When I Had Difficulties in Preaching the Gospel
By An’fen, Myanmar
In 2020, I accepted the work ofin the last days. It was my great blessing to be able to welcome the Lord’s return. To spread this incredibly important good news, I started preaching the gospel, hoping that more people could return to God after hearing His voice. However, in February 2022, due to the suppression of religious belief by the Myanmar government, my church was persecuted, and gospel work was greatly hindered. Some brothers and sisters didn’t attend gatherings due to cowardice and weakness, some became passive in their duties, and gospel work was basically at a standstill. At that time, I was also passive in my duty. I did whatever my leader arranged for me to do. I felt I was watering people normally, but they were the ones attending gatherings irregularly and being passive in their duties. So there was nothing I could do. And sometimes, there was no internet, so I couldn’t get online with my brothers and sisters to learn about work, which meant I had to go out to find internet. Sometimes I searched for a long time and still couldn’t find good internet, and as time went on, I didn’t want to go online to learn about work anymore. At the time, I preached the gospel to a relative of a sister. Their family of three accepted God’s work of the last days, so I lived there and watered them for ten days. I was content to water these three newcomers, and I didn’t want to preach anymore. I thought, “They tell so many rumors in the nearby villages that it’s hard to spread the gospel. If I can water this family of three well, they will take me to preach to their relatives and friends. Isn’t this a good way to preach the gospel?” So, when my brothers and sisters mentioned potential gospel recipients in neighboring villages, I rarely discussed how to preach the gospel to them. This directly affected the gospel work.
When we went over the work later, the leader said our church’s gospel work had basically stopped for that month, and mentioned some other problems. This made me feel very sad. Later, a sister reminded me that I had been content with the status quo and not seeking progress in my duty. It was a sudden awakening for me. I realized I wasn’t bearing a burden in my duty. As the church leader, I didn’t do what a leader should, and I didn’t face or resolve difficulties, which affected gospel work as a result. The more I thought about it, the worse I felt. As I reflected, I read in God’s word, “At present, there are some who carry no burdens for the church. These people are slack and sloppy, and only care about their own flesh. Such people are extremely selfish, and they are also blind. If you cannot see this matter clearly, you will not carry any burden. The more mindful you are of God’s will, the greater the burden He will entrust to you. The selfish are unwilling to suffer such things; they are unwilling to pay the price, and, as a result, they will miss opportunities to be perfected by God. Are they not doing themselves harm? If you are someone who is mindful of God’s will, then you will develop a true burden for the church. In fact, instead of calling this a burden you bear for the church, it would be better to call it a burden you bear for your own life’s sake, because the purpose of this burden you develop for the church is to have you use such experiences to be perfected by God. Therefore, whoever carries the greatest burden for the church, whoever carries a burden for entering into life—they will be the ones who are perfected by God. Have you seen this clearly? If the church you are with is scattered like sand, but you are neither worried nor anxious, and you even turn a blind eye when your brothers and sisters are not normally eating and drinking of (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Be Mindful of God’s Will in Order to Attain Perfection). As I pondered God’s words, I felt very guilty. I was a church leader, but when I saw that gospel work was at a standstill, I felt no urgency, I found objective excuses, and I thought since I didn’t have good internet, it was understandable I couldn’t learn about work. As for the potential gospel recipients provided by my brothers and sisters, I seldom fellowshiped with everyone on how to preach the gospel to them, and when my sisters wanted to discuss work with me, they couldn’t find me. Faced with the persecution of the church, my brothers and sisters were timid and weak, unable to gather normally or do their duties, but I didn’t seek the truth for a resolution. I finally realized the stop in gospel work was directly related to me. God’s words say, “At present, there are some who carry no burdens for the church. These people are slack and sloppy, and only care about their own flesh. Such people are extremely selfish, and they are also blind.” I realized I was the selfish person described in God’s word. I didn’t bear a burden in church work, I was always satisfied with the status quo, I only cared about my own comfort, I refused to suffer or pay a price. When I saw the church’s gospel work suffering, I felt no urgency or anxiety, and I became weak and passive in my difficulties. I really was too selfish. I thought of churches in other places that were also persecuted by the government, but the brothers and sisters were still preaching the gospel and building new churches, while our church’s gospel work had stopped. This was all because I was selfish and despicable, bore no burden, and took no responsibility. I felt very indebted to God. When I used to bear a burden, if anyone investigated the true way, I promptly arranged for someone to preach the gospel, and when the brothers and sisters had problems, I fellowshiped on the truth to solve them. The more I cooperated, the more I had the Holy Spirit’s work, our gospel work was effective, and I felt ease and enjoyment. But more recently, because I did my duty without bearing a burden, gospel work was ineffective. At this time, toward these words of God’s, “Whoever carries the greatest burden for the church, whoever carries a burden for entering into life—they will be the ones who are perfected by God.” I finally gained a little understanding. Only those considerate of God’s will and who bear a burden in church work can be perfected by God. I also realized if I couldn’t turn my passive state around, not only would it affect the work of the church, I would eventually be revealed and cast out. Thinking of this, I felt a little afraid. I couldn’t be passive and neglectful anymore. I prayed to God, asking Him to help me bear a burden, and to guide me in being considerate of His will and doing my duty well., then you are not carrying any burdens. Such people are not the kind in whom God delights. The kind of people in whom God delights hunger and thirst for righteousness and are mindful of God’s will”
After that, I discussed with the supervisor and group leaders about where else we could go to preach the gospel. We found a village where all the people believed in the Lord, but there was no suitable person to go at that time. I thought, “This time, I have to be considerate of God’s will, and I can’t bear no burden like before. I have to proactively take this responsibility.” So, I volunteered to go to that village to preach the gospel. But I was a little nervous, because I hadn’t gone to testify God’s work in the last days alone before, so I was worried that I couldn’t speak clearly. I thought, “I don’t know if they have internet there. Is it possible to let brothers and sisters who preach the gospel fellowship online?” I realized my state was wrong, and that I was relying on people, so I prayed in my heart, asking God to give me wisdom and faith as I spread the gospel there. When I reached the village, a sister led me straight to the mayor’s house to preach. Unexpectedly, the mayor wanted to take me to the pastor. When I heard that, I was excited, but I also had some concerns, “I’ve never preached the gospel alone. If the pastor has notions, how should I fellowship with him? What if he not only doesn’t accept it, but actually opposes me? Will we still be able to spread the gospel in this village?” I was very apprehensive. When I reached the pastor’s house, I wanted to call my brothers and sisters for help, but there was no internet on my phone. I didn’t know where to start, so I prayed to God over and over, begging God to be with me and give me faith so that I could testify to the work of God in the last days. After I prayed, I thought of God’s words, “Man’s heart and spirit are held in the hand of God, everything of his life is beheld in the eyes of God. Regardless of whether or not you believe this, any and all things, whether living or dead, will shift, change, renew, and disappear in accordance with God’s thoughts. Such is the way in which God presides over all things” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God Is the Source of Man’s Life). It was true. God is almighty, and all people, matters, and things are in God’s hands, including people’s hearts and spirits, so I had to learn to rely on God. I prayed to God in my heart, “God, if this pastor is Your sheep, I am sure he will understand Your voice and accept Your work.” After I prayed, I felt a strength in my heart, as if nothing was impossible with God by my side. Then, I used current disasters and world affairs to speak about the prophecies of the Lord’s coming. After hearing this, the pastor agreed and felt the Lord had likely returned. He also sent people to call two other pastors over to listen. I feared I wouldn’t be able to speak clearly and resolve their issues, so in my heart, I cried out to God over and over to ask God to guide me. I thought of when God asked Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses knew that going to the Pharaoh of Egypt would be difficult and dangerous, but his attitude was obedience and submission. God was with him, supporting him, and with God’s guidance, Moses brought the Israelites out of Egypt. Then I thought of the story of David defeating Goliath. When the Israelites saw Goliath, they were afraid. Only David dared to come out and fight. David said to Goliath, “You come to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to you in the name of Jehovah of hosts” (1 Samuel 17:45). As a result, David killed Goliath with just a pebble. From these two stories, I saw that in the face of difficulties, only with true faith can we see God’s deeds, and that people’s end is God’s beginning. Thinking of this, I found courage.
At this time, two other pastors came. I used biblical prophecies to fellowship with them on how God appears and works in incarnate flesh in the last days, the meaning of God’s incarnation, and what incarnation is. I also testified that God came to do the work of judgment and purification, that God’s name in the last days is Almighty God, and that He is the returned. When I finished, the first pastor was so excited that he cried. He wiped away his tears as he said, “I have preached for the Lord for over 40 years, and awaited His return most of my life. Now, the Lord has actually returned! I am very grateful to God for the fact that I can welcome the Lord today!” Hearing what the pastor said, I was moved to cry with him, and I was also very grateful to God. Actually, my fellowship wasn’t very thorough, so that the pastor could accept the gospel and understand God’s words was entirely due to God’s guidance.
The pastor accepted it, and said he would have the whole village hear my sermon that night. I was so excited that I thanked God over and over in my heart. That evening, the pastor and mayor invited the villagers of two villages to gather together, and told everyone the good news of the Lord’s coming. That night, more than 30 people accepted God’s work of the last days. Some villagers said, “It has been four years since the government banned our belief in the Lord. We are all living in pain, and we miss holding gatherings.” Thank God! Another villager was moved and said, “We haven’t had a gathering for years. You came to preach the gospel to us, so that we could hear God’s voice, and I am very grateful to God for this.” In one night, the gospel was spread to the whole village. I never expected that the first time I preached the gospel, the pastor would accept it, along with so many others. It was simply incredible! I knew this was the result of the work of the Holy Spirit, but I still thought I was skilled and did my duty very well. Before I knew it, I began to feel proud and to be satisfied with the status quo again, so I only wanted to water these newcomers with the sister in charge of watering, and I didn’t want to go to preach the gospel anymore. During that time, I rarely asked about church work, and I prayed to God less than before.
One day, I was charging my phone, and it short-circuited. I put my SIM card into another phone, but surprisingly, that phone also broke. At this point, I realized I was running into a wall, and this may have been God’s discipline, so I started to reflect on my problems. I read in God’s word, “Generally, all of you exist within a state of laziness, unmotivated, unwilling to make any personal sacrifice; or you wait passively, and some even complain; they do not understand the aims and significance of God’s work, and it is hard for them to pursue the truth. Such people detest the truth and will ultimately be cast out. None among them can be made perfect, and none may survive. If people do not have a little resolve with which to resist the forces of Satan, then they are beyond hope!” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Practice (7)). “Do not be a passive follower of God, and do not pursue that which makes you curious. Through being neither cold nor hot you will ruin yourself and delay your life. You must rid yourself of such passivity and inactivity, and become adept at pursuing positive things and overcoming your own weaknesses, so that you may gain the truth and live out the truth. There is nothing fearful about your weaknesses, and your shortcomings are not your biggest problem. Your biggest problem, and your greatest shortcoming, is your being neither hot nor cold and your lack of desire to seek the truth. The biggest problem with all of you is a cowardly mentality whereby you are happy with things as they are, and just passively wait. This is your greatest obstacle, and the greatest enemy to your pursuit of the truth” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment). After reading God’s word, I reflected on myself. When I saw that the gospel was spread to the whole village, I felt God was satisfied with my performance of my duty, so I was proud and satisfied with the status quo, and I didn’t want to keep spreading the gospel. Once I had results, I didn’t seek further progress. My desire to be content with the status quo was too strong. In the past, I delayed gospel work precisely because I was satisfied with the status quo, and now I was doing it again. God requires us to put all of our hearts and minds into our duties. How could God be satisfied with my performance of duty? It was then that I realized if I wasn’t making progress in my duty, I was backsliding, and in terms of life entry and the results of preaching the gospel, I would be left behind. I was always content with the status quo, I didn’t pursue the truth, and I was growing estranged from God. In the long run, I could only harm myself like that. Contentment with the status quo was my biggest obstacle to pursuing truth and doing my duty, and I would only harm and ruin myself. Just as God’s words say, “Through being neither cold nor hot you will ruin yourself and delay your life.” And Revelation says, “So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:16). I was the lukewarm water in God’s word, I was neither cold nor hot, and content with the status quo. If I went on like this, there would be no hope for me, and I really would be cast out. Thinking of this, I was a little scared, so I prayed to God to repent, saying that no matter what difficulties I faced in the future, I would make the effort, never backslide, and never be satisfied with the status quo.
But just as I started being proactive in my preaching, I encountered another major difficulty. We were reported, so the township government knew people came to preach the gospel. If we were found, we were likely to be arrested, along with the villagers and mayor. The mayor and villagers were afraid of being implicated, so they asked us to leave and return after things had calmed down. I thought, “What will happen to these newcomers if we leave? They just accepted the gospel and have no foundation at all. But if we both stayed, we could easily attract attention.” Finally, we decided to have the watering sister leave, while I stayed in the village alone to support the newcomers. Although I knew this arrangement was most suitable, I was a little sad. I felt like I was completely alone in a strange place. The pastor still had many notions and wasn’t completely certain about the true way, and he feared arrest, so he also wanted me to leave. I felt very aggrieved. The pastor and the mayor were driving me away, and it was as if I had no home. Living in this state, I had no motivation to pray, and I felt a little homesick. When I fellowshiped with the pastor, I saw that he still had many notions. So I believed that the pastor did not have a good understanding. When I saw that few newcomers came to gatherings for fear of being arrested, I didn’t bear a burden in supporting them. At that time, I thought, “It’s good that these few came. I called them, but the rest didn’t come, so there’s nothing more I can do.” Gradually, fewer and fewer newcomers attended gatherings regularly, and I was mired in difficulty and getting more and more depressed. Later, I spoke to a sister on the phone about my state, and she sent me a passage of God’s word. “This is how people are when they haven’t gained the truth, they all live by passion—a passion which is incredibly difficult to maintain: They must have someone preach and fellowship to them every day; once there is no one to water and provide for them, and no one to support them, their hearts go cold again, they slacken once more. And when their hearts slacken, they become less effective in their duty; if they work harder, effectiveness increases, their performance of their duty becomes more productive, and they gain more. Is this your experience? … People must have a will; only those who have a will can truly strive for the truth, and only once they have understood the truth can they perform their duty properly, and satisfy God, and bring shame upon Satan. If you have this kind of sincerity, and do not plan for your own sake, but only to gain the truth and perform your duty properly, then your performance of your duty will become normal, and will remain constant throughout; no matter what circumstances you encounter, you will be able to persist in performing your duty. Regardless of who or what may come to mislead or disturb you, no matter whether your mood is good or bad, you will still be able to perform your duty normally. In this way, God can set His mind at rest about you, and the Holy Spirit will be able to enlighten you in understanding the principles of the truth, and guide you in entering the reality of the truth, and as a result, your performance of your duty will be sure to be up to standard. … You must have faith that everything is in God’s hands, and that humans are merely cooperating with Him. If your heart is sincere, God will see it, and He will open up all paths for you, making difficulties no longer difficult. This is the faith you must have. Therefore, you need not worry about anything while you perform your duty, as long as you use all your strength and put your heart into it. God will not make things difficult for you or force you to do what you are not capable of” (The Word, Vol. 3, The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days, In Believing in God, What Is Most Important Is to Practice and Experience His Words). By applying God’s word, I saw that I was doing my duty only from enthusiasm, and that I wasn’t loyal to God. After government persecution came to us, the mayor asked me to leave, and the newcomers didn’t attend gatherings because they feared arrest. In the face of these difficulties, I didn’t have a positive attitude, seek God’s guidance, or do my best to water the newcomers so they could lay a foundation in the faith. Instead, I became passive and contented myself with just a few newcomers. Precisely because I did my duty without bearing a burden or seeking progress, attendance at newcomer gatherings became more and more irregular. Just as God’s words say, “When their hearts slacken, they become less effective in their duty; if they work harder, effectiveness increases, their performance of their duty becomes more productive, and they gain more.” It really is true. When I bore a burden and was willing to pay a price, I could see God’s guidance and blessings, and my preaching of the gospel was effective. Yet when I had difficulties, I didn’t bear a burden in my duty, I was irresponsible, weak, and passive, and so I became ineffective in my duty. It was God’s grace that I could perform a duty, but I couldn’t do it well to satisfy God. I was too rebellious!
Later, I read another passage of God’s word, “What does it mean to ‘hold fast to one’s duty’? It means that whatever difficulties one encounters, they do not throw up their hands, or become a deserter, or shirk their responsibility. They do all they can. That is what it is to hold fast to one’s duty. Say, for instance, it is arranged for you to do something. No one is there to watch you, nor is there anyone to supervise you and urge you on. What would it look like for you to hold fast to your duty? (Accepting God’s scrutiny and living before Him.) Accepting God’s scrutiny is the first step; that is one part of it. The other part is to do that thing with all your heart and all your mind. What must you do to be able to act with all your heart and all your mind? You must accept the truth and put it into practice; you must accept and obey whatever God requires; you must treat your duty as your own, personal affair, requiring no one else’s concern, nor their constant watch, check-ups, and urging, nor their oversight—nor even their dealing and pruning. You must think to yourself, ‘Performing this duty is my responsibility. It’s my part, and since it’s been given to me to do, and I’ve been told the principles and grasped them, I’ll set my teeth and do it single-mindedly. I’ll do all I can to see it done well. I’ll only stop when someone says “stop”; until then, I’ll keep on with it single-mindedly.’ This is what it means to hold fast to your duty with all your heart and all your mind. This is the manner in which people should behave. So, what must someone be equipped with in order to hold fast to their duty with all their heart and all their mind? They must first have the conscience that a created being ought to have. That is the minimum. Beyond that, they must also be devoted. As a human, to accept God’s commission, one must be devoted. One must be completely devoted to God, and cannot be half-hearted, or fail to take responsibility; to act based on one’s own interests or moods is wrong, it is not being devoted. What does being devoted refer to? It means that while fulfilling your duties, you are not influenced and constrained by moods, environments, people, matters, or things. You should think to yourself, ‘I have received this commission from God; He has given it to me. This is what I’m supposed to do. I will therefore do it regarding it as my own affair, in whichever way yields good results, with importance laid on satisfying God.’ When you have this state, you are not only being controlled by your conscience, but devotedness is also involved. If you are only satisfied with getting it done, without aspiring to be efficient and achieve results, and feel that it is enough simply to put forth some effort, then this is merely the standard of conscience, and cannot be counted as devotion” (The Word, Vol. 3, The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days, Part Three). After reading God’s words, I understood how to keep to my duty. This duty was entrusted to me, so I had to do my best to do it well, and without anyone else’s supervision. No matter whether I faced difficulties, whether my own interests were involved, or whether I had to suffer, I had to accept God’s inspection and perform my duty well. As long as gospel work was ongoing, I had to do all I could and treat my duty as my mission, and I couldn’t quit, shirk responsibility, or do things based on my mood. Then I would be keeping to my duty.
Next, I went to fellowship with the newcomers that weren’t attending gatherings. I said, “If you can’t come to gatherings at night, when you have time during the day, I can come to fellowship with you.” This moved some of the newcomers, and they were willing to come to gatherings. One night, I organized a gathering with the pastor and villagers. I said, “Now, God’s work is about to end, so we shouldn’t fear gathering to read God’s words due to the government’s persecution. If we do that, we will lose God’s salvation. Now, the disasters are growing, and only Almighty God can save us. We should believe that God rules over all things, have faith in God, and not back down in the face of the persecution before us. I preached the gospel in your village, and if they find me, they will arrest me. I’m just a young woman, and I fear arrest, so why don’t I leave? Because this is my responsibility. You have just accepted God’s kingdom gospel, and you have finally heard God’s voice. This little persecution has come, and you asked me to leave, but if I left to protect myself and abandoned you all, that would be a dereliction of duty.” After I spoke honestly, the pastor told the villagers, “We have to protect her from now on. Don’t tell anyone that she is preaching the gospel in this village. If anyone asks, say you don’t know.” Hearing what the pastor said, I was very moved. Although he still had many religious notions, he was willing to seek, so I provided fellowship targeted to his notions, and the brothers and sisters sent some Almighty God’s words to the pastor. The pastor listened attentively, and some of his notions were resolved. Later, the pastor actively came to gatherings, and he told the villagers, “I want you all to come to the gatherings, We need to accept God’s work of the last days, keep up, and not fall behind. Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus!” Thank God! After this experience, I genuinely saw that everything is in God’s hands. In the past, I merely said that everything was in God’s hands, but now I actually experienced that everything really is in God’s hands, and as long as people sincerely cooperate with God, God will lead them. With God, nothing is impossible.
A little while later, township officials came to the village and took the pastor and me to the township government. I was nervous and afraid, but I remembered everything was in God’s hands, and since God allowed this environment to come to me, I should obey. As we walked on the road, I silently prayed to God, asking God to be with me. I thought of 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” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique I). When I thought of God’s words, I was calm, I wasn’t so afraid, and I believed everything was in God’s hands.
At the township government, the pastor and I were locked in a room for interrogation. At that moment, the pastor’s migraines reoccurred. He had no strength, his hands and feet were shaking, he was in pain, and he worried he would die there. I fellowshiped with him, saying, “This environment is a test for us, to see if we truly follow God. Everything is in God’s hands, and Satan won’t do anything to us without God’s permission, so we have to have faith.” After my fellowship, the pastor was moved to tears. He said, “Thank God! Everything is in God’s hands, and God is with us, so I can’t fear death.” Then he told me, “If they interrogate us, I’ll say you are my daughter, and you are here to help me with my work.” And so, the pastor and I had the confidence to experience this environment. In the end, the township governor fined me and the pastor 300 yuan and let us go.
After going through this arrest, I saw God’s almighty sovereignty, and that people’s hearts and spirits are all in God’s hands. Although the path of preaching the gospel is hard and dangerous, during this period, I matured a bit. When I was persecuted in the past, I was passive, but now, I was able to proactively take responsibility when I faced danger. This change, and this precious gain, are things I couldn’t have received any other way. Thank God!