Praise Through Desperate Times
By Dong Mei, China
One day in December of 2011 at around seven in the morning, I was taking inventory of the church with a sister when over ten police officers suddenly stormed in and yelled: “Nobody move!” They then started forcibly searching us like a bunch of bandits and went through every room, searching through and overturning everything. In no time at all, the place was an utter mess. Among other things, they found some church possessions, 3 bank cards, savings account receipts, a computer, and a cell phone and they seized everything. Then they took us to the police station.
That afternoon, the police arrested another 3 sisters and locked us all in a room. We weren’t allowed to talk and that night they didn’t let us sleep. Seeing those sisters locked up and thinking about how the church would take a financial hit, I felt awful and silently prayed to God: “Dear God! I really don’t know what to do in this situation. I pray that You help quiet my heart.” After prayer, a passage of God’s word came to mind: “You know that all things in the environment that surrounds you are there by My permission, all planned by Me. See clearly and satisfy My heart in the environment I have given to you” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 26). My mind slowly quieted down and I realized that everything that was happening that day was with God’s permission and I should bear witness for Him. Once I understood God’s intention, I again prayed to Him, saying: “Dear God! I’m willing to submit to Your orchestrations and arrangements and stand witness for You, but my stature is small, so I pray that You give me faith and strength.” On the morning of the second day, the police interrogated us individually. The police officer interrogating me said smugly: “I know you’re a church leader. We’ve been monitoring you for the past five months …” When he described to me in detail how they had been monitoring me, I was taken aback and thought: “The CCP has put all this time and energy into catching and arresting us, and now that they know I’m a church leader, they definitely won’t let me off easy.” I quietly prayed and made a resolution: “I would rather die than betray God like Judas.” When the interrogating didn’t yield results, they assigned someone to monitor me and keep me from sleeping.
On the third day of interrogation, the head officer opened up his computer and showed me some information that libeled and blasphemed God. He also grilled me on the location of the church’s funds. When I didn’t respond, he blew up in a rage, cussing me out and threatening me saying: “If you don’t want to talk that’s fine. We can keep you here as long as we want and torture you whenever we please.” Late that night, the torture began. They pulled one of my arms up over my shoulder and then down behind my back. They pulled the other arm behind my back and then lifted it upwards. Then they stepped on my back and pulled my hands together hard and cuffed them together. I cried out in pain. It felt like the muscles and bones of my shoulder were being ripped apart. All I could do was kneel on the floor with my head on the ground, unable to move. I thought that maybe my cries would make them ease off, but instead, those cops actually stuffed a tea cup between my cuffed hands and my back. It felt like my bones were breaking. I was in so much pain I could barely breathe and cold sweat started dripping down my face. Then one of the officers saw an opportunity and said: “All you have to do is say one name and we’ll let you go.” I silently called out to God to protect my heart, and just then a hymn came into my head: “God incarnate suffers, how much more should I, a corrupt person! Should I yield to dark powers, how would I see God? When I remember Your words, they make me long for You. Whenever I see Your face, I fill with guilt and respect. How could I abandon You, seeking so-called freedom? Ready to suffer, to repay Your hurt heart” (Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs, Awaiting God’s Good News). I was very moved by the hymn. I thought of how God had incarnated and come to this world to save us, how He had suffered persecution and pursuit by the CCP and had been resisted and condemned by humanity. God is holy and should not have to suffer, but He silently endures in order to save us all. So what was a little suffering for someone like me who had been corrupted by Satan? If I couldn’t endure the pain and gave in to Satan, wouldn’t I be ashamed to show myself before God? Thinking of all this I felt bolstered by an inner strength. The officers tortured me for about an hour and when they finally loosened the cuffs, I limply collapsed to the floor, but they just yelled at me: “If you don’t talk, we’ll cuff you behind the back again!” I looked at them for a second and didn’t respond. Right after that, an officer came and cuffed me behind the back again. I got a little scared anticipating that excruciating pain and so I continually prayed to God. Amazingly, when the officer went to pull my arms behind my back, my arms wouldn’t move and I didn’t feel any pain. They exhausted themselves pulling at my arms but didn’t manage to cuff me. Out of breath, they said: “You’ve got a lot of fight in you!” I knew this was God guarding me and granting me with strength.
I somehow made it to dawn of the next day. Thinking back to how those officers tortured me still gave me chills. They threatened me, saying that if I didn’t talk, they’d take me into some remote forest and execute me and whenever they made a new arrest, they’d tell them that I’d betrayed the church, so that my reputation would be ruined and my brothers and sisters would hate and abandon me. This all made me feel a bit cowardly and weak. I thought: “I’d be better off dead. At least then I won’t betray God like Judas and won’t be abandoned by my brothers and sisters, I can even be free of the suffering and torment of my flesh.” So I waited until the officers monitoring me weren’t looking and then I bashed my head against the wall with all my might. But I only managed to make myself dizzy, I didn’t die. Just then, I thought of God’s words which say: “When others misinterpret you, you are able to pray to God and say: ‘O God! I do not ask that others tolerate me or treat me well, nor that they understand or approve of me. I only ask that I may be able to love You in my heart, that I may be at ease in my heart, and that my conscience may be clear. I do not ask that others commend me, or hold me in high regard; I only seek to satisfy You from my heart; …’” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only by Experiencing Refinement Can Man Possess True Love). That’s right. God scrutinizes our hearts and minds. If the officers falsely accused me and my brothers and sisters misunderstood and abandoned me because they didn’t know the truth, this was all with God’s best intentions. God was testing me and perfecting my faith. I should accept God’s scrutiny, stand witness and satisfy Him. Once I had seen through the demon’s plot, I suddenly felt very ashamed and guilty. I saw how lacking my faith in God was. If my flesh suffered even just a little, I couldn’t stand my ground and wanted to escape the situation through death. How weak of me! The officers were threatening me to make me betray God, and if it hadn’t been for God’s protection, I would have fallen for Satan’s plot. Turning over God’s words, I gained clarity. I didn’t want to die, I wanted to live my life, stand witness and humiliate Satan.
The two officers monitoring me asked me why I hit my head on the wall. I said that I’d been hit by another officer. One of the officers laughed and said: “We’re mostly just here to educate you, don’t worry, I promise we won’t let them hit you again.” When he said that, I thought: “These two officers aren’t so bad. They’ve treated me pretty well this whole time.” And so I let down my guard. Just then, I thought of God’s words which say: “At all times, My people should be on guard against the cunning schemes of Satan, guarding the gate of My house for Me; … so as to avoid falling into Satan’s trap, at which time it would be too late for regrets” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God’s Words to the Entire Universe, Chapter 3). God’s words reminded me that the demon’s plots come in many forms. I can’t be deceived by their outward appearance, I’ve got to be on guard at all times. To my surprise, they quickly showed their true colors. One of the officers started saying libelous things about God, and the other sat by my side patting my thigh, while giving me a seductive look and asking about the church’s funds. At night, he even groped my chest when I dozed off. When they started to show their true colors like this, I was furious. I saw that these supposed People’s Police were nothing but a bunch of thugs and bandits. They did such despicable things!
For the next few days, the officers rotated on shifts and didn’t let me sleep. They also interrogated me on the location of our church funds. When I wouldn’t tell them, their frustration turned into anger, and one of them started slapping me hard across the face over and over. My face swelled up and went numb from the beating. Because I still hadn’t given them what they wanted, they didn’t let up on their torment. One night, a head officer shouted at me: “You’re a stubborn one. Trying to test my patience, aren’t you? I know I can break you down. I’ve dealt with plenty that were more stubborn than you. I guess we’ll have to stop playing around if we want you to talk!” He then gave a command and several officers started the torture. They made me crouch on the ground, and stretch my handcuffed hands in front of my legs. Then they threaded a wooden pole in the space between my arms and legs, with my body curled up in a ball. They then lifted up the pole and rested it between two tables, leaving my whole body hanging in the air with my head upside down. When they first hung me up, my head started pounding, and I became short of breath like I was going to suffocate. Because I had been hung upside down, all of my weight was resting on my wrists. At first, to prevent the teeth on the cuffs from digging into my skin, I pulled my hands together and curled my body up in a ball, keeping tight in this position. But gradually, I got too tired to hold myself up, and my hands slipped from my ankles to my knees. The teeth on the cuffs dug deep into my wrists, causing searing pain. After being hung up for about a half an hour, I felt like all the blood in my body was pooling in my head, and my head and eyes were throbbing so hard I thought they’d burst. The cuffs had dug deep into my wrists and my hands had swollen up like balloons. I felt like I was on the verge of death and desperately cried out: “I can’t take it anymore, let me down!” But the officer just snarled: “No one can save you, only you can save yourself. Just give us one name and we’ll let you down.” Only when it was clear I was in very bad shape did they let me down. Then they forced some glucose syrup down my throat and continued the interrogation. I collapsed on the floor, squeezed my eyes shut and ignored them. To my surprise, those officers hung me up once again. This time my arms were completely exhausted, and so I just had to endure as the cuffs sank into my wrists, the teeth biting into my flesh. I cried out in agony and was too tired to struggle. My breath became faint, and I thought that this time I really would die. On the brink of death, I spoke my mind to God: “Dear God! Now that I’m really on the verge of death, I feel so scared. But even if I die tonight, I will still praise You. Oh God! I thank You for delivering me from this evil world and bringing me before You. You brought me into Your warm embrace when I was wandering and lost. Dear God! I’ve enjoyed so much of Your grace and abundant supply of life, but only now that my life is coming to an end have I realized that I didn’t fulfill my duty to repay Your love. Many times I’ve hurt and disappointed You. I’ve been like an unreasonable child that only enjoys their parents’ love, but never does anything to repay them. What I most regret now is that I never did anything for You, and I owe You so much. If I make it out of here alive, I will certainly fulfill my duty. Oh God, I pray that You give me faith and strength, and take away my fear of death so that I can steadfastly confront …” The tears streamed down my forehead, and all I could hear was the ticking of the clock, as if it were counting down my few remaining minutes. Just then, something miraculous happened. It felt as if the sun’s warmth enveloped me, and I slowly stopped feeling any pain. I thought of God’s words which say: “Of everything that occurs in the universe, there is nothing in which I do not have the final say. Is there anything that is not in My hands?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God’s Words to the Entire Universe, Chapter 1). That’s right. God reigns sovereign over our fates. It’s God’s decision whether I live or die. I should put myself in God’s hands and submit myself to His arrangements. After pondering God’s words, I felt serene and grounded, and I drifted off to sleep. The police were afraid I’d die, so they let me down and hurriedly gave me some water and glucose. During that time, while tottering on the brink of death, I witnessed God’s miraculous works.
The officers kept hanging me up periodically for the rest of that night and interrogating me on the whereabouts of the church’s funds. Because I wouldn’t tell them anything, they just kept tormenting me. I thought of God’s words which say: “Thousands of years of hate are concentrated in the heart, millennia of sinfulness are inscribed upon the heart—how could this not inspire loathing? Avenge God, completely snuff out His enemy, do not allow it to run rampant any longer, and do not permit it to kick up as much trouble as it wishes anymore! Now is the time: Man has long since gathered all his strength, he has devoted all his efforts and paid every price for this, to tear off the hideous face of this demon and allow people, who have been blinded, and who have endured every manner of suffering and hardship, to rise up from their pain and turn their backs on this evil old devil” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Work and Entry (8)). God’s words instilled me with so much confidence and strength. I would fight to the death with Satan. I must stand witness for God even if I died in the process. With the guidance of God’s words, I seemed to forget my pain. After that, each time they hung me up, God’s words encouraged me and gave me strength. The more they hung me up, the more clearly I saw their demonic substance, and the more resolute I became in my desire to stand witness for and satisfy God. In the end, they were completely exhausted and came together, saying: “Most people don’t last more than 30 minutes. She must be one tough specimen to last such a long time!” When I heard this, I was so excited and thought: “With God backing me up, you’ll never knock me down!” In my nine days and nights in the police station, the officers continually tortured and tormented me and didn’t let me sleep. The second my eyes closed they’d start rapping on the table with a wooden club and tell me to go stand or run. Sometimes they’d just yell at me. They wanted to wear me down and make me have a mental breakdown. After nine days, the police still hadn’t gotten what they wanted, so they took me to a hotel and forced my handcuffed hands down around my feet. Then they threaded a wooden pole between my arms and legs so that I was sitting curled up in a ball on the floor. For the next few days, they kept me in that position on the floor all day. The handcuffs dug deep into my skin and my hands and wrists became purple and swollen. My butt hurt so bad I didn’t dare touch it. It felt like I was sitting on a bed of needles. One day, one of the chief officers saw that they hadn’t made any progress, so he came up to me and slapped me so hard that two of my teeth came loose. In the end, two section chiefs from the Provincial Public Security Department came. As soon as they arrived, they undid my handcuffs, lifted me up on the couch and gave me a glass of water. They affected a sympathetic tone saying: “It’s been hard for you these days. They were just following orders, don’t hold it against them …” Their false chivalry made me grind my teeth in disgust. Then they opened up their computer and showed me some false evidence and made lots of blasphemous statements and accusations against God. I was so angry and wanted to argue with them, but I knew that would only make them blaspheme God even more wildly. In that moment, I truly felt I knew how agonizing it must have been for God to incarnate in the flesh, and how much humiliation He must have suffered to save mankind. I also saw how despicable and lowly the demon is. I silently vowed to thoroughly break ties with Satan and pledge my loyalty to God forever! After that, no matter how they tried to coax me, I just ignored them. The section chiefs couldn’t convince me and left in a huff.
In my ten days and ten nights in the hotel, the officers had me handcuffed with my arms around legs while crouched on the ground almost continually. From the time I was arrested, throughout my 19 days in the police station and the hotel, the officers never let me sleep. The best I got was a few moments of rest while they weren’t looking. As soon as one of the officers saw my eyes close, they’d pound on their table, kick me, yell out or order me to run. Each time I was startled, my heart violently shuddered and I was constantly on edge. Taken together with the torture, I was badly depleted and my whole body was swollen. I was seeing double, and voices and sounds seemed very far away. My reaction time also became very slow. It was only through God’s might that I made it through such incredible hardship. Just as God’s words say: “God is never absent from the heart of man, and He lives among man at all times. He has been the driving force of man’s living, the root of man’s existence, and a rich deposit for man’s existence after birth. He causes man to be reborn, and enables him to tenaciously live in his every role. Thanks to His power and His inextinguishable life force, man has lived for generation after generation, throughout which the power of God’s life has been the mainstay of man’s existence, and God has paid a price that no ordinary man has ever paid. God’s life force can prevail over any power; moreover, it exceeds any power. His life is eternal, His power extraordinary, and His life force cannot be overwhelmed by any created being or enemy force” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only Christ of the Last Days Can Give Man the Way of Eternal Life). Through this experience, I witnessed God’s power and authority. I thanked and praised God from the bottom of my heart. In the end, the officers didn’t get any information from me and so they sent me to the detention house.
On the way to the detention house, the two officers said to me: “You’ve done really well. You guys might be in the detention house, but you’re still good people. There are all kinds of people there: drug dealers, murderers, prostitutes, you name it.” I asked them: “If you know we’re good people, why do you arrest us? Doesn’t the country claim to have religious freedom?” They said: “The CCP is lying to you. We get our paycheck from the CCP, so of course we have to do what they say. We don’t have anything against you, we just have to arrest you because you believe in God.” After talking to them and thinking back on everything I’d experienced, I suddenly recalled a passage of God’s words: “Religious freedom? The legitimate rights and interests of citizens? They are all tricks for covering up sin!” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Work and Entry (8)). Through this experience, I came to see how the CCP promotes itself by deceiving the public. They claim to support religious freedom, but in reality they wildly arrest, suppress and brutalize believers in God, vainly attempt to prohibit God’s work. and shamelessly plunder church funds. All of this thoroughly exposes their truth-hating, God-hating, demonic nature.
I went through a lot of suffering and torture in the detention house, but God’s word was always encouraging me and giving me strength and faith. When I was put to work in the detention house, I would sing hymns and silently meditate on God’s love. I felt like God was closer to me than ever.
Later, the police withdrew all the money on three bank cards they confiscated. It made me really upset to see the church funds fall into their hands and I hated those demons with every cell of my body. They ended up trumping up an unsubstantiated charge of “disturbing public order” and sentenced me to a year and three months of reeducation through labor.
Through the CCP’s cruel persecution, I came to see their God-resisting and God-hating demonic essence and cursed and turned my back on them. At the same time, I also experienced God’s love and salvation. It was God’s words that guided me through the hardest days and nights, and helped me to survive Satan’s brutal abuse and persecution. Thank God!
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