My Pastor Stood Between Me and God’s Kingdom

January 18, 2022

By Ruan Wenshan, Vietnam

In November 2020, a brother invited me to join an online gathering. I was thinking that I always heard the same old sermons that didn’t provide spiritual sustenance at my church, so maybe a foreign pastor holding a service online would be better. I very happily agreed. Through a few days of fellowship I learned that the Lord Jesus has returned, and He’s expressing truths and doing the last days’ judgment work. He’s come to purify and save mankind so we can escape the bonds of sin, and make us people who truly submit to and worship God, and bring us into God’s kingdom. The sermons were wonderful, and on things I’d never heard before, with lots of new enlightenment that really nurtured me. I shared all this with a brother I was distantly related to, but surprisingly, not only did he refuse to listen, but he told my pastor all about it.

The pastor sent three church leaders to my house to find out more about my online gatherings, what denomination they were and where the preacher was from. I told them, “This isn’t any denomination. The Lord Jesus has returned and is doing the judgment work beginning with God’s house. I’ve read lots of Almighty God’s words. He tells us really clearly about the root of man’s sinfulness, how to escape sin and be cleansed, and brothers’ and sisters’ fellowship is really enlightening, too.” But the leaders said, “It doesn’t matter how good the sermons are. Any news of the Lord’s return is false, because the Bible says, ‘Then if any man shall say to you, See, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect(Matthew 24:23–24). The Lord Jesus clearly told us that false Christs would appear in the last days, so any faith claiming the Lord has returned must be false. How could you listen to them?” When they said this, I thought that the Lord Jesus said that so we’d have discernment over false Christs, not to make us so guarded that we wouldn’t even welcome the Lord’s return. In the online gatherings, Brother Chen with The Church of Almighty God had shared truths on discerning false Christs and some of Almighty God’s words. Almighty God says, “If, during the present day, there is to emerge a person who is able to display signs and wonders, cast out demons, heal the sick, and perform many miracles, and if this person claims that they are Jesus who has come, then this would be a counterfeit produced by evil spirits which imitate Jesus. Remember this! God does not repeat the same work. Jesus’ stage of work has already been completed, and God will never again undertake that stage of work. The work of God is irreconcilable with the notions of man; for example, the Old Testament foretold the coming of a Messiah, and the result of this prophecy was Jesus’ coming. This having already happened, it would be wrong for another Messiah to come again. Jesus has already come once, and it would be wrong if Jesus were to come again this time. There is one name for every age, and each name contains a characterization of that age. In the notions of man, God must always display signs and wonders, must always heal the sick and cast out demons, and must always be just like Jesus. Yet this time, God is not like that at all. If, during the last days, God still displayed signs and wonders, and still cast out demons and healed the sick—if He did exactly the same as Jesus—then God would be repeating the same work, and the work of Jesus would have no significance or value. Thus, God carries out one stage of work in every age. Once each stage of His work has been completed, it is soon imitated by evil spirits, and after Satan begins to follow on the heels of God, God changes to a different method. Once God has completed a stage of His work, it is imitated by evil spirits. You must be clear about this(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Knowing God’s Work Today). His fellowship helped me see that when the Lord Jesus said “There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders,” He was telling us that false Christs mislead people using signs and wonders. So anyone who shows signs and wonders and calls themselves God has to be a false Christ, an evil spirit. For God is always new, never old, and He never repeats His work. When the Lord returns, He’s not going to do the same work as in the Age of Grace. Almighty God doesn’t show signs and wonders in the last days, but He expresses truths to do the work of judgment beginning with God’s house to cleanse and save man. Almighty God has expressed so many truths—He is Christ, the Lord Jesus returned. So I countered, saying, “The Lord Jesus said that so we could discern false Christs. Christ is the One who can express the truth and do the work of salvation, but false Christs are evil spirits and cannot express the truth. They just imitate God’s past work and display some simple signs and wonders to fool people. The Lord Jesus said He’d return and told us to be alert and wait. There are certain to be people announcing His return, so if you just claim all of that is false, won’t you end up condemning the Lord’s return?” They didn’t know what to say in response to that, so they just threatened me, saying if I kept attending those online gatherings, my family wouldn’t get any help from them. In Vietnam, we ask for our pastors’ prayers for everything, big and small. If someone passes away or there’s some other life event, the pastors always help. If they don’t come, no one else will come help out, either. So I was pretty concerned when they said they wouldn’t help out anymore. How would we handle our family affairs? At the time, I wasn’t entirely certain of Almighty God’s work of the last days. I knew the church clergy were wrong, but they still had an impact on me because I didn’t understand very much truth. I was also worried about dealing with problems in life without the pastor’s help. But then I thought that through those gatherings, I’d seen that Almighty God’s words are all the truth, that they’re all from God. I felt He likely was the Lord Jesus returned. What if I listened to the leaders and missed out on the Lord’s salvation in the last days? I felt really conflicted and didn’t know if I should agree to stop attending the online gatherings.

I could see how worked up they were. If I kept attending the gatherings and listening to The Church of Almighty God’s sermons, I knew they wouldn’t give up. I figured I could pretend to agree, and then attend in secret after they left, so I told them I’d stop attending those gatherings. But they wouldn’t leave it at that. They insisted that I delete the contact information for people who believe in Almighty God. I didn’t want to, so I intentionally dragged my feet, thinking maybe they’d leave if I kept on not handing over my phone. But then my wife urged me to listen to them, that they were doing it out of love. I was thinking that if they really loved me, they should guide me to investigate God’s work of the last days. Instead they judged and condemned God’s new work and kept me from reading Almighty God’s words. Weren’t they afraid of ruining my chance to welcome the Lord? Was that love? It was getting later and later and they still wouldn’t leave, insisting I hand over my phone. Finally, left with no other option, I gave it to them and they erased the entire group of brothers and sisters from The Church of Almighty God and blocked all of them. They warned me that if I went against them and kept listening to their sermons, they’d kick me out of the church. Hearing that did scare me. If I kept attending those gatherings and something happened in my family, what would we do without their help and support? What would our kids do if my wife got mad at me over this, if we weren’t getting along? I felt miserable at the thought of that, so I forced myself to say, “I’ll stop attending.” A leader smiled and said, “There you go. Just keep attending our church services.”

After leaving the online group, I had no choice but to go back to the old church. Back at church, the pastor was always talking about either grace or offerings, or he’d just randomly pick some verses to talk about. He was always saying the same old things without any new enlightenment. Sometimes when he didn’t know what to say he’d just tell a joke. It wasn’t remotely beneficial for my life, and some believers would even nod off in service. And the pastor only prayed for the parishioners who gave more offerings, ignoring the ones who didn’t have much to give, not praying for them. Seeing this made me think of the brothers’ and sisters’ fellowship from online gatherings. They said that the religious world is bleak, and with God doing new work, the Holy Spirit isn’t working in churches from the Age of Grace. Without the Holy Spirit’s work, the pastors’ sermons are dry and repetitive, and couldn’t provide for people. Thinking over this, I knew in my heart that the church really didn’t have the Holy Spirit’s work. Our church had always had such enthusiasm, but now we barely wanted to drag ourselves to the services. I thought back on how much light the fellowship of The Church of Almighty God members contained, how nurturing it was for me. I’d been listening to the pastor’s sermons all those years, but I still wasn’t clear about God’s plan for salvation, how He worked in the Ages of Law and Grace, what the fruits of His work were, or how God judges people in the last days. I just knew I needed faith. Since hearing about Almighty God’s words, I’d learned about all the mysteries of God’s work, and my fellowship with the others helped me understand God’s work more and more. I saw The Church of Almighty God really did have the Holy Spirit’s work and Almighty God’s words were all the truth. I could see Almighty God very likely was the Lord Jesus returned. Thinking back on everything I’d gained from the online gatherings really warmed my heart. I thought to myself that I knew God had returned to do new work. If I didn’t join those gatherings to look into it, I might miss my chance at salvation. I was dying to join those brothers and sisters for more gatherings, but I couldn’t, because the leaders had erased all their contact information. My spirit was starving, and I felt like I’d lost the most valuable thing on earth. I felt miserable, empty, and in pain. I prayed every single day, asking God to show me a way out. And thank God, He did hear my prayers. Before long, a sister from Laos and another brother on Facebook got in touch with me. They told me that during those few days we’d been out of touch, they’d been really worried about me, trying to find me. I was really moved and grateful to God. I could feel God’s love, and that He really puts His utmost into our salvation, never abandoning us! Worried I’d be feeling negative and weak, they sent me some of Almighty God’s words. One passage really impacted me. Almighty God says, “God does His work, God cares for a person, looks upon this person, and all the while Satan dogs His every step. Whomever God favors, Satan also watches, trailing along behind. If God wants this person, Satan would do everything in its power to obstruct God, using various evil ploys to tempt, disrupt and wreck the work God does, all in order to achieve its hidden objective. What is this objective? It does not want God to gain anyone; all those that God wants it wants for itself, it wants to occupy them, control them, to take charge of them so they worship it, so they join it in committing evil acts. 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). The sister fellowshiped that we could see from God’s words that even though there are people disrupting us and standing in our way, behind that is actually a battle between God and Satan. God is working to save us while Satan is using all sorts of people to oppress and block us so that we’ll deny and betray God, and lose God’s salvation of the last days. This is Satan’s sinister intention. This is when we need to stand up and discern these people and things, and choose our own path of faith. Since we’ve heard God’s voice, we have to closely follow His footsteps. This is the only way to stand firm on the true way. Her fellowship enlightened me. The leaders didn’t want me attending online gatherings and they deleted everyone’s contact information supposedly to keep me from being misled, and this appeared to come from a place of love and helpfulness. But in fact, they were standing in my way, keeping me from welcoming the Lord, trying to drag me back into the religious world so I’d lose God’s salvation of the last days. The clergy’s disruptions also revealed how paltry my faith was, how weak-kneed I was. I just handed my phone over to the clergy and let them cut off contact with the others, and I went right back to the old church. I was living in darkness, unable to gain the slightest spiritual sustenance. I’d nearly followed the pastor and given up the true way—how frightening! I couldn’t bend to Satan again. I resolved to keep reading Almighty God’s words, no matter what the clergy did. A brother sent me a few video testimonials after that about things like brothers’ and sisters’ persecution by the Chinese government, and how they’d stood witness through terrible torture. That’s true faith. By comparison, I just folded with a little disruption from the clergy. I had a long way to go! I knew I had to lean on God to get through all of that, and I had to stand strong no matter how my family rejected me or the clergy oppressed me. I resolved to keep going online for sermons and gatherings.

The clergy did a lot more things later on to keep me from joining online gatherings. They even lied to me, saying, “We’ve been put in place by God to watch over His sheep, so we are personally responsible for you. That’s why we have to stay on top of your online gatherings, and deleting those contacts was for your own good. If we don’t watch over God’s sheep, the Lord will judge us when He returns.” I remembered something a brother said in an online gathering about whether the clergy were appointed by God. He said, “There are words from God to serve as a basis for anyone put in place by Him. In the Age of Law, when Jehovah God put Moses in place for the Israelites, He personally told Moses, ‘Certainly I will be with you; and this shall be a token to you, that I have sent you: When you have brought forth the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain(Exodus 3:12). In the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus spoke as proof of tasking Peter with shepherding the churches: ‘And I say also to you, That you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven(Matthew 16:18–19). ‘Feed My sheep(John 21:16). We can see that God personally bears witness to those He establishes and uses. They have God’s words as proof. Without that, there has to be proof of the Holy Spirit’s work, at the least. Do the clergy have any proof from God’s words that they were put in place by Him? How about the Holy Spirit’s work?” This gave me a certain confidence. I knew that God never said that He put clergy members in place, and though Paul said “the Holy Spirit has made you overseers,” Paul’s words weren’t God’s words, so they can’t be used as a basis. Their claim just didn’t hold water! And I’d recently realized that the clergy didn’t have the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment in their sermons. They weren’t sharing God’s will or guiding us to put the Lord’s words into practice. They totally lacked the Holy Spirit’s work. This showed that they weren’t appointed by God, but by man. In my faith, I had to listen to God’s words and follow Him, not listen to or follow any man. Seeing I wasn’t responding, the pastor got mad and scolded me: “Anyone wanting to share a gospel has to go through us first. Without our approval, it’s a false way. You can’t listen to it!” I retorted, “God is the Creator and He does His own work. He doesn’t need any human’s approval. The Lord has returned. We listen to God’s voice and follow Him—why would we need your approval?” I was thinking that they really thought too much of themselves, that they were really arrogant! Refusing to listen to Almighty God’s words or investigate His work, but just passing judgment was just like the Pharisees’ attitude toward the Lord Jesus’ work. They didn’t have any reverence for God and didn’t have any love for the truth.

After that they lied to my wife, telling her I’d been led astray onto a false way. She didn’t have any discernment over them, so every time I joined an online gathering she’d get really angry and say we were on two different paths, that she’d divorce me if I kept going to those gatherings. I was feeling really weak and miserable at that time. I thought, if I compromised and stopped attending gatherings, I’d lose God’s salvation. But if I kept on attending, she’d divorce me, and then what about our little kids? I prayed to God in my helplessness, “God, please strengthen my faith. Help me overcome these trials and lead me along the path in front of me.” Then I remembered something the Lord Jesus said: “He that loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: and he that loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me(Matthew 10:37). God’s words showed me that my love for my wife and children surpassed my love for God, that I wasn’t worthy of Him. I silently resolved that even if my wife did divorce me, I’d keep following Almighty God. When my wife tried to stand in my way after that, she didn’t have any effect on me.

The pastor later got my father-in-law involved in his attempts to keep me from gatherings. My father-in-law was a big drinker and didn’t really go to church very often, but the pastor invited him to a service and lied, telling him that after believing in Almighty God, they’ll break your legs if you try to leave the church. Hearing that from her dad, my wife came home and started yelling at me. I told her there was no basis for what the clergy had said. No one in the whole world has had their legs broken for not accepting God’s work of the last days. It was a rumor started by the Chinese Communist government, and they’re an anti-God, oppressive government. A pastor once told me that another pastor was bringing some Bibles back from the US, and the police confiscated them at the Chinese border. The CCP doesn’t allow faith in God. Now that the Lord has returned and He’s appeared in China, they’re hounding and persecuting believers of Almighty God. How can we believe anything such an anti-God, atheistic government says? I’d been joining online gatherings and reading lots of Almighty God’s words, which are rich and plentiful, and they reveal the mysteries of God’s work, plus man’s corruption and sinful nature so we can know ourselves, etc. The more I read these things, the more enlightened I feel and the more I feel this is God’s voice. I told her I was certain that Almighty God is the Lord Jesus returned. The Lord Jesus has returned and we need to keep up with God’s footsteps. Why would I go back to the old church? My wife didn’t have anything more to say to that, but as soon as she attended the services and listened to the pastor’s rumors, she’d argue with me when she got home. Before I’d always thought of the clergy as people who loved God and had love for me, too, but since they found out about me seeking God’s new work, they’d been doing everything they could to stand in my way, just trying to drag me back into their religion. I finally saw their true faces. I remembered the Lord Jesus’ words cursing the Pharisees: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering to go in(Matthew 23:13). “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves(Matthew 23:15). The Pharisees seduced people into the religion to have them controlled within their grasp, and when the Lord Jesus came, they saw how powerful and authoritative His work and words were, but they clung to the literal Scripture and didn’t seek the truth, afraid their livings would be endangered if people followed Jesus. So they spread rumors smearing and condemning the Lord Jesus and ultimately had Him crucified. Aren’t today’s pastors exactly the same as those Pharisees? They’re also trapping believers in their churches, keeping them under their control, not letting them hear God’s voice and welcome the Lord. It’s so evil! It reminded me of a passage of Almighty God’s words I saw in a gathering. Almighty God says, “There are those who read the Bible in grand churches and recite it all day long, yet not one among them understands the purpose of God’s work. Not one among them is able to know God; still less can any one among them accord with God’s will. They are all worthless, vile people, each standing on high to lecture God. They willfully oppose God even as they carry His banner. Claiming faith in God, still they eat the flesh and drink the blood of man. All such people are devils that devour the soul of man, head demons that deliberately get in the way of those trying to step onto the right path, and stumbling blocks impeding those who seek God. They may appear of ‘sound constitution,’ but how are their followers to know that they are none other than antichrists who lead people to stand against God? How are their followers to know that they are living devils dedicated to the devouring of human souls?(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. All People Who Do Not Know God Are People Who Oppose God). God’s words show the clergy’s true, anti-God faces. God has come in the last days to save mankind, and not only do the clergy refuse to seek and investigate, but they even fight and condemn Him, spreading rumors and lies, sealing off the churches, keeping believers from seeking the true way. They’re not welcoming the Lord or getting into God’s kingdom, and they’re keeping us from accepting God’s salvation, ruining our chances of entering the kingdom. They’re the demons mentioned in God’s words who eat man’s flesh and drink man’s blood, the monsters keeping people from the true way.

They kicked me out of the church because I wouldn’t follow them. The leaders told me that they wouldn’t help me if I ran into any problems. Then I really saw that those clergy don’t love the truth or hear God’s voice. They’re not God’s sheep. Following them in my faith would be the blind leading the blind, and we’d all be ruined. I feel so fortunate that I could be freed from those false shepherds and find God’s footsteps.

I read more of Almighty God’s words in the days that followed and heard more testimonials from brothers and sisters. I felt so spiritually sustained and edified, more than ever before in my 10 years of faith. I felt that being born in the last days and being able to welcome the Lord’s return was such a tremendous blessing! I wanted to share this wonderful news with more people who hadn’t come before God yet, but the clergy warned me not to share the gospel with other church members, or they’d report me to the authorities and have me arrested. I said, “Aren’t you afraid of going against God?” One of them, a Mr. Zhao, responded coldly, “If this really is God’s work, then we’ll be the Pharisees this time and let God punish us for generations.” By saying this kind of thing, aren’t they knowingly going against God and offending His disposition? Their arrogance and total lack of fear for God showed me even more clearly how they hate the truth and are enemies of God. By working against God that way, ultimately they’ll be punished by God just like the Pharisees!

I gained really clear discernment over them after that. They couldn’t stand in my way anymore, and I was more determined to follow Almighty God. Now I’ve taken on a duty in The Church of Almighty God. My wife got curious when she saw how firm I was in my faith and started looking into it on her own. She also accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days after reading His words, and now she’s sharing the gospel. I’m grateful for Almighty God’s salvation and I want to put my all into doing my duty and repaying God’s love.

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