Led by God’s Love in the Tribulation, I Became Stronger in My Heart
Chen Lu Tonglu City, Zhejiang Province
I was born in the countryside in the 1980s. My family has engaged in farming for a living for generations. To enter the college and break free from the poor and backward rural life, I kept studying hard. When I was in high school, I came into contact with The History of Western Arts and saw many superb paintings such as Genesis, The Garden of Eden, The Last Supper, and so on. Through them, I learned that in heaven there is a God who created all things. Thus, I was filled with yearning for him. After graduating from college, I successfully found a good job and married a satisfactory husband, and finally realized the wish of my forefathers and mine—breaking free from the hard farming life that continued for generations. In 2008, the birth of my child added many joys to my life. Facing everything I owned before my eyes, I thought that I would be very happy and satisfied. However, when I was enjoying the good life that everyone admired and longed for, I could never get free from the unexplainable sense of emptiness in the depth of my heart. I was very perplexed and helpless with it.
In November 2008, my family preached’s end-time gospel to me. Through reading God’s word, I knew that God is the source of man’s life and God’s word is the power and support for man’s life, that if man leaves God’s supply and nourishment for his life, his heart will be empty and lonely, and that no matter how good the material life he enjoys is, he can’t get the satisfaction and need of his heart. As Almighty God says, “Man is man after all. God’s place and God’s life cannot be replaced by any man. What mankind needs is not only a just society where they have enough to fill their stomach and everyone is equal and free. What they need is God’s salvation and God’s life supply for them. Only thus can their needs, their desire to explore, and the emptiness in their heart be solved.” (from “God Is Sovereign over the Destiny of All Mankind” in ) , like spring in the desert, moistened my heart and unlocked the puzzlement in my heart. Since then, I eagerly read God’s word and always had an inexpressible security in my heart, feeling that there was a home for my heart to return. Before long, the church arranged for some brothers and sisters to have meetings with me. And they never stopped coming no matter whether it was windy or rainy. During that time, there were many things I didn’t understand, and they always fellowshipped with me patiently, without any boredom or perfunctoriness. It made me deeply feel the brothers’ and sisters’ sincerity and love. As I understood more truths, I came to understand God’s eager intention to save man. When seeing that all the brothers and sisters were spending for God and preaching the gospel with great enthusiasm, I also wanted very much to perform my duty. But my child was too small and there was nobody else who could take care of him. So, I prayed to God to make a way out for me. Later, I learned that a sister was the head of a kindergarten and then I took my child there. She readily agreed to look after my child; what’s more, she refused to accept the tuition and food expenses. From then on, the sister not only took care of my child in the daytime, but at night sometimes. Her actions deeply moved me. I knew that it was all out of God’s love. In order to repay God’s love, I joined in preaching the gospel without hesitation. In the course of preaching the gospel, I saw the miserable looks of those who didn’t have the shining of God’s light, heard about their tearful and miserable life journey, and also saw the happiness and joy radiating from their faces after they received God’s end-time salvation, which even more stirred up my enthusiasm to preach the gospel. I made a resolution that I would preach God’s gospel to more people who lived in darkness and thirsted for light! However, just at that time, the CCP government frenziedly persecuted and arrested the brothers and sisters, and I also suffered that affliction.
On the morning of December 21, 2012, we, over ten brothers and sisters, were having a meeting in a host home. Suddenly, there was a rapid knocking and shouting, “Open up! Open up! We’re checking the room!” Barely had a sister opened the door when six or seven evil policemen with batons in hands rushed in aggressively. They separated us rudely and then began to rummage through the boxes and chests. A young sister went forward to ask them, “We’re visiting our friends. We didn’t break the law. By what right do you check our room?” One of the evil policemen said fiercely, “Behave yourself! Stand still as I told you. Shut up if I don’t let you speak!” After saying that, he violently threw the sister to the floor. And he threatened, “I’ll beat you again if you resist!” The sister’s fingernail was broken immediately and her finger bled. Seeing the evil policemen’s ferocious manner, I was indignant and kind of scared. So, I prayed silently, asking God to give me strength and faith and keep me so that I could stand testimony. After the prayer, my heart calmed down a lot. The evil policemen confiscated many gospel materials and books of God’s word. After that, they pushed us into the police cars.
As soon as we arrived at the police station, the evil policemen took away all the things from us and asked about our names and addresses and who the church leaders were, and so on. I was afraid that I would get my family involved, so I didn’t say anything. Another sister also said nothing. Then the evil policemen regarded the two of us as heads and were going to interrogate us separately. At that time, I was very scared, because I had heard that the evil policemen were very fierce to nonlocal people. Now I was listed as the prime one to be interrogated, so definitely I would be in trouble. Just when I was very upset and lived in fear, I heard the young sister next to me praying, “O God, you’re our strong tower and our shelter. Satan is under your feet. I’m willing to live by your word and stand testimony to satisfy you!” At those words, I was enlightened in my heart, “Right, God is our strong tower. Satan is under God’s feet. What shall I fear? As long as I rely on God and cooperate with him, I’ll surely overcome satan!” Immediately, I wasn’t afraid, and at the same time I felt very ashamed. When encountering things, the sister could live by God’s word and didn’t lose, while I was timid and cowardly, without any backbone of a believer in God. I thanked God for his love. He encouraged and helped me through the sister’s prayer, so that I no longer feared the evil police’s despotic power. I made a resolution inwardly, “Since I’m arrested today, I’ll certainly stand testimony to satisfy God and never be a coward to disappoint God’s heart!”
Around 10 a.m., two evil policemen handcuffed me and took me to a room for separate interrogation. One evil policeman questioned me in the local dialect and I couldn’t understand him, so I asked what he was saying. Unexpectedly, my question infuriated them. The evil policeman beside him roared, “You don’t regard us as man! …” While saying that, he rushed forward and grabbed my hair and pulled me back and forth. I was disoriented from his pulling, my scalp ached unbearably as if it would be torn off, and my hairs were strewn all over the floor. Then, the other evil policeman roared at me fiercely, “You refuse a toast only to drink a forfeit. Speak up! Who asked you to preach the gospel?” I was very indignant and then answered, “Preaching the gospel is my duty.” I had barely finished my word when he ran forward and grabbed my hair and slapped my face violently. While slapping me, he cursed, “I’ll see if you dare to preach again! I’ll see if you dare to preach again!” My face felt painfully hot from slapping and soon it became swollen. The evil policeman didn’t stop until he became tired. Then, holding the cell phone and the MP4 player searched out from me, he asked me about the church closely. I dealt with him by wisdom. Suddenly, the evil policeman asked, “You’re not local. You speak very good Mandarin. You’re definitely not an ordinary person. Confess honestly! What are you doing here? Who sent you here? Who is your leader? How do you contact the church here? Where do you live? …” When I heard that the evil policeman regarded me as an important person and resolved to get the information about the church from me, my heart leapt into my throat, and I kept calling to God to give me faith and strength. Through praying, I gradually calmed down. Then I answered, “I know nothing.” Hearing me say that, he pounded the table violently and roared, “You just wait! There’ll be a lot for you in a while!” After that, he picked up my MP4 player and fiddled with it. I was very afraid and didn’t know what methods he would use to deal with me next. So, I called to God desperately. Unexpectedly, the player played the recordings in Fellowship and Preaching About Life Entering In, “… Do you think such a person can be saved? He’s not faithful to Christ. He’s not of one mind and one heart with Christ. When encountering the tribulation, he breaks away from Christ. He goes his own way. He betrays God and follows satan. … When the great red dragon rules, in experiencing God’s work, if one can rebel against the great red dragon and stand on God’s side, and no matter how it persecutes, hunts, and afflicts him, he can absolutely obey God and be faithful to God unto death, such a person is a real overcomer and a person who is really of one mind and one heart with God.” When hearing the words “break away,” I was cut to the heart. I spontaneously thought that when theworked, there were many people who followed him and enjoyed his grace. However, when the Lord Jesus was crucified and the Roman soldiers wantonly hunted Christians, many of them ran away because of timidity. What a grievous thing to God! Today, what’s the difference between me and those ungrateful people? When enjoying God’s grace and blessing, I followed God with full confidence. However, now when I face the tribulation and need to suffer and pay the price, I’m timid and scared. How could I comfort God’s heart? To save us, these corrupt people, God, clearly knowing that he will encounter great dangers when he is incarnated and comes to China, the atheistic country, still comes to this fortress of demons without hesitation and endures the devil’s hunting and persecution the whole time and personally leads us to walk the way of pursuing the truth. For the sake of our salvation, he would rather sacrifice his everything and dedicate his all. But as a person who enjoys God’s salvation, why couldn’t I expend a little for God? At that time, I was greatly rebuked in my conscience. I really hated myself for being too selfish and worthless. Moreover, I felt deeply that God was full of expectation and concern for me. God deeply knew that my stature was small, and that facing satan’s despotic power, I was timid in my heart. So, he used the evil policeman to play the preaching recordings for me and made me understand his will and thus stand testimony to satisfy him in the tribulation and persecution. For a moment, I was moved by God’s love into tears, and I couldn’t help pouring out to God silently, “O God! I don’t want to be a person who breaks away from you and grieves your heart. I’m willing to share joys and sufferings with you. No matter how satan tortures me, I’ll resolutely stand testimony and comfort your heart.”
Suddenly, the evil policeman turned off the player with a snap and said to me fiercely, “Right, I’m the great red dragon. Today I’m here to torture you!” After that, they ordered me to stand on the floor barefoot, and handcuffed my right hand to an iron hoop in the middle of a cement block. As the block was low, one evil policeman asked me to bend and not to squat down or prop my leg with my left hand. After some time, I couldn’t stand and wanted to squat down. Then he shouted at me, “Don’t squat down! If you want to suffer less, you’d better confess quickly!” So I had to hold on. I didn’t know how long had passed when my feet became freezing cold and my legs were aching and numb. I really couldn’t stand and then I squatted down. The evil policeman lifted me up and brought a glass of cold water and poured it down my neck and I shivered with cold. Later, he removed my handcuffs and held me down on a wooden chair and then twisted my hands backward and handcuffed them to both sides of the chair. And he opened the window and turned on the air conditioner. Instantly, gusts of chilly wind came over me and I trembled with cold and couldn’t help becoming kind of weak within. In distress, I kept praying silently, asking God to give me the will to suffer and strength, so that I could overcome the weakness of my flesh. At that time, aof God’s word guided me within, “Although the flesh suffers a bit, do not accept satan’s thoughts. … Faith is a single-plank bridge. Whoever fears death can hardly cross it. Whoever gives up his life can cross it securely.” (from “Only If We Have True Faith Will We Have Testimony” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs) God’s words made me understand this: Satan tries to make me betray God through torturing my flesh. If I care for my flesh, I’ll fall into its trick. I kept repeating those words silently and warned myself that I should always guard against satan’s schemes and reject the thoughts given by it. Later, the evil policeman brought a large jug of cold water and poured it down my neck and all my clothes got saturated. At that moment, I felt as if falling into an ice cave…. Seeing that the evil policemen were so base and malicious, I was full of indignation in my heart: This gang of devils, in order to force me to betray God, can use any means; I’ll never let their schemes succeed! Seeing me trembling violently, an evil policeman grabbed my hair and forced me to look up at the sky through the window and dug at me, “Aren’t you cold? Ask your God to come to save you!” Seeing me not swayed, he poured another jug of cold water on me and turned down the air conditioner to the lowest temperature and had it blow on me. Gusts of biting air accompanied with the cold wind hit me again. I huddled myself up from the cold and was nearly frozen, feeling as if my whole body had congealed. At that time, my faith weakened little by little. I began to think wildly, “On such a cold day, I’m poured with cold water and blown by the air-conditioner. Are they going to freeze me to death alive? If I die here, none of my family will know….” Just when I fell into darkness, I suddenly thought of the suffering of crucifixion Jesus underwent for redeeming mankind. The Lord Jesus said, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28) I also thought of the words in a hymn of God’s word, “You will lay down your life willingly for loving God. No matter how God tries you, you will be able to give no thought to your life and willingly give up everything for God and endure everything for God.” (from “I Will Never Give Up Until I Gain God” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs) God’s words encouraged me greatly. Right! God can undergo all kinds of sufferings and even lay down his life for us. Shouldn’t I, a created being, endure all the sufferings for God all the more? Today I can bear testimony for God and this is God’s uplifting. How could I care for my flesh? Even if my life is taken away, I’ll be resolutely faithful to God. Immediately, I was full of passion and particularly encouraged. Then I prayed to God silently, “O God! You gave me the breath. I’d rather die than be a betrayer for an ignoble existence!” Gradually, I didn’t feel so cold any more, which even more made me truly feel God’s company and consolation. The evil policemen interrogated me from noon until around 7 p.m. As they saw that I kept silent all the time, they left me exposed to the cold air in the interrogation room.
After dinner, the evil policemen intensified the interrogation. They threatened me fiercely, “Speak up! Who’s your church leader? If you don’t tell, we have enough means. We’ll let you drink chili water and soapy water and eat shit, and we’ll strip off all your clothes and drag you into the basement to freeze you to death! If you don’t speak today, we’ll interrogate you again tomorrow. We have plenty of time!” The evil policemen’s words made me see clearly that they were not at all human beings, but a gang of devils in human form! The more they threatened me like that, the more I hated them from my heart. I was determined never to yield to them. Seeing that I didn’t give in, they brought a cloth bag and covered my head with it after soaking it in water. Then they held my head, not allowing me to move, and tightened the opening of the bag. As my hands were handcuffed to the chair, I couldn’t move at all. After a short time, I almost suffocated and felt that my whole body was stiff. The evil policemen still thought it wasn’t enough. They lifted the jug and poured the cold water over my nose, and threatened that if I still refused to confess, they would smother me. The wet bag was airtight, and additionally, the water was poured over my nose, so I felt it harder to breathe. It seemed that death was approaching me step by step. I prayed to God silently, “O God, you gave me the breath. Today I should live for you. No matter how the evil policemen torture me, I’ll never betray you. If you need me to sacrifice my life, I’m willing to obey your manipulation and arrangement without any complaint….” The evil policemen still kept torturing me…. Just when my mind became unclear and I almost stopped breathing, the evil policemen suddenly released their grip. I couldn’t help thanking God unceasingly in my heart. I truly experienced that God rules over everything and he cared for and kept me all along. Although I fell into the evil policemen’s hands, God only permitted them to torture my flesh but didn’t allow them to take away my life. At that moment, I had greater faith.
Experiencing the Cruel Persecution, I Believe in God More Firmly
In that most painful and difficult experience of my life, although I had pain and weakness and sometimes fell, God’s love had been accompanying me. When I was weak, God’s word inspired me and gave me faith and strength, making me break through the restraint of darkness and death. When satan carried out its schemes, it was God’s timely reminding and guidance that caused me to wake up from the dense fog, see through satan’s schemes and tricks, and stand testimony for God.
The Dark Prison Life Made Me Love God More Resolutely
Although that experience made me suffer a little physically, it benefited me a lot. It’s a turning point as well as a new start on my way of believing in God. I deeply feel that having believed in God for ten years, I have never, as I do today, tasted God’s love so deeply and truly experienced that the value and meaning of believing in God, following God, and worshiping God are so great.
In Prison at the Prime of Youth
People all say that one’s youth is the most wonderful and pure time in his life. Maybe many people’s youth is full of beautiful memories, yet even I myself had never expected that I would spend my youth in prison. Maybe you will cast a different look at me, yet I won’t regret it. Although my youth in prison is full of bitterness and tears, it is the most precious gift in my life, and I have gained a lot from that.
Experiencing the Suffering of Persecution, I Know More Clearly What to Love or Hate
“Faith is a single-plank bridge. Whoever fears death can hardly cross it. Whoever gives up his life can cross it securely. When man has the thought of timidity and fear, it is just the fooling of satan. It fears that we might pass the bridge of faith into God.” (from in The Word Appears in the Flesh) God’s words inspired and enlightened me: Yes! My being so afraid means that I have fallen into satan’s scheme.