Hardships Can’t Keep Me From My Duty
By Yan Ping, China
I remember this took place just after I’d been chosen to be a church leader. During that time, the CCP had just launched a new round of mass-arrests ofmembers. I couldn’t help but feel a bit worried—with things as bad as they were, if I went to gatherings at various meeting spots every day, I might very well be arrested by the police. If I were arrested, I’d certainly be subject to torture and cruelty. I’ve always had a fairly weak constitution and I’ve never had to endure any suffering, so how could I possibly endure torture? I got scared thinking about all this and didn’t want to accept the duty. But when I thought about how my brothers and sisters had chosen me to be a leader, and how this spoke to their trust in me, I just couldn’t justify not accepting the commission just because I was scared. So I tactfully replied: “Am I really up to this? I’ve never held a leadership position before, if I encounter some issue that I can’t resolve, won’t I be delaying the work of the Church?” The leader replied to me in fellowship, saying, “The duties we are given represent a chance to train ourselves. Just try to do the best that you can.” After hearing the leader’s fellowship, I accepted the duty. But soon thereafter, messages started arriving from my leader one after another, notifying me that my coworkers Sister Li and Sister Wu and a few other members had been arrested, along with six leaders and coworkers from other churches, and asking that we all stay alert and on guard. I flew into a panic, how could so many brothers and sisters have been arrested? I realized that I’d just seen Sister Li a few days ago, were the police monitoring me as well? If they’d started monitoring me, it was only a matter of time before I was arrested, because there were security cameras everywhere. Fulfilling my duties in this kind of environment was really dangerous … I got really scared whenever I thought about it. I was terrified that I’d just be suddenly arrested one day while working. From the outside, it looked like I was fulfilling my duties, but I just couldn’t put my heart into the work, and I rarely paused to think about how best to fulfill my duties. Sometimes, when brothers and sisters came to me with problems, I wouldn’t even be in the mood to help.
Not soon after, I got another message from my leader, saying that the police were asking arrested brothers and sisters to identify church members from a stack of pictures, and were installing road blocks at intersections and searching people’s bags. She reminded us to be very careful whenever we went out. Hearing this, I got even more worried. It seemed that the police had already collected a lot of information on my brothers and sisters. Had we been photographed last time when we went to meet with Sister Li? If that had been filmed, then surely the police would figure out that I was leading church work when they saw me all over the footage. If I were really arrested, they’d be sure to torture me and force a confession! Riding home on my electric scooter, I was tense and on edge the whole ride—the leader’s messages had taken me to a very dark place. Even though it was already dark out, I didn’t dare take off my sunglasses. I wasn’t going to risk being caught on a security camera and arrested at any time by the police. A very selfish thought came into my head at that time. I thought, “Maybe I can negotiate with my leader, and have that older sister take my job. She’s already in her fifties—even if she were arrested, the police probably wouldn’t use torture tactics on her.” But I quickly realized how selfish this idea was. Because I was afraid of being caught and subjected to torture and felt the situation to be dangerous, I wanted to pass the job off onto my elder sister. How ugly, how lowly of me! But at the same time, I couldn’t help but feel a bit nervous and afraid. I would often get these images in my head of brothers and sisters being tortured and tormented. I was getting more and more scared thinking about this and I couldn’t help but complain to myself: “Why would they make me take such a dangerous job? What if I get arrested, what then? I’m still so young, will I have to face torture and torment and get locked up in jail to suffer for the rest of my living years?” I was terribly anxious and afraid, and so I prayed to God, telling Him about my state: “O,! I am continually afraid that I’ll be arrested and subject to jailing, torture and torment. I can’t quiet my heart while fulfilling my duties and even wish to pass off my duties on someone else, and I’m always only selfishly thinking of my own flesh. I don’t want to live life in fear and timidity. I don’t want to be deceived by Satan. Dear God, I pray that You enlighten me and allow me to understand Your will. I also ask that You instill me with strength so that I may stand strong in this trying situation.”
Just then, I recalled aof called “Emulate the .” “On the road to Jerusalem, Jesus was in agony, as if a knife were being twisted in His heart, yet He had not the slightest intention of going back on His word; always there was a powerful force compelling Him onward to where He would be crucified. Ultimately, He was nailed to the cross and became the likeness of sinful flesh, completing the work of the redemption of mankind. He broke free of the shackles of death and Hades. Before Him, mortality, hell, and Hades lost their power, and were vanquished by Him. He lived for thirty-three years, throughout which He always did His utmost to meet God’s will according to God’s work at the time, never considering His own personal gain or loss, and always thinking of the will of God the Father. Because of His service before God that was in harmony with God’s will, God placed the heavy burden of redeeming all mankind upon His shoulders and made Him accomplish it, and He was qualified and entitled to complete this important task. Throughout His life, He endured immeasurable suffering for God, and He was tempted by Satan countless times, but He was never disheartened. God gave Him such an enormous task because He trusted Him, and loved Him. If, like Jesus, you are able to give every care to God’s burden, and turn your back on your flesh, God will entrust His important tasks to you, so that you will meet the conditions required to serve God. Only under such circumstances will you venture to say that you are doing God’s will and completing His commission, and only then will you venture to say you are truly serving God” (Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). I was really moved while singing this song. Faced with the pain and suffering of crucifixion, the Lord Jesus showed no signs of regret or of shrinking back despite the weakness of His flesh. Rather, He walked steadfastly toward the cross, enduring all agony to perform the sin offering, and redeem all of mankind from the clutches of Satan, so great was God’s love for humanity. And how, by contrast, did I treat God? In carrying out God’s commission, I only considered my own personal safety, and was always afraid of being arrested, put in jail, tortured and tormented. I lived in timidity and fear, and just went through the motions in my duties, never achieving any real impact. Seeing how dangerous the situation was, I even thought about passing off my duties onto an elder sister. How selfish and despicable of me! In those trying times, I didn’t give the slightest thought to bearing witness for God and humiliating Satan. I thought only of my own flesh, and how to safely fulfill my duties without having to undergo suffering or make sacrifices, so that I may ultimately gain God’s salvation and receive His blessings along with all that He promised. In the face of adversity, I wanted to abandon my duties for the sake of my own safety, and even reasoned with God and rebelled against Him, but realizing how these ideas I had in my belief in God were all transactional, I couldn’t bring myself to say anything. I thought of Peter, who had submitted completely to God in the midst of hardship. He never worried about his own wellbeing, instead devoting himself to satisfying God’s will, and comforting God’s heart. Ultimately, he was crucified on an inverted cross as a shining testimony for God. Comparing my own actions to those of Peter, I felt ashamed and guilty, and so I came before God and prayed to Him: “Dear God! This situation has exposed my selfishness and lowliness. I’ve been scared about going to jail and suffering, and never thought about how I could bear witness for You. O God, I no longer wish to worry about personal benefit or gain and loss. I only wish to fulfill my duty to satisfy You. If I really am arrested and persecuted, I’m willing to submit. I swear on my life I will not be a Judas and betray my brothers and sisters and will bear witness for You.” After concluding my prayer, I felt really peaceful and grounded.
Just then, I recalled another passage of God’s words: “Of everything that occurs in the universe, there is nothing in which I do not have the final say. Is there anything that is not in My hands?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God’s Words to the Entire Universe, Chapter 1). It all suddenly clicked. Of course! Even if I attend gatherings and do my duty every day, I won’t be arrested unless it’s with God’s consent. If God has ordained that I should go experience persecution and hardship, then even if I hide inside all day, I’ll still be arrested. Everything is in God’s hands, so I should just embrace whatever situation I encounter. I’ll do my best to implement our safety strategies, but when it comes to being arrested, I am willing to submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangements. The enlightenment and illumination I received from God’s words gave me strength and faith, and I immediately felt liberated. From then on, when I went out for gatherings, I felt calmer and less afraid. The CCP continued their furious campaign of arrests, but seeing how the words of God brought faith to my brothers and sisters, allowing them to continue their work, I was deeply inspired, and was able to focus on and make sacrifices in my duties. I could clearly feel that God was guiding me, and I was able to resolve some of my brothers’ and sisters’ problems and issues. The church’s work was also progressing normally. This showed me that no matter how savage and unruly Satan becomes, it could never interrupt the work of God. My faith in God grew even stronger.
I thought that after experiencing all that, I might have attained a bit of stature, so I never imagined that when God again orchestrated a scenario for me, I would once again be thoroughly exposed.
This past July, I received a message from my leader, saying that Sister Liu, with whom I was in frequent contact, had been followed by the police for the past two to three months. The twenty-odd brothers and sisters that Sister Liu had made contact with were also being monitored by the police, and that included me. She also said that the police had very likely photographed the meeting places at which Sister Liu had attended gatherings. Because of this, my leader advised me that it was imperative that I refrain from coming in contact with my brothers and sisters. After reading this, I couldn’t remain calm any longer, I thought: “I see Sister Liu quite often, and I even went for a bike ride with her into the county recently. That road was lined top to bottom with security cameras; if they caught footage of us, I’m going to be in a world of trouble. The CCP is arresting and persecuting Christians with ever greater abandon. If I get arrested during this critical time, who knows what kind of torture the police will put me through. Will they beat me to death?” The more I thought about it, the more terrified I became and I couldn’t calm myself down and read God’s words. Not long after, I learned that books of God’s words were being stored in the apartment Sister Liu was renting. If they weren’t removed soon, the police would discover them, and God’s house would incur damages. But I felt conflicted: After all, the police were in the middle of a furious campaign of man-hunting and arresting believers. If I happened to run into the police while transporting the books, wouldn’t they have all the evidence they needed? In that case, there was no way the interrogation wouldn’t include torture, and it might even prove fatal for me. Considering all this, I didn’t want to go. But I also thought about how if I didn’t go, was I really willing to cast a blind eye on the fact that God’s house would be incurring damages? I wrestled with these thoughts for some time, but couldn’t make up my mind.
The next day, I saw a passage of God’s words. “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, they only think of themselves. For them, nothing is more important than their own survival and safety. They don’t care how much harm is done to the work of God’s house—as long as they’re still alive and nothing happens to them, that’s all that matters. The disposition of such people is vicious, they don’t think of the brothers and sisters, or the house of God, they only think of themselves. They are antichrists. So when such things befall those who are devoted to God and have true faith in God, how do they handle them? (They will think of any way to safeguard the interests of the house of God, to protect the offerings of the house of God from coming to harm, and will make the necessary arrangements for the leaders and workers, and the brothers and sisters, to minimize losses. The first thing antichrists do, on the other hand, is to protect themselves and ignore the work of the house of God. And so, when the great red dragon carries out arrests, the damage to the churches is especially grievous.) What the antichrists do is tantamount to surrendering the work and offerings of the house of God to the great red dragon. They don’t send someone to sort this out, but ignore it. This is betrayal in another guise. People who are loyal to God clearly know that there are risks involved, and are willing to take those risks in order to deal with the aftermath and keep the losses to God’s house to a minimum before they themselves withdraw. They do not give priority to their own safety. What do you say to this: Could people not even care a little bit about their own safety? Who isn’t aware of the dangers of their environment? However, you must take risks in order to fulfill your duty. This is your responsibility. You should not give priority to your own personal safety. The work of God’s house and that which God entrusts to you are most important, and they take priority above all else. 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)). This passage of God’s words really cut to the quick. The disposition of an antichrist is evil and really selfish and despicable. When it comes to their personal safety, they’d rather the work of God’s house suffer losses than put themselves in harm’s way. They don’t have the slightest conscience or reason, nor do they have even a little loyalty to God. As for me, when I encountered danger, I only ever thought about how to protect myself and how to avoid risks. When I heard that the books of God’s words were still in the apartment, I clearly understood that if I didn’t remove them, the books might be confiscated by the police and God’s house would incur damages. I should have prioritized the interests of God’s house and removed those books right away, but I was afraid if I showed my face, I’d be arrested by the police and subject to torture and torment, and might possibly even risk death, so I wasn’t willing to go. Wasn’t I basically just handing those books of God’s words over to the police? Whatever the situation, I always first considered my own safety and paid little heed to the interests of God’s house. I wanted to play it safe in my duties, but in so doing I was betraying the interests of God’s house. How inhumane I was! Even though, on the surface, it might not seem like I’d been as sinful as an antichrist, my disposition was no different from an antichrist’s. I was selfish, despicable and acted only out of self-interest. If I didn’t repent, I’d be sure to incur God’s wrath and rejection. Those who truly believe in and are faithful to God don’t consider their personal safety. In crucial moments, they disregard their personal interests and protect the interests of God’s house. They are of one heart and mind with God. It was then that I knew for sure that I had to turn my back on my satanic disposition, and no matter how dangerous the situation, or how much adversity I may face, I should be ready to risk everything to protect the interests of God’s house. I was willing to put my faith in God and remove those books to reduce damages as much as possible. After that, my prayers continually revolved around this issue, and I also asked God to give me faith and rid me of all timidity and fear. I thought of a movie I’d seen two days previously called Branded. The protagonist underwent arrests and persecution by the CCP starting from the young age of 13. In 28 years, she was arrested three times and was subject to all manner of persecution. Yet no matter how agonizing and difficult things were and even when her life was on the line, she relied upon the words of God to stand strong every step of the way, and ultimately defeated Satan and stood witness. Also, even after getting out of jail, she continued to fulfill her duty as a created being. I also thought of many brothers and sisters who had been arrested, tortured and brainwashed by the CCP, and how they used God’s words to overcome Satan’s coercion and persecution. I realized that no matter how evil and cruel Satan may be, as long as we can sincerely rely upon God and be guided by God’s words, we can overcome Satan and stand witness. This was all very encouraging and helped renew my faith—I no longer felt so afraid.
Afterward, I also reflected upon myself: The reason I was so unwilling to accept this kind of dangerous duty, was that I was afraid of being tortured by the police. I didn’t want to have to suffer, much less did I want to die. Just then, I recalled a passage of God’s words: “The path God guides us along does not go straight up, but is a winding road full of potholes; God says, furthermore, that the rockier the path is, the more it can reveal our loving hearts. Yet none of us can open up such a path. In My experience, I have walked many rocky, treacherous paths and I have endured great suffering; at times I have even been so utterly grief-stricken that I wanted to cry out, but I have walked this path to this day. I believe that this is the path led by God, so I endure the torment of all the suffering and continue onward. For this is what God has ordained, so who can escape it? I do not ask to receive any blessings; all I ask is that I am able to walk the path I ought to walk according to God’s will. I do not seek to imitate others, walking the path that they walk; all I seek is that I may fulfill My devotion to walk My designated path until the end. … The amount an individual must suffer and the distance they must walk on their path is ordained by God, and no one can really help anyone else” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Path … (6)). I also thought of how God’s word says: “For whoever will save his life shall lose it: and whoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25). It was then that I realized, every person’s destiny is in God’s hands, as is one’s life and death. Whether or not I would be arrested and put in jail or tortured and tormented, was all up to God. I should submit completely. Just as in the story of Satan’s temptation of Job, Job’s property was taken, his children were killed and his whole body was covered with sore boils. God wouldn’t allow Satan to take Job’s life, and so Satan didn’t dare defy Him. This is the authority of God. Job was aware of God’s sovereignty, so even while in the grip of extreme suffering, he didn’t blame God and even said: “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah” (Job 1:21). In the end, Job thoroughly shamed Satan and earned redoubled blessings from God. Since God began His work, He has ordained and planned who would die for their faith, who would be jailed and what kind of suffering each should undergo, and, in each case, God’s kind intentions are harbored within. In the Age of Grace, many saints died while spreading the gospel of Lord Jesus. Take Peter for instance: He appeared to have been crucified, but his soul rose into the kingdom of heaven and gained God’s everlasting commendation and blessing. Many of our brothers and sisters who’ve accepted God’s work in the last days, have been arrested by the CCP and subjected to all manner of vicious torture and abuse, but they didn’t give in to Satan. After getting out of jail, they continued to pursue the truth and brave danger to fulfill their duties, providing many wonderful, shining testimonies to God. They are all overcomers who have been made complete by God. Their flesh may have suffered, but they’ve gained the truth and received God’s commendation and blessing. Yet, there are also those who after being arrested, were afraid of being tortured and tormented, and so they betrayed God and their brothers and sisters and were cast into shame like Judas. They gravely offended God’s disposition and were permanently bereft of God’s salvation. Some people are also afraid of being imprisoned, and so they live in timidity and fear and don’t dare fulfill their duties. They grow apart from and betray God, and become tares and nonbelievers. In fact, the CCP’s arrests and persecution have revealed who are the true believers and who are the false believers, sorting each according to their kind. From this, we can see how wise and righteous God is! I understood, then, that removing the books of God’s house was God’s way of testing me to see if I was loyal and faithful to God and if I would stand witness for Him. After I realized this, I resolved to do my best to fulfill my duty. If I really was arrested, I would risk everything, including my own life, to stand witness for God, and would not give in to Satan even if it meant my death. I felt deeply peaceful and grounded, and thanked God from the bottom of my heart for His salvation, enlightenment and guidance, which had allowed me to comprehend some truths through these difficulties, and taught me a more practical lesson. First thing the next morning, I woke up and prayed to God, asking that He give me faith and courage and telling Him that I was willing to submit to His guidance. That day it just happened to be raining; no one was out, so I seized the opportunity to slip into the apartment, and remove all of the books of God’s words from inside.
After that experience, I felt so happy and calm. Going through all of that had revealed and perfected me. It revealed how selfish and lacking in humanity I was, and it perfected my faith and submission. It was the guidance of God’s word that gave me a new understanding of God’s almightiness, sovereignty and wisdom, and allowed me to practice the truth in safeguarding the interests of God’s house. I might not know what scenarios lie ahead, but I’m no longer so timid and scared. I’m willing to submit to God’s sovereignty and arrangements, and fulfill my duties and responsibilities. Thanks be to God for saving me!