Yichun City, Heilongjiang Province
I believed in Jesus with my mother when I was a child. In 1989, I joined the Three Grades of Servants Church. At that time, the preacher often said in the meetings that the way the servants and the maidservants walked was the way of suffering that the Lord Jesus had walked, and that the servants were like Moses and Paul. Gradually, my love for the servant exceeded that for my parents, and even exceeded that for the Lord. And I believed that only through the leading of the servant and the maidservants could we enter the kingdom of heaven and that if we had obeyed the servant and the maidservants, we had obeyed the Lord. In 1990, I quit school. Because I pursued actively, the servant thought very highly of me, and soon he began to take me with him when he went to other places to work. Later, I was promoted to watcher in charge of the work in Hunan and Guangdong Provinces. I ruled about thirty co-workers and shepherded five thousand believers. Influenced by the servant and the maidservants, I served the Lord more and more zealously. And I thought that my hard work would surely be rewarded with greater blessings in the end.
After several years of prosperity, somehow, our church gradually became desolate. One day in October 1997, the servant called me, saying, “Xiao Zhao (a maidservant of the Three Grades of Servants Church) has apostatized, and many co-workers left with her. Don’t receive her from now on. You must hold on to our true way.” His words astounded me. “Sister Zhao was so loyal to the servant, and she often testified about how much the servant had suffered. How could she have left?” Later, a co-worker with whom I was on familiar terms called me and told me secretly that Sister Zhao left because the servant asked her to do an unlawful thing. Hearing that, I was astonished and wondered, “Could our servant, whom all people look up to and follow, be such a kind of person?”
Before that matter calmed down, I received an emergency call. The servant called the co-workers and me together and said, “Now there arises a sect called the ‘Eastern Lightning.’ Its members say that the Lord Jesus has come. They are very aggressive and are stealing sheep from every church. A lot of people have been taken away by them. You must be cautious and hold on to our true way.” Having heard the servant’s “preaching” and searched many Bible verses, I foolishly believed that these things had fulfilled the words in the Bible and that the departure of Xiao Zhao and some others had fulfilled the words “in the latter times some shall depart from the faith” (1 Timothy 4:1). I decided to abide by what we often preached: “We only acknowledge the way and not man.” I thought, “Everyone sins, but it’s all right as long as he takes the right way.” So the cloud of the rumor that the servant asked Sister Zhao to do an unlawful thing gradually disappeared from my mind. I took the co-workers to seal off the churches everywhere, not allowing the brothers and sisters to receive or fellowship with outsiders, including their parents. Wherever I went, I emphasized that only our way was the true way and that we must obey the will of the Lord and follow the servant to the end, for the servant and the maidservants had shed tears and suffered imprisonment for our sake. However, although the co-workers and I guarded the churches every day, we could not stop the steps of those who preached the work of Almighty God.
One day, a pillar (the responsible sister of a church) told me that Sister XX had accepted the “Eastern Lightning.” So we immediately went to her home. I questioned her, “Have you accepted the ‘Eastern Lightning’?” She answered, “Yes, I do. God is always new and never old. Could His work stagnate?” I said fiercely, “I don’t care whether God’s work stagnates or not, but when the Lord comes, the servant and the maidservants will first know it. Since none of them knows it, how could the Lord have possibly come back?” The pillar who came with me also tried to persuade her, saying, “Sister, turn back quickly. Only our way is the true way. The servant is the master of our flesh. Without his leading, we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” We fellowshiped a lot, but the sister was not affected at all. We thought that she had been seriously poisoned and was already irredeemable.
A few days later, a co-worker called me and said that the pillar had led over twenty brothers and sisters to join the “Eastern Lightning.” Hearing that, I suspected that I might have heard it wrong, thinking, “When I met her a few days ago, she stood very firm on our way and said that she would follow the servant and the maidservants to the end even if there was only her left. How come she has changed so quickly? What power made her leave the servant?” I hated the pillar for having no ground and being so easily swayed, and I even more hated the people of the “Eastern Lightning” for stealing the sheep from our Church. Then we immediately took actions. We informed all the brothers and sisters the pillar knew that they must not receive her or open the door to her but to drive her away if she came. And we began to fast and pray for the churches, asking the Lord to stop the steps of the “wicked” and look after the flock. Yet all that was to no avail. Still many people who had followed the Lord for many years were taken away by the “Eastern Lightning.” I learned from the servant that those people joined the “Eastern Lightning” because they were given much money and whatever they asked for. At that time, I wondered, “They believed in the Lord for so many years but now left the Lord only for some money. Hasn’t their belief been in vain? How is that possible?” But then I thought, “What the servant said must be right.” So once again I believed the servant. To defend the “true way” and control the believers’ hearts, I wantonly slandered wherever I went: “The ‘Eastern Lightning’ followers use money to draw people in. They are not believers in God at all.”
In June 1998, I was transferred to work in the district of Hebei Province and Beijing City. Before I finished making my rounds of all the churches, I heard that the servant and the key leaders were all arrested. At this news, I became weak, but I thought that although the servant was not with us, I must hold the ground and protect the flock properly. So, I intensified my resistance against the work of Almighty God. At that time, several sisters in Beijing also joined the “Eastern Lightning.” After I heard of that, I took a co-worker with me and went to have a fellowship with them. But no matter what we fellowshiped, they refused to turn back. And they said, “We have finally found the true God. We will now no longer be controlled and bound by man.” Seeing that it was hopeless to save them, I expelled them from the church and ordered all other believers to reject them.
After the servant and the key leaders were arrested, the people of the “Eastern Lightning” came to our churches and stole away all good sheep. At that time, the Three Grades of Servants Church was in utter chaos. It became desolate and had lost the work of the Holy Spirit. The co-workers intrigued against each other for power and position. Most of the brothers and sisters were weak, and some stopped attending meetings, some spent their time watching TV and playing mahjong. The church had almost become like society. Faced with such a situation, I felt afraid and uneasy, and my heart was filled with emptiness and helplessness. I also wanted to leave the church and return to the world, but I feared that the Lord would cast me away when He came back. I thought, “I have walked nine-tenths of the path. Won’t my belief in God be in vain if I give up walking the remaining one-tenth? Won’t my many years of pursuit be futile? Won’t I become a hired worker?” At that time, I had no way to work and minister to others, feeling that my future was bleak, yet I dared not return to the world. Just when I was in a dilemma and felt most helpless, God’s great love came upon me, a disobedient, arrogant, foolish, and ignorant person.
It was in March 1999. One day, when I had just arrived at a church, I met some brothers and sisters who preached God’s gospel of the last days. At first, I was unaware of that, so I fellowshiped with them. They talked about the desolation of the church and said that the last days had come…. I agreed to them. But when a sister said that in the last days there would be the work of reuniting all denominations into one and the Lord would come again to do it personally, I became suspicious of them, for I knew only the people of the “Eastern Lightning” preached that the Lord had come to earth. So I was on the alert for them and became cautious when speaking. The sister asked me, “How do you think the Lord will come?” To find out whether they were the preachers of the “Eastern Lightning,” I asked her in return with malicious intent, “What do you think of it?” I thought to myself, “If you say that the Lord will come by becoming flesh, then you are definitely the ‘Eastern Lightning’ followers.” The sister replied gently, “I think He will come by becoming flesh.” Her answer confirmed my judgment. I thought, “You say that the Lord has come, but the servant hasn’t said that. What you say is obviously false.” Then I remembered that many brothers and sisters in the Three Grades of Servants Church had been taken away by them, and I got angry. The cordial atmosphere in the fellowship suddenly became hostile. I didn’t want to fellowship with them anymore. At that time, the sister said, “The Lord’s coming back is not a small matter, Sister. We should seek and shouldn’t draw a rash conclusion.” But I turned a deaf ear to whatever they spoke. I said to myself, “You want to drag me to join you. No way!” The sister continued, “Why did the Pharisees resist Jesus and nail Him to the cross? It was just because God did not work according to their notions. Aren’t people of today the same as them?” I suppressed my anger and asked her, “You are saying that I’m a Pharisee, aren’t you?” I could not restrain myself anymore, and flared up and drove them out. In order to protect the flock, I decided to stay there to guard the church until the people of the “Eastern Lightning” retreated and no longer came. However, they showed no sign of withdrawing at all; instead, they continually came to fellowship with me. Later, a sister told me her own experience—how she resisted in the past and how she was later conquered by Almighty God’s word and accepted His work. She shed remorseful tears while she spoke. Seeing her sincere manner, I thought, “Though the way they take is different from ours, they have love, which I don’t have. But as the servant hasn’t accepted it, I won’t accept it either. Today I don’t judge whether your way is true or false. We each mind our own business. You go your way, and I’ll go mine. If you want me to forsake the Lord’s way, that’s impossible.” Seeing that I could not take her words in, she advised me to read God’s word and make an investigation into it lest I miss the opportunity. I thought, “I might as well have a read of the book—I won’t accept it anyway. I’ll see what is written in it and what the ‘Eastern Lightning’ is about. This is a chance for me to find some evidence and handles against them so that I can tell these things to the brothers and sisters.” Then the sister particularly told me that the words in the book were spoken by the incarnate God, and that I could not receive any enlightenment unless I read them with a seeking heart. But I had my own idea and did not take her words to heart. I said to myself, “Reading your book does not mean that I will join you. I don’t believe at all that the Lord has returned.” But I couldn’t find any handle in it after reading half of the book, and I felt that some words were right. So, I considered it to be nothing but a book about the experiences of a spiritual person. Then I put it aside and continued to read the Bible. A few days later, I heard that several thousand people had accepted the “Eastern Lightning” and some of them were the believers of the Three Grades of Servants Church. I thought, “These foolish people, they are so undiscerning and so gullible!” Then I thought, “People all clearly know that the ‘Eastern Lightning’ is false, but how come so many still join it? It is possible that one or two people are fooled. Could it be possible that so many people have all been fooled? Has the Lord really come back? If it is really so, could the servant not know? No, it’s impossible! I have to pray for the Lord to help me discover the inside story of the ‘Eastern Lightning’ and protect me from being deceived by them. I’ll ask the Lord to give me wisdom so that I can win back those deceived brothers and sisters.” Then, I planned carefully in my heart, trying to make the people of the “Eastern Lightning” believe me. So I “actively” learned the songs and read the words of Almighty God. One day, I received a very clear guidance inside: “The Holy Spirit will desert you.” I felt very afraid. “Won’t I be finished if Jesus abandons me?” I knelt down before the Lord and prayed in bitter tears, “Lord, I don’t know what I have done wrong. Please hide Your face from my sins. Lord, I’m weak now and don’t know what to do. I have no idea where I should lead these brothers and sisters. Please guide me and reveal Your will to me. I’m willing to obey You and act according to Your will.” After the prayer, I felt very relieved. I opened the book of God’s word beside me and began to read. Almighty God says: “In all the years of God working on this earth, He has always used people to do His work. But these people cannot be considered God incarnate; they can only be considered people used by God. But the God of today can speak directly from the perspective of divinity, send forth the Spirit’s voice, and work on behalf of the Spirit. All those people whom God has used over the ages similarly have God’s Spirit working through their bodies, so why can’t they be called God? Today’s God is God’s Spirit working directly in the flesh, and Jesus was also God’s Spirit working in the flesh. These latter two are called God. So what’s the difference? Throughout time, the people whom God has used all have normal thought and reason. They all know how to conduct themselves and handle life’s affairs. They hold normal human ideology and have all the things normal people should have. Most of them have exceptional talent and innate intelligence. In working through these people, God’s Spirit harnesses their talents, which are their God-given gifts. It is God’s Spirit that brings their talents into play, using their strengths to serve God.” “He who works in divinity represents God, while those who work in humanity are people used by God. That is, the incarnate God is substantively different from the people used by God. The incarnate God can do the work of divinity, but the people used by God cannot. At the beginning of each age, God’s Spirit speaks personally to launch the new era and bring man to a new beginning. When He finishes His speaking, it signifies that God’s work in divinity is done. Thereafter, people all follow the lead of those used by God to enter life experience. Similarly, in this stage God brings man into the new age and gives everyone a new start. With this, God’s work in the flesh concludes.” “Some people do not rejoice in the truth, much less judgment. Rather, they rejoice in power and riches; such people are deemed to be snobs. They exclusively seek out those sects in the world with influence and those pastors and teachers coming from seminaries. Despite having accepted the way of truth, they remain skeptical and are unable to devote themselves fully. They speak of sacrificing for God, but their eyes are focused on the great pastors and teachers, and Christ is brushed aside. Their hearts are filled with fame, fortune, and glory. They do not believe at all that such a meager man is capable of conquering so many, that one so unremarkable is capable of perfecting people. They do not believe at all that these nobodies among the dust and dunghills are the people chosen by God. They believe that if such people were the objects of God’s salvation, then heaven and earth would be turned upside down and all men would laugh their heads off. They believe that if God chose such nobodies to be perfected, then those great men would become God Himself. Their perspectives are tainted with unbelief; indeed, far from unbelief, they are preposterous beasts. For they only value position, prestige, and power; what they hold in high regard are large groups and sects. They have no regard at all for those led by Christ; they are simply traitors who have turned their backs on Christ, on truth, and on life.” “What you admire is not the humility of Christ, but those false shepherds of prominent standing. You do not love the loveliness or wisdom of Christ, but those wantons who associate with the vile world. You laugh at the pain of Christ who has no place to lay His head, but admire those corpses that seize offerings and live in debauchery. You are not willing to suffer alongside Christ, but gladly go into the arms of those reckless antichrists though they supply to you only flesh, only letters, and only control. Even now your heart still turns toward them, their reputation, their standing in the hearts of all the Satans, their influence, and their authority, yet you continue to have an attitude of resistance and refusal to accept the work of Christ. This is why I say that you do not have the faith of acknowledging Christ. The reason you have followed Him to this day is entirely because you were forced. In your heart forever tower many lofty images; you cannot forget their every word and deed, nor their influential words and hands. They are, in your heart, forever supreme and forever heroes. But this is not so for the Christ of today. He is forever insignificant in your heart and forever undeserving of reverence. For He is far too ordinary, has far too little influence, and is far from lofty.” (from The Word Appears in the Flesh) While I was reading these words, I felt that they carried authority and majesty, and penetrated my heart like a sharp sword. I recognized that they were truly God’s voice and no man could speak such words. I shed tears and asked myself, “Why have I taken God’s word as man’s word?” Suddenly I, who had been in a deep sleep, woke up and came to realize: There has been an “idol” in my heart, and I have regarded the servant as the holy one. When I met him, I was even on my knees, worshiping him as God. I have believed in God yet not known God. I am really the most muddled, foolish, and ignorant person. How could the servant be compared with God? Isn’t he also a created being? At that moment, scene after scene of the servant’s doings floated before my eyes. He ran many clothing stores, barbershops, and repair plants, and was engaged in pyramid selling, and he also bought several cars. I felt even more ashamed to mention that he asked sisters to bathe him and sleep beside him, and he greeted some sisters with kisses. He also found us some scriptural verses to cover up the truth behind them. I had seen all these things with my own eyes, but when others criticized the servant, I tried hard to defend him and was dead set on following him. Only then did I realize that I had been fooled by the wicked servant. I had been deceived by his outward pretense so that I could not see the light of day, not knowing what the truth was and what righteousness was, and I even waved flags and shouted for Satan and became Satan’s accomplice and puppet. At that time, tears blurred my eyes, and I was filled with mingled feelings. I was excited and even more remorseful. I was excited because the Lord Jesus I had been expecting day and night had truly come back and He had been incarnated again in the filthy land to save us; I was remorseful because I was so blind that I had done many things that disobeyed and resisted God. Because of the lies I had intentionally spread, those brothers and sisters who didn’t know the facts could not come before God and were still living in Satan’s trap, leading a life without light. Having believed in God for many years, I actually became an executioner. I really did not deserve God’s salvation but only deserved to be punished and cursed by God. However, God did not treat me according to my deeds; instead, He bestowed His mercy and love upon the numb and rebellious me. At that time, my heart was moved by God’s kindness and loveliness, and I couldn’t help falling down before Almighty God and prayed, “O Almighty God! You are truly my savior. O Almighty God, I give thanks to You that You have awakened me from the deep sleep and saved me from the darkness, so that my heart is revived and I see the sun and meet the light once again. O God, I’m grateful to You. I will do all I can to preach the news of Your return to those brothers and sisters who are expecting Your coming but waiting for the time of Your return in vain, so that Your heart will be comforted a little. O Almighty God, thank You for saving me. Your love for me is so great and so real. I shouldn’t waste the painstaking effort You have expended and the price You have paid on me. I am willing to consecrate myself to You. No matter how rough and rugged the way ahead may be, I am willing to follow You to the end.”
After I received Almighty God’s salvation, I knew that our dying church could be saved. So, with incomparable excitement, I told this great good news to the brothers and sisters in our church who had been expecting the Lord’s return. I first invited a co-worker over and preached to her God’s gospel of the last days. But I had never expected that she flew into a rage and went away after hearing my words. Then, she spread the word about me everywhere that I was bought over by the “Eastern Lightning” and had joined it. And she also said that I was conscienceless to follow a false one and abandon the servant who had trained me for many years. Later, I went to a host family, who didn’t open the door to me and even said that if I didn’t leave, she would call the police to arrest me. The fact before my eyes made me feel deeply grieved and remember that I had once ordered the brothers and sisters not to open the door to the believers of the “Eastern Lightning” but to drive them away. I reaped what I had sown. I really regretted it. Only then did I see how hard it was for God to do the work, and that in order to save us, God had suffered all kinds of humiliations and what Jesus had suffered He had also suffered today. “O God, I will treasure this happy reunion with You.”
Dear brothers and sisters, the above is the story of how I had gone astray from God for a period of time in my life of believing in God. Believing in God but not knowing God was the greatest sorrow of mine. Now I have understood why those brothers and sisters who had said that “I will never leave the servant and the maidservants no matter who leaves them” left them without hesitation. It’s not because they were given some money or gained some benefits, but because they had seen the appearance of the Savior and returned to the hometown that the believers have expected for thousands of years—the Canaan flowing with milk and honey. Almighty God avenges those in deep misery and dispels the fog for the numb and ignorant people who have been deceived, so that they see the light of day again and are delivered from the dark influence of Satan. How could they possibly leave God and return under the domain of the wicked servant? Dear brothers and sisters! Lift your feeble legs and seek boldly! As long as you maintain the little righteousness in your heart, you will surely see that Almighty God is walking toward you with a smile and He will give you water and food so that you will renew your strength and soar on wings like an eagle.