“Incarcerated” by My Own Father

February 7, 2023

By Keanna, Ukraine

In the summer of 2020. At the time, my sister Albina and I came across a video by The Church of Almighty God called Awakening From the Dream. In the video, it said that the Lord Jesus has already returned. This got us curious and so we downloaded The Church of Almighty God app and connected with brothers and sisters from the church. They bore witness to us of how Almighty God had expressed many truths, performed the work of judgment and had already made a group of overcomers. I was so excited and went on to read a lot of Almighty God’s words. I saw that His words were full of authority and power, and were all the truth, and realized that no mere person could express such words—this was the voice of God. Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus! My sister and I felt quite inspired and happily accepted Almighty God’s work in the last days. We often gathered with brothers and sisters online and fellowshiped God’s words.

But to our surprise, when our father saw us attending online Church of Almighty God gatherings and not praying with the Orthodox icons, he said that we were worshiping a different God and betraying the Lord Jesus. He was wrong to say this. Through reading Almighty God’s words, I learned that Almighty God and the Lord Jesus are the same God, the same Spirit. They represent God doing different work in different ages. In the Age of Grace, God took the name Jesus to do the work of redemption. Now, in the last days, God has incarnated and taken a new name to do the work of judgment and cleansing. Almighty God is the new name that the Lord Jesus has taken when He returns. I wasn’t betraying the Lord Jesus by believing in Almighty God, I was welcoming the Lord’s return and following God’s footsteps. But my dad hadn’t read Almighty God’s words, didn’t recognize God’s work and so he didn’t know that Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus. I tried to explain to him, but he didn’t even give me a chance to speak and stood by his views, even going so far as to berate me. He said if he caught us reading Almighty God’s words again, he’d beat us, and even if he had to beat us to death and be sent to prison, he would do it to keep us from believing in Almighty God. I was shocked to hear my dad say these things. I never imagined that he could spew such vitriol just in the name of keeping us from believing. That day, he shooed us out of the house and we were forced to sit outside for several hours in our pajamas. I felt really upset at the time and prayed to God: “Dear God, I’m feeling a bit weak, but I know I must be strong and endure all this. No matter how my father impedes me, I will continue to believe in You. Please give me faith and strength.” Just then, I recalled a passage of God’s words: “You must possess My courage within you, and you must have principles when it comes to facing relatives who do not believe. For My sake, however, you also must not yield to any dark forces. Rely on My wisdom to walk the perfect way; do not allow any of Satan’s conspiracies to take hold. Put all your efforts into placing your heart before Me, and I shall comfort you and bring you peace and happiness(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 10). God’s words warmed my heart and helped me pull myself together. Through God’s words I saw that, no matter how my father impeded me, he was still in God’s hands and so I shouldn’t fear him. I should pray to God to bestow me with courage and wisdom so I could go through this ordeal. After that, even though my father would often read the riot act on me, forbid me from connecting with brothers and sisters, and would often even check my phone, I still did my best to evade his monitoring and would often hide in the bathroom, shower, basement or garden so I could chat with brothers and sisters.

Not long after, we began training as newcomer waterers and secretly took on duties, but the newcomers needing to be watered gradually grew and I ended up fellowshiping and gathering with them in my room every day. This made my father suspicious that I was gathering again and so he stepped up his monitoring. Not only would he check my phone, when I was alone in my room, he’d quietly slip in to see what I was doing. He also installed security cameras in the house and even had my little brother monitor me in exchange for gifts. Sometimes, I’d have no choice but to delete everything related to the church and my duty on my phone and temporarily leave the gathering group chat, but ultimately, my father caught me practicing my faith. That day, he’d been drinking again and he started berating me and even said blasphemous things about God. I just couldn’t take it anymore, and so I said: “I believe in the true God, the returned Lord Jesus. Almighty God has expressed many truths to save mankind and free us from sin and the disasters. This is my only opportunity to attain salvation, so I must practice my faith. If you continue trying to stop me from believing in Almighty God, I’ll have no choice but to leave here and find somewhere else to live.” He didn’t say anything, and for a while after that, he barely said anything about my faith and stopped trying to suppress me. I thought all this had passed, and never imagined that this was all just the calm before the storm. One day, just as I was starting a gathering, my sister ran in and said our father demanded to see my phone, but I didn’t give it to him, knowing that he might break it. A phone was the only way for me to connect with the church, and the only way I had of reading Almighty God’s words. So, I hurriedly contacted a sister from the church and explained my family’s situation and had the newcomers I watered reassigned to her. After that, I hid my phone away.

That day, my father invited my uncle over, asking him to stop us from believing in Almighty God. I had no idea what methods they would use to suppress us. Then some of God’s words came to mind: “In every step of work that God does within people, externally it appears to be interactions between people, as if born of human arrangements or from human interference. But behind the scenes, every step of work, and everything that happens, is a wager made by Satan before God, and requires people to stand firm in their testimony to God. Take when Job was tried, for example: Behind the scenes, Satan was making a bet with God, and what happened to Job was the deeds of men and the interference of men. Behind every step of work that God does in you is Satan’s wager with God—behind it all is a battle(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God). “When God works, cares for a person, and looks upon this person, and when He favors and approves this person, Satan trails closely behind, trying to dupe the person and bring them to harm. If God wishes to gain this person, Satan will do everything in its power to obstruct God, using various evil ploys to tempt, disrupt and impair the work of God, in order to achieve its hidden objective. What is this objective? It does not want God to gain anyone; it wants to snatch possession of those whom God wishes to gain, it wants to control them, to take charge of them so they worship it, so they join it in committing evil acts, and resist God. Is this not Satan’s sinister motive? … In warring with God, and trailing along behind Him, Satan’s objective is to demolish all the work God wants to do, to occupy and control those whom God wants to gain, to completely extinguish those whom God wants to gain. If they are not extinguished, then they come to Satan’s possession, to be used by it—this is its objective(The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique IV). Through God’s words, I realized that my family’s suppression of my faith was Satan’s test and disruption. Satan didn’t want me to follow God and be saved by Him, so it used my family to attack me and force me to deny and betray God. This was Satan’s treacherous plot. I thought of how Job was attacked by Satan when he was tested. All of his property was destroyed, his children died and his whole body broke out in boils. Despite such immense suffering, Job was still able to bear witness to God and humiliate Satan. I knew I should emulate Job: No matter how my father and uncle suppressed and impeded me, I had to persist in my faith in Almighty God, stand firm and humiliate Satan.

As soon as he came into our room, he started exhorting us to give up our faith. He said: “You’ve left behind the Lord Jesus and don’t go to church—this is a betrayal of the Lord!” I replied: “Almighty God and the Lord Jesus are one and the same God. Almighty God has expressed millions of words and revealed countless truths and mysteries, such as the mystery of God’s 6,000-year management plan, the inside story of His three stages of work, as well as the mysteries of God’s names. He has also revealed the root of humankind’s sinfulness and the reality of our corruption by Satan, showing us the path to salvation. Many people all over the world acknowledge Almighty God’s words as truth and the voice of God, and have welcomed the Lord’s return. So how could you say that we’re betraying the Lord by believing in Almighty God? When the Lord Jesus came to do His work, many left the temple to follow Him—would you say that they betrayed Jehovah God? Only those that fail to hear God’s voice and follow the Lord when people bear witness to His return are really betraying the Lord.” Hearing this, my uncle became enraged. He said: “Just look at her! She didn’t give what I said the slightest thought and even tried to lecture me instead. She’s proselytizing and trying to rope me into the church!” Then, my uncle’s wife tried to convince me. With a mocking, derisive tone, she suggested I should just get married like other women and pursue a stable family and working life, instead of spending all my time practicing faith and proselytizing. I shot back, saying: “Since I’ve become a believer, I’ve read a lot of Almighty God’s words, gained insight into many matters, learned the meaning of life, and what is most meaningful to pursue in life. These years, as pandemics, wars and famines intensify, can fleshly enjoyment and leisure really guarantee our safety or protect us from calamities? Only by accepting Almighty God’s work, attaining the truth and casting off sin can we gain God’s protection from calamities and enter His kingdom. This is the only road to salvation.” They didn’t say a word. Seeing my unyielding stance, they called over my grandfather and another uncle to gang up on me. I thought of how Chinese brothers and sisters are able to stand strong in the face of persecution and peril. I wanted to bear witness for God and humiliate Satan just like them, and so I prayed to God: “O God! I don’t know what my grandfather and the rest will say or do to me going forward, please fill me with faith and strength.” As soon as my grandfather arrived, he began berating me and my sister and even held his belt threateningly, saying: “If you two don’t give up your faith in Almighty God, you will no longer be my granddaughters!” Hearing this, I thought to myself: I will never give up my faith in Almighty God even if my whole family abandons me. The Lord Jesus said, “Whoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven(Matthew 10:33). It’s not scary to be abandoned by people as one can always live without fellow humans, but if we’re abandoned by God, then it’s all over. So no matter how they impeded me, I wouldn’t deny God. I steadfastly said: “I have recognized Almighty God as the true God. No matter what you say, I will never give up my faith in Almighty God.” My sister also said she wouldn’t abandon her faith in Almighty God. Everyone there was shocked by what we said. My uncle became enraged, grabbed my phone and grilled me, saying: “Who are you calling on this phone every day? Who are they? What are their names? Give me their phone numbers! I’m going to report them to the police!” He then told me to unlock my phone. When I didn’t respond, he became even more angry and said: “It seems like you’re a lost cause, you won’t listen to anything we say. We should send you to a psychiatrist for treatment.” In their eyes, faith was just some sort of religious conviction, and they thought that people that would make sacrifices and expend themselves for God were abnormal. After that, other family members took turns chiding and berating me, but my sister and I didn’t waver and even argued back. They eventually had enough of us and went home.

They didn’t stop there. Two days later, my father showed us several videos discrediting The Church of Almighty God. I found them incredibly offensive, because I knew they were false and were slandering the church. I might not have believed in Almighty God for long, but I had read His words and understood some of the truth. I knew the path one must take to be freed of sin and be purified, and knew what things in life were most meaningful to pursue. I had begun practicing viewing things based on God’s words and had gained some discernment of good and evil. I had already made improvements in some areas and my faith in Almighty God had benefited me a lot. I felt a sense of inner peace and fulfillment and was convinced that this is the true way, the path that God was guiding us along. So I said to my father: “You haven’t investigated God’s work in the last days and believe all these online rumors and fallacies. These are the lies of the devil. I believe in the true God….” But after I’d said this, my father immediately cut in and began berating me again. Later on, my uncle came again and started pressuring me, saying: “Keanna, you are our family, and we all love you very much. We’re doing this for your own good. You’ll thank us later. Please leave this church as soon as possible.” His words reminded me of how Satan used Job’s wife to attack him. Job’s wife said: “Do you still retain your integrity? curse God, and die” (Job 2:9). But Job didn’t comply with her, instead chiding her for speaking “as a foolish woman speaks.” Now, I was also being coerced and obstructed by my family. They said they were doing it for my own good, but really it was to force me to abandon Almighty God. I was fed up with their lies and deception, so I just sat there quietly and ignored them. There was so much that I wanted to say to them, but I knew they wouldn’t listen to me. Seeing that I wasn’t giving in to their demands, my father took his belt and whipped me across the face and hands several times, leaving my hands stinging with pain and tears streaming down my face. Ultimately, they confiscated my and my sister’s phones and we lost our ability to connect with the church. After that, my father continued to monitor us and forbade us from reading God’s words. He followed me wherever I went so I couldn’t be alone and would even watch my expressions—if it looked like something was on my mind, he’d yell: “Don’t even dare think of that God you believe in!” I recalled some of Almighty God’s words: “Believers and unbelievers are not compatible; rather, they are opposed to one another(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together). “Anyone who does not believe in God incarnate is demonic and, moreover, will be destroyed. … Who is Satan, who are demons, and who are God’s enemies if not resisters who do not believe in God?(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together). God exposed the substance of unbelievers. I used to think no one was closer than family, but after being oppressed and obstructed by them time and again and comparing that to God’s words, I finally saw their true colors. Despite their believing in the Lord, they didn’t have the slightest desire to seek when faced with something as incredible as the Lord’s return. They didn’t listen for God’s voice and didn’t welcome the Lord and even used every means necessary to obstruct us from accepting Almighty God, spouting all manner of judgment and condemnation of Him. They were God-hating, God-resisting people. As they were God’s enemies, they were also my enemies. I was not the same as them.

Despite having gained some discernment of my family, I was being constantly monitored by them, couldn’t attend gatherings and couldn’t even speak with my sister in private on spiritual matters, so, over time, I began to feel weak. At that time, I thought of a passage of God’s words. “Do not be discouraged, do not be weak, and I will make things clear for you. The road to the kingdom is not so smooth; nothing is that simple! You want blessings to come to you easily, do you not? Today, everyone will have bitter trials to face. Without such trials, the loving heart you have for Me will not grow stronger and you will not have true love for Me. Even if these trials consist merely of minor circumstances, everyone must pass through them; it’s just that the difficulty of the trials will vary from one person to another. Trials are a blessing from Me, and how many of you come often before Me and beg on your knees for My blessings? Silly children! You always think that a few auspicious words count as My blessing, yet you do not recognize that bitterness is one of My blessings. Those who share in My bitterness will certainly share in My sweetness. That is My promise and My blessing to you(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 41). God’s words filled me with warmth and I felt that He was quite close to me. God understood what I was thinking and going through and used His words to comfort and encourage me. I knew that the reason entering the kingdom of heaven was so arduous and the true way was constantly persecuted and rejected is because Satan rules over this world and it doesn’t allow God to come here to express truth and save mankind, much less does it allow people to follow and believe in God. As a result, people that do are persecuted. In the Age of Grace, many were persecuted and even martyred due to their belief in the Lord Jesus. Now, in the Age of Kingdom, God has incarnated again to save mankind. In China, vast numbers of Almighty God’s believers have been arrested, persecuted, beaten and tortured by the CCP, but they continue to be steadfast in their belief in God and bear witness for Him. Faced with this persecution from my family for my belief in God, it was an incredible honor for me to bear witness to God before Satan. I was up against some difficulties, but this contained God’s good intentions. I was lacking in faith and couldn’t see through Satan’s plot, so God worked through my family’s obstruction and persecution to teach me to rely on Him and seek the truth to gain discernment. This situation helped me to understand the truth and grow in stature. After realizing God’s intentions, I felt more at ease and less anxious and I decided to rely on God in this experience. As long as God was at my side, it wouldn’t matter who opposed or impeded me.

During that time, my family continually monitored and suppressed us. We weren’t able to read God’s words, and I felt so awful that I considered running away. As I saw it, running away was the only way out. If I left home, I’d be able to practice faith normally, but all the avenues of escape were blocked. My father was always at home and I didn’t know how to evade him. Other family members were monitoring me as well. On top of that, I had no money and didn’t know where I could go. I worried that if I ran away, my father would call the police on the brothers and sisters. I was deeply depressed and always crying, and I didn’t want anyone to see me like that. During that time, I lived in constant fear. When praying in my room, I always worried that my father would barge in, that he’d break down the door and yell at me. I worried, even more, that he’d beat and berate me and my sister. I had no idea how much longer this persecution would go on. Thinking of how my brothers and sisters could all regularly gather and do their duties, while I lacked that opportunity, I felt envious of them and so I prayed to God: “Dear God, I’m having a very difficult time practicing faith at home. I want to leave my home, so I can gather and do my duty freely. Please open up a path for me.”

One day, I was finally able to evade all my family members and saw two passages of God’s words on my phone. Almighty God says, “While undergoing trials, it is normal for people to be weak, or to have negativity within them, or to lack clarity on God’s will or their path for practice. But in any case, you must have faith in God’s work, and not deny God, just like Job. Although Job was weak and cursed the day of his own birth, he did not deny that all things in human life were bestowed by Jehovah, and that Jehovah is also the One to take them all away. No matter how he was tested, he maintained this belief. In your experience, no matter what refinement you undergo through God’s words, what God requires of mankind, in brief, is their faith and their love for Him. What He perfects by working in this way is people’s faith, love, and aspirations. God does the work of perfection on people, and they cannot see it, cannot feel it; under such circumstances, your faith is required. People’s faith is required when something cannot be seen by the naked eye, and your faith is required when you cannot let go of your own notions. When you do not have clarity about God’s work, what is required of you is to have faith and to take a firm stance and stand witness. When Job reached this point, God appeared to him and spoke to him. That is, it is only from within your faith that you will be able to see God, and when you have faith God will perfect you. Without faith, He cannot do this(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement). “If many things come upon you that do not align with your notions but yet you are able to put them aside and gain knowledge of God’s actions from these things, and if in the midst of refinements you reveal your heart of love for God, then this is standing witness. If your home is peaceful, you enjoy comforts of the flesh, no one is persecuting you, and your brothers and sisters in the church obey you, can you display your heart of love for God? Can this situation refine you? It is only through refinement that your love for God can be shown, and it is only through things occurring that do not align with your notions that you can be perfected. With the service of many contrary and negative things, and by employing all sorts of Satan’s manifestations—its actions, its accusations, its disturbances and deceptions—God shows you Satan’s hideous face clearly, and thereby perfects your ability to distinguish Satan, that you may hate Satan and forsake it(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement). Through reading God’s words, I clearly realized His intention and saw that in our faith we must go through trials and refinements. Only through these refinements can we achieve true faith in God. Take the story of Job—after he underwent a trial and stood firm in his witness, his faith in God increased and Satan slinked away in humiliation. I knew I should take Job as my role model and stand firm through this trial, but I had shown myself to be really lacking in faith. When I could gather regularly in a peaceful, safe environment, my faith was strong and I even said: “No matter what happens, I will never blame God.” But when I was oppressed by my family and locked in the cage of my home with no freedom, I became negative and weak. I didn’t abandon my faith in God, but I was always complaining, and always wanted to avoid hardship, seeking a leisurely life and a relaxed form of worship. This clearly showed that my nature was God-betraying. I thought of how steadfast Job had been. When Satan tested and attacked him, he never complained to God at all, never made any irrational demands of God, much less did he question God for allowing such things to happen to him. Job submitted to and revered God, and I did not. I realized that God was using this situation to test me and perfect my faith. If I always wanted to practice faith in leisure, avoid the situations He devised and didn’t learn from them, I would end up with nothing. It occurred to me that despite my having suffered a bit, God was always by my side to guide me. When I became weak, God’s words comforted and encouraged me. So how could I complain to God? I was so lacking in conscience. I used to envy those brothers and sisters who weren’t oppressed by their families, but now that I thought about it: Who ultimately gains more? Does the person who lives in leisure and grace gain more, or someone who experiences oppression and hardship? The answer was obvious. All is within God’s grasp and is under His orchestration, and God doesn’t do meaningless work. Only God knows what situations will be best for my life progress, not me, so I should submit and seek.

Not long after that, my father found work and started going out a lot. During that time, my sister and I were able to safely gather and fellowship on God’s words. As for the surveillance cameras my father installed, they not only didn’t work against us, they actually helped protect us, because each time my father returned home, we were able to see him returning through the cameras and cut off our gathering. Once he left again, we would continue fellowshiping. When my father was at home, we couldn’t attend gatherings, so we’d ask for his permission to go to a store and then take the opportunity to fellowship outside in the park. In 2022, my church leader assigned me to continue watering newcomers and later I became a supervisor. I’ve continued to do my duty even through my father’s suppression and hindrances.

I’ve experienced God’s words, beheld His almightiness and wisdom and gained faith in Him. I’ve learned to rely on God and practiced eating and drinking God’s words on my own to resolve my issues. I’ve also gained discernment of those family members that don’t believe and learned how to deal with them. I never would have learned any of this while living in leisure. God’s work is just so wonderful and practical. I thank Almighty God from the bottom of my heart!

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