Growing Up Amidst a Storm
By Mixue, China
One day in March, 2013, a couple of sisters and I were on our way home from a gathering, and as we walked in, we saw it was a total disaster. We figured the police had probably searched the place, so we moved immediately. Right after moving, some people from that community came storming in with the police. The police corralled us into the living room and then went to ransack the place. When none of them were looking I managed to break a SIM card I had in my pocket. One of the police noticed and forced my hand open, and seeing the broken card, yelled angrily, “She may look young, but she knows a thing or two. Take her back for questioning.” He also had one of the female officers search me, and then they put us into a police car. I was feeling pretty scared, so I prayed to God, “God, I don’t know where they’re taking me or how they’ll torture me. Please guide me and give me faith. No matter how much I suffer, I can’t be a Judas. I can’t betray You.” I gradually calmed down after praying. The police took me into an interrogation room at the station and ordered me to lift my arms and stand in a squatting position. After a few minutes my arms were giving out, my legs were shaking and my chest felt tight. I collapsed. Then the police put me on a tiger chair and strapped my feet really tightly to the chair legs. A bit later a chubby criminal policewoman brought some documents into the room and said to me, “We’re carrying out a major nationwide arrest operation, doing a sweep of youbelievers. We have all of your leaders and we’ve dismantled your church. What use is it to hold out on us? Just talk and then you can go.” Hearing this, I figured it was one of Satan’s tricks, and she was just trying to get me to be a Judas. I couldn’t fall for it. Even if lots of brothers and sisters had been arrested, the work of God can’t be dismantled by them so handily. I retorted, Almighty God says, “We trust that no country or power can stand in the way of what God wishes to achieve. Those who obstruct God’s work, resist the word of God and disturb and impair the plan of God shall ultimately be punished by God” (“God Presides Over the Fate of All Mankind” in ). At this, she just harrumphed and walked out. Then another officer started questioning me: “When did you become religious? How long have you been in this area? Who all have you been in contact with? Where have you been staying?” When I didn’t say a word, he threatened me, “If you don’t talk, we’ll just beat you to death and toss your corpse up in the mountains.” It occurred to me that those people slaughter people as if they were chickens, that they don’t care at all about human life. I wondered if they really would beat me to death. Feeling really afraid, I said a silent prayer to God and then thought of these words from Him: “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). I knew it was true, that God is my shield and He rules over all. My body and soul were in His hands, so it wasn’t up to the police if I was beaten to death. This thought gave me faith and strength. The police kept interrogating me nonstop, but I didn’t tell them anything.
Early morning on the third day, one of them said, “Ready to talk yet?” I didn’t say a word. Furious, he grabbed me by the collar and smacked me in the face, leaving my ears ringing and my face burning. Then when I wasn’t paying attention, he rolled up some papers into a tube and hit me in the eyes, which was so painful that it felt like they were about to fall off. I closed my eyes instinctively. An officer said in anger, “Open your eyes!” I slowly opened up my eyes but couldn’t see anything. I could start seeing some things only after 10 minutes. My eyes hurt a lot and I just wanted to close them, so thinking I was sleepy, the police hit my head with a water bottle and then sometimes hit my head and my arms with their feet. And to keep me awake, they secured my hair and hands with velcro to the back of the tiger chair. I had to keep holding my head up. Trying to relieve my pain, I just struggled to lean back against the tiger chair. I was dizzy, my body ached, and I had palpitations and felt miserable. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to hold on, so I kept crying out to God, “God, please give me the resolve to suffer, please give me faith. I’ll never bow to Satan!” In my pain, I thought of some of: “Perhaps you all remember these words: ‘For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.’ You have all heard these words before, yet none of you understood their true meaning. Today, you are profoundly aware of their true significance. These words shall be fulfilled by God during the last days, and they shall be fulfilled in those who have been brutally persecuted by the great red dragon in the land where it lies coiled. The great red dragon persecutes God and is the enemy of God, and so, in this land, those who believe in God are thus subjected to humiliation and oppression, and these words are fulfilled in you, this group of people, as a result. Because it is embarked upon in a land that opposes God, all of God’s work faces tremendous obstacles, and accomplishing many of His words takes time; thus, people are refined as a result of God’s words, which is also part of suffering” (“Is the Work of God As Simple As Man Imagines?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Through God’s words, I saw that the Communist Party is God’s enemy, that they hate God and the truth. They want to do everything to keep us from believing in God, to get us to betray Him. I was born in the great red dragon’s country, so this is something I have to suffer. But through the Communist Party’s oppression, I saw how evil it is, how it’s essentially opposed to God. I wanted even more to reject Satan and turn to God, to have faith and stand witness, to shame Satan and see it fail. Having that chance to stand witness for God was His blessing, and was a special favor. Understanding this gave me faith and it didn’t feel so hard for me.
They started questioning me again after that, and when I stayed quiet, they threatened me, “The sooner you talk, the easier it’ll be. We’ll give you five minutes.” Then they put a timer in front of me, counting down, and as I saw the time go by, each minute, each second, I prayed to God nonstop: “God, I don’t know what these demons are going to do to me. Please protect me. I won’t sell out my brothers and sisters no matter what.” Five minutes passed and seeing I wouldn’t talk, one of them handcuffed my hands behind my back, grabbed me by the collar and got really close to my face, then asked me sinisterly who the church leader was and who I’d been in contact with. I still stayed silent, so he lit a cigarette, blew the smoke in my face over and over. The smoke made me want to vomit, and tears were rolling down my face. Then he smacked me in the face really hard and hit my right ear, deafening me. Seeing I still wouldn’t talk, his eyes went wide with rage and he squeezed my neck with both hands, saying, “You gonna talk or what? If you don’t, I’ll strangle you. You’re never gonna forget me, you’ll have nightmares about me hitting you every night.” He choked me to the point that I couldn’t get a good breath, and I felt like I was about to take my last. I told him that I had nothing to share, even if he strangled me. Then a tall officer came in and gestured to the one choking me that there were security cameras so he should take me into the corner to beat me. I finally managed to get a breath. He dragged me out of the tiger chair, and hauled on my handcuffs, pushing me into a corner, then slammed my head into the wall. He kept doing that, I can’t remember for how long, and the last time he slammed it right into a plaque hanging on the wall. It felt like everything had been beaten out of my head, and I just fell to the floor with a thud. The world felt like it was spinning, like my head was about to explode, and my heart was torn to shreds. I couldn’t open my eyes and felt like I was suffocating. It was incredibly painful. I prayed to God, “God, please take my breath from me so that I don’t have to suffer this torment any longer.” After some time passed I was barely able to open my eyes, and I wondered, “Why aren’t I dead?” Then I realized that I shouldn’t have been asking God to take my breath away, that it was an unreasonable request. He wanted me to continue living, to stand witness and shame Satan. But I was hoping to escape that suffering, to die to escape it. That wasn’t bearing witness. I felt kind of guilty when that occurred to me.
Just then I heard a cop yelling, “Get up! Get up!” He kicked me when I didn’t respond and said, “You playing dead?” I said a silent prayer, “God, these demons are torturing me so that I’ll betray You. Please give me faith. I’ll stand witness for You even if it costs me my life.” One of them grabbed my clothing at the shoulders and hauled me partway up, then let me fall heavily back onto the floor. My hands and my back were really hurting from being handcuffed all that time, so I curled up in a ball on the floor to try to alleviate the pain a bit. An officer pulled me up and set me up against the wall, making me stand up straight, and kicked me in the left thigh before I had a chance to react. I doubled over with the pain and he barked at me, “Stand up!” But everything was hurting so much that there was no way I could stand. Then he kicked me in the waist, knocking the breath out of me for a moment. It felt like I was being stabbed. Another one dragged me back into the corner and smacked me across the face, leaving the corners of my mouth bleeding. Then he lit a cigarette and said, “If you keep quiet I’ll burn your face with this cigarette, you’ll be disfigured.” Then he put it really close to my face. Feeling the heat from the cigarette, I got really scared and thought, “If he does burn me it’ll leave terrible scars and I’ll be stared at and mocked everywhere I go.” The thought of people pointing at me and talking about me behind my back was awful. Then I remembered these words from God: “The good soldiers of the kingdom are not trained to be a group of people who can only talk about reality or boast; rather, they are trained to live out God’s words at all times, to remain unyielding no matter what setbacks they face, and to live constantly in accordance with God’s words and not to return to the world. This is the reality of which God speaks; this is God’s requirement of man” (“Only Putting the Truth Into Practice Is Possessing Reality” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). From God’s words, I understood that for a true believer, no matter what happens, they’re able to stay strong in their faith in God without ever yielding to forces of darkness, without betraying God. The police wanted to threaten me with disfigurement so I’d betray God, and I couldn’t fall for it. On top of that, even if I was disfigured, if I wasn’t a Judas but stood witness, I could gain God’s approval and be at peace within my heart. If I betrayed God to protect myself, I’d be dragging out an ignoble existence and my conscience would never be at peace. That would be unbearable. I thought of part of a church: “Though our heads may break and our blood may flow, the backbones of God’s people can’t be bent” (“I Wish to See the Day of God’s Glory” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). I felt a surge of faith and the courage to face the officers’ torture. I closed my eyes and silently prayed, “God! No matter how they torture me, even if they do burn my face, I’ll stand witness. Please give me faith and the strength to endure this.” Then I gritted my teeth and clenched my hands. Taking this for fear, the police started laughing maniacally. I opened my eyes and looked straight at him, and he said with a cold smile, “I’ve changed my mind. I’m going to burn your tongue, and burn it so you can’t even talk.” While saying this he tried to pry my mouth open, but he couldn’t no matter how hard he tried. Furious, he grabbed my shoulders and stomped on my feet, then jumped up and brought his feet down again and rolled them back and forth. Then he grabbed the handcuffs and yanked them back and forth, leaving me on my tiptoes. My wrists were in agony and my arms felt like they were going to snap off. He said mockingly, “Isn’t your God almighty? Have Him come save you!” I prayed to God, calling out to Him nonstop, and was filled with hatred for those monsters.
Once he’d worn himself out, he leaned against the table smoking. I wondered what other methods of torture they were going to use on me and if I’d end up dead. If so, I hoped it would be quick, because that living hell they were putting me in then was unbearable. I didn’t know when it would all end. The more I thought about it, the more afraid I felt, and I thought, “I can never sell out the church leaders or brothers and sisters, so maybe I can just tell them about how I became a believer and get this over with, so they stop beating me.” Then I thought, “My parents are believers. If I talk to them, they’ll be implicated and some brothers and sisters will be, too. That would make me a Judas and God would punish me.” Then I remembered this hymn of God’s words: “Faith is like a single log bridge: Those who cling abjectly to life will have difficulty in crossing it, but those who are ready to sacrifice themselves can pass over, sure of foot and worry-free. If man harbors timid and fearful thoughts, it is because Satan has fooled them, afraid that we will cross the bridge of faith to enter into God. Satan is trying in every way possible to send us its thoughts. We should at every moment pray for God to illuminate us with His light, at every moment rely on God to purge Satan’s poison from within us, practice within our spirit at every moment how to come close to God, and let God have dominion over our whole being” (“The Onset of Illness Is God’s Love” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). I realized that thinking about talking to them out of cowardice was giving in to Satan’s tricks. I saw that my faith in God really was lacking, that I lacked the resolve to endure suffering. I’d made it up until that point, not because of my stature, but because God’s words had been guiding me step by step. At that point I really needed to lean on God and have faith, and no matter how they tortured me, I could never betray God. I said a prayer in my heart: “Oh God, I’m putting my life in Your hands and I’ll accept Your arrangements. I won’t be a Judas even if they torture me to death.” Then to my surprise, the cops’ boss called them away. I silently gave thanks to God.
A little while later an officer came to the doorway and took my photo, and said, “I’m going to put your photo online and make you a ‘celebrity’ so all your friends, relatives, and everyone will see what you look like, and see that you believers are lunatics.” I wasn’t scared at all by that, and responded, “Aren’t you the ones who made me look like this? Putting that photo online will only let everyone see the truth about how you persecute Christians.” A female officer said, “Well, I’m convinced. I really don’t know what that God of yours is like or where all your strength comes from. After all this you still insist on keeping your belief. I never imagined someone so young could be so tough.” I gave thanks to God within my heart when I heard her say this. Then I thought of these words of God: “God’s life force can prevail over any power; moreover, it exceeds any power. His life is eternal, His power extraordinary, and His life force cannot be overwhelmed by any created being or enemy force” (“Only Christ of the Last Days Can Give Man the Way of Eternal Life” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). All those days they’d been ravaging me, torturing me, I had felt cowardice and weakness, and even wanted to escape it with death, but God was with me, protecting me, and it was God’s words giving me faith and strength, leading me to overcome all of that brutal torture. I gave heartfelt thanks to God.
When an officer took me to the bathroom a little later, she said to me, “They’re going to question you again soon, and you should just talk. Otherwise you’ll be put in prison for years, and you’ll come out a cripple after a stint in there. Do you know the way prisoners are treated? The women beat up other women, and they’ll cudgel you between the legs with wooden rods. If they get their hands on you, you’ll be destroyed.” Hearing her say this both disgusted and frightened me, and at the prospect of becoming disabled in my 20s, I really didn’t know how I could get by after that. As an only child, my parents would have no one to count on if I were disabled. Then I remembered these words from God: “Abraham offered up Isaac—what have you offered up? Job offered up everything—what have you offered up? So many people have given their lives, laid down their heads, shed their blood in order to seek the true way. Have you paid that price?” (“The Significance of Saving the Descendants of Moab” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Abraham did offer up his only son, and when Job was tested, losing everything he had and with boils all over his body, his friends laughed at him and his wife mocked him, but he never blamed God. He stood witness. Job and Abraham had true faith in God and they gave resounding testimony through trials. I needed to follow their example and stand witness no matter how much I suffered, to humiliate Satan. I said this silent prayer to God, “God, I believe that absolutely all things are under Your rule, so whether I become disabled is in Your hands. No matter what happens to me or how much I suffer, I’m ready to stand witness and satisfy You.” So I said to the officer, “That would be unconscionable. My conscience would never find peace if I sold out my brothers and sisters. Even if I am sentenced, I will never do something I know is wrong.” Embarrassed by this, she took me back to the interrogation room without a word. Early morning on April 1, the police came to question me, but I still wouldn’t say anything. Around 2 p.m. that afternoon, they put me in a paddy wagon to take me to a brainwashing base. I sang this hymn of God’s words secretly in my heart the whole way there: “If people do not have any confidence, it is not easy for them to continue down this path. Everyone can now see that God’s work does not conform in the slightest with people’s notions. God has done so much work and spoken so many words, which are completely out of line with human notions. Thus, people must have the confidence and willpower to be able to stand by what they have already seen and what they have gained from their experiences. No matter what God does in people, they must uphold what they themselves possess, be sincere in front of God, and remain devoted to Him to the very end. This is mankind’s duty. People must uphold that which they should do” (“Man Must Keep to His Duty” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). I already knew that having faith would mean being oppressed and having to suffer, and I’d resolved to stand witness and satisfy God no matter what kind of oppression or suffering I faced, but when I really faced it I realized that standing witness isn’t as simple as I’d thought. It wasn’t just being enthusiastic, but it required having confidence and the resolve to suffer. God was testing me with this brutal environment to perfect my faith, to cleanse and save me. I believed that God would guide me no matter what happened. As I sang the hymn my faith grew, and I knew no matter how they tortured me, I had to lean on God and follow Him until the very end.
When we got to the legal education compound, the police assigned two officers to keep watch over me 24 hours a day, to ask me questions about the church and brainwash me, and to get me to write something reneging my faith. The third morning they said they were going to show me a video they’d filmed in my hometown. At this my heart leapt into my throat and I wondered if they’d searched my home, if my parents were in trouble. I was worried that some brothers and sisters from the church had been affected. I got more and more afraid. I couldn’t stop fidgeting in my chair and felt like my limbs went numb. I prayed to God in my heart. In the video, my dad looked kind of jaundiced and he said a few things to me, subtly encouraging me to lean on God and stand witness. Hearing this, the tears just poured down my face and I felt awful. I also realized that the police were trying to play on my feelings to get me to betray God and I despised the Communist Party with everything I had. I thought of something God said: “Religious freedom? The legitimate rights and interests of citizens? They are all tricks for covering up sin!” (“Work and Entry (8)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). The Communist Party gives lip service to religious freedom, but in reality, it madly arrests and persecutes Christians, and brutally tortures them, sentencing them on groundless charges. Countless Christians are forced to stay on the run, unable to see their parents or raise their children. All of that is perpetrated by the Communist Party. The Party is the chief culprit in ripping apart Christian homes. The officers stood off to the side and jeered when they saw me crying, and thought I was sure to talk after that. But when I still kept my mouth shut, they hit the table and cursed me out, then turned around and left.
A couple of officers came back to interrogate me again a month later and showed me photos, telling me to identify brothers and sisters. One said to me, “If you don’t admit to anything, you’ll be punished for other people’s crimes, and I’ll see how much we can get you. You’ll end up with 8 or 10 years, then we’ll see how tough you are!” Another one said, trying to tempt me, “Just go along with us and write the statement that you’ve given up your religion and we’ll do whatever you want.” I didn’t budge, so he tried to lure me again: “I know your parents don’t have any other kids, and they worked so hard to raise you. You may not think anything of getting a long sentence now, but you’re going to be miserable when that day actually comes and it’ll be too late for regrets. You have two choices: 1. Give up your religion and deny Almighty God and we’ll take you straight back home. 2. Insist on keeping your faith and go to prison. You’d better give it some careful thought.” I was feeling kind of conflicted. If I wrote that statement of not having faith, that would be a betrayal of God, but if I chose my faith, I’d go to prison. Would I ever see my parents again? If I went to prison people would definitely think badly of my parents, and their unbeliever loved ones would criticize them. It would be really hard on them. In the video my dad’s face looked jaundiced and bloated. Was he having health problems? This thought made me more and more miserable and I was really struggling, so I prayed, “God, I can’t betray You but I can’t let go of my parents. God, what should I do?” These words from God occurred to me just then: “No matter who runs away, you cannot. Other people do not believe, but you must. Other people abandon God, but you must uphold God and bear witness to Him. Others slander God, but you cannot. … You should repay His love, and you must have a conscience, because God is innocent” (“The Significance of Saving the Descendants of Moab” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “You must have a conscience,” these words kept ringing in my ears. Over my years of faith, I’d enjoyed so much of God’s grace and blessings. I’d also learned some truths, and what kind of person I should be. I’d gained so much from God. Betraying Him would be an unconscionable thing to do. But thinking about God on the one hand, my parents on the other, the decision was agonizing. It was a particularly fierce battle within my heart. I silently said a prayer, asking God to guide me and give me faith. These words of God came to mind after my prayer: “Are there not many among you who have seesawed between right and wrong? In contests between positive and negative, black and white, you are surely aware of the choices that you have made between family and God, children and God, peace and disruption, riches and poverty, status and ordinariness, being supported and being cast aside, and so on. Between a peaceful family and a broken one, you chose the former, and you did so without any hesitation; between riches and duty, you again chose the former, even lacking the will to return to shore;[a] between luxury and poverty, you chose the former; when choosing between your sons, daughters, wives and husbands, and Me, you chose the former; and between notion and truth, you once again chose the former. Faced with all manner of your evil deeds, I have simply lost faith in you. It simply astounds Me that your hearts are so resistant to being softened. … If you were asked to choose again, what then would be your position? Would it still be the former? Would you still bring Me disappointment and wretched sorrow? Would your hearts still possess the sole modicum of warmth? Would you still be unaware of what to do to comfort My heart? At this moment, what do you choose?” (“To Whom Are You Loyal?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I felt like God was right by my side, waiting for my answer. I knew I could not betray God for my fleshly ties, to have family harmony. God is almighty, and my parents’ health and their lives were in God’s hands. Constantly worrying about them just showed that I was lacking faith in God. We may not be able to see each other, but I knew that as long as we leaned on God, He would guide us. This thought restored my faith and I felt ready to forsake my flesh to satisfy God. I said a prayer: “Oh God, I’m willing to put my parents in Your hands and submit to Your arrangements.” So I clenched my fists, stood up, and said, “I’ve made my decision, and I’m going with Almighty God. He is the one true God who created the heavens, the earth, and everything, and He is thereturned. I will never deny God.” I felt entirely at peace once I’d said this. If it hadn’t been for the guidance of God’s words, I really would have struggled to triumph over Satan’s tricks. The officer showed his ferociousness as soon as he saw how resolute I was. He slammed a thick stack of papers onto the table and smacked me hard in the face, then screamed at me, “You’re a lost cause! You think we won’t know anything just because you don’t talk? Let me make it clear for you—we’d already been following you guys for three months, so you think we don’t know all about you? We just want to see if you’re going to have a good attitude, so you think about it.” I said, “I won’t deny God, I won’t betray Him even if it means prison time.” They took me to a municipal detention house after that.
I often got high fevers and my feet and hands swelled up, and they made me sit cross-legged for two hours every day. I’d been kicked in the waist during interrogation, doing damage to my kidney, so my waist hurt so much I couldn’t sit up straight. It was really hard to make it till I could go to sleep every day, and I was often woken up to take on a night shift. After a couple weeks, I started having difficulties urinating, my stomach was swollen and painful, and my waist hurt, too. And then every day around 6 or 7 p.m. my fever would spike and my face would flush. I was examined by a doctor, who said I had a cyst in my left kidney that was nearly an inch wide, and it was inflamed. When it really hurt, I would pray to God and draw near to Him, and sing hymns in praise of Him, and then I would forget about the pain.
Once I’d been in the detention house for 27 days, they released me on bail pending trial, and I thought I could really go home. But to my surprise, my hometown police and local government officials took me straight to another brainwashing base for 48 days of conversion and brainwashing, and then they took me to the local police station to register. The police chief called me into his office and said, “You’re on bail pending trial now, so your case is pending. For one year, you are not allowed to leave the city limits, and even if you have errands to run in a nearby area, you still have to come here first to report to us and request permission, and you need to be ready to report to us at a moment’s notice.” I was back home, but I didn’t have any freedom, and someone was following me every time I went into city. After a few months of this, I had no choice but to leave my home to perform a duty. The police sent someone to look for me at home and inquire about my religious status, and told my family that if I kept practicing my faith they’d arrest me again, and that I had to report to the police station. I was furious when I heard about this. And I thought, “Of course I have faith, and not only that, but I’m going to share the gospel and bear witness in spite of everything! I’ll definitely continue forward by relying on God.” Thanks be to God!
a. Return to shore: a Chinese idiom, meaning “turn from one’s evil ways.”