An Agonizing Choice
By Chen Min, Spain
I accepted’s work of the last days in 1999 and I started serving as a leader before long. I experienced my first arrest in December of 2000. It was midday, and I was at home feeding my two kids lunch when five officers burst into the house and started tearing the place apart, searching without showing any papers. The kids were clutching on to my clothing in fear and I could feel my son’s hands trembling. He was just six years old. When they found a Bible and a journal of devotionals I’d written they decided to cart me off. As they were pulling me away, my kids were crying and yelling, “Mommy! Don’t go!” They shut the door just as I looked back for one last look at them. Tears suddenly started pouring down my face because I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to go back and see them again. They took me straight into a PSB interrogation room where they handcuffed me to a metal chair. Several people were there staring at me ferociously. I was terrified, and I quickly started praying to God nonstop, saying, “Oh God! I don’t know how these police are going to torture me and I’m of small stature. God, please give me faith so that I can stand witness for You.” At that moment these words from God came to mind. God says, “Now is the time that I shall test you: Will you offer your loyalty to Me? Can you loyally follow Me to the end of the road? Be not afraid; with My support, who could ever block this road?” (“Chapter 10” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in ). gave me faith, and thinking about how God is my support, I felt less afraid. No matter how brutal the police were, it was in God’s hands and no matter how they tortured me, I was determined not to be a Judas. I swore I would stand witness for God!
After that, one of the officers started the interrogation. He said, “Who converted you to believe in Almighty God? Who is your leader? Where are the church’s offerings kept?” I said I didn’t know a thing. He paced back and forth in front of me, and said, eyeing me viciously, “You won’t talk, hm? I’ll get you to open your mouth!” Saying this, he rolled up a magazine and I closed my eyes, preparing to get hit. Just then, I heard the director of the National Security Brigade say, “We found your home today because we already have evidence on your faith. We can get you convicted even if you don’t say a word. But if you tell us what you know, we’ll let you go home.” He also said, “Your kids are so young—it would be terrible if they didn’t have their mom to care for them. If their teachers and classmates find out their mom is in jail, they’ll be taunted and looked down on. Wouldn’t that be incredibly harmful to their psyches?” Then he asked me, “Could you steel yourself to that? You wouldn’t brush off your children for your religion, would you?” Hearing him say that immediately brought the children’s looks of fear to mind and put me on edge right away. I thought of everything that had happened that day and wondered what kind of wounds it would leave them with. If I were sentenced, who would care for them? Especially my son, who’d always been illness prone, what would he do without a mom to care for him? How would they deal with it when they were taunted and looked down on by teachers and classmates? My tears flowed nonstop at these thoughts and I rushed to pray to God: “God! I’m worried about my kids and I feel like a wreck. Please protect my heart so I can be calm, stand witness and not betray You.”
Then I thought of these words of God. God says, “Why do you not entrust them into My hands? Do you not have sufficient faith in Me? Or is it that you are afraid I will make inappropriate arrangements for you? Why do you always worry about the family of your flesh? You always pine for your loved ones! Do I have a certain place in your heart?” (“Chapter 59” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words immediately brightened my heart. God is the Creator, and He rules over everyone’s fate. God was in charge of whatever happened with those kids in the future and my worrying was useless. I had to have faith in God, look to God, and hand them over to Him. At this thought, I didn’t feel so worried about them anymore. After that I was thinking that my faith doesn’t violate any laws. I just read God’s words, gather, share the gospel. The police had illegally detained me and had destroyed my normal family life. Wasn’t blaming my faith for me not caring for my kids turning things on their heads? When that occurred to me, I shot back at them, “Is it because of my religion, or is it because you people have me locked up in here? Believing in God isn’t illegal. We just read God’s words and try to be good people. So why are you constantly arresting believers?” They burst out in raucous laughter when I said that and one officer said, “What a naïve question. If everyone believed in God, who’d listen to the CCP? Then who would the Party lead? That’s why we can’t let you believe, and believers have to be arrested!” I was infuriated to hear him explain it like this. It reminded me of something God said: “In a dark society such as this, where the demons are merciless and inhumane, how could the king of devils, who kills people without batting an eye, tolerate the existence of a God who is lovely, kind, and also holy? How could it applaud and cheer the arrival of God? These lackeys! They repay kindness with hate, they have long since disdained God, they abuse God, they are savage in the extreme, they have not the slightest regard for God, they plunder and pillage, they have lost all conscience, they go against all conscience, and they tempt the innocent into senselessness. Forefathers of the ancient? Beloved leaders? They all oppose God! Their meddling has left all beneath heaven in a state of darkness and chaos! Religious freedom? The legitimate rights and interests of citizens? They are all tricks for covering up sin!” (“Work and Entry (8)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Through God’s words, I saw into the CCP’s essence. They are perverse and contrary to Heaven. God very clearly created all things, created humanity, and it’s God nurturing and sustaining all of mankind. Worshiping God is natural and right, but the Communist Party doesn’t let people believe in and follow God, and they promote atheism and evolution to mislead people. They even shamelessly claim that there’s absolutely no God in the world, and that the people’s happiness comes entirely from the Party. They want the people to be deeply grateful, to listen to and obey them. The Party is incredibly evil and despicable! God personally came to earth to save mankind, expressing millions of words. So they most fear that people will understand the truth and see what the Party is after reading God’s words, they won’t be under its control anymore, but will turn toward God. That’s why they’re desperate to arrest Christians, vainly hoping to wipe out God’s work and control the people forever. Once I’d personally experienced its persecution, I saw its demonic essence of hating the truth as God’s enemy and came to despise this evil pack of anti-God demons. I resolved to firmly follow God and stand witness no matter how much I suffered.
They ended up charging me with undermining the enforcement of the law and disrupting social order, and kept me for eighteen days. During this time, they tried to get people to identify me as a church leader and had my husband come to the detention center to tell me I should give up my faith. God’s words guided me to see through Satan’s tricks, so I didn’t fall for it. Later on, my husband got me out on bail by paying someone to get it through. The day of my release, a cop said, “Based on your current attitude you’re definitely going to keep on believing. We’ll be watching you, and we’ll get you back in here the moment we find you gathering or sharing the gospel!” So that I wouldn’t be arrested and I could practice my faith and do my duty normally, I moved from house to house. My husband was a township deputy head at the time and he’d lost any chance of promotion since I was arrested for my faith. Then in April 2007, one evening he came home and said … he said, “Some cadres will be promoted in the city soon, and I’m not giving up this time. Because of your faith, I haven’t passed political background checks the last few times I had a chance. I’ve told my leader I want to be part of the field this time, and he said he’d recommend me as long as you give up your religion. You just need to stop believing for us to have a good life, and we can give our children a stable home. If you insist on keeping your faith, we have to get a divorce. I won’t be dragged into this anymore. Give it some thought!” Then he walked into the other room. Hearing him say all this was really painful for me at the time. He’d always been so good to me, and we had two lovely, smart little kids. He had a job, I was in business, and we really had a happy life. Our wonderful family was being torn apart because of the Chinese government’s persecution. As for divorce, I didn’t know how I’d get by or what to do about the kids, or how much it would hurt them. Those thoughts left me feeling terrible. I was feeling really torn, helpless and in pain. I felt like my heart was being ripped in two. I can’t even describe it. I rushed to pray to God, saying, “God, I can’t leave You, but I can’t let go of my home, my husband, my kids. I don’t know what to do, what choice to make.” I prayed over and over, “God, what should I do? Please guide me so I can understand Your will.”
Then, I thought of this passage. God says, “There is no relationship between a believing husband and an unbelieving wife, and there is no relationship between believing children and unbelieving parents; these two types of people are completely incompatible. Prior to entering into rest, one has physical relatives, but once one has entered into rest, one will no longer have any physical relatives to speak of” (“God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I thought through God’s words and realized, people of faith and people without faith are essentially two different types of people. Their outlooks on life and values are different. I was on the right path of faith, of pursuing the truth, and my husband was on a path to climb the ranks and make money. To work toward promotion, he was disregarding years of marriage and our children’s feelings, choosing divorce instead. That’s because in his heart, his status and future had become more important to him than me and the kids a long time ago. Even though he claimed he wanted to give the kids a stable home and have a happy life, that was just a mirage. He was good to me because I didn’t encroach on his personal interests, but now, my faith and arrest were impacting his career. That was a barrier to his promotion and making more money, so he wanted to divorce. It seemed really cold when I thought about it that way. And I saw that there’s no real affection or love between human beings, just deceit and exploitation. In fact, my husband knew very well that the Communist Party was evil and dictatorial, but he kept taking its side, telling me to give up my faith. This time he was pressuring me with divorce. We had different outlooks and were on different paths, and we wouldn’t be happy even if we stayed together. When I realized this, I knew what I had to do. We went to the Civil Affairs Bureau the next morning to do our divorce paperwork, and on the way he said, “You know, I don’t want to divorce but there’s no other option. Take good care of yourself and the two kids.” Hearing him say this made me suddenly tear up. I thought of all the hardships, the mocking and discrimination I’d have to face after the divorce and I was gripped with pain. I quickly said a prayer, asking God to protect my heart to not stray from Him, to be able to stand witness. After that, I thought of some of His words. “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. If you lead such a vulgar life, and do not pursue any objectives, do you not waste your life? What can you gain from such a life? You should forsake all enjoyments of the flesh for the sake of one truth, and should not throw away all truths for the sake of a little enjoyment. People like this have no integrity or dignity; there is no meaning to their existence!” (“The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I saw from God’s words that no matter how good a life someone may live in the flesh, no matter how many others envy and admire them, none of that means anything. Only pursuing the truth and doing the duty of a created being can gain God’s approval, only this is a life of integrity and dignity, and only this is a meaningful, valuable life. Thinking of this was really freeing and I handled the divorce proceedings without misgivings. Thanks to the guidance of God’s words, I was freed from the tethers of my affections and could make the right choice!
In May 2011 while in a gathering, I was arrested again. They were the same officers from a decade before. They found my ID and called my name out, saying, “These ten years we’ve been to your house plenty of times without finding you and now we’ve really struck gold. We won’t let you go this time!” As they spoke, they handcuffed me and put me in the police car. In the car I thought of three sisters who had been arrested before and brutally tortured by the police for a whole month. One of them had suffered permanent damage to her left arm because she’d been left suspended for too long. Thinking of that set my heart pounding. I was afraid I’d be beaten to death or disability. I urgently called out to God in my heart, saying, “God! You’ve allowed me to be arrested again today and I’m willing to submit to Your orchestrations, but God, my stature is small and my flesh is weak. Please protect me and guide me through this experience. God, I’m willing to give my life and I’ll never be a Judas and sell You out. I’ll stand witness for You.” I thought of God’s words after my prayer. God says, “You know that all things in the environment that surrounds you are there by My permission, all planned by Me. See clearly and satisfy My heart in the environment I have given to you. Do not fear, the Almighty God of hosts will surely be with you; He stands behind you and He is your shield” (“Chapter 26” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). From this, I saw that my life and death are entirely in God’s hands, and they couldn’t take my life from me without God allowing it. No matter how savage Satan is, it’s still subject to God’s orchestrations and it can never surpass God’s authority. I thought of Job going through his trials. God wouldn’t let Satan harm Job’s life and Satan couldn’t go against what God said. This brought me some peace in my heart and gave me faith to face what lay ahead. I swore to God: “No matter how much I suffer or what happens, I will stand witness and follow You forever!” Later on, that head of the National Security Brigade started questioning me. He said, “This is a major, critical case for our city right now. You were arrested once in 2001, and someone reported that you were spreading the gospel in 2009. Several attempts to arrest you failed. This time, we got you on site at a gathering, so even if you don’t say anything, we can still get you for seven to ten years. Once you’re sentenced, your kids won’t be accepted to college and they’ll never get civil service jobs. And they’ll be reviled by everyone because of having a mother like you. You’ll be to blame for ruining their futures. They’ll hate you for the rest of their lives!” Then he said, “Even if you don’t think of yourself, think of your kids’ futures. If you cooperate with us and tell us what you know, tell us who the leader above you is and give us the church’s money, we’ll let you go.” Hearing him say that left me feeling incredibly disgusted. The Communist Party will stop at nothing to persecute Christians, even keeping their kids from getting into university. They used that disgusting tactic of depriving my children of an education to force me to sell out the church and betray God, and then claimed that it was my faith ruining their future prospects. That was entirely backward! The Communist Party is incredibly evil! They will stop at nothing to destroy God’s work and keep people from turning toward God. Their words are honey, their deeds are poison! Realizing this, I knew I absolutely couldn’t fall for their trap, but I had to stand witness for God. They questioned me until after 2 a.m. and seeing I wouldn’t talk, sent me to the detention center. One officer said, “This time you’ll be sentenced and do prison time!”
At the detention center, they locked me up with murderers, human traffickers, prostitutes, and scammers. I was really miserable, really depressed. And it was dark and damp in there with a terrible stench all the time. In that environment, my rheumatism and rheumatic heart disease just got worse and worse, and every single joint ached. I was on watch for two hours every night, after standing a while I had heart palpitations and tightness in my chest. It was awful. I thought about the officer saying I’d get seven to ten years and I started calculating how many days there were in seven years, and then in ten years. That would be thousands of days and nights. How could I get through that in this abyss of darkness? Would I live to walk out of here? Thinking this, I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing down my face and I felt darkness taking over my heart. I realized I wasn’t in the right state so I quickly said a prayer, asking God to help me quiet myself before Him and not stray from Him. Then I thought of this passage of God’s words: “In this vast world, who has personally been examined by Me? Who has personally heard the words of My Spirit? So many people grope and search in the darkness; so many pray amid adversity; so many, hungry and cold, watch in hope; and so many are bound by Satan; yet so many know not where to turn, so many betray Me in the midst of their happiness, so many are ungrateful, and so many are loyal to the deceitful schemes of Satan. Who among you is Job? Who is Peter? Why have I repeatedly mentioned Job? Why have I referred to Peter so many times? Have you ever ascertained what My hopes for you are? You should spend more time pondering such things” (“Chapter 8” of God’s Words to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh). After pondering this, I understood that God approves of people like Job and Peter because they could stand witness for God through hardships and trials. Take Job—when he went through trials, his wealth and his children were taken from him and his whole body was covered with boils, he was still able to praise God’s name, humiliating Satan. And Peter was crucified for God, obedient till death, being a witness for God. As for me, I’d enjoyed so much sustenance from God’s words but I wanted to run away as soon as I faced a tiny bit of suffering. I saw I didn’t have true faith or obedience and I wasn’t willing to offer my life to stand witness. I was a far cry from what God requires. I clung to my life so much, how could I give testimony for God? At this I felt really regretful and guilty and prayed to God: “God! I’m ready to put my life and death in Your hands and I will submit to Your arrangements. No matter how many years I get or how much I suffer, God, I wish to stand witness for You and humiliate Satan.” To my surprise, after I offered up everything and was no longer constrained by the flesh, on the 28th day of my detention, I was released. I found out later that my ex-husband, afraid my imprisonment would impact our kids’ university admission, bribed someone to secure my release. I silently offered up thanks to God in my heart.
My ex-husband drove to the detention center to meet me on the day of my release. He saw that after just a month I’d lost so much weight, I looked totally different and he asked me, “You’ve gotten so thin after just a month, you wouldn’t have made it several years. This time you’ll give it up, right?” When I didn’t respond, he kept pressing me: “Come on, you’ll stop believing?” I realized this was a battle of the spiritual world and it was time for me to stand witness for God. I told him very calmly, “I have to keep believing! Having faith is right and natural, and I’ll believe as long as I live.” Hearing me say this, he hit the steering wheel in anger, sighed and shook his head, then burst out, saying, “I’ve got to hand it to your God! The Party tries everything to win over people’s hearts, but it never can, while you believers insist on believing without any material gain and even after multiple arrests. Your God is really something!” Hearing him say this was really moving for me and I thanked God for guiding me to stand witness, to shame and defeat Satan. Thank God!
A few days after my release my son came back from school, and I had made his favorite mushroom chicken dish. After eating, he addressed me very solemnly. He said, “Mom, today you have to make a choice. If you want to keep me as your son, you have to give up your faith. If you stay in your religion, I’m going to leave home and you’ll never see me again.” I was stunned. He had always been so close to me and he’d never opposed my faith before. I didn’t know what made him say that that day and he suddenly felt like a stranger to me. I couldn’t speak for a moment. It was really painful at the time and I felt that this path of faith really was full of adversity, and ups and downs. There was a choice at every step. In that moment I felt it was too hard of a decision, so I prayed to God, saying, “Oh God, I can’t leave You, but I don’t want to lose my son. God, please guide me to understand Your will.” I thought of a passage of God’s words after my prayer. God says, “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” (“Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words helped me clearly see that I was facing another spiritual battle. It looked like it was my son asking me to choose, but behind that Satan was tempting and attacking me. I also felt that this time God was waiting for my decision. God wanted to see if I’d choose my son out of fleshly affection, or choose Him. I didn’t want to let God down and I knew I had to stand witness to shame Satan. So I said to my son, “I cannot depart from God. Choosing to leave God would be like you deciding to leave me today. It would be unconscionable and it would let God down. I will always follow God. That’s my choice!” Hearing me say this, he left in tears. I felt upset at the time too, but I knew that I had made the right choice.
About half an hour later, he came back and said to me, “Mom, I was wrong. I shouldn’t ask you to make that choice. My dad told me that the police told him to keep an eye on you and make sure you gave up your religion. Since you’ve already been arrested twice, if it happens again you’ll never get out, and then I won’t have a mom anymore. I wanted to use that tactic to get you to give up your faith.” Hearing him explain this filled me with disgust for those anti-God Communist Party demons. Over my years of faith, I’d been illegally detained and imprisoned several times, tearing apart my family and dragging my husband and children into it. This was all the Party’s doing. I firmly resolved to forsake it and follow God with an ironclad will!
Through all these temptations God’s words guided me to see through Satan’s tricks, strengthened my faith in God and my resolve to follow Him. I could see the power and authority of His words and saw that God’s wisdom is exercised based on Satan’s trickery. No matter how evil and savage the Party is, it cannot stand in the way of God’s work. God allows its oppression, using it to make a group of overcomers. I saw how wise, how almighty God is! Thank Almighty God!