90. The Riches of Life
Wang Jun Shandong Province
Over the years since accepting the work of Almighty God in the last days, my wife and I have undergone this together under the oppression of the great red dragon. During this time, although I have had weaknesses, pain, and tears, I feel that I have gained a great deal from experiencing this oppression. These bitter experiences have not only made me clearly see the reactionary, evil nature and the ugly countenance of the great red dragon, but I have also recognized my own corrupt essence. It has also allowed me to experience God’s almightiness and wisdom. I have truly experienced and recognized the actual significance of God utilizing the great red dragon as a foil, from which my confidence in following God has become firmer and firmer.
After accepting God’s work in the last days, due to God’s exaltation and blessings, my wife and I fulfilled our duty by providing hospitality in our home. At that time, there were brothers and sisters living with us every day and people were frequently going in and out. So, we were relatively well-known in the area for believing in God. In the winter of 2003, the oppression of the great red dragon became tighter and tighter. One day, our leader said to us: “The police have their eyes on you. You can’t stay here anymore—you should pack your things and go out to fulfill your duty.” Confronted with this last-minute arrangement, I was shocked. I thought: This tile-roofed house that I had worked so hard to build, that we have lived in for less than a year—I’m not willing to leave it just like that! Oh God, if You could just let us live here for a few years before we have to leave, that would be fine. Living somewhere else isn’t as convenient, as comfortable as living at home. But as soon as I thought of the oppression of the great red dragon, I still decided that after selling the house, we should leave home to fulfill our duty. As I was looking around our newly-built house, I felt a wave of sorrow and pain. I really couldn’t bear to part with it; I felt that selling it at that time was so unfortunate. Just as I was accounting for the gains and losses of the flesh and was unable to decide, I heard God’s words ringing in my ears: “Abraham offered up Isaac. What have you offered up? Job offered up everything. What have you offered up? So many people have given their lives, laid down their heads, shed their blood in order to seek the true way. Have you paid that price? By comparison, you are not at all qualified to enjoy such great grace …” (“The Significance of Saving the Descendants of Moab” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words pierced to the core of my heart like a double-edged sword. I felt ashamed beyond belief. It was true! In order to meet God’s requirements, Abraham was willing to bear great pain to part with what he loved, to make his only son a burnt offering to God. When Satan and God made a bet, although Job lost all of his possessions and his ten children, he was still able to praise and extol the name of Jehovah. Even in the end when he suffered the tortures of being abandoned by his friends and family and being stricken with illness, he would still rather curse the day of his birth than blame God. He made a strong and resounding witness for God and Satan suffered a complete and humiliating defeat. There were also all those saints and prophets through the ages—in order to carry out God’s will, some of them gave up their youth and their marriages, some of them gave up their families and relatives and the wealth of the world. Some even sacrificed their own lives and spilled their blood for God’s work. … But looking at myself, even though I was enjoying the rare grace of salvation that generations of saints never enjoyed and rich words for life bestowed by God, what had I given up for God? What had I offered up for God? The church had me leave my home because of the oppression and pursuit of the great red dragon, so that I wouldn’t fall into its clutches and suffer its cruel persecution. This was God’s great love and protection of us, but I didn’t know good from bad, nor did I care about God’s earnest intentions. I didn’t even think of my own safety, I just thought of my longing for that new tile-roofed house and the pleasures of the flesh. I wasn’t willing to obey God’s arrangement—I really was so full of greed, and I cared more about money than life itself! Today, I wasn’t willing to leave my home behind even for the sake of my safety. If I had to turn my back on my own personal interests as an offering to God, or if I had to give up my life or shed my blood for God’s work, how could someone like me—a small-minded, selfish and despicable person who loves money as life itself—be willing to make this sacrifice for God? Would I not just run away long before that point? I thought of myself often shooting off my mouth, saying: I am willing to follow Peter’s example and be a pioneer for loving God. I am willing to give up everything, to expend everything without considering my own personal benefit, my loss or gain. I only want to satisfy God. But when faced with an actual situation, there was no part of me that was focused on God. I only thought of my own immediate interests, and I actually tried to bargain with God for the pleasures of the flesh. Then, I asked myself: Could it be that this is the love I have to return to God? God has said: “If you love, then you gladly sacrifice, endure hardship, and are compatible with Me. You would give up your all for Me…. Otherwise your love is not love at all, but deceit and betrayal! What kind of love is yours? Is it a true love? Is it false? How much have you given up? How much have you sacrificed? How much love have I gained from you? Do you know? Your heart is filled with evil, betrayal, and deceit” (“Many Are Called, but Few Are Chosen” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I made an oath in front of God but did not honor it. Isn’t this trying to deceive God, to fool Him? When I thought of that, I couldn’t help but prostrate myself in front of Him and pray: “Oh Almighty God, I always used to believe that I was willing to host any number of brothers and sisters without ever whining about any hardships, and that this was an expression of my love for You. But only now have I seen through the revelation of the facts that my so-called love was conditional and selective. It was all based on what I wanted, and I only had it in a comfortable environment. But when You needed me to endure fleshly hardships and compromise my own interests, my ‘love’ just disappeared. From that I saw that I didn’t actually love You and that I was not at all performing my duty for my indebtedness to the truth and it was even less to repay Your love, but it was to use a small price I paid to barter for great blessings. I really am an opportunist through-and-through, I am a selfish and despicable small-minded person. I simply am not fit to live in front of You, and I am even less fit to receive everything You provide in my life! Oh God, I am no longer willing to deceive You and rebel against You, to hurt You. I am willing to keep my vow, to put aside my own personal benefit, and to obey Your orchestrations and arrangements.”
After that, I put my energy into selling that new house, and I bought a two-room apartment in a strange place. Although it didn’t compare to our previous house, there was a telephone and heating, and transportation was convenient. I was very happy with it, and we resumed our hosting duties there. In the blink of an eye it was the spring of 2004 and the Communist Party police had once again become suspicious of us. They sent two spies pretending to be fortune-tellers to get some information. Thanks to the enlightenment and leadership from God, we saw through their scheme, and relying on wisdom from God, we ushered them out. After the church learned of this, our duties were suspended. They had us find some work in order to safeguard our environment. From that time on, we had almost no contact with our brothers and sisters. Six months passed and the local situation became more and more tense. One day we suddenly received a notification from the church saying that a Judas had sold us out and that we needed to move as quickly as possible to avoid falling into the hands of the great red dragon. Confronted with this arrangement from the house of God, this time I chose to obey, and a hatred for the great red dragon was born in my heart. I thought of the past when I had heard the great red dragon’s words proclaiming: “Citizens have freedom of religion, and their legitimate rights and interests are protected,” and I saw churches being built everywhere. I adored and loved it; I felt that it had won the hearts of the people. But today, in the face of reality, I finally really clearly saw the ugly face of the great red dragon, I saw through its machinations, and I knew that its proclamations and its surface-level actions were all lies and deceit, all pretensions. It was all despicable means, dirty tricks to confuse and blind people. It was sinister and ruthless, cunning and deceitful, regressive, against God, and utterly reactionary. It was a demon that devoured and brought harm to people! God incarnate came to the earth to save His creation, mankind. This was something that was right and proper; it was an enormous, joyous thing, but the great red dragon would not allow God among mankind, would not allow people to worship God and walk a proper path in their lives. It did everything it could to frantically hunt Christ, it cruelly persecuted the chosen people of God, and tried to disrupt and destroy God’s work. It attempted to drive God out, to exterminate the chosen people of God, and to destroy His work in the last days. It truly was utterly reactionary and intolerable by Heaven! Just then these words of God just came into my mind: “Religious freedom? The legitimate rights and interests of citizens? They are all tricks for covering up sin! … Why put up such an impenetrable obstacle to the work of God? Why employ various tricks to deceive God’s folk? Where is the true freedom and legitimate rights and interests? Where is the fairness? Where is the comfort? Where is the warmth? Why use deceitful schemes to trick God’s people? Why use force to suppress the coming of God? Why not allow God to freely roam upon the earth that He created? Why hound God until He has nowhere to rest His head?” (“Work and Entry (8)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Through His words I was able to clearly see the ugly face of the great red dragon, to clearly see the truth of its resistance to and persecution of God as well as its harm and restraints of people. I thought of how many brothers and sisters who, under its oppression and pursuit, could not return home and led the lives of vagabonds, of the homeless. I thought of how many brothers and sisters had suffered the destructiveness of its inhuman torture, how many brothers and sisters had been imprisoned on false charges and passed so many dark days, leading lives in a dungeon not worthy of a dog or a pig, only because they believed in God and performed their duty. I also thought of how many brothers and sisters who had no freedom at all under its surveillance; they had no way to perform their duty and they could not lead a normal life in the church. Today, us believing in God and offering hospitality was merely performing our duty as creations. We were carrying out our responsibilities, and absolutely had not contravened the laws or regulations of the great red dragon, but we were still subject to baseless strictures and oppression. We could only uproot ourselves and go to yet another place to fulfill our duty. In spite of this, the police did not relax in their pursuit of us, but they actually disguised themselves as fortune-tellers to dig up information, thinking they could find some evidence to entrap us and persecute us. The great red dragon truly is immeasurably sinister, treacherous, despicable, and vicious! At that thought, I felt even greater righteous indignation and was full of deep hatred for the great red dragon. Thanks be to God! It was God’s practical work and words that completely removed the mask of the great red dragon and fully exposed the ugliness of its hypocrisy with an appearance of dignity. This finally opened my eyes which had been blind. My spirit was awakened, and I saw the clarity of the truth that the great red dragon builds up its name by deceiving the public and the truth of its deceit and harmfulness. So I had the confidence and determination to firmly forsake it, to reject it. On top of that, compared to the despicable evil and dark filth of the great red dragon, I gained an even greater understanding of God’s righteousness, holiness, light, and goodness. I saw His great salvation and care for us corrupt humans; I saw that no matter how harsh the environment was, no matter what kind of resistance and oppression there was from the great red dragon, God has never given up His salvation for us. He is still enduring all suffering to do the work He must do. In this filthy, evil world, we can only depend on God—He is our greatest love and our greatest salvation from which we have the aspiration and longing for a lifetime of pursuing the truth, and following Christ. Thanks be to God for laying out such a feast for me to partake of, that in the midst of misery I can gain discernment and insight. From now on, I swear on my life that I will make a complete break with the great red dragon. I will be its sworn enemy. No matter how it persecutes or pursues me, I will not be intimidated by its despotism. I will only closely follow God, rely on His leadership, break through the oppression of all forces of darkness, and fulfill my duty in order to repay the grace of God’s salvation.
Because of the harsh conditions that didn’t allow us to stay there for long, we once again rushed to move to another strange place. After arriving, a sister from the house of God said that this was an ethnic minority area and that the great red dragon wasn’t too strict. The environment was relatively acceptable. But my heart didn’t feel at ease. I thought to myself: This is now the reign of the great red dragon and it’s as if dark clouds are bearing down on the city. It will not allow us to believe in God in peace. Sure enough, when we had been there for just 20 days, the spies of the great red dragon came to our home under the guise of collecting a sanitation fee and started looking for people inside and outside of our home, sternly asking my wife where she was from, where her residence was registered, and why she had come here. One of them asked her if her husband looked a certain way. She said “Yes,” and as soon as they heard that they exchanged a look with each other. Only then did my wife realize that they knew what I looked like without having seen my face. It had to have been the Judas who sold me out, who had even described my appearance to them. After they left they went to the house of the neighbors just behind us. It was not until then did we realize that our neighbors were working with them and they had been monitoring us. We immediately reported this to the church. Before long, a sister from the church wrote us a note that said: “The local police has had contact with the police from your hometown. They are determined to detain those of you who have been sold out. They want to first observe the situation with unannounced visits and get a grasp on you, and when the time is right they’ll make a clean sweep of all of you. Your situation is perilous, you should go back to your hometown in Shandong and hide out. Get on the road quickly—the sooner the better—if you delay you may not get out!” After seeing this note, we didn’t dare to brush it off. We decided to leave the next day. That evening, I was tossing and turning and absolutely could not get to sleep. I was not only incredibly angry at the mad persecution of the great red dragon, but I also felt confused and disconsolate about the road ahead. Oh! At first I thought that believing in God was simple, that all I needed to do was acknowledge God with my words, believe in Him in my heart, and do my best to fulfill my duties and I would receive God’s praise. I had never imagined that this road would become more difficult the longer I walked it. Just as I was feeling worried and sad because of my arduous journey of believing in God, His words enlightened me: “People do not take belief in God seriously because believing in God is too unfamiliar, too strange for them. In this way, they fall short of the demands of God. In other words, if people do not know God, do not know His work, then they are not fit for God’s use, much less can they fulfill the desire of God. ‘Belief in God’ means believing that there is a God; this is the simplest concept of faith in God. What’s more, believing that there is a God is not the same as truly believing in God; rather, it is a kind of simple faith with strong religious overtones. True faith in God means experiencing the words and work of God based on a belief that God holds sovereignty over all things. So you shall be freed of your corrupt disposition, shall fulfill the desire of God, and shall come to know God. Only through such a journey can you be said to believe in God” (Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh). I sat in silence, trying to fathom the meaning of His words. Inside, I gradually brightened: Yes, it is the truth that true faith in God means experiencing His words and work based on a belief that He holds sovereignty over all things, obeying all of God's arrangements, and pursuing truth so we can be freed of our corrupt dispositions, fulfill the desire of God, and come to know Him. Only through such a journey can we be said to believe in God. It absolutely was not as simple as I had believed, that I only needed to acknowledge Him with my words, continue to have meetings with others, eat and drink the words of God, and fulfill my duty. This type of belief of mine was just a vague religious belief and it did not contain the essence of belief in God. Even if I followed to the end, I could not possibly satisfy God’s will, nor could I gain His praise. I thought of Peter; in his belief in God, he emphasized taking God’s word into his everyday life to experience it. No matter what happened, he was seeking to satisfy God’s will and requirements. Whether it was judgment and chastisement, trials and refinement, or adversity and suffering as well as disciplining, he was always able to accept it and obey. From that, he sought the truth, pursued knowledge of himself and knowledge of God. His pursuit of many years not only resulted in a change in his own disposition, but he also came to have greater knowledge of God than any other through the ages. Peter’s faith was most in line with God’s will, and it was the most up to standard. But I had too simple of an outlook on believing in God. I thought that I just had to continue to have meetings with others, eat and drink the words of God, and fulfill my duty and I would be able to receive His praise. What difference is there between my ideas and those of unbelievers and religious people? In the end, wouldn’t it all still be in vain? Only then did I recognize that all my years of believing in God were awash in confusion. I didn’t even know what it meant to believe in God. If it hadn’t been for God’s practical revelations and the guidance and enlightenment of His words, I would still have been following God while living in my own conceptions and imagination. I still would not have seen that I am truly a religious believer who only follows his own way. I couldn’t help but feel a little scared then. I realized that if I continued with this confused way of following God without focusing on experiencing His work, or focusing on pursuing the truth or a change in disposition, in the end I would certainly be taken out by God. When I saw my perilous circumstances, I immediately offered up a prayer to God: “Oh God! Thank You for Your revelations and Your enlightenment which have allowed me to understand the truth and to recognize the errors in my belief in God. Oh God! I am willing to follow the example of Peter’s practices, to pursue the path that he took. Since I have chosen this path now, I am willing to go forward with confidence no matter how treacherous the road is or how many dangers lurk ahead of me. I am willing to have the will to suffer, to obey Your designs and arrangements, and to truly experience Your words and work according to Your requirements of me so that I can become a creation of Yours who truly believes in You and worships You.” I felt very relieved after praying and I had confidence to experience the work of God.
The next day, we got on a train to Shandong. After hiding out for a period of time in our hometown in Shandong as well as a few setbacks, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we were finally able to have contact with the church, and we resumed our life of the church. But the great red dragon had not relaxed in its persecution of us. No matter where we went, we were always subject to its restrictions and constraints. The police came by frequently to inspect residence permits—sometimes they would come twice in one day and absolutely insisted that we register for temporary residence permits, otherwise they would drive us out. So, moving house became a commonplace thing for us. Later, we moved into a larger apartment complex where the son of an elderly brother in the church rented a place, so this brother hosted us there. But there not only did we have to register for a temporary residence permit, but we had to have an entry and exit permit or else we wouldn’t be able to come and go, much less be able to move in. We had to hide inside of the house and we couldn’t go out. Even so, the police still did not give up. They still frequently went door to door conducting inspections. From this we saw that in this dictatorial, faithless country ruled by an atheist party, belief in God was suppressed and oppressed at every turn. It truly bred silent resentment. Particularly during the 2008 Olympics the situation was very tense, very harsh. The great red dragon set up traps and police were standing guard everywhere. However, it was under these circumstances that we saw God’s almightiness, wisdom, and His wonderful deeds, that it was God designing everything. Every time the officials wanted to conduct an inspection, by God’s design the man watching the main gate would come tell our elderly brother so that we could get quickly prepared and hide in advance. There was one time when the police carried out a surprise inspection while we were in the middle of a meeting. We heard the dogs outside barking like crazy. The people conducting the inspection had forced their way into the courtyard and under the pretense of checking electricity meters, they were going all over, looking around, searching, interrogating, and frightening our elderly brother, who used wisdom from God to get them to leave. We were all afraid after they left. Luckily we had all hidden in time—if they had found us or the books of God’s words, the consequences would have been unthinkable. Just as there was fear lingering in my heart, these words of God rang in my ears: “Don’t suffer the control of any person, matter or object; so long as it conforms to My will then practice it in accordance with My words. Have no fear, as My hands support you, and I will surely protect you from all evil ones” (“The Twenty-eighth Utterance” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Act bravely! Keep your heads up! Do not be afraid—I, your father, am here to support you and you will not suffer; you need only supplicate and pray more in front of Me, and I will bestow all confidence on you. From the outside, those in power appear to be sinister, but you need not fear—that is because you have little confidence. As long as you can build your confidence, nothing will be too difficult. Jump for joy to your hearts’ content! Everything is under your feet, and everything is within My grasp. Whether it’s achievement or destruction, isn’t it all subject to the slightest word from Me?” (“The Seventy-fifth Utterance” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I felt ashamed after reading God’s words. It was true. Aren’t all people, events, and things in this world within God’s designs and arrangements? Don’t they all turn, renew, change, and disappear according to His thoughts? The great red dragon is also a creature in God’s hands. No matter how savage it is, it cannot escape His rule. If He wants to destroy it, wouldn’t He just have to say the word? God has not destroyed it, but He has allowed it its savagery for a time. This is to give us confidence and bravery, and it is to allow us to know God’s wisdom, omnipotence, and wonderful deeds through our experiences. It is also to allow us to better recognize the evil, reactionary nature as well as the ugly countenance of the great red dragon in its oppression, so that we may hate it, reject it, betray it, and curse it from the bottom of our hearts. Under the guidance and leadership of God’s words, not only was I no longer timid and fearful, but I was full of gratitude for God. I was willing to be obedient within this environment and contend with the great red dragon, to accept God’s own training and perfection, to seek to understand and gain more of the truth. Over the following few months, the local police would make two or three surprise visits every month, so we were unable to prepare for them. But it was under these terrible conditions that we were able to escape their view time and time again under God’s care and protection. There were always near misses, and things always barely turned out okay. After these experiences, I couldn’t help but feel genuine gratitude and praise for God deep in my heart. I thought: “Oh Almighty God! You truly are the Lord of the universe who is in charge of all things. Your wonderful deeds are everywhere and through my actual experiences I have not only had a taste of Your omnipotence and wisdom, but I have seen that You are my strongest supporter, You are my refuge and I have seen that the great red dragon is nothing but a paper tiger. When looking from the outside it is all claws and teeth and terribly overbearing, but when it faces You, it is so weak and powerless—it cannot withstand a single blow. It can only obediently heed Your assignments and designs. As long as I have confidence I can triumph over all of the forces of darkness. Oh God! Although I am now in this demon-controlled country, I will not be under the constraints of any person, event, or thing. I will only rise up from the oppression of darkness, stand up from this place of filth to act as evidence of Your victory.”
Under the terrible circumstances of being pursued by the great red dragon, I had the profound experience that it was Almighty God’s words leading me through trial after trial, helping me triumph time after time in Satan’s tests. It was God’s great grace and protection that brought me here today. Thinking back on the road I’ve taken, I’ve suffered the oppression and pursuit of the great red dragon, I’ve been unable to return home and have been displaced, I have lived the life of a vagrant, and I haven’t had a “warm nest” as worldly people do nor have I been able to be as light-hearted as them or lead such a leisurely life. And because of the oppression of the great red dragon, my heart has endured significant suffering and pain. However, because I have experienced these bitter situations, I have gained riches of life that no one through the ages has gained. By experiencing the oppression of the great red dragon, I recognized my own selfish and despicable nature. I saw that I didn’t truly believe in or love God. Through my experience of oppression from the great red dragon, I recognized its treacherous, despicable and evil nature. Against that backdrop I had greater understanding of the essence of God’s righteousness, faithfulness, light, and goodness. Through that experience of oppression by the great red dragon I became aware of my own vague and uncertain faith and I understood the true meaning and value of believing in God. Through that oppression I also gained greater understanding of God’s wisdom and almightiness and His wonderful deeds, and I saw through the great red dragon into its cruel, evil and reactionary essence that is hostile to God. I clearly saw how it corrupts people, cheats them, and harms them. From that I developed a deep hatred for it, and I was willing to rely on God’s words to throw off the corrupt disposition of Satan, to be able to thoroughly turn my back on the great red dragon, to live as a real person and satisfy God’s heart. It was God’s practical work that allowed me to personally taste such a rich feast of life. It not only awakened this heart of mine which had long been blinded by the great red dragon, but it allowed me to gain so many great riches of life, and before I knew it I had stepped onto the proper path of believing in God. I give heartfelt thanks and praise to Almighty God!