Suffering of Great Value
By Zunxing, China
The first time was July 1, 1997. I was waiting for someone by the side of the road with two boxes of books of. A police officer walked over and ordered me to take the boxes to a police booth for inspection. I was really nervous, and thought, “If the police find out that I have all these books of God’s words, what sort of torture will they subject me to?” I silently prayed to God, asking Him to watch over my heart so that I had the faith to face the situation. The officer opened up the box once we got to the booth, picked up a book of God’s words, and yelled at me while he paged through it, eyes bulging, “You dare to try transporting these religious books right under my nose? I’ll show you what’s what.” Then he got out his handcuffs and put them on me, then picked up a rubber truncheon about a meter long and started hitting my right thigh with it like mad. I felt like my thigh bone was about to split in half and yelled out in pain. Seeing me like that, he dragged me outside and cuffed me to a concrete fence right in the blazing sun. After being exposed like that for an hour or so, three more cops came and took me to the County Public Security Sub-bureau. When we got there, one of the officers asked me sternly, “Where are you from? What’s your name? Where did these books come from?” I said I was transporting them for someone else and I didn’t know where they were from. He huffed and stood up, then smacked the table, came at me and smacked me really hard, then knocked me down with a single kick, and said viciously, “Tell us where the books came from, or I’ll beat you to death myself!” Another officer dragged me up by the hair and said menacingly, “You’d better behave. If you don’t tell us what we need to know, you’ll get your just deserts.” When I stayed silent, he slammed his hand on the table and shouted, “I’m not worried about you staying quiet. We can just send you to prison and that’ll be the end of you.” Then he winked at the others, who rushed over, kicked me to the ground, then swarmed me, kicking and punching. It hurt so much it felt like my bones were about to snap and there was a searing pain in my whole body. Then an officer hauled me up by the collar while another held the rubber truncheon against the back of my head while saying enticingly, “Just talk, since these books aren’t yours, what need is there to take the blame? If you don’t, you’ll end up doing prison time. Don’t you want to be with your wife and child? All you have to do is talk to us, and we’ll take you home this afternoon.” I didn’t say a word, so he went on to say, “Don’t be an idiot. Even if you don’t talk, we’ll say you confessed to everything, and your church won’t want you anymore after you get out.” I thought, “God sees all, and He’ll know if I was a Judas or not. But if I don’t talk, I’m certain to get a prison sentence. My daughter is just three years old, so if I’m in for a few years, my wife will have to take care of her on her own. That would be so hard on her. But talking to them would be being a Judas, that would be betraying God.” Through this internal tug-of-war, I called out to God nonstop, asking Him to guide me. Then I remembered this of God’s words: “You must suffer hardship for the truth, you must give yourself to the truth, you must endure humiliation for the truth, and to gain more of the truth you must undergo more suffering. This is what you should do. You must not throw away the truth for the sake of a peaceful family life, and you must not lose your life’s dignity and integrity for the sake of momentary enjoyment. You should pursue all that is beautiful and good, and you should pursue a path in life that is more meaningful” (“You Should Forsake All for the Truth” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). God’s words alerted me that the police wanted to use my emotions to lure me into betraying God and I couldn’t fall for it. I couldn’t be a disgraceful Judas for a bit of the fleshly comforts of family, but I had to stand witness and satisfy God. I thought about how God is the Creator and everyone’s future and fate are in His hands. Whether I was sentenced, how my wife and daughter might suffer, was all decided by God. All of my worrying and fretting over them wouldn’t do any good. Realizing this gave me a sense of peace.
When I kept quiet, a few of them pointed at my forehead and said meanly, “You’re just a religious nut, as stubborn as they come. Looks like we’ll have no choice but to send you to prison. I’ll ask you one more time—will you talk, or not?” I said, “I’ve told you everything I need to. You can ask a hundred more times and I’ll say the same thing.” Furious, he said to the two others, “Take him to the courtyard and let the sun cook him to death.” Then they handcuffed me in the courtyard in the direct sun. It was July, so the weather was really hot and the sun was roasting me to the point that I was pouring sweat. It was particularly painful when the sweat ran into the wounds on my body, plus a bunch of mosquitos kept biting me in the face and the feet. It was absolutely awful. I was at my limit, so I called on God nonstop, asking Him to give me the resolve to suffer so I could stand witness. I remembered this passage of God’s words after praying: “Do not be discouraged, do not be weak, and I will make things clear for you. The road to the kingdom is not so smooth; nothing is that simple! You want blessings to come to you easily, do you not? Today, everyone will have bitter trials to face. Without such trials, the loving heart you have for Me will not grow stronger and you will not have true love for Me. Even if these trials consist merely of minor circumstances, everyone must pass through them; it’s just that the difficulty of the trials will vary from one person to another” (“Chapter 41” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in). This was really comforting for me, and I saw that God uses these kinds of harsh environments to perfect our faith and our resolve to suffer. This was a blessing from God. From 8 to 12 that day, for 4 whole hours, they’d been torturing me by beating me, interrogating me, threatening and tempting me, and God had led me through all of it. At a time like that, I had to have even more faith in God, and I knew that no matter how they tormented me, I had to stand witness and satisfy God. I was there for 4 hours that afternoon. I was thirsty and hungry, and I felt dizzy. I felt like I had heat exhaustion.
They took me to a detention house after that, where the director gave me even more “special treatment.” He was sure to tell the cell boss, “You take ‘good care’ of this one.” Then over a dozen inmates rushed over and surrounded me, with their fists up in the air, and the boss ordered me to take my clothing off. I was black and blue all over, and one of the wounds on my leg was still oozing blood. A few of them got basins of cold water and splashed it on me, then got laundry detergent and rubbed it into my back, leaving my wounds burning, like I was being stabbed. Then they made me stand against a wall with my hands straight up and eyes and mouth open while they kept splashing me with another three basins of cold water. Water was filling my mouth and nose, and I was choking so much the world was spinning. I nearly fainted. They made me stand up straight again and punched me hard in the chest three times while shouting, “Heart crusher!” Before I had a chance to recover from the pain, they punched me in the back a couple more times. I couldn’t help but fall down to the floor, and the pain in my back and chest went all the way through my bones. The boss still wouldn’t let me go, but made me keep one hand on the floor while he straddled my back, told me to pose like an airplane and spin around. I could only do one circle before falling down. Then another inmate pulled me back up and said, laughing, “Look at you, you can only take three of our moves. If we try all 108 of them on you, you’re definitely done for.” Hearing this was terrifying, and I thought, “Just those three almost did me in. If they have 108, there’s no way I’ll live through that. Maybe they really are going to beat me to death in here?” I couldn’t hold my tears back at that thought. In my misery, I remembered a passage of God’s words: “Faith is like a single log bridge: Those who cling abjectly to life will have difficulty in crossing it, but those who are ready to sacrifice themselves can pass over, sure of foot and worry-free. If man harbors timid and fearful thoughts, it is because Satan has fooled them, afraid that we will cross the bridge of faith to enter into God” (“Chapter 6” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Pondering God’s words, I felt ashamed. Faced with the facts, I saw the ugly truth that I was cowardly and lacked faith. God rules everything, including our life and death. Whether they beat me to death wasn’t up to them, but it was up to God. I knew I had to believe that everything was in God’s hands and not fall for Satan’s tricks. To my surprise, once I’d adjusted my thinking, the boss said disinterestedly, “Forget about it, why bother?” At this, I let out a breath and gave thanks to God.
A few days later at midday while I was asleep, I suddenly felt a terrible pain in my back. I opened my eyes and saw four of the inmates had lit the plastic wrapper from a cigarette carton and stuck it to my back. I was rolling back and forth in pain, and I thought, “The police are using the prisoners to get at me, to make me betray God! How evil! If this goes on, if I don’t end up dead, I’ll end up disabled.” The more I thought about it, the more awful and helpless I felt. I prayed to God over and over, asking Him to guide me to have the resolve to get through this. Then I thought of a passage of God’s words: “When people are ready to sacrifice their lives, everything becomes trifling, and no one can get the better of them. What could be more important than life? Thus, Satan becomes incapable of doing any more in people, there is nothing it can do with man” (“Chapter 36” of Interpretations of the Mysteries of God’s Words to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh). The Communist Party was using every possible tactic to torture me physically so that I would betray God, and I couldn’t let it succeed. If I was ready to sacrifice my life, then was there anything I couldn’t suffer? God rules over all, so whether I lived or died was up to Him. I thought about how when thewas working and Lazarus had been dead for four days—his body had even started rotting, but the Lord Jesus brought him back to life with a few words. That’s a manifestation of God’s authority. I felt ready to put myself in God’s hands, and if I lived through it, I would still share God’s gospel to satisfy Him. When I resolved that I was willing to give my life, God arranged things to open up a way out for me. I was released the afternoon of July 21. When I got home, I found out that my wife had slipped someone 1,200 yuan, using a connection, and got me out. Over just 20 days, I’d been tortured to the point that I was a bag of bones. In my forties, I looked like an old man of 60 or 70. I knew that I survived only because of God’s protection and I thanked Him from my heart.
That was on March 27, 2003. I’d just gotten back to my host home after going out and sharing the gospel. Before long, six officers burst through the door. One of them handcuffed my hands behind my back before I had a chance to respond. He kicked me down onto the ground, and they started shocking me with electric batons over and over while kicking me nonstop. It wasn’t long before I was frothing at the mouth, and I vaguely heard an officer saying, “You ass, pretending to be dead!” Then he put his smelly leather shoe right over my mouth and ground his heel in a few times. I smelled a strong odor of blood and then lost consciousness before long. I don’t know how much time passed before I was woken by the sound of Brother Guo’s screams. I thought, “They’ve beaten us so badly already and who knows what they’ll do when they get us to the police station. Plus I already have a record. Are they going to beat me to death this time?” This thought scared me, so I quickly said a prayer to God. I thought of a line from His words: “Do not fear, theof hosts will surely be with you; He stands behind you and He is your shield” (“Chapter 26” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). This filled me with faith and strength. Thinking about having God by my side, my feeling of panic subsided. The police turned the whole place upside down and found more than 130 copies of God’s words, plus my pager and over 200 yuan of cash, all of which they took. They put us in a police car and then took us to the town police station.
The next day around 4 in the afternoon, a Mr. Xu from the Criminal Police Brigade came to question me. He asked me if I knew Brother Guo and Xiaozhang, who was in charge of church affairs. I said I didn’t. Then he smacked me across the face and kicked me down to the ground, and said savagely, “I’ll see how hard it is to open that mouth! I’ve had my eye on you for months. Last time you weren’t sentenced, but this time even the Municipal Party Committee knows what’s going on. If you don’t cooperate, you’ll never see your family or friends again.” Just then, another cop hit me with a police baton a bunch of times. Mr. Xu gritted his teeth and questioned me, “Where did those books come from? How did you meet these people?” My response was, “I don’t know where they came from and I don’t know the people you’re asking me about. I just share the gospel on my own.” After that, they took me to the County Public Security Bureau. I saw all sorts of torture implements in the interrogation room there: electric batons, rubber truncheons, handcuffs, ankle cuffs. There was a tiger bench, too. I was terrified by the sight of that. Then Mr. Xu pointed at Mr. Zhang who was in charge of the Criminal Police Brigade and asked, “Do you know who that is? He’s one of the master interrogators in the Public Security Bureau, and he goes around looking into difficult and strange cases. We hope you’ll cooperate with us and tell us all about what you know and where you’ve been. Otherwise, you’ll get what’s coming to you!” I couldn’t help but get a little nervous, so I said a prayer to God in my heart. Then Mr. Xu barked at me, “You know you’ll get arrested for sharing the gospel, so why did you do it?” I said, “It’s what God requires, and the Lord Jesus said, ‘Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature’ (Mark 16:15). By sharing the gospel, we help others hear the voice of God, accept God’s work of the last days and be saved. This is saving people, it’s a wonderful thing. Why does the Communist Party want to arrest us?” Angrily, he said, “There’s no Savior in this world. The Communist Party is God. The Party fills your bellies but you believe in God and go around preaching. This is going up against the Party and we’ll be able to set you straight!” Hearing him say all those blasphemous things made me angry, and I retorted, “God has existed since time immemorial. The Lord Jesus’ gospel reached the ends of the earth, and everyone knows this. If we were all believers, no one would do bad things …” Then Mr. Zhang winked at one of the officers who came over and smacked me in the face and kicked me down to the ground, then said viciously, “Shit, you’re even telling your gospel to us!” Then he picked up a rubber truncheon and started beating me madly with it. My pager started going off on the table right at that moment, and I immediately got nervous. That would be a brother or sister. Mr. Xu called the number back immediately, but they hung up right away and I was slowly able to relax. He got really angry when the call didn’t go through and started smacking me on both sides of the face while yelling at me, “I don’t think you just share the gospel. I think you’re a big leader in this church. That Guo guy who came in with you said he knows you, but you insist you don’t know him. You just need more of a beating!” Three officers came over, booted me down, and started kicking and stomping on me. The tip of one of their dress shoes got me in the ribcage and it hurt so badly I lost my breath. After a while of this, Mr. Xu roared at me fiercely, “You really don’t want to talk, but even if you’re as hard as a diamond, I’ll pry that mouth open!” I was scared to see how savage he was, and thought, “Either they’ll kill me or I’ll be crippled if they keep on like this. I’m our family’s main breadwinner. What will we live on if I’m disabled?” I started to weaken at this thought, so I said a prayer to God, asking Him to give me faith and the resolve to withstand this suffering. This passage of God’s words occurred to me just then: “When Moses struck the rock, and the water bestowed by Jehovah sprang forth, it was because of his faith. When David played the lyre in praise of Me, Jehovah—with his heart filled with joy—it was because of his faith. When Job lost his livestock that filled the mountains and untold masses of wealth, and his body became covered in sore boils, it was because of his faith. When he could hear the voice of Me, Jehovah, and see the glory of Me, Jehovah, it was because of his faith. That Peter could follow Jesus Christ was down to his faith. That he could be nailed to the cross for My sake and give glorious testimony was also down to his faith” (“The Inside Truth of the Work of Conquest (1)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I saw from God’s words that Job was able to experience these trials and hear God’s voice because he had true faith in God. Peter could stand witness for God because of his faith, too. God approved of their faith and blessed it. But every time I was in that kind of situation, I was afraid of being beaten to death, of becoming disabled. I just thought about my own personal interests. I didn’t have true faith in God or the resolve to go through suffering. How could I see God’s deeds that way? I knew I had to have faith in God and put everything in His hands, and no matter how they tortured me, I could never betray God or sell out brothers and sisters. They saw I still wasn’t talking, so the police took me to a detention house and interrogated me every few days. There were more than 20 times in the space of three months. They tried tempting me, threatening me, and brutally beating me, and tortured me in all sorts of ways. They beat me until every part of me was injured, inside and outside. Any touch felt like being electrocuted. It was unbearably painful. And at night, lying down was miserable, but standing up was terrible too. And there was the mental torture—I was constantly being woken up by nightmares.
Then there was one night in mid-June that’s really seared into my memory. Three officers put me in a police car and took me to a remote place after countless twists and turns. They locked me into a room on the fifth floor that was 70 or 80 square feet and out of the window I could see a little hill with lots of trees. Then Mr. Xu came in with a tiny electric baton about 5 inches long and said, sneering, “Hey, religious nut, I’m not worried you won’t talk tonight. Even if it’s made of steel, I’ll pry that mouth of yours open. No matter how much you shout, no one will hear you. Even if I beat you to death, we’ll just bury your body out in the hills somewhere and no one will ever know.” I felt kind of afraid when he said this, and thought, “These demons will do what they say. Are they really going to beat me to death tonight?” I said a prayer right away and another passage of God’s words came to mind: “What I desire is your loyalty and obedience now, your love and testimony now. Even if you do not know at this moment what testimony is or what love is, you should bring to Me your all, and turn over to Me the only treasures you have: your loyalty and obedience. You should know that the testimony to My defeat of Satan lies within the loyalty and obedience of man, as does the testimony to My complete conquest of man. The duty of your faith in Me is to bear witness to Me, to be loyal to Me and none other, and to be obedient to the end” (“What Do You Know of Faith?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I felt really embarrassed when I thought about this. When I wasn’t facing any sort of torture, I paid a lot of lip service to standing witness and satisfying God, but when it was a life or death situation, I just thought about my own personal safety. That wasn’t submitting to God or being devoted. I felt more guilty and regretful the more I thought about it and knew I couldn’t hurt and disappoint God anymore, but had to satisfy Him this time. So I said to them, “You’ve been questioning me for ages. I’ve said all I need to. You can keep asking but that’s all I’ll say.” Angry, the police had me stand in a squat with my arms out and put a rubber truncheon across my outstretched hands, and hung something off each end that weighed about a pound. Mr. Xu kept shocking me in the mouth with his baton, and every time would ask me, “Where did your books come from? Who’s your church leader?” Being shocked in the mouth like that made my whole body go numb and the sides of my mouth were twitching. I was crying out in pain. My clothing was soaked in sweat in less than five minutes. An officer behind me kept occasionally kicking in the crook of my knees, sending me down to the ground, and then they’d drag me back up and make me keep squatting. They’d alternate between this torment and interrogation, and they punched me in the head for not saying anything. They kicked me down again, punching and kicking me. Mr. Zhang said threateningly, “If you don’t tell us anything, we’ll beat you to death and bury you in the back.” This time I thought, “Even if they do that, I’m not saying a word.” Once I felt ready to give up my life, I no longer felt any pain when they electrocuted or kicked me. I knew this was God alleviating my suffering. Then another officer said, “Let him see what flying in mid-air is like.” Then one of them grabbed my hands while another grabbed my feet, lifted me up into the air and counted to three, then slammed me back down, They did this seven or eight times in a row. My head felt like it was about to split open and I was really disoriented. My back end was swelling up and I couldn’t move. Even like this, they wouldn’t leave me alone. They had me stand up against the wall without letting me sleep, and the moment I closed my eyes they’d shock me with the baton or smack me in the head with a book. I was within an inch of my life from their torture, and they just kept demanding to know who the church leader was. I never said anything. They realized they really weren’t getting anything out of me, so they had me sentenced to a year and a half of re-education through labor for “disrupting the social order.” When I got to the forced labor camp, the inmate boss there had me get on my stomach, then spanked me 30 or so times and wouldn’t let me make a sound. I couldn’t even sit down after that.
I had a month of physical training then, and since the police had been torturing and interrogating me for three months, my reactions and memory had gotten a lot worse. I just wasn’t able to learn the exercises, so the prison guards were always berating me and the inmate boss was worse. He’d hit my feet with a bamboo pole, leaving them red and swollen, and he even broke his pole on me. We had to go into the yard to run for an hour at 6 a.m., stand in a military stance and doing leapfrog exercises under the hot sun. After that month of physical training, they put me in the workshop making colored lights, where I had to work from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and I was supposed to finish about 1,000 feet of those lights every day. My vision isn’t great and the lights were really small and their wires really fine, so there was no way for me to finish. I’d be punished for not finishing. I had to stand in the hallway bent over 90 degrees at the waist, leaving my back sore and painful, my vision blurry, and I could hardly sleep at night. I couldn’t ever eat my fill and had to shower with cold water year-round. I was constantly getting colds and ended up with gout. Later on they assigned us to go work on building an underground shopping mall, and in one night three people had to dig out over 100 baskets of soil. They were really big, too. Each one could hold about 100 pounds. We were slaving over it 12 hours a day. It was much worse, much more exhausting than making lights. When I was working, I’d pray to God and lean on Him and I was humming hymns to myself nonstop. The hymn “How to Be Perfected” was really special to me at the time: “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” (Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). I felt so inspired every time I finished singing this song and I’d think about how going through all of this hardship was meaningful, that God was using this to perfect my faith. No matter how I suffered after that, I knew I had to rely on God and stand witness even if it cost me my life. It was only because I was driven by God’s words that I had the faith and strength to get through that, step by step.
In August 2004 my sentence was up and I was released. I could finally walk out of that prison, the Communist Party hellscape. Undergoing that kind of arrest and persecution by the Communist Party really clearly showed me how it’s an embodiment of Satan, the devil. It claims to respect religious freedom, but in fact, it madly suppresses, arrests, and persecutes Christians. Countless brothers and sisters can’t go back home, their families have been split up, and so many have been beaten to death or disability. It says sweet things while doing nothing but vile things. It makes itself a good name with lies, and is incredibly evil. This also let me experience how real God’s love is. It was God’s care and protection, and the guidance of His words that led me through every step of this hardship. The more the great red dragon persecuted me, the firmer I was in my faith. No matter what may happen to me after this, I’ll do my duty, spread the gospel, and bear witness to God.