God’s hands. As for those people who became afraid in the face of danger, giving up on their duties and living a shameful existence did preserve their lives, but they surrendered to Satan and betrayed God. They became the captives of Satan and were rejected by God. Even if they kept on living, they were like walking corpses.
I also remembered these words from God: “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? Thus, Satan becomes incapable of doing any more in people, there is nothing it can do with man. Although, in the definition of the ‘flesh’ it is said that the flesh is corrupted by Satan, if people truly give themselves over, and are not driven by Satan, then no one can get the better of them” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Interpretations of the Mysteries of “God’s Words to the Entire Universe”, Chapter 36). Thinking this passage over, I saw that I valued my life over anything else, and Satan was exploiting my weakness of fearing death and treasuring life to get me to live in fear and not do my duty, to betray God. Our life and death are entirely in God’s hands, and Satan doesn’t have final say. I had to put my life in God’s hands and be at God’s mercy. Even if I were tortured to death by the Communist Party, I had to stand witness and bring shame to Satan. This thought was really freeing for me—I felt ready to put away thoughts of life or death, but to do my duty and uphold the work of the church. Brothers and sisters were getting arrested one after another during that time. Things were critical. I contacted co-workers and asked them to tell brothers and sisters who might be in danger that they should take precautions. I also arranged for the right people to get God’s new words into brothers’ and sisters’ hands. After that, I went to visit church members who were feeling afraid and constrained in their duties, to help and support them with fellowship on God’s words. After some time, most of them were able to go back to gathering and performing their duties normally. I felt totally at peace, and so grateful to God.
Now, whenever I think back on that period of time, I feel some guilt, but mostly what I feel is gratitude toward God. Without facing that danger, I never would have truly understood my own stature, and I really wouldn’t have seen how selfish, vile, and greedy for life I was. Even though I was so deeply corrupted by Satan and I was only thinking of myself, without any devotion or caring for God, He still didn’t treat me based on my rebellion or corruption. Instead, He had mercy on me, enlightening and guiding me with His words. This gave me a little understanding of God and of myself, and even more, gave me faith to get through that kind of hardship. This is the sort of thing that can’t be gained through comfortable situations. I’m so grateful to God!