59. The Fruit of an Honest Report
By Zhao Ming, China
In April 2011, I needed to take the place of a leader named Yao Lan in a church in another part of the country. During the handover, while Yao Lan gave me the rundown on the situation in the church, she mentioned that her daughter Xiaomin was a deacon of watering, and that she would help me familiarize myself with the work in the church. Hearing her explain everything in such an orderly way, I couldn’t help but feel some admiration. Yao Lan seemed to handle the church work really well and be very capable, so it was hardly any wonder she was now able to take charge of such a wide range of work. I silently resolved to be considerate of God’s will and do my best to do church work well.
The next day, Xiaomin took me along to a team leader meeting. After we read God’s words, I shared a bit of my own relevant experience and understanding. Sister Xia then said, displeased, “Our old leader Yao Lan didn’t fellowship on God’s words like that. She’d explain them to us line by line, saying things like ‘This is encouragement,’ and ‘This is a warning.’” The other brothers and sisters chimed in, saying how clearly Yao Lan fellowshiped on the truth. I was totally astonished and thought: “Isn’t fellowshiping on God’s words talking about our own experiences and understanding based on His words? How come Yao Lan doesn’t talk about how she puts God’s words into practice and experiences them herself? Why would she explain God’s words to the brothers and sisters line by line? Can fellowshiping that way allow them to understand the truth and know themselves?” I wanted to discuss the principles of fellowshiping God’s words in gatherings with them, but then I thought: “I’m new to this church and Yao Lan has responsibility for my work. Her daughter Xiaomin is right here, too. If I say that Yao Lan’s way of fellowshiping God’s words just amounts to explaining the literal meaning and that gets back to her, she may say that I’m trying to pick at her faults the moment I arrive, and think ill of me. It’ll make things really awkward if I offend her.” So I kept my mouth shut, and that was that.
One day, Sister Xiao got a letter to me behind Xiaomin’s back. The letter said that she had previously made some suggestions to Yao Lan, but Yao Lan hadn’t accepted them. Not only that, but Yao Lan started holding her back and wouldn’t let her do her hosting duty anymore. I was really taken aback. I thought: “Sister Xiao must be wrong. How could Yao Lan oppress anyone?” I then sought out Xiaomin to get an idea of the situation. Xiaomin said that Sister Xiao was very enthusiastic, but often got things wrong in her understanding. She went on to say that Sister Xiao was well-known locally as a believer, that her home wasn’t safe, and that she was lacking in wisdom to maintain a safe environment at home. She said quite a few negative things about Sister Xiao. I thought to myself: “If all that’s true, then Sister Xiao really isn’t suitable for hosting duty. But why would she say that Yao Lan was oppressive toward her? Maybe she has some sort of grievance against Yao Lan.” I still felt uneasy, however, so I went to visit Sister Xiao at home. I discovered that her home was relatively suitable for hosting, and that she wasn’t lacking in wisdom at all, so I began to feel puzzled. I wondered: “How can things be so different from what Xiaomin said? Has Yao Lan really been oppressing Sister Xiao?” When I asked Sister Xiao for further details, I learned that Yao Lan was using the need for a safe environment as an excuse, that she had stopped several deacons from performing their duties, and as a result brothers and sisters had no one to water them. They were not living a normal church life. When Sister Xiao raised this issue to Yao Lan, saying these arrangements were not appropriate, Yao Lan not only refused to accept it, but took Sister Xiao’s duty from her. She even kept Sister Xiao’s letter reporting her problems under wraps. I was shocked to hear this. How could that be? Yao Lan was clearly in the wrong, yet she didn’t accept what Sister Xiao said, and even trampled her and suppressed her letter. She was definitely not someone who accepted the truth! That once again brought to mind how she never talked about her own experiences and understanding when she gave fellowship on God’s words, but instead took God’s words out of context and misled the brothers and sisters. She went completely against the principles of fellowshiping God’s words. I realized that she might have a real problem and that I had to report this to our superiors so that the work of God’s house wouldn’t be delayed. But then I thought: “According to what Sister Xiao said, Yao Lan is of poor humanity. She’s in charge of my work at the moment, so if she finds out that it was me who reported her, she might oppress me and dismiss me from my duty.” With a sigh, I decided that it was best not to say anything, but I also decided to arrange for Sister Xiao to resume hosting duty.
Unexpectedly, a few days later, Sister Chen also reported some of Yao Lan’s evildoing to me. She said that Brother Wang and his wife were new converts and were a little afraid due to the Chinese Communist Party’s arrests and persecution, and so they didn’t dare take on hosting duty. Not only had Yao Lan not fellowshiped on the truth to help them, but had reprimanded them and refused to allow anyone else to support them. In the end, Brother Wang and his wife sunk into negativity and didn’t want to attend gatherings anymore. When Sister Chen told Yao Lan that this was no way to treat brothers and sisters, she didn’t reflect on herself at all, but concocted some story about Sister Chen’s security being compromised. Then she isolated Sister Chen from the church for several months, not allowing her to participate in church life. There was also another sister who was performing watering duty. At gatherings, she would integrate God’s words into her fellowship and be totally open and honest about which corrupt dispositions she had been revealing. Yao Lan leapt at this opportunity to dismiss her from her duty. She then promoted her own daughter, Xiaomin, to watering duty and told the brothers and sisters to train her daughter well, as she would be taking on important tasks in God’s house in the future. Yao Lan also promoted her husband to team leader, when in fact he was no true believer, and was unable to fellowship anything of value in gatherings. Yao Lan acted on emotion and dragged her husband into the church, then assigned him to be a team leader—this was a serious violation of the administrative decrees. And her evildoing didn’t stop there. Yao Lan and her daughter ruled over the church like monarchs, oppressing and ordering brothers and sisters around at will, until just the sight of her made them afraid and no one dared voice an opinion. As I listened to Sister Chen, I felt both shocked and indignant. When Yao Lan handed her work over to me at the start, I felt admiration for her when she said that all the work was going well. But it had all been lies. Not only did she quote God’s words out of context during fellowship and mislead some of the brothers and sisters by preaching letters and doctrine, she also enjoyed the blessings of her position and bullied brothers and sisters. She even went so far as to rule the church despotically, to oppress others as she pleased, and dismiss people from their duties. She promoted and cultivated those closest to her, and engaged in nepotism. Her wanton and reckless behavior and her many evil deeds showed her to be a dyed-in-the-wool antichrist! Now the scope of her duty was even larger, so more brothers and sisters would surely be harmed. I knew I had to report her to a superior as soon as I could and uphold the work of the church. When I started to think about reporting her, however, I began to worry: “Yao Lan is in charge of my work. If she finds out I’ve reported her, then, knowing how she behaves, she’ll most likely dismiss me from my post as church leader and send me home. She may even find some pretext to oppress and punish me. My life would become very difficult. What if I end up getting kicked out of the church? Then my journey of faith in God would be over. I need to be realistic. I’ll get church work sorted first and then see.” And so, in order to protect myself, I decided not to report and expose her. But at the next gathering I saw the expectant looks on all those oppressed brothers’ and sisters’ faces, I felt really distressed and my conscience was accused. Moreover, when I heard them talk about how Xiaomin was going around the church exalting Yao Lan’s ability to fellowship on the truth, and that she was constraining and lecturing brothers and sisters in a condescending way, I got even angrier. I thought to myself: “I must report Yao Lan and Xiaomin’s evildoing to a superior. I cannot allow them to act wickedly and oppress brothers and sisters however they please.” So, I wrote down everything the brothers and sisters told me about them. After the gathering, however, I felt conflicted again: What would Yao Lan do to punish me if she found out? But wouldn’t I be doing evil if I chose to protect myself and not expose those two? I was between a rock and a hard place and felt all tied up in knots, so tight that I could hardly breathe. In tears, I knelt down and prayed to God, saying, “Dear God, I want to report Yao Lan and her daughter to my leaders, but I’m afraid they’ll take revenge on me. Oh God, please guide me to break through the oppression of the forces of darkness, and to practice the truth and uphold the work of the church.”
After my prayer, I read this in God’s words: “All of you say you are considerate of God’s burden and will defend the testimony of the church, but who among you has really been considerate of God’s burden? Ask yourself: Are you someone who has shown consideration for His burden? Can you practice righteousness for Him? Can you stand up and speak for Me? Can you steadfastly put the truth into practice? Are you bold enough to fight against all of Satan’s deeds? Would you be able to set your emotions aside and expose Satan for the sake of My truth? Can you allow My intentions to be fulfilled in you? Have you offered up your heart in the most crucial of moments? Are you someone who does My will? Ask yourself these questions, and think about them often” (“Chapter 13” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I felt so ashamed of myself when I read these revelations in God’s words. I believed in God, but God had no place in my heart. I was not taking God’s commission seriously, and all I thought about in the face of problems was my own interests. I was not protecting the work of God’s house at all. I’d clearly discovered that Yao Lan was explaining God’s words by quoting them out of context, that she was domineering in the church, and that she was punishing and oppressing brothers and sisters. In order to promote those closest to her and consolidate her forces, she was dismissing people from their duties arbitrarily, severely disrupting and interfering with the church life and constraining and harming brothers and sisters. Especially now that the scope of her work had increased, she was in a position to harm even more brothers and sisters. But I had been afraid of Yao Lan’s status and influence, afraid of being oppressed and dismissed by her, of losing my own position and future prospects, and of her and her daughter taking revenge on me and harming me, so I didn’t dare hold to the principles and expose and report them. And so, with eyes wide open, I watched antichrists and wicked people run amok in the church. The brothers and sisters were being oppressed and their lives were being damaged, and yet I still didn’t dare to stand up and expose Satan. What a base, selfish, despicable person I was! I then read God’s words that said: “Mankind has been profoundly corrupted by Satan. Satan’s venom flows through the blood of every person, and it can be seen that man’s nature is corrupt, evil, and reactionary, filled by and immersed in the philosophies of Satan—it is, in its entirety, a nature that betrays God. This is why people resist God and stand in opposition to God” (“How to Know Man’s Nature” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days). “As for what Satan’s poison is, it can be fully expressed with words. For example, if you ask some evildoers why they committed evil, they will answer, ‘Because it’s every man for himself, and the devil take the hindmost.’ This single phrase expresses the very root of the problem. Satan’s logic has become people’s lives. They may do things for this purpose or that, but they are only doing it for themselves. Everyone thinks that since it is every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost, people should live for their own sakes, and do everything in their power to secure a good position for the sake of food and fine clothing. ‘Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost’—this is the life and the philosophy of man, and it also represents human nature. These words of Satan are precisely the poison of Satan, and when people internalize it, it becomes their nature. Satan’s nature is exposed through these words; they represent it completely. This poison becomes people’s lives as well as the foundation of their existence, and corrupted humanity has been consistently dominated by this poison for thousands of years” (“How to Walk the Path of Peter” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words showed me that I had been corrupted and trampled on by Satan, and that my very bones and blood had been saturated and infused with satanic poisons, philosophies, and codes, until I myself was becoming more and more evil and selfish. I was living by the satanic poisons of “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” “When you know something is wrong, it is better to say less,” and “Sensible people are good at self-protection, seeking only to avoid making mistakes.” My thoughts had all become twisted and I had terrible values and outlooks on life. I regarded my own interests, my future prospects, and my destiny as more important than anything else. Seeing Yao Lan and her gang of evil antichrist forces harming brothers and sisters in the church, I knew I had to expose and report them. But because I was afraid of being oppressed and of losing my position and future prospects, I didn’t dare do it, no matter how much I struggled over it. I therefore allowed antichrists to disrupt the church and I acted obsequiously, not daring to say one impartial word. I realized that I was so tightly bound and fettered by the poisons of Satan that I had become its accomplice, its running dog; this was loathsome for God, and I was unworthy to live before Him. I had enjoyed years of God’s work and guidance, and He had raised me up so I could perform my duty as a church leader. I, however, didn’t know to cherish it and gave no thought to how to care for brothers and sisters or uphold the work of God’s house. I lived wholly wrapped up in my own selfish desires, without a shred of dignity or integrity. I had failed to live up to the trust the brothers and sisters placed in me, and even more so, I had failed to live up to the commission God had given me. At this thought, I hated myself for being so selfish and despicable and I said a prayer to God, willing to repent. I asked God to give me strength and to guide me to break through these dark influences and be able to practice the truth.
After that, I read this in God’s words: “The disposition of God is one that belongs to the Ruler of all things and living beings, to the Lord of all creation. His disposition represents honor, power, nobility, greatness, and most of all, supremacy. His disposition is the symbol of authority, the symbol of all that is righteous, the symbol of all that is beautiful and good. More than that, it is a symbol of Him who cannot be[a] overcome or invaded by the darkness and any enemy force, as well as a symbol of Him who cannot be offended (nor will He tolerate being offended)[b] by any created being. His disposition is the symbol of the highest power. No person or persons can or may disturb His work or His disposition” (“It Is Very Important to Understand God’s Disposition” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I understood from God’s words that God rules over all things, that His disposition is emblematic of the highest authority, and that no enemy force or force of darkness may offend it. God will purge from the church all the disruptive evil forces of Satan and utterly eliminate them. This is the direction of God’s work and it is a reality that God will surely accomplish. Yao Lan had been ruling over the church like a tyrant, controlling and oppressing brothers and sisters, cultivating those closest to her and setting up her own kingdom. She had disrupted and interfered with God’s work, done all manner of evil, and seriously offended God’s disposition. She was an antichrist demon who would be expelled from the church sooner or later. I thought about how God’s house had previously expelled so many evil people and antichrists: No matter how savage they were, they could only ever succeed for a little while, and in the end they could not escape God’s punishment. Was this not God’s righteousness? Yet I hadn’t understood God’s righteousness, and had not trusted in the fact that in God’s house, the truth and righteousness held sway, that God reigned. I viewed the house of God as though it were the same as the world, as though whoever had status and power could control my fate, and if I got on the wrong side of Yao Lan and her daughter, I thought I’d lose my future prospects and destination. I was even afraid they would take revenge on me—I did not trust in God’s rule over all things. This kind of faith was just a disgrace to God! I read this in God’s words after that: “My words are the basis of man’s escape from dark influences, and people who cannot practice in accordance with My words will not be able to escape from the bonds of the influence of darkness. To live in a correct state is to live under the guidance of the words of God, to live in a state of loyalty to God, to live in a state of seeking the truth, to live in the reality of sincerely expending oneself for God’s sake, and to live in a state of genuinely loving God. Those who live in these states and within this reality will slowly transform as they enter into the depth of the truth, and they will transform as the work goes deeper; and in the end, they will certainly become people who are gained by God and who love God genuinely” (“Escape From the Influence of Darkness, and You Will Be Gained by God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words showed me the path. If I wanted to break through the fetters of Satan’s dark influence, I had to practice in accordance with God’s words. I had to let go of my own personal interests and thoughts about my future, practice the truth, expose and report those antichrists, and uphold the work of God’s house. Even if I was dismissed from my duty and lost my position and prospects, I had to stick to the truth principles. Once I’d understood this, I found my strength, and I wrote a letter to my leaders reporting Yao Lan and Xiaomin.
A couple of days later, the leaders convened all the brothers and sisters to uncover the facts of the evil deeds committed by Yao Lan and Xiaomin. In accordance with the principles, Yao Lan, her husband, and Xiaomin were all dismissed from their duties. Yao Lan and her daughter did not reflect on or attempt to know themselves, but instead visited brothers and sisters at their homes, feigning contrition, and even bemoaning how wrongfully they had been treated in an attempt to deceive the brothers and sisters. They were utterly unrepentant, and ultimately, because of their evil deeds, they were determined to be antichrists and evildoers who had committed all manner of wickedness, and were expelled from the church. Church life returned to normal, brothers and sisters clapped and cheered, and everyone praised the righteousness and holiness of God. This helped me see even more clearly that righteousness and the truth hold sway in God’s house, that Christ rules there, and that no matter how evil and rampant the antichrist evil forces are or how powerful they may be, they can never outmatch God’s authority or disrupt God’s work, much less control anyone’s destiny. They are just like chess pieces in the hands of God, tools that serve to help God’s chosen ones develop discernment. Their performances allow others to see antichrists and evil people for what they really are, so that they are not led astray. Through this experience of reporting these antichrists, it was the enlightenment, guidance, and leadership of God’s words which enabled me to break through the forces of darkness and practice the truth. I felt at ease and at peace in my heart, and I felt that conducting myself in this way was the only way to live with dignity and integrity; I felt liberated and free. This was the fruit of writing an honest report.
All the glory be to Almighty God! Amen!
a. The original text reads “it is a symbol of being unable to be.”
b. The original text reads “as well as a symbol of being unable to be offended (and not tolerating being offended).”