Released From the Shackles of Home
By Cheng Shi, China
Not long after I received God’s work in the last days, I preached the gospel to my husband. It surprised me when, after he heard it, he found all kinds of false news reports aboutonline, all of which were slander and rumors fabricated by the CCP against The Church of . After that, he glared at me and shouted, “Look at this! What you believe in is ‘ ,’ which the CCP has run a crackdown on for years. The minute they arrest you, you’ll be sentenced and sent to prison. You’re not allowed to believe anymore!” And then he tore up all my books of God’s word. At the time, I was furious, but then I thought my husband might oppose me believing because he was momentarily deceived by the CCP’s rumors, but he would understand later. I knew, though, that no matter what happened, believing in God is the correct path in life, and I would never give it up. After that, my husband called me every day to track my movements. At the time, I was a graduate student, so to avoid his surveillance, I attended meetings near my school, and only went home on the weekends. At the end of 2012, when the CCP launched a campaign of more manic suppression and arrests against The Church of Almighty God, on the internet, television, and in newspapers there were rumors and fallacies condemning and slandering The Church of Almighty God everywhere, and they were arresting believers in God all over. My husband was afraid I would be arrested for believing in God, which might affect him and his family, his restrictions on me became more and more severe. He also threatened me, saying he would divorce me if I continued to believe in God. Hearing him say that made me very upset. In China, believing in God doesn’t just carry a risk of sentencing and prison for us, we also suffer persecution from our families. Things are so hard for us! I thought, if we divorced, what would happen to our daughter? For those few days, I had no interest in performing my duties. I was miserable.
After that, when one of my sisters learned about my state, she read me a passage of God’s word. It was very helpful to me, “In every step of work that God does within people, externally it appears to be interactions between people, as if born of human arrangements or from human interference. But behind the scenes, every step of work, and everything that happens, is a wager made by Satan before God, and requires people to stand firm in their testimony to God. Take when Job was tried, for example: Behind the scenes, Satan was making a bet with God, and what happened to Job was the deeds of men and the interference of men. Behind every step of work that God does in you is Satan’s wager with God—behind it all is a battle” (“Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God” in). made me understand that these difficult circumstances outwardly were my husband restricting and persecuting me, but actually this was Satan’s disturbance. God wants to save people, and Satan causes all kinds of disturbances and disruptions to make me betray God, lose His salvation, and eventually be dragged down to hell with it. Satan is so sinister and vicious! At the time, I prayed to God, “God, my stature is too small, so I ask that You give me faith. Even if I have to divorce my husband, I won’t betray You, and I won’t fall for Satan’s schemes.” After I prayed, it wasn’t so hard to bear, and I continued to spread the gospel and fulfill my duty.
At the end of that year, I was arrested at a meeting. The police also accused me of “disturbing social order” and detained me for 30 days. At my interrogation, the police from the National Security Bureau threatened me, “Your school already knows you’ve been arrested for believing in God, and they plan to expel you. But, if you cooperate with us and tell us what you know, we will speak on your behalf to the dean, and your graduate studies can continue. Think hard about it!” After they left, I looked at the cold iron bars of the cell, and I felt utterly depressed and miserable. If I was expelled from my school for believing in God, it would be a political issue. That mark would remain in my student record and police file, no hospital would ever hire me, and my dream of becoming a doctor would come to nothing. At just 30 years old, my studies, work, and future would be gone. How would I live in the future? How could I face the discrimination from my relatives and the ridicule of people around me? For a few days, I couldn’t eat or sleep well. During that time, I prayed to God about this every day. One morning, I found myself unconsciously humming aof God’s word: “You are a created being—you should of course and pursue a life of meaning. Since you are a human being, you should expend yourself for God and endure all suffering! You should gladly and assuredly accept the little suffering you are subjected to today and live a meaningful life, like Job and Peter. You are people who pursue the right path, those who seek improvement. You are people who rise up in the nation of the great red dragon, those whom God calls righteous. Is that not the most meaningful life?” (“The Most Meaningful Life” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). As I sang that hymn of God’s word, I felt especially touched, and I couldn’t stop my tears from flowing. I am a created being, and I should believe in and worship God. It’s natural and right that I do. God ordained that I was born into a family that believed in the Lord so that I would know of God’s existence from an early age. In the last days, God selected me and allowed me to hear the Lord’s voice and receive Him. He allowed me to receive the watering and supply of God’s word, accept its judgment and purification, and to receive God’s salvation. This is an incredible blessing! I thought of many people throughout the generations who have followed God. To spread God’s gospel, they suffered persecution and hardship, and many even gave up their lives. They all created beautiful, resounding testimony for God. That was very inspiring for me. I thought, if I give up believing in God in order to protect my own interests and future, then do I still have a conscience? Am I worthy of being called human? That thought gave me strength, and I swore an oath that no matter whether I was expelled or what my future and fate turned out to be, and regardless of how people around me rejected or slandered me, I would not betray God, and I would stand witness for God. At my final interrogation, I very calmly told the police, “If the school expels me, I only ask that you tell my husband to go to the school to collect my things.” When the police saw how determined I was, they left, looking very discouraged. I was very grateful to God.
After I was released and sent home, my husband angrily said, “The police told me that if you are arrested for believing in God again, it won’t just be a month of detention. This will affect me and our daughter as well. Our daughter won’t be able to go to university, get a good job, or work in public service. Don’t you understand? Because of your arrest for believing in God, I suffered for a month too. I can’t tell you how many times I cried, and I nearly got into a car accident. To get you out of prison, I went about begging for help and thoroughly embarrassed myself. I don’t ever intend to suffer like that again.” He also asked if I could stop believing, and if I could think more about my family. Beyond that, to stop me from contacting my brothers and sisters, he watched me like I was a criminal. He wouldn’t let me leave the house and didn’t give me any independence at all. When he went to work, he had his mother watch me. He called constantly to ask where I was and what I was doing. He also incessantly told me about various CCP revolutionary movements and the violent remedial methods used to let me know the consequences of disobeying the CCP and eliminate my ideas about believing in God. He also said, “I know the rumors the CCP fabricates about your church are false. You want to believe in God, and they don’t allow it. But if you disobey, they ruin your life. Look at the people who died so tragically during the Cultural Revolution and in June Fourth incident. If you offend the CCP, you can’t even escape abroad.” My mother-in-law joined in, saying, “The CCP is no good, but they hold power. We’re just ordinary people, and we’re not strong enough to resist them.” After that, I was expelled for my belief in God, and my husband blamed all the bad things that happened to our family on my belief in God. Whenever anything bothered him, he would scold me, mock me, and take digs at me. Facing that kind of life left me feeling very depressed, and on top of that, I couldn’t read God’s word or contact my brothers and sisters, so I was especially miserable, and I didn’t know when those days would end.
During that period, I often prayed to God to ask Him to enlighten me, guide me, and allow me to understand His will. One day, I remembered a passage of God’s word: “Perhaps you all remember these words: ‘For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.’ You have all heard these words before, yet none of you understood their true meaning. Today, you are profoundly aware of their true significance. These words shall be fulfilled by God during the last days, and they shall be fulfilled in those who have been brutally persecuted by the great red dragon in the land where it lies coiled. The great red dragon persecutes God and is the enemy of God, and so, in this land, those who believe in God are thus subjected to humiliation and oppression, and these words are fulfilled in you, this group of people, as a result. Because it is embarked upon in a land that opposes God, all of God’s work faces tremendous obstacles, and accomplishing many of His words takes time; thus, people are refined as a result of God’s words, which is also part of suffering. It is tremendously difficult for God to carry out His work in the land of the great red dragon—but it is through this difficulty that God does one stage of His work, making manifest His wisdom and His wondrous deeds, and using this opportunity to make this group of people complete” (“Is the Work of God As Simple As Man Imagines?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Yes, from God’s word, I understood that because the great red dragon loathes God and wildly resists Him, as believers in God in China, we are bound to endure much suffering, but this suffering is meaningful. God uses this kind of suffering and tribulation to perfect our faith and give us discernment. I thought, only because I believed in God, the CCP had detained me, had my school expel me, and used my family’s work and future to threaten me and force me to give up the true way. The CCP truly is evil! My husband tried to stop me from believing in God because he believed the CCP’s rumors and lies and feared their violent remedial measures. Personally experiencing the CCP’s persecution allowed me to see the CCP’s demonic essence of being ferociously evil and hating the truth. I thought, the more the CCP persecutes me, the more I will reject it, forsake it, and follow God to the end. Although I couldn’t read God’s word or contact my brothers and sisters, I believed God is faithful and He would open up a path for me.
Ten months later, I finally found a chance to contact the church. When I could finally read God’s word again, I felt very excited, and felt the preciousness of God’s word even more. The more I read, the sharper and more invigorated I felt. One day several months later, my husband found my devotional notebook in my room. When he knew I was still believing in God, he lost his temper and knocked me to the ground with one punch and then punched me at least 20 more times in the head. I was knocked half-unconscious and dizzy, and I had bumps the size of a pigeon egg on my head. I remember the cold fury on my husband’s face and how my 6-year-old daughter was so frightened she started wailing. “Don’t hit mom! Don’t hit mom! …” My husband grabbed me by my collar and threw me out the door as he said furiously, “If you keep believing in God, then get out of my house!” When I saw how my husband had changed, how cruel and ruthless he was, and how he didn’t care at all for our years together, I felt my heart break. What was most unbearable was seeing how afraid my daughter was of his violent temper. The instant he approached me, she thought he was going to beat me, so she ran in front of me and raised her little arms to protect me and said, “You stay away from mom!” Sometimes, when I was upstairs, as soon as my husband came near the stairs, my daughter screamed at him not to go up the stairs. Every time I saw my daughter’s face so full of fear and anxiety, the psychological damage of dealing with domestic violence at such a young age, it was like a knife twisting in my heart, and I hated the great red dragon even more. All these disasters were caused by the persecution of the Communist Party.
One day, when my husband came back after work, he took out his cell phone and said angrily, “Look, the CCP has arrested so many people again. Do you still want to believe? Do you have a death wish? You can believe in God, fine, but don’t drag me and our daughter down with you. If you are arrested again, our lives will become impossible. If I knew you would take the path of believing in God, I never would have married you.” What my husband said hurt me very deeply. I thought back on the previous period of time, how he had given me less freedom than a criminal only because I believed in God, how frequently he had beat me, and how this hurt my daughter, and I realized I couldn’t compromise anymore, so I agreed to my husband’s request for a divorce. When he saw that I insisted on continuing to believe in God, he called my brother and asked him to persuade me. My brother always loved me, and he was always proud of me, but because I was arrested by the CCP, I was expelled from school and forbidden from continuing my graduate studies. If I got divorced after that, I would complete my transformation into the village laughingstock. My brother would be so disappointed! I didn’t know how to face my brother, I cried out to God in my heart and asked Him to protect me so that I could stand witness for God, and so that no matter what the environment, I would never give up my belief in God. Then, I remembered a passage of God’s word, “You must possess My courage within you, and you must have principles when it comes to facing relatives who do not believe. For My sake, however, you also must not yield to any dark forces. Rely on My wisdom to walk the perfect way; do not allow any of Satan’s conspiracies to take hold” (“Chapter 10” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). That’s right. God created humankind, and belief in God and following God are natural and right. We must stand firm in the choice of our path, and we must not be fooled by Satan. We can’t let even the closest people interfere. So, after that, in front of my brother, my husband blamed me for all that happened with my belief in God. When my husband saw how calm I was, he raised his hand to hit me, but my brother stopped him. My brother calmly said to me, “You’re a grownup, and you can make your own decisions about your life. But you need to think about what happens to your daughter if you get a divorce. If you look at what happened to my daughter, you’ll know what will happen to your daughter. …” My brother’s words made me sad for a while, because I thought about his divorce, and how his daughter was often ridiculed and looked down on by the people around her. It’s such a shame for a child to be without a mother. I thought, if I divorce, won’t my daughter also become a motherless child? Won’t she suffer discrimination and ridicule from her teachers and classmates? Without me by her side, if she lived with her unbeliever father and grandparents, would she be able to walk the path of believing in God? When I thought of how young she was, I felt like I couldn’t bear to part with her.
I was honestly miserable during that period of time, so I prayed to God, “God, I can’t let go of my daughter. I always feel sorrow at the thought of her future. I ask You to enlighten me, guide me, and protect my heart.” After that, I read two passages of God’s word, and there, I found a path to practice. “Besides birth and childrearing, the parents’ responsibility in their children’s lives is simply to provide them with a formal environment to grow up in, for nothing except the predestination of the Creator has a bearing on a person’s fate. No one can control what kind of future a person will have; it is predetermined long in advance, and not even one’s parents can change one’s fate. As far as fate is concerned, everyone is independent, and everyone has their own fate. So, no one’s parents can stave off one’s fate in life or exert the slightest influence on the role one plays in life. … no one’s parents can assist one in accomplishing one’s mission in life, and likewise, no one’s relatives can help one assume one’s role in life. How one accomplishes one’s mission and in what kind of living environment one performs one’s role are entirely determined by one’s fate in life. In other words, no other objective conditions can influence a person’s mission, which is predestined by the Creator. All people become mature in the particular environments in which they grow up; then gradually, step by step, they set off down their own roads in life and fulfill the destinies planned for them by the Creator. Naturally, involuntarily, they enter the vast sea of humanity and assume their own posts in life, where they begin to fulfill their responsibilities as created beings for the sake of the Creator’s predestination, for the sake of His sovereignty” (“God Himself, the Unique III” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). There’s one more passage. “People’s plans and fantasies are perfect; do they not know that the number of children they have, their children’s appearance, abilities, and so forth, are not for them to decide, that not a bit of their children’s fates is in their hands? Humans are not the masters of their own fate, yet they hope to change the fates of the younger generation; they are powerless to escape their own fates, yet they try to control those of their sons and daughters. Are they not overestimating themselves? Is this not human foolishness and ignorance?” (“God Himself, the Unique III” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Yes, God created everything and has sovereignty over everything, and people’s fates are in God’s hands. Parents only raise children, they can’t change a child’s fate. I always thought I could influence and control my daughter’s life, that she could find happiness as long as I was by her side and that I could lead her down the path of belief in God. But on second thought, I didn’t even have control over my own fate, so how could I control my daughter’s fate? I thought of the fact that my daughter fell ill and passed out a few days ago, and I couldn’t help ease her pain at all, I could only stand by and watch. I could only beg God to protect my daughter. My daughter tripped while climbing and almost fell off the cliff. I couldn’t do anything at all. She was mysteriously saved by a dead tree at the edge of the mountain cliff. These facts made me understand, even though I took care of my daughter in every possible way, there was no guarantee she wouldn’t grow ill or suffer disaster. Once I understood these things, I felt a great sense of release. I realized I should put my child’s life in God’s hands and obey God’s sovereignty and arrangements. As a created being, this was what I should do.
Later, when my husband saw that I insisted on believing in God, he decided to divorce me. He asked me to move out of the house with nothing and refused to give me custody of our daughter. He even wanted to take away my visitation rights. When I asked him about the division of property, he tried to hit me over the head with a stainless steel cup. I used my hands to protect myself, like this, but my wrists were bruised, which made me unable to carry heavy objects for two months. He also hit my back with it several times, which caused me to cough violently for more than a month. After all of that, he seized the hundreds of thousands I had saved from work. He said, “You believe in God, don’t you? Then go to your God, ask your God to feed you and clothe you.” When I saw my husband being so unreasonable, I recalled God’s words, “If a man becomes infuriated and flies into a rage when God is mentioned, has he seen God? Does he know who God is? He does not know who God is, does not believe in Him, and God has not spoken to him. God has never troubled him, so why would he be angry? Could we say that this person is evil? Worldly trends, eating, drinking, and pleasure-seeking, and chasing celebrities—none of these things would bother such a man. However, at the very mention of the word ‘God,’ or of the truth of God’s words, he flies into a rage. Does this not constitute having an evil nature? This is sufficient to prove that this is man’s evil nature” (“God Himself, the Unique V” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). What God’s words revealed allowed me to clearly see my husband’s evil nature of resisting God. I thought back: At the beginning, when my husband learned I believed in Almighty God, he was particularly hostile, and he even tore up my books of God’s word. Later, he tried to stop me from believing in God and asked me for a divorce. After I was arrested and released, he treated me like a prisoner, didn’t give me any freedom and often viciously beat me. Sometimes he seemed like he wanted to kill me. When we divorced, he seized all of my assets to force me into desperation and make it impossible to live my life. His goal was to make me betray God. Now I clearly saw my husband’s nature and essence. He was a devil who hates and resists God. Living with someone like that, we would have nothing in common, I would have no freedom, and I would be beaten and live under restrictions. I thought, how could this be a home? These were nothing but shackles. This was hell.
After my divorce, I was no longer hindered and controlled by my husband. I was able to go to meetings and read God’s words normally, and I quickly took up duties in the church. I felt a deep sense of ease and release, and I thanked God for saving me.