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Gospel Reader

Christian Persecution: Who Tore Her Family Apart?

338

By Zheng Rong, China

A Walk Down Memory Lane

One fall afternoon, the warm sunlight floods every corner of the streets and the plaza, a gentle breeze rustles the gingko trees, their golden leaves fluttering like little yellow butterflies flying off the branches and dancing with the wind. In one corner of the square, a little boy, nearly ten years old, is happily playing on a swing with the help of his parents. This scene of a happy, harmonious family is fully laid out before Zheng Rong, watching from the window of an apartment building across the way. She quietly watches as her mind travels back to the past …

Zheng Rong is a Christian. She’s had a gentle personality since she was a little girl and she and her husband loved each other very much after they were married. She got along well with her parents-in-law, their 9-year-old boy was smart and energetic and had excellent grades. Although their family life was simple and ordinary, it was very warm and happy. However, with the atheist Chinese Communist Party in power in the country, believing in and worshiping God is not allowed. The CCP madly arrests and persecutes Christians in an effort to turn China into a zone of atheism; Christians who just want to lead a simple, happy life encounter one difficulty after another.

Uninvited “Guests”

May 27, 2014 was a gray, overcast day. The swallows were flying very low, and it looked like rain. Zheng Rong was in the courtyard bringing the dry clothing in off the line when she suddenly heard the sound of a car quickly braking coming from outside. Before she even had a chance to see what was going on, four unfamiliar men burst into her home. One of them quickly strode over to her and said coldly: “We’re from the police station. We’ve heard you believe in Almighty God, so we wanted to come find you to figure out what’s going on. Come to the station with us!” Hearing this, Zheng Rong couldn’t help but feel anxious, thinking: “So they’re CCP police here to look for me. This atheist party has always been an enemy to God, and ever since God appeared and began working they’ve been madly opposing His work and brutally persecuting Christians. As soon as they get their eyes fixed on a Christian, that person won’t get a single day of peace again. But in my faith, whether it’s going to gatherings or performing my duty, I’ve always been very careful about my comings and goings. How do they know about my faith? Could someone have reported me?” It was so sudden that Zheng Rong hadn’t prepared herself at all; she felt panicked, and all she could do was plea to God nonstop to give her wisdom and courage so that she could calmly face the police interrogation. Just then, she thought of these words from God, “Do not fear, Almighty God of hosts will surely be with you; He has your back and He is your shield” (“Chapter 26” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). These words very clearly came to the front of her mind, giving her confidence and courage; she calmed down considerably with the soothing of God’s words. She thought: “Yes! God is the Ruler of all things and His authority surpasses all. No matter how savage Satan is, it is still subject to God’s orchestrations and the police won’t dare do anything to me unless God permits it.” Thinking that God was with her, that He firmly had her back, she no longer felt afraid.

Zheng Rong’s husband came back from buying produce just then. Seeing several burly, fierce-looking unfamiliar men standing in the courtyard, he rushed to ask: “Who are you? What are you doing here?” One officer gave him a disdainful up-and-down look, and said: “We’re from the police station. We heard that your wife believes in Almighty God, so we’re here to find out what’s going on. She’s coming with us.” Hearing this, he asked, uncomprehendingly: “Her faith doesn’t break any laws. Why are you taking her with you?” An officer barked back at him: “We have to justify our reasons to you? Get out of the way!” Not giving him a chance to respond, the other two officers forced Zheng Rong into their car.

The officers drove off, leaving Zheng Rong’s husband standing there in the courtyard, stunned.

The CCP’s Sinister Plot

With a crackling of thunder, raindrops started coming down and the sky became even gloomier.

Zheng Rong sat in the car, feeling some trepidation. She didn’t know how the officers were going to treat her; all she could do was silently call out to God to protect her from becoming a Judas.

The officers took her to the interrogation room after they arrived at the station, and asked her: “Why do you believe in God? Who converted you? Who is your leader? Where do you hold gatherings?” Zheng Rong refused to say a word. An officer then yelled at her: “We’ll still convict you even if you don’t say anything! This is an atheist Party and we’ve never believed there is a God; we absolutely do not allow people to believe in God. You’d better tell us what we want to know, otherwise we’ll place your case on file and thus your child can’t go to school. Your husband will get pulled into it too, and you’ll do prison time. All you have to do is give us the name of one other believer and we won’t start a file for you.” Zheng Rong thought of her son and husband being dragged into this because of her faith and felt her heart weaken. She thought: “This pack of demons are so despicable, so shameless. They’ll stop at nothing. If they really don’t let my son go to school what will he do in the future? Maybe I should just …” A passage of God’s words suddenly sprung to mind then: “I will give no more mercy to those who gave Me no jot of loyalty in times of tribulation, for My mercy only extends so far. Furthermore, I have no liking for anyone who has once betrayed Me, much less do I like to associate with those who sell out the interests of their friends. This is My disposition, regardless of who the person may be” (“Prepare Sufficient Good Deeds for Your Destination” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words were a reminder for Zheng Rong. She realized: “God most detests those who betray Him. The CCP wants to use my child and husband to force me to sell out my brothers and sisters, to become a shameless Judas, betraying God and losing my chance at salvation. The CCP is so despicable—I absolutely can’t sell out my brothers and sisters!” After that, no matter how they interrogated or intimidated her, she didn’t utter a peep. Seeing she wasn’t answering their questions, the police found another officer to come play the “good guy” and say some nice things to her to entice her to give up information on her brothers and sisters. She continued to pray to God and lean on Him, and saw through Satan’s trickery. She didn’t say anything.

Seeing none of their tricks were working, the CCP police tried something else. At around 5:00 p.m., they got her sister-in-law to come try and convince Zheng Rong. She said: “Zheng Rong, just tell them everything you know, then you’ll be able to go home. Even if you’re not thinking of yourself, you have to think of your family and your child’s future….” Zheng Rong clearly saw that her sister-in-law was being used as a police mouthpiece to try to persuade her, so she refused on the spot, saying: “We believers in God just read God’s words and pursue the truth so we can live out a human likeness. We’re on the right path in life and we’ve done nothing criminal. There’s nothing to say!” The police saw they couldn’t get any information out of Zheng Rong, so in the end they had her husband pay a fine for the crime of “disrupting social order” and then let her go back home.

It had already gotten dark by the time she walked out of the police station and a gentle rain was drizzling down. Zheng Rong and her husband walked home. She was a bit puzzled the entire way: “The Chinese government never just casually lets the Christians go who they arrest. Why did they let me go with just a bit of a fine when they hadn’t gotten any information out of me?”

As soon as they got back her husband rushed to lock the courtyard gate and said to Zheng Rong nervously and in a huff: “The police called me into the station and had me watch surveillance footage. They had recordings of every street and every intersection you’ve been at, they just couldn’t see whose house you went into. It seems the police have had their eyes on you; that’s why they came to arrest you. I also overheard them say that they were going to have someone follow you. Even though having faith isn’t doing anything wrong, in a country with the Communist Party in power they don’t let anyone have faith. Couldn’t you just stop for a while and not practice your faith anymore?” She finally understood why they let her go so easily—it was because they wanted to let out the line to catch bigger fish. By watching and tracking her they’d be able to arrest more brothers and sisters. The CCP truly is sinister and devious—utterly evil. Zheng Rong was infuriated and said: “Man is created by God. It is natural and right that we, human beings, believe in and worship God. Why on earth would you have me stop practicing my faith? Moreover, we believers don’t do anything illegal. We just have gatherings, read God’s words, and pursue the truth to achieve a change in disposition and live out a human likeness. We spread the gospel and bear witness to God to bring others in front of God and allow them to escape from Satan’s harm. Believing in God is humanity’s brightest, most righteous endeavor. Freedom of religion is even clearly stipulated in the Chinese constitution, but the CCP government knowingly violates the law—it’s despicable and shameless!” Her husband furrowed his brow and sighed: “In China, the Party is justice; it is the law. Anyone who doesn’t listen to them will be punished. If they say you can’t believe in God and you insist on keeping your faith they’ll arrest you. They don’t care about any laws. You were taken in today because of your faith—we lost not only dignity, but money. If you still insist on believing, we won’t be able to afford the fines! Do you think it’s easy for me to earn money to support our family? Even if you don’t think of yourself, think of our family! We’re just common people—how can an arm overpower a leg? Don’t practice your faith in the future!” Zheng Rong saw that her husband had bowed under the CCP’s abuse of power and was no longer willing to let her continue her faith, however, she was certain that believing in God is the right path in life and that she’d follow God for all of her days. Taking the path of pursuing the truth is the most meaningful, most valuable kind of life, and no matter how the CCP government oppressed her, she would never betray God. She was not frightened away by the CCP’s abuse of power—she persisted in her faith and in spreading the gospel. In order to evade their tracking and surveillance, every time she went to a gathering she was more careful than before. She not only disguised herself but took a really circuitous route to do everything she could to avoid cameras and prevent the police from recognizing her.

The CCP Engages in Intimidation and Her Husband’s Pressure Intensifies

After a while, one day, right after Zheng Rong had finished a gathering and was just stepping into the family store when she saw her husband glaring at her, but she didn’t think anything of it. Unexpectedly, just as she stopped her electric scooter, her husband walked over and started yelling at her: “I told you not to believe in God, but you insist on it, and you’re dragging the whole family into it with you! How about I smash up your scooter, then see if you can go out to your gatherings!” Yelling, he angrily hit her scooter, totally destroying it with a few blows. Zheng Rong was terrified by his behavior—she didn’t know why he was suddenly so angry. He then stared at her straight in the eyes and said: “The chief of police came to our house looking for you today. Seeing you weren’t home, he said that if he finds out that you’re still practicing your faith, they’ll close down the store, our son won’t be able to go to school, and they’ll take you to prison. They told me to keep an eye on you. For the sake of our family, no matter what, I cannot allow you to continue your faith!” Hearing this, Zheng Rong understood that his hindering her was because of the CCP’s intimidation and threats. She hated the CCP with all of her being—the CCP was trying to drag every generation of her family into this, just because she believed in God. How incredibly despicable and evil! The more the CCP oppressed Christians that way, the more discernment Zheng Rong gained on its evil essence of being God’s enemy, and the more she hated it.

In the following days, her husband didn’t allow her to attend gatherings with brothers and sisters or read God’s words because of the CCP’s threats and intimidation. He also hid her books of God’s words. Zheng Rong felt very bleak and in pain; she prayed to God in her helplessness: “Oh God! My husband has been confused, threatened, and intimidated by the CCP into not allowing me to practice my faith, and he’s even hidden my books of God’s words. I can’t read Your words—my heart is dark and lost, and I don’t know what to do. Oh God! May You guide me out from this difficulty.” A passage of God’s words then occurred to her: “You must suffer hardship for the truth, you must give yourself to the truth, you must endure humiliation for the truth, and to gain more of the truth you must undergo more suffering. This is what you should do” (“The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words brought comfort to Zheng Rong’s helpless heart, imbuing her with limitless strength. She understood that the CCP is an atheist party that oppresses God; having faith and taking the right path in a country under their rule means being destined to suffer from their persecution. But suffering in this way is meaningful and valuable; God allows us to see the CCP’s ugly face through our experiences of its oppression and arrests and to gain true discernment on its evil essence as an enemy to God, thus thoroughly rejecting and forsaking it. This also perfects our faith and our resolve to suffer. Thinking of all this, Zheng Rong felt flooded with strength and no longer felt so bleak or in pain. She knew that no matter what kind of despicable tactics the CCP used to prevent her from practicing her faith, or how they intimidated or threatened her family to get them to pressure her into giving up the true way, she was willing to stand witness for God. She was determined not to betray or deny God.

The CCP Tears Her Family Apart

It was another drizzly evening. Zheng Rong’s husband read a CCP flyer posted at their store entrance full of groundless allegations of fabricated charges against The Church of Almighty God, and was taken in by their lies. He became even more opposed to Zheng Rong’s faith. After getting home he aggressively wagged his finger at her, yelling: “The CCP suppresses and oppresses you believers so much but you still insist on keeping your faith. Aren’t you afraid of being arrested and going to jail? I’m telling you, if you keep practicing your faith, we’re getting divorced! I can’t just stand by and watch while our entire family is dragged in because of your belief. You’d better give it some good thought! If you just give up your faith we’ll have a happy life together, but if you insist on it, we’re getting divorced!” Her husband’s words washed over her heart like a bucket of ice water. Through their ten years of marriage they had loved each other, come through hard times together, and helped each other through thick and thin, but now he saw her as his enemy because of the CCP government’s threats and intimidation, and the confusion from their lies. He even mentioned getting a divorce. Zheng Rong wanted to cry, but her eyes were dry. She just couldn’t accept that her family would fall apart like this. But if she gave up God to uphold her family’s interests, wouldn’t that be lacking a conscience and humanity? Wouldn’t that be betraying God and giving herself back to Satan? Wasn’t that falling prey to Satan’s trickery? Zheng Rong quietly resolved that no matter what, she would never give up God or the truth!

“Have you made your decision?”

“I have.”

“Are you going to keep your faith, or not?”

“I’m keeping it!”

“We’re getting divorced!”

…………

As she walked out of the Divorce Affairs Office it started raining again. Zheng Rong listlessly dragged her feet along, slowly and aimlessly walking down the sidewalk. The cool rain pattered on her face, mixing with the tears gushing from her eyes and rolling continuously down her cheeks. Her two hands were tightly clasped as she struggled to contain the pain in her heart that cut like a knife…. She couldn’t help but resentfully cry out inside: “What’s wrong with believing in and worshiping God, taking the right path in life? The CCP government really is a God-hating demon; it has not only arrested, persecuted, and kept watch over me, taking away my personal freedom, but it has also threatened and intimidated my family. Now my loving husband has been pushed into divorcing me because he couldn’t withstand the oppression and terrible stress, and my nine-year-old son has lost his mother…. All of the suffering I’ve endured, including the destruction of my family, has been entirely caused by the CCP!”

Awash in her pain, Zheng Rong read a passage of God’s words: “For thousands of years this has been the land of filth, it is unbearably dirty, misery abounds, ghosts run rampant everywhere, tricking and deceiving, making groundless accusations,[1] being ruthless and vicious, trampling this ghost town and leaving it littered with dead bodies; the stench of decay covers the land and pervades the air, and it is heavily guarded.[2] Who can see the world beyond the skies? The devil tightly trusses all of man’s body, it puts out both his eyes, and seals his lips firmly shut. The king of devils has rampaged for several thousand years, right up until today, when it still keeps a close watch on the ghost town, as if it were an impenetrable palace of demons; this pack of watchdogs, meanwhile, stare with glaring eyes, deeply fearful that God will catch them unawares and wipe them all out, leaving them without a place of peace and happiness. How could the people of a ghost town such as this have ever seen God? Have they ever enjoyed the dearness and loveliness of God? … Forefathers of the ancient? Beloved leaders? They all oppose God! Their meddling has left all beneath heaven in a state of darkness and chaos! Religious freedom? The legitimate rights and interests of citizens? They are all tricks for covering up sin!” (“Work and Entry (8)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).

What God’s words revealed made Zheng Rong understand that the CCP’s goal in madly opposing God and arresting and persecuting Christians was to stop people from hearing God’s voice, and make them unable to read His words, or experience God’s care, protection, and love for mankind, in the vain hope that all people would be controlled within their grasp to be exploited and harmed by them, and would thus reject and oppose God along with them, and ultimately be destroyed by God. She saw that the CCP is a satanic demon that swallows up people’s souls and is an enemy to God, that it is truly a satanic regime. The CCP allows “freedom of belief” and “citizens’ enjoyment of legitimate rights and interests” in name, but behind the scenes it madly strikes at, suppresses, arrests, and persecutes Christians. They use the media to fabricate all sorts of rumors and lies to frame and discredit The Church of Almighty God, and even incite the people to keep a close watch on believers, and issue hefty rewards for making reports on them. They use high-tech surveillance systems through the Internet, the phone, and surveillance cameras to track and arrest Christians. They’ve issued a number of confidential documents to mobilize large numbers of armed troops and military units for nationwide, crazy suppression, arrests, and persecution of Christians. No one knows how many Christians have been arrested and imprisoned, and been brutally tortured, even to the point of disability or death; no one knows how many Christians have been forced to go on the run, been unable to return home, and have thus seen their families fall apart…. The CCP government has fostered a foul atmosphere across all of China, and Christians practicing their faith in China can hardly get a single thing done. The CCP has stripped Christians of their freedom and human rights all while claiming to outsiders to allow freedom of religion, all the while glossing over the truth and falsely presenting a positive image to cover up its criminal behavior. The CCP government is so sanctimonious, evil, and despicable! Thinking of all this, hatred for the CCP spontaneously arose in Zheng Rong. All the pain she had suffered in her heart immediately turned into strength and she firmly resolved to go with God, and thoroughly forsake the enslavement and the bondage of the CCP’s satanic forces. She then thought of when the Lord Jesus was working, although He was condemned and oppressed by the Roman government and the Pharisees, the Lord still successfully completed His work of being crucified to redeem mankind. Even though the apostles who followed the Lord also suffered the mad oppression and arrests of the Roman government and the Pharisees when they spread the Lord’s gospel, His gospel wasn’t remotely hindered and in the end was spread to the ends of the earth. This fulfilled the Lord Jesus’ words: “And you shall be witnesses to me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Now in the last days, Almighty God is doing the work of judgment and chastisement to purify and save mankind, which has been subjected to the crazy obstruction and sabotage of the CCP government, but no matter how savage they are they cannot stop the spread of God’s gospel of the kingdom. Now, God’s gospel of the kingdom has spread like lightning to every corner of the Chinese mainland and is rapidly expanding into every country in the world. More and more people are hearing God’s voice, accepting God’s salvation, and returning before His throne. It is evident that no force can hinder the steps of God’s work, and no matter how Satan interrupts, disturbs, or blocks His work, His wisdom is always exercised based on Satan’s trickery. God will always triumph, and Satan will always be defeated! All of these thoughts alleviated Zheng Rong’s sadness; she wiped away her tears and resolved to follow God, taking the path of light in life, and to never retreat! A light of unshakable determination shone in her eyes.

A New Home Built With God’s Love

A sister later told Zheng Rong that the CCP was planning to re-arrest Christians who had been previously arrested and released, and they would be getting heavy sentences. Knowing herself to be a target for arrest, she faced the danger of being arrested at any time in that area; she had to immediately leave the area and go into hiding. She was forced to leave her hometown for another place in order to avoid arrest by the CCP government. Her brothers and sisters were very quick to help her, giving her a feeling of the warmth of a home. She deeply knew that it was God’s love that made brothers and sisters as close as family.

Reflected on her road up until now, Zheng Rong was brimming with emotion. Although she had suffered the CCP’s persecution, she had very deeply experienced God’s kindness and loveliness. When she was arrested by the CCP and she felt timid and afraid, it was God who was her staunch backup force, giving her courage and taking away her fear so that she could stand witness for Him. When her husband oppressed her because of the CCP’s threats and deceit and she was feeling negative and weak, it was God’s words that gave her comfort, leading her out from her pain. When the prospect of the CCP arresting her was upon her again, God protected her and allowed her to escape the danger through her sister’s timely information, and the feeling of being as close to her brothers and sisters as a family once again gave her the feeling of the warmth of home. Through these experiences, Zheng Rong felt that God is constantly by her side and is her support, giving her help and guidance; only God’s love for her is unchanging. Just as God’s words say: “When it comes to God, what He has and is, His grace, His mercy, and all His rewards, will be bestowed without reservation upon those who love and follow Him” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself I” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Through her experiences of being arrested and persecuted by the CCP, Zheng Rong not only gained true discernment on its evil essence, but also experienced God’s love and protection for her. She saw God’s wondrous deeds—her faith in God grew, as did her resolve to follow Him. Zheng Rong determined that no matter how arduous or how rocky the road ahead of her was, she would follow God until the very end and would never regret it!

“Sister, let’s read God’s words.” The sound of her older sister’s voice broke through Zheng Rong’s reverie. She agreed and sat down to read God’s words with the older sister and brother who were hosting her.

The afternoon sun poured into through the window, filling the room with warmth …

Footnotes:

1. “Making groundless accusations” refers to the methods by which the devil harms people.

2. “Heavily guarded” indicates that the methods by which the devil afflicts people are especially vicious, and control people so much that they have no room to move.

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