Xu Qiang Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region
My name is Xu Qiang. I was once a project contractor. I led many people to undertake contracted projects every year and had a good income. In the eyes of my contemporaries, I had a happy family and smooth career and had a great future, so I should be the happiest man. However, while enjoying the material life, I felt an unexplainable emptiness in my heart. Especially in order to undertake contracted projects, I had to ingratiate myself with the leaders of the relevant departments all day, observing their speech and behavior and fawning and flattering them. All those had to be handled extremely well, or I couldn’t earn money. Moreover, people of the same trade intrigued against one another and guarded and schemed against one another, which made me exhaust all mental efforts…. Thus, I felt very bitter and tired and felt as if I became a puppet and a moneymaking machine, losing my dignity and integrity completely. In 1999, I accepted Almighty God’s end-time work. The feeling of release in the church life and the simplicity and honesty of the brothers and sisters made me deeply moved. I liked very much to live the church life and even more liked to stay with the brothers and sisters, and I treasured such time very much. As I read God’s word and attended meetings constantly, I understood many truths and was greatly released in my heart. I felt very thankful that I had found the true human life and the true happiness. And my heart was full of gratitude to God. If God didn’t save me from the sea of misery of the world, I would never have hope in my life. Later, I began to preach the gospel, running joyfully and tirelessly among the people who investigated the true way, so that they could receive Almighty God’s salvation earlier.
However, in China, this atheistic country, people don’t have any democracy or human rights. Especially people who believe in God and worship God will be even more oppressed and persecuted by the government. On December 18, 2005, I was arrested by the police. From then on, my hellish life began…. After experiencing that miserable life, I truly felt that God’s word is my life and my true love. If it were not for God’s word leading me and giving me strength and faith all the time, I couldn’t possibly have lived till today. God’s grace of salvation is unforgettable to me for life.
That morning, several brothers and sisters and I were having a meeting. Suddenly, there was a violent knocking on the door. Before we could have much thought, more than ten cops had broken in. They all stared with angry eyes and bore murderous looks on their faces. That scene was just like that of arresting the most serious escaped criminals in movies. Before saying any words, they took off all our shoes for fear that we might run away, and then they pulled out our belts and bound our hands backward. They took away all our things, such as cell phones, watches, cash, and so on. The evil cops roared and ordered us to kneel in a row against the wall. If we acted slowly, they pressed us down on the floor by pushing and kicking us. After that, they ransacked boxes and chests here and there. Only a short time later, the house was turned into a complete mess. Seeing that, I asked them indignantly, “We didn’t break the law. Why do you arrest us?” Unexpectedly, an evil cop rushed over and knocked me to the floor and roared at me fiercely, “You believers in God are exactly the ones we are catching. If we don’t weed you out, we can’t even sleep soundly.” The roar of rage shocked me and made me sober, “The one the devil hates is God. How can it let us believers in God off? I’m really too blind and ignorant!” Then I prayed to God silently to keep us, so that we could stand testimony and would not betray God. After a short time, the cops who guarded us questioned me, “Who asked you to preach everywhere? Who’s the church leader?” I said, “We all preach the gospel voluntarily.” He cursed, “Nonsense! Don’t be tough-lipped, bastard. See what awaits you shortly!” Just then, the roaring abuse of a female cop came from another room, “Bring me a needle. How dare you hide yourself! …” My heart flew up into my mouth immediately. Then I realized that a young sister among us was missing. She tried to hide herself and escape the evil cops’ arrest, but she was found. Seizing the young sister, the evil cop used a steel needle to prick the flesh under her fingernails and the arches of her feet furiously and pulled off her hair strand by strand savagely. In the end, they left behind that young sister who fainted, and took us together with the possessions they plundered from us and left the scene quickly.
Around noon, the evil cops took us to the police station and then interrogated us separately. The one in charge of my interrogation was a tall and sturdy evil cop. As soon as he entered the interrogation room, he shouted at me to kneel to him. I said, “I only worship God. Only the Ruler of the heavens and the earth and all things is worthy of man’s kneeling. I’ll never kneel to you!” On hearing that, he pointed at me and roared, “I tell you, even if the king of hell comes here, he has to walk sideways! Who the fuck are you? If I don’t let you taste death several times, you won’t know ‘Prince Ma’ has three eyes. Get down on your knees!” As he said that, he kicked me down to the floor. Then he questioned me, “Come clean with me! Are you a church leader? Where are the church books kept?” I was somewhat flustered in my heart and didn’t know how to respond. I could only keep calling to God to give me wisdom, so that I could deal with the devil. After praying, I calmed down and had strength in my heart: I would rather die than sell out the brothers and sisters and betray God! So I said to him, “I know nothing about your questions. What can I say?” As soon as I finished my words, the evil cop punched my head violently and then kicked and beat me wildly. I was beaten so badly that I saw stars and felt that the sky and the earth were spinning around. My head ached unbearably as if it split and I fell headlong to the floor. Then he took the notes for preaching the gospel searched out from me, and threatened me, “Look. The evidence is in our hands. You’re still fucking tight-lipped! Speak! Are you a leader? If not, you won’t have such things!” Seeing me say nothing, he switched the tone and coaxed me, “Don’t be stubborn. Cooperate with us actively and tell all that you know, and you can leave tomorrow.” At that time, God inspired me to think of his words, “When satan is warring against God in the spiritual realm, how should you satisfy God? How should you stand the testimony for God? You should know that every time a thing comes, it is a great trial to you, and it is the time God needs you to bear a testimony. Outwardly, it seems to you that they are not big things, but when they come, you will be revealed as to whether you love God. If you love God, you can stand the testimony for God. …” (from “Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh) God’s words made me see clearly that it was a war in the spiritual realm. I can’t fall into satan’s scheme and I must stand testimony for God. No matter how much evidence they say they’ve had, I can’t reveal any information of the church. This is the faithfulness that I should keep and is the testimony of my practicing loving God. Through the prayer, I calmed down gradually in my heart. No matter how they tortured me, I kept silent all the time. Finally, the evil cops slammed the door and left exasperatedly.
After a short time, another male cop over thirty years old came in. He helped me up from the floor and sat me down on the chair slowly, and he gave me a cup of water. He said to me, “Brother. Drink some water. You have suffered.” I was surprised, “What’s the matter? How come there is someone calling me ‘brother’ in such a place?” Not giving me more time to think, he continued, “Brother. We should be realistic about the life and be flexible in everything. If you behave like this, they’ll beat you to death. To be candid with you, I also believed in God before. I know it’s a good thing to believe in God. But if because of believing in God, you suffer so much and even die, it’s not worthwhile! If you’re sentenced, it’ll bring shame on all your family. Your parents are still alive, aren’t they? If you’re imprisoned for several years, they’ll have passed away when you get out. What will your relatives think of you? …” As my affection to my parents was strongest, each of his words was a dagger to my heart, and the figures of my old parents appeared before my eyes. I suddenly became dark and weak within, “Right. If I’m sentenced and imprisoned, how shall my parents live? Who will take care of them? …” At the thought of that, I couldn’t help shedding tears. The evil cop immediately seized the opportunity to coax me, “So, cooperate actively with them, and you’ll be free tomorrow.” When hearing this word, I sobered up suddenly and a very clear word appeared in my mind, “Never be a Judas and betray God!” That was close! The cunning evil cop was sent by satan to entice me to betray God. At that moment, God’s words guided me, “…only faithfulness can counter the devils’ schemes.” (from “The Tenth Piece of Word” of God’s Utterance to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh) Then I said to him, “Thanks for your kindness. I appreciate it, but I know nothing about the church.” Failing to achieve his purpose, the evil cop flew into a rage and exposed his true colors. He pointed at me and cursed fiercely, “You just wait for death!” As he said that, he pulled me down from the chair and dragged me to the door by seizing my collar, and handcuffed me to a beam in the room. In the end, leaving a word, “Take your time ‘enjoying’ it,” he went away. My feet couldn’t touch the floor at the same time. When one touched the floor, the other had to be lifted. As my body swayed, the handcuffs stuck into my flesh, and it hurt sharply. Nearly an hour later, the evil cops came back after being satiated with food and drink. With a heinous grin, they asked me how I felt. At that time, because of pain, my cotton jacket and cotton pants were already soaked in sweat. When I was put down, my hands were as swollen as bread and had no sensation. That gang of evil cops were really cruel and merciless. I hated them bitterly in my heart. At the same time, my hatred toward the CCP, the evil party, rose sharply.
At past 7 p.m. that day, the evil cops forced the other four sisters and me into a police car and were going to take us to another place. All the sisters were pale, and I could see that they had also suffered cruel tortures. We encouraged each other with firm eyes. After arriving at the detention house, the evil cops only dropped the four sisters off and then continued to drive on. I asked them where they would take me. A cop said with a conspiratorial smile, “Although you said nothing, we know you’re not a small potato, so we dare not neglect you. We’ll treat you to a ‘midnight snack.’ …” I knew those evil cops wouldn’t have good intentions, so I dared not relax for a single moment in my heart. I silently kept calling to God to give me strength and keep me from betraying God. I was taken to the National Security Team, and two sturdy guys received me. They took me into the interrogation room. I saw that the torture devices were spread all over the floor, like silent hungry tigers, making my blood run cold. Then, an evil cop said to me venomously, “We heard you’re quite tough, ah? We just like to gnaw hard bones! …” Before he finished the words, two evil cops rushed at me and pulled my ears forcefully as they roared. In the dim light, I saw two ferocious and twisted faces, and my heart couldn’t help thumping. At that time, I heard one evil cop laugh wildly and say, “It’s your bad luck to meet me today. I’ll let you take a shower first….” As he said that, he seized me and stripped off all my clothes by tearing and pulling. I stood naked on the icy floor, my whole body twitching and my teeth chattering with cold. The evil cop pulled over a water pipe and directed it at me and opened the valve. In an instant, a jet of strong and icy cold water hit my body. My skin ached unbearably as if being cut by a knife, and I felt as if all my blood had congealed. After a short time, my body didn’t have any sensation. As the evil cops blasted water at me, they roared, threatening me, “If you’re sensible, tell us quickly. Otherwise, you won’t see tomorrow’s sun!” I choked back the pain and bowed my head and kept silent. An evil cop gnashed his teeth and said that he would warm me up, that is, he would give me electric shocks. At that time, I had already been tortured till I had no strength at all, feeling that death was approaching me step by step. I hurried to call to God in my heart, “God! Man is too small and can’t do anything for you. Today I’m willing to shame satan with death. May you keep my heart from staying away from you or betraying you at any time.” They forcibly pried open my mouth and stuffed a wet towel into it. The other end of the towel was connected with a wire, the other end of which was clipped on my ear. Then, they pressed the switch in their hand. In a flash, I felt that all my blood rushed toward my head, feeling as if my head would explode. I ached so much, feeling as if my eyes would burst out. Every nerve in my body was twitching violently, and I felt as if they were breaking. Seeing me overwhelmed with pain, those evil cops all laughed loudly. Only a few moments later, I fainted. Immediately following that, they sobered me up with a basin of cold water. When I woke up, the towel was still in my mouth. The evil cops asked me with a heinous grin, “How was the taste? If you want to say something, you can nod your head.” Then, I thought of God’s words, “When man gives up his life completely, nothing is difficult. No one can daunt him. Is there anything more important than ‘life’? In that case, satan cannot possibly do anything on man and has no way to do with man.” (from “The Interpretation of the Thirty-sixth Piece of Word” in The Word Appears in the Flesh) God’s words made me become more resolute in my choice. I thought, “Do as you wish. Anyway, I only have one life and the worst is to die. But don’t you expect to draw one word from my mouth.” I didn’t answer him and closed my eyes and didn’t look at him. My action irritated the evil cop and he wired me up once again. This time the electric current was more powerful than last time. I cried anxiously in my heart, “God! Save me! I can’t take it.” Just at that moment, the scene of the Lord Jesus being crucified appeared before my eyes clearly: The ferocious soldiers hammered a half-foot-long iron nail into the Lord’s palm, which pierced through his skin and his bone…. The sufferings Jesus underwent made me heartbroken. I couldn’t help crying loudly and prayed to God in my heart, “God! You’re holy. You are not of sin. But for the sake of saving mankind, you handed over yourself to the evil ones and were crucified, shedding your last drop of blood for redeeming us mankind. God! I’m an extremely corrupt man and one who should perish. Since I’ve accepted your salvation and have the fortune to experience your work, I should offer up myself for you. God! I know clearly that now you’re by my side, accompanying me in suffering. You’ve been loving me and expending for me all the time. I’m willing to dedicate my everything to satisfy you, so that you’ll no longer suffer for me and worry about me.” At that time, the two evil cops stopped shocking me. Seeing that God sympathized with my weakness, I was full of gratitude to God in my heart. Then, although they didn’t stop afflicting me, I felt no more pain. I knew that God kept me and bore the pain for me. My heart was so deeply touched by God’s love that I kept shedding tears. Later, another cop came in. He cast a glance at me and then said to the two evil cops, “Don’t beat him anymore. You see, he’s been beaten so badly but he still doesn’t tell anything. He surely knows nothing.” Then, they stopped. I knew it was out of God’s wonderful manipulation and arrangement. God didn’t permit the gang of devils to harm my life, and so he maneuvered person, matter, and thing to stop it. I truly felt God’s love.
The evil cops were defeated and stopped interrogating me. Around midnight, I was taken to the detention house. An officer took me to a cell where more than 30 prisoners were detained. When he opened the door and let me enter, I heard him say to the head of the cell with an insidious smile, “In a while, just do it quietly. Don’t make too much noise.” The head of the cell threw a glance at me and looked me up and down. He twisted his mouth and said to the officer, “Trust me!” Before I knew what was happening, the head’s face darkened and he lowered his voice to give a command, “Old rules, buddies, start!” All the prisoners sat up and glared at me fiercely, making me very frightened. The head waved his hand and those people rushed at me like ferocious wolves. They held me and stripped me naked and then lashed my body hard with the soles of flat-heeled shoes. In the end I fainted. When I woke up, it was already 6 o’clock the next morning. I saw I was put in a corner and my body was so swollen that I couldn’t put clothes on. Just like that, I lay on the big board for six whole days. I was covered with wounds. Moreover, the flesh in my mouth had been burned by the evil cops with electricity and become dead. I ached so much that I couldn’t even take a bite. The officers were afraid that I might die and bring them trouble, so they asked the prisoners to take turns feeding me some vegetable soup.
When my wounds healed a little bit, instigated by the evil cops, the prisoners continued to bully and humiliate me. They required me to recite the prison regulations every morning. If I couldn’t recite them well, they would beat me. They also asked me to do the cleaning and wash clothes for the rich prisoners. Whenever I was a little careless, they would punch and kick me. They knew I’m a believer in God, so they often said a lot of words of blaspheming God intentionally before me to provoke and humiliate me, “Is it that you believers in God don’t feel pain while being beaten and don’t feel tired after working? Is it that it doesn’t matter no matter how many sufferings you undergo? …” To torture me, they even required me to clear the commode with my hands. It was so disgusting that I felt like vomiting my guts out. They also required me to brush the floor tiles with a toothbrush and purposely threw my steamed buns in the commode. When the officer inspected sanitation in our cell, he would take off his shoes and walk round in white socks. If he found his socks stained, he would punch and kick me…. Facing the evil cops’ endless torments, I was very weak and depressed in my heart. I thought it was better to die than to live like that. When I was extremely distressed and weak, God’s words gave me faith and power to live. God says, “Maybe you all remember this word: ‘For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.’ In the past, you all heard this word, but none of you understood its true meaning. Today, you deeply know its real meaning. This word will be accomplished by God in the end time, and it will be accomplished in people in the dwelling place of the great red dragon who are cruelly persecuted by the great red dragon. Because the great red dragon is the persecutor of God and the enemy of God, people in this place all suffer humiliations and persecutions for believing in God. So, this word is accomplished in you group of people.” (from “Is God’s Work So Simple as People Imagine?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh) God’s words made me realize this: Today I’m humiliated and tortured for believing in God and this is God’s exceptional uplifting and also my honor! But I’m cowardly and spineless. I lose faith in God because my flesh suffers a little, unwilling to suffer for repaying God’s love. In order to save me, God has expended so much painstaking effort and price. How can I “repay” God in this way? How can I respond to him with passivity against my conscience like this? No! I’ll never be a spineless weakling! I’ll never let God’s name be shamed because of me! So, I hurriedly prayed to God, “God! Thank you for inspiring me to understand the meaning of suffering. I’m willing to endure all sufferings for your glory. Even if I have to be imprisoned for life, I’ll satisfy you. May you be with me and inspire and guide me, so that I can bear a strong and resounding testimony for you in satan’s affliction.” After the prayer, I felt I had strength all over and had courage to face the environment of suffering.
Over ten days later, the evil cops came to interrogate me again. They threatened me that it wasn’t too late for me to cooperate with them then, and otherwise they would make my following days harder. After experiencing the brutal tortures several times, I had already seen through their devilish substance and hated them to the core. So, no matter how they coaxed, threatened, and frightened me, I was strong in faith and never wavered. Later, they came to interrogate me every half a month. Finally, failing to get any information from me, they sentenced me to two years of hard labor on the charge of “disturbing the social order and having illegal meetings.”
On February 24, 2006, I was sent to a labor camp. Because of believing in God, I was convicted as a “political offender.” The prison guards deliberately assigned me to labor in the brick works, where the work was the hardest and most tiring and dangerous. My task was to take the burned bricks out of the kiln. The temperature in the kiln was at least 300 degrees Celsius. The temperature was the lowest in the morning, but it was still at least over 100 degrees Celsius. We worked in such a great heat, but the prison guards didn’t provide us with any heat-resistant work clothes. The safety helmets we wore would melt after we stayed in the kiln house for two minutes. In order not to be burned, we had to hold our breath and go in and out quickly. Because we didn’t have any heat-resistant shoes, after entering the kiln house, we could only stand on our feet alternately. If we were a bit careless, our feet would blister. When we first worked there, we weren’t accustomed to it. We had to run out after being in it for less than five seconds. The captain arranged for the group leader to hold a PVC pipe filled with sand to lash whoever ran out. Such a pipe couldn’t break bones, but it could leave a red mark on one’s skin and cause his flesh to swell up. The prisoners called it a “cramp stick.” We dared not inhale in the kiln house, because if we did, we would feel as if drawing fire into our nostrils. After fishing out a few bricks, we had to pull the cart and run out. If the tire blew out, we would not only be punished but also be imposed on a longer term of imprisonment on the charge of “damaging the work tools and resisting reform.” Our daily task was to carry 115 carts of big bricks and 95 carts of small bricks. It was impossible for us to finish the task in such a great heat. However, the prison guards never asked why you couldn’t finish it, but asked why you resented laboring. Because I sweated too much while working in the great heat, I had an acute sodium deficiency and fainted on the ground several times. They just threw me on the kiln wall and let me cool down for a few minutes. After I woke up, they let me drink a cup of salt water and then go on working. It was the first time for me to taste what it meant to reach the limit, what it meant to suffer unspeakably, and what it meant to feel worse than death. There, no one would care whether you were alive or dead. The captain only cared whether the task of your group had been finished. If the task was finished, he said nothing. If not, he said nothing either. He just pointed at the door of the kiln house and left. The group leader would then call those who didn’t finish the task into the kiln house and beat them up. When they fell down, their body got burned by the great heat of the ground and blistered all over. Apart from that, he would also add another 20 carts of bricks to their daily task until they begged for mercy. Facing such an environment, I was very weak in my heart. Having been tormented for several days, I felt as if having made a trip to hell. I thought, “What a long term two years is!” I didn’t know how to pass the future days, fearing that even if I wouldn’t be beaten to death by the evil cops, I would be scorched to death by the great heat. The more I thought, the more I felt I had no way to go. I really couldn’t bear staying in the demon’s prison any longer. Then I thought of dying. In the days that followed, I looked for an opportunity of “getting released” every day. Finally, the opportunity came. One day, when a truck loaded with bricks started to leave, I rushed under the truck. But the wheels suddenly stopped only one foot away from me. It turned out that the truck broke down. A few prisoners dragged me out. The leading captain said that I “didn’t obey the discipline and my old nature didn’t change” and began to punish me. They put an electric baton which was sparking into my bosom. I writhed on the ground from the pain. Then, they handcuffed my hands backward to a wire pole and beat me savagely with the electric batons. After supper, they held a criticizing meeting to “remediate” my thoughts…. Endless sufferings and tortures made me feel extremely terrified, desperate, and helpless. Just when I was struggling and hovering for how to live on, a passage of God’s words arose in my mind, “No matter how God refines you, you are full of faith, do not lose faith in God, and have done what man should do. What God requires of man are these. Man’s heart can turn to him completely and can be toward him every moment. This is the overcomer. The overcomer God speaks about is one who, under the influence of satan and the siege of satan, that is, in the forces of darkness, can still stand the testimony, and can still keep his original faith and keep his faithfulness to God. In any case, you can still keep your pure heart before God and keep your true love for God. Thus you have stood the testimony before God. This is the overcomer God speaks about.” (from “You Should Hold on to Your Faithfulness to God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh) Right! God will ultimately make a group of overcomers. This group of overcomers can still keep their faith and faithfulness to God and live by God’s word and finally stand testimony for God before satan in any adverse environment. However, today satan tortures and afflicts me by every possible means, just attempting to use my weakness in the flesh to strike me down and force me to betray God. I can’t become the sign of shame! God loves me with deep and earnest affection. Even when I wanted to die because of my weakness in the flesh, God still cared for and kept me in secret and didn’t let me die. No matter how weak I was, God never intended to give me up or changed his love for me, but still inspired and led me, so that I could walk out of the dense fog. I’ll never disappoint and grieve God. I thanked God for leading me to see through satan’s scheme again, so that I came back from the jaws of death. I couldn’t help singing a hymn of life experience silently, “I will offer the sweetest to God, and leave the bitterest to myself; I will firmly stand God’s testimony, and never again yield to satan. Ah! Head can be cut off and blood can be shed, but the backbone of God’s people cannot be bent; God’s charge is on my mind. I resolve to shame the old satan. Let tears shed in my heart; I’d rather endure great humiliations than cause God’s heart to be worried.” (from “I Wish to See the Day God Gains Glory” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs)
When I was obedient and willing to endure all sufferings to satisfy God, God made a way out for me. As the captain was illiterate, he asked me to write reports for him. Since then, my task of carrying bricks was reduced. Later, an elderly sister of the church came to visit me. She held my hands, saying tearfully, “Child, you have suffered. The brothers and sisters are all very worried about you and pray for you every day. You should be strong! Don’t bow your head before satan. Exert more strength for the sake of God’s uplifting. We’re all waiting for your coming back.” In that ruthless hell on earth, except for God’s words of comfort, I had never heard a warm word from others. Now when I heard the kind words of the brothers and sisters, which I hadn’t heard for a long time, I felt greatly comforted and encouraged in my heart. In a long time after that, I was encouraged by God’s love. I felt much relieved in my heart and had the energy to work. Those days went by fastest in my prison life. Especially during the last four months, every month I ranked first on the list of the people who got a reduced sentence. Before, only heads of the cells, group leaders and the prisoners on sentry duty could be given a commuted sentence every month. The prisoners who had no money or power could never have their turns, much less could a Christian convicted as a “political prisoner” by the CCP like me enjoy such treatment. So the prisoners often surrounded me and asked, “How did you make it?” At such times, I would thank God from my heart, because I knew that it was God’s great mercy to me and that it was God’s love that brought me strength.
On September 7, 2007, I was released after serving my sentence. Not long afterward, I returned to the church and lived the church life again, and joined in preaching the gospel once again. After experiencing that tribulation, I became stronger and more mature than before and I even more cherished the opportunity of performing duty. As I saw the true face of the CCP government’s resisting God and afflicting man, I felt more deeply that God’s salvation is precious. If God hadn’t been incarnated and personally worked to save man, all men living under satan’s domain would be afflicted and devoured by satan. Therefore, my mentality of performing duty was greatly different from before. I thought that it was so important to spread the gospel work and save souls, so I was willing to be faithful and spend my lifetime energies to bring more people before God, so that they could also wake up from the deceiving and fooling of the atheistic political party and receive the life supply from God and gain God’s salvation. In the two years of long prison life, satan attempted to use its despotic power to force me to betray God, but God, through that adverse environment, perfected my faith in God and my faithfulness and obedience to God, purified me of my mixtures in loving God, and made me know God’s wisdom and almightiness and deeply realize that God is salvation and love to man! I have infinite worship and praise in my heart for God!