83. Victorious Through Satan’s Temptations
By Chen Lu, China
That was the morning of December 21, 2012. Over a dozen brothers and sisters were having a meeting when there was a sudden burst of knocking and shouting at the door: “Open the door! Open the door! Inspection of the house!” Just as a sister was opening the door, six or seven policemen wielding batons forced their way in. They roughly pushed us apart and then began to rummage through drawers and search everywhere. A young sister came forward and asked them: “We haven’t broken the law. Why are you searching the house?” The police replied fiercely: “Behave! If we tell you to stand there, just stand there. If we don’t ask you to speak, keep your mouth shut!” Then they brutally threw her to the ground, and yelled aggressively: “If you want to resist we’ll beat you!” Her fingernail had been broken off and her finger was bleeding. Seeing the vicious faces of the police, I felt both hatred and fear, so I silently prayed to God to give me strength and confidence, to protect me to stand witness. After praying, my heart settled considerably. The police confiscated many evangelical materials and collections of God’s words, then they ushered us into police vehicles.
As soon as we arrived at the station, they confiscated everything we were carrying and interrogated us for our names, addresses, and who our church leaders were. I didn’t say anything; another sister didn’t say anything either, so the police saw us as ringleaders and intended to try us separately. I was very scared then—I had heard that the police were particularly brutal with believers in God, and I had been classified as a target for interrogation. That would certainly be fraught with grim possibilities. Just as I was in a terrible state and living in fear, I heard my sister who was very close to me praying: “Oh God, You are our rock, our refuge. Satan is under Your feet, and I am willing to live according to Your words and stand witness to satisfy You!” After hearing that, my heart brightened. I thought: It’s true—God is our rock, Satan is under His feet, so what am I afraid of? As long as I rely on God, Satan can be vanquished! Suddenly I was no longer afraid, but I also felt ashamed. I thought of the fact that when that sister encountered this, she prayed and relied on God and did not lose confidence in God, but I had been timid and cowardly. I hadn’t had even a bit of the backbone of someone who believes in God. Thanks to God’s love and through that sister’s prayer that had motivated and helped me, I was no longer in fear of the police’s despotic power. I quietly resolved: Now that I have been arrested, I am determined to stand witness to satisfy God. I absolutely will not be a coward who lets God down!
Around ten o’clock, two of the police handcuffed me and brought me to a room to interrogate me alone. One of the police interrogated me in the local dialect. I didn’t understand, and when I asked him what he had said, unexpectedly this question angered them. One of the police standing by ran over and grabbed my hair, tossing me back and forth. I was dizzy and thrown all around, and my scalp felt like it was being peeled off and some of my hair was being pulled out. Right after that, another cop ran up to me and yelled: “So we have to play rough? Speak! Who had you preach the gospel?” I was full of anger and replied: “Preaching the gospel is my duty.” The second I said this, the first cop once again grabbed me by the hair and slapped my face, hitting me and yelling: “I’ll have you preach more! I’ll have you preach more!” He hit my face until it was beet red and in pain, and it started swelling up. When he tired of beating me he let me go, then took the mobile phone and MP4 player they had found on me and asked me for information about the church. I relied on wisdom to deal with them. Out of nowhere, a cop asked: “You’re not from here. You speak Mandarin so well—you’re definitely not an average person. Be honest! Why did you come here? Who sent you here? Who is your leader?” Hearing these questions, my heart went to my throat and I called out to God to give me confidence and strength. Through prayer, my heart was slowly calmed, and I responded: “I don’t know anything.” When they heard me say that, one of them pounded the table furiously and shouted: “Just you wait, we’ll see how you feel in a bit!” Then he picked up my MP4 player and pressed play. I was very scared. I didn’t know what means he would employ to deal with me, so I made an urgent cry to God. I hadn’t imagined that what was played was a recitation of a passage of God’s words: “Toward those who showed Me not the slightest loyalty during times of tribulation, I shall be merciful no more, for My mercy only extends so far. I have no liking, furthermore, for anyone who has once betrayed Me, much less do I like to associate with those who sell out the interests of their friends. This is My disposition, regardless of who the person may be. I must tell you this: Anyone who breaks My heart shall not receive clemency from Me a second time, and anyone who has been faithful to Me shall forever remain in My heart” (“Prepare Sufficient Good Deeds for Your Destination” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). When I heard God’s words, I felt a stab of pain in my heart. I couldn’t help but think that when the Lord Jesus was working, those who followed Him and enjoyed His grace were many, but when He was nailed to the cross and the Roman soldiers were arresting Christians right and left, many people fled out of fear. This brought God great pain! But then, what difference was there between me and those ungrateful people? When I enjoyed God’s grace and blessings, I was full of confidence in following God, but when I faced adversities that required me to suffer and pay a price, I was timid and afraid. How could that comfort God’s heart? I thought of the fact that in order to save us, corrupt human beings, the supreme God became flesh—humbly and secretly coming to China, this atheist-ruled country, tolerating the pursuit and condemnation of these demons, and He personally led us onto the path of the pursuit of truth. Seeing that God had done everything to save us, why couldn’t I, as someone who enjoyed the grace of His salvation, pay a small price to bear witness to Him? In my conscience I felt rebuked and I hated that I was so selfish, so worthless. I really deeply felt that God was full of hope and concern for me. I felt that He knew well that I was immature in stature and fearful in the face of Satan’s despotism; He allowed me to hear this through the means of the police playing that recitation, allowing me to understand His will, so that in the midst of adversity and oppression I could stand witness for God and satisfy Him. For a moment, I was so moved by God’s love that tears were running down my face, and I silently said to God: “Oh God! I do not want to betray You. No matter how Satan tortures me, I am determined to stand witness and comfort Your heart.”
Then there was a sudden bang as the cop turned off the player, then rushed toward me and said hatefully: “If you don’t tell us, I’ll torture you!” Then they ordered me to stand on the ground with bare feet and handcuffed my right hand to an iron ring in the middle of a concrete block. They asked me to stand bent over because the block was so small. They didn’t allow me to crouch down, nor did they allow me to use my left hand to support my legs. I couldn’t continue to stand after a while and wanted to crouch, but the police shouted: “No crouching! If you want to suffer less, hurry up and confess!” All I could do was grit my teeth and bear it. I don’t know how much time passed. My feet were like ice, my legs were sore and numb, and when I truly could no longer stay standing, I crouched down. The police picked me up, brought over a cup of cold water, and poured it down my neck. I was so cold I started to shiver. They then removed my handcuffs, pushed me down onto a wooden chair, cuffed my hands to opposite ends of the chair, and opened the windows and turned on the air conditioning. There was a sudden gust of cold wind that hit me and I was shuddering from the cold. I couldn’t help but have some weakness in my heart, but in the midst of this suffering I was praying nonstop, begging for God to give me the will and the strength to bear this pain, to allow me to overcome the weakness of the flesh. Just then, the words of God guided me from within: “Though your body may undergo a bit of suffering, entertain no ideas from Satan. … Faith is like a single log bridge: Those who cling abjectly to life will have difficulty in crossing it, but those who are ready to sacrifice themselves can pass over, sure of foot and worry-free” (“Chapter 6” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words made me understand that Satan wanted to torture my flesh in order to have me betray God, and if I paid any mind to the flesh I would fall prey to its trickery. I kept going over these two sentences of God’s words in my mind, telling myself that I had to stand guard against Satan’s trickery and refuse its ideas. Later, the police took a large pot of cold water and poured the entire thing down my neck. All of my clothing was completely soaked. At that moment I felt as if I had fallen into an ice box. Seeing me shivering terribly, one of the evil policemen grabbed a handful of my hair and forced my head up for me to look at the sky through the window, then said mockingly: “Aren’t you cold? Then let your God come save you!” He saw that I wasn’t reacting, so he once again poured a large pot of cold water over me and put the air conditioner on its coldest setting, then blew right on me. Gust after gust of bone-piercing cold air blown on me along with the cold wind hit me. I was so cold I had curled up into a ball and was practically frozen solid. I felt as though the blood had congealed within my veins. I couldn’t help but think crazy thoughts: Such a cold day, but they soak me with cold water and turn on the air conditioning. Are they trying to freeze me alive? If I die here, my relatives won’t even know about it. Just as I was sinking into the darkness and despair, I suddenly thought of the suffering the Lord Jesus endured while being nailed to the cross to redeem mankind. And I also thought of God’s words, “Love that has experienced refinement is strong, not weak. Regardless of when or how God subjects you to His trials, you are able to lay down your concerns about whether you live or die, to gladly cast aside everything for God, and to happily endure anything for God—thus your love will be pure and your faith real. Only then will you be someone who is truly loved by God, and who has truly been made perfect by God” (“Only by Experiencing Refinement Can Man Possess True Love” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). These words from God really galvanized me—yes! That day being able to bear witness for God was Him uplifting me—how could I pay any mind to the flesh? Even if it meant losing my life, I was determined to be faithful to God. Slowly, I no longer felt quite as cold. From midday all the way until around seven in the evening, the police continued to interrogate me. They saw that I wouldn’t open my mouth at all, so they locked me in the interrogation room and continued to blow cold air on me.
After dinner, the police stepped up the intensity of their interrogation. They viciously threatened me, saying: “Tell us! Who is the leader of your church? If you don’t tell us, we have other means, we can make you drink the juice of hot peppers, soapy water, make you eat feces, strip you naked, throw you to the basement, and make you freeze to death!” When the evil police said this, I really saw that they weren’t people at all, but they were a pack of demons in human flesh. The more they threatened me that way, the more I hated them in my heart, and the more I determined to never yield to them. When they saw I wouldn’t give in, they found a cloth bag, soaked it with water, and put it over my head. They pressed it down on my head and wouldn’t let me move, then tightened it. I couldn’t move at all because my hands were cuffed to the chair. Before too long, I was on the verge of being suffocated; I felt that my whole body had become stiff. But that still wasn’t enough to dispel their hatred. They picked up a pot of cold water and poured it into my nose, threatening me, saying that if I didn’t talk, I would be suffocated. The wet bag itself didn’t let air through, and on top of that water was being poured into my nose. Breathing was so difficult, and it felt like death was closing in on me. I silently prayed to God: “Oh God, this breath of mine was given to me by You, and today I should be living for You. No matter how the evil police torture me, I will not betray You. If You require me to sacrifice my life, I am willing to obey Your designs and arrangements without the slightest complaint….” Just when I started to lose consciousness and was about to stop breathing, they suddenly released their hands. I couldn’t help but continue to give thanks to God in my heart. Even though I fell into the hands of the evil police, God only allowed them to torture my flesh but did not allow them to grab hold of my life. After that, my confidence grew.
The next day around midday, several of the police took me and another sister into a police vehicle and took us to the detention center. One of them said to me intimidatingly: “You’re not from around here. We’ll lock you up for six months, then we’ll sentence you to 3–5 years, in any case no one will know.” “Sentence?” As soon as I heard that I would be sentenced, I couldn’t help but become weak. I wondered how I could show my face if I really were sentenced to do time in prison and how people would see me. The other people in the cell I was put into were all sisters who believed in Almighty God. Although they were in that den of demons, they didn’t show the slightest fear. They encouraged and supported each other, and when they saw that I was negative and weak, they spoke with me about their personal experiences and bore witness, giving me confidence in God. They also sang a hymn to encourage me: “God humbly became flesh to save mankind, walking among the churches, expressing the truth, painstakingly watering us, guiding us every step. This He has done every day for decades, it’s all to purify and perfect man. He has seen many springs, summers, autumns, winters, happy to take the bitter with the sweet. He’s selflessly sacrificed all without any regret, He’s given all of His love to mankind. I’ve undergone God’s judgment and tasted the bitterness of trials. The sweet follows the bitter, my corruption has been cleansed, I offer up my heart and body to repay God’s love. I go from place to place toiling, expending myself for God. Loved ones discard me, others defame me, but I will unwaveringly love God till the end. I am utterly devoted to following God’s will. I endure the persecution and tribulations, experience the ups and downs of life. Even if I endure a life of bitterness, I must follow God and testify to Him” (“Repaying God’s Love and Being His Witness” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). Thinking about this song, I was greatly encouraged. It was true, we were following the true God and walking the right life path in a country under the reign of an atheist party that saw God as the enemy. We were destined to suffer many hardships, but all of this had meaning, and even sitting in jail was a glorious thing because we were being persecuted for the sake of pursuing the truth and following God’s way. It was entirely different from worldly people being imprisoned for committing terrible crimes. I then thought of generation after generation of so many saints who had suffered persecution and humiliation for the sake of holding to the true way. But now, I had been freely provided with so much of the word of God—I understood truth that generations of people had not been able to understand, I knew mysteries that generations had not known, so why was I not able to tolerate a bit of suffering to bear witness to God? When I thought of this, I once again crawled up out of my state of weakness, my heart was full of confidence and strength, and I determined to rely on God and meet tomorrow’s torture and demands for confession with my head held high.
Ten days later, the police sent me to the detention house alone. I saw that all the other people there were held for fraud, theft, and illegal businesses. As soon as I went in, they said to me: “Anyone who comes in here generally doesn’t come out. We are all waiting for our verdicts, and some of us have been waiting for months.” Looking at these people, I was so nervous my heart was about to burst. I became afraid that they would treat me poorly, and then when I thought about the fact that the police would keep me locked up with them, I thought that they would most likely give me the sentence of a felon. I had heard that some brothers and sisters had been imprisoned for as long as eight years. I didn’t know how long my sentence would be for, and I was only 29 years old! My youth couldn’t possibly be spent locked in this dark cell? How would my days from here on out be spent? At that moment, it seemed that my hometown, parents, husband, and child were suddenly all so far away from me. It was like a knife twisting in my heart, and tears pooled up in my eyes. I knew that I had fallen into Satan’s trickery, so I fervently called out to God, hoping for Him to lead me to escape from this suffering. In the middle of my prayer, I felt clear guidance within me: When you face this, you have permission from God. Just like Job being tested, do not complain. Then I thought of God’s words: “My defeat of Satan lies within the loyalty and obedience of man, as does the testimony to My complete conquest of man. … Would you rather submit to My every arrangement (even if it be death or destruction), or flee midway to avoid My chastisement?” (“What Do You Know of Faith?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). The judgment and chastisement in God’s words made me feel ashamed. I saw that I was not remotely sincere toward God, but I just said that I wanted to be a good witness for Him. However, when I actually faced the peril of being imprisoned, I only wanted to escape. There was no practical ability to suffer for the sake of the truth. Thinking back to that moment when I was arrested, God was by my side at all times. He did not abandon me any step of the way for fear that I would lose my way or stumble on the path. God’s love for me was utterly sincere and not at all empty. But I was selfish and self-interested, and all along thought of my own fleshly gains and losses. I was not willing to pay any price for God—how could I have any humanity? Any conscience? When I thought of that, I felt full of regret and indebtedness. I silently prayed to God and repented: Oh God! I was wrong. I can no longer pay You lip service and cheat You. I am willing to live out the reality to satisfy You. No matter what my sentence turns out to be, I will certainly stand witness for You. At the time, the weather was very cold. The other inmates not only did not hassle me, but actually took care of me, giving me clothing, and they also helped me with my daily labor. I knew that all of this was God’s design and arrangement. I was really grateful to God!
In the detention house, the police would interrogate me once every few days. When they realized that taking a hard line wasn’t working with me, they switched to being soft. The policemen interrogating me purposely put on an easygoing manner and chatted with me, gave me good food to eat, and said they could help me find a good job. I knew this was Satan’s trickery, so every time they interrogated me I just prayed to God, asking Him to protect me and not allow me to fall prey to these tricks. One time when a policeman was interrogating me, he finally revealed their sinister intentions: “We don’t have a bone to pick with you, we just want to crack down on The Church of Almighty God. We hope you can join us.” When I heard these evil words, I was deeply angry. I thought: God created man and has continued to provide for and lead us all the way until now. And now He has come to save those He created and help us escape from our abyss of suffering. What on earth is wrong with that? Why is it so hated, so vilified by these devils? We are God’s creation. Following God and worshiping Him is right and proper, so why would Satan thwart us this way, and try to take away our freedom of following God? Now they try to get me to become a puppet in their quest to strike down God. The CCP government truly is a pack of demons determined to defy God. They are such evil reactionaries! I was full of resentment and I hated the CCP even more, and all I wanted was to stand witness for God and comfort His heart. When the police saw that I still wouldn’t talk, they started to use psychological methods against me. They found my husband through China Mobile and brought him and my child to persuade me. My husband had originally been fine with my belief in God, but after being deluded by the police, he told me over and over: “I’m begging you to give up your faith. At least think of our child if not me. Having a mother in prison will have such a terrible impact on him. …” When my husband saw that his words couldn’t change my mind, he dropped these cruel words: “You’re so stubborn and won’t listen—I’ll just divorce you, then!” This word, “divorce,” deeply pierced my heart. It made me hate the CCP government even more deeply. It was its defamation and sowing of discord that made my husband hate God’s work that way and say such unfeeling words to me. The CCP government truly is the culprit that calls on the common people to offend Heaven! It was also the culprit in undermining our feelings as husband and wife! At this thought, I didn’t want to say anything more to my husband. I just calmly said: “Then hurry up and take our child back home.” When the police saw that this tactic hadn’t worked, they were so angry that they paced back and forth in front of their desk and screamed at me, saying: “We’ve worked so hard and haven’t gotten a single response from you! If you continue to refuse to speak we’ll label you as the head of this region, as a political prisoner! If you don’t talk today, there won’t be another chance!” But no matter how they ranted and raved, I just prayed to God in my heart, asking Him to strengthen my faith.
During my interrogation, there was a hymn of God’s word that continued to guide me from within: “The utmost faith and love are required from us in the work of the last days. We may stumble from the slightest carelessness, for this stage of work is dif-ferent from all the previous ones: What God is perfecting is mankind’s faith, which is both invisible and intangible. What God does is convert words to faith, to love, and to life. People must reach a point where they have endured hundreds of refinements and possess faith greater than Job’s. They must endure incredible suffering and all manner of torture without ever leaving God. When they are obedient unto death, and have great faith in God, then this stage of God’s work is complete” (“What God Makes Perfect Is Faith” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). Because of the faith and strength I received from God’s words, while I was being interrogated I appeared very staunch. But when I returned to my cell, I couldn’t help but be a bit weak and hurt. It seemed that my husband was actually going to divorce me and I wouldn’t have a home anymore. I also didn’t know how long my sentence would be. Amidst this pain, I thought of these words from God: “Now you should be able to clearly see the precise path that Peter took. If you can clearly see Peter’s path, then you will be certain about the work being done today, so you will not complain or be passive, or long for anything. You should experience Peter’s mood at the time: He was stricken with sorrow; he no longer asked for a future or any blessings. He did not seek profit, happiness, fame, or fortune in the world; he only sought to live the most meaningful life, which was to repay God’s love and dedicate what he held utterly most precious to God. Then he would be satisfied in his heart” (“How Peter Came to Know Jesus” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I was deeply moved by Peter’s deeds, and this also stirred up my will to give up everything to satisfy God. It was true. When Peter reached his most grief-stricken point, he was still able to withstand it and satisfy God. It was not for his own prospects or destiny, or his own benefit, and in the end when he was nailed upside down to a cross he bore a good and resounding witness for God. But I then had the good fortune to follow God incarnate, to enjoy God’s endless provision to my life as well as His grace and blessings, but I had never paid any real price for God. And then when He needed me to stand witness for Him, I couldn’t satisfy Him just that once? Would missing this opportunity be something I regretted for a lifetime? When I thought of that, I determined my will in front of God: Oh God, I am willing to follow the example of Peter. No matter what my outcome is, even if I have to get divorced or serve time in prison, I will not betray You! After praying, I felt a wave of strength rise up within me. I would no longer think of whether I would be sentenced or not or how long the sentence would be, and I would no longer think of whether or not I could return home and be reunited with my family. I would only think that another day in the demons’ den was another day of standing witness for God, and even if I did serve time until the very end, I would not yield to Satan. When I did give myself up, I truly had a taste of God’s love and affection. A few days later on one afternoon, a guard suddenly said to me: “Get your things together, you can go home.” I simply didn’t dare to believe my ears! I was incredibly excited. This battle in the spiritual war had been lost by Satan and God was glorified in the end!
After undergoing 36 days of detention and persecution by the CCP police, I had a true understanding of the cruel tyranny, and the rebellious and reactionary essence of the CCP government. From then on I developed a deep hatred for it. I know that during those adversities, God was always with me, enlightening me, guiding me, and allowing me to overcome Satan’s cruelty and tests every step of the way. This gave me a true experience of the fact that God’s words truly are mankind’s life and our strength. It also made me truly recognize that God is our Lord and rules over everything, and no matter how many tricks Satan has, it will always be defeated by God. The CCP attempted to torture my flesh to force me to betray God, to forsake Him, but its cruel torture not only didn’t break me, but it strengthened my resolve and allowed me to thoroughly see its evil countenance, to experience God’s love and salvation. I give thanks to God from the bottom of my heart!