Ding Ning Heze City, Shandong Province
Over the past few days, the church has arranged a change in my work. As I received this new assignment, I thought, “I need to take this final opportunity to call a meeting with my brothers and sisters, speak to them clearly about matters, and leave them with a good impression.” Therefore, I met with several deacons, and at the close of our time together, I said, “I have been asked to leave here and move on to different work. I hope you will accept the leader who is coming to replace me and work together with her with one heart and one mind.” As soon as they heard me say these words, some of the sisters who were present blanched, and the smiles fell from their faces. Some of them grasped my hands, some of them embraced me, and weeping they said, “You cannot leave us! You cannot cast us aside and ignore our needs! …” The sister of the host family was especially unwilling to let me go. She said to me, “It is so good that you are here with us. You are someone who can endure hardship, and you are good at fellowshiping about the truth. No matter when we needed you, you were always there to patiently help us. If you go, what will we do? …” Seeing their reluctance to part from me, my heart was full of joy and satisfaction. I comforted them with these words: “Depend on God. When I can, I will come back and visit you….”
But after that, every time I looked back at that scene of parting from my brothers and sisters, I was uneasy in my heart. I wondered, “Were such expressions of sadness just a matter of course? Why did they act as if my departure were such a terrible thing? Why did the church want me to change positions anyway?” My heart was wrapped in a cloud of doubt, and so I often came before God seeking the answers. One day I was reading “Matters of Principle That Must Be Understood for Serving God” and came across this passage: “Those who would serve God must in all matters lift God up and be God’s witnesses. Only thus can they attain the fruit of leading others to know God. And only by raising God up and witnessing for Him can they bring others into the presence of God. This is one of the principles of service to God. The ultimate fruit of God’s work is precisely the work of bringing people to know God’s work and thereby to come into His presence. If those in positions of leadership are not lifting God up and serving as God’s witnesses, but instead are constantly putting themselves on display…, then they are actually setting themselves up in opposition to God. … They are actually competing with God for people’s souls. … Therefore, if people’s service is not raising God up and witnessing to God, then they are certainly showing off themselves. Even though they carry the banner of service to God, they are really working for their own status; they are really working for the satisfaction of the flesh. They are in no way raising God up or witnessing to God in their work. If anyone betrays this principle of service to God, it simply proves he resists God” (“Matters of Principle That Must Be Understood for Serving God” in Annals of the Fellowship and Arrangements of the Work of the Church I). The more I read, the more my heart was troubled. The more I read, the more frightened I became. My sense of self-reproach was multiplied many times. From the attitude my brothers and sisters had shown toward me, I could see my work had not really been to lead my brothers and sisters into the presence of God, but rather to lead them into my own presence. Now I couldn’t help but reexamine many scenes during the time I spent with my brothers and sisters. I had often said to the sister of the host family, “See how fortunate you all are. Your whole family are believers. When I am at home, my husband mistreats me all day long. If he’s not hitting me, he’s cursing me. I have performed my duty to the utmost, and see how much bitterness I have endured for my belief in God.” When my brothers and sisters encountered hardships, I didn’t communicate God’s will to them; I did not act as a witness to God’s work and God’s love. Instead, I constantly put the flesh first and tried to make people think I was myself so kind and considerate. Whenever I saw a brother or sister doing something that was counter to the principles, I was afraid of giving offense, so I would not help or give direction, always trying to protect the relationships between people. In everything I did, what I cared about most was my position and my image in people’s hearts. … My main purpose was always to gain the sympathy and admiration of others; this became my greatest satisfaction. This truly reveals that I was raising up myself, serving as witness for myself. All that I did was actually in opposition to God. I thought of God’s words, which say, “I am working among you now but you are still this way. If one day there is no one there to care about and watch over you, won’t you all become kings of the hill?[a] By then, who will clean up the mess after you when you cause a huge catastrophe?” (“A Very Serious Problem: Betrayal (1)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). The words of God again brought me to an awareness of how my service to God was really bearing witness to myself and exalting myself and helped me see the serious consequences of this behavior. The words of God helped me see that my nature, like that of the archangel, would lead me to be a tyrannical bandit, and that I would cause a great catastrophe. I thought about how my service to God was not accomplished according to the right principles of service; it was not lifting up God and not witnessing to God, not doing my duty. Instead, my days were spent showing off myself, witnessing to myself, drawing my brothers and sisters into my presence. Is this kind of service not contemptible? Is this not simply the “service” of the antichrist? If it were not for God’s tolerance and mercy, I would already be accursed of God and struck down.
At that time, I trembled with fear and shame; a sense of the enormous debt I owe overflowed my heart, and I prostrated myself upon the ground, weeping bitterly and pleading to God: “Oh, God! If it were not for Your revelation and enlightenment, I do not know to what depths I would fall. I truly owe You more than I can ever repay. Thank You for the salvation You offer me! Thank You for helping me see the ugly and despicable self in the depths of my soul. Thank You for showing me that my service to You was in truth resistance to You. If I were judged by my actions, I deserve nothing but Your curse, but You have not treated me according to my faults. Instead You have opened my eyes, guided me, and given me a chance to repent and start afresh. Oh, God, I am willing to take this experience as a lesson to carry with me for my entire life. May Your chastisement and judgment always accompany me, and may it early help me discard the old self of Satan and help me become a truly reverent servant of God so that I may begin to repay the great debt I owe.”
a. A Chinese saying, the literal meaning of which is “bandits that occupy the mountains and declare themselves as kings.”