God’s Words Led Me Out of a Living Hell
By Qiuzhen, China
It was August, 2002, and I was in the city with five other believers to share the gospel. One night around midnight, a dozen or so police officers suddenly burst into our place, and there were a couple of them in their 30s yelling, “Don’t move! We’re police, so you’d better behave!” Then they started searching all over, under the bed and inside cabinets, and they took all of our materials for sharing the gospel and our books of. They even took my ID card and the bags we had sitting on the table, then shoved us all into their police vehicles. When we got to the station, they separated us for questioning and went all the way until dawn. The police chief came and, seeing I wasn’t saying a word, said viciously, “The more you stay quiet the more convinced we are you’re a leader. We’ll find a new place for you that I bet you’ll ‘enjoy.’ When the time comes, it won’t be up to you. You’ll talk whether you want to or not.” Hearing this kind of frightened me. Where were they taking me? If they took me for a leader, were they going to torture me to death? I silently prayed to God, asking Him to watch over my heart so that no matter what happened, I’d never betray Him, never be a Judas.
A little after one in the afternoon the next day, the police transferred us to a detention house. When we got to the entrance of a cell, I saw more than 20 prisoners inside, all completely shaved and with fierce looks on their faces. I felt my hair all stand on end and I called out to God nonstop, “God, I’m so scared right now. Please guide me.” I remembered these words from God after my prayer: “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; … Be not afraid; with My support, who could ever block this road?” (“Chapter 10” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in). God’s words gave me faith and strength. God has my back, and having God with me, what is there to be afraid of? All things are in His hands, and I knew that no matter how I might be tormented, I needed to get through it by relying on God. I gradually calmed down. Then a prison guard shoved me violently into the cell and said to the prisoners, “Our little friend here believes in and hasn’t told us a single thing. You guys can give him a good beating until he confesses everything.” Right after he said that, four or five of them surrounded me and started kicking and punching me, and the one in charge grabbed me by the hair and slammed me against the wall really hard two or three times, to the point that my vision went black. I got a blood bump on my head and it felt like it was about to split open. I was calling out to God nonstop, asking Him to give me faith and strength, and the resolve to withstand this. I gritted my teeth and didn’t make a sound. They’d been beating me for about five or six minutes when the boss said fiercely, “So are you gonna talk, or what?” I still refused to say anything, so they made me kneel on a metal pipe for half an hour, then held my head tucked under and my arms up straight. After an hour of this torment, I fell to the ground, unable to move. Seeing me unable to get back up, they switched to something even more vile. Several prisoners dragged me up from the floor, then two or three of them held me firmly in place while someone put a lit cigarette on my left pinky nail, blowing on it and scalding me. I could hear the sound of sizzling. I smelled the odor of the nail burning and felt the searing pain. It hurt so much I was covered in sweat and I wanted to shoot right into the air, clenching my teeth and moaning. I really couldn’t bear the pain anymore, so I called out to God with everything I had, asking Him to give me faith and strength. After the prayer, these words from God occurred to me: “You must suffer hardship for the truth, you must give yourself to the truth, you must endure humiliation for the truth, and to gain more of the truth you must undergo more suffering. This is what you should do” (“The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). His words gave me the faith and strength I’d asked for. I knew I would have to suffer to practice the truth and stand witness, and I could never betray God. Since I still refused to talk, they burned my thigh over and over with lit cigarettes, and quite a few blisters formed in no time at all. Then they lifted up my feet and used a lighter to burn each of my big toes in turn. My big toes got burned and swollen, and then they started burning the arches of my feet. I felt a stabbing pain and I started convulsing. I almost passed out. They didn’t remotely care if I lived or died and only stopped after my feet were practically burnt to a crisp. I was soaked with sweat, and my throat was as parched as a desert. I was unbearably thirsty, but they wouldn’t let me have any water. I wanted to get myself over to the concrete platform to rest for a bit, but the boss shouted, “Don’t let him sit down, hit him! Keep him standing, exhaust him!” A prisoner lunged at me and punched me. I had to stay standing. At mealtime when I tried to get some food, the boss saw me and yelled, “You wanna eat? You can eat after you’ve opened your trap.” That evening he made me stand by the entrance to the bathroom and wouldn’t let me sleep and had another prisoner keep an eye on me. The awful odor from the bathroom was nauseating. When I couldn’t stop myself from nodding off, that prisoner would punch me in the chest. I have no idea how many times I was hit that night. After the sun came up I was feeling dizzy and my head was killing me. When I walked I felt like I was stepping on cotton—I was really unsteady. The boss demanded again that I tell them about the church, and I said, “I’ve said everything I have to say. There’s nothing else to talk about.” Furious, he gritted his teeth and said, “You’re pretty tough, huh? Do you know what they call it here? It’s called Brute Block.” That’s where they put the most violent offenders. The police get those offenders to beat the people thrown in there until they confess, then they get time off their sentences if they’re successful. This is one of the nastiest tactics of the great red dragon. Even if a prisoner is beaten to death, the police aren’t held responsible at all. It’s all done with impunity. After that, the boss said maliciously, “The people in here don’t have a choice. They have to go along. Otherwise, you’ll get what’s coming to you! I’m not convinced we can’t handle you. Here, I’ll give you a taste of my ‘braised pork elbow.’” He got a few other prisoners to press me up against the wall, then, using every bit of strength he had, he ran at me and slammed his elbow into my chest, then stood right in front of me and pounded on me really hard. After being rammed twice in a row, my heart was in so much pain, it felt like it was about to shatter. Because of the pain, I covered my chest with my hand without even realizing it. I felt like I was about to suffocate. Soon after that, he jumped up and brought his elbow down really hard on my back, then did it again right away. I felt like all my organs were about to be slammed right out of me. Totally at my limit, I fell down on the ground, unable to breathe from the pain in my chest and back. In no time at all my chest was really visibly swollen. I was in incredible agony and really couldn’t take any more of it. I knew that if that went on, I’d be beaten to death by them sooner or later. I prayed to God, “God! I’m begging You to save me.” Then I remembered these words from God: “Do not be discouraged, do not be weak, and I will make things clear for you. The road to the kingdom is not so smooth; nothing is that simple! You want blessings to come to you easily, do you not? Today, everyone will have bitter trials to face. Without such trials, the loving heart you have for Me will not grow stronger and you will not have true love for Me. Even if these trials consist merely of minor circumstances, everyone must pass through them; it’s just that the difficulty of the trials will vary from one person to another. … Those who share in My bitterness will certainly share in My sweetness. That is My promise and My blessing to you” (“Chapter 41” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words really inspired me and I knew that God wasn’t letting those demons abuse me and torment me just to make me suffer, but it was so I could understand the truth and develop discernment, clearly see how Satan resists God and afflicts people, and how it resists and condemns God’s work so I’d be able to despise and reject it. It was also to perfect my love for God. This was a special blessing from God. No matter how much I suffered that day, even if I only had one breath left in me, I had to stand witness and satisfy God, to soothe His heart. Even if those demons tortured me to death, I couldn’t sell out the church or my brothers and sisters. Then, I started silently singing this church to myself: “I Wish to See the Day of God’s Glory.” “Today I accept God’s judgment and purification, and tomorrow I’ll receive His blessings. I’m willing to give my youth and offer up my life to see the day of God’s glory. Oh, God’s love—it’s enchanted my heart. He works and expresses the truth, bestowing on man the way of life. I’m willing to quaff the bitter cup and suffer to gain the truth. I will endure humiliation without complaint. I wish to spend my life repaying God’s grace. I’ll offer up my love and loyalty to God and complete my mission to glorify Him. I’m determined to stand firm in my testimony to God, and never give in to Satan. Oh, though our heads may break and our blood may flow, the backbones of God’s people can’t be bent. With God’s exhortations strapped to my heart, I determine to humiliate Satan the devil. Pain and hardships are predestined by God. I will be faithful and obedient to Him unto death. I will never again cause God to weep and never again cause Him to worry” (Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs).
That night the boss had me watched again so I couldn’t sleep. At that point I’d already gone three nights without sleep, but I felt a surge of strength in my heart when I pondered God’s words and I got through that night that way. The police started questioning me after breakfast on the fourth day. One of them gave me a sinister smile and said, “You enjoying life in there? Open your mouth! Who’s the leader above you? Where is your church located? Who all have you been in contact with? Where are the church offerings kept? Tell us and we’ll get you out of here right away. Don’t you want to go back home and be with your wife and kid again? Everyone that came in with you confessed ages ago and they’re all out. You’re the only one left. Just tell us what you know, already.” Hearing this, I thought, “Could that really be true? Am I really the only one left? I really am afraid of going back to the cell and being tortured so ruthlessly. Maybe it wouldn’t be that bad if I just tell them something trivial….” Just as I was starting to waver, God’s words came to mind and enlightened me: “At all times, My people should be on guard against the cunning schemes of Satan, guarding the gate of My house for Me; … so as to avoid falling into Satan’s trap, at which time it would be too late for regrets” (“Chapter 3” of God’s Words to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh). This brought me to my senses, and I realized this was a trick of Satan. What Satan does best is lie and deceive, and lure people into sinning and going against God. It was trying to deceive me and tempt me with these lies so that I’d betray God. If I believed that garbage and sold out my brothers and sisters, wouldn’t that make me a Judas? If I did that, even though I’d be free of the devil’s torture temporarily, my conscience would be accused and I’d never be at peace. Even more, I’d end up cursed and punished by God. Thankfully, God’s words woke me up in time and protected me, helping me see through Satan’s scheme. I responded firmly, “I have no idea about any of that.” They were absolutely furious that they couldn’t get what they wanted out of me so they sent me back to the cell.
I was in the prison yard working the next day when the boss told some prisoners to deal with me harshly. Seeing those evil police colluding with the prisoners, trying everything to get me to betray God, I really hated those demons with every fiber of my being. I resolved that no matter what they did to torture me I’d never betray God, I’d never be a Judas. The other prisoners tortured me so much more after that. I had to do manual labor during the day, more than most of the others, and they’d find fault with everything, finding excuses to say I’d done something poorly, or too slowly, so they could give me a beating. If I made a mistake reciting the rules, they’d beat me and wouldn’t let me sleep. For evening roll call, if I hesitated slightly in responding to my name I’d get beaten for that, too. The others would take it out on me when anything happened that upset them. I became a punching bag for dozens of people, punched and kicked day in and day out. My entire body was covered with wounds, head to toe, and that swelling in my chest hadn’t gone down. Every breath hurt, and I didn’t even dare to cough. That was when my problems with heart inflammation started. I had to keep doing manual labor as usual during the day, and they made me take other prisoners’ nighttime shifts to stand watch a lot, for two or even four hours. For the first two months, I had to sleep squatting right outside of the bathroom smelling that noxious odor every night, and every time someone used the bathroom they’d hit me to wake me up. I was hit many times every night. Plus I was barefoot the entire time those first two months. They wouldn’t let me have shoes, and since there was water on the floor a lot, my feet were infected and oozing pus because they were constantly in dirty water after being burned so badly. I also developed digestive problems from walking on ice-cold concrete floors barefoot for so long. They wouldn’t give me a blanket or any extra clothing. It was nearly November, but I was still wearing the T-shirt and shorts I’d been arrested in. The weather was getting colder and colder, and my hands and feet were getting frostbitten. My hands were covered with cracks that bled when they were touched. I was cold, hungry, and covered with wounds. There was no easing up in my workload, and I was beaten by the other prisoners when I worked too slowly. What was most awful was that when I reported to the boss when I needed to use the bathroom, seeing it was me, he’d punch me and send me flying to the floor and wouldn’t let me in. I just had to hold it. That went on for several days. I was miserable and furious. I’d even been deprived of the right to relieve myself. Those people were demons! After suffering that dehumanizing torment for so long, I’d lost so much weight I was just a bag of bones. I was really weak and could be blown over by a gust of wind. Sometimes I’d just fall over as I was walking along. That really showed me how those police are man-eating demons, man-eating beasts, and those prisoners they used as tools for their violence were just lesser demons following their orders and slaving away for them. They took pleasure in tormenting and hurting people, and there was nothing human in them, only demonic. In that hellish place, I truly saw the evil, reactionary essence of the Communist Party, as an enemy of God. It is perverse, encourages evil, fights righteousness, and attacks the innocent. It is the most reactionary, evil force of Satan and it is the king of devils! I came to hate and reject it from the bottom of my heart and felt even more determined to follow God till the end.
One December day, it was really cold and windy, below freezing, I was wearing a thin layer of clothing and sitting on the concrete platform, shivering from the cold. Seeing this, the boss laughed maliciously and said to the others, “Our buddy here is getting dirty, wash him off!” He had one of them go fill a bucket with water and two other prisoners came to take all my clothing off. Then they picked up the bucket and poured water over me bit by bit, from head to foot, using two bucketfuls in total. The cold water felt like it was piercing my flesh. My whole body was shivering and my teeth were chattering while all of them, a dozen or so, laughed at me. Hearing all these cynical remarks from the other inmates and thinking about my own situation, I started to weaken in my heart. I was starving, freezing, beaten, mocked, and mentally tormented. Every day passed like a year. I didn’t know how long I’d have to stay in that dark abyss. It seemed like those people wouldn’t let up until they’d killed me! I had no idea if I’d make it out of that living hell alive or not … The more I thought about it the worse I felt, and I couldn’t stand the thought of staying in that hellscape another moment. Later, another inmate said to me, “You should just talk. Otherwise, you’ll just be tortured to death in here. You can see what season it is. Everyone else is wearing padded jackets, but your clothing is so thin. You’ll just freeze to death like this!” I had a sense of despair when I heard him say this. It was getting colder and colder, and even without the others torturing me, I’d freeze to death sooner or later. And if I couldn’t handle any more of the torment and betrayed God as a Judas, I’d go to hell. I was utterly devoid of hope and started thinking of ways I could end my life to escape from this horror before me. But I had heard that when people tried to end their lives in there and failed, they were tortured even more brutally by the prison guards. I was afraid things would be even worse if I got to that point. I felt like there was no way for me to live, but even death escaped my grasp. I was in unbearable agony—I was entirely falling apart. It was just at this moment that God set up an environment to guide me, to help me along.
One time when I was on night duty, another prisoner told me a story about someone who fell in love with someone else and paid a great price for it. That story was a wake-up call for me. We’re willing to pay a great price to love a person, and I am following the one and only God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, so I should be even more willing to show true love for God. Shouldn’t I be happy to pay any price to love God and stand witness? I thought about how Peter was crucified upside down for his love for God, so I should be like Peter, willing to suffer anything for my love for God and endure what He sets up without complaint. Only that is true testimony, and can truly bring comfort to God’s heart. At that moment I remembered these words of God: “Thus, during these last days you must bear testimony to God. No matter how great your suffering, you should walk until the very end, and even at your last breath, still you must be faithful to God and at the mercy of God; only this is truly loving God, and only this is the strong and resounding testimony” (“Only by Experiencing Painful Trials Can You Know the Loveliness of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I said silently within my heart, “I can’t seek out death, but I have to face life with strength. I’ve believed in God all these years without really loving Him, and I especially haven’t returned His love for me. God is hoping I’ll stand witness, so I have to have faith and lean on God to overcome Satan. I can’t let Him down. And, my fate is in God’s hands. Without His permission, I won’t die, no matter how viciously these demons may beat me.” A passage of God’s words occurred to me just then: “When the waters swallow humans whole, I save them from those stagnant waters and give them a chance to live anew. When people lose their confidence to live, I pull them up from the brink of death, granting them the courage to go on so that they can use Me as a foundation for their existence. When people disobey Me, I cause them to know Me from within their disobedience. In light of humanity’s old nature, and in light of My mercy, rather than putting humans to death, I allow them to repent and make a fresh start. When they suffer famine, even though they have a single breath left in their bodies, I wrest them from death, preventing them from falling prey to Satan’s trickery” (“Chapter 14” of God’s Words to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words really moved me, and made me feel really guilty, too. Thinking back, since my arrest, every time I was tortured by the police or the inmates, when I was pushed to my very last breath, when I was on the verge of death, it was always God’s words giving me faith and strength and keeping me alive. I really experienced that our ultimate limit is where God’s just starting. I’d witnessed so many of God’s deeds and had basked in so much of His love, so wasn’t longing for death because of physical pain incredibly cowardly? At this point I really understood that God had set all this up so that I could clearly see the great red dragon’s nature and essence, truly hate it, and turn my back on it. It was to perfect my love for God and my willingness to suffer, too. I had to submit, accept God’s work to perfect me, and bear resounding witness for Him. I put all thoughts of death out of my mind from then on, and even though my situation didn’t change, I wasn’t suffering nearly as much anymore or thinking about getting out as soon as possible. I prayed every single day and became closer to God, and swore before Him that no matter how long I was in there, no matter how many years they gave me, I was ready to submit to God. I would rather spend the rest of my days in prison than be a Judas, and I was ready to die to stand witness and satisfy God. Once I felt willing from within my heart to withstand that environment and obey God’s rule and arrangements, I was filled with peace and joy. I could feel how incredibly mighty God’s words are, that they could bring me back to life from the throes of death. And then, those inmates that were always beating me were transferred to another cell. Some other inmates gave me their clothing right before they were released, and I knew this was entirely arranged by God. God had mercy on me, and He put all sorts of things in motion to help me. I was so grateful to God.
The police tried interrogating me again. One of them said to me really disingenuously, “Look at you, is there any need to suffer so much? We’ve known all about you from the beginning, so just talk to us, okay? Who’s your leader? Where’s your church? How much money does the church have?” I responded calmly, “I’ve told you everything I need to. I don’t have answers for you.” Another officer stood up immediately, opened his eyes really wide and yelled, “You’d better fess up! Your brother and sister are waiting for you outside right now! Just talk to us and you can see them right away, you can go right home!” It was really hard for me to hear them specifically mentioning my family. It had been almost half a year since I’d seen them, and imagining my father’s old wrinkled face, covered with tears was hard for me. I thought about just telling them a little bit about my own belief so I could be with my family again. Just when I was lost in my feelings, I thought of this from God’s words: “My people! You must remain within My care and protection. Never be dissolute! Never behave recklessly! You should offer up your loyalty in My house, and only with loyalty can you mount a countercharge against the devil’s trickery” (“Chapter 10” of God’s Words to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words showed me that this was a trick of Satan, that it wanted to play on my feelings to lure me into betraying God. I couldn’t fall for it—I’d never betray God! I called out to God in my heart and swore to Him, “, if I betray You today because of my emotions, selling the others out as a Judas, I beg You to slay me, to take my body and soul.” I felt a lot calmer after praying and I said, “I don’t know anything.” An officer leapt out of his seat right away and came right in front of me, then jumped up like a crazy person and kicked me right in the stomach, sending me right down to the floor while yelling all sorts of vile things at me and saying they’d stop at nothing to kill me. Then a couple of those cops stuffed some really hot peppers into my mouth and forced me to chew on them for more than 10 minutes, then swallow them. It didn’t take long before my stomach felt like it was on fire, and I was in terrible pain. But no matter how they tortured me, I wouldn’t say a thing. In the end they had no choice but to take me back to the cell.
The police came back to question me again five days later, demanding information on the church and insisting I say blasphemous things. I wouldn’t say anything at all, so in a fit of rage, they pressed my left hand down on a table, then picked up a stick, about to hit my hand. As soon as I saw that they were going to hit my hand with that stick, I prayed to God, “Oh God, if they hit me with that, my hand will be done for. Please protect me.” I was shocked to see that after they hit me four or five times, the stick just snapped in half and my hand didn’t hurt at all. The stick was entirely broken, but the skin on my hand wasn’t broken at all. Then I remembered these Bible verses: “You shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake. But there shall not an hair of your head perish” (Luke 21:17–18). God’s words possess such authority. I gave thanks to God from my heart with everything I had, and I felt even more strength to face whatever was coming. The police got a bamboo stick and hit my rear end, hitting it until it was mincemeat. They didn’t stop until their stick broke. Then one of them asked me, “Will you talk or what? Tell us what we want to know—this is your last chance.” Holding back the pain, I straightened my back and said resolutely, “I don’t have anything to tell you.” He became furious and screamed, “You’ve got a mouth of steel, but I don’t think I can’t pry it open. We have our ways!” As he said this, two officers dragged me in front of their generator, forced me to sit on the ground, and took off my shoes and socks. They took a couple wires from the generator, wrapped one around the pinky toe on my left foot, and the other around the little finger on my left hand. Then they started to crank the generator, going from slow to fast, I felt numbness and pain all over my body and I started convulsing. I instinctively curled up into a ball and cried out. Seeing me curled up in a ball, the police stopped, but kept questioning me. I gritted my teeth and didn’t say a word. Seeing that, one of them started cranking it, then stopped, then started again, over and over. Seeing I still wouldn’t talk, he moved the wires to my right hand and foot, and then cranked it on and off six or seven times, electrocuting me to the point that I was numb and in pain all over. My heart was pounding and I could hardly breathe. They only stopped because they were afraid I’d die. I lay motionless on the ground without any strength at all, as if I were a corpse. The police saw I wasn’t going to confess, so they removed the wires from my right hand and foot, tossed them onto the floor, sighing in frustration, and took me back to the cell. Seeing this, I knew that Satan had been thoroughly humiliated and defeated, and God had been glorified. I had suffered a bit in the flesh, but my spirit felt comforted, it felt sweet, and my physical pain abated so much.
Back to the cell, when a couple other inmates found out I hadn’t talked, they gave me a thumbs up and said, “You’re really something. Nobody in our cell can match up to you! They were beating you, torturing you all the time, but you didn’t give in. I’m impressed!” Another one also gave a thumbs up and said, “You’re a real man. We all look up to you!” Hearing this made me grateful to God, and I gave all glory to Him. I knew that this was entirely because of what Almighty God’s words achieved in me, that it was God guiding me to see through Satan’s tricks and triumph over the devil’s devastation so that I could stand witness. After the police had illegally detained me and tortured me for five whole months, without finding any evidence of wrongdoing, they released me. I had wounds all over my body and I was totally emaciated. I went from over 180 pounds to less than 110. The police still didn’t really let me go, but kept restricting my freedom, insisting that if I went out of town, I had to get a certificate and a letter of introduction, and I couldn’t leave without county permission.
After more than five months of prison life and being so brutalized by those demons, I’d suffered quite a bit, but I’d also learned so much. Through all of that, I really saw how the Communist Party hates the truth, and its evil, reactionary, God-hating essence. I rejected it from the depths of my heart. My faith in God deepened, too, and I truly experienced His love and salvation for mankind. I saw God’s almightiness and rule, the authority and might of His words, I felt how precious His words are, and how they really are our very life, that they give us faith and bestow us with strength. They help us escape any forces of darkness! It’s just like Almighty God said: “God is never absent from the heart of man, and He lives among man at all times. He has been the driving force of man’s living, the root of man’s existence, and a rich deposit for man’s existence after birth. … God’s life force can prevail over any power; moreover, it exceeds any power. His life is eternal, His power extraordinary, and His life force cannot be overwhelmed by any created being or enemy force” (“Only Christ of the Last Days Can Give Man the Way of Eternal Life” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).