26. The Dark Prison Life Made Me Love God More Resolutely
Meng Yong Shanxi Province
I’m honest by nature and always bullied by others. So I tasted all the coldness of the human world and felt life was empty and meaningless. After I believed in Almighty God, through reading God’s word and living the church life, I enjoyed the peace and happiness I had never had and saw that the brothers and sisters in the Church of Almighty God love each other and are close as family members. This made me know that only God is righteous and only in the Church of Almighty God, there is light. Through personally experiencing the work of Almighty God for several years, I truly tasted that Almighty God’s word can indeed change and save man and Almighty God is love and salvation. In order that more people could enjoy God’s love and pursue to receive God’s salvation, the brothers and sisters and I rushed to cooperate in the gospel work. Unexpectedly, we were arrested and persecuted by the CCP government.
On January 12, 2011, I drove to a place to preach the gospel with several brothers and sisters. However, we were reported by an evil man. Not long after, the County government sent the police force from several law enforcement departments, such as the Criminal Police Team, the National Security Team, the Narcotics Team, the Armed Police Team, the Police Station, and so on, to arrest us in more than ten police cars. When I was just about to drive away with a brother, we saw seven or eight policemen wielding iron sticks beating a brother violently. Then, four policemen quickly ran to us and stopped our car. One of them pulled out the car key without a word and ordered us to stay in the car and not move. At that time, I saw that brother sitting on the ground and unable to move because of their beating, so I was filled with indignation and hurriedly got out of the car to stop their savage act. But the evil policemen seized my arms and pushed me aside. I tried to reason with them, “You can talk if there’s anything wrong. Why beat him?” They roared at me ferociously, “Get back into your car quickly! There will be more for you in a while!” Later, they took us to the police station and forcibly seized our car.
A bit past 9 p.m., two criminal policemen came to interrogate me. Getting no valuable clues from my mouth, they were exasperated and cursed me while gnashing their teeth, “Damn you! We’ll fix you later!” Then, they shut me in the waiting room. At 11:30 p.m., the two of them took me to a room without a monitor. I had a feeling that they would get violent with me, so I kept praying to God in my heart, asking God to keep me. Then, a policeman surnamed Jia came to question me, “Did you ride in a Jetta these days?” I said no. He roared angrily, “Others have seen you. You still deny it?” As he said that, he slapped my face fiercely. I felt hot pain in my face. He roared, “I’ll see how tough you are!” While saying that, he took a wide leather belt and whipped my face violently countless times. I screamed in spite of myself. Seeing that, they gagged my mouth with the leather belt. Then, several evil policemen covered my body with a quilt and beat me wildly with iron bars until they were out of breath. I was beaten senseless and my bones ached so much as if they were falling apart. At that time I didn’t know why they treated me that way. Later, I knew that they covered me with a quilt for the purpose that no marks of broken skin and flesh would be left. They put me in a room without a monitor, gagged my mouth, and covered me with a quilt, because they were afraid that their evil acts would be known. Never did I expect that the dignified “people’s policemen” were actually so sinister and diabolic! When the four of them were tired from beating me, they used another way to torture me. Two evil policemen twisted one of my arms backward and lifted it up with force. Another two evil policemen raised my other arm, twisted it backward over my shoulder, and pulled it down hard. But they just couldn’t pull my two hands together. So they pushed my arms with their knees violently. With a snap, my arms felt as if they were broken. The pain made me almost lose my breath. They called this way of handcuffing “Erlang (a man’s name) shouldering the mountain.” Normally one can’t bear it at all. Not long afterward, my hands lost feeling. Even so, they still didn’t stop, and they ordered me to squat to increase my misery. I broke out in a cold sweat with pain. My head buzzed and my mind began to become unclear. I thought: Although I have been always sick since young age, I have never had such feeling of being unable to control my consciousness; am I going to die? Later, I really couldn’t bear it anymore, so I wanted to die to seek release…. Then, God’s words inspired me within, “Now most people have not realized this. They think that it is worthless to undergo sufferings…. Some of them feel so distressed that they even think of dying. This is not truly loving God. Such people are cowards without willpower and are weak and useless ones!” (from “Only After Experiencing Painful Trials Will One Know that God Is Lovely” in The Word Appears in the Flesh) God’s words woke me up suddenly. I realized: My thought isn’t after God’s heart and can only grieve and disappoint God. This is because in such sufferings and tribulations, God doesn’t want to see me seek death, but expects me to endure the humiliation and pain, rely on his leading to fight against satan, and stand testimony for him to shame and defeat satan. If I seek death, I just fall into satan’s scheme, and I can’t bear testimony and I will become a sign of shame instead. After I understood God’s will, I prayed to God silently, “O God! The fact has shown that I’m too cowardly by nature, and I don’t have the will and courage to suffer for you. I wanted to die after undergoing only a little physical suffering. Now I know that I cannot do things that bring shame to your name, and that no matter how great the suffering, I should stand testimony to satisfy you. But my flesh is extremely painful and weak now. I know it’s very hard to withstand the devils’ cruel beating and affliction by myself. May you give me faith and strength, so that I can rely on you to overcome satan and will not betray you or sell out the brothers and sisters even if I have to die.” I prayed to God over and over again. Gradually I felt secure in my heart. Seeing that I was on the verge of death, the policemen were afraid that they had to take the consequences if I died, so they came to unlock my handcuffs. But my arms had become stiff, and the handcuffs got my wrists fully stuck and were hard to unlock. If they used more strength, my arms would be broken. The four evil policemen spent quite a few minutes unlocking my handcuffs and then dragged me back to the waiting room.
The next afternoon, the police forcibly convicted me of “committing a criminal offense,” and escorted me to my house to conduct a search. Afterward, they sent me to the detention house. As soon as I was taken there, four prison officers confiscated my cotton jacket, cotton pants, leather boots, watch, and 1,300 yuan in cash that I had with me, and ordered me to put on the prison clothes they distributed. They also forced me to pay 200 yuan to buy a quilt from them. Then, they locked me up with robbers, murderers, rapists, drug traffickers, and other prisoners with severe punishment. As soon as I entered the cell, I saw in front of me twelve prisoners shaved bald, glaring at me fiercely. The atmosphere was very ghastly and terrifying. My heart flew up into my mouth at once. Two heads of the cell came over and asked me, “What got you in here?” I said, “Preaching the gospel.” Without a word, one of them slapped me twice and said, “You are the ‘founder’ of your religion, aren’t you?” Other prisoners all laughed hideously and mocked me, “Why don’t you ask your God to get you out of here?” Amid the jeering, the head slapped me several more times. Since then, I was nicknamed “Founder” by them, and they often humiliated and mocked me. The other head saw the slippers on my feet and shouted arrogantly, “You aren’t sensible at all. Are the slippers for you to wear? Take them off quickly!” With his words, he forced me to take them off and put on a pair of their worn slippers and gave my quilt to the other prisoners. Those prisoners scrambled for my quilt, and finally gave me a thin, shabby, dirty, and stinky quilt. At that time, the scene of the Lord Jesus being flogged and mocked by the soldiers arose in my mind. I was greatly encouraged in my heart: The Lord has long undergone the sufferings I’m undergoing today. I should undergo the sufferings the Lord underwent and I should drink the bitter cup the Lord drank. All these are sufferings I should undergo. Thinking of these, I calmed down. At the instigation of the person in charge of the detention house, those prisoners picked on me and tortured me in various ways. The light in the cell was always on during the night. A head of the cell said to me with an insidious smile, “Turn off the light for me.” As I couldn’t make it (there was no switch at all), they began to ridicule and mock me again. The next day, several young prisoners forced me to stand in the corner and recite the prison regulations, and they threatened, “If you can’t memorize them in two days, you’ll be fixed.” I couldn’t help fearing in my heart and I thought of the experience of those days. The more I thought, the more I became scared, so I could only call to God incessantly, asking God to keep me so that I could stand firm. Then, a hymn of God’s word inspired me, “Whether you are imprisoned or ill, whether others sneer at or slander you, sneer at or slander you, or whether you come to a dead end, you can still love God. This means that your heart, your heart has turned to God.” (from “Has Your Heart Turned to God” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs) God’s words gave me strength and showed me the way of practice—pursuing to love God and turning my heart to God! My mind immediately became clear as crystal, “Today God permits such suffering to come upon me not for the purpose of torturing me or deliberately making me suffer. But instead, he expects that I can, in such an environment, exercise to turn my heart to him, be free from the bondage of satan’s forces of darkness, draw near to him and love him in my heart, make no complaints at any time, and accept and obey his manipulation and arrangement.” Thinking of that, I wasn’t afraid any more. No matter how satan might treat me, I would just commit myself to God, do my best to pursue to love God and satisfy God, and never yield to satan.
The life in prison is simply the life in hell on earth. The prison guards tortured me by different kinds of means: I was squeezed together with several prisoners when sleeping at night, and even had difficulty turning over. As I was the last one to come, I had to sleep beside the commode. Since I was arrested, I hadn’t gotten a wink of sleep for days. When I was too sleepy to hold on and wanted to sleep for a while, the prisoner on guard would come to harass me by flicking my head purposefully and wouldn’t stop until I was woken up. One day, a little past 3 a.m., a prisoner deliberately woke me up to see what size my sweatshirt was and whether he could wear it. He brought a dirty and ragged thin sweatshirt to exchange for mine. Those days were the coldest of the year. But those prisoners even wanted to take the only sweatshirt on me. The people there were savage like beasts. They were cruel and diabolic in their disposition, without any human feeling. They were just like the evil demons in hell that take delight in torturing man. The food there was even worse than that for pigs and dogs. The first time I was given half a bowl of rice porridge, and I saw many black specks in it, not knowing what they were. The porridge looked dark, and I could hardly eat it. At that time, I really wanted to fast, but God’s words inspired me, “…in the last days, you should bear testimony for God. No matter how great the sufferings, you should walk to the end. Even if you have just one breath left, you should be faithful to God and submit to God’s manipulation. This is truly loving God, and this is a strong and resounding testimony.” (from “Only After Experiencing Painful Trials Will One Know that God Is Lovely” in The Word Appears in the Flesh) God’s words, full of mercy and love like a mother’s comfort, stirred up my courage to face the sufferings. God hoped that I would do my best to live. However, I was too cowardly, and I easily had the thought of dying to get released. I didn’t cherish myself. It was God who loved me most. Immediately a wave of warmth swept over me. I was so moved that my tears gushed out and fell into the porridge. Moved by God’s love, I had strength once again. Whether the food was good or bad, I must eat it. I finished the porridge in one mouthful. After breakfast, a head of the cell ordered me to scrub the floor. There was no hot water in those coldest days of the year, so I had to wash the rag with cold water. He told me to scrub the floor like that every day. Then several robbers required me to recite the prison regulations. I failed remembering them, so they hit and kicked me. It was even more common for them to slap me. Facing such an environment, I always thought in my heart that how I could satisfy God’s heart’s desire. At night, I covered my head with the quilt and prayed silently, “God! You permit this environment to come upon me and there must be your good purpose in it. May you reveal your will to me.” Then God’s words inspired me, “The flowers and grass spread all over the mountains and plains. However, they can add luster to my glory on earth before spring comes. Can men do this? Can they bear a testimony for me on earth before I return? Can they dedicate themselves for my name in the country of the great red dragon?” (from “The Thirty-fourth Piece of Word” of God’s Utterance to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh) Yes! The grass and I are both created beings. The meaning of God creating us is that we can manifest and glorify him. The grass can add luster to God’s glory on earth before spring comes. It fulfills its duty as a created being. Today, my duty is to obey God’s manipulation and bear testimony for God before satan, so that all people can see clearly that satan is the living ghost that afflicts and devours man, while God is the only true God who loves man and saves man. Today I undergo these sufferings and humiliations not because I have committed a crime but because of God’s name. It is honorable to undergo these sufferings. The more satan humiliates me, the more I will stand on God’s side and love God. Thus, God will gain glory, and I will have fulfilled the duty I should perform. As long as God is happy and pleased, my heart will be comforted. I’m willing to undergo the last suffering to satisfy God and submit to God’s manipulation in everything. When I thought so, I felt very moved in my heart. Again, I couldn’t hold back my tears, “God! You are so lovely! Having followed you for so many years, I have never tasted your love and mercy and have never felt so close to you as I do today.” I completely forgot my pain and was immersed in that moving for a long, long time….
On my third day in the detention house, the prison officers took me to their office. There, a dozen or so people stared at me with strange eyes. One of them stood to my left front with a camera and was ready to record. Another walked to me with a microphone and asked, “Why do you believe in Almighty God?” Then I knew it was an interview from reporters. So I answered boldly, “Since childhood, I was often bullied by others and got the cold shoulder from others. I saw people cheat and make use of each other, and felt that this society was too dark and dangerous and that people lived in emptiness and helplessness, without hope or life goals. Later, someone preached to me the gospel of Almighty God, so I believed. After believing in Almighty God, I feel that believers in God treat me as family. No one in the Church of Almighty God schemes against me. We all understand, care about, and look after one another, and dare to speak heartfelt words to one another. In the word of Almighty God, I’ve found the goals and values of man’s living. I think it’s very good to believe in God.” The reporter continued to ask, “Do you know why you are here?” I answered, “Since I believed in Almighty God, I found that I didn’t care about personal gain and loss and honor and disgrace any more. I was more and more willing to do good turns and be a good person. I saw God’s word can really change a person and make him become a good man. Then I thought if all mankind came to believe in God, the order of the country would become much better and the crime rate would decrease. So I told this good news to others. However, I didn’t expect that such a good thing is illegal in China. So I was arrested and taken here.” Seeing that my answer was disadvantageous to them, the reporters immediately stopped the interview and turned away. Then the vice-captain of the National Security Team stomped his feet in anger and gave me a fierce look. He said in a low voice through his gnashing teeth, “You just wait!” But I didn’t fear his threat at all. On the contrary, I felt greatly honored that I could testify God in such a circumstance and I gave glory to God for his name being exalted and satan being defeated.
On January 17, the temperature was very low, and I had only a sweatshirt on because the evil policemen confiscated my cotton jacket. So I caught a cold, running a high fever and coughing constantly. I wrapped myself tightly in the shabby quilt and endured the torment of illness, and I thought of the endless abuse and humiliations from the prisoners. Then I felt very desolate and helpless…. Just when I was distressed to a degree, a hymn of God’s word resounded in my ears, “If you give me disease and deprive me of my freedom, deprive me of my freedom, I can live. But if your chastisement and judgment leave me, I cannot, cannot live. If I have no chastisement and judgment, I lose your love. Your love is too deep, and I cannot express it. If I lose your love, I will live under satan’s domain. …” (from “Peter’s Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs) It was Peter’s sincere and earnest prayer before God. Peter never cared for his flesh but treasured and valued God’s chastisement and judgment. As long as God’s chastisement and judgment didn’t leave him, it was the greatest comfort to his heart. Today, I should also imitate Peter in his pursuit and knowledge. The flesh is corrupt and rotten. Even if I have illness and lose my freedom, they are the sufferings I should undergo. But if I lose God’s chastisement and judgment, it means that I have lost God’s presence and love and lost the opportunity of being purified. That will be the most miserable thing. Under God’s revelation, I once again tasted God’s love and hated myself for being spineless and worthless. I saw I was too selfish by nature and never cared for God’s grief. The next day, my high fever was gone miraculously while several prisoners in the cell became ill. I experienced God’s care and keeping for me and also saw God’s wonderful deed. In those days, the steamed buns we ate, which were not big to start with, became even smaller. Several prisoners complained, “Since ‘Founder’ came here, we first suffered plague and then famine.” They all said that it was my fault and it was reasonable to give me a death sentence. One evening, someone came to sell food at the window. A head of the cell bought a lot of ham, dog meat, chicken drumsticks, and so on, and ordered me to pay the money in the end. I said I had no money. He said ferociously, “If you have no money, I’ll torture you little by little!” The next day, he asked me to wash his sheet, clothes, and socks. The prison officials also asked me to wash their socks. In the detention house, I was beaten almost every day. Whenever I couldn’t hold on, God’s words guided me within, “You should perform your last duty for God in your remaining days. In the past Peter was crucified upside down for God, while you should satisfy God in the end and exhaust all your energies for God. What can a created being do for God? So you should offer up yourself in advance to submit to his manipulation. As long as God is happy and pleased, just let him do it. What qualifies man to make complaints?” (from “The Interpretation of the Forty-first Piece of Word” in The Word Appears in the Flesh) God’s words gave me inexhaustible strength. Although I was often attacked, abused, condemned, and beaten by the prisoners, my heart gained comfort and joy. God’s love, like a powerful warm current, drove me to walk on courageously. I truly experienced that God’s love is so great.
One morning, a prison officer handed us a newspaper purposely. Laughing hideously, the prisoners read the words of slandering and blaspheming Almighty God in the newspaper in a sarcastic tone. I gnashed my teeth with hatred. They came to ask me about those words. I said loudly, “They are the CCP’s slanders!” Hearing those prisoners repeating what was said and echoing the devils in slandering the truth and blaspheming Heaven, I seemed to see that their end was coming, for the sin of blaspheming God won’t be forgiven in this age or in the age to come, and anyone who offends God’s disposition will receive the most severe punishment and retribution! The CCP did that simply to lead the Chinese people into the land of death, and it completely exposed its true face as the devil that devours people’s souls! Later, the policeman in charge of my case interrogated me again. This time, he didn’t interrogate me by cruel torture but changed into an “amiable” countenance. He asked me, “Who is your leader? I’ll give you another chance. If you confess, you’ll be all right, and I’ll be lenient to you. You are actually innocent. Others have already sold you out. Why do you still shield them? You are so honest. Why risk your life for them? If you confess, you can go home. Why suffer here?” These double-faced “hypocrites” resorted to soft tactics after the hard ones didn’t work. They are really full of tricks and are shrewd and crafty! Looking at his hypocritical face, I hated this gang of demons bitterly. I said to him, “I’ve said all I know. I know nothing else.” Seeing my firm attitude, he knew he couldn’t get anything from me, so he left in frustration.
After I was detained for half a month in the detention house, the police had my family pay 8,000 yuan bail and then released me. However, they warned that I mustn’t go anywhere and must stay at home and be within call. On the day when I was released, the prison officer deliberately gave me no food. The prisoners said, “Your God is really powerful. We were all healthy, but we become sick here. You came with illnesses, but have no illness when you leave. You are really something!” Then, I thanked and praised God in my heart all the more! My uncle is a prison guard. He always thought the reason why I could be released was that my father has a very special relationship with someone. Otherwise, if someone is detained in the severe punishment section, he couldn’t possibly come out in half a month. He would have to stay there for at least three months. All my family knew clearly that it was God’s almightiness and sovereignty and God revealed his wonderful deed on me. I clearly saw that it was a contest between God and satan, and no matter how rampant and malicious satan is, it’s forever God’s defeated opponent. In the days that followed, I firmly believed that all environment coming upon me was God’s arrangement. In late May 2011, the CCP police sentenced me to one year of hard work on the charge of “disturbing the social order.” It was executed outside the prison, so my sentence was suspended for two years.
After experiencing that tribulation of persecution, I have gained knowledge and discernment of the evil substance of the CCP, the atheistic party, and have had a profound hatred for it. It maintains its ruling position by means of violence, fights and suppresses all just causes, and extremely hates the truth. It’s God’s greatest enemy. In order to achieve its purpose of controlling man forever, it unscrupulously hinders and disturbs God’s work on earth, and frenziedly suppresses and persecutes believers in God. It combines hard tactics with soft, murders with a borrowed knife, plays a double game, and hides schemes and intrigues in everything. With it as a setoff, I have even more seen that in tribulation only God’s word can be man’s life. When man is in greatest despair and on the verge of death, God’s word nourishes his thirsty heart like living water, and cures the wound in his heart like miraculous medicine. It saves man from danger, gives him the faith and courage to live, and brings him infinite strength, so that in suffering he can enjoy the sweetness of God’s word, be comforted in his heart, and feel that the life power of God’s word is endless and unceasing. In the half a month’s prison life, if God hadn’t been with me and hadn’t warned, inspired, and encouraged me with his words, how could I, cowardly by nature, have stood firm in such tribulation. Without God’s care and keeping, how could I, thin and weak, have withstood the cruel tortures and mistreatment of the evil policemen? Even if I wouldn’t be tortured to death by them, I would be left with wounds and diseases all over. However, God miraculously kept me so that I passed through those darkest and hardest days and he even cured my former disease. God is really so almighty! His love for me is indeed so deep and great! I really don’t know how to express my gratitude to him. I’d like to say one word from the bottom of my heart, “God! I’m willing to love you more deeply! No matter how rugged and rough the road under my feet will be in future, and no matter how great sufferings I’ll undergo, I’ll obey your manipulation and resolutely follow you to the end!”
Although that experience made me suffer a little physically, it benefited me a lot. It’s a turning point as well as a new start on my way of believing in God. I deeply feel that having believed in God for ten years, I have never, as I do today, tasted God’s love so deeply and truly experienced that the value and meaning of believing in God, following God, and worshiping God are so great. Much less have I ever, as I do today, been so willing to pursue to love God and devote my remaining days to God to repay his love. Here, I will offer my heartfelt thanks and praises to God. May all the glory and praises be to Almighty God!