An Indelible Decision

February 9, 2024

By Bai Yang, China

When I was 15 years old, my dad died from a sudden illness. My mom couldn’t bear this blow and she became very sick. None of our relatives came to help us because they were afraid of having to bail us out, and I felt so hopeless. My dad was gone, so if something happened to my mom, I didn’t know what my sister and I would do. Later, someone preached the gospel of the Lord Jesus to us. With the Lord’s grace, my mom got better after attending just two congregations. That’s how we came to believe in the Lord. When I found out that He had been crucified to redeem mankind, I was moved by God’s great love. The Lord Jesus said to His disciples: “Follow Me(John 1:43), and, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world(John 16:33). These words comforted me a lot. I felt particularly inspired when I heard about the experiences of Western missionaries who had dedicated their lives to the Lord, so I made a resolution to the Lord to expend myself for Him and preach the gospel to many more people. Back then, I felt that there was no meaning to any worldly pursuits. Only following the Lord, working and preaching for Him, and bringing more people before Him felt meaningful and worthwhile. I often looked forward to the day I could leave home to go preach and work for the Lord. When my mom found out about this, she scolded me, “How can you be so stupid? Why would you pray for that? You should believe in the Lord, but you can’t give up your studies! You just got into high school, you should be focusing on your academic work. Our relatives won’t think well of you if you’re not successful.” This made me hesitate. I thought, “She’s right. All of my family’s hopes are on my shoulders. If I give up my studies to preach the gospel, my mom will be really hurt. It’s been hard enough for her to support us, I can’t cause her any more pain.” So I quietly buried my desire to preach and work for the Lord.

In July 2001, I’d just taken the college entrance examination when I met some brothers and sisters who were spreading the kingdom gospel. By reading Almighty God’s words, my sister and I determined that Almighty God was the Lord Jesus returned. I was thrilled. The Lord I’d long awaited had finally returned, and God was truly showing me immense grace by allowing me to hear His voice with my own ears and to accept His personal guidance and salvation. When I read the Bible, I used to envy the Lord’s disciples for being able to listen to His teachings all the time. I never imagined I would be as lucky as them. But many people who yearned for the Lord’s appearance still didn’t know that He had returned. As I’d heard this great news before them, I knew I had to hurry to spread the kingdom gospel. I thought: “It’ll be great if I don’t get into college. Then I’ll have the perfect reason to tell my mom that I’m going out to preach the gospel.”

Over a week later, my teacher was thrilled to tell me that I’d gotten into a good college. My classmates praised me, saying, “They only admitted ten people from our province out of thousands of applicants. You’ve really done well to get into that college.” My mom looked so happy when she heard that, but I felt terrible. I was certain that she wouldn’t allow me to give up my studies to spread the gospel. When our relatives found out that I had gotten into college, they all came to congratulate me. When I saw my mom happily chatting with them, I knew that our relatives respected her more because I had gotten into college, and that she was so proud of me. If I chose not to go to college, my mom would definitely be devastated and all of our relatives would look down on our family again, like they had before. When I recalled how my mom had often lamented the way our relatives used to scorn us, I thought: “Raising us has been so hard for my mom. If I don’t do what she wants, wouldn’t I really be letting her down?” And so, I felt I had no choice: I had to go to college. When I started college, I discovered that there was a huge gap between poor and wealthy students. The children from wealthy families looked down on the poor students and ordered them around. My classmates were just deceiving and using each other, and there was no one there that I could speak to honestly and confide in. I was disgusted by all this, I began to miss the church life and the brothers and sisters back home even more. I wanted so badly to leave college and return to them.

After more than three months of struggling to get through college life, it was time for winter break, and I was able to return to the church life again. I was so happy, and I made up my mind to tell my mom that I was quitting school no matter what.

The first day back home, I listened to a hymn of God’s words: “Pure Love Without Blemish.”

1 “Love” refers to an affection that is pure and without blemish, where you use your heart to love, to feel, and to be thoughtful. In love there are no conditions, no barriers, and no distance. In love there is no suspicion, no deceit, and no cunning. In love there is no trade and nothing impure. If you love, then you will not deceive, complain, betray, rebel, exact, or seek to gain something or to gain a certain amount.

2 “Love” refers to an affection that is pure and without blemish, where you use your heart to love, to feel, and to be thoughtful. In love there are no conditions, no barriers, and no distance. In love there is no suspicion, no deceit, and no cunning. In love there is no trade and nothing impure. If you love, then you will gladly dedicate yourself, will gladly suffer hardship, you will be compatible with God, you will forsake all that you have for God, you will give up your family, your future, your youth, and your marriage. If not, your love would not be love at all, but deceit and betrayal!

—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Many Are Called, but Few Are Chosen

God’s words deeply moved and inspired me, but I also felt remorseful and guilty. I’d made a resolution to spend my whole life following God, to pursue knowledge of Him and love Him. In love, there is no deceit or betrayal. If you truly love Him, then you will devote yourself to Him and give up everything for Him. But my love for Him was just words. When it came down to something real, I only thought about my family and my emotional ties to my mom. Where was the love in that? I’d just been deceiving and betraying God. I then read a passage of God’s words: “For everyone who aspires to love God, there are no unobtainable truths and no justice for which they cannot stand firm. How should you live your life? How should you love God, and use this love to satisfy His desire? There is no greater matter in your life. Above all, you must have such aspirations and perseverance, and should not be like those who are spineless, those who are weaklings. You must learn how to experience a meaningful life and experience meaningful truths, and should not treat yourself perfunctorily in that way. Without you realizing it, your life will pass you by; after that, will you have another opportunity to love God? Can man love God after he is dead? You must have the same aspirations and conscience as Peter; your life must be meaningful, and you must not play games with yourself. As a human being, and as a person who pursues God, you must be able to carefully consider how you treat your life, how you should offer yourself to God, how you should have a more meaningful faith in God, and how, since you love God, you should love Him in a way that is more pure, more beautiful, and more good(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment). I felt God’s hopes for man through His words. It’s so rare to meet God even once in our lives. Two thousand years ago, the Lord Jesus’ disciples met with Him, and now, two thousand years later, God was offering me a once-in-a-lifetime chance to follow Him, to seek knowledge of Him, and to love Him. If I kept pursuing the worldly path of Satan because I couldn’t overcome my emotional ties to my mom and was afraid of hurting her, wouldn’t I be wasting my time? I thought of Peter. His parents also wanted him to become an official but he wasn’t constrained by his emotional ties to them. He chose to follow and sought to love God and, in the end, he was perfected by the Lord. I knew that I ought to follow Peter’s example and pursue knowledge and love of God. That’s the most meaningful life. After that, I no longer felt constrained by my emotional ties to my mom.

The day before school was going to start again, I very earnestly told my mom, “I don’t want to go back to college.” When she heard this, she immediately scolded me, saying, “I know you want to give up school and believe in God instead, but you can’t, so just forget that idea!” I said, “God made us all. We should worship Him. That is what has been ordained by Heaven. The Bible also teaches us: ‘Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him’ (1 John 2:15). We believers in God shouldn’t walk a secular path in pursuit of worldly prospects. That’s not God’s will. I want to follow God and do my duty.” My mom then said, “We’re not like other families. Your dad died young, we have no money, and our relatives look down on us. What have I been suffering and exhausting myself for over all these years? I did it so you could go to college, be a success, and have a good life! It’s been so hard. You’re almost at the finish line but you want to quit the race. How could you hurt me like this?” I began to weaken when she said that. I thought: “She’s right. If I finish college and get a good job, then our family will have money, and our relatives won’t look down on my mom anymore.” But then I thought: “We may live a good material life and be looked up to by other people, but what does that matter? When God’s work is over, this world of Satan will be destroyed. Only Christ’s kingdom will remain, and all pleasures and vanities will be gone in a flash.” So I said to my mom, “We’re just sojourners here on earth. No matter how hard we work, or how well we live, when God’s work of salvation is over, mankind will be faced with the great disasters and these ‘good’ lives of ours will be destroyed. No matter how much money we have, we won’t be able to enjoy it. The Lord Jesus said: ‘What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?(Matthew 16:26).” My mom cut me off saying, “I don’t object to you believing in God. Just don’t be so serious about it. You should believe in God, but don’t completely give up on the world, or else how will you have a happy life? How could I have raised you both without earning money?” When she said this, I realized that her faith in the Lord was just words. She had a foot in both camps: She wanted to believe in God and receive blessings, but she wanted the world, too. All I could do was keep trying to persuade her, saying, “Without God’s blessing, people can’t become wealthy, no matter how hard they work. God ordains how much wealth we have in our lives, and without the truth, any amount of wealth is meaningless.” She wouldn’t listen and was determined to oppose my wishes. She then called my relatives and asked them to come and talk me out of it. Seeing that my mom wouldn’t budge really upset me. I had no idea what would happen next, so I hurried to say a silent prayer to God, asking Him to guard me so that I could keep standing my ground.

In no time at all, all of my relatives had come over. As soon as my uncle arrived, he said angrily, “What’s all this about God? You’re too young to be so superstitious!” My aunt said, “Your mom just wants what’s best for you.” They all joined in, scolding me one after another. I knew they were atheists and that they wouldn’t listen to me, no matter what I said. If I spoke up, they’d just say more blasphemous and resistant words about God, so I said nothing. I didn’t expect my uncle to suddenly say to my mom in such a fierce way, “She believes in God because she’s afraid of dying in the disasters, so let her die before the disasters. Call the cops and let them beat her with electric batons, see if she still believes then!” I never thought my own uncle would say such an atrocious thing. I thought: “Is this my relative, or a devil?” To my surprise, my mom chimed in, saying, “She needs discipline, she’s so disobedient!” It broke my heart to see her side with them and try to force me to give up my faith. My cousin then spoke up saying, “If you stop believing and focus on getting through college, then we’ll all support you. We’ll help you take care of your mom and we’ll help your sister find a good job. But if you keep your faith, we’ll cut off all ties with your family, and from then on, no matter what hardships you face, we won’t help any of you. We won’t be family anymore. Think carefully!” I was certain that he just wanted to make me stop following Christ. Not one of them had helped us while I was studying at high school for three years! Now I wanted to follow God and walk the right path, they’d all come to stop me, saying “nice” things to mislead me. It was Satan’s scheme, and I couldn’t fall for it. But then I thought: “If I really don’t go back to college, my mom will be so hurt. She’s suffered enough over these past years. How will I live with myself if I cause her even more pain?” After thinking this, I hurried to say a silent prayer to God, “Dear God, I know that following You and pursuing the truth is the right path, but I feel conflicted when I think of my mom. I don’t know what to do. Please enlighten and help me.” Afterward, I thought of Almighty God’s words that say: “The amount an individual must suffer and the distance they must walk on their path is ordained by God, and no one can really help anyone else(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Path … (6)). I suddenly understood. “Yes,” I thought. “God ordains how much each person should suffer. It’s not something that any person can decide, and I can’t lessen my mom’s suffering or stop her from suffering just by making lots of money and handing it over to her. The root of our pain is Satan’s corruption and all the satanic poisons and wild desires we have within us. If people don’t worship God and accept His judgment in order to be cleansed, they’ll never be free of pain. But when people believe in God and pursue the truth, even if they suffer a little physical pain, if they can understand the truth, expend themselves for God, testify to God, find peace and joy, stop being fooled and corrupted by Satan, and gain freedom and liberation, they’ll have the happiest life. I used to think that studying hard, earning lots of money, and winning others’ esteem would ease my mom’s suffering. But that was just absurd. I almost fell into Satan’s trap.” With these thoughts, my resolve strengthened. No matter what blasphemous and slanderous things they said, it had no effect on me. Seeing that I was staying silent, my mom got really angry. She shoved me and threw me down on my bed. I was shocked that she would do that to me. I felt really upset and couldn’t help but start to cry. I kept silently praying to God, asking Him to keep me, so that I could stand firm in my witness under these circumstances and not give in to my family. I thought of what Almighty God says: “Young people should have the perseverance to continue along the way of truth that they have now chosen—to realize their wish to expend their entire lives for Me. They should not be without the truth, nor should they harbor hypocrisy and unrighteousness—they should stand firm in the proper stance. They should not just drift along, but should have the spirit to dare to make sacrifices and to struggle for justice and truth. Young people should have the bravery to not succumb to oppression by the forces of darkness and to transform the significance of their existence(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Words for the Young and the Old). God’s words gave me faith, strength, and the confidence to stick to the path I’d chosen.

After that, my mom stopped going to work and stayed at home watching me and my sister like a hawk. She searched through my things for my books of God’s words and hymn cassettes and said angrily, “From now on, neither of you are allowed to go to gatherings. I’m going to stay at home watching you, and I’ll follow you wherever you go. I’m going to find your gathering place!” I felt like I was under house arrest. I couldn’t read God’s words and I didn’t dare talk to my sister about our faith, much less live the church life. It was very distressing. I kept praying to God, asking Him to show us a way out. A few days later at midday, my mom was in the bathroom, so I seized the opportunity to sprint over to Sister Tang Hui’s house, who was our church leader. I told her what had happened and my thoughts about it. I said, “Following God is the path of the light and of salvation. I want to do my duty in the church, but my mom keeps trying to constrain and stop me. Now my sister and I can’t attend gatherings normally. I feel so upset. Why do all these things keep happening to us?” Tang Hui then patiently fellowshiped with me, saying, “When a person faces pressure from their family members, it is actually Satan’s disturbance and manipulation. We want to expend ourselves for God, but Satan uses our family members to stop us and exploits our weaknesses to attack us so that we will betray God and lose our chance at salvation. We should rely on God to see through Satan’s schemes.” She then read me a passage of God’s words: “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 disturbance. 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 disturbance of men. Behind every step of work that God does in you is Satan’s wager with God—behind it all is a battle. … When God and Satan do battle in the spiritual realm, how should you satisfy God, and how should you stand firm in your testimony to Him? You should know that everything that happens to you is a great trial and the time when God needs you to bear testimony(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God). These words showed me that if I wanted to follow Christ in this dark and evil world, it wasn’t going to be easy. It would be filled with spiritual battles and hard choices. Almighty God’s work of judgment in the last days is the final and most crucial stage of His work of cleansing and saving man. God hopes that everyone will gain the truth and the life from Him, that we will all be saved and survive. But He doesn’t force people, He lets us choose for ourselves. My mom had been misled and fooled by Satan, so she couldn’t see how empty the pursuit of prestige and status is, and kept forcing me to go to college, to study and be successful. I couldn’t follow her in choosing the wrong path. Tang Hui went on fellowshiping, saying, “You see how meaningless it is to pursue knowledge and future prospects, you’ve sworn to expend yourself for God, and you have chosen the path of pursuing the truth. This pleases God. But what you choose for your own path in life is all up to you, and you must pray and seek more on this.” I thought, “Though I have sworn to follow Christ, right now my mom is watching me like a hawk, and says that she’s going to find out where we gather. If I insist on not going back to college, she’ll surely cause trouble for the brothers and sisters.” And so, I promised my mom that I’d go back to college.

When I got there, I applied to the college to suspend my studies. The college approved my application, but I still needed the consent of my guardian. When my mom found out, she was staunchly opposed to it. She cried and cried about how she’d suffered, and how hard it’d been raising me and my sister, and wouldn’t let me suspend my studies. Seeing her this way really upset me, and I thought, “My mom really struggled to raise us and I haven’t repaid her. If I don’t do what she wants, won’t I really be letting her down?” I hurriedly prayed to God, saying, “Dear God, what should I do? Please enlighten me and help me.” Just then, a passage of God’s words came to my mind: “When the warmth of spring arrives and the flowers blossom, when all beneath the heavens is covered in green and all things on earth are in place, then all people and things shall gradually enter into God’s chastisement, and at that time all of God’s work on earth will end. God shall no longer work or live on earth, for God’s great work will have been accomplished. Are people incapable of putting aside their flesh for this short time? What things can cleave the love between man and God? Who is able to pull apart the love between man and God? Is it parents, husbands, sisters, wives, or painful refinement? Can the feelings of conscience wipe away God’s image within man? Are people’s indebtedness and actions toward each other their own doing? Can they be remedied by man? Who is able to protect themselves? Are people able to provide for themselves? Who are the strong ones in life? Who is able to leave Me and live on their own?(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Interpretations of the Mysteries of “God’s Words to the Entire Universe”, Chapters 24 and 25). God’s words showed me that every person lives under the sovereignty and ordination of God. It appeared as though my mom had raised me but really our lives come from God. It’s God who provides for us and raises us. By raising their children, parents are just performing a human responsibility and obligation—no one owes anyone anything. God had provided everything I needed to survive and arranged all manner of people, events, and things to lead me before Him step by step and accept His salvation. God’s love is so great! I’d enjoyed so much care, protection, and provision from God, but I hadn’t repaid Him at all. And when some difficulties befell me, the promise I’d made to God became a lie. It was God, the Creator, to whom I truly owed a debt. Thinking of how God’s current work on earth would be short, just like the Lord Jesus’ work had been, I knew that I had to cherish this rare chance to do my duty as a created being and repay His love. And just when I decided to follow Christ, things changed unexpectedly. My mom heard that if I missed too many classes I’d be expelled, and she was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to go to college anymore, so she let me suspend my studies and come home. When I got home, she warned me, “You are not allowed to believe in God anymore. You’re going to behave yourself, find a job nearby, and work for a year, and then you’re going to obediently return to college.” I promised her that I would, but inside I thought, “God has ordained for me to follow Christ now, and this is my choice. I won’t give it up easily.”

So, I found a job, attended both work and church gatherings, and preached the gospel with the other brothers and sisters in my free time. By practicing and experiencing God’s words, I gradually came to understand some truths and I realized that pursuing the truth is the most meaningful life, and I gained more faith to follow God. Before I knew it, it was time to go back to school and I had to make my final decision: I chose faith in God! When I got home that day, I found my mom packing her things. I discovered that a neighbor had introduced a man to my mom and that she was going to marry him. I was really surprised and hurt, and I asked her if she didn’t want us anymore. She said, “The problem isn’t that I don’t want you, it’s that you’re determined to believe in God and I can’t count on you anymore. I’ll give you one last chance. This is my fiancé’s phone number. If you go back to school, call this number when you come home for the holidays and we’ll come get you. But if you and your sister insist on keeping your faith, then I won’t be around to help you anymore.” Before I could think about it more, my mom took us to the bus to school. On the way, I thought a lot. In just a day, my sister and I had become homeless and no longer had anyone to depend on. It was really distressing. My sister said helplessly, “Mom doesn’t want us anymore. What will we do if you don’t go back to school?” My sister’s words cut right to the most tender part of my heart. I thought, “Yes, now our relatives have deserted us, and mom is marrying someone else. How will we live if I keep my faith in God? Where should we go? What on earth should I do?” I felt really pained and weak, so I prayed to God. I said, “Dear God, I really can’t overcome this. I want to satisfy You, but I’m all out of faith and strength to carry on. I know You’ve done so much for me, but I’m too weak. I’m not worthy of Your salvation.” Just then, a passage of God’s words appeared very clearly in my mind: “When the day comes for this work to spread and you see the entirety of it, you will regret, and at that time you will be dumbfounded. There are blessings, yet you do not know to enjoy them, and there is the truth, yet you do not pursue it. Do you not bring contempt upon yourself? … None are more foolish than those who have beheld salvation but do not pursue to gain it; these are people who gorge themselves on the flesh and enjoy Satan(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment). It was true. God’s work would soon be over and I’d seen the true way. If I chose to satisfy my flesh because I couldn’t bear to suffer, when God’s work ended I would have missed this once-in-a-lifetime chance to gain the truth, and I’d certainly regret it. I thought about the past year that I’d spent doing my duty in the church. Watered and nourished by God’s words, I’d understood some truths and gradually gained insight into many things about the world. I saw that only Almighty God’s words can cleanse and save people and that following Christ is the path of the light and of salvation. I couldn’t keep hesitating. My life came from God and He’d given me everything. Doing my duty as a created being is perfectly natural and justified! My mom didn’t support my faith and wanted me to pursue knowledge and become a success. If I did what she wanted and chose the wrong path, I’d just be corrupted deeper and deeper by Satan, and I’d end up being punished and destroyed. Knowledge couldn’t free me from my corrupt dispositions or cleanse and change me. Only God can save us. If my family didn’t want me, I still had God. When I looked back on all that had happened, I realized that every time I had felt negative and weak, it was God’s words that had supported me, helped me, and given me strength. When I’d been about to turn away from God in my most agonizing and weakest moments, His words had stirred my heart. In this world, only God’s love for me is real! When I thought this, my faith returned. I wiped away my tears and told my sister, “God is the only One we can rely on. We must have faith that He’ll guide us. Let’s go back to the brothers and sisters.” The next day, we got the bus back home and after that we started performing our duties. Thanks be to God! God’s words led me to overcome fleshly weakness and choose this bright and correct path in life.

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