An Inescapable Pain
By Qiu Cheng, China
When I turned 47, my eyesight started to deteriorate rapidly. The doctor said if I didn’t take care of my eyes, I would gradually lose my sight, so I had to stop working and stay home and rest. My future seemed bleak, and like the light would disappear from my life. I felt absolutely heartbroken. In 2007, I was lucky enough to receive the work ofin the last days, and before long, my eyes got better. To repay God’s love, I took the initiative to request a duty. Whatever difficulty the brothers and sisters had, I would help as best I could. No matter how many of them came to gather at my house, or how long they stayed, I would host them with enthusiasm. Because my house was pretty small, sometimes there wouldn’t be enough beds for them and I would end up sleeping on the sofa or the floor. I thought doing my duty like this was showing loyalty to God, but later, through the revelation of facts, I saw that I was extremely selfish and had no loyalty in my duty. This created an inescapable pain within my heart.
In 2014, a church leader I had hosted was arrested by the police, and because she had just left my house, my wife and I left our home immediately for our safety. It was early spring at the time, and it was freezing cold. We had nowhere to go, and in my torment, I thought: “We’re already over 60. My wife suffers from congenital syringomyelia and is particularly frail. Where are we to go?” A sister later helped us find a place we could stay for a while. I then found out that two of the sisters I had hosted had been arrested too. Hearing news of brothers and sisters being arrested one after another, I felt so scared and spent every day on tenterhooks, fearing the police could burst in at any moment. I got hold of a bunch of foot spa and massage equipment as a cover, and continued to host brothers and sisters.
Then in 2017, during a gathering, a sister said that her host family’s son had come back. He was a non-believer, and strongly opposed to his mother’s faith, so the sister couldn’t stay there anymore. My wife and I saw that she was struggling, so we took the initiative to take her in. Not long after, we heard the CCP was planning blanket raids, with a focus on investigating rental tenants. I began to worry, “We’re renters, what should I say if the police come around to inspect us with this sister in our house? The sister is doing an important duty. If she gets arrested, we’ll certainly be implicated. My wife is frail and would easily be shaken up if something were to happen. Her health could falter at any moment.” My wife was afraid of being arrested and asked me to kick the sister out. I felt it wasn’t right to kick her out, as she had nowhere to go in this cold winter, so I talked with my wife about letting her stay. My wife got angry at me and asked me to think about the consequences. I thought to myself, “The CCP’s arrests and persecution of the faithful are becoming more and more severe. There’s currently a register of the real names of everyone in the community. If the police find out that we believe in God and that we host brothers and sisters, there’s no way they’ll let us go. Our pensions will be canceled, and our property will be seized. This is everything we’ve spent our lives laboring for. If it gets taken away, how will we live? And that’s not all, this could also impact our children’s futures. We’re already over 60 and in poor health. Will we be able to withstand the police’s torture if we’re imprisoned? If we can’t, and become Judases, we’ll lose our destinations. Then won’t all our years of faith have been in vain?” I also thought about how my wife would be angry if I didn’t listen to her. After much consideration, I listened to my wife, and talked with the sister about her going to live somewhere else. A month later, the sister still hadn’t moved out, and I was afraid something could happen any day, so I often asked her questions like whether she had found a place to live, and when she was moving out. I was essentially kicking her out in a roundabout way. But I felt really guilty as I did this. After a while, the sister found a place and moved out, but I had not reflected on myself throughout this whole matter.
During Chinese New Year in 2018, Sister Li told us that her place was being watched by the police, and asked whether she could stay with us for a few days until she found a new place to live. I didn’t give the matter too much thought at the time, and just wanted to help the sister get settled first. Once the sister had settled in, she’d often go out to gatherings, making my stomach churn, “It’s Chinese New Year. The police could use this opportunity to conduct mass raids. If the sister gets arrested, we won’t be able to escape, and our family will be implicated too.” I felt more and more that the longer the sister lived with us, the greater the danger became. I’d think about my own safety and my children’s futures, and tried to think up excuses to get the sister to leave quickly. Later, I thought about how since Sister Li always went out to go to gatherings, she could just live wherever the gatherings were held. I told her about this idea, and she was left with no choice but to leave with an awkward look on her face. I didn’t host anyone else after this and only did other duties. One day in the spring of 2021, a leader came to talk with me, and asked whether three brothers could stay with us for a while. As I was about to agree, my wife said, “Could we give you our answer tomorrow?” After the leader left, my wife said to me, “They say it’s just temporary, but what if they end up staying for a long time and getting arrested? We have to find a reason to turn them down. We could say that a leader who was with us for a while before may have been arrested, that our house isn’t safe, and that we can’t host anyone for now.” I was also feeling a bit nervous about it, so I went along with my wife. To my surprise, the next day, before I’d even given a reason to refuse, the leader told me, “The three brothers have already found somewhere to stay. The leader who came to stay with you before has been arrested, so your place isn’t safe. You should both hold off on your duties as well.” My heart was thumping out of my chest. I realized that this was the wrath of God befalling me. God scrutinizes the depths of our hearts. Though I hadn’t said I wouldn’t host the brothers, I thought it inside. I had refused my duty. I had indirectly kicked out my brothers and sisters. Had this attitude towards my duty aroused God’s anger and caused Him to arrange this situation in which my duty was stopped? I suddenly felt empty and deeply unsettled, as if I was being punished, and had fallen into darkness. I prayed to God, “God! The cessation of my duty today is no coincidence, there must be Your will. Please enlighten and guide me to learn my lesson.” Later, I read God’s word. “You shut Me out for the sake of your children, or your husband, or your own self-preservation. Instead of caring about Me, you care about your family, your children, your status, your future, and your own gratification. When have you ever thought of Me as you spoke or acted? On frigid days, your thoughts turn to your children, your husband, your wife, or your parents. On blistering days, I hold no place in your thoughts, either. When you perform your duty, you are thinking of your own interests, of your own personal safety, of the members of your family. What have you ever done that was for Me? When have you ever thought of Me? When have you ever devoted yourself, at any cost, to Me and My work? Where is the evidence of your compatibility with Me? Where is the reality of your loyalty to Me? Where is the reality of your obedience to Me? When have your intentions not been for the sake of gaining My blessings? You fool and deceive Me, you play with the truth, you conceal the existence of the truth, and betray the essence of the truth. What awaits you in the future by going against Me in this way? You merely seek compatibility with a vague God, and merely seek a vague belief, yet you are not compatible with Christ. Will not your maleficence beget the same retribution as that deserved by the wicked?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. You Should Seek the Way of Compatibility With Christ). God’s word revealed my state. Ever since the people I hosted were arrested one after another, I had been living in a state of cowardice and fear. To protect myself, I found excuses to make the sisters leave as soon as possible, and when the leader arranged for me to host three brothers for a while, I didn’t agree, and cooked up a lie to turn them down instead. Thinking back on these things, was I really a believer? Whilst others were facing danger, I was only considering my own interests, safety, and how to push them out the door. I was truly selfish, despicable, and lacking in humanity! I showed the greatest care and consideration for my children, fearing that they would suffer cold or hunger. No matter how great the danger or difficulty, I was willing to shoulder it myself to shield my children from it. Yet I treated my brothers and sisters with such cold-heartedness. The more I thought about it, the more inhuman I felt. I was filled with regret and self-loathing. I read some more of God’s word. “What is the standard by which a person’s deeds are judged to be good or evil? It depends on whether or not they, in their thoughts, expressions, and actions, possess the testimony of putting the truth into practice and of living out the reality of the truth. If you do not have this reality or do not live this out, then without doubt, you are an evildoer. How does God see evildoers? Your thoughts and external acts do not bear testimony for God, nor do they put Satan to shame or defeat it; instead, they shame God, and are riddled with marks that cause God to be ashamed. You are not testifying for God, not expending yourself for God, nor are you fulfilling your responsibility and obligations to God; instead, you are acting for your own sake. What does ‘for your own sake’ mean? To be exact, it means for Satan’s sake. Therefore, in the end, God will say, ‘Depart from Me, you that work iniquity.’ In God’s eyes, you have not done good deeds, but rather your behavior has turned evil. It will not only fail to gain God’s approval—it will be condemned. What does one with such a belief in God seek to gain? Would such belief not come to naught in the end? For all who fulfill their duty, however profound or shallow their understanding of the truth, the simplest way of practice by which to enter the reality of the truth is to think of the interests of God’s house in everything, and to let go of selfish desires, individual intentions, motives, pride, and status. Put the interests of God’s house first—this is the least one should do. If a person performing their duty cannot do even this much, then how can they be said to be performing their duty? This is not performing one’s duty” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Freedom and Liberation Can Be Gained Only by Casting Off One’s Corrupt Disposition). I saw that God’s criteria for judging whether a person is good or bad is based on whether their intentions, thoughts, actions and conduct align with the truth. I reflected on the things I had done. No matter whether it had been my intentions, thoughts, speech, or actions, it had all been for my own interests, and I had not heeded the will of God at all. The brothers and sisters were being hunted down and persecuted by the great red dragon for spreading the gospel. They were homeless and on the run, and if they didn’t have a suitable place to stay, they’d have no way of safely doing their duties. But I was afraid to risk my neck for them and just wanted to be rid of them as soon as possible, which just made things all the worse for them. I saw that I had been selfish, malicious, and lacking in humanity! If I had had a God-fearing heart or even an ounce of humanity, I should have heeded God’s will, considered others’ safety in their moment of peril, and thought of ways to host and protect them. I thought of how the said, “Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these My brothers, you have done it to Me” (Matthew 25:40). In an awful situation, I had refused to host my brothers and sisters who were being hunted and persecuted by the great red dragon. This touched on my attitude towards God. I was selfish, despicable, and lacking in humanity. If one day I were asked to host Christ, I would behave the same way. When I played it back in my mind how I drove my brothers and sisters out, I felt a sense of alarm, as if I had caused some great disaster, and I found myself in a state of pain and torment. I prayed to God, “Oh God, I have been completely lacking in humanity. I have enjoyed the nourishment of being watered by so many of Your words, yet I have not heeded Your will. I was unable to host my brothers and sisters during their tribulations, and I found excuses to kick them out. My actions and conduct are disgusting and odious to You. I only have myself to blame for falling into darkness and pain today, and this fully reveals Your righteousness. I thank You and praise You! Oh God, if there is still a chance to be a host, I will certainly repent, mend my ways, and perform my duty to satisfy You!”
A while later, I went to another place to perform a duty. I was truly grateful to God, and I cherished this opportunity. Not long after this, my wife suddenly became seriously ill and passed away. Before she died, she left me with these words, “If I can’t go out and do my duty tomorrow, you must perform yours well.” Her last words were tinged with regret and I couldn’t help but reflect. I thought about my wife’s conduct and actions during her lifetime, how she only protected her own interests in her duty, and was not loyal or obedient. She was a coward and didn’t want to host the brothers and sisters. She even urged me and roped me into driving them from our home. This was an evil act. Her last words made me think that she felt guilt and regret towards her duty. My wife’s death also sounded an alarm within me, and made me realize that I couldn’t keep treating my duty as I had before, and that if I waited until I was at death’s door to do my duty, it would already be too late. I prayed to God, “Oh God, I am 70 years old; I cannot do other duties. It is by Your grace that I am able to be a host. I was so selfish before. I wasn’t a good host to people, and I have transgressed so much. I am willing to repent and spend the time I have left pursuing the truth and doing my duty well.”
After this, I also pondered what the root cause was of my always fearing arrest, my concern for my safety, the security of my property, and the futures of my children. Later, I read this in God’s word. “In protecting themselves, antichrists often ignore the brothers’ and sisters’ safety. Apart from having ‘faith’ about it and ‘entrusting’ themselves completely to God, they are slipshod with the church’s work and their duty. They go through the motions, not taking anything seriously. If some place is safe, or if some work or duty may ensure their safety and not entail risk, they are very positive and active in going there, to show off their great ‘sense of responsibility’ and ‘loyalty.’ If some work does entail risk and is liable to go wrong, to get its doer found by the great red dragon, they make their excuses and pass it off to someone else, and find a chance to flee from it. As soon as there is danger, or as soon as there is a hint of danger, they think of ways to extricate themselves and abandon their duty, without a care for the brothers and sisters. They care only about getting themselves out of danger. They may already be prepared at heart. As soon as danger appears, they drop the work they are doing at once, without a care for how the church’s work goes, or for what loss it may incur to the interests of God’s house, or for the safety of the brothers and sisters. What matters to them is fleeing. They even have an ‘ace up their sleeve,’ a plan to protect themselves: As soon as danger is upon them or they are arrested, they say everything they know, clearing themselves and absolving themselves of all responsibility. They are safe then, no? They even have such a plan as that. These people are unwilling to suffer persecution for believing in God; they are afraid of being arrested, tortured, and convicted. The fact is that they have long since succumbed to Satan. They are terrified of the power of the satanic regime, and more afraid still of such things as torture and harsh interrogation befalling them. With antichrists, therefore, if all is smooth sailing, and there is no threat at all to their safety or issue with it, and no hazard is possible, they may offer up their zeal and loyalty, and even their assets. But if circumstances are bad and they could be arrested at any time for believing in God and performing their duty, and if their belief in God may get them fired from their official position or abandoned by those close to them, then they will be exceptionally careful, neither preaching the gospel and testifying to God nor performing their duty. When there is a slight sign of trouble, they become shrinking violets; when there is a slight sign of trouble, they wish immediately to return to the church their books of (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Two)). God dissects antichrists who can make sacrifices, expend themselves, suffer, and pay prices in safe situations. On the outside they seem devoted in their duty, but as soon as they face danger, they shrink back, find various excuses and pretexts to shirk their duty, have no consideration for the church’s work or the safety of their brothers and sisters, and only consider their own interests. They are especially selfish and despicable. In comparing my own actions and conduct, had my disposition not been the same as an antichrist’s? When I first started believing in God, I gained ample grace from God. My long-incurable eye condition miraculously improved, and so I expended myself by enthusiastically hosting others. When I found out that some of those I had hosted had been arrested and that I might be implicated, and that my safety and personal interests might be at risk, I was unwilling to continue hosting, and I even found excuses to drive them out, without any consideration for their safety. I saw that I had been so selfish, despicable, and lacking in humanity. I also thought about the traps and snares laid by the CCP, how they were using every trick they could to arrest the faithful, attempting in vain to tear down God’s work and arrest all of God’s chosen people. Many brothers and sisters had been captured and made homeless by these cruel and awful circumstances. This is not something God wants to see, and in these times, it is all the more necessary for people to heed His will and risk hosting these brothers and sisters. This is what it means to do good deeds and God will remember it. I was afraid of being arrested and so I did not act as a host. I did not heed God’s will at all, and I was completely lacking in conscience and reason. I pondered further, and realized that I feared arrest and death because I valued my life too much. I remembered that the Lord Jesus said, “For whoever will save his life shall lose it: and whoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25). The Lord’s words made me realize that our earthly lives are transient, and that true life is undying. Just like how Peter was crucified upside down for God, he might have lost his earthly life, but he gained eternal life. Though the brothers and sisters who were arrested may be tortured, beat up, or even killed, they stand firm in testimony and gain the commendation of God. Only this way of living has meaning and value. At this thought, I gained faith and strength, and no longer felt so timid and afraid.and anything related to belief in God, in order to keep themselves safe and unharmed. Is such a person not dangerous? If arrested, would they not become Judas? An antichrist is so dangerous that they may become Judas at any time; there is always the possibility that they will turn their back on God. Furthermore, they are selfish and mean to an extreme. This is determined by an antichrist’s nature and essence”
One day at the end of December, a brother suddenly came to me, saying that the place he and another brother were living was no longer safe, and he asked if they could stay with me for a while. It was clear to me that this was God giving me a chance to repent, and I agreed readily. I also provided them with daily necessities. Arrests and persecution from the CCP became even more severe, and I kept hearing news of brothers and sisters being arrested. The two brothers were still living with me, and I felt a little scared, scared that I would be arrested and my children would be implicated. So I prayed to God and read His word. I read this in God’s word. “Regardless of how ‘powerful’ Satan is, regardless of how audacious and ambitious it is, regardless of how great is its ability to inflict damage, regardless of how wide-ranging are the techniques with which it corrupts and lures man, regardless of how clever are the tricks and schemes with which it intimidates man, regardless of how changeable is the form in which it exists, it has never been able to create a single living thing, has never been able to set down laws or rules for the existence of all things, and has never been able to rule and control any object, whether animate or inanimate. Within the cosmos and the firmament, there is not a single person or object that was born from it, or exists because of it; there is not a single person or object that is ruled by it, or controlled by it. On the contrary, it not only has to live under the dominion of God, but, moreover, must obey all of God’s orders and commands. Without God’s permission, it is difficult for Satan to touch even a drop of water or grain of sand upon the land; without God’s permission, Satan is not even free to move the ants about upon the land, let alone mankind, who was created by God. In the eyes of God, Satan is inferior to the lilies on the mountain, to the birds flying in the air, to the fish in the sea, and to the maggots on the earth. Its role among all things is to serve all things, and work for mankind, and serve God’s work and His plan of management. Regardless of how malicious its nature, and how evil its essence, the only thing it can do is to dutifully abide by its function: being of service to God, and providing a counterpoint to God. Such is the substance and position of Satan. Its essence is unconnected to life, unconnected to power, unconnected to authority; it is merely a plaything in God’s hands, just a machine in service to God!” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique I). God’s word gave me faith and strength. I understood that God is sovereign over all things, that Satan is a serving object and a foil in His hand. Satan serves to perfect God’s chosen people, and no matter how strong, savage, or malicious the forces of Satan appear, if God does not allow a situation to befall us, then no matter how savage the CCP is, the things they do are to no avail. Satan does not dare overstep the limits God sets for it. This is decided by the authority and power of God. My fear of being arrested and my children being implicated was all because I lacked understanding of God’s authority and almighty sovereignty. Whether I would be arrested was in God’s hands, as are the futures of my children and grandchildren. God has long since decided these things and they cannot be changed by any person. No matter how the CCP claims that the descendants of the faithful can’t enter university, enter the civil service, or join the army, and that all their relatives will be implicated, it can’t change anyone’s fate. It just exposes the evil, God-resisting, and God-hating essence of the CCP. The disasters are growing in scale, and if people don’t believe in God or cast off their sins they will be destroyed. What future will they then have to speak of? Only by coming before God, practicing the truth, and performing our duties well can we have peace, joy, and a good final destiny. I thereby entrusted myself and my family to the hands of God and submitted to His arrangements. When I think back on those I declined to host, it has become an indelible stain on my life as a believer, and moreover, it is a mark of shame. I can no longer hurt God’s heart. Even if I am arrested and left with nothing, I will carry out my duty properly and host brothers and sisters.
I am still doing my duty as a host, and I am no longer satisfied with doing things as I once did. Now, I focus on pursuing the truth and resolving my corrupt disposition. My heart is so much fuller and more at peace than before! Through this experience, I have come to see that God’s work is truly wise. The arrests and persecution of the great red dragon revealed my corruption and allowed me to see that I was selfish, despicable, and that I had no loyalty in my duty. I gained some understanding of my corruption and was able to change somewhat. I am truly grateful to God!