Xiangwang Sichuan Province
I feel deeply chastised in my heart every time I see that God’s words say: “Cruel, brutal mankind! The conniving and intrigue, the jostling with each other, the scramble for reputation and fortune, the mutual slaughter—when will it ever end? God has spoken hundreds of thousands of words, yet no one has come to their senses. They act for the sake of their families, and sons and daughters, for their careers, prospects, status, vanity, and money, for the sake of clothes, for food and the flesh—whose actions are truly for the sake of God? Even among those whose actions are for the sake of God, there are but few who know God. How many do not act for the sake of their own interests? How many do not oppress and discriminate against others for the sake of maintaining their own status? Thus, God has been forcibly condemned to death innumerable times, countless barbaric judges have condemned God and once more nailed Him to the cross” (“The Wicked Must Be Punished” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I think back to how I did not seek truth, how in fulfilling my duty I repeatedly competed with my working partners, how for the sake of my reputation and benefit I would suppress or reject the other—how I caused losses both for my own life, and for the work of God’s family. Although God arranged many circumstances to save me, I was numb and completely failed to grasp God’s intent. But God continued to pity me, to save me, and only after repeated chastisement and judgment did I awaken and understand God’s wish to save us, putting aside my pursuit of reputation and status and starting to act a little like a human.
In 1999, I accepted God’s work in the last days. At the time my family fulfilled our duty of hospitality and I saw how well some brothers and sisters communicated, able to use God’s words to answer any question. We were all willing to engage with them, and we would communicate openly with them on any issues. I envied them, thinking: Wouldn’t it be great if I could be like them one day, surrounded by brothers and sisters, solving their problems? And with this intention I started to fulfill my duty in the church. In 2007 I received God’s elevation and appreciation and was given the duty of district leader. My brothers and sisters reported to me if the subjects of my work were in an incorrect state, of their own difficulties, and various issues in the district. I felt I was at the center of things and that my years of work had been worthwhile: Now I could communicate some truths and help my brothers and sisters with their difficulties. And although the workload was a little heavy, I was willing to work hard. To maintain this position and fulfill my vanity I behaved in an exemplary and positive manner when performing my duty. No matter what work the leaders assigned us, even if my co-workers felt it was difficult or were unwilling to cooperate, I always responded well, and if I had difficulties I kept quiet and actively agreed with them. Even if there were things I did not understand I played along, to win the praise of my leaders.
So my leaders would think well of me and I would stand out among my co-workers, I started to work out how I could achieve my aims: It was easiest to be noticed, to prove my abilities and to win the praise of my leaders, when doing gospel work. As long as that work was effective, it was not a major issue if your other work was not—the leaders would not prune or deal with me. And so I set to work: I changed the way I approached gospel work, no longer patiently guiding my brothers and sisters. If they reported any difficulties in gospel work I would prune or deal with them. I started to press and pester the church leaders for results, and if the results were disappointing I became angry: “Why have you got so few people? Do you want to keep this job? If we don’t see better results next month we’ll have to replace you!” I didn’t consider the stature of my brothers and sisters, nor did I use the truth to resolve the problems and difficulties they encountered. I just pressed and pestered them with the aim of maintaining my own position. Quickly the results improved, which delighted me. Better results meant I was among the best of my co-workers and I became enamored of myself. Not long after a brother was assigned to us. He was good-looking and a good talker and communicator. He circulated amongst the churches and the brothers and sisters all praised his fellowship. This upset me: They all praised his fellowship—which must mean mine was not good! It would have been better if he hadn’t been sent here. Measuring myself against him I found he really was better than me. But I was unwilling to give up. At that time I was concerned with reputation and benefit and was uninterested in the various problems of the church. I started to worry about what I wore, how I spoke and acted. At meetings I deliberately showed off my wisdom so my brothers and sisters would think highly of me. Sometimes I would belittle the brother assigned to work with me and look to see how the subject of our work regarded me. I lived in a wrong state and was unable to save myself. In all things I compared myself to that brother and had completely lost the work of the Holy Spirit. Not long after, I was replaced. When I heard the news it was like a knife twisting in my heart—what about my face, my status, my future? God was judging and chastising me, yet I had no understanding of my nature. On the contrary I speculated as to how the leaders would analyze me in other places: How would I face people, what would those who knew me think? Trapped in Satan’s web, I started to grumble, regretting that I had fulfilled my duty as a leader, that if I had not taken on that role this would never have happened. … The more I thought the more I suffered. Under God’s chastisement I was losing sleep and thinking wild thoughts. Ultimately I was almost at the point of spiritual collapse, and several times I considered lying down in the road to be run over. I knew at this point I was in a dangerous state, but I could not free myself and had no choice but to stand in front of God and pray: “Oh God, at this moment I am living in the darkness, fooled by Satan and suffering greatly. I do not want to accept everything that has happened to me today, I want to escape Your chastisement and judgment, and I have complained and betrayed You. Oh God! I beg You to protect my heart, to make me able to examine and understand myself, to take pity upon me.” After this I saw the man’s fellowship: “Some people God treats with particular kindness and elevation. They are promoted to become leaders or workers, given important tasks. But these people do not return God’s love, they live for their own flesh, for status and reputation, seeking to testify of themselves and gain respect. Are these acts good deeds? They are not. These people do not understand how to comfort God, they have no consideration for God’s wishes. They seek only to satisfy themselves. These are people who harm God’s heart, who do only evil, who cause so much harm, too much harm, to God’s heart. God promotes them as leaders, as workers, to foster them, so they will become perfect. But they have no consideration for God’s wishes and work only for themselves. They do not work to bear witness to God or work so those God has chosen can enter into life. They work to testify of themselves, to achieve their own aims, to have status among those God has chosen. These are the people who are most resistant to God, who harm God’s heart most. This is a betrayal of God. In man’s words it is a failure to appreciate what is done for them, in spiritual terms these people are wicked individuals resisting God” (“The Important Meaning Behind Preparing Good Deeds” in Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life (II)). This communication felt like a double-edged sword stabbing into my heart, leaving me deeply chastised. It was God’s kindness and elevation that allowed me to become a leader, and He had done this so I could become perfect. But I was inconsiderate of God’s intent and did not know to repay His love. I lived for status and reputation, to testify of myself, and the nature of this was resisting and betraying God. God detested everything I did and so ceased my service, showing me that in God’s family God and the truth reign. I thought back on what I had sought: I thought maintaining good relations with my leaders would ensure I kept my position, so I bowed and scraped to them and agreed with their every word. But with my brothers and sisters I was harsh and critical. How contemptible! I would do anything for status. I tried to use my brothers and sisters to achieve my aim of standing out from the others; I did not fulfill my responsibilities toward the lives of my brothers and sisters. I pressed and pestered, to the point the subjects of my work feared me and avoided me, not daring to bare themselves to me. Yet I did not turn back and examine myself. God had sent that brother to me and not only did I fail to learn this lesson, I fought harder for reputation and benefit, exhibiting my flesh and causing God to detest me and losing the Holy Spirit’s work. And my replacement was God’s righteousness coming upon me: the best possible judgment of me, the best salvation, God’s great love. Otherwise I would have unwittingly continued on a road of antichrist. God stopped my sinful steps. I deeply regretted that my original intention for my pursuits had been incorrect and that I had not focused on solving that problem, all of which resulted in today’s failure. During that time, whenever I sang the hymn of experience I would sob, tears streaming down my face: “After I offended Your disposition I fell into darkness and fully felt the harm of Satan. I felt desolate and helpless, accused by my conscience, suffering greater than death, and only then did I know the happiness of a conscience at peace. How many opportunities to be perfect did I waste, failing to see Your good intentions. Even if I give everything I cannot make up for the harm done to Your heart. Oh God, practical God, how I wish to return to before and start afresh. How can I be compatible with You when my heart hides extravagant desires? I lust after the benefits of status—so how can I not fall? I was always inconsiderate of Your wishes, I was passive and resistant toward You, and while serving You I also resisted and cheated. If it wasn’t for Your pity, I would not be here today. Given what I have done death would not redeem me. These breaths I breathe are obtained by Your forbearance. Oh God, practical God, I should not have made You suffer so much for me. Your words of life touch my heart, Your exhortations give me endless strength, allowing me to stand up again amidst defeat, showing me the value of life and why I was created. So when faced with Your final request, how could I again evade? I want to use real action to repay the price You have paid. Whether I incur blessings or adversities, I wish only to satisfy You, to give myself to You, to follow You closely even if I receive nothing in return” (“God’s Pity Gave Me Rebirth” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). This refinement was with me for a period of more than one year and despite the life and death suffering, which felt like being skinned alive, I found my lusts for status and prospect were weakened, and I saw how valuable this refinement was.
In 2012 a sister in charge of work assigned me and a brother to elimination and expulsion work in a certain place. Because I had not done church work for a long time, I had a weaker grasp of some principles. I felt some of the problems in the church and issues determining the nature of things in our elimination and expulsion work were somewhat difficult. But that brother had continually done church work and made up for my lack, showing me what I had to learn. This was God’s love—He did not place a heavy burden upon me. That brother reported on our work, and he did most of the communicating when determining the nature of things. When we met with the subjects of our work he was the first to communicate and over time it became as if I did not exist, and something inside me came out: When we work together, you are better at fellowship, but I am better at gospel work. And no matter how good you are at fellowship you have to be practical. Didn’t the above say that elimination and expulsion work should not be to the detriment of gospel work? You talk and talk and talk, showing off. It’d be better if we separate so I can also display my strengths. I am not incapable. You might think I am not so good at fellowship, but I’m better at practical work than you, and anyway, gospel work is my strength. And at that point we received a letter from the sister in charge of work—for operational reasons we were to separate, each being responsible for one area. And although the results for all types of work in the area I was responsible for were not as good as those in my brother’s area, I was still delighted: I had somewhere to use my talents. And never mind that the results weren’t very good—wait until I’ve worked on that, I’ll prove how capable I am. Once we were separated I threw myself into my work and started to organize things, communicating the work arrangements with brothers and sisters and finding God’s words to communicate to them. And things did start to improve. And I couldn’t help but think: How is my brother doing? Is he doing better than I am? And when we met and I learned that my gospel work was better than his, that I had got more people, I was secretly pleased: Finally I’m better than you and can feel proud. And just as I was feeling pleased, the Holy Spirit reproved me: “Aren’t you stealing God’s glory?” My heart sank. Yes, spreading the gospel is the duty and responsibility of every one of God’s chosen people, but I had seen it as a route to reputation and benefit. And it was thanks to the cooperation of my brothers and sisters, to God’s blessings, that we had got those people. What did I have to boast about? I blushed as I thought of this. I was so contemptible. God’s holiness did not permit me to contain such depravity, and when I realized my circumstances I thanked God for bringing me back to my senses. I would no longer seek reputation and status. In the following days I focused on reading God’s words, when I encountered situations I accepted these as being from God, and gradually my urge for reputation and status faded. I just compared my love for God with that of my co-workers, and drew on each other’s strengths and offset each other’s weaknesses. Not much later I was promoted to fulfill another duty. I was very surprised and knew this was God’s elevation of me. I treasured that duty, wishing to do everything possible in my power to satisfy Him.
In August 2012, the sister in charge of our work communicated with me, assigning me to fulfill my duty in another location. At the time I eagerly agreed, but before I left she said: “It’s better to send that brother to work with you, it’ll be better for the work of God’s family….” She asked for my opinion, and I said: “That’s fine, I’m willing to work with him.” And when we saw each other at a meeting, he was open with me: “I didn’t agree with them choosing you, your fellowship isn’t as good as mine!” That one off-hand statement left me in great turmoil. I thought I’d left my bias against my brother behind, but on hearing that something again appeared inside me: It’s a real shame, I shouldn’t have agreed to go with him. He knows all my failings. I had thought that on arrival in my new post I would be more appreciated as a newcomer! But now there’s nothing to be done. I forced a smile and acted as if there was nothing wrong, thinking: I’m not good at fellowship, but I was chosen first because I’m better than you. If you don’t believe me, wait and see! We travelled to our new place of work and threw ourselves into doing our duty. Initially, when meeting the subjects of our work, I prayed to be able to forsake the flesh, to restrain myself for the sake of a harmonious partnership. I listened carefully to how he communicated with the subjects of our work about their states and prayed for him, while for gospel work I communicated with them. After some time, I saw how his communication was clearer than mine. During meetings with the subjects of our work I didn’t want to say a single word in fellowship. I wished those meetings would end early and wanted to get away. We were responsible for a large area then, and I came up with an idea: If we worked separately I wouldn’t suffer so much. When I explained this to my brother he agreed: “The size of the area makes work difficult, it’d be ok to split up.” When I met with the subjects of our work by myself I was able to speak at great length, communicating and organizing, taking on a great “burden” for them. Soon I saw results in all aspects of my work, while my brother was not doing particularly well. I didn’t do anything about it, as if it was none of my business. At a meeting our leader learned we were working separately and communicated to us the responsibilities of our work and the truth of harmonious partnership. I was willing to accept this and no longer work separately from him. But we continued to work apart, using the excuse that we both knew our own work better. Fearing my leader would criticize me I did go to my brother’s area to communicate with the subjects of his work, but I felt I was out of my own area. If I communicated well it seemed like my brother would get the credit. So I went through the motions and made an excuse, saying I had some admin task to do, and rushed off. My brother continued to see no results, yet I did not blame myself or feel afraid—I had no fear of God, and I even ignored several communications from our leader. This continued until we were reporting on our work, when I was stunned: Although my area had got many people, when both our areas were added up the numbers were low. Only then did I feel afraid. I had tried to prove myself, to fulfill my intent of showing how well I could work, that I was better than him at gospel work. But gospel work in his area had almost halted—and the above had said that was not to happen in any circumstances. I had become the obstacle preventing God’s will being carried out. I had no choice but to look to God’s words to see the root cause of these circumstances. I saw the following: “Each of you, as people who serve, must be able to defend the interests of the church in all things you do, rather than looking out for your own interests. It is unacceptable to go it alone, where you undermine him and he undermines you. People acting this way are not fit to serve God! The disposition of this sort of person is so bad; not an ounce of humanity remains in them. They are one-hundred-percent Satan! They are beasts! Even now such things as this still occur among you, going so far as to attack each other during fellowship, intentionally seeking pretexts, getting all red in the face arguing over some little thing, neither person willing to put himself aside, each person hiding what’s inside from the other, watching the other party intently and being on guard. Can this kind of disposition befit service to God? Can such work as yours give supply to the brothers and sisters? Not only are you unable to guide people onto a correct life course, you actually inject your corrupt dispositions into the brothers and sisters. Are you not hurting others? Your conscience is so bad, rotten to the core! You do not enter into reality, and do not put the truth into practice. Moreover you shamelessly expose your devilish nature to other people, you absolutely know no shame! The brothers and sisters have been entrusted to you, but you take them to hell. Aren’t you a person whose conscience has gone rotten? You are utterly shameless!” (“Serve as the Israelites Did” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s harsh words exposed my true nature and left me ashamed. It was due to God’s elevation and kindness that I could fulfill that duty, God had entrusted me to bring my brothers and sisters to Him. But I did not enter into reality, I did not practice the truth, and for reputation and status I ignored the interests of God’s family. I fought both openly and in secret with my brother, working alone. Now is the time to spread the gospel, and God hopes those who truly seek it will soon return to God’s family. But I shirked my responsibilities and did not love God, I did not consider His most fervent wish and bring those who sought the true way to God. I sought reputation and status, those worthless things, to prove myself, rather than helping others. I did not communicate about problems in our work, hoping my brother would fall behind me. I was envious of aspects of work where my brother was stronger, or even ignored them, and I treated work as a game in which I showed off and bragged about myself and belittled my brother. I was too evil, without any humanity. God detests such people, and if I did not change how could I serve Him? If I did not enter into reality how could I bring my brothers and sisters to God? In tears, I came to God and prayed: “Oh God! I was wrong, it was all my rebelliousness. I failed to consider Your wishes, and to prove myself I fought against my brother, to beat him I ignored my conscience and did not fulfill my responsibilities. And now the gospel work has been harmed and I have committed a transgression in front of You. But I wish to repent and change, to work harmoniously with my brother and make gospel work more active. If I strive to gain status again, punish me, God. I am willing to be watched by You, Amen!” After praying I took the bus to see my brother and communicated openly with him, admitting how I had acted rebelliously in front of God and how I planned to improve. We communicated about our understanding of ourselves. Afterward we worked together with God as one and started to improve on the failings of our work, looking for the oversights and errors, summing up the successful experiences I had had, and acting strictly according to the work arrangements. Our gospel work soon improved. From this I saw God’s righteous disposition. God’s holiness does not allow there to be any filth or corruption within me, and when I was tricked by Satan and could not save myself, it was God who stretched out the hand of salvation and pulled me back from the brink of death, freeing me from Satan’s influence and allowing me to change. I am willing to seek the truth and no longer be rebellious, to be fully loyal in all that God entrusts to me.
I saw that God’s word says: “Very seldom when you are working together does any of you say: I would like to hear you fellowship with me about this aspect of truth, because I am not clear about it. Or to say: you have more experiences than I have on this matter; can you give me some direction, please? Wouldn’t this be a good way of doing it? You on the upper levels hear a lot of truth, and understand a lot about service. If you people who coordinate to work in the churches do not learn from each other, and communicate, making up for each other’s shortcomings, from where can you learn lessons? When you encounter anything, you should fellowship with each other, so that your life can benefit. And you should carefully fellowship about things of any sort before making decisions. Only by doing so are you being responsible to the church and not being perfunctory. After you visit all the churches, you should get together and fellowship about all the issues you discover and problems encountered in work, and communicate the enlightenment and illumination that you have received—this is an indispensable practice of service. You must achieve harmonious cooperation for the purpose of the work of God, for the benefit of the church, and for spurring the brothers and sisters onward. You coordinate with him and he coordinates with you, each amending the other, arriving at a better work outcome, so as to care for God’s will. Only this is a true cooperation, and only such people have true entry” (“Serve as the Israelites Did” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). In God’s words I saw a way to practice entry and knew how to serve alongside others. I understood God’s wishes: Everyone has their strengths, and God wants everyone to use those strengths in the work of God’s family, and in doing so everyone’s weaknesses will be compensated for. Working with that brother was just what I needed. I was weak at communicating the truth, and because of God’s love I was partnered with him, so his strength could compensate for my weakness. But I did not see this, and when I was with my brother I failed to ask for his assistance when I did not understand. Sometimes when he communicated with me I was unwilling to listen. I jockeyed for position with him, both harming my own life and harming the gospel work. In the days that followed I practiced entry into this aspect of truth, consulting my brother on things I did not understand or could not see clearly: I’d like you to communicate with me on this aspect of truth, as I am unclear. I also consulted him on difficulties in my work: I don’t understand this very well, could you advise me? From then on, we learned from and complemented each other when we went to the churches, and when we encountered a problem we communicated with each other, together finding God’s words to solve the churches’ problems. We became partners in spirit, accepting each other, caring for each other, understanding each other. Sometimes our views would differ, but as long as they benefited the lives of our brothers and sisters and the work of God’s family, we could agree. Even if we lost some face we could set our own wishes aside. We worked together happily, and every aspect of our work improved.
I thank Almighty God for changing me through His judgment and chastisement, for making me see Satan’s poison and harm. I now seek what is proper, and live out like a human. Although I still have much corruption with me that must be purified and must go through more judgment and chastisement, I have seen God’s judgment and chastisement is man’s best salvation, God’s truest love for man. I want to experience this more, I want God’s judgment and chastisement to accompany me as I progress, until ultimately I am fit to be God’s servant.