Fourteen Days I’ll Never Forget
By Song Yang, China
In 2020, I was doing textual work in the church. At 9 a.m. on November 10th, Sister Su Jin and I suddenly received a letter from an upper leader that said at around 2 that morning, the police mobilized nearly 2,000 officers armed with submachine guns to conduct a mass arrest in the county seat. Leaders and workers as well as some brothers and sisters in our church were arrested. Brothers and sisters from three host houses only 300 meters away from us were all arrested, including one host house that I had just been living in a few months ago. When I read that letter, I immediately began to feel my breathing and heart rate speed up—if not for our recent move, I too would have been arrested. Looking over the list of those arrested, I saw that I was in close contact with many of them. There were surveillance cameras all over the streets, if the police went back through footage, wouldn’t I be a sitting duck? Realizing this, I felt like I was in great danger and could be arrested at any moment, so I kept calling out to God in my heart: “Dear God! Please safeguard my heart and instill me with faith so that I may persevere through this ordeal in my duty.” After praying, I felt a little calmer. I recalled that (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 26). God rules over all things and He is my shield. Without God’s consent, Satan cannot harm me. Realizing this, I was filled with faith and strength, and no longer felt afraid. After that, Su Jin and I quickly moved farther away but continued doing our duty.say: “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 of hosts will surely be with you; He stands behind you and He is your shield”
At the time, many brothers and sisters were doing their duties in the county seat and after the arrests, we lost contact with them. Our leader wrote to us and told us to contact local members in the know and relocate those who hadn’t been arrested to safe locations. So, I gave the local brothers and sisters the addresses of the eight host houses I knew of in the area, and had them try to make contact. But after five days, we had received very few responses. We weren’t making any progress and had reached an impasse. I thought to myself: “The only person left that’s familiar with these host houses is me. Su Jin is not a local and doesn’t know the area well. Maybe I should tell her that I can go and investigate myself?” But as soon as I thought this, I immediately remembered that the county seat was a dangerous place at the time. The police had eyes everywhere and there were high-definition cameras capable of picking out faces. Officers had come to my house to ask about my belief before. What’s more, many of those arrested were people who knew me. One was a sister that I had worked with for over three years. If my presence were detected when I went to investigate, couldn’t I be arrested at any moment? If I died from the police’s beatings or couldn’t take the torture and became a Judas, wouldn’t all my years of faith have been in vain? No matter what, I couldn’t go and had to wait and see. But these thoughts gave me a guilty conscience, so I silently prayed to God: “Oh God! I know that I should go to the county seat to check things out, but I’m worried that I’ll be arrested. Please guide me to understand myself better.”
By reading God’s words, I gained some understanding of my state at the time. Almighty God says, “Antichrists are extremely selfish and mean. They do not have true faith in God, much less devotion to God; when they encounter an issue, they only protect and safeguard themselves. For them, nothing is more important than their own safety. They don’t care how much harm is done to the work of the church—as long as they’re still alive and have not been arrested, that’s all that matters. These people are extremely selfish, they don’t think of the brothers and sisters at all, or of the work of the church, they only think of their own safety. They are antichrists. … When those who are loyal to God know clearly that an environment is dangerous, they still brave the risk of handling the work of cleaning up the aftermath, and they keep the losses to God’s house to a minimum before they themselves withdraw. They do not give priority to their own safety. Tell Me, in this evil country of the great red dragon, who could ensure that there is no danger at all in believing in God and performing a duty? Whatever duty one takes on, it entails some risk—yet the performance of duty is commissioned by God, and while following God, one must take on the risk of performing their duty. One should exercise wisdom, and one has need of taking measures to ensure their safety, but one should not put their personal safety first. They should consider God’s will, putting the work of His house first and putting the spread of the gospel first. Completing God’s commission of you is what matters most, and it comes first. Antichrists give top priority to their personal safety; they believe that nothing else has anything to do with them. They do not care when something happens to someone else, regardless of who it might be. As long as nothing bad happens to the antichrists themselves, they feel at ease. They are devoid of any loyalty, which is determined by the antichrist’s nature and essence” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Two)). After reading the revelation of God’s words, I felt remorseful and humiliated. I saw how antichrists are incredibly selfish and despicable—when faced with dangerous circumstances, they only consider their safety, and give no thought to the church’s losses, let alone the lives of the brothers and sisters. Comparing my own behavior to what God had exposed about antichrists, I saw I was just like them: I clearly knew that if those who hadn’t been arrested weren’t relocated quickly, they would be in danger of being arrested at any time. The church’s work would also suffer losses and be obstructed. I was the only one familiar with these host houses, so it was my duty to take care of this. But in such a crucial moment, I only considered my own safety. Because I was scared of being arrested and tortured, I wasn’t willing to protect the church’s interests and the others’ safety. I was just so selfish and lacking in humanity! I then saw these words of God. “Whether or not man truly seeks God is determined by the test of his work, that is, by God’s trials, and has nothing to do with the decision by man himself. God does not reject any person on a whim; all that He does can utterly convince man. He does not do anything that is invisible to man, or any work that cannot convince man. Whether man’s belief is true or not is proved by the facts and cannot be decided by man. That ‘wheat cannot be made into tares, and tares cannot be made into wheat’ is without doubt. All those who truly love God will ultimately remain in the kingdom, and God will not mistreat anyone who truly loves Him” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God’s Work and Man’s Practice). Through God’s words, I realized that we will inevitably face danger and hardships when doing our duty in the atheist land of the CCP. God allows us to experience these ordeals to test us and perfect our faith and love. Those who truly believe in God and heed His will are able to face challenges head-on when the church’s work is endangered, shoulder their own burdens and safeguard the church’s work, relying on God and using wisdom to clean up in the aftermath. The duty I faced that day was a test from God, to see whether I had faith in and loyalty to Him and a sense of responsibility for the church’s work. I had to stop being so selfish and despicable, only considering my own interests. Such an attitude would only hurt and disappoint God. Once I realized God’s will, I didn’t feel scared anymore and was ready to look into and rectify the situation in the county seat.
Yang Le and I went together and took up temporary residence with her unbelieving relatives. When I went to the first host house, I found the door locked and a banner hung from the wall that blasphemed and discredited the church. An elderly neighbor told me that the police had arrested all the residents a few days earlier. So, I quickly made my way to the second house, only to find that it was also locked and the same banner was hung from the wall. I realized that the residents at this house had also been arrested. I kept on walking and as I was crossing an intersection, I saw a police car full of officers with its lights flashing stopped by the side of the road. There were very few pedestrians around. I once again felt a bit timid, thinking: “My leader, Li Juan, was arrested not far from here, and I lived in that house for over two years. Three months ago, I was coming and going from there every day. If the police recognize me, won’t I be actively turning myself in?” I was gripped by anxiety and continually calling out to God to give me courage. Because I was already right by the police car, I couldn’t make a detour, so I just had to play it cool as I walked by. Only after I’d walked past them, was I finally able to relax a bit. I looked all around, and after ensuring there were no tails, I advanced to the next house. Just like the last two, the door was locked and the same blasphemous banner flew outside the house. I felt like all the strength had been drained from my body. Already, I’d found that brothers and sisters from three houses had been arrested and didn’t know what happened to those from the other houses. But libelous banners were hung on the walls of every street and intersection, patrollers, police cars and plainclothes police were deployed on every street and lane, and there were surveillance cameras everywhere. Would I be noticed by the police if I went around to the other houses? I didn’t dare go to the other houses—my legs felt like lead and I slogged my way back to Yang Le’s relatives’ house with tears welling up in my eyes. With great sadness, I told Yang Le: “Those three houses were all raided. What should we do now?” She replied: “The wisest way forward is to pray to God and rely on Him.” So the two of us knelt down in prayer, asking God to give us courage and faith to complete the work of cleaning up. After dinner, we went to the fourth house. Sister Meng Fan was shocked to see us and quickly pulled us inside. She said that the three sisters she had been hosting were all successfully relocated. At 5 a.m. on November 10th, while the three sisters were still asleep, three officers arrived to search the house. They even had copies of the three sisters’ IDs and claimed they were online fraudsters. They asked Meng Fan and her husband if they recognized the sisters, to which her husband replied that he thought they might live across the street upstairs. Only then did the police leave. When Meng Fan went to close the door, she saw 60–70 policemen swarm into the upstairs apartment across the way. That’s how the three of them escaped arrest. When I heard that they’d all been relocated, tears of joy came streaming down my cheeks and I kept thanking God. When I saw that Meng Fan had done everything she could to protect the sisters’ safety in that difficult moment, whereas I had selfishly and despicably only protected myself, I felt ashamed. As I walked home, I thought about how the three sisters had safely evaded a close encounter with the police and how this was due to God’s authority and sovereignty. It was only because God had blinded the officers that the three sisters weren’t arrested and were safely relocated. I saw how all things are subject to God’s rule. Without God’s permission, no matter how vicious Satan is, it can’t harm us. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that God is almighty and wise, and so my faith grew stronger.
The next morning, I went to another two houses to check in and learned that the brothers and sisters there had all been arrested, so I hurriedly returned to where I was staying. To my surprise, Yang Le said that her relatives and neighbors were asking if we were believers, and said that a large dispatch of officers had come to the county seat a few days ago and arrested many believers. People there were getting suspicious of us. Hearing this, it seemed that we were no longer safe there, and I decided to return to my residence in the mountain area. I told Su Jin what I had learned from my time in the county seat. Hearing this, she replied: “There are still some unaccounted for. Could they have been arrested as well? We should go back to the county seat to investigate.” When I heard her say we had to go back to the county seat, I outwardly assented, but inside, I wasn’t willing to go back there. I thought: “If you want to go, go ahead, but I certainly won’t. Once was enough! If I go again and the police spot me, what then? If I’m arrested, I’ll be tortured and tormented!” But I felt selfish and despicable for thinking this way. I clearly knew that Sister Su Jin wasn’t a local and couldn’t go by herself. How could I be so unconscionable to leave such a dangerous task to her? When I went to the county seat, I witnessed God’s wisdom and almightiness and experienced His protection firsthand. I even declared before God that I was willing to help clean up in the aftermath. Why was I shrinking back now? Afterwards, I thought about what might have caused this. I then came across these words of God. “All corrupt humans live for themselves. Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost—this is the summation of human nature. People believe in God for their own sakes; when they forsake things and expend themselves for God, it is in order to be blessed, and when they are faithful to Him, it is in order to be rewarded. In sum, it is all done for the purpose of being blessed, rewarded, and entering the kingdom of heaven. In society, people work for their own benefit, and in the house of God, they perform a duty in order to be blessed. It is for the sake of gaining blessings that people forsake everything and can withstand much suffering: There is no better evidence of man’s satanic nature” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). Through God’s words I realized that, though I wanted to protect the church’s work, when faced with danger, I unconsciously wanted to pass off my duty and preserve my own interests. I was being controlled by the satanic toxins like “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.” I was living by these satanic toxins and was incredibly selfish and despicable. I only thought of my own safety, and didn’t consider the church’s work or the safety of the brothers and sisters at all. I clearly knew that we still had a few houses to check out, and didn’t know if the brothers and sisters there had been arrested, yet because I was worried of being arrested and tortured, I wasn’t willing to go to the county seat. I didn’t heed God’s will at all. I was also well aware that Su Jin wasn’t a local and didn’t know her way around the county seat well, but in order to protect my own safety, I even thought to pass off such dangerous work onto her while I kept far away and cowered out of sight. How selfish and despicable I was! Realizing this, I despised myself and was unwilling to go on living in such a vile and repulsive manner.
Two passages in particular had a deep impact. Almighty God says, “Who of the whole of mankind is not cared for in the eyes of the Almighty? Who does not live in the midst of the Almighty’s predestination? Does man’s life and death happen by his own choice? Does man control his own fate? Many people cry out for death, yet it is far away from them; many people want to be those who are strong in life and fear death, yet unbeknownst to them, the day of their demise draws near, plunging them into the abyss of death …” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God’s Words to the Entire Universe, Chapter 11). “How did those disciples of the die? Among the disciples, there were those who were stoned, dragged behind a horse, crucified upside down, dismembered by five horses—every sort of death befell them. What was the reason for their deaths? Were they lawfully executed for their crimes? No. They were condemned, beaten, scolded, and put to death because they spread the Lord’s gospel and were rejected by the people of the world—that is how they were martyred. … Actually, this was how their bodies died and passed away; this was their means of departure from the human world, yet that did not mean their outcome was the same. No matter what the means of their death and departure was nor how it happened, it was not how God defined the final outcomes of those lives, of those created beings. This is something you must see clearly. On the contrary, they used precisely those means to condemn this world and to testify to God’s deeds. … Family, wealth, and the material things of this life are all external things; the only thing that is internal to self is life. To every living person, life is the thing most worthy of being treasured, the most precious thing and, as it happens, these people were able to offer their most precious possession—life—as confirmation of and testimony to God’s love for mankind. Until the day they died, they did not deny God’s name, nor did they deny God’s work, and they used their last moment of life to testify to the existence of this fact—is this not the highest form of testimony? This is the best way of doing one’s duty; this is what it is to fulfill one’s responsibility. When Satan threatened and terrorized them, and, in the end, even when it made them pay the price of their lives, they did not abrogate their responsibility. This is what it is to fulfill one’s duty to the utmost extent. What do I mean by this? Do I mean to have you use the same method to testify of God and to spread the gospel? You do not necessarily need to do so, but you must understand that this is your responsibility, that if God needs you to, you should accept it as a moral obligation” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Spreading the Gospel Is the Duty to Which All Believers Are Honor-Bound). Through God’s words, I realized that man’s fate is all within His grasp. Every person’s life and death are predestined and controlled by Him. Whether or not I would be arrested in the county seat and tortured was all up to God. I thought back to the apostles of the Age of Grace who sacrificed themselves for Lord Jesus: They suffered fates like being stoned to death, being dragged to death by horses, and being crucified upside down for God. When faced with the threat of death, they weren’t constrained by dark forces, and ultimately stood firm in witness for God. They offered up their most valuable possession, their own lives, to God. They never denied God’s name, even in their dying moments, and they bore witness to God before evil humanity, achieving their mission in life and fulfilling their duties as created beings. This was meaningful and was commended by God. In that moment, my brothers and sisters were in danger, and if in that crucial moment, I failed to meet my responsibilities because I was protecting my own interests, and this led to the brothers and sisters being arrested and the church’s work being damaged, I would be transgressing before God. That would be a stain on my record as a believer and I would certainly live to regret it. I had to stop considering my own safety, and quickly find out what had become of those brothers and sisters. Even if I were ultimately arrested and tortured to death, my death would be meaningful and God would commend and commemorate it. Realizing this, I felt calmer and at ease.
At the time, I came across another passage of God’s words that had a deep and motivating influence on me. Almighty God says, “There is danger every day in believing in God and following Him in mainland China. It is an exceptionally harsh environment for it, in which one might be arrested at any time. You have all experienced an environment of being hounded—and have I not, as well? You and I lived in the same environment, so you know that in that environment, I could not avoid hiding Myself away often. There were times when I had to change locations two or three times in a day; there were even times when I had to go somewhere I had not dreamed of going. The hardest times were those when I had nowhere to go—I would hold a congregation during the day, then at night, I would not know where there was safety. Sometimes, having struggled hard to find a place, I had to leave the next day, because the great red dragon was bearing down on it. What do people of true faith think when they see such a scene? ‘That God came to earth in the flesh in order to save man is the price He has paid. This is one among the sufferings that He has undergone, and it quite fulfills His words that go, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has not where to lay His head.” Things are truly so—and Christ incarnate personally undergoes such suffering, the same as man does.’ All who truly believe in God can see how very arduous His work of saving man is, and for this, they will love God, and they will thank Him for the price He pays for mankind’s sake” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Ten (Part Three)). I was deeply impacted by God’s words. God came from on high to humble Himself as a human, incarnating in China, a God-resisting country, to do the work of saving mankind. The CCP tried every means to hunt Him down, the religious world condemned and rejected Him, but God never considered His own safety and continued expressing truth to water and sustain us, hoping that we’d understand the truth, break free of corrupt dispositions and live out a human likeness. Once I understood God’s unselfish love for mankind and His earnestness in trying to save us, I felt full of shame and guilt and despised myself for lacking reason and humanity. I had enjoyed God’s words for so many years, but when I was needed to rise up and protect the church’s work, I protected myself instead, unwilling to make any sacrifice. I wasn’t worthy of God’s salvation and lacked even the slightest semblance of humanity. I didn’t want to continue living a despicable, useless life and was ready to forsake my flesh and do my best to partner with Su Jin in cleaning up in the aftermath.
We arrived in the county seat on the afternoon of November 24th. With the help of a sister, we found out that with the exception of those three sisters, the remaining brothers and sisters had all been arrested. I was really upset when I heard this and that night I tossed and turned in bed, unable to sleep. The government had mobilized en masse to arrest so many brothers and sisters and many other brothers and sisters had been forced to flee their homes to evade arrest. The CCP is truly evil! This was just like God’s revelation. “For thousands of years this has been the land of filth. It is unbearably dirty, misery abounds, ghosts run rampant everywhere, tricking and deceiving, making groundless accusations, being ruthless and vicious, trampling this ghost town and leaving it littered with dead bodies; the stench of decay covers the land and pervades the air, and it is heavily guarded. Who can see the world beyond the skies? The devil tightly trusses all of man’s body, it veils both his eyes, and seals his lips firmly shut. The king of devils has rampaged for several thousand years, right up until today, when it still keeps a close watch on the ghost town, as if it were an impenetrable palace of demons; this pack of watchdogs, meanwhile, stare with glaring eyes, deeply fearful that God will catch them unawares and wipe them all out, leaving them without a place of peace and happiness. How could the people of a ghost town such as this ever have seen God? Have they ever enjoyed the dearness and loveliness of God? What appreciation have they of the matters of the human world? Who of them can understand God’s eager will? Small wonder, then, that God incarnate remains completely hidden: In a dark society such as this, where the demons are merciless and inhumane, how could the king of devils, who kills people without batting an eye, tolerate the existence of a God who is lovely, kind, and also holy? How could it applaud and cheer the arrival of God? These lackeys! They repay kindness with hate, they began treating God as an enemy long ago, they abuse God, they are savage in the extreme, they have not the slightest regard for God, they plunder and pillage, they have lost all conscience, they go against all conscience, and they tempt the innocent into senselessness. Forefathers of the ancient? Beloved leaders? They all oppose God! Their meddling has left all beneath heaven in a state of darkness and chaos! Religious freedom? The legitimate rights and interests of citizens? They are all tricks for covering up sin!” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Work and Entry (8)). Through this experience, I became thoroughly aware of the CCP’s God-resisting demonic essence and truth-despising, evil nature. To reinforce its power and authority, the CCP deceives people by claiming to support freedom of worship while in reality they wantonly arrest and persecute Christians, trying to thoroughly suppress God’s work in the last days. The CCP is a band of God-despising, God-resisting demons. They are God’s enemies. I hate the CCP, that old demon, with all my heart. The more it oppresses us, the more I feel committed to doing my duty and shame Satan.
After that, other brothers and sisters rose up to take on church work and church life gradually returned to normal. In the space of just 10 days or so, I gained some awareness of my true stature and my selfish, despicable, corrupt disposition. I also witnessed God’s almighty sovereignty and grew in my faith. I could never have achieved any of this in a leisurely and safe environment.