A Choice Amidst Crisis
By Zhang Jin, China
Some time ago, I received a letter from Brother Zhao. The leader of their church, as well as a brother and a sister, were arrested by the police while spreading the gospel. The place where the books were hidden was at risk. The police could search the place and seize them at any moment. He and several other deacons often had contact with people who were arrested, and were all under surveillance, so they couldn’t help remove them. That’s when he contacted me to ask if I could help move the books of God’s word somewhere else. After I read the letter, I felt conflicted. In order to arrest Christians, the CCP instituted the “five-household responsibility system” in every village, and did surveillance to find out whose homes had been visited by strangers. When believers in God were discovered, they were immediately reported. The brothers and sisters of that church had just been arrested, and the CCP’s eyes were everywhere. Moving the books of God’s word at a time like this was too dangerous. If any wicked person reported us, or if we were discovered by the police, the police would seize the vehicle and the people in it. If they saw that many books of God’s word, they would definitely torture me during the interrogation. If I didn’t die, I would certainly be badly injured. If I couldn’t bear the torture and became a Judas, I would be cursed and punished, and that would be the end of me, wouldn’t it? However, if we didn’t move the books in time, and the police found them and seized them, then the brothers and sisters wouldn’t be able to read God’s word. I couldn’t just stand by and watch the police seize the books of God’s word. I was struggling with what to do, so I went before God and prayed, “God, I feel timid and afraid. I’m worried about being arrested, so I don’t have the courage to cooperate. Please give me faith and strength.”
After I prayed, I saw a passage of (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Two)). After reading God’s words, I felt ashamed. When people who are loyal to God see the interests of God’s house harmed, they stand up and carry out their responsibilities, even when they know it’s dangerous. But me? I clearly understood the crisis at hand. I knew that if I didn’t move the books of God’s word quickly, they could be found and seized by the police at any moment. At such a critical moment, I worried about whether I would be arrested. I wasn’t concerned at all about the interests of God’s house, and I wasn’t thinking about how to use all my strength to fulfill my responsibilities and duties. This wasn’t loyalty at all! I was being nothing but selfish. When I realized this, I felt a deep sense of self-reproach. I thought, no matter how frenzied the great red dragon becomes, isn’t it also in God’s hands? It has hindered and disturbed God’s work for so many years, but despite this, hasn’t God’s work extended to many countries overseas? I was timid and afraid because I lacked knowledge of God’s omnipotence and sovereignty. I had too little faith in God. God was using this environment to help me learn lessons and gain the truth, to give me knowledge of God’s omnipotence and wisdom, and I had to experience this by relying on God. Once I realized this, I stopped feeling so timid, and was ready to move the books of God’s word as soon as possible.: “People who are loyal to God clearly know that there are risks involved, and are willing to take those risks in order to deal with the aftermath and keep the losses to God’s house to a minimum before they themselves withdraw. They do not give priority to their own safety. What do you say to this: Could people not even care a little bit about their own safety? Who isn’t aware of the dangers of their environment? However, you must take risks in order to fulfill your duty. This is your responsibility. You should not give priority to your own personal safety. The work of God’s house and that which God entrusts to you are most important, and they take priority above all else”
Bright and early the very next morning, I drove over to Brother Zhao’s church. The first thing I did was seek out a sister and ask her to bring me to the home where the books were kept, but at the entrance, she quietly told me her husband was watching over her at home and not letting her out because he was afraid she’d be arrested. Hearing that made me especially worried. She couldn’t bring me, I didn’t know anyone else there, and the situation was critical. What would happen if the police seized the books? I couldn’t think of any other way, so all I could do was drive back home. On the way back, I couldn’t stop wondering who I could ask to take me there. And even if I managed to find someone, if I went back to that village again, I was likely to attract attention. Would I be reported? The more I thought, the more afraid I felt. It seemed like there was danger all around me. After I got home, I prayed to God to seek answers, and I saw this passage of God’s words, “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; … You must endure all; for Me, you must be ready to relinquish everything you possess and do everything you can to follow Me, and be ready to expend your all. Now is the time that I shall test you: Will you offer your loyalty to Me? Can you loyally follow Me to the end of the road? Be not afraid; with My support, who could ever block this road? Remember this! Do not forget! All that occurs is by My good intention, and everything is under My observation. Can you follow My word in all that you say and do? When the trials of fire come upon you, will you kneel down and call out? Or will you cower, incapable of moving forward?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 10). “When I formally begin My work, all people move as I move, such that people throughout the universe occupy themselves in step with Me, there is ‘jubilation’ across the universe, and man is spurred onward by Me. In consequence, the great red dragon itself is whipped into a state of frenzy and bewilderment by Me, and it serves My work, and, despite being unwilling, it is unable to follow its own desires, but is left with no choice but to submit to My control. In all of My plans, the great red dragon is My foil, My enemy, and also My servant; as such, I have never relaxed My ‘requirements’ of it. Therefore, the final stage of the work of My incarnation is completed in its household. In this way, the great red dragon is more able to do service for Me properly, through which I will conquer it and complete My plan” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God’s Words to the Entire Universe, Chapter 29). God’s word gave me faith. God is omnipotent. He controls everything and drives every action. God’s work in the last days takes place in the country of the great red dragon so that the great red dragon’s persecution can be used to perfect God’s chosen people. No matter how evil and frenzied the great red dragon becomes, it is still subject to God’s sovereign orchestrations. It can’t harm a single hair on our head without God’s permission. I considered that the CCP has been cruelly repressing and persecuting Christians since it came to power, and has used various despicable and evil means in a vain attempt to banish God’s church, but its conspiracies have never succeeded. Instead, its behaviors have rendered a service for God. They have given God’s chosen people discernment of its evil essence of hating the truth and resisting God and knowledge of God’s authority. At the same time, God uses the great red dragon to sort people according to their kind. Those who can normally eat and drink God’s word and loyally fulfill their duties amidst persecution and disaster, who do not surrender to Satan even after being arrested and tortured have the testimony of overcomers. But those who are so timid and afraid that they don’t dare to fulfill their duties are precisely the chaff, tares, and unbelievers revealed by God’s work, and in the end, they are all eliminated. At that moment I understood that God was using this environment to test me. If I was too timid and afraid to fulfill my duty, wouldn’t that mean I was revealed by God? When I realized this, I knew I couldn’t shrink back from my duty anymore. I had to move the books of God’s word as soon as possible.
So, I quickly discussed how to move the books with my brothers and sisters and learned that there were two other sisters who knew the home where the books were kept, so I quickly drove to pick them up and bring them to the homes with the books. On the road, every nerve felt tense, and I prayed to God continually. When we reached the village entrance, I saw some sort of groundbreaking ceremony taking place. Many people were gathered to join in the excitement. I realized this was God opening a path for us. I thanked God in my heart, and then, with the villagers distracted, we quietly entered the village from a side road and successfully moved the books of God’s word out. Just after we put the books in storage, we received a message that we were reported after we left. The police immediately set out in pursuit, but by that point we were already far away. I thanked God, because I saw that everything is in God’s hands, down to every minute, even every second. God mobilized people, events, and things to open a way for us, without which we could never have moved the books.
Not long after that, five brothers and sisters from a church were arrested during a gathering. The arrests came out of nowhere, so we didn’t know how many brothers and sisters in the area were being monitored. We had to notify the brothers and sisters who’d been in contact with the arrested immediately, so they could hide. The books of God’s word also needed to be transferred out as soon as possible. I was familiar with the church in that area, so I was best suited to assist the church leaders in dealing with things. But, I was also timid because I was afraid of being arrested and tortured, so I told my wife about my concerns, and she read me a passage of God’s words. God says: “Of everything that occurs in the universe, there is nothing in which I do not have the final say. Is there anything that is not in My hands? Whatever I say is done, and who among human beings can change My mind? Could it be the covenant I made on the earth? Nothing can hinder My plan from going forward; I am ever present in My work as well as in the plan of My management. Who among human beings can put his hand in to meddle? Is it not I who have personally made these arrangements?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God’s Words to the Entire Universe, Chapter 1). Reading God’s word gave me faith. I saw that all matters and things are in God’s hands. Every day, everything that happens to me and whether I am arrested are also in God’s hands. Without God’s permission, no matter how frenzied the great red dragon’s persecution becomes, I would never be arrested. Even if I were arrested, it would be my time to testify for God. When I realized this, I prayed to God, and was willing to rely on God and cooperate.
The next day, I disguised myself as a grain dealer and went to the village to learn about the situation. After I arrived, I had to avoid cameras and crowded places, so I took a long detour, and after a difficult journey, I arrived at the church leader’s home, only to find out they weren’t there. I felt worried and frustrated, and I waited until the sun went down, but I didn’t see them. So I was forced to spend the night at the nearby home of a relative who is also a believer. That night, I thought of how all day, I had put myself at risk and traveled so far, yet hadn’t accomplished anything, and I felt miserable. I had to go again the next day. What would happen to me if I was reported and arrested? I knew I couldn’t shrink from my duties like in the past. I had to think of a way to remove the books, but I also felt timid and afraid, and I felt like this duty was too dangerous. So, I prayed to God, “God! I feel timid and afraid. Please give me faith. No matter how dangerous, I want to rely on You and resolve this situation as soon as possible, so that the interests of God’s house are not harmed.” After I prayed, I recalled a passage of God’s words, “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. Because it is embarked upon in a land that opposes God, all of God’s work faces tremendous obstacles, and accomplishing many of His words takes time; thus, people are refined as a result of God’s words, which is also part of suffering. It is tremendously difficult for God to carry out His work in the land of the great red dragon—but it is through this difficulty that God does one stage of His work, making manifest His wisdom and His wondrous deeds, and using this opportunity to make this group of people complete” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Is the Work of God As Simple As Man Imagines?). In the past, I hadn’t understood the significance of this passage of God’s words, but when applied to that environment, I saw how practical God’s words are. The great red dragon hates the truth and resists God in the extreme. As a believer in God in the country of the great red dragon, we are certain to suffer arrest and persecution, but God uses the persecution of the great red dragon to perfect a group of overcomers. This is the wisdom of God’s work. In the past, I felt I had faith in God, but in that dangerous situation where I faced the risk of arrest, my timidity, lack of faith, and selfishness were revealed. I was afraid of not being able to bear the torture if I were arrested, becoming a Judas, and coming to a bad end. I thought about all my behaviors, about how I considered my own interests and safety but didn’t think at all about the work of the church. There was no loyalty to God or testimony in it. I was in this environment because God allowed it. God was using it to perfect my faith, and give me courage and wisdom so that I could have practical experience of God’s work and see God’s deeds. The fact that I was born in China and was fortunate enough to experience God’s work in the last days was God’s exaltation and love for me. If I didn’t suffer and pay a price to gain the truth, if I failed to fulfill this duty, there would be no significance or value in my life. When I realized that, I couldn’t help but reflect: Why did I always consider my own interests first in dangerous environments? What was the root cause of this?
Later, I read in God’s word: “All corrupt humans live for themselves. Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost—this is the summation of human nature. People believe in God for their own sakes; they abandon things, expend themselves for Him, and are faithful to Him, but still they do all these things for their own sakes. In sum, it is all done for the purpose of gaining blessings for themselves. In society, everything is done for personal benefit; believing in God is solely done to gain blessings. It is for the sake of gaining blessings that people forsake everything and can withstand much suffering: This is all empirical evidence of man’s corrupt nature. People whose dispositions have changed are different, they feel that meaning comes from living by the truth, that only people who perform the duties of a creature of God are fit to be called human, that the basis of being human is submitting to God, fearing God and shunning evil, that accepting God’s commission is a responsibility mandated by Heaven and earth—and if they are not able to love God and repay His love, they are unfit to be called human; for them, living for oneself is empty and devoid of meaning. They feel that people should live in order to satisfy God, to perform their duties well, and to live lives of meaning, so that even when it is their time to die, they will feel content and not have the slightest regret, and that they have not lived in vain” (“The Difference Between External Changes and Changes in Disposition” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days). After I read God’s word, I understood that I considered my own interests and protected myself in everything, and wanted to avoid and hide from my duties in dangerous environments, because I lived by satanic philosophies such as “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost” and “Let things drift if they do not affect one personally.” These philosophies had become my nature and controlled my thoughts and behaviors. They made me especially selfish and despicable. I didn’t consider the work of God’s house at all. I clearly knew the importance of the books of God’s word, and that I should risk everything to protect them, but I was still considering my own interests, and at such a critical moment, I couldn’t loyally fulfill my duties. I thought of how God, to save humanity, who have been so deeply corrupted, took the huge risk of coming to China to work, where He was hunted by the CCP and suffered condemnation and rejection from the religious world. God never once considered His own safety, and has constantly expressed the truth to supply us. Although we are rebellious and corrupt, God has never abandoned us, and has used His words to enlighten and guide us. When I recognized this, I realized just how much I owe God and hated how selfish and despicable I had become. I have enjoyed so much of God’s grace and the supply of His word, yet I tried to protect myself at every turn, and never once thought of how to protect the interests of God’s house. I had no humanity at all. I was truly unworthy to live before God! I knelt down and prayed to God, “God! I have been corrupted so deeply by Satan, I am very selfish and despicable, and I lack all humanity. I don’t want to live like this anymore, I want to forsake my flesh, fulfill my duties to the best of my ability, and uphold the work of God’s house.”
Later, I read this in God’s word excerpted from “‘Chapter 11’ of God’s Words to the Entire Universe.” “Who of the whole of mankind is not cared for in the eyes of the Almighty? Who does not live in the midst of the Almighty’s predestination? Does man’s life and death happen by his own choice? Does man control his own fate? Many people cry out for death, yet it is far away from them; many people want to be those who are strong in life and fear death, yet unbeknownst to them, the day of their demise draws near, plunging them into the abyss of death” (. “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? Thus, Satan becomes incapable of doing any more in people, there is nothing it can do with man. Although, in the definition of the ‘flesh’ it is said that the flesh is corrupted by Satan, if people truly give themselves over, and are not driven by Satan, then no one can get the better of them” )(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Interpretations of the Mysteries of “God’s Words to the Entire Universe”, Chapter 36). As I was contemplating God’s word, I understood that people’s life and death are in God’s hands. Just like when Satan’s cruelty was visited on Job, without God’s permission, Satan didn’t dare to take Job’s life. In dealing with this problem, whether I would be arrested was up to God. If God allowed the police to arrest me, no matter how much torture I had to endure, even if I was beaten to death, I had to stand firm and testify for God. It would be meaningful and valuable to be martyred for Him. Just as the said, “For whoever will save his life shall lose it: but whoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it” (Luke 9:24). I also thought of the saints of the past. When they were threatened with death, they didn’t consider their own interests or plan for their lives. Instead, they produced resounding testimony for God, just like Daniel, who was thrown into the lions’ den, or Jacob, who was beheaded, or Peter, who was crucified upside down. I should imitate their faith, loyalty, and obedience to God. I could no longer fear the dark influence of Satan or live a selfish, despicable, undignified life. I had to risk everything to fulfill my duties.
The next morning, it suddenly occurred to me that Sister Wang, who lived nearby, might also know the home where the books were kept, so I went to her house. In shock, she said, “Yesterday, people from the police station and the village cadres came to investigate believers in God. If you had seen the church leader and moved the books yesterday, you would have been caught outright.” When I heard Sister Wang say that, I couldn’t stop thanking God in my heart. After learning about the local situation, I moved the books to a safe place, and was finally able to stop worrying. Although I suffered a bit from being in a state of high anxiety throughout the whole process, I saw the practical effects of God’s omnipotence and sovereignty over all things. No matter how frenzied the great red dragon becomes, it is in God’s hands, where it serves God. It is a tool used to perfect God’s chosen people and help them grow in life, and without God’s permission, it can do nothing to us.
After my experience, my faith in God increased. I also gained some understanding of my own corruption. I no longer shy away when confronted with Satan’s dark influence, and I am able to fulfill my duty and protect the interests of God’s house. It’s thanks to God’s guidance that I have grown and benefitted in this way. I could never have gained these things in a comfortable environment. Thanks be to God!