Leadership Turning Judas After Arrest

March 2, 2024

By An Xin, China

On July 4, 2018, Ding Jie, the leader I was partnered with, was followed and arrested. When I heard the news, I was very anxious. The police’s methods of tormenting people were so cruel; would she be able to bear it? And, I had interacted with her frequently, so wouldn’t I already be under surveillance? Thinking of this, I was somewhat scared. A few days later, I received a letter from my hometown. It said that the police had come to my home to arrest me and also told the villagers to be on the lookout for me. Sister Li Qing from my village was arrested, and the police were still in pursuit of her two daughters. This news was a slap to the face. The police were arresting brothers and sisters everywhere, and I had become a person with no home. Seeing the extent to which the police were mobilizing to arrest believers in God, I felt very indignant. At the same time, I was worried that if I was already under police surveillance, it wouldn’t be safe for me here anymore. If the police arrested me, wouldn’t I then be tortured? Would I be able to bear it? The more I thought, the more scared I was. I spent the next few days in a state of fear.

Before too long, I heard that Ding Jie couldn’t bear the torture and sold out many brothers and sisters, as well as two families that safekept books of God’s words. Back then, the books had been transferred in advance, but the sister from the safekeeping family was arrested, and the police took 300,000 yuan in savings from the home of another sister. Ding Jie even guided the police in arresting brothers and sisters. More than 10 leaders and deacons were arrested in succession. Some brothers’ and sisters’ homes were raided, and many brothers and sisters left home and went into hiding. It wasn’t long before another leader, Xia Yu, was arrested. As she couldn’t withstand the police’s threats and intimidation and their torture, and she feared being sentenced to prison, ultimately, she sold out the brothers and sisters and the church’s money. When I heard this news, I was astonished and didn’t dare believe that it was true. These leaders were really pursuing the truth before this; how could they become sell-outs? Ding Jie and Xia Yu had believed in God for many years. They forsook their families, abandoned their careers, and put all their time into doing their duties. No matter how their families persecuted and obstructed them, they kept believing in God, and they were able to endure suffering and pay a price when doing their duties. How could they all of a sudden turn into Judas? I really didn’t get it. They were leaders, and their fellowshiping with brothers and sisters was usually quite good. They should have understood more truths and had more stature than the brothers and sisters, but even some ordinary brothers and sisters could stand firm in their testimony. As leaders, how could they have had even less stature than ordinary brothers and sisters? How could they have just betrayed God? I turned my thoughts to myself. When it came to forsaking and expending, I had not done more than them. They had let go of their work, their parents, and their children, and chosen to do their duties, but when doing my duty, I was still often constrained by affections. They couldn’t even stand firm. If I was arrested and the police were going to imprison me, would I be able to stand firm in my testimony? If I betrayed God like them because my flesh couldn’t stand the pain and I was afraid of being imprisoned, wouldn’t I then have a bad outcome and destination? Wouldn’t my years of believing in God have been futile? I couldn’t help but worry about myself. I didn’t understand why the church had suffered such great persecution, and why so many brothers and sisters had been arrested. The lofty warriors in my mind had all collapsed. During that period of time, I was very dejected. Every day, my face was stricken with concern, and I would heave sighs of despair. When I read God’s words, I didn’t take them to heart, and I had no energy when gathering or doing my duty.

A sister saw that I was quite dejected, and reminded me, “You can’t go on being negative like this. You have to learn from the brothers and sisters who stand firm in their testimony, read God’s words more, and learn more lessons.” It took this sister’s reminder for me to become aware of how weak I was. My brothers and sisters had experienced the police’s persecution and endured so much suffering, and they still knew to rely on God and learn lessons. Why didn’t I know to seek God’s will? While seeking, I read a passage of God’s words: “So how can the final stretch of the path be walked? In your days of experiencing tribulation, you must endure all hardships, and you must have the will to suffer; only in this way can you take this stretch of the path well. Do you think it so easy to take this stretch of the path? You should know what function you should fulfill; you must raise your caliber and equip yourselves with adequate truth. This is not the work of one or two days, and it is not as simple as you think! Walking the final stretch of the path depends on what kind of faith and will you really have. Perhaps you cannot see the Holy Spirit working in you, or perhaps you are not able to discover the work of the Holy Spirit in the church, so you are pessimistic and disappointed and full of despair for the road ahead. In particular, the great warriors of the past have all fallen—is all of this not a blow to you? How should you see these things? Do you have faith, or do you not? Do you fully understand today’s work, or do you not? These things can determine whether you are able to successfully walk the final stretch of the path(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. How You Should Walk the Final Stretch of the Path). After reading God’s words, I understood that the persecution and adversity we suffered today was a lesson that God arranged for each of us. The last stretch of this path was not easy to follow, so we had to have tremendous faith and be equipped with more truths. I saw that many brothers and sisters were arrested, the lofty warriors beside me had collapsed, and many brothers and sisters had fled far and wide, so I became pessimistic and disappointed, and I lost my faith. Was I not right in the middle of Satan’s cunning scheme? No matter what God does, it all contains His thoughtfulness, but I didn’t seek God’s will and lived inside my own notions and imaginings, regarding what happened with negativity. This was not in line with God’s will! I prayed to God, “God, I don’t understand why the church is facing such serious circumstances, and why You have permitted us to suffer the frantic arrests and persecution of the Communist Party. God, please guide me to understand Your will and guide me out of this state of misunderstanding and dejection.”

While seeking, I read a passage of God’s words that stirred me rather deeply. Almighty God says: “Everything that God does is necessary and possessed of extraordinary significance, for all that He does in man concerns His management and the salvation of mankind. Naturally, the work that God did in Job is no different, even though Job was perfect and upright in the eyes of God. In other words, regardless of what God does or the means by which He does it, regardless of the cost, regardless of His objective, the purpose of His actions does not change. His purpose is to work God’s words into man, as well as God’s requirements and will for man; in other words, it is to work into man all that God believes to be positive in accordance with His steps, enabling man to understand God’s heart and comprehend God’s essence, and allowing man to obey God’s sovereignty and arrangements, thus allowing man to attain fear of God and shunning of evil—all of this is one aspect of God’s purpose in all He does. The other aspect is that, because Satan is the foil and service object in God’s work, man is often given to Satan; this is the means God uses to allow people to see in Satan’s temptations and attacks the wickedness, ugliness, and contemptibility of Satan, thus causing people to hate Satan and be able to know and recognize that which is negative. This process allows them to gradually free themselves from Satan’s control and accusations, disturbances, and attacks—until, thanks to God’s words, their knowledge and obedience of God, and their faith in God and fear of Him, they triumph over the attacks and accusations of Satan; only then will they have been completely delivered from the power of Satan. People’s deliverance means that Satan has been defeated, it means that they are no longer the food in Satan’s mouth—instead of swallowing them, Satan has relinquished them. This is because such people are upright, because they have faith, obedience, and fear toward God, and because they completely break with Satan. They bring shame upon Satan, they make a coward of Satan, and they utterly defeat Satan. Their conviction in following God, and obedience to and fear of God defeat Satan, and make Satan completely give them up. Only people such as this have truly been gained by God, and it is this which is God’s ultimate objective in saving man. If they wish to be saved, and wish to be completely gained by God, then all those who follow God must face temptations and attacks both great and small from Satan. Those who emerge from these temptations and attacks and are able to fully defeat Satan are those who have been saved by God(The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II). God’s words are very clear. The church suffering persecution and the arrest of many brothers and sisters are permitted by God. In one respect, He exposes all kinds of people, and in another, He perfects those who truly believe in Him. He uses this environment to work His words into people and make them gain the truth and enter the reality. God’s work is to save people from sin and Satan’s influence, ultimately bringing them into His kingdom. Satan and devil kings are not content with this, and they frantically arrest and persecute God’s chosen people, competing with God in every way and exhausting all means of obstructing God’s work. They accuse and attack each person who follows God, attempting to get people to deny God, betray Him, and be punished in hell with them. In the midst of Satan’s various temptations and attacks, those of God’s chosen people who are able to rely on God, stand firm in their testimony, and humiliate Satan are the ones who can be saved. Meanwhile, those who betray God and compromise with and surrender to Satan lose God’s salvation and are exposed and cast out. Understanding this aspect of the truth, my heart was suddenly bright and clear. Suffering arrest and persecution from Satan’s political power was a necessary process of attaining salvation. My being cowardly and scared and thinking of escaping such an environment was useless; what I should do was be equipped with more truths and stand firm in my testimony for God.

After that, I read more of God’s words: “In the nation of the great red dragon, I have carried out a stage of work unfathomable to human beings, causing them to sway in the wind, after which many quietly drift away with the blowing of the wind. Truly, this is the ‘threshing floor’ I am about to clear; it is what I yearn for and it is also My plan. For many wicked ones have crept in while I am at work, but I am in no hurry to drive them away. Rather, I shall disperse them when the time is right. Only after that shall I be the fountain of life, allowing those who truly love Me to receive from Me the fruit of the fig tree and the fragrance of the lily. In the land where Satan sojourns, the land of dust, there remains no pure gold, only sand, and so, meeting with these circumstances, I do such a stage of work. You should know that what I gain is pure, refined gold, not sand. How can the wicked remain in My house? How can I allow foxes to be parasites in My paradise? I employ every conceivable method to drive these things away. Before My will is revealed, no one is aware of what I am about to do. Taking this opportunity, I drive away those wicked ones, and they are forced to leave My presence. This is what I do to the wicked, but there will still be a day for them to do service for Me(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Seven Thunders Peal—Prophesying That the Gospel of the Kingdom Shall Spread Throughout the Universe). From God’s words, I understood this: The great red dragon is a service object in God’s work. God uses the great red dragon’s arrests and persecution as service to perfect His chosen people, while at the same time exposing those evil people and nonbelievers, sorting people according to their kinds. God’s work is so almighty and wise! He uses the frantic persecution and arrests of the great red dragon to perfect people, expose them, and cast them out. The wheat, the weeds, the true believers and the false believers—He exposes them all one by one in the midst of this adverse environment. For those who truly believe in God and love the truth, even if they endure suffering and even if they die, they will still follow God to the end and stand firm in their testimony for Him. People who don’t truly believe in God and have no humanity will compromise with and surrender to Satan in all sorts of circumstances. Such people are precisely the weeds that God exposes in His work of the last days; they are those who get cast out. I thought of one young brother among those who were arrested. The police burned his body with the tip of a cigarette, and splashed cup after cup of scalding hot water onto him. It was unimaginably horrific, but through all that torment, he didn’t betray God. He confronted the police’s brainwashing and used the truth to refute them. He would rather have gone to jail than speak a single phrase of denial or betrayal of God. There was also a sister whose clothes were stripped off, and the police shocked her with stun batons in a dark room; it would have been less painful for her to just die. She would have rather died than betray God. After being arrested, many brothers and sisters would have died before they betrayed God. They gave a resounding testimony for God and humiliated Satan. Even though they were arrested and suffered persecution, and their flesh endured some suffering, after seeing God’s deeds, their faith was perfected. They saw that God’s wisdom was exercised based on Satan’s cunning scheme. The great red dragon used all kinds of methods to persecute believers in God in a vain attempt to get people to betray and deny Him, but God used such an environment to perfect a group of people to be overcomers, to be the kingdom’s good soldiers, while also exposing and casting out those nonbelievers and evil people who seek bread to satisfy their hunger. I thought that before Ding Jie and Xia Yu were arrested, they were able to forsake and expend themselves, saying over and over that one must stand firm in their testimony for God. On the surface, they appeared to be people who sincerely believed in God, but as soon as they were faced with being arrested and tortured, they protected their own lives and betrayed God, sold out the brothers and sisters, and even became Communist Party’s lackeys. They were precisely the kind of evil people that God exposed. Before, if anyone had said that they were evil people and would betray God, I absolutely would not have believed it. But when the facts were exposed, I saw their nature essence clearly. What they normally spoke was all words and doctrines, all empty theories. I thought about myself again. In the past, I had made a resolution to God that no matter how adverse the circumstances, I would always persist in doing my duty and satisfying Him, and I thought that I was of great stature. But when faced with danger and tribulations, I had lived in a state of horror and fear and lost my faith. I finally realized that my stature was pitifully small.

Later, I thought of how Ding Jie and Xia Yu had failed. I had to learn a lesson from their failure. Why did I think that their turning Judas and betraying God was so surprising and hard to accept? Thinking about it meticulously, I saw that there was an erroneous view within me. I thought that because they were leaders, they had forsaken their families and abandoned their careers to do their duties, and their fellowships were usually very good, that they must understand the truth and have reality, that their stature was greater than that of the brothers and sisters, and that they wouldn’t betray God so easily. I saw that my criteria for judging them were incorrect. I read a passage of God’s words: “When someone is chosen to be a leader by the brothers and sisters, or is promoted by the house of God to do a certain piece of work or perform a certain duty, this does not mean that they have a special status or identity, or that the truths they understand are deeper and more numerous than those of other people—much less that this person is able to submit to God, and will not betray Him. Naturally, it does not mean, either, that they know God, and are someone who fears God. They have attained none of this, in fact; the promotion and cultivation is merely promotion and cultivation in the most straightforward sense, and is not equivalent to them having been destined and validated by God. Their promotion and cultivation simply means they have been promoted, and await cultivation. And the ultimate outcome of this cultivation depends on whether this person pursues the truth, and on whether they are capable of choosing the path of pursuing the truth. Thus, when someone in the church is promoted and cultivated to be a leader, they are merely promoted and cultivated in the straightforward sense; it does not mean that they are already a qualified leader, or a competent one, that they are already capable of undertaking the work of a leader, and can do real work—that is not the case(The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers (5)). From God’s words, I realized this: When someone is chosen to be a leader, it is only an opportunity for training. It does not at all mean that they understand the truth and have reality. What’s more, whether or not they can stand firm in the end is determined by their nature essence and the path they walk. It has nothing to do with whether or not they are leaders. However high one’s status, however much they appear to forsake and expend, and however enthusiastic and able to endure suffering they are, if when matters befall them, they only safeguard their personal interests, have no place for God in their heart, and can betray God at any time or in any place, then they do not have the truth reality. In the past, I believed that leaders and workers knowing how to fellowship with others showed that they understood God’s will and His demands, that their stature was greater than that of the brothers and sisters, and that they could stand firm when faced with trials. All of these were my notions and imaginings. Now, I understood that whether someone has the truth reality mainly depends on whether the knowledge they fellowship is what they are actually living out. However nice the words that come from their mouths, if they cannot live them out, then what they are fellowshiping is just doctrines; it is impractical, and they don’t genuinely understand the truth. Having status does not equate to having the truth reality, and being a leader and having status does not mean that someone can then know and submit to God, let alone that they love God and have humanity. When judging a person, one must not look at how high or low their status is, but look at what they are actually living out. If this person can submit, be loyal to God, and genuinely know God when matters befall them, and they can give up their life and satisfy God in the critical moment, this means they have the truth reality. Ding Jie and Xia Yu appeared to be able to forsake and expend themselves on the surface, but when faced with danger, they thought only of their own interests and considered only their own safety, and could not be loyal to God and safeguard the interests of God’s house. They were not at all people who genuinely pursued the truth. That they could forsake and expend themselves, endure suffering, and pay a price was because they were controlled by their intentions to receive blessings; they wanted to gain benefits from God. Once they were faced with circumstances that involved their personal interests, they were able to abandon God without the slightest hesitation. They were not at all people who truly believed in God. Their forsaking and expending themselves was not done sincerely; rather, they were making a transaction with God. Additionally, there was another reason that they betrayed God, which was that they treasured their flesh too much, didn’t want to endure the suffering of imprisonment, and feared death. Thus, they turned Judas. Thinking of the reason they failed, I thought of how I was also cowardly and also feared that one day, if I were arrested and unable to bear the torture and betrayed God, then what would I do? I silently prayed to God, “God, please guide me to the truths I should equip myself with in order not to betray You.”

While seeking, I read this passage of God’s words: “Something happens that requires you to endure hardship, at which time you should understand what God’s will is and how you should be mindful of His will. You must not satisfy yourself: First put yourself to one side. Nothing is more abject than the flesh. You must seek to satisfy God, and you must fulfill your duty. With such thoughts, God will bring especial enlightenment to you in this matter, and your heart will also find comfort. Be it big or small, when something happens to you, you must first put yourself to one side and regard the flesh as the most lowly of all things. The more you satisfy the flesh, the more liberties it takes; if you satisfy it this time, next time it will ask for more. As this carries on, people come to love the flesh even more. The flesh always has extravagant desires; it always asks that you satisfy it and that you gratify it within, whether it be in the things you eat, what you wear, or in losing your temper, or pandering to your own weaknesses and laziness…. The more you satisfy the flesh, the greater its desires become and the more debauched the flesh becomes, until it gets to the point when people’s flesh harbors even deeper notions, and disobeys God, and exalts itself, and becomes doubtful about the work of God. The more you satisfy the flesh, the greater the weaknesses of the flesh; you will always feel that no one sympathizes with your weaknesses, you will always believe that God has gone too far, and you will say: ‘How could God be so harsh? Why won’t He give people a break?’ When people satisfy the flesh and cherish it too much, then they ruin themselves(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God). From God’s words, I understood that the flesh belongs to Satan. We have been too deeply corrupted by Satan, and we all live according to the satanic poison of “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.” Living like this, one only considers themselves, and only thinks about their own interests first in whatever they do. In order for their flesh to not endure suffering, they can do things that violate their own conscience and go against humanity. Just like when people were arrested by the Communist Party and faced with all kinds of torture and imprisonment, if they always thought of their flesh enduring less suffering, or of not being beaten and not going to jail, they would be able to sell out their brothers and sisters and betray God. In the end, their fleshly interests were satisfied, but their life had been ruined, and they lost God’s salvation forever and fell into hell with Satan to be punished. Reflecting on myself, I realized that I treasured my flesh too much, always wanting to believe in God comfortably and not wanting my flesh to endure any suffering. When the environment was comfortable, I could still do my duty, but when faced with arrests and persecution, I became cowardly and scared, afraid that I would be arrested and tortured, and that I would go to jail. I lived in horror every day. Satan was using my fondness for my flesh and my not wanting to endure suffering to make me betray God. I thought of the Lord Jesus who appeared and worked during His incarnation. When He knew that He was going to be crucified, although He was in pain and weak at the time, He was still able to submit to God’s will, to endure all sorts of humiliation, pain, ridicule, and slander, to be whipped, to wear a crown of thorns, to walk step-by-step to the place where He would be crucified, and ultimately be nailed to the cross. The second time God became flesh, He was met with every possible kind of pursuit and persecution from the Communist Party, and in such an environment, He still expressed the truth and performed the work of saving humanity. In order to save humanity, God endured all this suffering without a word of complaint. God’s love for humanity is too great! Meanwhile, I was believing in God so that I could be saved, and when I endured a bit of suffering, I would blame and misunderstand God. I was really too selfish, despicable, and lacking in humanity!

Later on, I found a path to practice in God’s words. Almighty God says: “When you face suffering, you must be able to lay aside concern for the flesh and to not make complaints against God. When God hides Himself from you, you must be able to have the faith to follow Him, to maintain your previous love without allowing it to falter or dissipate. No matter what God does, you must submit to His design and be prepared to curse your own flesh rather than make complaints against Him. When you are faced with trials, you must satisfy God, though you may weep bitterly or feel reluctant to part with some beloved object. Only this is true love and faith. No matter what your actual stature is, you must first possess both the will to suffer hardship and true faith, and you must also have the will to forsake the flesh. You should be willing to endure personal hardships and suffer losses to your personal interests in order to satisfy God’s will. You must also be capable of feeling regret about yourself in your heart: In the past, you were unable to satisfy God, and now, you can regret yourself. You must not be lacking in any of these regards—it is through these things that God will perfect you. If you cannot meet these criteria, then you cannot be perfected(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement). Pondering God’s words, I understood this: What God does in the last days is the work of judging and purifying man. He uses all sorts of miserable environments to try and refine us, to make us gain knowledge of our corrupt dispositions and our incorrect intentions, so that in the end, we can rebel against our flesh, let go of the extravagant desires inside us, submit to God no matter what He does, and be willing to endure fleshly hardship and choose to satisfy God; only such people can be perfected by Him. God uses all sorts of miserable environments to refine man’s will to endure suffering and perfect man’s faith, love, and true submission to God. People cannot gain such truth realities in comfortable environments. It’s just like how experiencing the environment of the Communist Party’s arrests and persecution this time made me see my true stature clearly. I saw that I had no faith in God, and I also gained some knowledge of my selfish and despicable corrupt disposition. I understood that God used the Communist Party’s frantic arrests and persecution to perfect a group of people to be overcomers, and also used it to expose and cast out nonbelievers and evil people. I saw that God’s wisdom was exercised based on Satan’s cunning scheme. These are truths that I would not have gained in a comfortable environment. I saw more clearly the wicked nature of the Communist Party’s resistance of God. A hatred for it emerged in my heart, and I was even more determined to follow God. I was also willing to do my duty well to humiliate Satan. I thought of the lyrics of the song “Life’s Testimony:” “One day I may be captured and persecuted for bearing witness to God, this suffering is for the sake of righteousness, which I know in my heart. If my life is gone like a spark in the blink of an eye, I will still feel proud that I can follow Christ and bear witness to Him in this life. If I cannot see the great event of the expansion of the kingdom gospel, I will still offer up the most beautiful wishes. If I cannot see the day the kingdom is realized, but I can shame Satan today, then my heart will be filled with joy and peace” (Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). Quietly singing this song, I wept tears of emotion, and it strengthened my determination to follow God to the end.

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