God’s Words Show the Way Through Adversity
By Xiaohe, China
I remember it was one night in 2003. Two of my church sisters and I were having a meeting, and suddenly, we heard a dog barking outside the door, followed by the sound of something slamming into the door and several people shouting, “Open the door! You’re surrounded!” The door slammed open with a bang, and then a dozen or so police officers broke in and forced us to the corner. Then, the police rummaged through the house like bandits, turning the room into a chaotic mess. At this moment, we suddenly heard two gunshots outside the door. The police yelled, “We caught them! Three people!” I was so scared that I couldn’t stop shivering. I wrapped my arms around my shoulders and curled up into a ball. Afterwards, the police handcuffed us. About half an hour later, they took us to the courtyard, where I saw at least 20 intimidating-looking police officers. One policeman holding an electric baton yelled, “All of you, listen up! Nobody is allowed to make a sound! I’ll use this on any of you who make a noise, and it’s not illegal if you end up dead!” After that, they pushed and shoved us into a police car. After getting in the car, two policemen squeezed me in between them. One of them clamped my legs between his and wrapped his arms around my upper body, at the same time saying, “I’d be a fool if I don’t take advantage of you today!” He held me firmly as I struggled to get free until another officer said, “Knock it off! Let’s just hurry up and finish the mission so we can hand it off.” That was when he finally released me. I didn’t think even a supposedly dignified policeman could be such a scoundrel. It made me very angry.
Then, the police took us to the police station, locked us in a small room, and handcuffed the three of us to metal chairs. A police officer pressed us to ask who the church leader was and where we lived. I thought of how the police had tried to arrest me several times before, and I knew that if they knew my name and address, they would never let me go. I also remembered how Sister Zhao was arrested two years ago and tortured by the police, and it made me very nervous. I wondered if they would also torture me. What would happen if I couldn’t bear it? I prayed to God silently to ask for His guidance. I remembered a few lines of God’s word, “Considering the interests of God’s family first in all things; accepting God’s scrutiny and obeying God’s arrangements” (“How Is Your Relationship With God?” in). Yes, I had to put the interests of God’s house first. No matter what torture I endured, I couldn’t sell out my brothers and sisters, and I couldn’t become a Judas. I had to stand firm and testify for God. After that, no matter what they asked me, I refused to answer. The next morning, the deputy chief of the National Security Brigade said with a false smile, “We cast a very wide net, but we finally caught you. Every day we didn’t catch you was a day we couldn’t relax!” After that, he opened my handcuffs and yanked down hard on my collar, and he took the opportunity to poke me twice in my breasts. I was very angry. Right out in the open, these police were engaging in sexual harassment. They were nothing but a bunch of thugs!
Then they took me to the detention house and took video of me without my consent, and said they would broadcast it on TV to ruin my reputation. I thought, “I only believe in God, go to meetings to read God’s word, and spread the gospel to testify for God. I haven’t done anything illegal or criminal. The fact that they want to persecute and humiliate me like this is honestly despicable!” I calmly said to them, “Do whatever you want!” When they saw their tactic hadn’t worked, they put me in handcuffs and 5 kg leg shackles, and then stuffed me in a car to go to my interrogation. Because the shackles were too heavy, I could only walk on the ground with my heels. Every step was difficult, and the skin on my feet began to chafe after just a few steps. After I got in the car, they put a black hood over my head to block my view, and I sat between two officers. I was a little afraid, and I thought, “These police have no humanity at all. I don’t know what kind of awful methods they mean to use to torture me. Will I be able to bear it?” I quickly prayed to God, “! Please give me faith. No matter what kind of cruel torture I will suffer, I wish to stand witness to satisfy You. Even if I die, I won’t betray You.” After I prayed, I thought of some of God’s word, “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. If man harbors timid and fearful thoughts, it is because Satan has fooled them, afraid that we will cross the bridge of faith to enter into God” (“Chapter 6” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I understood after pondering God’s word. I had timid and afraid thoughts, which was falling for Satan’s trick, and I saw that I had no sincere faith in God. God’s sovereignty determined whether I would live or die, and I had to risk my life and rely on God to stand firm and testify for Him.
After that, they took me to a very remote place. Once I entered the room, they took off my hood and ordered me to stand for an entire day. That evening, the police continued to press me for information about the church. Seeing that I wasn’t saying anything, they ordered me to stand motionless with my hands above my head. Not long after, my arms started to ache, and I wasn’t sure I could bear it much longer, but they wouldn’t let me put them down until the point I was sweaty all over, trembling, and couldn’t support my arms at all. They forced me to stand until sunrise. I had to stand until my legs were numb and swollen.
The next morning, they continued to interrogate me. They used a wooden stick about 10 cm thick and 70 cm long to repeatedly strike the back of my knees until I fell into a squat, and as I fell, they forced the rod into the bend of my legs, and then yanked my arms behind the rod and handcuffed me in front of my legs. I felt suffocated, breathing was difficult, the tendons in my shoulders felt as if they were about to snap, my calves were so taut they felt like they were about to break, and I was in so much pain I couldn’t stop shaking. After about three minutes, I couldn’t support myself, and I started swaying from side to side until I fell to the ground with a thud, facing upward. One officer came up and pressed on the wooden rod with one hand and yanked up on my shoulders with the other, while the other came from behind, lifted up my head, and then used his foot to push my lower back upward and force me back into a squat. But by this point, the pain all over my body was unbearable, and soon I fell over again, after which they put me on my feet again. This repeated torture continued for about an hour. It only stopped once they were panting and sweating heavily. The skin on my wrists was chafed raw by the handcuffs, and my feet were chafed bloody by the shackles. I was in so much pain that I was sweating all over, and the salty sweat felt like I was being sliced by a blade when it reached my wounds. It felt as if the nerves in my back had been pulled apart, and my shoulders felt dislocated, as if I had been stretched until I snapped. I was panting at the time, and I didn’t know if I would survive the next minute, or even the next second. Facing the threat of death was deeply disturbing, and in my heart, I couldn’t help but call out to God, “God! Help me, help me!” Then, I remembered, “When people are ready to sacrifice their lives, everything becomes trifling, and no one can get the better of them. What could be more important than life?” (“Chapter 36” of Interpretations of the Mysteries of God’s Words to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s word brightened my heart. The police wanted to destroy my flesh as a reason to make me betray God. This was one of Satan’s tricks, and I couldn’t fall for it. No matter how I was tortured, even if it cost me my life, I had to satisfy God, stand firm and testify for Him, and humiliate Satan. When I thought of this, it didn’t hurt as much, and I didn’t feel as much torment and misery either. After that, an officer ordered me to stand, and said, “If you don’t confess, we’ll make you keep standing. Let’s see how long your stubbornness lasts!” And so, I was made to stand until dark. That evening, when I went to the toilet, my feet were swollen because of the shackles, and my wounds were festering and bleeding. I could only move my feet little by little, and even the slightest move hurt. To walk even 30 meters and back took me almost an hour, and I left a clear trail of blood behind me. That night, I continuously rubbed my swollen legs with my hands. I couldn’t stretch them out or draw them in, and it was very uncomfortable. However, what comforted me was that with the guidance of God’s word, I hadn’t betrayed God.
On the morning of the third day, A policewoman came in, squatted in front of me, and said in an appeasing tone, “Are you hungry? Do you want me to get you something to eat?” I thought, “You’re just a weasel bringing a gift to the henhouse—you don’t mean well. You’re trying soft and hard methods to make me sell out my brothers and sisters and betray God. But I won’t let you fool me.” I ignored her, so she asked me directly, “If you have something you don’t want to say to them, you can say it to me. Why not say it and get out of here sooner? Are you a church leader? What is your area of responsibility? Who are you in contact with? What are their names?” I didn’t answer, so she kicked me in a huff and then left. After a while, the lead police officer said angrily, “If she won’t talk, give her the same treatment.” They used the same method to torture me again. Every time I fell, the lead police officer said, laughing, “That position looks good. I like her in that position. Do it again!” I was raised back up, then fell over again. Every time I fell, they roared with laughter. The sound of their mockery and ridicule made me burn with resentment. The more Satan tortured me, the more I could clearly see its ugly face, hate it, and forsake it. They would never get any information about the church from my mouth. Because of the swelling all over my body and the weakness in my feet, sometimes I lost my balance, couldn’t support myself, and immediately fell over, which slammed my head and shoulders heavily into the floor, and then two police officers raised me up by my head while another stepped hard on one end of the wooden rod, making me feel as though all my muscles were being yanked out at once, my four limbs were about to be pulled from my body, and my head was about to explode in pain, so that I didn’t even have the strength to scream, while huge beads of sweat dripped from my forehead. That was how they tortured me for about an hour, and they didn’t stop until they were tired and sweating. I fell on my back, facing upward. I felt like the sky was spinning, and I couldn’t stop trembling. I was covered in so much salty sweat that I couldn’t open my eyes, my stomach was churning so much that I wanted to vomit, and I felt like I was going to die. In my heart, I couldn’t help but cry out, “God! I can’t bear it much longer. Whether I live or die is in Your hands, but I would rather die than become a Judas and allow Satan’s conspiracy to succeed. I beg You to guide me!” At that moment, God enlightened me by helping me recall His words, “Perhaps you all remember these words: ‘For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.’ You have all heard these words before, yet none of you understood their true meaning. Today, you are profoundly aware of their true significance. These words shall be fulfilled by God during the last days, and they shall be fulfilled in those who have been brutally persecuted by the great red dragon in the land where it lies coiled. 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, and these words are fulfilled in you, this group of people, as a result” (“Is the Work of God As Simple As Man Imagines?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words made me understand that believing in God and following God in the country under the demonic rule of the Communist Party meant we were certain to suffer a great deal of humiliation and persecution, but God uses Satan’s oppression to make a group of overcomers and thus defeats Satan. I was now experiencing the Communist Party’s persecution. I now had the chance to testify for God before Satan, which was a glorious thing, and also my honor, so I had to stand witness for God and humiliate Satan. Under the guidance of God’s word, I had faith and strength, and I was able to declare to Satan in my heart, “You vile devil, I have determination, and no matter how you torture me, I will never submit to you. I swear on my life to stand with God!”
After that, when the police saw I still wouldn’t confess, they furiously took off the implements of torture and shouted at me, “Go on, stand up! I’ll see how long your stubbornness lasts. This is a battle of attrition, and I doubt you’ll win it!” I had no choice but to stand up with great difficulty, but my feet were swollen and painful, I couldn’t stand on my own, so I had to lean on the wall. That afternoon, a police officer said to me, “Most people crack after one session of torture like that. You are really tough. Even with your legs in such a sorry state, you still won’t talk. I don’t know where you get the endurance.” I knew very well that God had given me this strength, and I silently thanked God. Later, he threatened me again, “I’ve broken a lot of people in my time. Are you sure you want to fight me? Even if you don’t confess, we can have you sentenced to 8 or 10 years, and I’ll have the people there beat you, insult you, and maybe even kill you!” I thought to myself, “Everything is in God’s hands, and God has the final say over my life and death. Even if you sentence me to 8 or 10 years, even if you beat me to death, I will never betray God.” When he saw my silence, he slapped his thigh and stomped his feet in anger as he said, “I’ve already wasted a few days just dealing with you. If everyone was like you, I wouldn’t be able to do my job!” I was very happy because I saw that Satan was powerless, and that Satan could never defeat God. I couldn’t help but think of God’s words, “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). On that day, I personally experienced the authority and power of God’s word. For these three days, I didn’t eat, drink or sleep, and was so cruelly tortured, but I was still able to hold on. This was entirely because of the strength God gave me. Now, I had even more confidence to testify for God before Satan.
On the morning of the fourth day, the police ordered me to assume the horse stance with both arms outstretched straight, and then they put a wooden rod across the backs of my hands. Before long, I couldn’t support it, and the wooden rod fell to the floor. They picked it up and viciously beat my hand and knee joints. Each blow produced a searing pain, and then they ordered me to assume the horse stance again. But because I had been tortured continuously for days, my legs were swollen and in pain, so before long, my legs couldn’t support me, and I fell heavily on the floor. They lifted me up again, but then deliberately let go, and I fell back into a sitting position on the floor. After several more falls, my buttocks were so badly bruised that even touching it produced pain that made me sweat everywhere. This was how they tortured me for another hour. After that, they ordered me to sit on the floor and brought a bowl of salt water for me to drink. I refused to drink it, so one of the police used one arm to hold my head back and pried open my mouth with his other hand while another grabbed both my cheeks and poured the salt water in. The salt water tasted bitter and astringent in my throat, it felt like my stomach was on fire, and I was in so much discomfort that I wanted to cry. When they saw my pain, they said cruelly, “Do you know why we made you drink salt water? Because you haven’t eaten for days, and you’re dehydrated, beating you might kill you, so we gave you salt water.” When I heard them say that, I realized they wanted to torture me to death bit by bit. I thought, instead of letting them torture me to death, I might as well bash myself against a wall and end it, but I didn’t even have the strength to stand up. I felt like things were hopeless, so I prayed to God, “Almighty God! I can’t bear it anymore. I don’t know what tortures the police will use on me next, but I will place my life in Your hands. I beg You to be with me.” After I prayed, I thought of a line of God’s word, “No one can escape the orchestrations and arrangements of the Heaven, and no one is in control of their own destiny, for only He who rules over all things is capable of such work” (“God Is the Source of Man’s Life” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). It’s true, God controls the fates of all humankind. Everyone’s life and death are predestined by God. No person has any say in the matter, nor can we decide for ourselves. My life and death were determined by God, not the police, so I wanted to place my life in God’s hands and obey His orchestrations and arrangements. When I thought of that, I didn’t feel so hopeless anymore, and my heart was filled with resentment toward the great red dragon. These devils wanted to use these despicable methods to force me to betray God, and I couldn’t let their scheme succeed. I had already been tortured so much, and I could not allow my brothers and sisters to suffer the same.
These devils not only toyed with me and tortured me, they also insulted me. At night, a police officer came over to me, reached out to touch my face, and whispered lewd things in my ear as he did. I was so furious I spat in his face, after which he ferociously slapped me so hard I saw stars and heard ringing in my ears. He added, savagely, “We still have a whole menu of tortures waiting for you. We could kill you here and no one will ever know. Trust me, you’ll get your fill of them!” That night, I was lying on the ground and couldn’t move, and I asked to go to the toilet. They told me to get up by myself. Using all my strength, slowly, I was able to raise myself, but I took just one step and fell over. With no other option, a female officer dragged me into the bathroom. While I was there, I passed out again. When I woke up again, I was back in the room. I saw my legs were swollen and shiny, and the handcuffs and shackles were deeply embedded in the flesh. The wounds were bleeding with pus and blood, and it hurt so much I couldn’t bear it. I thought of the menu of tortures the police officer talked about, and I felt a little afraid, so I prayed to God, “Almighty God! I don’t know how these demons plan to torture me next, and I really can’t bear this kind of torment any longer. Please guide me, and give me faith and strength. I wish to stand witness and humiliate Satan.” After I prayed, I thought about the suffering God endured when He came incarnate twice to save humankind. In the Age of Grace, to redeem humankind, thewas mocked, humiliated, and whipped by soldiers, and then was crowned with thorns, and finally nailed to the cross. Today, God has returned incarnate to China, where He suffered the persecution and pursuit of the Communist Party and the frantic resistance and condemnation of the religious world. Despite this, God silently endures it and expresses the truth to save humankind. I recalled another passage of God’s word, “Many are the sleepless nights that God has endured for the sake of the work of mankind. From up high to the lowest depths, He has descended to the living hell in which man lives to pass His days with man, He has never complained of the shabbiness among man, and He has never reproached man for his disobedience, but endures the greatest humiliation as He personally carries out His work. How could God belong to hell? How could He spend His life in hell? But for the sake of all mankind, so that the whole of mankind can find rest sooner, He has endured humiliation and suffered injustice to come to earth, and personally entered into ‘hell’ and ‘Hades,’ into the tiger’s den, to save man. How is man qualified to oppose God? What reason does he have to complain about God?” (“Work and Entry (9)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Yes. God is innocent, and God has suffered greatly and been humiliated to save corrupt mankind. God’s love for mankind is so great and so selfless! Now, I was following God and pursuing the truth for my own salvation, so what did the little suffering I endured matter? Through this suffering, God tempered my will and perfected my faith, and I also experienced that God’s word is the strength in people’s life. That I could experience this suffering was God’s grace and blessing. I quietly sang a to myself, “God is my support, what is there to fear? I pledge my life to fight with Satan till the end. God lifts us up, we should leave everything behind and fight to bear witness for Christ. God is my support, what is there to fear? I pledge my life to fight with Satan till the end. God lifts us up, we should leave everything behind and fight to bear witness for Christ. God will carry out His will on earth. I’ll prepare my love and loyalty and devote them all to God. I will joyfully welcome God’s return when He descends in glory, and meet with Him again when the kingdom of Christ is realized” (“The Kingdom” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). After singing this song, I felt a great sense of encouragement. No matter how the police tortured me, I would stand firm, bear witness, and humiliate Satan!
On the fifth day, the police continued to make me do the horse stance. My legs and feet were so swollen that I couldn’t stand up anymore, so several officers surrounded me and pushed me back and forth between them. Some of them also took the chance to take advantage and grope me. The torment continued even while I was so disoriented and dizzy that I couldn’t open my eyes. At around 7 in the evening, one of the police sat down in front of me, took off his shoe, shoved his stinking foot in front of my face, and said lewd things. I listened to his foul language and looked at his shameless and evil appearance, and they made me furious. I hated these evil demons! At around 9 in the evening, I started to doze off. The police said triumphantly, “Finally, you’re starting to nod off! You may want to sleep, but we won’t let you! We’ll keep you awake until you crack! Let’s see how long you last!” Several police officers took turns watching me. The moment I closed my eyes and nodded off, they hit the table with a leather whip, hit my swollen, shining legs with a small wooden rod, pulled my hair, or stomped on my feet, and each time I was suddenly awakened. Sometimes their kicks landed on my shackles, and my shackles touched my festering wounds, the pain made me shake. Finally, I had an explosive headache, and I felt like the room was spinning. My eyes went dark as I fell to the ground and passed out. After I woke up, I could vaguely make out the doctor saying, “What crime did she commit to make you torture her so badly? Not letting her sleep or eat for days? This is just cruelty! And the handcuffs and shackles are already embedded in her flesh. She can’t wear them anymore, or it could kill her.” After the doctor left, the police switched me to 2.5 kg shackles and gave me some medicine before I finally became conscious. I knew I could survive only because God was powerful, and He had been silently protecting me. My life was in God’s hands, and without His permission, no matter what kind of torture Satan used on me, it couldn’t kill me. This gave me even more faith in God, and I decided that as long as I drew breath, I would never give in to Satan.
I lasted until the sixth day, when I really couldn’t hold out any longer, and I was constantly falling asleep, and every time, one of the police would step heavily on my toes, pinch the back of my hands, or slap me across the face. In the afternoon, the police continued to ask me for church information. At that time, I was starting to lose my grip on reality, and I feared I would slip up and give up church information in my confused state, so I urgently prayed to God, “Almighty God! My mind is hazy from the torture. I ask for You to protect me and give me clarity of mind so that no matter what happens, I don’t sell out my brothers and sisters.” I was grateful to God for answering my prayers. Although I was tortured for six days and five nights without eating, drinking, or sleeping, my mind was still very clear, and no matter how the police tortured me, I didn’t tell them anything. Later, the lead police officer brought out a list of gospel targets I wrote down and interrogated me, asking me to name others. I had already had enough of these demons’ torment, and I wasn’t going to let my other brothers and sisters suffer the same torment, so while he wasn’t looking, I dashed forward, grabbed the list, put it in my mouth, and swallowed it. Two police officers howled in fury. They rushed over, forcefully pinched my mouth, and slapped me hard across the face, so hard that blood trickled from the corner of my mouth and my head was spinning. One of them forcefully grabbed my cheeks and chin while the other pried open my mouth and dug around in my throat. He dug so forcefully that my throat was cut, and I still have pharyngitis even now. Because they hadn’t gained any church information from me after many interrogations, the police decided they had to take me back to the detention house. The police at the detention house saw how seriously I was injured and feared taking responsibility if I died while there, so they refused to accept me, leaving them no choice but to take me to the hospital to put me on oxygen. In the hospital hallways, many people came to look on and discuss my appearance. The police pointed at me and said, “She believes in God. Take a good look. If you believe in God, this is what happens to you.” I wanted to say something to refute them, but I was unable to speak. I thought, “All of you are evil, you spread lies to deceive the people.” After that, the police escorted me back to the detention house, where I passed out two more times.
Around late October, when the police were bringing us to the detention center, I met Sister Li, who was arrested with me. I saw she had become very thin, and she walked feebly, as if the wind would blow her over at any moment, and I couldn’t stop the tears streaming from my eyes. When we arrived at the detention center, I saw the blue and purple bruises on Sister Li’s arms and legs. She said that the police beat her, kicked her, and kept her from eating and sleeping for several days, and that the other sister became sick as soon as she was arrested. She wasn’t able to keep down her meals, and the torture had made her so thin she was unrecognizable. Sister Li cried as she spoke. I hated these demons from the bottom of my heart!
Finally, the Communist Party charged me with “participating in a xie jiao organization” and sentenced me to one year and nine months of re-education through labor. Because I was tortured so badly that I was wounded everywhere and paralyzed, I couldn’t walk, the labor camp refused to accept me. Four months later, my husband spent 12,000 yuan to bail me out, and my sentence was carried out outside of the labor camp. When my husband came to pick me up, I was too injured to walk. He had to carry me to the car. After returning home, a doctor’s examination found two lumbar segments in my spine were misaligned. I couldn’t take care of myself. I couldn’t even get out of bed. I thought I would be bedridden for the rest of my life. Unexpectedly, a year later, my body gradually recovered, and I was able to fulfill my duties again. I saw God’s love and salvation for me, and I thanked God from the bottom of my heart! Even now, the police are constantly monitoring me, and I might be arrested again, but I saw the authority and power of God’s word, and I am willing to rely on God through faith and fulfill my duties as best I can to repay God’s love.