A Rewarding Report
By Ding Li, USA
It was in the summer, a couple years ago. I heard that Sister Zhou, a leader, had assigned Brother Li as the deacon of watering, saying that his caliber was pretty good and his fellowship in gatherings was enlightening. I was a little taken aback by the news. I’d worked with him in my duty before, so I knew a fair bit about him. It’s true that he was a good talker and he certainly had plenty to say in his fellowship, but most of it was just literal doctrine and couldn’t really address practical problems. He was also pretty arrogant and tended to do things his own way, and he’d make work decisions on his own without discussing things with others. That led to some problems that also harmed the work of God’s house. The person in charge brought the problem up with him several times, but he wouldn’t accept it and never did change. I pointed his problems out to him, too. He never reflected or gained a better understanding of himself, but would just justify his behavior. After a while, I could see that he was someone who was always spouting doctrine, but couldn’t accept the truth. A principle for electing leaders and workers in God’s house is that they have to have a pure understanding of the truth, be able to accept the truth, have a sense of responsibility, and good caliber. And a watering deacon should be good at resolving issues through fellowship on the truth and be able to do some practical work. Sister Zhou made him deacon of watering only because he had a bit of caliber and was a smooth talker. That was not in line with the principles. I got more and more uneasy the more I thought about it, and I wanted to go share my thoughts with Sister Zhou. But I hesitated right as it was on the tip of my tongue. As you know, I used to be a watering deacon too, and I’d just been dismissed from my duty because I wasn’t resolving people’s practical problems. If I raised doubts about the person who was just selected by the leader, how would that make me look? Would people say that I’d just lost that duty, so I was jealous of the person who got the position, and I was finding fault with him? What if they said I was disrupting the church’s work and then took the new duty I was doing away from me? I figured I’d forget it, that it was better to keep things simple instead of sticking my neck out and causing trouble for myself. So I swallowed the words just as I was about to open my mouth. Later on, I heard that some brothers and sisters from another group had also worked with Brother Li before, and they felt that he never shouldered a burden for his duty and he wasn’t a good fit to serve as deacon. Then I felt certain that I was right about him and I thought that I should talk to Sister Zhou as soon as I could so that the work of God’s house wasn’t delayed because the wrong person had the job. Since Sister Zhou was the one who appointed Brother Li, if I brought it up with her, wouldn’t that be finding fault with her right to her face? I’d worked with her before, and I’d found she was arrogant, self-righteous and overbearing. I talked to her about these things and not only did she refuse to accept it, but she really gave me a dressing down when I was in a bad state after that. So if I mentioned a problem in her work, I thought she might think I was being difficult with her, that I was trying to trip her up. Then what would I do if she made things hard for me? And I remembered a few years before when a sister and I pointed out some faults of a leader, that leader accused us of forming a clique, and ganging up and attacking him. I also lost my duty over it. That leader was later exposed as an antichrist and expelled, but I didn’t have a duty for a long time because I was being held back by the antichrist. I was worried that Sister Zhou might not accept what I said, and then find an excuse to take my duty away from me. God’s work is going to come to an end really soon, so it’s a critical time for doing a duty. If I couldn’t do a duty and prepare good deeds at a time like this, I was worried I’d lose my chance at salvation. Then wouldn’t I lose more than I gained? At that thought, I put the idea of mentioning the problem out of my head.
After that, I heard some brothers and sisters say that since Brother Li became deacon of watering, he’d just been sharing doctrine and bragging in gatherings, and he wasn’t helping people with their problems at all. He wasn’t taking on responsibility in his duty, either, and among the newcomers he was responsible for, quite a few had stopped going to gatherings because they’d been taken in by Communist Party’s lies. He hadn’t offered them fellowship and support in time, so some of them had abandoned the faith. I realized how serious the problem was when I heard about this. If he kept serving as watering deacon, it could just do more and more harm to the church’s work, and I knew I had to report this right away. But at the time, I was afraid of offending the leader and getting myself in trouble, so I was really conflicted. Should I report it, or not? If I did, I was afraid of the impact it would have on me, but if I didn’t, I would feel really guilty about it. I wondered how I could bring it up in a way that guaranteed nothing would go wrong. These thoughts constantly haunted me, leaving me distracted and restless.
One time in a gathering, a group leader asked us if we had any other opinions to share about Brother Li’s promotion, and if so, we should send him a message about them. I was really excited to hear that and thought it was a great opportunity. He would be at the forefront, and he would summarize our opinions to share with the leader, then the leader wouldn’t know who had written what. If she really tried to dig into it, the group leader would be the safeguard out in front. I wrote out the problems I saw and gave that to the group leader. The next morning, to my surprise, he told me that he’d already forwarded what I wrote to the leader. I felt so anxious as soon as I heard that he hadn’t shared things with the leader as feedback from our group as a whole. I asked, “Why did you just forward my original message to Sister Zhou?” Seeing what a strong reaction I had, he asked me, “Everyone’s thoughts were all passed along to the leader and we should all be honest about our opinions. What is there to worry about?” I didn’t know what to say in response to this. I was surprised and kind of embarrassed. It hadn’t occurred to me that the group leader and other brothers and sisters had already made suggestions to the leader. They had the courage to speak up, so why was I too afraid to be up front about the problem? I came before God in prayer and seeking, and reflected on my own state. I read a passage ofafter that: “Conscience and reason should both be components of a person’s humanity. These are both most fundamental and most important. What kind of person is one who lacks conscience and does not have the reason of normal humanity? Generally speaking, he is a person who lacks humanity, a person of extremely poor humanity. Going into more detail, what manifestations of lost humanity does this person exhibit such that people say he has no humanity? Have a go at analyzing what characteristics are found in such people and what specific manifestations do they present. (They are selfish and mean.) Selfishness is one, and so is meanness. What is manifested, furthermore, in what they do? Such people are perfunctory in their actions and stand aloof from anything that does not concern them personally. They do not consider the interests of God’s house, nor do they show consideration for God’s will. They take on no burden of testifying for God or performing their duties, and they have no sense of responsibility. … There are even people who, upon seeing a problem in the performance of their duty, remain silent. They see that others are causing interruptions and disturbances, yet say nothing, and do nothing to stop them. They do not consider the interests of God’s house in the least, nor do they at all think about their own duties or responsibilities. They speak, act, stand out, put forth effort, and expend energy only for their own vanity, prestige, position, interests, and honor. The actions and intents of someone like that are clear to everyone: They pop out whenever there is an opportunity for honor or to enjoy some blessing. But, when there is not an opportunity for honor, or as soon as there is a time of suffering, they vanish from sight like a tortoise retracting its head. Does this kind of person have conscience and reason? Does a person without conscience and reason who behaves in this way feel self-reproach? (No.) Such people have no sense of reproach; the conscience of this kind of person serves no purpose. They have never felt self-reproach, so can they feel the reproach or discipline of the Holy Spirit? No, they cannot” (“Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words described the exact state I was in. I knew the leader wasn’t appointing people according to principles, and I saw that Brother Li wasn’t doing practical work as the watering deacon, but he was hindering brothers’ and sisters’ life entry. I should have stood up and reported the problem to protect the church’s work. That is the bounden duty of all of God’s chosen people. But instead, I was scared I’d offend Sister Zhou and she’d take my duty away, so I stuck my head in the sand and turned a blind eye to the problem. I did share my opinion with the group leader in writing, but I didn’t want Sister Zhou to know I was the one who’d written it, afraid it would cause problems for me. I realized that I’d just been thinking of my personal interests in everything, not how to uphold the interests of God’s house. I was so lacking conscience and reason. I’d enjoyed so much watering and sustenance from God’s words, but when the work of God’s house was suffering, I just thought about protecting myself. I didn’t have any loyalty to God. I was biting the hand that fed me. I didn’t have any humanity at all. I felt worse and worse the more I thought about it, and I wondered: Why was I so wracked with fear, so anxious when I encountered such an issue? Saying a single honest word was so taxing for me—what sort of disposition was I being controlled by?
Later I read a passage of God’s words that made it all clear for me.says, “Most people wish to pursue and practice the truth, but much of the time they merely have a resolution and the desire to do so; the truth has not become their life. As a result, when they come across evil forces or encounter wicked and bad people committing evil deeds, or false leaders and antichrists doing things in a way that violates principles—thus causing the work of God’s house to suffer losses, and harming God’s chosen ones—they lose the courage to stand up and speak out. What does it mean when you have no courage? Does it mean that you are timid or inarticulate? Or is it that you do not understand thoroughly, and therefore do not have the confidence to speak up? It is none of these; it is that you are being controlled by several kinds of corrupt dispositions. One of these dispositions is cunning. You think of yourself first, thinking, ‘If I speak up, how will it benefit me? If I speak up and displease someone, how will we get along in the future?’ This is a cunning mentality, right? Is this not the result of a cunning disposition? Another is a selfish and mean disposition. You think, ‘What does a loss to the interests of God’s house have to do with me? Why should I care? It’s got nothing to do with me. Even if I see it and hear it happen, I don’t need to do anything. It’s not my responsibility—I’m not a leader.’ Such things are inside you, as if they had sprung from your unconscious mind, and as if they occupy permanent positions in your heart—they are the corrupt, satanic dispositions of man. These corrupt dispositions control your thoughts and bind your hands and feet, and they control your mouth. When you want to say something in your heart, the words reach your lips but you do not say them, or, if you do speak, your words are roundabout, leaving you with room to maneuver—you do not speak at all clearly. Others feel nothing after hearing you, and what you have said has not resolved the problem. You think to yourself: ‘Well, I spoke up. My conscience is at ease. I’ve fulfilled my responsibility.’ In truth, you know in your heart that you have not said all you should, that what you have said has had no effect, and that the detriment to the work of God’s house remains. You have not fulfilled your responsibility, yet you say overtly that you have fulfilled your responsibility, or that what was happening was unclear to you. Is this true? And is it what you really think? Are you not then completely under the control of your satanic dispositions? What you think and say may sometimes be close to reality, but at key moments, you still lie and deceive, even concocting fallacious defenses of yourself—which proves that your mouth is controlled by your satanic dispositions. You never say what you really think. It all has to be pre-edited by your brain, in your mind. Everything you say is a lie, at odds with the facts, it is all in your own spurious defense, to your own advantage. Some people are taken in, and it’s good enough for you: Your words and actions have achieved your objectives. This is what is in your heart, these are your dispositions. You are wholly controlled by your own satanic dispositions” (“Only Those Who Practice the Truth Are God-Fearing” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). Seeing the way it’s described in God’s words, I could see that I wasn’t practicing the truth or protecting the work of God’s house because I was slippery, selfish, and despicable by nature. I thought about how I knew that Sister Zhou wasn’t following the principles in her appointment of Brother Li and then he was compromising the church’s work because he wasn’t doing any practical work. I saw all of this as clear as day and I knew that I should point it out, that that would be helpful for the church’s work, but I never mustered the courage to stand up and say something. Then when a group leader took the initiative, I finally put my views in writing, but when I found out that he had passed it directly on to the leader, I was disgruntled and felt like he’d “exposed” me. In all of my thoughts and actions, I was racking my brains, calculating how to protect myself so that I didn’t stand to lose anything. Even though I was well aware that brothers’ and sisters’ lives and the church’s work were suffering, I wasn’t putting the truth into practice or sharing the problems I saw. I was going by “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” “Let things drift if they do not affect one personally,” “Sensible people are good at self-protection, seeking only to avoid making mistakes,” and “The nail that sticks up the most gets hammered down,” these sorts of satanic philosophies. These things were controlling my thoughts, keeping me under their spell, and making me cunning and devious. I had faith and read God’s words, but there was no place for God in my heart. I could hardly say a single honest thing or shed light on an actual situation. I was acting as Satan’s lackey, living a pathetic existence. Selfish, despicable, and lacking humanity, it was really sickening for God. I felt incredible regret at that point and silently said a prayer to God: “Oh God, I’m so selfish and cunning. I didn’t take any responsibility when I saw a problem and I wasn’t practicing the truth or protecting the work of God’s house. I’ve been pathetic. God, I don’t want to live this way anymore. Please save me from this. I want to practice the truth and satisfy You.” I felt a little more confidence after my prayer and I stopped worrying about how Sister Zhou might react after reading my report.
Not only did she not reflect on herself for violating the principles in her appointment, but she didn’t change Brother Li’s duty. Also, she wasn’t dealing with problems of projects going slowly or being ineffective. I was thinking that she wouldn’t accept the truth or do any real work, so based on the principles of discerning false leaders, it looked very likely that that’s what she was. I wanted to report this to higher ups, but again, I hesitated. If I reported her and she found out about it, what would she think of me? If she wasn’t dismissed but stayed on as a leader, would she be looking for excuses to suppress me? I figured, forget it. Refusing to change or do practical work is her affair, so I should just do my duty well and see how things go. So I put this to the back of my mind and let matters take their course. Something happened later on that had a big impact on me and I found the courage to report Sister Zhou.
A little while later I heard that there was a leader at another church who’d been exposed as an antichrist and kicked out. He’d done quite a bit of evil in his time as leader, and everyone saw him for what he was, but didn’t dare speak up. Not a single person in the whole church reported on him, and even after he was exposed and kicked out, they still didn’t bring the evil things he’d done to light. They just shirked their own responsibility, claiming ignorance. They were all defending, harboring that antichrist, which really offended God’s disposition. As a result, everyone in the church had to stop doing their duty so they could reflect on themselves. This made a really big impression on me, and it reminded me of some of God’s words: “If a church contains no one who is willing to practice the truth and no one who can stand witness for God, then that church should be completely isolated, and its connections with other churches must be severed. This is called ‘burying death’; this is what it means to cast out Satan. If a church contains several local bullies, and they are followed by ‘little flies’ that entirely lack discernment, and if the congregants, even after having seen the truth, are still incapable of rejecting the binds and manipulation of these bullies, then all those fools will be eliminated in the end. These little flies might not have done anything terrible, but they are even more deceitful, even more slick and evasive, and everyone like this will be eliminated. Not a single one shall remain! Those who belong to Satan will be returned to Satan, while those who belong to God will surely go in search of the truth; this is decided by their natures. Let all those who follow Satan perish! No pity will be shown to such people. Let those who search for the truth be provided for, and may they take pleasure in God’s word to their hearts’ content. God is righteous; He would not show favoritism to anyone. If you are a devil, then you are incapable of practicing the truth; if you are someone who searches for the truth, then it is certain that you will not be taken captive by Satan. This is beyond all doubt” (“A Warning to Those Who Do Not Practice the Truth” in). From God’s words, I got a sense of His majestic, righteous disposition that tolerates no offense and His wrath for those who don’t put the truth into practice. Even if it looks on the surface like they haven’t done anything really evil, but they watch antichrists do evil and do nothing to report or expose them. They allow antichrists to run rampant, ruining the work of God’s house, but won’t lift a finger. They are harboring antichrists and are Satan’s helpers. This is taking part in the antichrists’ evil and it seriously offends God’s disposition. Considering my own behavior, wasn’t I exactly the same? I’d read so much of God’s words and I’d gained some discernment. I saw that a leader wasn’t following the principles, that she couldn’t accept the truth, and especially that she didn’t do practical work. It had already been a hindrance to the work of God’s house, and she was a false leader. But I was afraid I would offend her, and that she would hold me back, so I let it slide because it didn’t affect me personally. I felt like whether she changed or not was her business, and had nothing to do with me. I’d enjoyed so much sustenance from God, but I still bit the hand that fed me and stood on Satan’s side. I saw the interests of God’s house being compromised, but I was nonchalant. Wasn’t I just like Satan? I was still performing a duty, but God was keeping watch over every little thing I did. I knew if I didn’t repent, I would incite God’s wrath and be eliminated by Him. This was a terrifying thought for me. I prayed and repented to God right away: “God, I saw that Sister Zhou was disrupting church work but I didn’t practice the truth and report her, just so I could protect myself. I’ve been working for Satan. I’m so rebellious and disgusting. God, I want to repent to You, and I ask that You enlighten and guide me to put the truth into practice.”
At the time, I was wondering, Why was I so scared to report on a leader’s problems? What was I really afraid of? Through my prayer and seeking, I read a couple passages of God’s words that helped me understand the issue better. “What is the attitude that people should have in terms of how to treat a leader or worker? If what a leader or worker does is right, then you can obey them; if what they do is wrong, then you can expose them, and even oppose them and raise a different opinion. If they are unable to do practical work, and are revealed to be a false leader, a false worker, or an antichrist, then you can refuse to accept their leadership, and you can also report and expose them. However, some of God’s chosen people do not understand the truth and are particularly cowardly, and so they do not dare do anything. They say, ‘If the leader kicks me out, I’m finished; if he has everyone expose or forsake me, then I will no longer be able to believe in God. If I leave the church, then God will not want me and will not save me. The church represents God!’ Do these ways of thinking not affect such a person’s attitude toward those things? Could it really be true that if the leader expels you, you can no longer be saved? Is the question of your salvation dependent upon your leader’s attitude toward you? Why do so many people have such a degree of fear?” (“They Try to Win People Over” in Exposing Antichrists). “All of God’s work or words related to humanity’s destination will deal with people appropriately according to each individual’s essence; not the slightest error will occur, and not a single mistake will be made. It is only when people do work that human emotion or meaning enters the mix. The work God does is most appropriate; He absolutely does not bring false claims against any creature” (“God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). After reading this, I saw that I didn’t dare report on the leader because my perspective was all wrong. I was thinking that a leader could determine my future and fate, so if I offended a leader and they held me back, not letting me perform a duty, I’d lose all hope of salvation. I saw leaders as being even higher than God. I wasn’t a real believer. I was a nonbeliever. Man’s fates are in God’s hands. What my outcome is, whether I can be fully saved is entirely up to God. It can’t be decided by any human being. Even though I’d been mistreated in the past for pointing out issues in a leader’s work, the brothers and sisters later realized that he was an antichrist and he was removed from the church. I hadn’t lost my chance at salvation because I temporarily suffered from an antichrist’s unfair treatment, but I developed discernment about antichrists and learned some lessons. There are some brothers and sisters who expose and report false leaders and antichrists to protect the work of God’s house, and then the false leaders and antichrists lash out at them. They might even be kicked out of the church, but if they have true faith and continue sharing the gospel and doing their duty, they will still have the Holy Spirit’s work and God’s guidance. Then when the antichrist is exposed and removed, they’ll be allowed back into the church. This showed me that God is righteous and the truth reigns in God’s house; God rules over all things. I thought about that church that didn’t expose the antichrist and turned a blind eye to his evil deeds, ignoring what didn’t impact them personally, giving the antichrist free rein to disrupt the church. They weren’t oppressed and could keep doing their duty in the church, but they were harboring an antichrist, standing against God. They were despised and rejected by God. Thinking about it, I came to realize what a serious problem it is to not report a false leader. I also saw God’s righteous disposition that will tolerate no offense and I felt kind of afraid, and really despised myself. This gave me the motivation to put the truth into practice. I also thought of this passage of God’s words: “Do not always do things for your own sake and do not constantly consider your own interests; give no thought to your own status, prestige, or reputation. Also do not consider the interests of man. You must first give thought to the interests of God’s house, and make them your first priority. You should be considerate of God’s will and begin by contemplating whether or not you have been impure in the fulfillment of your duty, whether you have done your utmost to be loyal, done your best to fulfill your responsibilities, and given your all, as well as whether or not you have wholeheartedly given thought to your duty and the work of God’s house. You must give consideration to these things” (“Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words showed me a way forward, too. I had to put the interests of God’s house first, I had to prioritize that and consciously forsake my wrong motives. I had to stop putting my personal interests first. And so, I wrote out the problems that I had seen and got ready to report it to a higher leader.
Just then, Sister Liu and a few other sisters told me that they had also noticed that Sister Zhou didn’t do practical work and kept refusing to dismiss people of poor caliber who were always careless in their duty, using the excuse that she couldn’t find any suitable candidates. This had done a lot of damage to the work of God’s house. She wasn’t addressing the long-standing problems in the church, and she was arbitrarily appointing people based on her own whims, not the principles. According to the principles, Sister Zhou was a false leader. We all wrote a letter reporting her together, and submitted it to a leader. After the upper leaders looked into the situation, they confirmed that Sister Zhou never did practical work, was dictatorial in her approach, went against work arrangements that had already been set, and used her status to control others. She was identified as a false leader and removed from her position. Brother Li was found to be unsuitable as watering deacon, too, so he was given another duty. All sorts of feelings welled up for me when I heard about how it had turned out. I saw that in God’s house, Christ and the truth really do hold sway, and I felt more confidence, more strength to put the truth into practice. I was overcome with gratitude for God. I’m so grateful for the enlightenment and guidance of God’s words that allowed me to gradually break free of the bonds of those satanic philosophies, and to summon the courage to practice the truth, to report a false leader, and live with some personal dignity!