Fleeing From the “Tiger’s Den” (Part 1) Audio Essay
By Xiaoyou, China
My name is Xiaoyou and I am 26 years old. I used to be a Catholic. When I was little, I went with my mother to church to attend Mass, read the Bible, go to confession and receive Communion. My mother was very zealous in her faith. She would often donate food and various other things from our home to the church, and she would also donate money. The church leaders and nuns particularly liked my mother. When they saw her, they would greet her with smiles and show great concern for her, and they would also frequently call my mother on the phone to ask her to participate in all kinds of church activities and to help out with various tasks. I also actively participated in the classes that the nuns taught, and my church friends and I would read the Bible together. At that time, I was able to feel the joy and peace that came from having the Lord by my side, and I felt happy every day. However, as time went on, the faith of my church friends became colder and colder. My spirit also became weak and I was unable to adhere to the Lord’s teachings. I would frequently commit sins and then confess them and, after I got married, I moved with my husband to another part of the country for work.
In the blink of an eye, it was Christmas 2013, and I had the good fortune to encounter a sister from. She told me that the had already returned and that He is performing a new stage of His work. When I heard this, I was surprised and I said excitedly, “Really? The Lord has returned! When did the Lord return? Where is the Lord right now? Sister, tell me right away.” The sister gave me fellowship, saying, “ is the returned Lord Jesus. Almighty God has expressed millions of words and He is performing His work of judgment in the last days. He has revealed all the truths that can purify and save mankind, including the three stages of work that God performs to save mankind, the mystery of the incarnation, the mystery of the Bible, the significance of God’s names, and mankind’s end and destination, among others. This fulfills the Lord Jesus’ words when He said: ‘I have yet many things to say to you: but you cannot bear them now. But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth. For he shall not speak of himself; but what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak; and the things that are to come, he shall shew you’ (John 16:12–13).” I earnestly listened to the sister’s fellowship and thought: “I never expected to be able to welcome the return of the Lord. This is fantastic.” Afterward, the sister bore witness to me of the three stages of God’s work and the significance of God’s names. Afraid that I would not understand, the sister furnished me with analogies and examples. She gave fellowship in meticulous detail, in a way that was both clear and transparent. Through her fellowship, I came to understand many truths I had not understood before. I also learned that the Lord had returned in order to perform the work of judging, chastising, cleansing and perfecting man. I felt that it was very possible that Almighty God was indeed the returned Lord Jesus, and I told the sister that I wished to investigate the work of God in the last days. Afterward, I attended gatherings with the brothers and sisters, and together we read God’s word, sang hymns and danced in praise of God. Whenever I came across something I didn’t understand while I was reading , the brothers and sisters would always take the trouble to fellowship with me about it. Their fellowships had the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment and illumination, and attending gatherings with them allowed me to enjoy once more the pleasure of the Holy Spirit’s work. I felt incredibly happy. In this big family of The Church of Almighty God, there were no distinctions between high and low or poor and wealthy. The brothers and sisters were all open with each other and always said what was on their minds. When it came to living a happy life, I felt like this was the real deal! After more than a month of investigation, I had read many of Almighty God’s words and I became certain that Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus. I felt so very fortunate, and at the same time I wanted to tell this good news to my mother and my friends at church.
During Chinese Spring Festival, my husband and I returned to our hometown. After we arrived, I immediately bore witness to Almighty God’s work of the last days to my mother, but she refused to accept it no matter what I said. I felt a bit disappointed and very bewildered. “Clearly, Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus,” I thought. “How could she not accept this?” Seeing as my mother would not accept it, I had no choice but to drop the subject. When our trip back to our hometown was over, I returned to where I was working. I attended gatherings with my brothers and sisters and practiced fulfilling my duties for the church. During that time, my spirit was overflowing with enjoyment and my life was filled with incomparable happiness and joy. I read in God’s words about how Job had lost all his possessions and sons and daughters in trials, and about how his body had become covered with sores and yet still he had been able to praise God’s name and have true faith in God. And then there was Abraham, who was able to offer up his only son Isaac and return him to God. When I read about these things in particular, I felt very moved by their faith and their obedience toward God, and I too wanted to be this kind of person.
Just as I was feeling immersed in God’s love, my life suddenly turned into a nightmare. One day in August 2014, my mother called me out of the blue to say that my daughter was seriously ill. My heart skipped a beat when I heard this. “My daughter is so young,” I thought, “how could she be seriously ill?” I was very worried for my daughter and I felt terribly distressed. I therefore went before God and prayed: “O God, it is by Your permission that this situation has befallen me. My daughter’s sickness is in Your hands. I wish to entrust my daughter to You. Please give me true faith.” I felt a little more at ease after that. My husband and I hastily returned to our house in our hometown. When we got there, I was astonished to see my daughter sleeping peacefully in her bed. I wanted to wake her, but my mother raised her hand to stop me and said sternly, “Don’t wake her. She’s fine!” Only then did I become aware that many relatives had gathered there at my house, and I realized that she had tricked me into returning home in order to try to stop me from believing in Almighty God. I thought: “God has arranged this situation for me today. It must be something that I have to experience.” I then asked my mother, “Mother, my daughter is fine. Why did you trick us into returning home—” Before I could finish speaking, my mother flew into a rage and shouted, “I went to the church and asked the priests and the church leaders. They said thatis dangerous, and that once you join it you can never leave it again. Don’t believe in it any longer. I’m doing this for your own good. I’m afraid that you’ve taken the wrong path.” My mother also repeated some lies and calumny fabricated by the religious world against The Church of Almighty God. As I listened to my mother say these things, I thought: “My belief is not wrong at all. On the contrary, I’m keeping pace with God’s new work. The Almighty God I believe in is the returned Lord Jesus who now performs the work of judging, chastising and cleansing man. I am absolutely certain that this is the true way, so why would I give it up? When the priests and the church leaders say, ‘If you believe in Eastern Lightning and you join their church then you can never leave,’ these are purely lies and fallacies designed to deceive people. I have attended gatherings at The Church of Almighty God for more than six months now and I know more about it than you people do. The door of The Church of Almighty God is always open and people can freely choose to leave. It’s not at all like what the priests and the church leaders say. The brothers and sisters all become certain about the true way by reading God’s words, they obtain life nourishment and they have found the spring of living water, and that is why they don’t wish to leave the church. Through reading Almighty God’s word, our spirits gain contentment. Who would want to go back to their old desolate and barren church? The priests and the church leaders have not investigated Almighty God’s work of the last days at all. They have not read Almighty God’s words and, moreover, they have not attended gatherings at The Church of Almighty God. What are they basing their claims on? Aren’t they just fabricating baseless rumors out of nothing?” When my mother saw that I was not responding, she stormed over to me in a rage, slapped me a few times, and tried to force me to say things to betray God. It pained me greatly to see her like this. I thought that if it hadn’t been for the lies fabricated by the priests and the church leaders, then there was no way my mother would have tried to force me to abandon my belief in Almighty God. I then said to her, “Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus. Believing in Almighty God is an unalterable law of earth and heaven, and I will believe in Him till the very end!” When my mother heard me say this, her face went livid with anger and her eyes were red with rage. She shouted at me loudly, “I am your mother. You must listen to me!” Seeing how unreasonable my mother was being, I decided not to say anything more. Just then, my relatives also started criticizing me all at once and they said many things to try to make me betray God. I thought: “I have already welcomed the Lord Jesus. The God I believe in is real and the path that I walk is the right path. I will absolutely not betray God!” I really wanted to advise them to investigate God’s work of the last days and to not be deceived by the rumors of the priests and the church leaders into blindly condemning and resisting Almighty God. However, seeing that their attitude was one of hatred for the truth and for God, I felt that they would not accept the truth and it would have done no good no matter what I said, so I said nothing more to them. After a while, my mother and my relatives left together. My mother had not let me off the hook, however, as she then had my younger brother come to stay at my house. Every day, my brother would keep an eye on me as if I were a convict and he would follow me wherever I went. Just like that, my personal freedom was gone.
Two days later, just as my family and I were eating dinner, my mother suddenly came in. She was beaming ear to ear and said to me in an affected tone, “Xiaoyou, look who’s here!” My mother’s expression and tone of voice made me wonder what kind of person had come that could elicit such a big reaction out of her, and I knew it couldn’t be anything good. Just then, the church leader Liu and a parishioner named Wang came in. I greeted them calmly and asked them to sit. After we’d finished eating, the church leader Liu looked at me, smiled and said, “Xiaoyou! We are not going to beat around the bush. According to your mother, you now believe in Eastern Lightning. I have to tell you that you must stop believing in it. Your whole family has been Catholic for generations. You cannot abandon the Lord, or else He will abandon you. Today, we have come to give you some advice, but if you do not listen to us, then you will have no one to blame but yourself when the time comes and you descend into hell. Xiaoyou, we are doing this for your own good. Think about your husband’s illness. He wouldn’t have gotten better if it hadn’t been for your mother and me praying to the Lord every day. If you continue to believe in Eastern Lightning and your husband’s illness returns, then no one will do anything to help.” Listening to her say these things, my heart was thumping and I couldn’t help but feel a little afraid. I thought: “My husband did get extremely sick and even though we spent a lot of money he still didn’t get better. In the end, he only got better because of our prayers every day. If things really are as they say, and my husband’s illness returns, what would I do?” Just as I was beginning to fall for their deception, a line of God’s words floated up into my mind: “Almighty God is an all-powerful physician!” (“Chapter 6” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in). When I thought of this, I suddenly woke up and my mind became clear. “That’s right,” I thought. “I believe in Almighty God who is the Lord returned. Whether or not my husband will become ill again is in the hands of God; it is not up to them. God has sovereignty over everything, so what is there for me to be afraid of? In any case, it was the Lord who cured my husband’s sickness, not them. I never imagined they would try to use my husband’s sickness to threaten me into betraying God, or that they would try to make me deny and betray God out of fear of trouble happening in my family. How insidious they are!” When I saw through their malicious motives, I felt nothing but disgust for them, and I no longer wanted to talk to them.
When the church leader Liu saw that I remained silent, she said in a sarcastic way, “It seems that you are very insistent! We have done all the talking so far today, so tell us where you stand!” Since they had just talked about the matter of my husband’s illness, I felt a little perturbed. But when I thought about God holding sovereignty over everything, I suddenly found my confidence. Regardless of what happened, I would not betray God. I gathered up my courage and said, “Let me tell you then that I firmly believe in Almighty God and I will not relinquish my faith in God!” My mother roared, “Let’s go! We’ll go to church to pray.” After she said this, they all stormed angrily away. Seeing how ferocious they looked, I could not help but feel a little bit scared. “They are going to pray,” I thought. “Are they going to curse me? What can I do?” Feeling helpless, I came before God and prayed: “O Almighty God! They have all formed a battle line against me and are besieging me, and I feel all alone. O God! I don’t know what to do. I’m very scared. Please guide me!” After I finished praying, I recalled some of God’s words: “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). With the enlightenment and guidance of God’s words, my heart suddenly filled with light: “Yes! God is my staunch support,” I thought. “With God by my side, there is nothing to be afraid of. The church leader and the one named Wang said those things just to make me scared that I will go to hell, scared of trouble occurring in my family, and scared that my husband will get sick, and thereby forsake God. If I am timid or scared, then doesn’t that mean that I have fallen for Satan’s scheme? The fate, the final destination and the fortunes and misfortunes of me and my husband are not up to anybody, much less do the priests and the church leaders have any say in it all. It is all in the hands of God. It is useless for them to condemn and curse me.” Thinking this, I felt calm again and I was not afraid at all. From the bottom of my heart, I praised God and thanked God for guiding me with His words, and for granting me the faith and strength to see through Satan’s schemes so that I would not be disturbed or deceived by my mother or the others.
One afternoon, just as I was about to have a midday nap with my child, Sister Zhao and Sister Zhang from my old church came to harass me. Sister Zhao said some things to intimidate me, and then Sister Zhang, acting very serious, said, “It’s true. We have had contact with people from The Church of Almighty God in the past, and were almost deceived by them.” When I heard her say this, I became furious. I knew that my brothers and sisters were absolutely incapable of trying to deceive anybody. Everything they were saying were just lies and slander. So, I asked them, “How did they deceive you?” Sister Zhang said in a serious tone, “There is no way you would know. They gave me a book!” I went on and asked her, “Tell me, what was the book like that they gave you? What was the name of the book? What was the book about?” Sister Zhang looked embarrassed, and after hemming and hawing for a bit, she finally tried to brush the question away, saying, “I’ve forgotten.” When I heard her say this, I thought, “You’re nuns! How dare you bear false witness and knowingly try to lay false accusations against others? How could you have such little reverence for God? Are you actually believers in God? Are you not afraid of being punished by God?” Afterward, Sister Zhao asked me again, “Are you going to work?” I resolutely replied, “Yes!” With feigned friendliness, she advised me, “Don’t go to work. Staying at home and looking after your child is much better!” I felt disgusted by their hypocrisy, so I started to walk out of the room and said, “Mind your own business.” Seeing that their attempts to disturb me had failed, they left dejectedly. After they’d left, I felt very troubled and depressed. I thought about how the church leader and these nuns had recently kept coming to harass me, and were either slandering, attacking and spreading rumors about Almighty God and my brothers and sisters, or else they were spreading fallacies to deceive me and cow me into submission. Even though I was not deceived by them and had argued and refuted their claims, every time I was left feeling very agitated and was unable to quiet myself before God and read God’s words. My younger brother was still watching me all the time as well. I felt constrained whenever I prayed, sang hymns and read God’s word, and I felt incredibly oppressed. In the midst of my suffering, I prayed to God: “Almighty God! This church leader and these nuns have come to harass me time after time. I feel very troubled and upset. Right now, I don’t know how I should deal with them. Dear God, please enlighten me and guide me!”
After praying, I took out my MP5 player and just happened to see this passage of God’s words: “There are those who read the Bible in grand churches and recite it all day long, yet not one among them understands the purpose of God’s work. Not one among them is able to know God; still less can any one among them accord with God’s will. They are all worthless, vile people, each standing on high to lecture God. They willfully oppose God even as they carry His banner. Claiming faith in God, still they eat the flesh and drink the blood of man. All such people are devils that devour the soul of man, head demons that deliberately get in the way of those trying to step onto the right path, and stumbling blocks impeding those who seek God. They may appear of ‘sound constitution,’ but how are their followers to know that they are none other than antichrists who lead people to stand against God? How are their followers to know that they are living devils dedicated to the devouring of human souls?” (“All People Who Do Not Know God Are People Who Oppose God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). After I finished reading God’s words, I understood immediately. It turned out that these priests and church leaders were the very religious antichrists that God was exposing in His words. Even though they believed in the Lord, they did not seek the truth at all and they had no God-fearing heart whatsoever. Not only did they not investigate God’s work of the last days themselves, but they also blasphemed God, condemned God’s new work and made up rumors to deceive my mother so that she would hit me, scold me and put me under virtual house arrest. Then, they repeatedly came to my home trying to harass, cheat, deceive and threaten me. Thankfully, with God’s words to guide and lead me, I did not fall for their schemes, nor did I betray God. The Pharisees also used all kinds of despicable methods to stop the ordinary Jewish people from accepting the Lord Jesus’ gospel. They even used lies to deceive the people, saying that the Lord Jesus’ work overstepped the Old Testament and that Jesus was not the returned Messiah. This caused the ordinary Jewish people to go along with the Pharisees in nailing the sinless Lord Jesus to the cross. The Lord Jesus rebuked them by saying, “But woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men, for you yourselves do not enter in; and those that are going in, you suffer not to enter” (Matthew 23:13). I compared what the Pharisees did with the actions of the priests, church leaders and nuns, and thought about the fellowship my brothers and sisters had given me before regarding how to discern the essence of the Pharisees. I then saw clearly that the priests and church leaders were basically no different whatsoever from the Pharisees of the past. In order to protect their own status and livelihoods, they were using every possible means to stop me from believing in Almighty God. They were afraid that I would preach the work of Almighty God of the last days to my mother and my entire family, and that my family would then start believing in Almighty God. This would then reduce the size of their flock and the amount of donations they received each month would also decrease. They truly are the evil servants and antichrists who steal the offerings to God and who obstruct people from entering the kingdom of heaven! Once I saw clearly their antichrist essence, I then knew how to deal with these people. They believed in God and yet they resisted God and were God’s enemies and, as such, I knew I must abandon them. Although, over recent days, I had suffered from their harassment, yet I had the guidance and enlightenment of God’s words. By acting as negative foils to God, they allowed me to develop discernment and, moreover, they allowed me to gain some practical experience in regards to God’s words. I experienced for myself that God’s words are the truth, the way and the life, and I became even more certain that Almighty God is the true God. I felt incredibly happy and at ease in my heart and I silently made a resolution: Regardless of how Satan tries to disturb me, I will never betray God, and I am determined to stand witness for God and humiliate the devil Satan!