A Disgrace From My Past
In August 2015, my family and I moved to Xinjiang. I’d heard that the Communist Party had put strict surveillance and control measures in place there in the name of combatting violence and unrest from the Uyghur population, so it was quite dangerous there. After getting to Xinjiang, the atmosphere felt even more tense than I’d imagined. Police were on patrol everywhere, and we had to do a full-body scan to get through security whenever we went to the supermarket. When we waited for the bus, there were police patrolling the stops with guns strapped to their backs. Seeing all this made me really nervous. The Communist Party was already arresting and persecuting believers, so adding these strict surveillance and control measures on top of that meant that I was in danger of being arrested or killed at any moment. Around October, I heard that two sisters had been arrested on the way to deliver books ofand sentenced to 10 years. I was pretty shocked by that, they weren’t leaders and workers, but they still got 10 years for delivering books of God’s words. I was in charge of the church’s work, so if I were arrested, I’d get at least 10 years. Images of my brothers and sisters being tortured in prison kept running through my mind. I felt really afraid, and I worried that I’d be arrested and tortured too, which would surely be a fate worse than death. I felt more and more scared and didn’t dare think about it further. Later on, I heard some brothers and sisters fellowship on how they looked to and relied on God to do their duties in this kind of environment, how they saw His almighty sovereignty, and felt His care and protection. This really encouraged me and gave me the faith to get through this situation.
In February 2016, I learned that there was an evil person named Wang Bing in one of the churches I oversaw who was constantly finding fault with the leaders, seriously disrupting church life. This needed to be resolved as soon as possible or it would impact the brothers’ and sisters’ life entry. A few co-workers and I discussed this matter and they thought that I should travel to the church to address the issue. But I was kind of afraid, and thought to myself: “The sisters that got 10-year sentences were arrested at that church. The Communist Party even rounded up local villagers to announce the news, intimidating and threatening them into not believing in God. It’s so dangerous there. Will I be arrested if I go?” After this crossed my mind, I found an excuse not to go. But then I saw that one of my partners was willing to travel there, and I felt kind of ashamed. She hadn’t been a believer for long and had just begun training as a leader. There were so many problems in that church and it wasn’t a good environment. I felt bad about letting her go there, so I said, “Maybe it’s best that I go.” When I arrived at the church, I saw that Wang Bing was unable to fellowship about any understanding of God’s words in gatherings, and that he often found fault with leaders, seriously disrupting church life. I talked to the preacher about first restricting Wang Bing and stopping him from having contact with or misleading the others, and then fellowshiping on the truth to the brothers and sisters to help them gain discernment of him. This would stop him from disrupting them any further, and after that we could train Sister Zhong Xin to take over the church’s work as quickly as possible. But I still had a few concerns, and I knew that it would probably take quite a bit of time to fully resolve the issues in that church. About half of the church’s brothers and sisters had been arrested, so the longer I spent there, the more risk I’d be taking. I thought about how God’s house had fellowshiped that some church work could be delayed in very dangerous environments to avoid incurring greater losses. Since we’d already decided on a solution to the problem, I figured that I could let the preacher follow up and handle things from there on. So I rushed to hand off the remaining tasks and went back home.
The preacher later reported that Wang Bing was becoming increasingly brazen and that he was forming a faction within the church to attack the leaders, seriously disrupting church life. I fellowshiped with the preacher on some solutions, but the problem remained unresolved. I felt a little guilty. Dealing with disorder in the church was my responsibility, but I wasn’t willing to resolve this issue out of fear of being arrested. That wasn’t right. But then I thought about how a sister had almost been arrested recently while taking the train to a gathering. “What will I do if I get arrested on the train ride over there? I’m a leader, I can’t do my job unless my safety is ensured.” So I continued to push the problems of that church onto the preacher. But since her capabilities were limited, these issues remained unresolved.
In September 2016, I received a letter unexpectedly saying that four brothers and sisters from that church had been arrested. One of them, Zhong Xin, was brutally beaten. A couple of days later another letter came saying that the police had beaten her to death. This news hit me like a pile of bricks. I simply couldn’t accept it. I knew that the Communist Party’s torture methods were absolutely merciless, but I never imagined that someone would get beaten to death by them in a matter of days. It was terrifying. I felt like the air around me froze. I couldn’t control my emotions, and I burst into tears. The more I thought about it, the more upset I became, and I kept asking myself how this had happened. I’d known for a while that an evil person was disrupting that church and that its members weren’t able to live a normal church life. I was a church leader, but I’d failed to go there and thoroughly resolve the problems out of fear of arrest. If I’d taken on a bit more responsibility, or thought of ways to cooperate with the other church members, and resolved those problems, if I’d reminded the brothers and sisters to be careful, maybe Zhong Xin wouldn’t have been arrested and beaten to death by the police. Her death threw me into a state of intense guilt. I was terrified and repressed. I felt like I was in a really frightening place and I could hardly breathe. But I knew that at such a critical juncture, I couldn’t keep running away, so I busied myself with helping the preacher deal with the aftermath. Before we could finish taking care of things, I learned that one of my partners had also been arrested and that the police had gotten some information about our church’s principal leaders and workers. I’d been in frequent contact with those brothers and sisters, so if the police reviewed their surveillance footage, it was very likely that they’d find me. I was really worried that I might be arrested at any moment. If I was sentenced and sent to prison, there was no telling if I’d make it out alive. It was very possible that I’d end up like Zhong Xin, beaten to death by the police at a young age. The more I thought about it, the more frightened I felt and the less willing I became to do my duty. I didn’t even want to stay in that place anymore. Because I never addressed this state and had failed for several months to deal with the issue of Wang Bing disrupting the church, I ended up being dismissed. After my dismissal, I did some text-based work in the church, but I still felt like it was dangerous being there. I was worried that I could be arrested any day and I really wanted to go back to my hometown to do my duty. The brothers and sisters fellowshiped with me, hoping that I’d stay and help them deal with the aftermath of everything that had happened. But I was so overcome with fear that I didn’t listen to their exhortations at all, and insisted on leaving.
In April 2017, the church stopped me from attending gatherings and had me isolate and self-reflect at home because of my behavior. I couldn’t hold my tears back when I heard that news. But since I’d abandoned my duty and deserted the church at such a critical time, I knew that it was what I deserved. I could see God’s righteousness in it and I was willing to submit. I read this in God’s words in my devotionals one day: “If you play an important part in spreading the gospel and desert your post without God’s permission, there is no greater transgression. Does it not count as an act of betrayal against God? (Yes.) So how, in your view, should God treat deserters? (They should be put aside.) Being put aside means being ignored, left to do as you please. If people who are put aside feel repentance, it is possible that God will see that their attitude is sufficiently repentant and still want them back. But toward those who desert their duty—and only toward these people—God does not have this attitude. How does God treat such people? (God does not save them. God despises and rejects them.) That is completely correct. More specifically, people who perform an important duty have been commissioned by God, and if they desert their post, then no matter how well they did before, or do after, to God, they are people who have betrayed Him, and they will never again be given the opportunity to perform a duty” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Spreading the Gospel Is the Duty to Which All Believers Are Honor-Bound). “God has the utmost loathing for people who desert their duties or treat them as a joke, and for the different behaviors, actions, and manifestations of betrayal against God, because amid the various contexts, people, matters, and things arranged by God, these people play the role of impeding, damaging, delaying, disturbing, or affecting the progress of God’s work. And, for this reason, how does God feel and react toward deserters and people who betray God? What attitude does God have? (He hates them.) Nothing but loathing and hatred. Does He feel pity? No—He could never feel pity. Some people say, ‘Is God not love?’ Why doesn’t God love such people? These people are not worthy of love. If you love them, then your love is foolish, and just because you love them, that does not mean that God does; you may cherish them, but God does not, for in such people there is nothing worth cherishing. And so, God resolutely abandons such people, and doesn’t give them any second chances. Is this reasonable? Not only is this reasonable, it is above all one aspect of God’s disposition, and it is also the truth” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Spreading the Gospel Is the Duty to Which All Believers Are Honor-Bound). The judgment and revelation of God’s words made me feel deeply ashamed. Zhong Xin had been beaten to death and my partner had been arrested. At such an important time, I should have been working with the brothers and sisters to deal with the aftermath of this, but instead I had just run away. Anyone with the least bit of a conscience wouldn’t have done something like that. I couldn’t forgive myself for doing that. I used to believe that no matter what I did wrong, God would have mercy and forgive me so long as I repented to Him. But I realized then that was just a notion and imagining. God says that He abandons those who give up on their duties and betray Him at critical moments, and that He won’t give them any second chances. Through reading God’s words, I learned that there are principles to His mercy and forgiveness. God won’t bestow His pardons and mercy on just anyone, regardless of what they’ve done to offend Him. Since the moment I fled, I felt like God had given up on me. I had no peace in my heart and I was filled with regret. I have no idea how many times I prayed or how many tears I shed over this. Whether God abandoned me or not, I wanted to render service for Him to repay my debt, and I knew that however He treated me and whatever He did would be righteous. What I had done was so hurtful to God that I wouldn’t complain even if He sent me to hell for it. I had made some sacrifices during my years of belief, and wanted to pursue salvation—I never imagined that when faced with arrest and persecution at the hands of the Communist Party, I would fear death, abandon my duty, and betray God, thereby committing a grievous transgression. Thinking about that left me really miserable and in despair. I couldn’t stop crying and I was overcome with remorse. I wished that I hadn’t insisted on leaving, and had kept doing my duty and dealt with the aftermath of the arrests along with the others in that crucial moment. Then I wouldn’t be living in such misery and torment. That wasn’t how I wanted things to turn out! But at that point it was too late. I’d made my own bed and I had to sleep in it. I hated myself for fearing death and being so selfish and vile. Someone like me wasn’t worthy of God’s forgiveness and mercy. I felt that since the church hadn’t expelled me, I should render service as well as I could to make up for my transgression. In my duty after that, I went wherever the leaders arranged for me to go, even if I was sent to support churches in dangerous environments. After doing this for a while, I was able to achieve some results in my work. But I didn’t ever want to talk about Zhong Xin’s death and how I’d run away from the church at such a crucial moment. I wanted to shield myself from it and forget about it, but I wasn’t able to. I felt like it was deeply branded on my heart and would never go away. Every time the thought of it came into my mind, it pained me and I felt really guilty.
One day I read something in God’s words that shined a light on my state. (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Two)). “Antichrists are extremely selfish and despicable. They do not have true faith in God, much less loyalty to God; when they encounter an issue, they only protect and safeguard themselves. For them, nothing is more important than their own safety. As long as they can live and won’t get arrested, they don’t care how much harm is done to the work of the church. These people are extremely selfish, they don’t think of the brothers and sisters at all, or of the work of the church, they only think of their own safety. They are antichrists” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Two)). The judgment and revelation of God’s words pierced straight to my heart. I had nowhere to hide—I couldn’t escape. I was just the sort of person that God described, who only cared about protecting themselves when faced with danger, who was selfish and despicable and had no consideration for the church’s work or the brothers’ and sisters’ lives. I thought back to when I first arrived in Xinjiang and saw how terrible things were there. When I saw that I was in danger of being arrested or losing my life at any moment, I regretted going there to do my duty. When I learned that there was an evil person disrupting things in one of the churches, I made excuses not to go out of fear of being arrested and tortured, even though this needed to be resolved urgently. I did end up going reluctantly later, but because I only thought of my own safety, I left before the problems were resolved. I was well aware that there were serious problems in that church and that I needed to go there to handle them, but I feared death, so I used my position to give orders instead of doing real work. I even pushed the other brothers and sisters to deal with it while I hid away, dragging out my ignoble existence. As a result, that church’s issues didn’t get resolved for several months. I even came up with a “reasonable” excuse, that as a leader, I had to protect my own safety to do my work, but in fact, I was just finding an excuse to flee in the face of danger. And when Zhong Xin was arrested and beaten to death by the police, I still only thought of my own safety, and worried about whether I’d be arrested and tortured to death. I even wanted to find an opportunity to abandon my duty and leave that dangerous place. After I was dismissed, I didn’t want to help with the aftermath of everything that had happened and I ran back to my hometown. The brothers and sisters didn’t reprimand me, but deep inside I felt God’s abandonment, disgust, and condemnation of me. What I regretted most was that the church had given me a chance to be a leader and entrusted so many brothers and sisters to my care. Yet when disaster struck, I just ran away, not caring whether the others lived or died or giving any thought to how the church’s work would be hindered. I was a cowardly deserter and traitor, and the object of Satan’s ridicule. Even more than that, this transgression had become an eternal wound in the depths of my heart. Through all this, I saw that I was a coward without any humanity who lived in a selfish and vile way! God’s words hit the nail on the head, revealing the despicable, ulterior motives hidden deep in my heart. I couldn’t keep fleeing reality. At that point I felt profoundly aware that I had committed a grave sin by betraying God and that I didn’t deserve His salvation. I also thought of how God has become flesh twice and given everything in order to save mankind. Two thousand years ago, the was crucified in order to redeem mankind. Now, in the last days, God has become flesh once again to save corrupt mankind, putting His life on the line to appear and work in the lair of the great red dragon, constantly pursued and persecuted by the Communist Party. But God has never given up on saving mankind. He has continued to express truths to water and supply us. God has given everything for man—His love for us is so real, so selfless! But I was incredibly selfish and lowly. In my duty I only protected myself and I totally disregarded the church’s work. I was so indebted to God and didn’t deserve to live before Him. All I wanted then was to render service for God. That way, I hoped, I might be able to alleviate my sinfulness a little.says: “Antichrists do their utmost to protect their safety. What they think to themselves is: ‘I absolutely must guarantee my safety. No matter who gets caught, it mustn’t be me.’ In this matter, they often come before God in prayer, pleading that God keeps them from getting into trouble. They feel that no matter what, they are indeed carrying out the work of a church leader and that God should protect them. For the sake of their own safety and to avoid being arrested, escape all persecution and situate themselves in a safe environment, antichrists often implore and pray for their own safety. Only when it comes to their own safety do they truly rely upon and offer themselves up to God. They have real faith when it comes to this and their reliance upon God is real. They only bother to pray to God asking that He protect their safety, not giving the slightest thought to the church’s work or their duty. In their work, personal safety is the principle that guides them. If a place is safe, then antichrists will choose that place to work, and, indeed, they will seem very proactive and positive, showing off their great ‘sense of responsibility’ and ‘loyalty.’ If some work does entail risk and is liable to meet with incident, to get its doer found out by the great red dragon, they make their excuses and refuse it, and find a chance to flee from it. As soon as there is danger, or as soon as there is a hint of danger, they think of ways to extricate themselves and abandon their duty, without a care for the brothers and sisters. They care only about getting themselves out of danger. They may already be prepared at heart: As soon as danger appears, they drop the work they are doing at once, without a care for how the church’s work goes, or for what loss it may incur to the interests of God’s house, or for the safety of the brothers and sisters. What matters to them is fleeing. They even have an ‘ace up their sleeve,’ a plan to protect themselves: As soon as danger is upon them or they are arrested, they say everything they know, clearing themselves and absolving themselves of all responsibility to preserve their own safety. This is the plan they have at the ready. These people are unwilling to suffer persecution for believing in God; they are afraid of being arrested, tortured, and convicted. The fact is that they have long since succumbed to Satan in their hearts. They are terrified of the power of the satanic regime, and more afraid still of such things as torture and harsh interrogation befalling them. With antichrists, therefore, if all is smooth sailing, and there is no threat at all to their safety or issue with it, and no hazard is possible, they may offer up their zeal and ‘loyalty,’ and even their assets. But if circumstances are bad and they could be arrested at any time for believing in God and doing their duty, and if their belief in God may get them fired from their official position or abandoned by those close to them, then they will be exceptionally careful, neither preaching the gospel and testifying to God nor doing their duty. When there is a slight sign of trouble, they become shrinking violets; when there is a slight sign of trouble, they wish immediately to return to the church their books of God’s words and anything related to belief in God, in order to keep themselves safe and unharmed. Are they not dangerous? If arrested, would they not become Judas? The antichrists are so dangerous that they may become Judas at any time; there is always the possibility that they will betray God. Furthermore, they are selfish and despicable to an extreme. This is determined by the antichrists’ nature essence”
In December 2021, I was elected to be a church leader again. But thinking of how I’d betrayed God and didn’t deserve to be a leader, I told a leader in tears about how I’d deserted the church before. The leader said, “It’s been years and you’re still stuck in this state of negativity and misunderstanding. It will be hard for you to gain the Holy Spirit’s work like this.” I also wondered why I was so depressed about my transgression after all that time and how I could resolve my state. After that, I made an effort to pray and seek. I read this in God’s words: “Even when there are times that you feel God has left you, and that you have been plunged into darkness, do not be afraid: As long as you are still alive and not in hell, you still have a chance. However, if you are like Paul, who stubbornly walked the path of an antichrist, and ultimately testified that for him to live is Christ, it’s all over for you. If you can come to your senses, you still have a chance. What is the chance you have? It is that you can come before God, and can still pray to Him and seek, saying, ‘Oh God! Please enlighten me so I understand this aspect of the truth, and this aspect of the path of practice.’ As long as you are one of God’s followers, you have hope of salvation, and can make it to the very end. Are these words clear enough? Are you still liable to be negative? (No.) When people understand God’s will, their path is a broad one. If they do not understand His will, it is narrow, there is darkness in their hearts, and they have no path to tread. Those who do not understand the truth are as follows: They are narrow-minded, they always split hairs, and they always complain about and misunderstand God. As a result, the further they walk, the more their path disappears. In fact, people don’t understand God. If God treated people as they imagined, the human race would have long since been destroyed” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. How to Identify the Nature Essence of Paul). “I do not want to see anyone feeling as though God has left them out in the cold, that God has abandoned them or turned His back on them. All I want to see is everyone on the road to pursuing the truth and seeking to understand God, boldly marching onward with unfaltering determination, without any misgivings or burdens. No matter what wrongs you have committed, no matter how far you have strayed or how seriously you have transgressed, do not let these become burdens or excess baggage that you have to carry with you in your pursuit of understanding God. Continue marching onward. At all times, God holds man’s salvation in His heart; this never changes. This is the most precious part of the essence of God” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique VI). “God became angry with the Ninevites because their wicked acts had come before His gaze; at that time His anger was derived from His essence. However, when God’s anger dissipated and He bestowed His tolerance upon the people of Nineveh once more, everything that He revealed was still His own essence. The entirety of this change was due to a change in man’s attitude toward God. During this entire period of time, God’s unoffendable disposition did not change, God’s tolerant essence did not change, and God’s loving and merciful essence did not change. When people commit wicked acts and offend God, He will bring His anger upon them. When people truly repent, God’s heart will change, and His anger will cease. When people continue to stubbornly oppose God, His rage will be unceasing, and His wrath will press in on them bit by bit until they are destroyed. This is the essence of God’s disposition. Regardless of whether God is expressing wrath or mercy and lovingkindness, it is man’s conduct, behavior, and the attitude man holds toward God deep within his heart that dictate that which is expressed through the revelation of God’s disposition” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique II). I was so moved when I read those words from God and I felt deeply indebted to Him. I realized that I’d been misunderstanding God all those years. It is God’s will to save mankind to the greatest extent possible. He wouldn’t give up on someone because of a momentary transgression—He’ll give them ample opportunities to repent. Just like the people of Nineveh: God only said that He’d destroy them because they were doing evil, resisting, and angering Him. But before destroying Nineveh, He sent Jonah to share the word of God with them, thereby giving them a final chance to repent. When they genuinely repented, God’s anger turned to forgiveness and mercy, and He pardoned their evil deeds. Through this, I could see God’s great love and mercy for man. God’s profound wrath and generous mercy are principled, and shift entirely based on the attitude that people hold toward Him. Though God’s words of judgment and revelation are harsh, and even condemning and damning, they are not a real confrontation, they are just a confrontation of words. God’s will was for me to understand His righteous and unoffendable disposition, to have a God-fearing heart, to truly repent to Him, and to be faithful to Him and do my duty well at any time and under any circumstances. At that point I realized that I was too intransigent and rebellious. I’d been misunderstanding God for years, passing verdicts on myself based on my own notions and imaginings, and trapping myself in a blind alley. God hadn’t really given up on saving me. I was misunderstanding the good intentions behind His salvation. That reminded me of something God said: “God’s mercy and tolerance are not rare—man’s true repentance is” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique II). Though God has majesty and wrath, though He judges and reveals us, and even condemns and curses us, He is full of love and mercy. I felt really regretful and guilty after understanding God’s desire to save mankind. I didn’t want to keep running away from my past transgression or misunderstanding and being guarded against God. I was ready to repent. I wanted to use the lesson of this failure to caution myself. I’d been selfish, vile, and afraid of death. In the face of danger, I had become a deserter, disregarding the church’s work. I realized that my fear of death was my greatest weakness, and that I had to seek the truth to resolve and forsake it.
I read this passage of God’s words later: “From the perspective of human notions, they paid such a great price to spread the work of God, but were ultimately killed by Satan. This does not accord with human notions, but this is precisely what happened to them. It is what God allowed. What truth can be sought in this? Was God allowing them to die this way His curse and condemnation, or was it His plan and blessing? It was neither. What was it? People now reflect on their deaths with much heartache, but that was how things were. Those who believed in God died that way, how is this to be explained? When we mention this topic, you put yourselves in their position, so are your hearts sad, and do you feel a hidden pain? You think, ‘These people did their duty to spread God’s gospel and should be considered good people, so how could they come to such an end and such an outcome?’ Actually, this was how their bodies died and passed away; this was their means of departure from the human world, yet that did not mean their outcome was the same. No matter what the means of their death and departure was nor how it happened, it was not how God defined the final outcomes of those lives, of those created beings. This is something you must see clearly. On the contrary, they used precisely those means to condemn this world and to testify to God’s deeds. These created beings used their most precious lives—they used the last moment of their lives to testify to God’s deeds, to testify to God’s great power, and to declare to Satan and the world that God’s deeds are right, that the Lord Jesus is God, that He is the Lord, and God’s incarnate flesh. Even down to the final moment of their lives, they never denied the name of the Lord Jesus. Was this not a form of judgment upon this world? They used their lives to proclaim to the world, to confirm to human beings that the Lord Jesus is the Lord, that the Lord Jesus is Christ, that He is God’s incarnate flesh, that the work of redemption He did for all humanity allows humanity to live on—this fact is forever unchanging. Those who were martyred for spreading the gospel of the Lord Jesus, to what extent did they perform their duty? Was it to the ultimate extent? How was the ultimate extent manifested? (They offered their lives.) That’s right, they paid the price with their lives. Family, wealth, and the material things of this life are all external things; the only thing that is related to the self is life. To every living person, life is the thing most worthy of being treasured, the most precious thing and, as it happens, these people were able to offer their most precious possession—life—as confirmation of and testimony to God’s love for mankind. Until the day they died, they did not deny God’s name, nor did they deny God’s work, and they used their last moments of life to testify to the existence of this fact—is this not the highest form of testimony? This is the best way of doing one’s duty; this is what it is to fulfill one’s responsibility. When Satan threatened and terrorized them, and, in the end, even when it made them pay the price of their lives, they did not abandon their responsibility. This is what it is to fulfill one’s duty to the utmost extent. What do I mean by this? Do I mean to have you use the same method to testify of God and to spread His gospel? You do not necessarily need to do so, but you must understand that this is your responsibility, that if God needs you to, you should accept it as something you are honor-bound to do” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Spreading the Gospel Is the Duty to Which All Believers Are Honor-Bound). I felt really ashamed after reading God’s words. Saints through the ages have laid down their lives and spilled their blood to spread the gospel of the Lord Jesus. Countless were martyred for God. They were stoned to death, dragged to death by horses, grilled alive, or crucified upside down. Many missionaries knew that by coming to China they risked being killed, but they still put their lives on the line to come and preach here. And now, plenty of believers have been tortured and persecuted to death by the Communist Party for spreading the kingdom gospel, thereby sacrificing their lives to bear a resounding witness for God. They were persecuted for the sake of righteousness, and all of their deaths were meaningful and approved of by God. Before, I was never able to see those things clearly, and I didn’t have any understanding of God’s almighty sovereignty. I just feared death and thought that everything would end when I died. I gave up my duty, lived an ignoble existence, and betrayed God in the face of the Communist Party’s mad persecution. This became a serious transgression and a permanent stain on my faith. I understood then that whatever we face in life and whatever suffering we endure is ordained by God. We can’t run away from it. If God permitted me to die, I should submit to it, and follow in the footsteps of the saints who sacrificed their lives to testify to God throughout history. This thought allowed me to face death properly and gave me more faith in God. No matter what I faced in the future, I was ready to lean on God and stand firm in my witness, and I wouldn’t abandon my duty or betray God again.
On July 6, 2022, my partner came to me and said nervously, “Something happened. Three leaders have been arrested.” I felt uneasy after I heard her say that. Those three leaders had been in contact with lots of people and host families, and one of them had been in touch with us just a few days earlier. We had to deal with the aftermath of their arrests immediately to prevent even greater losses. But I still felt a little afraid. If those brothers and sisters were being watched, I might walk right into the police’s trap by getting in contact with them. But then I thought of the painful lesson I’d learned when I deserted the church last time, and how I’d betrayed God and offended His disposition. That was a pain that I would never forget and I didn’t want to repeat the same mistake. So I kept praying to God, “Oh God, I promise to stay true to my duty in the face of this situation and to not run away. Please give me faith and strength.”
After that, I rushed to notify the brothers and sisters that they should be on high alert, and moved the books of God’s words to safe places. Then it occurred to me that my house wasn’t safe, either, so I decided to go home and tell my mother-in-law to go and rent a room somewhere else. Right as I approached the entrance, I saw two young men dressed in black, and didn’t dare go inside. Later, I learned that my mother-in-law had already been arrested, and those men in black were police officers. I also found out that the sister who’d gone out to tell the others to move at the same time as me hadn’t come back and had probably been arrested. The circumstances didn’t allow me to give it much thought, and I rushed to deal with the aftermath with the sister I was partnered with. I found out later that it was a coordinated arrest operation by the Communist Party, and that 27 people had been arrested between the night of the 5th and the day of the 6th. Faced with this awful situation, I knew that God was giving me a chance to make a different choice. Before, I’d been a deserter, betraying God. I couldn’t let God down again this time, I had to lean on God, do my duty, and work with the others to deal with the aftermath of these arrests. After that, I continued to deal with the situation with my brothers and sisters. Practicing this way made me feel more at ease.
When I talk about my transgression now, I’m able to face and acknowledge that I’m a selfish and despicable person who fears death. I don’t want to be that kind of person anymore. I want that transgression to be like an alarm bell, to remind me not to repeat the same mistake. Now when I see brothers and sisters in a similar state, I offer fellowship to them so that they can understand God’s righteous and unoffendable disposition, and take that as a warning. That transgression is still engraved on my heart and it still pains me, but it has also become one of the experiences I treasure most in my life.