27. Tribulation Inspired My Love for God
By Meng Yong, Shanxi Province
I am by nature a nice person. In this dark and evil society, I have always been bullied by other people, so I have tasted the coldness of the world of man and felt that my life was empty and without meaning. After I started believing in Almighty God, through reading God’s words and living the church life, I enjoyed an earnestness and joy in my heart I had never felt before. Seeing the brothers and sisters of The Church of Almighty God love each other like a family made me realize that only God is righteous, and that only in The Church of Almighty God is there light. Through several years of personally experiencing Almighty God’s work, I have come to truly appreciate that the words of Almighty God can indeed change people and save people. Almighty God is love, and He is salvation. So that more people can enjoy God’s love and receive God’s salvation, my brothers and sisters and I all try to do our best to spread the gospel, but we never expected to be captured and persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party government.
On January 12, 2011, several brothers and sisters and I drove to a place to spread the gospel, and ended up being reported by wicked people. Not long after, the county government deployed officers from the criminal police brigade, national security forces, the anti-drug squad, armed police forces, and the local police station, to come around in more than 10 police vehicles to arrest us. When a brother and I were just about to drive away, four policemen ran over quickly and cut off our car. One of them pulled out the car key without letting us say a word, and ordered us to stay in the car and not move. By then, I saw that that seven or eight policemen wielding batons were furiously beating another brother, and that brother had already been beaten to the point that he was unable to move. I could not help but be filled with righteous indignation and rushed out of the car, trying to stop their violence, but the policemen twisted my arm and pushed me aside. I tried to reason with them: “Whatever it is, we can talk about it. How can you just start beating people?” They viciously yelled back: “Hurry up and get back to your car, you’re going to get yours soon!” Later, they took us to the police station, and our car was also impounded.
After nine o’clock that night, two criminal policemen came to interrogate me. When they saw that they could not get any useful information out of me, they grew flustered and exasperated, gnashing their teeth in anger as they cursed: “Damn it, we’ll take care of you later!” They then locked me in the interrogation waiting room. At 11:30 p.m., they took me into a room without surveillance cameras. I had a feeling they were going to use violence against me, so I started praying to God repeatedly in my heart, begging for God to protect me. At this time, a police officer surnamed Jia came to interrogate me: “Have you been in a Volkswagen Jetta in these last few days?” I answered no, and he furiously yelled: “Other people have already seen you, and yet you still deny it?” After saying it, he slapped me viciously across the face. All I felt was the burning pain on my cheek. He then roared loudly: “Let’s see how tough you are!” He picked up a wide belt as he spoke and kept whipping it across my face, I don’t know how many times I was whipped, but I could not help but scream out in pain time and time again. Upon seeing this, they pulled the belt around my mouth. A few policemen then put a quilt over my body before beating me furiously with their batons, only stopping when they became too tired to catch their breath. I had been beaten so badly that my head was spinning and my body hurt like every bone had scattered apart. At the time I did not know why they were beating me up in this way, but later on I found out that they had put a quilt over me to prevent the beating from leaving marks on my flesh. Putting me in a room without surveillance, gagging my mouth, and covering me with a quilt—it was all because they were afraid that their wicked deeds would be exposed. The CCP police are so treacherous and vicious! When the four of them got tired from beating me, they changed to another method to torture me: Two policemen twisted one of my arms back and forcefully tugged it upward, while another two policemen lifted my other arm over the shoulder to the back and pulled it down hard. (They called this type of torture method “Carrying a Sword on the Back,” which an average person would not be able to endure at all.) But my two hands could not be pulled together no matter what, so they drove a vicious knee into my arm. All I heard was a “click,” and my two arms felt like they had been torn off. It hurt so much that I nearly expired. It did not take long for me to lose sensation in both my hands. This was still not enough for them to give up, so they ordered me to kneel down to add to my suffering. I was in so much pain that my whole body broke out in a cold sweat, my head was ringing, and my consciousness began to grow a little blurry. I thought: “Over all these years in my life, even though I’ve constantly suffered from chronic illnesses, I’ve never had the feeling of being unable to control my own consciousness. Am I about to die?” Later on, I really couldn’t take it anymore, so I thought of seeking relief through death. In that moment, the words of God enlightened me from within: “Today, most people do not have that knowledge. They believe that suffering is without value…. The suffering of some people reaches an extreme, and their thoughts turn to death. This is not true love for God; such people are cowards, they have no perseverance, they are weak and powerless!” (“Only by Experiencing Painful Trials Can You Know the Loveliness of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words made me suddenly awaken and realize that my way of thinking was not in line with God’s will and would only make God sad and disappointed. Because amid this pain and tribulation, what God wants to see is not me seeking death, but that I can rely on God’s guidance to battle Satan, to bear witness to God, and make Satan ashamed and defeated. Seeking death would be falling right into Satan’s scheme, and it couldn’t be considered bearing witness for God, but would instead become a mark of shame. After understanding God’s intentions, I prayed to God silently: “Oh God! Reality has shown that my nature is too weak. I don’t have the will and courage to suffer for You and wanted to die just because of a bit of physical pain. Now I know that I cannot do anything to shame Your name and must stand witness and satisfy You no matter how much suffering I have to endure. But at this time, my body is in extreme pain and weak, and I know that it is very difficult to overcome the beatings of these demons on my own. Please give me more confidence and strength so that I can rely on You to defeat Satan. I swear on my life that I will not betray You or sell out my brothers and sisters.” As I repeatedly prayed to God, my heart slowly became at ease. The wicked police saw that I was barely breathing and were afraid they would have to bear responsibility if I died, so they came to release my handcuffs. But my arms had already stiffened, and the cuffs were so tight that they became very hard to undo. The four wicked policemen took several minutes to release the handcuffs before dragging me back to the interrogation waiting room.
The next afternoon, the police arbitrarily pinned a “criminal offense” on me and took me back to my home to raid it, and then sent me to a detention house. As soon as I entered the detention house, four correctional officers confiscated my cotton-padded jacket, trousers, boots, and watch, as well as the 1,300 yuan in cash I had on me. They made me change into their standard prison uniform and forced me to spend 200 yuan to buy a quilt from them. Afterward, the correctional officers locked me up with robbers, murderers, rapists, and drug smugglers. When I entered my cell, I saw twelve bald prisoners eyeing me with hostility. The atmosphere was gloomy and terrifying, and I felt my heart suddenly rise up to my throat. Two of the heads of the cell walked up to me and asked: “What are you in here for?” I said: “Spreading the gospel.” Without another word, one of them slapped me across the face twice, and said: “You’re a religious head, aren’t you?” The other prisoners all started laughing savagely and mocked me by asking: “Why don’t you let your God rescue you from here?” Amid the jeering and the ridiculing, the cell head slapped me across the face a few more times. From then on, they nicknamed me “religious head” and often humiliated and mocked me. The other cell head saw the slippers I was wearing and arrogantly shouted: “You don’t know your own place at all. Are you worthy of wearing these shoes? Take them off!” As he said it, he forced me to take them off and change into a pair of their worn-out slippers. They also gave away my quilt to the other prisoners. Those prisoners fought back and forth for my quilt, and in the end left me with an old quilt that was thin, torn, dirty, and smelly. Instigated by the correctional officers, these prisoners subjected me to all sorts of hardships and torment. The light was always on in the cell at night, but a cell head said to me with an evil grin: “Turn that light off for me.” As I could not do it (there wasn’t even a switch), they started laughing at me and mocking me again. The next day, a few juvenile prisoners forced me to stand in a corner and memorize the prison rules, threatening: “You’re going to get it if you don’t memorize it within two days!” I could not help but be terrified, and the more I thought about what I had been through the last few days, the more frightened I became. The only thing I could do was to keep calling out to God and beg for God to protect me so I could overcome it. At this moment, I thought of a hymn of God’s words: “Whether you face imprisonment, illness, ridicule, or slander from others, or seem to have no way out, you can still love God. This means your heart has turned to God” (“Has Your Heart Turned to God?” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). God’s word gave me power and pointed out a path for me to practice—seeking to love God and turning my heart to God! In that moment, it suddenly became crystal clear in my heart: God allowing this suffering to befall me was not to torment me or intentionally make me suffer, but to train me to turn my heart to God in such an environment, so that I can resist the control of Satan’s dark influences and so my heart can still be close to God and love God, never complaining, always accepting and obeying God’s orchestrations and arrangements. With this in my mind, I was no longer afraid. No matter how Satan treats me, all I shall care about is giving myself to God and doing all I can to pursue loving God and satisfying God, never yielding to Satan.
Life in prison is practically hell on earth. The prison guards kept coming up with ways to torture me: When I was sleeping at night, other prisoners would crowd up against me so I could hardly turn over, and they made me sleep right up against the toilet. After being captured, I didn’t sleep for several days and became so sleepy that I couldn’t take it and would doze off. The prisoners on duty who were standing guard would come to harass me, intentionally flicking me on the head until I woke up before they would leave. Once, at around three in the morning, a prisoner woke me up on purpose and forcefully stole the long john top I was wearing, then gave me a dirty, ragged, and thin long john top. Those were the coldest days of the year, but this prisoner still took away the only long john top I had on me. The people in there were as barbaric as beasts. They were vicious and sinister, without a shred of humanity, like demons who torture people in hell for fun. Moreover, the food there was even worse than what was fed to dogs and pigs. The first time, I received half a bowl of congee, and saw that there were many black spots in it. I didn’t know what they were, and the color of the congee was also blackish. It was very difficult to swallow. I really wanted to fast at the time, but God’s words enlightened me: “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). God’s words were full of love and affection like the comforting of a mother, arousing my courage to face suffering. God wants me to keep on living, but I was too weak, constantly wanting relief through death. I don’t even cherish myself; it is still God who loves me the most! A warmth suddenly surged in my heart, making me so emotional that tears burst from my eyes. Being moved by God’s love once again gave me energy, and I must eat this meal regardless of how it tasted. So I finished off the congee in one breath. After breakfast, the cell head made me scrub the floors. These were the coldest days of the year and there was no hot water, so I could only use cold water for the cleaning cloth. The cell head also ordered me to scrub like this every day. Then, several convicted robbers made me memorize the prison rules. If I couldn’t memorize them, they would punch and kick me; getting slapped in the face was even more common. Facing such an environment, I often wondered what I would have to do to be able to meet God’s will. At night, I pulled my quilt over my head and prayed silently: “Oh God, You allowed this environment to befall me, so Your good intentions must lie therein. Please reveal Your intentions to me.” At that moment, God’s words enlightened me: “I admire the lilies blooming in the hills; the flowers and grasses stretch across the slopes, but the lilies add luster to My glory on earth before the arrival of spring—can man achieve such things? Could he testify to Me on earth prior to My return? Could he dedicate himself for the sake of My name in the country of the great red dragon?” (“Chapter 34” of God’s Words to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Yes, the flowers and grass and I are all God’s creation. God created us to manifest Him, to glorify Him. The lilies are able to add luster to God’s glory on earth before the spring arrives, meaning they have fulfilled their responsibility as a creation of God. My duty today is to obey God’s orchestration and to bear witness to God before Satan, to let everyone see that Satan harms and devours man, while God is the one true God who loves and saves man. Enduring all this suffering and humiliation now is not because I committed an offense, but is for the sake of God’s name. Enduring this suffering is glorious. The more Satan humiliates me, the more I have to stand on God’s side and love God. That way, God can gain glory, and I would have fulfilled the duty I should have fulfilled. As long as God is happy and pleased, my heart will also receive comfort. I am willing to endure the final suffering to satisfy God and submit to God’s orchestrations in all things. When I started to think this way, I felt especially moved in my heart, and was once again unable to control my tears. I prayed to God silently: “Oh God, You truly are worthy of love! I have followed You for so many years, but never had I felt Your tender affection like I have today, or felt as close to You as I do today.” I completely forgot my own suffering and became immersed in this moving feeling for a long, long time …
On my third day at the detention house, a correctional officer took me to their office. I saw more than a dozen people staring at me with peculiar looks. One of them held a video camera in front of me to my left, while another walked up to me with a microphone, asking: “Why do you believe in Almighty God?” That was when I realized that this was a media interview, so I answered with proud humility: “Since I was little, I have often been subject to people’s bullying and cold shoulders, and I’ve seen people mutually deceive and take advantage of each other. I felt that this society was too dark, too perilous; people were living empty and helpless lives, with nothing to look forward to and with no life goals. Later, when someone preached the gospel of Almighty God to me, I started believing in it. After believing in Almighty God, I have felt other believers treat me like family. No one in The Church of Almighty God plots against me. Everyone is mutually understanding and caring. They look after each other, and are not afraid to speak what’s on their minds. In Almighty God’s word I have found the purpose and value of life. I think believing in God is pretty good.” The reporter then asked: “Do you know why you are here?” I responded: “Since believing in Almighty God, I have cared less about worldly name and benefits, and I feel that these things are empty and meaningless. Only if I can be a good person and take the right path can I live in a righteous way. My heart is turning more and more toward kindness, and I am more and more willing to be a good person. Seeing how Almighty God’s word can truly change people and lead people to take the right path, I thought that if all of mankind can believe in God, then our country would be much more orderly and the crime rate would drop. Hence, I decided to tell this good news to other people, but I never knew that such a good deed would be banned in China. And so I was arrested and brought here.” The reporter saw that my responses were not advantageous toward them, so he immediately stopped the interview and left. At that moment, the deputy head of the National Security Brigade was so furious that he kept stomping his feet. He stared at me viciously, gnashing his teeth and whispering: “You just wait and see!” But I was not at all afraid of his threats or intimidation. Conversely, I felt deeply honored to have been able to bear witness to God on such an occasion, and moreover I gave glory to God for the exaltation of God’s name and the defeat of Satan.
Temperatures were very low on the day of January 17. As the wicked police had confiscated my cotton-padded coat, I only wore a set of long johns and ended up catching a cold. I came down with a high fever and also could not stop coughing. At night, I wrapped myself up in a worn quilt, enduring the torment of illness while also thinking about the endless mistreatment and abuse of the prisoners toward me. I felt very desolate and helpless. Just as my misery reached a certain extent, I thought of Peter’s genuine and sincere prayer before God: “If You give me sickness and take my freedom, I can continue living, but if Your chastisement and judgment were to ever leave me, I would have no way to go on living. If I were without Your chastisement and judgment, I would have lost Your love, a love that is too deep for me to put into words. Without Your love, I would live under the domain of Satan …” (“The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). These words inspired me, giving me faith and strength. Peter was never driven by the flesh. What he loved dearly and valued was God’s chastisement and judgment. As long as God’s chastisement and judgment did not leave him, his heart would receive its greatest comfort. I should now follow the example of Peter’s pursuit and understanding. The flesh is corrupt and will inevitably decay. Even if I encounter illness and lose my freedom, it is suffering I should bear. But if I lose God’s chastisement and judgment, that is equivalent to losing God’s presence and love, and also means losing the chance to be cleansed. That is what is most painful. Under God’s enlightenment, I once again experienced God’s love. I also hated my own weakness and worthlessness, and saw that my nature is too selfish, never showing any consideration toward God’s feelings of sadness. At that moment I felt full of indebtedness to God, so I quietly set my resolve: No matter how great my suffering, I will stand witness for God and satisfy Him. The next day, several other prisoners in the same cell fell ill, but my high fever miraculously receded. I felt God’s care and protection toward me and also saw His wondrous deeds. I couldn’t help but praise and thank God silently.
One night, a vendor came to the window and the cell head bought a lot of ham, dog meat, chicken thighs, and so forth. In the end, he ordered me to pay. I said I didn’t have the money, so he said viciously: “If you don’t have the money I will slowly torment you!” The next day, he made me wash the bedsheets, clothes, and socks. The correctional officers in the detention house also made me wash their socks. In the detention house, I had to endure their beatings nearly every day. Whenever I could bear it no longer, I would always be guided inside by God’s words: “You must, during your time on earth, do your final duty for God. In the past, Peter was crucified upside down for the sake of God; but you should satisfy God in the end, and exhaust all your energy for His sake. What can a created being do on behalf of God? You should therefore give yourself up to God, sooner rather than later, for Him to dispose of you as He wishes. As long as it makes God happy and pleased, then let Him do as He will with you. What right do men have to speak words of complaint?” (“Chapter 41” of Interpretations of the Mysteries of God’s Words to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words gave me infinite power. Even though from time to time I would still be subject to the attacks, abuse, condemnation, and beatings of the prisoners, my heart was able to achieve comfort and joy. Like a powerful warm flow, God’s love encouraged me to continue on, enabling me to truly feel that God’s love is too great.
One morning, a correctional officer specifically delivered a sheet of newspaper. The prisoners grinned hideously as they used a mocking tone to read out words from the newspaper slandering and blaspheming Almighty God. I was so furious that I began gnashing my teeth. The prisoners came over to ask me what it was all about, and I said loudly: “This is a smear by the Communist Party!” Listening to these prisoners all just parroting what the newspaper said, saying untrue things and blaspheming God by speaking the same language as the devil, I seemingly saw the coming of their end. As the sin of blaspheming God shall never be forgiven, anyone who offends God’s disposition will receive the punishment and retribution of God! By doing this, the Communist Party is taking all the people of China to their ultimate doom, completely exposing its true face as a soul-eating demon! Later the police officer in charge of my case interrogated me again. This time, he did not use torture to try to force a confession, and instead changed to using a “kind” face to ask me: “Who is your leader? I’ll give you another chance. If you tell us, you’ll be all right. I will show you great leniency. You were actually innocent, but other people ratted you out. So why cover for them? You seem like such a nice person. Why give your life for them? If you tell us, you can go home. Why stay here and suffer?” These two-faced hypocrites saw that the hard approach didn’t work, so they decided to try the soft approach. They really are full of cunning tricks and old masters of machinations and maneuvers! That hypocritical face of his filled my heart with hate for this pack of demons. I said to him: “I’ve told you everything I know. I don’t know anything else.” He saw my resolute stance and that he couldn’t get anything out of me; he walked away dejectedly.
After being held at the detention house for half a month, I was released only after the police asked my family to pay 8,000 yuan in bond money. But they warned me not to go anywhere and that I must stay at home and guarantee to be on call. On the day I was released, the prisoners said: “Your God is amazing. We were not sick people, but we all became sick people here. You came here full of illnesses, but now you’re leaving without any illness. Good on you!” In this moment, my heart became even more thankful and full of praise toward God! My uncle is a prison guard. He kept suspecting that I was released because my father has a special connection to someone powerful, or else there’s no way I would have been released from a high-security prison within half a month—at the very least it should have been three months. My whole family knew very well that this was determined by God’s omnipotence and that it was God revealing His wonderful work on me. I saw clearly that this was the contest between God and Satan. No matter how savage and vicious Satan is, it will always be defeated by God. From then on, I became convinced that everything I encountered was part of God’s arrangement. In late May, 2011, on a groundless accusation of “disturbing social order,” the CCP got me sentenced to one year of re-education through labor, to be served outside prison under surveillance, and suspended for two years.
After experiencing this persecution and tribulation, I had an understanding and could discern the devilish face and the evil essence of the atheist Communist Party of China, and developed a deep-seated hatred toward it. It uses violence and lies to protect its own position of dominance; it madly suppresses and persecutes the people who believe in God. It uses every trick in the book to hinder and disrupt God’s work on earth, and hates the truth to an extreme. It is the greatest enemy of God and also the enemy of those of us who are believers. After going through this tribulation, I can see that only God’s word can bring people life. When I was at my most desperate or at the brink of death, it was God’s word that gave me faith and courage, and allowed me to tenaciously hold on to life. Throughout this half-month of prison life, if God had not been with me, using His words to remind, enlighten, and encourage me, there was no way I, with a weak nature, could have stood firm in such a tribulation. If it were not for God looking after and protecting me, there was no way my weak and fragile body could have withstood the torture and ill-treatment of the CCP, which, even had it not tormented me to death, would have left my body sick and wounded. But God wonderfully protected me through those darkest, most difficult days, and even cured my original illness. God really is too almighty! His love for me is really too deep, too great! I really don’t know how to express my gratitude toward God, and can only say from the bottom of my heart: “Oh God, I hope to love You ever deeper! No matter how rough and bumpy the road ahead is or how much suffering I must endure, I will obey Your orchestration and be determined to follow You to the end!”
This experience is not only a treasure, but also a new starting point for my path of faith. I feel deeply that, in the ten years I have believed in God, I have never appreciated God’s love as deeply as I do today or truly felt that the value and meaning of believing in God, following God, and worshiping God is so great; and moreover, I have never been as willing to pursue loving God and offer my remaining life to repay God’s love as much as I do today. I would like to take this opportunity to offer my heartfelt appreciation and praise. All glory and praise to Almighty God!