A Catholic Priest’s Choice

February 27, 2022

By Weimo, China

My parents raised me in the Catholic Church and I became a priest when I grew up. Later, the church became bleaker and bleaker. Bishops and priests engaged in constant infighting and power struggles, and friars and nuns were always jealous and bickering with each other. One of our suffragan bishops got upset because his consecration wasn’t carried out by the diocesan bishop, so he teamed up with other priests and said since the diocesan bishop spent the church’s money on cars and condos, and had joined the Three-Self Church, he should be removed from his post. They even had a physical altercation with parishioners that supported him. These instances of jealousy and hatefulness became more and more serious and there were battles between priests that splintered the entire church into factions. I was really disgusted to see them fighting for status that way. It wasn’t like a church at all, but was just as dark as the secular world. The diocesan bishop started excluding me because I didn’t want to join Three-Self. He assigned a priest to act as my assistant, but it was actually to get him to co-opt my position. After that priest came, he instigated parishioners to ostracize me, and before long the church was divided into two factions, and lots of conflict cropped up. I didn’t want any part of those things, so I submitted my resignation to the bishop. I left that hate- and conflict-filled church and joined another one in the mountains, along with several friars and nuns.

I thought its members were simple and unpretentious without so many power struggles, that it would be a better situation there. But surprisingly, things were just as bleak in that church. The parishioners’ faith was tepid, they sinned wantonly, and didn’t even follow the commandments. They were dishonest, always shouting at people and getting into conflict. Unbelievers were constantly coming in, lodging complaints about them with me. They were problems I couldn’t resolve. I was feeling spiritually parched and didn’t have anything new to say in sermons.

Just as I was feeling lost, miserable, and helpless, Priest Liu and Deacon Zhang bore witness to me on Almighty God’s work of the last days, saying the Lord Jesus has returned. I was really shocked to hear that. I didn’t dare entirely believe it, but I didn’t dare totally disbelieve it, either. I was thinking that the last days had come and the church was devoid of light and the Holy Spirit’s work. We were sinning by day, confessing by night, and couldn’t practice God’s words. I was constantly uneasy and even kind of afraid, with this feeling that something terrible was happening. I was longing for the day the Lord would return and save us from that darkness and misery. So when they gave testimony that the Lord Jesus has returned, I desperately hoped it was true, but I was afraid to totally believe it. I was dying to know more about this return of the Lord Jesus, so I asked those two brothers to tell me more. They shared lots of fellowship with me and read some of Almighty God’s words, including a passage that left a deep impression on me. Almighty God says, “After the work of Jehovah, Jesus became flesh to do His work amongst man. His work was not carried out in isolation, but was built upon the work of Jehovah. It was work for a new age that God did after He had concluded the Age of Law. Similarly, after the work of Jesus ended, God went on with His work for the next age, because the entire management of God is always progressing forward. When the old age passes, it will be replaced by a new age, and once the old work has been completed, there will be new work to continue God’s management. This incarnation is God’s second incarnation, which follows upon Jesus’ work. Of course, this incarnation does not occur independently; it is the third stage of work after the Age of Law and the Age of Grace. Every time God initiates a new stage of work, there must always be a new beginning and it must always bring a new age. So too are there corresponding changes in the disposition of God, in the manner of His working, in the location of His work, and in His name. No wonder, then, that it is difficult for man to accept the work of God in the new age. But regardless of how He is opposed by man, God is always doing His work, and is always leading the whole of mankind forward. When Jesus came into the world of man, He ushered in the Age of Grace and ended the Age of Law. During the last days, God once more became flesh, and with this incarnation He ended the Age of Grace and ushered in the Age of Kingdom. All those who are able to accept the second incarnation of God will be led into the Age of Kingdom, and will moreover become able to personally accept the guidance of God. Though Jesus did much work among man, He only completed the redemption of all mankind and became man’s sin offering; He did not rid man of all his corrupt disposition. Fully saving man from the influence of Satan not only required Jesus to become the sin offering and bear the sins of man, but it also required God to do even greater work to rid man completely of his satanically corrupted disposition. And so, now that man has been forgiven of his sins, God has returned to the flesh to lead man into the new age, and begun the work of chastisement and judgment. This work has brought man into a higher realm. All those who submit under His dominion shall enjoy higher truth and receive greater blessings. They shall truly live in the light, and they shall gain the truth, the way, and the life(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Preface). Then they shared a lot more fellowship with me. I learned that God’s work is constantly moving forward, that the Lord Jesus did the work of redemption and faith in the Lord just gets our sins forgiven, but our sinful natures aren’t resolved that way, so we live in a cycle of sinning by day and confessing by night, and we’re still bound by sin. To fully save people from sin and Satan’s forces, God needs to do another stage of work, expressing truths to judge and cleanse us. That’s how to really resolve our sinful nature and corrupt disposition so we can escape sin, be cleansed, and enter into God’s kingdom. The religious world lost the Holy Spirit’s work a long time ago. To gain the Spirit’s guidance and the sustenance of the truth, we have to accept the truths God expresses in His last days’ work, keep up with His footsteps. That’s the only way to grow in life. I read The Word Appears in the Flesh a lot after that. I just couldn’t get enough of it—my heart was drawn to God’s words. I stayed up until 2 a.m. or so every night reading it. After some time, I became certain that Almighty God is the Lord Jesus returned, and I happily accepted God’s work of the last days. So I brought the brothers and sisters who shared Almighty God’s gospel into my church to help bring the parishioners who were true believers before God. We gathered and read Almighty God’s words together and found new enlightenment every single day. It felt so nurturing and enjoyable. We were attending the Lamb’s wedding feast!

Lots of bishops and priests from the region tried to stand in my way. First it was Bishop Zhao, who said, “I heard you’ve joined Eastern Lightning. You didn’t discuss something so important with me, and took lots of parishioners with you. That’s a betrayal of the Lord. When He returns He’s sure to reveal it to us bishops first. How could I not know if He’d really come back? Give it up and come back. I know you’re in a remote area and life is hard. If you come back, we’ll take care of any difficulties or needs you have.” He also said lots of things blaspheming and condemning Almighty God. I was just really taken aback. He was a bishop, and had said plenty of times that the Lord was returning soon, so we had to lead parishioners to pray and be watchful to welcome the Lord, but now that the Lord had come back, he had no intention of seeking, and was even blasphemous and condemning. He wasn’t any kind of true believer. I kept on spreading the gospel, unaffected by him.

Then Bishop Wang came with someone else and said to me, all smiles, “Bishop Zhao asked me to convince you to go see him at home. He’s incredibly concerned for your welfare, afraid you’ll take the wrong path!” I was so annoyed to hear him say that. They didn’t care about parishioners going through a hard time, but they were all up in arms about my faith in Almighty God. This was clearly an attempt to keep me from accepting God’s work of the last days. I told him, “You all are absolutely set on keeping me from my faith. The churches have been desolate, without the Holy Spirit’s work for years. Brothers’ and sisters’ faith is cooling and they’re in a cycle of sinning and confessing. I’ve been working for God but bound by sin, and I’ve really been in pain. I learned from Almighty God’s words that our faith in the Lord just brings forgiveness of sins, but not purification. If our sinful natures aren’t resolved, we’ll never escape the bonds of sin. The Lord has returned in the last days, expressing truths and doing judgment work to resolve the root of mankind’s sinfulness, so we can be freed from sin. Almighty God’s words show me the way to being purified and fully saved, and after looking into it, I have no doubts that Almighty God is the Lord returned. I won’t give up my faith no matter what you say.” And Bishop Wang said, “It’s true that the church is lacking the Holy Spirit’s work and the Lord’s presence, but that’s temporary, and it’s the Lord testing us. As long as we stay strong until the end, we’ll see a great revival of the church. If you take everyone away into Eastern Lightning, the church will be empty, then how could we have a revival? The Lord is about to return, but He hasn’t yet. You really think He wouldn’t reveal it to the Pope when He returns? The Lord gave Peter the key to the kingdom, and Peter gave it to the Pope who succeeded him. In Catholicism, the Pope is at the top, and bishops of congregations are below. All these clergy members are appointed by God, so if the Lord already returned He definitely would have told us first. Since the Pope and bishops haven’t heard about the Lord’s return, there’s no question that this news is false. If you go over to Eastern Lightning without the approval of the Pope or bishops, isn’t that apostasy?” I used to think that, too, but I asked about that specifically when I was looking into Almighty God’s work. Bishop Wang said that the Lord would reveal His return to them first, but I knew the Lord Jesus never said that, and that wasn’t recorded in the Bible. To welcome His return, we have to go by the Lord’s own words. The Lord said, “Behold, I stand at the gate, and knock. If any man shall hear My voice, and open to Me the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me(Revelation 3:20). “I have yet many things to say to you: but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will teach you all truth(John 16:12–13). God’s words are perfectly clear. He’ll speak more words and tell us the truth when He comes, and only if we hear His voice and accept God’s truths can we welcome the Lord. The Lord Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice: and I know them, and they follow Me(John 10:27). Followers like Peter and Matthew who followed the Lord all listened to what He preached and only then realized that He was the Messiah they’d been waiting for. And the Lord decides if we’re part of His flock based on whether we hear His voice. That’s why the key to investigating the true way is listening for the Lord’s voice and using that to recognize and accept Him. That’s the only thing we can rely on. And it says in Revelation many times, “He, that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches(Revelation 3:6). The Lord isn’t revealing it to religious leaders and bishops first when He comes in the last days, but He’s speaking directly to the churches, letting His voice be heard. Almighty God has expressed so many truths, unveiling so many mysteries of the Bible. This fulfills something the Lord Jesus said: “When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will teach you all truth. For He shall not speak of Himself; but what things soever He shall hear, He shall speak; and the things that are to come, He shall shew you(John 16:13). The Lord’s words were clear that those who hear His voice and follow Him are His sheep, and they’re the only ones who can welcome the Lord. So I rebutted Bishop Wang, saying, “You claim that the Pope and bishops should know first about the Lord’s return, but is this based on the Lord’s word? The Lord Jesus never said anything like that, and neither did God the Father or the Holy Spirit. Nothing like that is recorded in the Bible. So isn’t what you’re saying just a human notion? To welcome the Lord, we have to follow the Lord’s own words, not our notions and imaginings. It’s recorded in the Old Testament that the boy Samuel served Yahweh in Eli’s presence. By human notions, Yahweh’s revelation should have been given to Eli first, but that was not what Yahweh did. He called the child Samuel four times to tell him His will. And when the Lord Jesus came, instead of revealing it to the chief priests and scribes, He appeared to the shepherds and told them about the Lord Jesus’ birth. Obviously the Lord doesn’t work according to man’s notions. No matter how long someone’s been a believer or what their status is, as long as they’re willing to let go of their notions, humbly seek, and listen for God’s voice, they can witness God’s appearance. The Lord has come in the last days, expressing truths, doing the work of judgment. He doesn’t need to solicit anyone’s opinion or tell any particular person. This is God’s own work that no man can interfere with. Anyone who rebels will only offend God’s disposition, just like the scribes and the Pharisees who clung to their own notions against the Lord Jesus and had Him nailed to the cross. They committed a heinous sin and were damned and punished by God. Isn’t that bitter lesson something worth reflecting on for us?”

He just said really angrily, “You have some gall, daring to go against the Pope! You know, Priest Liu was kicked out of the church after joining Eastern Lightning. Church members rejected him and even his family were against it. He gave up his priesthood, and turned down a car and money. Don’t you think that’s a problem?” That the Catholic Church really didn’t have the Holy Spirit’s work, and the bishop had money, status, and pleasure on the tip of his tongue, just like an unbeliever. How was that serving God? And so, no matter how they tried to stand in my way, I was determined to follow Almighty God. I said, “The Bible says, ‘We ought to obey God, rather than men’ (Acts 5:29). I only obey God’s words, not men’s. You can perish that thought and stop advising me.” He left in a huff when he saw I wouldn’t listen to him.

After that, Bishop Zhao and Bishop Wang kept coming to try to stand in my way. They said, “Priest Wei, you can’t be unconscionable! Back then, to help you become a priest, bishops and other priests risked imprisonment to protect you, paying quite a price to help you with your 10 years of training to deliver sermons. We’ve been giving you food and drink. Your parents worked so hard so you could get your priesthood sooner, but you’re throwing them to the wayside with Eastern Lightning. Can you still face the bishops and priests? Can you still face your parents? Give up this faith and come back to us. We’re waiting for you.” My mind was in turmoil when they were saying those things. I was thinking of all those years the bishops took care of me—they really did a lot. The police had been after me for years and the bishops arranged things really thoughtfully for me, to ensure my safety. My family was poor and the bishops looked after me. I was afraid it would be unconscionable of me if I didn’t listen to them. But I knew that Almighty God is the Lord Jesus returned and I couldn’t turn my back on Him. So I said a prayer: “Oh God, I’m feeling weak. Please give me faith and strength so I’m not swayed by outside influences. I want to follow You till the end.” I opened up The Word Appears in the Flesh after that and saw this passage: “From the moment you come crying into this world, you begin to fulfill your duty. For God’s plan and for His ordination, you perform your role and start your life’s journey. Whatever your background, and whatever the journey ahead of you, 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. Since the day man came into existence, God has ever worked thus, managing the universe, directing the rules of change for all things and the trajectory of their movement. Like all things, man is quietly and unknowingly nourished by the sweetness and rain and dew from God; like all things, man unknowingly lives beneath the orchestration of God’s hand(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God Is the Source of Man’s Life). I also remembered that the Lord Jesus said: “Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns: and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not you of much more value than they?(Matthew 6:26). God takes care of the birds in the air—just think of humans! I was made by God, and He gave me my life. My food, my clothing is all given to me by God. The bishop caring for me was thanks to God’s arrangements, and my chance to serve God as a priest was also determined by Him, and it was His love. God should be the One I was thanking. If I betrayed God to repay a person’s so-called kindness, that would really be unconscionable! Also those bishops and priests were jealous and power-hungry, greedy for the benefits of status. The Lord has returned, and not only did they refuse to look into it, but they kept others from following God, even spreading lies and blasphemy. Wasn’t that perpetrating evil? No matter how nice they seemed, they weren’t trying to bring people before the Lord, to help them know the Lord and gain truth and life from Him. It was to bring people before themselves, to have them adulate and follow them, which pushed people farther and farther from the Lord. It reminded me of something the Lord said to the Pharisees: “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men, for you yourselves do not enter in; and those that are going in, you suffer not to enter. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites: because you devour the houses of widows, praying long prayers. For this you shall receive the greater judgment(Matthew 23:13–14). The bishops and priests had everyone firmly under their power, and stopped people from welcoming the Lord’s return. How was that any different from the scribes and Pharisees? Weren’t they the evil servants that God’s work of the last days exposes? Trying to be considerate of them would be a real betrayal of the Lord!

Later on, when clergy from other provinces learned about my faith in Almighty God, they started being disruptive, besieging me. They were full of blame, attacks, and condemnation, saying my faith was a betrayal of the Lord, that I was a traitor and should be damned. The worst part was that they made things up and twisted the facts to slander The Church of Almighty God and blaspheme Almighty God. Hardly anyone would just calmly hear me out. I was incensed. I was thinking, how could these people, ostensibly working for God, be that way? Everything out of their mouths was condemnation and blasphemy, so hateful toward God. For a while, it felt like something was tightly gripping my heart, and I couldn’t find any peace. I knew that with them condemning and rejecting me that way, their parishioners were certain to treat me the same way, so they’d probably be spitting on me wherever I went. This was really painful and disappointing for me. I remembered what the Lord said: “Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for My sake(Matthew 5:11). God became flesh and came to earth to save mankind, and suffered the religious world’s abuse. People are so vicious, so evil toward God, and those of us who follow God will certainly be subject to this kind of slander, too, but suffering for righteousness is blessed and meaningful. Thinking of it that way, I wasn’t worried about other people’s condemnation and rejection. They may treat me that way, but having the chance to welcome the Lord, read God’s words and come face-to-face with God is the greatest blessing. God is my everything, and having Him is having all. This was really comforting and brought me a sense of peace. In my old church, I wasn’t spiritually sustained, but was living in darkness. But following Almighty God, I was getting the sustenance of the truth and could see salvation on the horizon. It was like coming back from the dead. I’d found the way of eternal life, and no matter how the Catholic clergy judged and condemned me, I’d follow Almighty God. I read this passage of Almighty God’s words after that. “In every step of work that God does within people, externally it appears to be interactions between people, as if born of human arrangements or from human interference. But behind the scenes, every step of work, and everything that happens, is a wager made by Satan before God, and requires people to stand firm in their testimony to God. Take when Job was tried, for example: Behind the scenes, Satan was making a bet with God, and what happened to Job was the deeds of men and the interference of men. Behind every step of work that God does in you is Satan’s wager with God—behind it all is a battle(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God). Reading this helped me see that their attacks on me were part of a spiritual battle and a great test for me. They were using money, power, and prestige to tempt me to betray God, and they lashed out at me when they didn’t get what they wanted. They wanted to force me to give up my faith in Almighty God. Trying to keep me from following God and accepting His salvation, they were absolutely taking on Satan’s role. I couldn’t fall for Satan’s tricks. The more the clergy judged and condemned me, the more I saw the truth of how they hated the truth and resisted God. Not a single one of them sought or longed for God’s appearance, or welcomed the Lord’s coming. They were all nonbelievers, modern-day Pharisees who work against God.

I was really surprised when early one morning, just at daybreak, when I was at the church in prayer with some friars and nuns who had just accepted Almighty God, Priests Wang and Li showed up with some parishioners who usually weren’t devout, probably 70 or so people, and they all burst into the church courtyard. They had these really menacing looks on their face, and I figured they were resorting to violence to keep brothers and sisters from finding the true way. I was kind of afraid and quickly prayed to God, “God! My stature is small, please give me faith and strength so I don’t bow to these evil religious forces.” I felt more soothed after my prayer, not so afraid. I very calmly approached them and said, “Priest Wang, Priest Li, why have you brought all these people here?” Priest Wang said to me, “You’ve accepted Eastern Lightning, and worse, you’ve gotten parishioners involved. Welcoming the Lord’s return is a big deal, but you went over to Eastern Lightning in secret without discussing it with us. You’re rebelling! Have you forgotten the Lord’s own words? The Bible says, ‘Then if any man shall say to you: Lo here is Christ, or there, do not believe him. For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect(Matthew 24:23–24). So any news of the Lord’s second incarnation is false. You’ve been misled and you’ve betrayed the Lord, and you’re getting one last chance. Give up Eastern Lightning and bring the others back into the fold, and you’ll remain a priest.” I said very firmly, “Priest Wang, you can do whatever you want to me, but keeping people from investigating the true way, from hearing God’s voice and welcoming the Lord’s return is absolutely unacceptable. It’s true there are false Christs and false prophets in the last days, but the Lord Jesus said He would definitely return. We can’t fail to welcome the Lord’s own return out of fear of false Christs. Isn’t that cutting off your nose to spite your face? The Lord Jesus told us to be on our guard against false Christs because they can’t express the truth, but will just mislead people with signs and wonders. Only Christ in the flesh can express the truth, bestow humanity with life, and point us onto the path of salvation, into God’s kingdom. Christ is God’s Spirit in fleshly form and He possesses divine essence, so only He can express the truth to sustain and shepherd humans, only He can express God’s disposition and complete the work to redeem and save man. No human can do that, and no human can imitate that. Almighty God has appeared and is working in the last days, unveiling the mysteries of God’s 6,000-year management plan and the incarnations, expressing all truths that purify and fully save mankind. Only God Himself could do all this work. Who else, aside from God, could express the truth? Who else could do the work of judgment in the last days? Who else could purify and fully save mankind? Not a single person. Almighty God expressing so many truths fully proves that He is the Lord Jesus returned, that He is Christ of the last days.”

Priest Wang said, eyes wide, “We don’t care how right you are! You don’t want to turn back, but are dead set on Eastern Lightning. The bishops have told us to warn you to immediately give that up and hand over those Eastern Lightning books.” Then Priest Li pointed at me and said, “Hand over the church keys and that Eastern Lightning preacher!” Priest Wang ordered the parishioners, “Search the place, and find all their Eastern Lightning books! They can’t practice their faith without those books.” Then he ordered a few of them to hold me in place, and a deacon flung himself on his knees before me and shouted, “You can’t believe in Almighty God! What should we do if you’re not our priest anymore? You have to guide us to heaven….” I couldn’t get away from them. All I could do was watch them rush into the church courtyard with their shovels and hoes, then I heard the sounds of windows and doors breaking. I was really angry and really concerned because Brother Chen, who shared the gospel, was inside and it would be a problem if they got their hands on him. The others there were new to Almighty God’s gospel of the last days and didn’t have a good foundation. I was afraid they might not have the strength to stand strong with that kind of disruption. Before long, practically every room in the church had been turned upside down by them, and they’d even turned over the tabernacle. In Catholicism, the tabernacle is holy, and no one other than priests can touch it. I saw those people were way too audacious and had no reverence for God. but they still wouldn’t give up. They went to church members’ homes, intimidating them and spreading rumors and got most of their copies of God’s words. They beat him so badly he couldn’t get off the floor and even said they were going to take him to the police. I was really angry, and told them, “Brother Chen is a true believer. Beating him so badly and even threatening to take him to the police—do you even have a conscience? Are you believers in God? God is righteous, and any evil done against Him will certainly be punished.” They didn’t turn him into the police after they heard me say that. Then Priest Wang said to me, “As clergy we are well-meaning in what we’re doing, and I hope you can understand. Come back to the bishop’s house with us.” I told him, “I’m not going with you. I’ve heard the voice of God and I’m following the Lamb’s footsteps. I’m set on this path!” They left in a huff after that. That night, I just lay in bed, unable to sleep. The events of the day played in my head like a movie. My mind was in turmoil and I was wondering how bishops and priests, lifelong servants of the Lord, could hate us investigating the true way so much. A church is a place of worship, but they had the nerve to tear it apart, beat up a brother sharing the gospel, and take believers’ books of God’s words. They were capable of any kind of evil. The priests had government connections, so there was no telling when they might report me to the police. I’d always refused to join the government-run church, so I was seen as a thorn in the side of the National Security Brigade captain. He’d threatened me before, saying that me not joining the Three-Self Church had gotten him criticized by the Municipal Bureau of Public Security, and he was going to show me what’s what when he got the chance. Now as a believer in Almighty God, if the police got their hands on me, they might even torture me to death. The religious world’s condemnation and the Party’s pursuit were really painful for me. I was just following the Lord’s footsteps, following Christ of the last days. Why was that so hard? I couldn’t get any sleep that night. I prayed to God, “God, please help me and give me faith and strength so I can overcome my fleshly weakness and stand firm through this situation.” Then I thought of a hymn of God’s words: “Almighty God, the Head of all things, wields His kingly power from His throne. He rules over the universe and all things, and He is in the act of guiding us on the whole earth. We shall at every moment be close to Him, and come before Him in quietness, never missing a single moment, and with lessons for us to learn at all times. Everything, from the surrounding environment to people, affairs, and things, all exist by permission of His throne. Do not on any account let grievances arise in your heart, or God will not bestow His grace upon you. … 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(Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs, The Onset of Illness Is God’s Love). Singing this hymn over and over gave me some inner strength. It’s true. The universe, everything is in God’s hands, including my fate, so whether I was arrested or not was also up to God. Satan knows my weaknesses, so it used name, status, and personal safety to attack me, to get me to betray Almighty God, and God was using that situation to test my faith, too, to see if I had the resolve to give up everything to keep following God. There was some suffering, but I could feel God’s guidance and it gave me strength. I remembered that the Lord said “For he that will save his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for My sake, shall find it(Matthew 16:25). In order to redeem mankind, the Lord Jesus was crucified by the religious world and the government, and the disciples who followed Him were all persecuted. Some were stoned to death, some were dragged to their death by horses, some were hanged. They were martyred to spread the gospel, providing beautiful testimony. God approved of that. Following God is taking the way of the cross. The Lord Jesus already served as a model for us. We should drink from that bitter cup that the Lord drank from, and walk the path that He walked. Now that I was following Almighty God, even if it meant I’d be arrested and tortured by the Communist Party, it was for righteousness. God would approve and it would be a thing of glory. No matter what I might face after that, I was ready to give my life for it, to follow God till the very end.

Later I thought about why the bishops and priests had no desire to look into God’s work of the last days, but were so resistant to it. I read this in Almighty God’s words: “Do you wish to know the root of why the Pharisees opposed Jesus? Do you wish to know the essence of the Pharisees? They were full of fantasies about the Messiah. What is more, they believed only that the Messiah would come, yet did not pursue the truth of life. And so, even today they still await the Messiah, for they have no knowledge of the way of life, and do not know what the way of truth is. How, say you, could such foolish, stubborn and ignorant people gain God’s blessing? How could they behold the Messiah? They opposed Jesus because they did not know the direction of the Holy Spirit’s work, because they did not know the way of truth spoken by Jesus, and, furthermore, because they did not understand the Messiah. And since they had never seen the Messiah and had never been in the company of the Messiah, they made the mistake of clinging to the mere name of the Messiah while opposing the essence of the Messiah by any means possible. These Pharisees in essence were stubborn, arrogant, and did not obey the truth. The principle of their belief in God was: No matter how profound Your preaching, no matter how high Your authority, You are not Christ unless You are called the Messiah. Is this belief not preposterous and ridiculous?(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. By the Time You Behold the Spiritual Body of Jesus, God Will Have Made Heaven and Earth Anew). Through this I learned that the Pharisees opposed the Lord Jesus because they were stubborn and arrogant by nature. They hated the truth and refused to accept it. They heard the Lord Jesus’ words, but couldn’t tell they were from the Holy Spirit, and they wouldn’t acknowledge that He spoke the truth. They saw that the Lord allowed the blind to see, healed lepers, and brought the dead back to life, showing so many signs and wonders, but wouldn’t acknowledge that He was the prophesied Messiah, God Himself. They were convinced that He was just a man, and even blasphemed Him, saying He drove out demons through the prince of devils. They didn’t recognize the Holy Spirit’s work, accept the truth, or obey God’s words. They clung to the name “Messiah” and insisted on their own notions and imaginings, and ultimately had the Lord Jesus nailed to the cross. Now the Lord has returned as Almighty God, expressing truths to judge and cleanse people’s corruption and openly displaying God’s righteous, majestic, and unoffendable disposition. Almighty God’s words are powerful and authoritative, and have shaken the spirits of true believers in God from every denomination. They acknowledge that Almighty God’s words are the truth and the Holy Spirit’s words to the churches. But the bishops and priests don’t understand this. They cling to the literal scripture and their own notions, arrogantly waiting for the Lord to return and give them a revelation first. They don’t seek the truth or try to listen for God’s voice at all, but just madly keep people from accepting God’s work of the last days. All these things they do reveal their true faces of hating the truth and hating God. They are modern-day Pharisees, through and through.

After they came looking for the books, I left the church along with a few friars and nuns who wanted to share the gospel. A few days later, a brother got a message to me telling me not to come back no matter what, that the day after I left, the police went to the church to arrest me. When they didn’t find me, they started camping out in the church, waiting for me. They arrested several people who’d just accepted the gospel, and demanded to know where I was. That brother said the captain of the National Security Brigade had a joint report on me from deacons of several parishes, saying I hadn’t joined Three Self and told other deacons and priests not to join either, so that was directly opposing the government. Even more serious, that captain said preaching Eastern Lightning is a crime punishable by death, and they could shoot to kill. The police threatened them saying they could be convicted of a crime if they didn’t divulge my whereabouts. I was incredibly angry when I heard the news. The Party had been harassing me nonstop for years to get me to join Three Self, and now that I was following Almighty God and sharing the gospel of the last days, they had it out for me even more. They wanted to arrest me and see me dead right away. Those Communist Party demons are vile! But I knew in my heart that without the bishop’s permission, they never would have done that on their own. Doing that showed their wicked nature even more clearly. I thought of the Pharisees. To keep Jewish believers from accepting the Lord Jesus’ salvation, they worked with the Roman government to have the Lord savagely nailed to the cross, and hounded and persecuted His disciples. Now the clergy were working with the Communist Party to get me arrested and force me to give up my faith in Almighty God. They were no different from the Pharisees back then!

Before long I found out my hosts’ home was being watched by the police, so brothers and sisters snuck me out right away. The next day, I learned that the host couple had been arrested. The police had a photo of me and demanded to know where I was. After that I had to stay constantly on the move to avoid arrest. I was always in hiding trying to escape the Communist Party, and wondering when those days would finally end. During the Cultural Revolution, my uncle was beaten to death for being a Catholic, and his body was left with marks from chains and scars from being branded. That’s still engraved in my mind. I was thinking that I had no idea how they’d torture me if I fell into the Party’s hands.

There was a hymn of God’s words that guided me and gave me faith. “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. You must not throw away the truth for the sake of a peaceful family life, and you must not lose your life’s dignity and integrity for the sake of momentary enjoyment. You should pursue all that is beautiful and good, and you should pursue a path in life that is more meaningful(Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs, You Should Forsake All for the Truth). Singing this, I thought about the meaning of the hymn and understood God’s will a little better. Following God and gaining the truth requires some suffering. It’s only through hardship and trials that our faith can be perfected and we gain discernment over lots of things. I was rejected and sold out by the religious world because I was following Almighty God, and now I was being chased by the great red dragon, always on the run. I was living in a constant state of fear and was suffering quite a bit. But those experiences helped me more clearly see the reality that the clergy hate the truth, and hate God. I also truly experienced God’s guidance. Whenever I was miserable and weak, God would guide me to understand His will, strengthen me and give me faith, so that I was no longer weak and afraid. I could personally feel God constantly guiding me and watching over me. And there was quite a bit of misery, but it had meaning and value. Even if I did end up arrested, I knew it would be with God’s permission, and I was ready to submit to God and His orchestrations. I was ready to follow God no matter how difficult things got, to never waver!

They kept trying everything to keep me from spreading the gospel. One day I went to meet someone at a bus station, and as soon as I approached the arrivals area, several people suddenly crowded around me and grabbed hold of me. I was really shocked and didn’t know what was happening. Then some of my relatives got out of a car and stuffed me into it without any explanation. I didn’t know at the time, but found out later that the bishop asked Deacon Feng to call my family and other church members and tell them I’d joined Eastern Lightning, that I was taking ecstasy and I’d lost my mind, and I didn’t want to be a priest and didn’t even care about money. He said I was being controlled and that I’d gone against my vows to the Lord, and married a widow, and my kids were such and such years old. He asked my friends and family to work with the bishop to get me back, to stop me from following Almighty God and sharing the gospel. They really adored the clergy, so they totally believed the things they were saying. They thought bishops and priests would never lie. I was really angry when I heard that and saw even more clearly that the clergy are demons in the flesh. It’s said in the Bible, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and he stood not in the truth; because truth is not in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father thereof(John 8:44). Only demons would so wantonly lie and spread rumors, bearing false witness to deceive.

Then they took me to the bishop’s residence. He was all smiles, and said to me unctuously, “You’re back—the lost sheep is home.” Then he told everyone else to leave so he could talk to me alone. He said, “Before, you wanted to keep pursuing your education, but we didn’t agree. This time we’ll agree to all of your requests and you can go to whichever university you want. Lots of divinity schools are short on instructors and many parishes are lacking priests. If you don’t want to attend university, you could be an instructor in a divinity school or choose which parish you’d like to serve as a priest in. You’re not getting any younger, and you’ve had a hard time in recent years. We have money, a car and a house ready for you. Just give up Eastern Lightning to be a priest, and you’ll have no worries.” I was really repulsed to hear him say this. All those bishops thought about was status, money, and name. They believed in the Lord but didn’t follow His words. They didn’t look into the news that the Lord had returned at all, but just wanted to protect their own name and status, going crazy keeping others from accepting God’s gospel of the last days. Could their status and name really save them from sin? So I said to Bishop Zhao, “Bishop, I don’t want any of that. When Satan tempted the Lord Jesus, it used money and fame to try to get Him to bow before it. So who do these things you’re saying really come from? When you consecrated me as a priest, we all swore to the Lord to take up a cross and follow Him for life. Now the Lord has returned and I’m determined to follow Him. No amount of opposition or rejection from the church can stop me.” When he saw he couldn’t lure me away, he warned me, “You’d better stop telling church members about Eastern Lightning!” Then Bishop Zhao took us out to eat, and some of my relatives were there. One of them said to me, “You’re the only priest in our family for generations, and you’re the pride of our family. We never imagined you’d join Eastern Lightning. Your father’s in his 80s now and you’re out preaching Eastern Lightning instead of taking care of your parents. You’ve given up your priesthood. This is a betrayal of the Lord and you’ll go to hell for it!” Then my brother chimed in, “I suffered a lot so you could become a priest. When you were in divinity school, we hardly had anything to eat, and I was scrambling to get you food and money. It wasn’t easy to make that happen and get you your priesthood. But now you’re with Eastern Lightning—you’ve betrayed the Lord. You’re not a priest and don’t care about money. Have you lost your mind?” I responded, “It’s true that I needed your support to become a priest, but what about you saying I won’t go home to take care of our parents? When gaining priesthood, I swore to the Lord to give up my home, family, and the chance of marriage to serve Him for life. It’s said in the Bible, ‘He that loveth father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me, is not worthy of Me. And he that taketh not up his cross, and followeth Me, is not worthy of Me(Matthew 10:37–38). You say I should give up sharing the gospel and go home to be filial, but is that in line with the Lord’s words? Our faith means taking up a cross and sharing the gospel, taking it into many homes. Now the Lord has returned and is doing the work of judgment beginning with God’s house, so sharing this gospel is a very righteous thing.” Before I could finish, my brother reached out like he was going to hit me, saying I’d shamed generations of our family and he’d break my legs if I kept sharing the gospel, then said some blasphemous things. After that, Bishop Zhao kept me there and wouldn’t let me leave, saying I needed medical attention. If I left I’d be followed, without any freedom, just like a criminal. So I just prayed and leaned on God. The fourth day, I escaped when they weren’t paying attention, returning to the brothers and sisters and I kept sharing the gospel.

I saw the clergy not only keeping people from hearing God’s voice and welcoming the Lord, but also resorting to all those tactics to deceive believers and lead them onto a path against God, making them their sacrificial objects. And my family was working against God, blaspheming Him. It was entirely the consequences of the bishop’s lies, and his attacks on God. I remembered when the Lord cursed the Pharisees, He said, “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men, for you yourselves do not enter in; and those that are going in, you suffer not to enter. … Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you go round about the sea and the land to make one proselyte; and when he is made, you make him the child of hell twofold more than yourselves(Matthew 23:13, 15). The bishops and priests also got people to join the religion, then had everyone listen to them, oppose God, and make them children of hell. They were demons devouring people’s souls! Almighty God’s word says, “There are those who read the Bible in grand churches and recite it all day long, yet not one among them understands the purpose of God’s work. Not one among them is able to know God; still less can any one among them accord with God’s will. They are all worthless, vile people, each standing on high to lecture God. They willfully oppose God even as they carry His banner. Claiming faith in God, still they eat the flesh and drink the blood of man. All such people are devils that devour the soul of man, head demons that deliberately get in the way of those trying to step onto the right path, and stumbling blocks impeding those who seek God. They may appear of ‘sound constitution,’ but how are their followers to know that they are none other than antichrists who lead people to stand against God? How are their followers to know that they are living devils dedicated to the devouring of human souls?(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. All People Who Do Not Know God Are People Who Oppose God). God’s words showed me what sort of people those religious leaders really are. They’re always boasting about their authority to forgive sins. When believers sin, they have to kneel before them and confess to gain forgiveness, so clergy become like God in parishioners’ eyes. Now that the Lord has returned and is expressing truths to save mankind, they won’t do any seeking or allow believers to accept it, but spread lies, judging, condemning, and maligning The Church of Almighty God. They don’t love God or the truth, but just status and money, and they crave the benefits of prestige. They want to protect their position and living, so they keep believers firmly within their grasp, devouring people’s souls while claiming to serve God. They are bona fide demons, antichrists hiding in the church who hate the truth and are enemies of God. Undergoing the religious leaders’ disturbances time after time, I clearly saw that they have an anti-God, antichrist essence. It was Almighty God’s words that developed my discernment, and gave me faith and strength so I could overcome their temptations and attacks, see that they’re antichrists in essence, be freed from their strictures, and follow God. I’ve personally experienced that Almighty God’s words are the truth and life. I’m so grateful for God’s salvation!

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