8. Sufferings and Trials—the Blessings of Being Favored
By Wang Gang, Shandong Province
I lived in the countryside. Because my family was poor, I earned money by doing temporary jobs wherever I could find them; I thought that I could make a better life for myself through my physical labor. However, in modern Chinese society, I saw that there were no guarantees for the legal rights of migrant workers like me; my salary was frequently withheld for no reason at all. Time and time again I was cheated and taken advantage of by others. After a year’s worth of hard work, I didn’t receive what I was supposed to receive. I felt that this world is truly dark! Humans treat each other just like animals, where the strong prey on the weak; they contest with each other, fight hand-to-hand, and people simply can’t survive. In the extreme pain and depression of my spirit, and when I had lost faith in life, a friend of mine shared the gospel of the last days of Almighty God with me. Afterward, I regularly gathered, prayed, communicated the truth and sang hymns to praise God together with my brothers and sisters. I felt very happy and liberated. In The Church of Almighty God, I saw that the brothers and sisters didn’t try to outwit each other or make social distinctions; they were all purely open and got along with each other. Whenever any brother or sister encountered a difficulty, all the others showed them love and they all helped each other. Everyone was there to diligently pursue truth in order to cast off their corrupt dispositions, live out the likeness of a true person and obtain salvation. This life allowed me to experience happiness and understand the significance and value of life. I saw that I could only attain true happiness by coming before God and pursuing the truth. So that more people who lived in darkness like me could come to God to receive His salvation and see the light again, I joined the ranks of proclaiming the gospel and testifying to God. But unexpectedly, I was arrested by the CCP government for preaching the gospel and I suffered the extreme brutality of torture and imprisonment.
It was during the afternoon in the winter of 2008, when two sisters and I were testifying of God’s work in the last days to a gospel target, we were reported by evil people. Six police officers used the excuse of needing to check our residence permits to charge into the home of the gospel target. As they came in the door, they roared: “Don’t move!” Two of the police officers seemed completely out of their minds as they pounced on me; one of them grabbed the clothes on my chest and the other grabbed my arms and used all his strength to cinch them behind me, then he fiercely asked: “What are you doing? What is your name? Where are you from?” I asked in reply: “What are you doing? What are you arresting me for?” When they heard me say this, they got really angry and aggressively said: “It doesn’t matter what the reason is, you are the one we are looking for and you’re coming with us!” Afterward, the police officers took me and the two sisters, pushed us into the police vehicle and took us to the local police station.
After we got to the police station, the police officers took me and locked me up in a small room; they ordered me to crouch on the floor and arranged four of them to watch me. Because I had squatted for a long time, I became so tired that I couldn’t take it. The instant I tried to stand up, they scuttled over and pressed my head down to prevent me from standing up. It was only until night time when they came to search me that they allowed me to stand up; when they found nothing in their search, they all left. Not long after, I heard blood-curdling screams of someone being tortured in the room next door, and at that moment, I became very afraid: I don’t know what torture they will use on me next! I began urgently praying to God in my heart: “Oh Almighty God, I am very afraid right now, I ask You to give me faith and power, make me firm and courageous. I’m willing to stand testimony for You. If I can’t bear their cruel torture, I would rather commit suicide by biting off my tongue than ever betray You like Judas!” After praying, I thought of God’s words, “Do not fear, Almighty God of hosts will surely be with you; He has your back and He is your shield” (“Chapter 26” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Yeah, Almighty God is my support and He is with me; what else is there to be afraid of? I have to rely on God to fight Satan. God’s words removed the timidity from my heart, and my heart was set free.
A little later, four fiendish police officers came over and one of them pointed to me and yelled: “You believers in Almighty God are disturbing the order of society, and are destroying national law. You are criminals of the state!” He yelled as he pushed me into the torture room on the second floor, commanding me to squat. The torture room was arranged with all kinds of torture instruments such as ropes, wooden sticks, batons, whips, guns, etc. They were arranged in a mess. With furrowed brows and blazing eyes, a policeman grasped my hair with one hand, and an electric baton, which made wild “zapping and popping” noises, in the other hand, and made threatening demands for information: “How many people are in your church? Where is your meeting location? Who is in charge? How many people are in the area preaching the gospel? Speak up! Otherwise, you will get what’s coming!” I looked at the looming danger of the electric baton and looked again at the room filled with torture instruments; I couldn’t help but feel nervous and afraid. I didn’t know if I would be able to overcome this torture. Just at this critical moment, I thought of Almighty God’s words saying: “You too must drink of the bitter cup from which I have drunk (this is what He said after the resurrection). You too must walk the path I have walked …” (“How Peter Came to Know Jesus” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I recognized that this was something God entrusted to us and it was the way of life God personally established for us. In walking the path of believing in God and pursuing truth, one must certainly pass through suffering and frustration. This is inevitable, and in the end, these hardships bring blessings from God. Only through suffering can people grasp the true meaning of the truth and receive the way of truth granted by God. I should walk in the footsteps of God and courageously face this; I should not be timid or afraid. In thinking of this, my heart immediately produced a kind of power and I said in a loud voice: “I only believe in Almighty God, I don’t know anything else!” When the policeman heard this, he became flustered and violently jabbed me on the left side of my chest with the electric baton. He shocked me for nearly a minute. I immediately felt like the blood in my body had been boiled; I was in unbearable pain from head to foot and I rolled around on the floor screaming incessantly. He still wouldn’t give up on me and suddenly he started dragging me over and used a baton to lift me up by my chin, yelling: “Speak up! You won’t confess anything?” He yelled and prodded the right side of my chest with the electric baton, I was so badly electrocuted that I was trembling from head to foot. Later it hurt so bad that I passed out lying on the floor motionless. I didn’t know how much time had passed by, but I woke up and heard an evil police officer saying: “Are you pretending to be dead? You’re pretending! Go ahead and pretend!” He again prodded me with a baton in the face and kicked me in the thigh. Afterward, he dragged me over and fiercely asked: “Will you tell me?” I still did not answer. He then ruthlessly beat my face with his fists and one of my teeth was knocked out, another tooth was knocked loose. My mouth immediately began to bleed. In facing the insane torture of these demons, I only feared that I would not be able to bear their torture and would thus betray God, and so I desperately prayed to God in my heart. At this time, I thought again about God’s words, “Those in power may seem vicious from the outside, but do not be afraid, for this is because you have little faith. As long as your faith grows, nothing will be too difficult” (“Chapter 75” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words gave me faith and power again, and I recognized that even though the evil police officers in front of me were crazed and unbridled, they were arranged by the hand of God. At that moment, God was using them to test my faith. As long as I leaned on faith and relied on God and didn’t give in to them, they would inevitably fail in humiliation. In thinking about this, I summoned all the strength of my body and replied in a loud voice: “Why have you brought me here? Why are you electrocuting me with an electric baton? What crime have I committed?” The evil policeman suddenly became like a deer in the headlights and weighed down with a guilty conscience. He began stuttering: “I … I … Shouldn’t I have brought you here?” Then they left with their tails between their legs. In seeing the disgraceful situation of Satan’s dilemma, I was moved to tears. In this predicament, I truly experienced the power and authority of Almighty God’s words. As long as I put God’s word into practice, then I would have God’s care and protection and I would see God’s deeds. At the same time, I felt indebted to God because of how little faith I had. Afterward, a tall police officer came in and walked over to me and said: “You only have to tell us where your family lives and how many people are in your family, and we will immediately release you.” When he saw that I wouldn’t say anything, he became flustered and grabbed my hand and forced my fingerprint onto an oral confession they had written. I saw that the oral confession was not what I had told them, it was an outright counterfeit and fake evidence. I was filled with righteous indignation and I seized it and tore it to pieces. The policeman immediately burst into a rage and struck me with his fist on the left side of my face. Then he slapped me twice in the face so hard I became dizzy. Afterward, they took me back to the small room I was in before.
After returning to the small room, I was bruised and battered, the pain was unbearable. I couldn’t help but feel sick at heart and weak: Why do believers have to suffer like this? I preached the gospel with good intentions, I showed people that the Savior had come and that they had to hurry up and pursue the truth and be saved, and yet I have unexpectedly suffered this persecution. In thinking about this, I felt more so that I had been wronged. In my pain, I thought of God’s words: “Since you are a human being, you should expend yourself for God and endure all suffering! You should gladly and assuredly accept the little suffering you are subjected to today and live a meaningful life, like Job, like Peter. … You are people who pursue the right path, those who seek improvement. You are people who rise up in the nation of the great red dragon, those whom God calls righteous. Is that not the most meaningful life?” (“Practice (2)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Almighty God’s words tugged on the strings of my heart. Yes, God has watered and supplied me with His bountiful words of life, He has allowed me to enjoy His abundant grace for free and has allowed me to know the mysteries and the truth that no one since the generations of the past has understood. This is a special blessing God has given me. I should testify for God and endure all pain for God, because it is the most valuable and meaningful thing! Today, I am persecuted for preaching the gospel and not willing to suffer any physical pain for it; I feel wronged and unwilling. Haven’t I grieved God in doing this? Am I not lacking conscience? How could I be worthy of God’s grace, blessings and provision of life? Generations of saints have borne strong and resounding testimonies for God because they followed God’s way; they lived life with meaning. Today I have all these words from God, so should I not more so offer beautiful testimonies for God? In pondering this, my body didn’t feel as painful, I deeply knew it was Almighty God’s word that gave me the power, allowing me to overcome the weaknesses of the flesh.
The next day, the police officers had no other strategy left to try. They threatened me saying: “Will you not say anything? Then we will imprison you!” Seeing that I did not surrender, they sent me to a detention house. At the detention house, the police officers continued to use all sorts of torture methods on me and frequently incited the prisoners to beat up on me. In the chilling cold of winter, they instructed the prisoners to pour buckets of cold water on me and forced me to have a cold shower. I was shivering with cold from head to toe. Here, the prisoners were machines making money for the CCP and didn’t have any legal rights. They had no other choice but to endure being squeezed and taken advantage of like slaves. The prison guards forced me to print paper money used as burnt offerings for the dead all day and made me work overtime in the night. If I stopped to take a rest, then someone would come over and shower me with beatings. At first, they set a rule that I had to print 2,000 pieces of paper per day, then they increased it to 2,800 pieces per day, and finally to 3,000 pieces. This amount was impossible for an experienced person to complete, let alone an inexperienced person like me. In fact, they intentionally made it so I couldn’t complete it all so that they could have an excuse to torment and ravage me. As long as I couldn’t meet the quota, the evil police officers would put fetters around my legs that weighed over 5 kg, and they bound my hands and feet together with shackles. All I could do was sit there, bow my head and twist my waist, not able to move. Even more despicable was that these inhuman and unfeeling police officers didn’t ask or care about my basic necessities. Even though the toilet was in the jail cell, I was completely unable to walk over and use it; I could only plead with my cell mates to lift me up onto the toilet. If they were slightly better prisoners, then they would pull me up; if nobody helped me, then I would have no other choice but to defecate in my pants. The most painful time was mealtime, because my hands and feet were handcuffed together. I could only lower my head with all my strength and raise my hands and feet. This was the only way I could put a steamed bun into my mouth. I spent a great amount of energy on every bite. The shackles rubbed into my hands and feet causing immense pain. After a long time, my wrists and ankles had developed dark and shiny hard calluses. Often times I couldn’t eat when I was locked up, and on rare occasions, prisoners would give me two small steamed buns. Most of the time they would eat my portion and all I got was an empty stomach. I received even less to drink; originally, everyone was only given two bowls of water per day, but I was locked up and couldn’t move, so I was rarely able to drink any water. The inhumane torment was unspeakable. In total, I suffered this four times and each time I was locked up for a minimum of three days and a maximum of eight days. Every time the hunger was hard to bear, I would think of the words God spoke in the past: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). I gradually began to realize that God wants to fulfill the fact that “His word becomes man’s life” on me through the afflictions of Satan. In understanding the will of God, my heart was liberated and I peacefully prayed to God and tried to understand God’s words. Unwittingly, I no longer felt so painful or hungry. This truly made me feel that God’s word is the truth, the way, and the life and is certainly the foundation I should rely on to survive. Therefore, my faith in God unconsciously increased. I remember one time the prison guards intentionally persecuted me and handcuffed me. For three days and three nights I didn’t drink a drop of water. The prisoner handcuffed next to me said: “There was a young person who was handcuffed and starved to death like this before. I have seen that you have not eaten anything for several days and you are still in such high spirits.” In hearing his words, I thought that even though I had not eaten or drunk anything for three days and three nights, I didn’t feel the discomfort of hunger. I deeply felt that this was the power of life in God’s words supporting me and causing me to truly see God appearing to me in His words. My heart was continually excited; in this environment of suffering I was able to truly experience the reality of the truth that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” This is truly the most precious wealth of life God has granted me, and is also my unique gift. Moreover, I could never have obtained this in an environment where I didn’t have to worry about food or clothes. Now, my suffering had so much meaning and value! At this time, I couldn’t help but think of God’s words: “What you have inherited this day surpasses that of the apostles and prophets throughout the ages and is greater even than that of Moses and Peter. Blessings cannot be obtained in a day or two; they must be earned through great sacrifice. Which is to say, you must possess a love that has undergone refinement, you must possess great faith, and you must have the many truths that God requires you to attain; what is more, you must turn toward justice, without being cowed or evasive, and must have a constant and unabating love for God. You must have resolve, changes must occur in your life disposition, your corruption must be healed, you must accept all of God’s orchestrations without complaint, and you must be obedient even unto death. This is what you ought to attain, this is the final aim of God’s work, and it is what God asks of this group of people” (“Is the Work of God As Simple As Man Imagines?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). In trying to understand God’s words, I recognized that after suffering and trials come blessings from God, and these are God’s most practical supply and watering of life for me. Now, even though the words God has given me have surpassed the generations of saints, I still need to have faith and perseverance to be able to be unyielding during my trials and tribulations, to submit to the arrangements of God, and receive God’s salvation. Then I will be able to enter the reality of God’s word and be able to see the marvelous deeds of God. If it were not for the price of this hardship, I would not be worthy to receive the promises and blessings of God. The enlightenment of God’s words led me to be more firm and powerful inside; I set a resolution: Diligently cooperate with God and satisfy God’s requirements in the midst of this painful environment, testify for God so that I can have the greatest harvest.
One month later, the CCP police foisted the unwarranted charge on me of “being suspected of disturbing the order of society and destroying the implementation of the law,” I was sentenced to one year of reform through labor. When I entered the labor camp, the police officers disseminated rumors and nonsense among the prisoners, saying that I was a believer in Almighty God, which is worse than murder and robbery, and they incited the prisoners to torture me. Therefore I was frequently beaten up and placed in difficult situations by the prisoners for no reason at all. This made me really see that China is a living hell firmly controlled by Satan, the demon. It is dark from every angle, and no light is permitted to exist; there is simply no place for the believers in God to live. During the day, the police officers forced me to work in a workshop. If I did not meet my quota, they would let the prisoners hit me when I got back to my prison cell and proclaim “kill the chicken to scare the monkey.” While I was in the workshop counting bags, I would count out 100 bags and then tie them together. The prisoners would always intentionally come and take one or several bags from what I had counted, then they would say that I didn’t count right and take that as an opportunity to punch and kick me. When the warden saw me get beaten up, he would come over and hypocritically ask me what was going on and the prisoners would present false evidence that I was not counting enough bags. Then I would have to endure a barrage of stern criticism from the warden. In addition, they would order me to memorize the “rules of conduct” every morning, and if I didn’t memorize it, I would be beaten; they also forced me to sing songs that praised the Communist Party. If they saw that I was not singing or that my lips were not moving, then at night I would unavoidably be beaten up. They also punished me by making me mop the floor, and if I didn’t mop to their expectations, then I would be violently beaten. One time, some prisoners suddenly started hitting and kicking me. After beating me, they asked me: “Youngster, do you know why you are being beaten? It is because you didn’t stand up and greet the warden when he came over.” After each time I was beaten, I became angry but didn’t dare to say anything; I could only cry and silently pray to God, telling Him about the resentment and grievance in my heart because of this lawless, irrational place. There was no rationality here, there was only violence. There were no people here, there were only insane demons and scorpions! I felt so much pain and pressure living in this plight every day; I wasn’t willing to stay a minute longer. Each time I fell into a condition of weakness and pain, I would think about Almighty God’s words: “Have you ever accepted the blessings that you were given? Have you ever sought the promises that were made for you? You will surely, under the guidance of My light, break through the stranglehold of the forces of darkness. You will surely not, in the midst of darkness, lose the light guiding you. You will surely be the master of all creation. You will surely be an overcomer before Satan. You will surely, at the downfall of the kingdom of the great red dragon, stand up amid the myriad throngs to bear witness to My victory. You will surely stand firm and unwavering in the land of Sinim. Through the sufferings you endure, you will inherit My blessings, and will surely radiate My glory throughout the entire universe” (“Chapter 19” of God’s Words to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words encouraged me. I understood that, regardless of whether what God was giving to me was grace and blessings or trial and refinement, it was all done to provide for me and save me; it was to put truth into me and make truth my life. God permitted the persecution and tribulation to come upon me, and even though I suffered much physically, it allowed me to be able to truly experience that God is with me; it caused me to truly enjoy God’s words becoming the bread of my life and the lamp to my feet and the light to my path, leading me step by step through this dark hell hole. This is the love and protection of God that I enjoyed and obtained during the persecution and tribulation. At this time, I was able to see that I was so blind. In believing in God, I only knew how to enjoy God’s grace and blessing and didn’t pursue the truth and life in the slightest degree. Once my flesh suffered a little hardship, I would whine incessantly; I simply didn’t understand the will of God and didn’t seek to understand the work of God. I would always cause God to feel grief and pain over me. I was truly without conscience! In feeling remorse and self-blame, I silently prayed to God: “Oh Almighty God, I can see that everything You do is to save and obtain me. I just hate that I am so rebellious, blind and have no humanity. I have always misunderstood You and have not been considerate of Your will. Oh God, today Your word has awakened my numb heart and spirit and has caused me to understand Your will. I am no longer willing to have my own desires and requirements; I will only submit to Your arrangements. Even if I have to suffer all hardships, I will still diligently cooperate with You and will bear resounding testimonies to You throughout Satan’s persecutions. I will seek to break away from Satan’s influence and live out the likeness of a real man to satisfy You.” After praying, I understood God’s good intentions, and I knew that each environment God allowed me to experience was God’s greatest love and salvation for me. Therefore, I would no longer think to cower or misunderstand God. Even though the situation was still the same, my heart was truly full of joy and pleasure; I felt that it was an honor to be able to suffer hardships and persecution for my belief in God, and it was a unique gift for me, a corrupt person; it was God’s special blessing and grace for me.
After having experienced a year of hardship in prison, I see that I am so small of stature and that I lack so much truth. Almighty God truly has made up for my deficiencies through this unique environment and allowed me to grow. In my adversity, He has enabled me to obtain the most precious wealth in life, to understand many truths I didn’t understand in the past and to clearly see the CCP’s heinous crimes of persecuting God and tormenting Christians. I have recognized the repulsive appearance of Satan, the demon, and the reactionary essence of its resistance to God. I have earnestly experienced the great salvation and mercy Almighty God has for me, the corrupt person, and felt that the power and life in Almighty God’s words can bring me light and be my life and lead me to prevail over Satan and to tenaciously walk out of the valley of the shadow of death. Likewise, I have also recognized that Almighty God leads me on the correct path of life. It is the bright path to obtain truth and life! From now on, no matter what persecution, tribulations or dangerous temptations I encounter, I am willing to diligently pursue truth and obtain the way of eternal life that Almighty God has given me.