Two Decades of Hardship
By Wang Qiang, China
I became a Christian in 1991, then a few years later I became a church preacher. In 1995, police in the Political Security Section of the county Public Security Bureau took me in, demanding to know where I was preaching and who my leader was. When I wouldn’t answer, they punched and kicked me, and tortured me for four or five hours, leaving me black and blue. Then they locked me up in the county detention house. The police and the other prisoners tortured me for 42 days, leaving me on the brink of death. Later my wife used some connections and paid a fine of nearly 10,000 yuan to get me released. I didn’t understand. As believers sharing the gospel, we guided others to follow the Lord’s teachings, be good people, be tolerant, and love others as ourselves. Why would the Communist Party so brutally persecute us? Then after gaining faith in, through the revelations in and personal experience, I gained discernment over the Party’s demonic essence of hating the truth and opposing God.
One day in December 1999 while my wife and I were having breakfast, three officers burst in. One of them was an officer who had arrested me for my faith in the Lord before. He looked at me up and down a few times and said sternly, “You’ve been reported for believing in Almighty God and preaching the gospel. You really didn’t learn your lesson!” After that, they searched the whole place inside and out, leaving no stone unturned. This went on for about an hour, and they left my house in utter chaos, but didn’t find any books or materials on faith. Then they put me in a car to take me to the police station. On the way, scene after scene from the first time I was arrested and tortured flashed through my mind. I was pretty scared. Those demons particularly hate believers and I didn’t know how they would torture me. I silently prayed to God and remembered something He said: “Whomsoever I bestow My glory unto shall bear Me witness and give their life for Me. This has long been predestined by Me” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. What Do You Know of Faith?). True—my arrest that day had God’s permission, and how much I suffered, whether I lived or died, was all in God’s hands. I had to bear witness. God’s words gave me faith and strength, and I felt calmer.
They first took me to the police station to search me and question me, but seeing I wouldn’t talk, they took me to the county Public Security Bureau. There, several officers surrounded me, punching and kicking me, and some used electric batons on me. I fell to the ground from their beating, my head spinning. I was bleeding from the nose and mouth, my clothing was torn, and I didn’t even have the strength to stand up. Then, the head officer grabbed me by the neck and said, “If I don’t show you what’s what, you won’t know who you’re messing with. Talk! Who’s your leader? Who have you preached to?” I was feeling pretty nervous. If I didn’t talk, they’d definitely keep beating me, and if that went on, I thought I could end up disabled or dead. I prayed to God in my heart, asking for His protection and guidance. Then I thought of these words from God: “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” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 6). I realized being timid and fearful was coming from Satan, and however fierce the police were, they could just ravage and torture my flesh, but they couldn’t touch my soul. Even if they beat me to death that day, my soul would be in God’s hands. This thought gave me faith and strength, and I wouldn’t betray God or sell out my brothers and sisters, even if it meant death. I clenched my teeth and didn’t say a word. I wouldn’t respond after they asked me several times, so they kicked me to the ground, then got a police baton, put it on the concrete floor, and got two people to pull on me and force me to kneel on it. My shin bones had a painful amount of pressure and I was shedding tears. An officer brutally stomped on my calves several times, which hurt so much I was crying on the floor, curled up in a ball. The officer shouted, “Stand up!” But I couldn’t get my legs to move—I didn’t have the strength to stand up. Feeling incredibly miserable, I said a prayer to God, “Oh God, I almost can’t take it anymore and I don’t know how else they’re going to torture me. God, I don’t want to betray You—please give me faith and strength.” Just then I thought of some of God’s words: “Have you ever accepted the blessings that you were given? Have you ever sought the promises that were made for you? You will surely, under the guidance of My light, break through the stranglehold of the forces of darkness. You will surely not, in the midst of darkness, lose the light guiding you. You will surely be the master of all creation. You will surely be an overcomer before Satan. You will surely, at the downfall of the kingdom of the great red dragon, stand up amid the myriad throngs to bear witness to My victory. You will surely stand firm and unwavering in the land of Sinim. Through the sufferings you endure, you will inherit My blessings, and will surely radiate My glory throughout the entire universe” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God’s Words to the Entire Universe, Chapter 19). God’s words bolstered my faith and strength. I had to truly lean on God, and with His words’ guidance, I could surely triumph over Satan and stand firm in my testimony. After six or seven hours of awful torture, I was beaten to a pulp and my left calf was mangled. Since I still wouldn’t talk, the police took me to a detention house. The staff there saw how badly I was injured and didn’t want to take me, and it wasn’t until the police negotiated with them for a while that they finally agreed to accept me.
They took me to a cell where I smelled something foul. It was a tiny space of about 10 square meters with some filthy, smelly comforters in it along with a toilet. 15 or 16 people all ate, drank, slept and relieved themselves in there—it was damp and messy. The other prisoners eyed me fiercely. I felt really nervous and was praying to God nonstop. I remembered something He said: “Have no fear, as My hands support you, and I will keep you away from all evildoers” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 28). God’s words comforted me and gave me faith, and I didn’t feel as nervous anymore. The next day, the head prisoner intentionally picked a fight and got the others to beat me up, leaving me rolling around on the ground. I ended up curled up in a ball from the pain, unable to move. After that, the police would interrogate me from time to time, demanding that I sell out the church, and would switch tactics when they couldn’t get anything out of me. Once, my wife’s uncle surnamed Li came to question me. He asked me, feigning concern, “Is there any prisoner beating you? Are you getting enough to eat?” Then he had another officer go buy me some steamed buns and a few packs of cigarettes. He heaved a sigh and said with look of concern, “If you don’t confess you’ll probably get prison time, and I won’t be able to help you. If you do, you might be able to go home in time for the New Year. Give it some thought!” When he said that, I was thinking that my parents were in their 70s and my wife was taking care of three little kids on her own. How would they get by if I really did go to prison for three to five years? Communist Party prisons are like hell and you can be tortured to death at any time. What would they do if I died? I felt more dismal the more I thought about it, so I prayed, asking God to watch over me. I thought of this quote from God’s words: “At all times, My people should be on guard against the cunning schemes of Satan, guarding the gate of My house for Me; they should be able to support each other and provide for each other, 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 woke me up. The police wanted to use my affections and fleshly weaknesses to get me to betray God. It was so insidious! I’d nearly fallen for it. My life was given by God, and whether I lived or died was up to Him. How many times I was imprisoned, for how many years, how much torment I’d bear was all pre-determined by God. The fate of my parents and my wife was also in God’s hands—He had final say. If I did get a prison sentence, it would be with God’s permission. I had to stand firm even if it took my life! So I told him, “I’ve said everything I have to say, and I don’t know anything else.” When his little trick didn’t work, he glared at me for a bit, then left in a huff.
The prison guards at the labor camp were always telling the other prisoners to torment me in lots of ways, like “eating dumplings,” “watching TV,” “looking in the mirror,” and “eating the elbow,” and reciting prison rules. “Eating dumplings” was wrapping me up in bedding, then having the others punch and kick me, leaving me dizzy and disoriented. “Watching TV” was pinching and twisting my ears, then making me say I was on China Central Television, or Shandong or Henan Television channels, and they’d hit me if I messed it up. “Looking in the mirror” was putting my head into the toilet where there was urine and feces, and I’d choke on it if I wasn’t careful. “Eating the elbow” was jabbing an elbow into my back. Also, they made me recite prison rules, and if I messed up a word they’d take off my pants and use a shoe with a plastic sole to beat me until I got bloody blisters on my behind. On top of that, the prison guards often had me working day and night. I had injuries so I worked slowly, and the other prisoners kept giving me more tasks. I’d be beaten if I didn’t finish them. Facing this kind of torture was really painful and depressing for me. Sometimes I’d get so weak that I wanted to die, to put an end to that suffering. I was always praying to God, asking Him to watch over my heart. One day, the’ crucifixion suddenly came to mind. God is supreme, holy and without sin, and He personally incarnated and came to work, to save humanity, but He was nailed to the cross. Now God has become flesh once again, coming to work in China and just the same, suffers mankind’s rejection, slander, condemnation, and blasphemy. He’s also pursued by the Communist Party. But still, He keeps expressing truths to save mankind. God’s love for man is so great! I’m a believer pursuing salvation—what does this little suffering count for? Besides, that suffering was having a share in Christ’s kingdom, in His hardship. It was a thing of glory. There was value and meaning in it. Realizing that renewed my faith and strength, and I wasn’t as miserable anymore, no matter how the prisoners tortured me.
After breakfast one day, a few police officers drove me to a market about 5.5 miles from my house, then put me and a dozen or so other prisoners onto a platform. I realized they were carrying out a denunciation rally. A row of Public Security Bureau cadres were seated on stage, with a dense crowd of people below. Lots of them were whispering to each other and pointing at me. My face grew hot, my heart beat faster, and I didn’t dare lift my head. I was thinking that quite a few of my relatives, friends, and acquaintances were in that area, as well as former co-workers. What would they think, seeing me standing trial with a sign around my neck with the other prisoners? How could I show my face after that? I felt worse the more I thought about it, so I prayed and asked God for strength. I thought of some words from God: “I hope that all people can bear strong, resounding testimony to Me before the great red dragon, that they can offer themselves up for Me a final time, and fulfill My requirements one last instance. Can you truly do this?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God’s Words to the Entire Universe, Chapter 34). God’s words gave me faith and strength. As believers, we’re on the right path. We don’t break laws or do bad things, so there’s nothing to be ashamed of. The humiliation I faced was suffering persecution for righteousness. I should feel proud! This thought calmed me down. They ended up slapping me with the charges of “unlawful faith” and “disturbing social order,” and gave me three years of reeducation through labor. Seeing all those sanctimonious, self-satisfied faces on stage, I hated those demons with every fiber of my being, and I swore that even if they sentenced me to 30 years, not just three, I’d never betray God, never bow down to them! I was sent to a labor camp two days after the denunciation rally.
There, I was assigned to a construction site to dig trenches and I had to move cement and sand in a wheelbarrow. I had to do a dozen or more hours of that kind of heavy labor every day. Sometimes I worked slowly because my calf was injured, and the correctional officer beat me when he noticed. I felt some weakness at the thought that I’d have to stay there for three years. I didn’t know how to get through that or if I’d make it out alive. During that time I prayed to God a lot and thought about His love. Thinking of the pain and humiliation He’d suffered to save us corrupt mankind was really moving for me. It made me ready to submit, and I wanted to follow God until the end, no matter how much I suffered.
After a while I found out there was a prisoner surnamed Liu who was also a believer, and since we were both Christians, we’d talk about our faith when we had a chance. I saw Brother Liu had good humanity and was longing for the Lord’s return, so I wanted to share the gospel of God’s return in the last days with him. But his sentence was up and he was released before I had the chance. I felt it was really a pity and I said a prayer to God, asking Him to open up a path so I’d have a chance to share the gospel with Brother Liu. Not long after his release, I was doing labor at the worksite like I always did. One day, I had a pain in my belly and had to use the bathroom more than usual. I noticed the bathroom wall wasn’t very high and there was a big factory on the other side of it. When I was in the bathroom, a guard was outside reading a newspaper. I wasn’t sure if that was God opening a path for me, so I said a prayer. After praying, I felt sure in my heart that this was God giving me a way out, so I jumped the wall and went into the factory when the guard was distracted. I quickly took off the prison uniform, slung it over my shoulder, and walked out the main entrance. I never would have dreamed that with such tight security, I could escape, thanks to God. I was so grateful to God.
But before long, I heard sirens behind me. I rushed to hide in a grove of trees and was praying nonstop. I waited until it got dark, then very carefully came out of the grove. I followed a small rural road, asking the way, heading toward Brother Liu’s house. Late at night, soon after I’d gotten onto the highway that went to his house, I saw there were some police officers ahead manning a checkpoint and I got pretty scared. What if they found me out? They wouldn’t let me go if they got their hands on me. I prayed to God in my heart. I saw a haystack and rushed to hide in it, staying there over an hour. I very carefully climbed out only after I saw the police car leave, then kept heading toward Brother Liu’s house, with difficulty. I hadn’t gone far before my calf hurt so much I couldn’t walk any more, so I sat down and rested, then started walking again. As I walked, I hummed the“I Wish to See the Day of God’s Glory.”
Today I accept God’s judgment and purification, and tomorrow I’ll receive His blessings. I’m willing to give my youth and offer up my life to see the day of God’s glory. Oh, God’s love—it’s enchanted my heart. He works and expresses the truth, bestowing on man the way of life. I’m willing to quaff the bitter cup and suffer to gain the truth. I will endure humiliation without complaint. I wish to spend my life repaying God’s grace.
I’ll offer up my love and loyalty to God and complete my mission to glorify Him. I’m determined to stand firm in my testimony to God, and never give in to Satan. Oh, though our heads may break and our blood may flow, the backbones of God’s people can’t be bent. With God’s exhortations strapped to my heart, I determine to humiliate Satan the devil. Pain and hardships are predestined by God. I will be faithful and obedient to Him unto death. I will never again cause God to weep and never again cause Him to worry.
—Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs
I felt my faith grew as I hummed it. I finally got to Brother Liu’s house around noon the next day. We cried tears of joy as soon as we saw each other. Considering the police would be coming, he arranged for someone else to host me. As expected, around noon the next day the police drove to his house. Not finding me, they left in exasperation. I shared God’s gospel of the last days with Brother Liu after that. With God’s guidance, over a hundred brothers and sisters from his denomination came before Almighty God.
I became a wanted criminal after escaping from the labor camp. I traveled around sharing the gospel, not daring to return home. Ten years went by in a flash, then in September 2010 I snuck back to my hometown and went to my sister’s place. I saw my wife there, and she told me that after I escaped from the labor camp, the police went to our house and searched our home and our relatives’ homes, too. They even tried coaxing my wife, parents, and other relatives in a threatening way so they’d reveal my whereabouts. The police also secretly surveilled the area around my house for a few days. All those years, the police hadn’t given up on chasing me. For the new year and my parents’ birthdays, they always asked about me and saw if I’d gone back home. In 2002, my wife was arrested because of her faith, and our family had to spend over 2,000 yuan and use connections to get her out. Things got difficult for our family because both me and my wife had been arrested and fined. Our kids were forced to drop out of school before finishing elementary and middle school, and had to leave the area to work for a living. I was so upset to hear that. My parents came to my sister’s house to see me when they heard I’d come back. They started crying the moment they saw me without saying a word, but they didn’t dare cry too loudly, afraid someone else would hear them. They said they dreamt of me all the time, and they’d cry themselves blind. I couldn’t hold my tears back when I saw how feeble my parents looked. A few days later, riding his bike back out to my sister’s house to see me, my dad accidentally fell and broke his thighbone. I was really worried for him when I heard about it, and I took the risk of going to see him at home, at midnight. My dad started crying when he saw me, and said, “The doctor said he couldn’t set my thighbone. I just have to wait to die. This is probably the last time we’re going to see each other.” I comforted him, forcing back my tears. I didn’t dare stay long, afraid of being arrested, so I left after an hour or so. Because of the Communist Party’s arrest, for over a decade I’d been on the run, I couldn’t go back home, I couldn’t see my family, be filial to my parents, or fulfill my responsibilities as a husband and father to my wife and three kids, and now my father was ill and I couldn’t take care of him for a single day. I felt I’d really let my parents down and I was overcome with heartache. I quickly came before God in prayer, asking Him to guide me, to give me faith and strength. After praying I thought of some of God’s words: “It is My constant feeling that the path God guides us along does not go straight up, but is a winding road full of potholes; God says, furthermore, that the rockier the path is, the more it can reveal our loving hearts. Yet none of us can open up such a path. In My experience, I have walked many rocky, treacherous paths and I have endured great suffering; at times I have even been so utterly grief-stricken that I wanted to cry out, but I have walked this path to this day. I believe that this is the path led by God, so I endure the torment of all the suffering and continue onward. For this is what God has ordained, so who can escape it? I do not ask to receive any blessings; all I ask is that I am able to walk the path I ought to walk according to God’s will. I do not seek to imitate others, walking the path that they walk; all I seek is that I may fulfill My devotion to walk My designated path until the end. … This is because I have always believed that the amount an individual must suffer and the distance they must walk on their path is ordained by God, and that no one can really help anyone else” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Path … (6)). “What you have inherited this day surpasses that of the apostles and prophets throughout the ages and is greater even than that of Moses and Peter. Blessings cannot be obtained in a day or two; they must be earned through great sacrifice. Which is to say, you must possess a love that has undergone refinement, you must possess great faith, and you must have the many truths that God requires you to attain; what is more, you must turn toward justice, without being cowed or evasive, and must have a love for God that is constant unto death. You must have resolve, changes must occur in your life disposition, your corruption must be healed, you must accept all of God’s orchestrations without complaint, and you must be obedient even unto death. This is what you ought to attain, this is the final aim of God’s work, and it is what God asks of this group of people” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Is the Work of God As Simple As Man Imagines?). Reading God’s words was enlightening for me. God has pre-determined how much a person will suffer in their lifetime. I had to leave my parents in God’s hands and submit to His arrangements. I also thought of the saints over the ages who bore resounding witness for God through persecution and hardship. I accepted God’s work of the last days and enjoyed the truths He expressed. I’d gained so much more than all those apostles and prophets, but when I faced persecution, I was miserable and weak—my stature was so small. Then I resolved to follow the lead of the saints, to be firm in my faith and follow God! In 2011, a brother brought a letter saying the police went back to my house to ask my wife about my whereabouts. The two of us haven’t had contact since then.
One day in December 2012, I went out with a few brothers and sisters in the rain to share the gospel with a family. Four officers appeared, got out of a car and captured me. Two sisters on electric bikes made a run for it, and three officers chased them in their car. One officer ran up and caught me, and I struggled to break free. An older sister grabbed the officer to protect me, allowing me to run off. But I’d only run a dozen or so meters when the officer caught up and grabbed me, then two sisters came and held him back, allowing me to run free. My heart kept pounding after I got home and I couldn’t stop thinking about what had just happened. Those sisters held the officer back to protect me, and then I escaped. I didn’t know if they’d been arrested, if they were going to be tortured, and if the other brothers and sisters had been arrested or not. I thought about the last two times I’d been arrested and tortured. I felt that spreading the gospel in China is so dangerous, that you could be arrested and imprisoned at any time, in any place. I was feeling pretty down, so I came before God in prayer. After praying, I opened up my book of God’s words and saw this: “For all people, refinement is excruciating, and very difficult to accept—yet it is during refinement that God makes plain His righteous disposition to man, and makes public His requirements for man, and provides more enlightenment, and more actual pruning and dealing; through the comparison between the facts and the truth, He gives man a greater knowledge of himself and the truth, and gives man a greater understanding of God’s will, thus allowing man to have a truer and purer love of God. Such are God’s aims in carrying out refinement” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only by Experiencing Refinement Can Man Possess True Love). “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” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only by Experiencing Painful Trials Can You Know the Loveliness of God). I started to reflect on myself after reading God’s words. I saw my love for God was adulterated, and I hadn’t truly submitted to Him. The last two times I was arrested, I hadn’t given in to Satan when I was tortured, I’d stood firm in my testimony, so I thought I had stature, that I had some faith and submission for God. But being tested and attacked by Satan time after time, my true stature was revealed. Being able to stand firm before wasn’t because of my actual stature, but it was the faith and courage God’s words gave me. This time I saw that God’s wisdom really is exercised based on Satan’s trickery. Satan wanted to use every trick to get me arrested and tortured, to thoroughly defeat me and get me to betray God, but God used those situations to help me see my own faults, to understand my shortcomings, and perfect my faith and true submission through that long-term refinement. I didn’t feel as negative and miserable after understanding God’s earnest intentions, and I resolved to follow Peter’s example, to follow God’s arrangements in everything, carry out His commission, share the gospel and bear witness.
Over two decades of faith, I’ve been brutally arrested, persecuted, and tortured by the Communist Party, forced to flee my home and see my family broken, and I’ve been weak at times. God’s words gave me strength time after time, and allowed me to make it to this day. I had some physical suffering through these hardships and trials, but I grew closer to God. I also gained some practical understanding of God’s wisdom, almightiness, love, and salvation. I clearly saw that the Communist Party is an anti-God satanic demon. I fully forsook it, abandoned it, and became resolute in following God. I have heartfelt gratitude to God for arranging all of this for me, allowing me to gain the most precious treasures in life!