98. Behind the Scenes of a Family’s Persecution
By Chen Li, China
My mom and sister shared Almighty God’s gospel of the last days with me in October 2009. After accepting it, I read God’s words every day, and attended gatherings and fellowshiped with the brothers and sisters. I gradually came to understand some truths from God’s words; I learned about the root of darkness and evil in the world, what we should pursue in our lives, and how to live a life with meaning. Finding the right path in life made me so happy, relaxed, and carefree. My husband and daughter noticed that after becoming a believer I was usually in a better mood, so they didn’t oppose my faith. Later on, my husband had to leave the area for work, so I was taking care of our children while also spreading the gospel.
One evening in the spring of 2013, my husband called me out of the blue and said in a really commanding tone, “From now on, just do what you should and stay at home—no more believing in God. They’re saying online and on the TV news that those Almighty God believers abandon their families. Don’t get to the point where you turn your back on our family. Also, having faith is against the law in China and you’ll be arrested if the authorities find out. How can regular people like us go up against the Communist Party? If the government says you can’t be religious, don’t do it. Don’t stir up trouble out of thin air!” Afraid my cellphone was possibly being monitored by the police, I didn’t let him keep talking. I was so upset after I hung up. How could he just blindly listen to the Communist Party’s lies? He knew that believing in God is a good thing and he supported my faith, so why would he try to stand in my way the moment he heard their lies? It’s obvious that following God is the right path in life—why doesn’t the Communist Party let people have faith? We don’t do anything illegal as believers, so why do they insist on arresting and persecuting us? I told a sister about my confusion in a gathering after that, and she shared a passage of God’s words with me. God said, “The great red dragon persecutes God and is the enemy of God, and so, in this land, those who believe in God are thus subjected to humiliation and oppression…. Because it is embarked upon in a land that opposes God, all of God’s work faces tremendous obstacles, and accomplishing many of His words takes time; thus, people are refined as a result of God’s words, which is also part of suffering. It is tremendously difficult for God to carry out His work in the land of the great red dragon—but it is through this difficulty that God does one stage of His work, making manifest His wisdom and His wondrous deeds, and using this opportunity to make this group of people complete. It is through people’s suffering, through their caliber, and through all the satanic dispositions of the people of this filthy land that God does His work of purification and conquest, so that, from this, He may gain glory, and so that He may gain those who will bear witness to His deeds. Such is the entire significance of all the sacrifices that God has made for this group of people” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Is the Work of God As Simple As Man Imagines?). After reading this, she fellowshiped with me, saying, “The Communist Party is atheistic; it’s an anti-God demon and it absolutely cannot tolerate anyone having faith, worshiping God. It has been arresting and persecuting Christians ever since it’s come to power. Now that Almighty God has appeared and is working in the last days, expressing truths to save mankind, the Communist Party is afraid that people will read Almighty God’s words, understand the truth and gain discernment. Then they’ll truly see its evil face and no longer be taken in by it—people won’t follow it anymore. That’s why it’s wildly ramped up its opposition and condemnation of God, and its persecution of believers. It’s also been spreading all sorts of rumors and lies to mislead our unbeliever friends and family, and incite them to disturb and obstruct us from following God. The Communist Party wants to get everyone to deny and betray God so we lose God’s salvation and end up punished in hell along with it. If we’re reined in by our families and do not dare to follow God or do a duty, that means we’ve fallen for Satan’s tricks and lost our chance at salvation. God allows us to suffer the Communist Party’s suppression and arrests—He’s using it as a service-doer so that we can clearly see its demonic essence, gain discernment over it, and reject it. At the same time, through this God can perfect our faith and make us overcomers. God’s benevolent will is within this!” After listening to this sister’s fellowship, it became clear to me that God allows the Communist Party’s oppression and my family’s disturbances so that I can fully see that the Party is Satan, the devil—an enemy of God. This is wisdom within God’s work. The Communist Party spreads lies to misguide people so that they go along with it in opposing God and persecuting believers, disrupting and sabotaging the work of God. This is the Communist Party’s evil intention, and I knew I couldn’t fall for Satan’s tricks.
The sister read another passage of God’s words for me after that: “As believers in God, each of you should appreciate how you have truly gained the utmost exaltation and salvation by receiving the work of God in the last days and the work of His plan that He does in you today. God has made this group of people the sole focus of His work throughout all the universe. He has sacrificed all His heart’s blood for you; He has reclaimed and given to you all the work of the Spirit throughout the universe. That is why you are the fortunate ones. Moreover, He has shifted His glory from Israel, His chosen people, onto you, and He shall make the purpose of His plan fully manifest through this group. Therefore, you are the ones who will receive the inheritance of God, and even more than this, you are the heirs to God’s glory” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Is the Work of God As Simple As Man Imagines?). Reading this made me feel incredibly honored. In order to save us, who have been so deeply corrupted by Satan, God has become flesh and come to earth to work a second time, suffering the opposition, condemnation, and even blasphemy of the Communist Party and the religious world. He has endured tremendous indignities, expressing the truth and doing His work to save mankind, giving all His blood, sweat, and tears. This is God’s extraordinary love! God’s work is about to come to a close. This chance at salvation is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I can’t miss—no matter how oppressive the Communist Party is or how my husband may stand in my way, I knew I had to have faith and follow God. After that, my husband kept calling me over and over to try to keep me from believing in God, even yelling at me. It was kind of painful, but I knew that having faith is right and proper, so I was never held back by him and I kept on doing my duty.
Then in May 2014, when my husband saw I still hadn’t given up my faith, he came back to our town from where he’d been working. He said to me really fiercely, “I’ve told you over and over that you need to give up your faith, but you just won’t listen. Everyone online and on TV is saying that people abandon their families after becoming believers, but you’re still into that?” I thought to myself that the Communist Party accusing believers of abandoning their families is just victim blaming. It doesn’t allow people to have faith and take the right path, so it madly arrests and persecutes Christians, forcing so many brothers and sisters to flee their homes and wander from place to place. Clearly, brothers and sisters aren’t able to go home because of the Communist Party’s oppression, but they say we abandon our families after becoming believers. Isn’t that twisting the truth? So I said to my husband, “Everything people say online is false. Those are just Communist Party’s lies condemning, smearing The Church of Almighty God….” But he wouldn’t listen to me at all. He just said, “Anyway that’s what they’re saying on the internet, so if you keep believing in God and the government finds out, you’ll be arrested and sent to prison. The Communist Party is capable of anything. If they say you shouldn’t believe, stop believing. How can an egg crack a rock? I’m going to stay at home and keep an eye on you. If you keep on believing, we’re getting a divorce!” I was thinking: What if we got a divorce and our two kids didn’t have anyone to look after them? Would they end up on the wrong path? Losing their mother’s love at such a young age would hurt them beyond belief! The thought of how hurtful and unfair it would be for our kids was utterly heart-wrenching. I quickly came before God in prayer, “God! My husband wants to divorce me, and I’m so worried about my children. Please protect me and allow me to stand strong.” I thought of something God said after my prayer: “The fate of man is controlled by the hands of God. You are incapable of controlling yourself: Despite man always rushing and busying himself on his own behalf, he remains incapable of controlling himself. If you could know your own prospects, if you could control your own fate, would you still be a created being?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Restoring the Normal Life of Man and Taking Him to a Wonderful Destination). God’s words really brightened my heart and showed me that people’s fates are entirely in God’s hands. The most I could do was take slightly better care of my children in their lives; I couldn’t decide what sort of fate they’d have, or how much they might suffer. I needed to leave them in God’s hands and submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangements. This thought allowed me to take a sigh of relief—I wasn’t in so much agony anymore. I also realized that my husband being misled by the Communist Party’s lies, trying to keep me from following God and threatening me with divorce was all Satan’s trickery. I couldn’t fall for it. So I told him, “I’ll never give up my faith. Believing in God and reading God’s words is being a good person and taking the right path. Why do you always go along with the Party and stand in my way?” Then he suddenly pushed me down onto the bed and yelled, enraged, “Our government is anti-religious. If the Communist Party doesn’t want you to be a believer, don’t be a believer! Who can possibly defeat them?” Our daughter witnessed this whole scene and got so scared that she ran over and said, “Dad, what are you doing? Mom’s been so much happier since she started believing in God. Faith is a good thing! Don’t meddle with it!” Without remotely listening to her, my husband smacked her across the face. I was so angry! He hit our daughter just because she said something in my defense. I saw my husband was following the Communist Party and trying like a madman to keep me from my faith—he’d already lost all reason. I didn’t want to say anything more to him and I took our daughter back to her room. First thing the next day, we went to the Civil Affairs Bureau. Before we’d started our divorce procedures, my husband’s uncle showed up and under his advice, my husband decided not to go through with the divorce.
My husband kept being oppressive and standing in the way of my faith after that. He was constantly sarcastic and pulled a long face whenever he saw me coming back from a gathering. His attitude also got worse and worse. One night around 10 p.m. my husband came back home, pretty drunk, and pulled me up in bed like a maniac, saying forcefully, “Now that you believe in God, I don’t have any face at all out in the world. Everyone’s talking about your religion. What do our friends think of me now? If you keep on with this God stuff, you’ll be arrested and dealt with by the government. Eventually, none of our family members will be able to hold their heads up. You have to stop believing!” I tend to be a timid person, so I got scared when I saw how fierce he looked. He was in a fit of rage and he’d had so much to drink—I didn’t know what he might do. I kept calling on God to protect me and I managed to slowly calm down. Seeing I still wasn’t going to give up my faith, my husband got even angrier. He picked me up off the bed and threw me down onto the floor, then punched me in the face several times, giving me black eyes. I told him, “There’s nothing wrong with me having faith. Why are you hitting me? Why do you always take the Communist Party’s side and oppress me?” He didn’t take in anything I said, but just picked me up and carried me toward the window, acting like a total lunatic. I was praying to God in my heart over and over. He carried me over to the windowsill, grabbed me by the ankles, and let my head hang down, with my entire body dangling outside the window. Then he yelled, “Say it! Say you’ll give up your faith! If you don’t, I’ll throw you down from here right now!” We lived on the fifth floor, so if he threw me down, that would be the end of me. I was so afraid, and I kept praying to God, “God! Please protect me and give me faith. Even if I die today, I still won’t give in to Satan!” At that moment I suddenly thought of Job’s experience. Throughout his trials, God was keeping an eye on him, and Satan was also watching. Ultimately, Job stood firm in his testimony to God, and Satan was shamed and retreated. So in my heart I called out to Satan, “Satan, I don’t care what sort of evil tactics you use against me—I’ll never betray God. I’ll keep believing in God and following Him, even if it means my death!” Once I established this resolve it felt like my body got really light, and even though I was upside down, it didn’t feel like the blood was welling up in my head. It felt like there was some force holding my body up. I knew that my husband clearly wasn’t strong enough to hold me up. This was God’s protection, and I thanked God over and over in my heart. Just then, our kids saw what was happening from our other balcony—they ran over and started knocking on the door. They were crying and shouting, but my husband had it locked from the inside, so they couldn’t get in. Our daughter got onto the other balcony and shouted, “Dad, what do you think you’re doing?” She was crying really loudly, and kept screaming at him not to throw me down. Then it seemed like he suddenly came to, and he pulled me back up. I was so filled with gratitude toward God. If it hadn’t been for God’s protection, I definitely would have lost my life.
I couldn’t sleep at all that evening. I was thinking about the days when my husband and I worked hard together—we’d always gotten along so well, and when I first gained my faith, he didn’t stand in my way at all. But now he was believing the Communist Party’s lies and oppressing me, time after time. No matter how I explained things to him, he just wouldn’t listen, and was even threatening me with divorce to make me give up my faith. He even raised his hand against me, and had nearly thrown me out of a fifth-floor window. He seemed like an entirely different person. It was so heartbreaking, so upsetting. I didn’t understand how my husband could change like that. Just then, I thought of these words from God: “Believers and unbelievers are not compatible; rather, they are opposed to one another” and “Anyone who does not believe in God incarnate is demonic and, moreover, will be destroyed. … Who is Satan, who are demons, and who are God’s enemies if not resisters who do not believe in God?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together). I realized it wasn’t that my husband had changed as a person, but that his essence had been revealed. He knew well that faith in God is a good thing, but he still stood on the Communist Party’s side, opposing me. In essence, he hated and went against God. That’s why he was capable of being so vicious with me. He nearly killed me, and he totally lost all reason—that was a manifestation of a demon! I was living with a devil that was totally opposed to God; we were on different paths—so how could we be happy together? He was good to me at first, but that was just because I bore his children and took care of all the housekeeping. But now that my faith was impinging upon his own interests, his true face was showing. Realizing this helped me gain discernment over my husband’s actual essence, and I was able to let go of him a bit in my heart. Later on, I read this in God’s words: “When God works, cares for a person, and looks upon this person, and when He favors and approves this person, Satan trails closely behind, trying to dupe the person and bring them to harm. If God wishes to gain this person, Satan will do everything in its power to obstruct God, using various evil ploys to tempt, disrupt and impair the work of God, in order to achieve its hidden objective. What is this objective? It does not want God to gain anyone; it wants to snatch possession of those whom God wishes to gain, it wants to control them, to take charge of them so they worship it, so they join it in committing evil acts, and resist God. Is this not Satan’s sinister motive?” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique IV). I considered God’s words, and realized that Satan was using all sorts of evil tactics to sabotage people’s faith, stopping at nothing to vie with God over people. That way everyone would worship Satan and betray God, and then lose their chance at salvation. Staying strong in your faith in God, continuing to obey Him, and standing firm in your testimony to Him is the only way to fight back against Satan’s tricks and truly shame it. I thought of Job’s experience: Job feared God and shunned evil, so Satan despised Job, and attacked and tested him. Satan caused Job to lose all of his possessions and children, but not only did Job not blame God, he even praised God’s name. Then Satan made boils grow all over Job’s body, and got his wife to attack him, trying to make him give up God. Not only did Job not go along with that, but he rebuked his wife as a foolish woman. Ultimately, Job bore resounding witness for God, and Satan was fully shamed. I thought back on what I’d experienced, the lies fabricated by the Communist Party, and how it used my husband time after time to oppose my faith, trying to get me to betray God and ultimately go down into hell and be punished along with it. I knew I had to follow Job’s example; no matter what sort of evil tactics Satan used against me, I couldn’t give in to it. I had to have faith in God, lean on Him and stand firm in my testimony. At this thought I was much more relaxed, and I felt free in a way I never had before. After this, my husband saw I was still committed to believing in God and sharing the gospel, so he didn’t concern himself too much with my faith.
My daughter tested into university after that, but my son didn’t. My husband wanted to do everything in his power to get him enlisted in the army. One day, my husband came back and said to me angrily, “You and your mom have really screwed me over! I tried to get our son enlisted in the army, but they found out that your mom is religious, so I had to say everything I could to persuade them, plus spend money, and give them gifts to seal the deal. Don’t think everything’s fine now! If you keep your faith and the government finds out about it, our son won’t get into the army and our daughter won’t get into university. They won’t have a future anymore. Why can’t you think of our home, of our children? If you insist on keeping your faith, there’s no way we can go on together. We’ll have to divorce. Give it some good thought!” I was so angry when he said that. The Communist Party really is evil to the utmost degree—it was threatening my children’s futures to get me to betray God. I hated it from the depths of my heart! But when I thought of my faith impacting my children’s futures, and that they would certainly blame and hate me, I was pretty upset and felt like I owed them. Then I thought of these words from God: “What occupation one pursues, what one does for a living, and how much wealth one amasses in life are not decided by one’s parents, one’s talents, one’s efforts or one’s ambitions, but are predetermined by the Creator” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique III). It’s true. People’s fates are all in God’s hands, and my children’s fates are in God’s hands, too. What kind of career they will have, and what sort of future they will have was determined by God long ago. It’s not something I can manipulate, and it’s not something the Communist Party has final say over. Besides, even if the Communist Party made sure my daughter couldn’t get into university and thus couldn’t find a decent job, that would mean their policies were too evil—it wouldn’t be any fault of mine. When I thought about it that way, I slowly let go of my concerns and I said to my husband, “I’ve thought it through. There’s nothing wrong with my faith, but if you’re afraid of being implicated and really want to get a divorce, let’s go do the paperwork.” He said, “If we divorce, you won’t get a share of our family’s property!” I was really angry to hear that. We’d been married for 20 years, but he wanted to get a divorce just because I believed in God, and would not give me a single penny of our family’s million-plus yuan in assets. He wanted to leave me with nothing. It was heartless! I saw beyond so-called “marital bliss,” and got a divorce with my husband without any hesitation.
I felt really at peace, and really free when we walked out of the Civil Affairs Bureau. It was God guiding me step by step, and the enlightenment from His words, that allowed me to overcome Satan’s tests and attacks. I was so grateful for God’s mercy and protection! In China, having faith means undergoing so much oppression and hardship, but no matter what I may experience in the future, I’m absolutely sure I’ll follow God until the very end!