When I Was Eighteen
By Yilian, China
says, “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. … 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” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Is the Work of God As Simple As Man Imagines?). This passage of reminds me of when I was persecuted by the CCP a few years ago.
Around dusk one day in April 2017, I was in a gathering with two other sisters when suddenly over a dozen plainclothes officers burst in. Before I had time to react, several of them were pressing us down, telling us not to move, while the rest were tearing the place apart, inside and out. It took them no time at all to turn the house upside down. The scene before me was terrifying. My heart was pounding, and I called out to God over and over, “Oh God! I’m so scared, and I don’t know what they’re going to do to us next. Please give me faith and strength so that I can stand witness.” I thought of these words of God after my prayer: “You know that all things in the environment that surrounds you are there by My permission, all planned by Me. See clearly and satisfy My heart in the environment I have given to you. Do not fear, the Almighty God of hosts will surely be with you; He stands behind you and He is your shield” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 26). God’s words bolstered my faith and courage. I knew that I had God behind me, and no matter what was to come, as long as I sincerely leaned on and looked to God, He would be with me. At that thought, I didn’t feel so nervous or afraid.
Just then, a female officer viciously slapped me a couple of times, then pinched my chin and took my picture. They also searched us, taking all of our money and valuables. After that, they took all three of us to the Municipal Public Security Bureau to be questioned separately. That officer who had taken my photo barked at me, “What do you do in the church? Who’s the church leader? Spit it out!” When I didn’t respond, she exasperatedly pinched my chin with her left hand and yanked it up. The way she pinched me really hurt, forcing me to stand on my tiptoes. She then raised her right hand like she was about to hit me and said menacingly, “You be good and talk, otherwise we have ways of dealing with you!” Seeing her looking so ferocious left me a bit afraid. I didn’t know how she’d torment me next, so I urgently called out to God. At that moment these words of Almighty God came to mind: “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” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 6). I realized that my timid, fearful thoughts came from Satan’s trickery, and that the police wanted to torment my flesh to get me to betray God because I couldn’t withstand the pain, and sell out my brothers and sisters. I couldn’t fall for Satan’s tricks. I resolved that no matter how the police tortured me, I would never become a Judas. I knew my life and death were in God’s hands, and they couldn’t do anything to me without God allowing it. Once I’d recognized these things I felt a lot calmer. After that, no matter how hard she pinched my chin while firing question after question at me, I didn’t say a word. Just then another officer called her away, and I finally got a break.
Around 3 a.m. the next day, I was taken to the Municipal Detention House. The moment they put me in a cell, a female officer ordered the other prisoners to rip all my clothing off, then she made me put my hands on my head, turn around, and do squats in front of everyone. I had to do that until they were satisfied, while the prisoners stood to the side jeering at me. I was really upset and indignant at the time, and on the inside I was yelling over and over, “Why are you humiliating me this way?” If I hadn’t experienced it myself, I’d hardly be able to believe that these so-called “people’s police” could do something so despicable! The officer then said to the prisoners, “She believes in Almighty God, so she’s a target of a serious government crackdown. Make sure to teach her the rules well.” From then on, the prisoners bullied me all the time and they’d tell me off for anything at all. They made me do all the dirtiest and most tiring chores, like washing dishes, sweeping, and scrubbing the floor. After a while my feet would ache and I’d be exhausted, but if I rested for a second or slowed down, they’d yell at me. Even worse, every time a prison rule was broken, they blamed it on me. There was no way for me to appeal to reason.
Being bullied and verbally abused by the other prisoners over and over left me feeling miserable and weak. I had no idea when it would all end, and many nights I’d curl up under my blankets and cry silently. I prayed to God a lot in those days. When I was nearly at my breaking point, I thought of these words from God: “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. Trials are a blessing from Me” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 41). I understood that God had allowed me to be put into that situation and it was to perfect my faith and love for God so I wouldn’t betray Him in such an arduous environment, and so I could stand witness and humiliate Satan. I thought back to when everything was peaceful, I was overflowing with faith, but now that I was suffering some pain and humiliation, I’d become weak and negative. I saw how inadequate my faith in God really was. I was too delicate, just like a greenhouse flower that can’t tolerate a bit of wind and rain. By undergoing those hardships, God was perfecting my faith and it was beneficial for my life. I had to stand witness and satisfy God.
A week later, the police took me in for questioning again, and one officer said unctuously, “If you’re good and tell us all about your church, we’ll fight to get you off easy. You’re so young, you should be out there enjoying your youth. It’s really not worth it to be in here suffering.” Another officer said, “Your classmates and friends are all out there working toward their dreams, while you’re locked up because you believe in God. What would they think of you if they knew?” Hearing them say this, I thought about how young I was to be in jail, and wondered if my friends and family would laugh at me if they knew. The more I thought about it, the more confused I felt, and then I realized that I wasn’t in the right state, so I hurriedly called out to God: “Oh God, the police keep disturbing me. I don’t want to betray You and be a Judas. Please protect my heart, please guide me….” I then thought of this passage from God’s words: “At all times, My people should be on guard against the cunning schemes of Satan, … 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 gave me a timely reminder that the police were being insincere in their talk of my future. In fact, they just wanted to mislead me, to get me to betray God and sell out my brothers and sisters. They were really so sinister. At this thought, I said resolutely, “I’m a person of faith on the right path in life. No matter what you say, I will not betray God.” This left the officers stunned. Their ploy hadn’t been successful, so their vicious side came out right away. One said to me threateningly, “Seems you’ve got quite a mouth on you for someone so young. I’m telling you, we can find any old excuse to get you a sentence of 8 or 10 years, or even 15. You’re 18 now, so you’d spend your entire youth in prison!” I thought, “No matter how many years I get, I’ll rely on God and stand witness. I won’t bow to Satan.”
I thought that they’d used up both their carrot and stick approaches and they wouldn’t question me anymore. I never imagined they’d try something even more sinister. One day in late May, the police took me into an interrogation room and said, “We inquired at your little brother’s school and saw that he’s doing pretty well. Tell us what you know, then you can go home sooner and be with your family. Don’t you miss your brother?” Hearing this pained me. My brother and I had been close since we were little, but I’d been on the run for years to avoid being arrested by the CCP, and I hadn’t been able to see him. I had no idea how he was doing. They also said that my dad had recorded a video a few days prior, then put a mobile phone in front of me and played it. I saw my dad sitting there lifelessly, his clothing rumpled and looking much older. He said to the camera, “Xiaoyi, come home. We all miss you.” The police played it several times. As I watched my dad in the video, I just couldn’t stop crying. One of the officers said ingratiatingly, “Even if you won’t think of yourself, you should think of your family! If you’re determined to believe in God, not only will you do time, but your family will be dragged in, too. Even if your brother passes the college entrance exam, no school will admit him, and he won’t be able to find a good job. Even his kids will be implicated. You’d better give it some careful thought.” This was really upsetting for me to hear. I prayed to God nonstop: “Oh God! My feelings are all over the place, and I’m feeling weak. Please protect my heart so that I don’t follow my affections of the flesh, and I can bear witness.” I thought of these words of God after my prayer: “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” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 10). God’s words gradually calmed me down. Satan knew that I had strong feelings and couldn’t let go of my dad and brother, so it used my emotions and my family’s future to threaten me, to get me to betray God and be a Judas. The police were so insidious! If I followed Satan and betrayed God, even if I were released and could be with my family, I’d regret it for the rest of my life. I then thought about how all things are in God’s hands, so my brother’s future would be ruled and arranged by God. The CCP demons didn’t have the final say. I then quietly prayed to God. I entrusted my family to God’s care, and became willing to submit to His arrangements. I responded, “I don’t have anything to say!” At this, the officer pounded the table in anger and shouted, “If you’re going to be so stubborn, don’t blame us if we forget our manners! Don’t think that we don’t have any more tricks up our sleeves. Just based on what we found when you were arrested, we could arrest your parents and get them three to five years, and then see how your brother fares all alone at home!” Hearing this infuriated me. The CCP not only used tactics to torment me to get me to betray God and sell out my brothers and sisters, but they even tried to coerce me by threatening my family’s future and wellbeing. In China, when someone believes in God, their entire family is persecuted by the CCP. I despised that pack of demons and was determined not to let their tricks succeed. I then responded adamantly, “I believe that everything is in God’s hands. You’ll never get me to betray God!” The officer once again banged the table in anger, then turned around and stalked out.
One morning in late May, a female officer came and released me from jail. I thought it was really odd. The police then took me to the local police station. Just as I was puzzling over this, I saw my dad and grandpa looking expectantly at me while the police stood off to the side, eyeing me. I realized they weren’t going to let me go so easily, but I didn’t know what ploy they were trying. The station chief then said to me, “Just sign this letter of guarantee and we’ll let you go home and be with your family.” Reading the document, I saw it said: “I promise not to believe in God anymore or have contact with any Church of Almighty God members. I will do nothing on behalf of the church, and I will not process any documents for going abroad within the next three years. I must also report to the police at a moment’s notice during a one-year bail period.” The CCP was trying to force me to betray God and break off all ties with the church. I was incredibly angry, and absolutely refused to sign it. Seeing how determined I was, an officer threatened me, saying, “If you don’t sign this, you’re going to get sentenced to prison and do some time!” My dad and grandpa were really flustered at this and urged me to hurry up and sign. They said they’d paid some money and had struggled to make connections to get me bail pending trial, and I could go home if I just put my name on that letter. They had no way of knowing that signing it would mean that I was denying and betraying God before Satan, and losing my testimony. I started crying under so much pressure from the police and my family. I was in inner turmoil. I thought, “If I don’t sign it, who knows how long I’ll be in prison. But if I do sign it, I will be betraying God!” I quickly prayed in my heart and these words from God occurred to me: “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). I was ashamed in the face of God’s requirement. I was still considering my own flesh and future instead of satisfying God. I also realized that my family telling me to sign the letter denying my faith was one of the CCP’s tricks. My faith was right and proper, and I was on the right path in life. I couldn’t give up the true way and betray God just because the CCP threatened me and my family pressured me. I absolutely would never sign that letter. At that, I said resolutely, “You’ll never get me to give up my faith. You can give up on that idea!” The police were furious, but their hands were tied. In the end, they said I was getting a year of bail, and if they found out I was still practicing my faith, they’d arrest me and make sure I got a heavy sentence.
I went home, but the CCP hadn’t really let me go at all. One day in late June of 2017, the police brought a lawyer to my house to try to brainwash me. He said that freedom of religion in China was just a show for foreigners, and that in China, we had to listen to the Communist Party. He also said, “When the Party says ‘Jump,’ we say ‘How high?’ and if the Party says you can’t have faith, you can’t have faith. Otherwise, you’ll get what you deserve.” This infuriated me. The CCP tries every trick in the book to get us to give up our faith. Christians in China don’t have any way to get by at all! I thought of a passage of God’s words: “Religious freedom? The legitimate rights and interests of citizens? They are all tricks for covering up sin! … Why put up such an impenetrable obstacle to the work of God? Why employ various tricks to deceive God’s folk? Where is the true freedom and the legitimate rights and interests? Where is the fairness? Where is the comfort? Where is the warmth? Why use deceitful schemes to trick God’s people? Why use force to suppress the coming of God? Why not allow God to freely roam upon the earth that He created? Why hound God until He has nowhere to rest His head? Where is the warmth among men?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Work and Entry (8)). These words from God helped me to clearly see the evil essence of the CCP government. The CCP is a demon of Satan that hates the truth and opposes God. The more savagely it persecuted me, the more I wanted to fully forsake it and follow God until the end! The police came to my house a number of times after that to brainwash me, and they had the village cadres tell me over and over to give up my faith. They also got my family to tell me to write a statement of repentance and betray God. With God’s words guiding me, I was able to get through all the attacks and temptations the CCP threw at me and stand witness.
Even though I physically suffered a bit from my arrest and persecution by the CCP, I developed discernment that allowed me to see the CCP’s evil essence and its demonic face of opposition to God. I forsook it and rejected it from the bottom of my heart. Through persecution and hardship, God’s words guided me to triumph over Satan’s tricks, and it was His words that gave me faith and strength to overcome my fleshly weakness and stand witness. I really have personally experienced the authority and might of God’s words and I have more faith than ever to follow Almighty God!