Testimony Amidst Torture

January 18, 2022

By Liu Yi, China

My first arrest was in December, 2002. I was reported by a malicious person while I was out of town sharing the gospel with some religious folks. When the police came, they were punching and kicking me, then they handcuffed me and took me to an interrogation room at the county Public Security Bureau, where I saw handcuffs and big iron chains, plus torture devices like electric and rubber batons hanging on the wall. The police captain got a rubber baton down off the wall that was about 20 inches long, and he had this savage look on his face that really scared me. I didn’t know how they were going to torture me. My heart was pounding. Then this Bible verse suddenly came to mind: “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). God’s words gave me faith and strength. I knew my life was in God’s hands, that Satan didn’t have final say. I was willing to give myself to God and submit to His arrangements. I said a silent prayer, ready to lean on God to stand witness.

Then the police captain pointed at me with the rubber baton and said, “Did you know that Eastern Lightning is a major target the government’s fighting? China belongs to the Communist Party, and your evangelizing is disrupting social order and violating Party policies. So the government is sanctioning you people.” I said, “The Constitution guarantees religious freedom. Which law does my faith and my evangelism violate that made you arrest me? The earth, the universe, everything was created by God, and it’s right and natural that we believe in and worship God. Sharing the gospel with others is a good deed. God rules over man’s fates, so having faith and worshiping God is the only way to be free of Satan’s corruption and harm, and be saved by God. Society would be peaceful if everyone followed God, so how can you say my evangelism is disrupting social order?” Angry, he retorted, “You really have some nerve, daring to preach your gospel to me!” Then three officers started hitting me like crazy, leaving me bleeding from the mouth and nose. But the captain still wasn’t placated. He picked up the rubber baton from the table and started hitting me from behind, leaving me in terrible pain all over. They kicked me in the shins until they were bruised and swollen, and my feet hurt so much that I couldn’t put them on the ground. Then the captain asked me, “Where do you come from? How many people did you come to our county with? Who’s the leader? Answer our questions and we’ll send you home. If you don’t talk, I have ways to deal with you, and when I’m done, you’ll still go to prison.” Hearing this did scare me. I thought of someone from my village who had been arrested and imprisoned just for making a suggestion to the government. He ended up dying in jail. I was already covered with wounds from their mistreatment, so if they kept tormenting me in jail, would I die in there? These thoughts left me more and more scared and I didn’t dare follow that train of thought. I was thinking that if I told them a little bit, they might send me home and I wouldn’t have to suffer. Then at this thought, I remembered a passage of God’s words. “Toward those who showed Me not the slightest loyalty during times of tribulation, I shall be merciful no more, for My mercy only extends so far. I have no liking, furthermore, for anyone who has once betrayed Me, much less do I like to associate with those who sell out the interests of their friends. This is My disposition, regardless of who the person may be. I must tell you this: Anyone who breaks My heart shall not receive clemency from Me a second time, and anyone who has been faithful to Me shall forever remain in My heart” (“Prepare Sufficient Good Deeds for Your Destination” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I saw from God’s words that His righteous disposition will not tolerate offense and those who betray Him are punished into eternity. My suffering from being beaten and tortured was temporary, but if I betrayed God like Judas, I’d be punished forever. So I silently prayed to God, “God, thank You for protecting me from falling for Satan’s trick. Please give me courage and wisdom so I can stand witness for You before Satan.” The officer saw I wasn’t saying anything, so he grabbed me by the hair and shouted, “We can do this the easy way or the hard way. Are you going to talk, or what?” I ignored him, so he got the rubber baton and hit me in the leg a few times, then started hitting me all over my body. The pain was unbearable. I prayed to God in my heart, “Oh God, no matter how the police torture me, my life is in Your hands, and I will obey what You set up, whether it means life or death. As long as I have a single breath left, I will never yield to Satan, but will give testimony to You.” I remembered some of God’s words after my prayer: “Thus, during these last days you must bear testimony to God. No matter how great your suffering, you should walk until the very end, and even at your last breath, still you must be faithful to God and at the mercy of God; only this is truly loving God, and only this is the strong and resounding testimony” (“Only by Experiencing Painful Trials Can You Know the Loveliness of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I saw that God hopes we’ll give Him testimony through hardships and trials. Over the ages, saints and prophets have been sharing God’s gospel, some died by the sword, some were stoned to death. In the face of adversity and persecution, they offered up their own lives and bore resounding witness. I’d enjoyed so much watering and sustenance of God’s words, receiving a great deal from God, so I knew I should follow their example. No matter how those demons tortured and hurt me, I had to stand witness and satisfy God, even if it was my last breath.

They kept on torturing me, but no matter what they did, I didn’t say anything. They got more amped up the more they beat me, till every inch of my body was in agony and I was crying out, paralyzed on the ground. The captain, exhausted and short of breath, said, “If you keep wailing it’ll be the end of you! No one cares if we beat you believers to death. Are you gonna talk or what?” I didn’t make a sound. He grabbed the rubber baton then hit me really hard in the head three or four times. I yelled in pain and then lost consciousness. I don’t know how much time passed before they poured some cold water over my head and I gradually came to. A couple of officers dragged me to a long bench and cuffed my hands to its legs with studded handcuffs, then left the room. I thought of a passage of God’s words: “Do you truly hate the great red dragon? Do you truly, sincerely hate it? Why have I asked you so many times? Why do I keep asking you this question, again and again? What image is there of the great red dragon in your hearts? Has it really been removed? Do you truly not consider it to be your father?” (“Chapter 28” of God’s Words to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I’d never really understood the Communist Party’s essence before, and I was still taken in by its false image. I thought the police were there to serve the people, that they had a good side. But after personally experiencing their brutality and oppression, I saw that the Party is just a pack of satanic demons that hate and fight against God. They are bitter enemies to God and His chosen people, and I started to truly despise those monsters. The more they oppressed me, the more I rejected and turned my back on them, and was determined to stand witness and humiliate Satan.

Around 3 in the afternoon, four officers came back in, sloppy drunk, and the captain said with resignation, “We really don’t know what to do with these believers in Almighty God. They’re all drawn to that book, The Word Appears in the Flesh. It’s just crazy.” I saw that Satan had been shamed, and I thanked God over and over. Then a couple hours later, around 5 or so, they saw I still wasn’t talking and took me to a detention house.

When I got there, an officer took my handcuffs off. There were two bloody grooves in my wrists where they’d been, and the flesh was mangled. The chief of the detention house said to the other inmates, “You guys take good care of the new guy. He believes in Almighty God.” Then a corrections officer took me into a cell. The boss of the inmates said, “Bathe him and change his clothing!” Immediately, three inmates came over and started punching and kicking me until I was seeing stars, and I was in so much pain I couldn’t even stand up. Then they told me to take my clothing off, but my wrists hurt so much that I couldn’t get it off, so a couple of them grabbed me by the collar and hauled me up, then tore my clothing off and pushed me outside into a little courtyard. Four of them started dousing me with cold water, and some were forcefully throwing basins of water in my face, leaving me choking and gasping for air. It was winter at the time, so I was trembling from the cold and my whole body turned bright red. They kept splashing me and mocking me, saying, “This must be a lot more refreshing than showering inside, hm?” Everyone in the cell was laughing and laughing.

In there, I had one bowl of rice gruel in the morning and evening, and a moldy steamed bread that sometimes wasn’t even fully cooked. There were 16 inmates to a cell that was only a little over 100 square feet, where we had to eat, drink, and relieve ourselves. We had to get the boss’ permission to use the toilet and he made me sleep right in front of it. He’d make me scrub the toilet right after eating, and then he’d inspect it after I was done. If he said it wasn’t good enough, I had to keep scrubbing. I had to get up at 5 a.m. every morning to recite the prison rules, and if I made any mistakes, I’d be beaten and cursed. I had to produce 500 sheets of foil laminate every day, and sometimes they’d make me work until midnight, then I’d have to stand watch for two more hours. The corrections officer was always finding fault with me, saying I hadn’t finished my work or I’d dozed off while standing watch, and then took me out to be beaten and yelled at. He called me out one morning around 8 a.m., and I was pretty scared. I didn’t know what they were going to do to me this time, so I prayed to God, “Oh God, no matter how the corrections officer beats me or scolds me, I won’t bend to him.” He took me into a small room, smacked me a couple of times, and said, “We won’t let you religious people eat your fill or get good rest. We torture your body and break your spirit, and then see if you still want your God!” I responded angrily, “My faith doesn’t break any laws. Why treat me this way?” He said, “Your faith means going head to head against the Party, and that’s worse than breaking any law.” He smacked me again as he said this, told me to take my shoes off, and put my feet on a cement bench. Then he took a bamboo rod that was about a foot long and started whacking my toes and the tops of my feet really hard, hitting me and yelling, “Do you still believe in God?” I said, “You can beat me to death and I’ll still believe!” All I could do was pray to God nonstop, asking Him to give me faith and strength, and the resolve to withstand the suffering. Even if they beat me to death, there was no way I was giving in to Satan. He stopped after my feet were all red and swollen, then said, “You’re pretty tough!” I silently thanked God—it was entirely the faith and strength He’d given me. I could feel God by my side guiding me and protecting me, and then I had the faith to lean on God to get through the situation.

A passage of God’s words came to mind after I got back to my cell: “For thousands of years this has been the land of filth. It is unbearably dirty, misery abounds, ghosts run rampant everywhere, tricking and deceiving, making groundless accusations,[1] being ruthless and vicious, trampling this ghost town and leaving it littered with dead bodies; the stench of decay covers the land and pervades the air, and it is heavily guarded.[2] Who can see the world beyond the skies? … Forefathers of the ancient? Beloved leaders? They all oppose God! Their meddling has left all beneath heaven in a state of darkness and chaos! Religious freedom? The legitimate rights and interests of citizens? They are all tricks for covering up sin!” (“Work and Entry (8)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words are right on the mark. The Communist Party waves the flag of religious freedom for outsiders, all the while brutalizing believers. It wants to see every one of us wiped out. The Party is Satan the devil that hates God and works against Him, and its prison really is hell on earth! I was suffering physically, but I could really see the Party’s evil essence, and I was gaining discernment between positive and negative things, what is righteous and what is unrighteous, between good and evil. I was also learning to lean on God and look to Him, and to gain faith and strength from Him. After that, every time I was abused by one of those demons, I’d call out to God in my heart and He’d give me the strength and the ability to suffer so I could withstand Satan’s temptations and brutality. There’s a hymn of God’s words that left a really deep impression on me: “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 Forsake All for the Truth” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). I would hum this to myself a lot through this time. It was always incredibly inspirational for me.

In July 2003, they took me to the county Public Security Bureau and put me in my local police’s hands, who took me up to a second floor interrogation room. I was so emaciated that I wasn’t even steady on my feet. An officer grimaced, knocked his fist against my forehead and said, “You old bag of bones, you’re way too stubborn. You were arrested once for following the Lord Jesus, went on the run for months, and you were fined. You still haven’t gotten enough? Now you’re into Almighty God, and your new church is a major national target. Don’t you know that?” Right after that, an officer took a rope down from the wall, two of them twisted my arms behind me, then wrapped the rope down over my shoulders and tied my arms and wrists together. Then they yanked up on the rope—it felt like my arms were snapping in half and I cried out in pain. They took me over to the wall and hung me up from a hook in it. My feet could just barely touch the ground. With evil grins on their faces, they locked the door and left. My whole body was in pain and it felt like my arms were going to come out of their sockets. More than 10 minutes passed. My forehead was dripping with sweat, and I was covered with sweat all over the rest of my body, too. I was urgently calling on God, asking Him for the will to withstand that without yielding to Satan. There was a passage of God’s words that I was thinking of: “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” (“Is the Work of God As Simple As Man Imagines?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). This was incredibly comforting and encouraging for me. Our faith means that we’ll have to experience hardship and oppression, but all the suffering is temporary. If we can stand witness through all of it and gain God’s approval, then it’s all meaningful, and it’s all worth it. I’m not sure how much time went by, then I vaguely heard the sound of a door opening. They untied me and let me down, and I just sat paralyzed on the floor, with an excruciating pain in my arms and shoulders. There were bloody marks on my wrists and body where the rope had been digging in. Around 4 that afternoon, they saw what a fragile state I was in, so they let me go home, afraid I’d die in their custody.

A month later, in August 2003, just as I was about to go into the fields to get some work done, a county Public Security Bureau car pulled up in front of my house. Three officers came out, dragged me out to their car, handcuffed me, and took me to a county detention center. They said I was there to await processing. After a couple weeks locked up in there, they charged me with the crime of illegally evangelizing and disrupting social order, and sentenced me to 1 year 9 months of reeducation through labor. Then I realized that they let me go home so I could get my strength up, otherwise the labor camp wouldn’t take me. The labor camp claimed to have eight-hour work days, but in fact, we had to work over 14 hours a day. They’d give us too much to do, so we’d have to work until 1 a.m. or later a lot of the time, and there was one time I worked through the whole night but still couldn’t finish my tasks. The guards made us recite the prison rules, too, and we’d be punished with extra work or standing guard if we messed up. They were particularly strict with believers in Almighty God. They wouldn’t let us talk, and had other inmates keep an eye on us. One day around lunchtime, I was leaning up against a rock having a rest when a brother came and sat down next to me. An inmate saw us and reported it to the prison guards, who called us into their office and said, “You’ve broken prison rules. You’re forbidden from discussing anything religious here!” I responded that we hadn’t even spoken and they smacked us across the face, then got an electric baton and started zapping that brother all over his chest and back. They ended up adding four months to our sentences. In 2005, my time was finally up and I was released.

And then, one day in August 2006 when I was in a gathering with a couple of church members in their 70s, we were reported to the police. The police took us to the county Public Security Bureau and separated us for questioning. In the interrogation room, I saw that vicious look on the officers’ faces and all sorts of torture devices, like electric batons, chains, and a tiger chair. I thought to myself, “These people are ruthless and inhumane. They’ll have no qualms about crippling me or killing me with any of these devices, and I don’t know how they’re going to torture me.” I felt kind of afraid. Just then, something God said came to mind: “It is very simple now: Look upon Me with your heart, and your spirit will immediately grow strong. You will have a path to practice, and I will guide your every step. My word shall be revealed to you at all times and in all places. No matter where or when, or how adverse the environment is, I will make you see clearly, and My heart shall be revealed to you if you look to Me with yours; in this manner, you will run down the road ahead and never lose your way” (“Chapter 13” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). However savage the police were was in God’s hands, and they couldn’t do anything to me without God allowing it. I knew I needed to rely on God to stand witness. I said this prayer to God in my heart: “God, please watch over my heart so that I’m able to bear all the suffering. Even if I die, I’ll never betray You or sell out brothers and sisters.” I felt calmer after praying. I wasn’t so scared anymore. Then the captain pointed at me and said, “You’ve only been out of the labor camp a few days. You really can’t learn a lesson! Apparently you’re a leader, so tell me, who’s the leader above you? Who keeps the church’s funds? Where did you get those books from?” I denied any knowledge. The officer lifted his hand and smacked me across the face several times, leaving my face burning with the pain and blood trickling out of my mouth. Two other officers, one on each side of me, were stomping on my toes. I was crying from the pain. When I really couldn’t take the pain anymore, I squatted down to try to get some relief. I was calling out to God nonstop, asking Him for faith and strength so I could stand witness. Then I thought of something from God’s words: “Those whom God refers to as ‘overcomers’ are those who are still able to stand witness and maintain their confidence and devotion to God when under the influence of Satan and while being laid siege to by Satan, that is, when they find themselves amidst the forces of darkness. If you are still able to keep a pure heart before God and maintain your genuine love for God no matter what, then you are standing witness in front of God, and this is what God refers to as being an ‘overcomer’” (“You Should Maintain Your Devotion to God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words helped me understand that when Satan is on the attack, being able to stand witness to humiliate it and never losing faith in God is the only way to be an overcomer. These trials and hardships had put me through physical suffering and torment, but God’s love and blessings were hidden within this. God was perfecting my faith through that kind of environment. This thought bolstered my faith and strength, and I resolved that no matter how they tortured me, I would never give in to Satan, but I’d pledge my life to stand witness for God. Right after I squatted down, an officer grabbed me by the collar and hauled me up, then they let loose, punching and kicking me. They were kicking me in the shins so hard that I was crying out in pain and fell down, unable to move. They were panting, worn out from beating me like that. The police captain kicked me in the leg and said, “Even if it’s made of iron, I’m going to pry that mouth of yours open today. Come on, the tiger chair is awaiting you!” The two officers pulled me over to the tiger chair, put each hand into a groove, and fastened my wrists with iron rings. They fastened a ring around each ankle, too, then pulled each foot backward and placed the front of each foot touching the floor. It felt like something was touching my ankles. It was a really strange feeling that I can’t describe. It was awful. After half an hour, my whole body hurt and had gone numb, and it felt like my bones and flesh were being pulled apart. Before an hour was up, I was feeling like I really couldn’t take it anymore. I was covered with sweat, and I was calling on God nonstop. Then the captain grabbed the hair on my temples and said, “Given it some thought? Just talk to us and we’ll let you go home and be with your family. If you don’t, you’ll get 3–5 years, at least.” I couldn’t help but wonder how on earth I’d make it if I was in for years. Just thinking about being tormented that way was terrifying. Then I remembered something from God’s words that was really enlightening: “Do you want the flesh, or do you want the truth? Do you wish for judgment, or comfort? Having experienced so much of God’s work, and having beheld the holiness and righteousness of God, how should you pursue? How should you walk this path? How should you put your love of God into practice?” (“The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). This reminded me that the only way to gain the truth is by enduring hardships and suffering. I cared too much about the flesh and didn’t want to pay that kind of price, but that way how could I gain the truth and be saved? I also thought about how God has become flesh twice to save us, corrupt mankind, and He’s endured all sorts of humiliation and pain. His love for us really is tremendous! What little I was suffering hardly counted for anything. I couldn’t keep hurting God’s heart, but I had to stand witness and comfort Him. I silently prayed, “Almighty God! I don’t want to cherish the flesh anymore. No matter how Satan tortures me, no matter how much I suffer, I will not give in to it as long as I have a single breath left. I swear to stand witness and humiliate Satan!” I felt I had more faith after my prayer and I didn’t feel as miserable, either. I knew that was God giving me strength and I could feel God by my side caring for me, protecting me. I thanked God over and over again in my heart. The police tortured me nonstop for six hours and slapped me countless times, but I never folded. They came up with a new trick after that. It was close to dark when they took the elderly brother and sister who’d been arrested with me into the interrogation room. One officer slapped me a couple times, and said, “You haven’t talked, but they have. They said you’re a church leader.” I looked at the two of them and saw them glaring angrily at the officer, with blood marks on their mouths and noses. I could tell from their expressions that he was lying, without a doubt. I was outraged. Those monsters wouldn’t even let elderly people go—I hated them with every fiber of my being.

They took the three of us to a detention house after it got dark. I was locked up there for two months, and then they took me to a detention center. After 20 days there, the police presented me with a verdict to sign. They’d charged me with illegally gathering and disrupting social order, and subverting state power. I was sentenced to 1 year 9 months of reeducation through labor. I was furious, and said to them, “We just gather and read God’s words. We haven’t remotely disrupted social order. The government is making something out of nothing, distorting the truth, and making trumped-up charges against us. I refuse to sign!” The officer gritted his teeth in anger and shot back, “No one cares what you have to say! You think you won’t serve your time if you don’t sign? You’re sentenced all the same, and you’re going to that labor camp.” The next morning, two officers handcuffed me, put me in a paddy wagon, and drove me to a labor camp. On the way there, I silently prayed to God, “Almighty God, I don’t want to go through labor camp life again, being humiliated and tortured, but I’m ready to submit to Your orchestrations and arrangements. If You want to have me go back to prison to give You testimony, I’ll accept it without complaint.” I felt much better after my prayer, and after that I got to see God’s deeds. I started feeling some discomfort breathing, like I was a little short of breath. My eyes and mouth were watering and my nose was running a lot. When we got there, the officer doing my intake saw that I was skinny and filthy, and I was constantly coughing and spitting, so she said I wasn’t in good condition, that I was sick, and there was no way I could work. She refused to accept me. Both of the officers who’d taken me there clenched their jaws angrily and had no choice but to take me back to the detention center. Twenty days later, after my wife had found someone to act as a guarantor and she’d spent 2,000 yuan on dinners and gifts, and 5,000 more on a fine, I was able to serve the rest of my sentence outside of prison. Once I was back home my family got more and more controlling of me, because they’d been taken in by the Communist Party’s lies, and the police were watching my every move. I had no choice but to leave the area, and I took on a job while also performing my duty. That was when my arms started giving me problems. It hurts whenever I lift something over my head, and I still have a bit of a concussion. There’s a kind of buzzing in my head all the time, like something electrical.

I did suffer physically through all of those hard times, but I clearly saw the great red dragon’s evil essence, and I saw that only God loves us and can save us. I also personally experienced the authority and might of God’s words, and my faith in Him grew so much. I saw how God was actually using the great red dragon to serve Him, to perfect my faith and love. This was God blessing me! No matter how many bumps there are in the road or how much I suffer, I’m going to follow God till the end.

Footnotes:

1. “Making groundless accusations” refers to the methods by which the devil harms people.

2. “Heavily guarded” indicates that the methods by which the devil afflicts people are especially vicious, and control people so much that they have no room to move.

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