94. Tribulation Inspired My Love for God
Meng Yong Shanxi Province
I am by nature an honest person, which is why I have always been bullied by other people. As a result, I have tasted the coldness of the world of man and felt my life empty and without meaning. After I started believing in Almighty God, through the reading of God’s words and living the church life, I enjoyed an earnestness and joy in my heart I had never felt before. Seeing the brothers and sisters of The Church of Almighty God love each other like a family made me realize that only God is righteous, and that only in The Church of Almighty God is there light. Through several years of personally experiencing Almighty God’s work, I have come to truly appreciate that the words of Almighty God can indeed change people and save people. Almighty God is love, and He is salvation. So that more people can enjoy God’s love and seek and receive God’s salvation, my brothers and sisters and I all strived to do our best to spread the gospel, but we never expected to be captured and persecuted by the Communist Party.
On January 12, 2011, several brothers and sisters and I drove to a place to spread the gospel, and ended up being reported by wicked people. Not long after, the county government instructed officers from various law enforcement departments, such as the vice squad, national security forces, the anti-drug squad, armed police forces, and the local police department, to come around in more than 10 police vehicles to arrest us. When a brother and I were preparing to drive away, we saw seven or eight police wielding batons furiously beating another brother. At that point, four police officers ran over quickly and cut off our car. One of the wicked officers pulled out the car keys without any explanation, and ordered us to stay in the car and not move. By then, I saw that that brother had already been beaten to the point where he was sitting on the ground, unable to move. I could not help but be filled with righteous indignation and rushed out of the car to stop their violence, but the wicked police twisted my arm and pushed me aside. I tried to reason with them: “Whatever it is, we can talk about it. How can you just start beating people?” They viciously yelled back: “Hurry up and get back to your car, you’re going to get yours soon!” Later, they took us to the police station, and our car was also forcibly impounded.
After nine o’clock that night, two police officers came to interrogate me. When they saw that they could not get any useful information out of me, they grew flustered and exasperated, gnashing their teeth in anger as they cursed: “Damn it, we’ll take care of you later!” They then locked me in the interrogation waiting room. At 11:30 at night, two officers took me into a room without surveillance cameras. I had a feeling they were going to use violence against me, so I started praying to God repeatedly in my heart, begging for God to protect me. At this time, a wicked police officer surnamed Jia came to interrogate me: “Have you been in a Volkswagen Jetta in these last few days?” I answered no, and he furiously yelled: “Other people have already seen you, and yet you still deny it?” After saying it, he slapped me viciously across the face. All I felt was the burning pain on my cheek. He then roared loudly: “Let’s see how tough you are!” He picked up a wide belt as he spoke and kept whipping it across my face, I don’t know how many times I was whipped, but I could not help but scream out in pain time and time again. Upon seeing this, they pulled the belt around my mouth. A few wicked officers then put a blanket over my body before beating me furiously with their batons, only stopping when they became too tired to catch their breaths. I had been beaten so badly that my head was spinning and my body hurt like every bone had scattered apart. At the time I did not know why they were treating me in this way, but later on I found out that they put a blanket over me to prevent the beating from leaving marks on my flesh. Putting me in a room without surveillance, gagging my mouth, and covering me with a blanket—it was all because they were afraid that their wicked deeds would be exposed. I never thought the dignified “people’s police” could be so treacherous and vicious! When the four of them got tired from beating me, they changed to another method to torture me: Two wicked officers twisted one of my arms back and forcefully tugged it upward, while another two wicked officers lifted my other arm over the shoulder to the back and pulled it down hard. But my two hands could not be pulled together no matter what, so they drove a vicious knee into my arm. All I heard was a “click,” and my two arms felt like they had been torn off. It hurt so much that I nearly expired. They called this type of torture method “Carrying a Sword on the Back,” which normal people would not be able to endure at all. It did not take long for me to lose sensation in both my hands. This was still not enough for them to give up, so they ordered me to kneel down to add to my suffering. I was in so much pain that my whole body broke out in a cold sweat, my head was ringing, and my consciousness began to grow a little blurry. I thought: I’ve lived for so many years; even though I’ve constantly had illnesses, I’ve never had the feeling of being unable to control my own consciousness. Am I about to die? Later on, I really couldn’t take it anymore, so I thought of seeking relief through death. In that moment, the word of God enlightened me from within: “Today, most people don’t realize: They believe that suffering is without value…. The suffering of some people reaches a certain point, and their thoughts turn to death. This is not the true love of God; such people are cowards, they have no perseverance, they are weak and powerless!” (“Only by Experiencing Painful Trials Can You Know the Loveliness of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words made me suddenly awaken and realize that my way of thinking was not in line with God’s intentions and would only make God sad and disappointed. Because amid this pain and suffering, what God wants to see is not me seeking death, but that I can swallow humiliation and bear the heavy burden, and that I can rely on God’s guidance to battle Satan, to bear witness to God, and make Satan ashamed and defeated. Seeking death would be falling right into Satan’s scheme, meaning I wouldn’t be able to bear witness and would instead become a mark of shame. After understanding God’s intentions, I prayed to God silently: Oh God! Reality has shown that my nature is too weak. I don’t have the will and courage to suffer for You and wanted to die just from a bit of physical pain. Now I know that I cannot do anything to shame Your name and must stand witness and satisfy You no matter how much suffering I have to endure. But at this time, my physical body is in extreme pain and weak, and I know that it is very difficult to overcome the beatings of these demons on my own. Please give me more confidence and strength so that I can rely on You to defeat Satan. I swear on my life that I will not betray You or sell out my brothers and sisters. As I repeatedly prayed to God, my heart slowly became at ease. The wicked police saw that I was barely breathing and were afraid they would have to bear responsibility if I died, so they came to release my handcuffs. But my arms had already stiffened, and the cuffs were so tight that they became very hard to undo. If they used any more force my arms would have broken. The four wicked policemen took several minutes to release the handcuffs before dragging me back to the interrogation waiting room.
The next afternoon, the police arbitrarily pinned a “criminal offense” on me and took me back to my home to raid it, and then sent me to a detention center. As soon as I entered the detention center, four correctional officers confiscated my cotton jacket, trousers, boots, and watch, as well as the 1,300 yuan in cash I had on me. They made me change into their standard prison uniform and forced me to spend 200 yuan to buy a blanket from them. Afterward, the correctional officers locked me up with the armed robbers, murderers, rapists, and drug smugglers. When I entered my cell, I saw twelve bald prisoners eyeing me with hostility. The atmosphere was gloomy and terrifying, and I felt my heart suddenly rise up to my throat. Two of the heads of the cell walked up to me and asked: “What are you in here for?” I said: “Spreading the gospel.” Without another word, one of them slapped me across the face twice, and said: “You’re a ‘Bishop,’ aren’t you?” The other prisoners all started laughing savagely and mocked me by asking: “Why don’t you let your God rescue you from here?” Amid the jeering and the ridiculing, the cell head slapped me across the face a few more times. From then on, they nicknamed me “Bishop” and often humiliated and mocked me. The other cell head saw the slippers I was wearing and arrogantly shouted: “You don’t know your own place at all. Are you worthy of wearing these shoes? Take them off!” As he said it, he forced me to take them off and change into a pair of their worn-out slippers. They also gave away my blanket for the other prisoners to share. Those prisoners fought back and forth for my blanket, and in the end left me with an old blanket that was thin, torn, dirty, and smelly. Instigated by the correctional officers, these prisoners subjected me to all sorts of hardships and torment. The light was always on in the cell at night, but a cell head said to me with an evil grin: “Turn that light off for me.” As I could not do it (there wasn’t even a switch), they started laughing at me and mocking me again. The next day, a few juvenile prisoners forced me to stand in a corner and memorize the prison rules, threatening: “You’re going to get it if you don’t memorize it within two days.” I could not help but be terrified, and the more I thought about what I had been through the last few days, the more frightened I became. The only thing I could do was to keep calling out to God and beg for God to protect me so I could overcome it. At this moment, a hymn of God’s word enlightened me: “If you can still love God regardless of whether you are imprisoned or ill, whether others sneer at or slander you, or whether you come to a dead end, this means that your heart has turned to God” (“Has Your Heart Turned to God” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). God’s word gave me power and pointed out a path for me to practice—seek loving God and turn my heart to God! In that moment, it suddenly became crystal clear in my heart: God allowing this suffering to befall me was not to torment me or intentionally make me suffer, but to train me to turn my heart to God in such an environment, so that I can resist the control of Satan’s dark influences and so my heart can still be close to God and love God, never complaining and always obeying God’s orchestrations and arrangements. With this in my mind, I was no longer afraid. No matter how Satan treats me, all I shall care about is giving myself to God and doing all I can to seek loving God and satisfying God, never bowing my head to Satan.
Life in prison is practically hell on earth. The prison guards kept coming up with ways to torture people: I was squeezed in with several other prisoners when sleeping at night. Even turning in bed was difficult. Since I was the last to arrive, I even had to sleep next to the toilet. After being captured, I didn’t sleep for several days and became so sleepy that I couldn’t take it and would doze off. The prisoners on duty who were standing guard would come to harass me, intentionally flicking me on the head until I woke up before they would leave. Once, at around three in the morning, a prisoner woke me up on purpose because he wanted to check the size of my long johns to see if he could fit into them. He brought a dirty and torn set of thin long johns to exchange with mine. Those were the coldest days of the year, but these prisoners still wanted to take away the only set of long johns I had on me. The people in there were as barbaric as beasts. They had vicious dispositions and sinister hearts, without a shred of humanity, like demons who torture people in hell for fun. Moreover, the food there was even worse than what was fed to dogs and pigs. The first time, I received half a bowl of congee, and saw that there were many black spots in it. I didn’t know what they were, and the color of the congee was also blackish. It was very difficult to swallow. I really wanted to fast at the time, but God’s words enlightened me: “… during these last days you must bear testimony to God. No matter how great your suffering, you should go on to the very end, and even at your last breath, still you must be faithful to God, and at the mercy of God; only this is truly loving God, and only this is the strong and resounding testimony” (“Only by Experiencing Painful Trials Can You Know the Loveliness of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words were full of love and affection like the comforting of a mother, arousing my courage to face suffering. God wants me to keep on living, but I was too weak, constantly wanting relief through death. I don’t even cherish myself; it is still God who loves me the most. A warmth suddenly surged in my heart, making me so emotional that tears burst from my eyes and dripped into the congee. Being moved by God’s love once again gave me energy. I must eat this meal regardless of how it tastes. I finished off the congee in one breath. After breakfast, the cell head made me scrub the floors. These were the coldest days of the year and there was no hot water, so I could only use cold water for the cleaning cloth. The cell head also ordered me to scrub like this every day. Then, several armed robbers made me memorize the prison rules. If I couldn’t memorize them, they would punch and kick me; getting slapped in the face was even more common. Facing such an environment, I often wondered what I would have to do to be able to satisfy God’s intentions. At night, I pulled my blanket over my head and prayed silently: Oh God, You allowed this environment to befall me, so Your good intentions must lie therein. Please reveal Your intentions to me. At that moment, God’s words enlightened me: “Flowers and grass are spread over the mountains and plains, but before the spring arrives they can add luster to My glory on earth. Can mankind accomplish this? Can they bear witness for Me on earth before My return? Can they offer themselves for the sake of My name in the nation of the great red dragon?” (“The Thirty-fourth Utterance” of God’s Utterances to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Yes, the grass and I are all God’s creation. God created us to manifest Him, to glorify Him. The grass is able to add luster to God’s glory on earth before the spring arrives, meaning it has fulfilled its duty as a creation of God. My duty today is to obey God’s orchestration and to bear witness to God before Satan, to let everyone see that Satan is a living demon who harms and devours man, while God is the one true God who loves and saves man. Enduring all this suffering and humiliation now is not because I committed an offense, but is for the sake of God’s name. Enduring this suffering is glorious. The more Satan humiliates me, the more I have to stand on God’s side and love God. That way, God can gain glory, and I would have fulfilled the duty I should have fulfilled. As long as God is happy and pleased, my heart will also receive comfort. I am willing to endure the final suffering to satisfy God and let all be orchestrated by God. When I started to think this way, I felt especially moved in my heart, and was once again unable to control my tears: “Oh God, You are too adorable! I have followed You for so many years, but never had I felt Your tender affection like I have today, or felt as close to You as I do today.” I completely forgot my own suffering and became immersed in this moving feeling for a long, long time …
On my third day at the detention center, a correctional officer took me to their office. Once there, I saw more than a dozen people staring at me with peculiar eyes. One of them held a video camera in front of me to my left, while another walked up to me with a microphone, asking: “Why do you believe in Almighty God?” That was when I realized that this was a media interview, so I answered with proud humility: “Since I was little, I have often been subject to people’s bullying and cold shoulders, and I’ve seen people mutually deceive and take advantage of each other. I felt that this society was too dark, too perilous; people were living empty and helpless lives, with nothing to look forward to and with no life goals. Later, when someone preached the gospel of Almighty God to me, I started believing in it. After believing in Almighty God, I have felt other believers treat me like family. No one in The Church of Almighty God plots against me. Everyone is mutually understanding and caring. They look after each other, and are not afraid to speak what’s on their minds. In Almighty God’s word I have found the purpose and value of life. I think believing in God is pretty good.” The reporter then asked: “Do you know why you are here?” I responded: “After believing in Almighty God, I no longer care about personal gains and losses or honor and disgrace. My heart is turning more and more toward kindness, and I am more and more willing to be a good person. Seeing how Almighty God’s word can truly change people and turn them into good people, I thought if all of mankind can believe in God, then our country would also be much more orderly and the crime rate would also drop. Hence, I decided to tell this good news to other people, but I never knew that such a good deed would be illegal in China. And so I was arrested and brought here.” The reporter saw that my responses were not advantageous toward them, so he immediately stopped the interview and turned around and left. At that moment, the deputy head of the National Security Brigade was so furious that he kept stomping his feet. He stared at me viciously, gnashing his teeth and whispering: “You just wait and see!” But I was not at all afraid of his threats or intimidation. Conversely, I felt deeply honored to have been able to bear witness to God on such an occasion, and moreover I gave glory to God for the exaltation of God’s name and the defeat of Satan.
Temperatures were very low on the day of January 17. As the wicked police had confiscated my cotton coat, I only wore a set of long johns and ended up catching a cold. I came down with a high fever and also could not stop coughing. At night, I wrapped myself up in a worn blanket, enduring the torment of illness while also thinking about the endless mistreatment and abuse of the prisoners toward me. I felt very desolate and helpless. Just as my misery reached a certain extent, a hymn of God’s word echoed in my ear: “If You give me sickness, and take my freedom, I can continue living, but were Your chastisement and judgment to leave me, I would have no way to go on living. If I were without Your chastisement and judgment, I would have lost Your love, a love that is too deep for me to put into words. Without Your love, I would live under the domain of Satan …” (“Peter’s Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). This was Peter’s genuine and sincere prayer before God. Peter was never driven by the flesh. What he loved dearly and valued was God’s chastisement and judgment. As long as God’s chastisement and judgment did not leave him, his heart would receive its greatest comfort. I should now also follow the example of Peter’s pursuit and understanding. The flesh is corrupted and will inevitably decay. Even if I encounter illness and lose my freedom, it is suffering I should bear. But if I lose God’s chastisement and judgment, that is equivalent to losing God’s presence and love, and also means losing the chance to be cleansed. That is what is most painful. Under God’s enlightenment, I once again experienced God’s love. I also hated my own weakness and worthlessness, and saw that my nature is too selfish, never showing any consideration toward God’s feelings of sadness. The next day, several other prisoners in the same cell fell ill, but my high fever miraculously receded. I felt God’s care and protection toward me and also saw the wonders of God’s work. Over the following few days, the small steamed buns we ate got even smaller, so some of the prisoners started complaining: “Ever since the arrival of the ‘Bishop,’ we’ve first had plague and now we have famine.” They said it was all my fault and that it would only be reasonable if I received the death sentence. One night, a vendor came by the window and the cell head bought a lot of ham, dog meat, chicken thighs, and so forth. In the end, he ordered me to pay. I said I didn’t have the money, so he said viciously: “If you don’t have the money I will slowly torment you!” The next day, he made me wash the bedsheets, clothes, and socks. The correctional officers in the detention center also made me wash their socks. In the detention center, I had to endure their beatings nearly every day. Whenever I could bear it no longer, I would always be guided inside by God’s words: “You must do your final duty for God during your time on earth. In the past, Peter was crucified upside down for God; however, you should satisfy God in the end, and exhaust all of your energy for God. What can a creature do for God? So you should give yourself to the mercy of God sooner rather than later. As long as God is happy and pleased, then let Him do whatever He wants. What right do men have to complain?” (“Interpretation of the Forty-first Utterance” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words gave me infinite power. Even though from time to time I would still be subject to the attacks, humiliation, condemnation, and beatings of the prisoners, my soul was able to achieve comfort and joy. Like a powerful warm flow, God’s love pushed me to continue on, enabling me to truly feel that God’s love is too great.
On morning, a correctional officer specifically delivered a sheet of newspaper. The prisoners grinned hideously as they used a mocking tone to read out words from the newspaper slandering and blaspheming Almighty God. I was so furious inside I began gnashing my teeth. The prisoners came over to ask me what it was all about, and I said loudly: “This is a smear by the Communist Party!” Listening to these prisoners all just following the crowd and smearing the truth and blaspheming God by speaking the same language as the devil, I seemingly saw the coming of their end. As the sin of blaspheming God shall never be forgiven, anyone who offends God’s disposition will receive the heaviest punishment and retribution! By doing this, the Communist Party is taking all the people of China to their ultimate doom, completely exposing its true face as a soul-eating demon! Later the police officer in charge of my case interrogated me again. This time, he did not use torture to try to force a confession, and instead changed to using a “kind” face to ask me: “Who is your leader? I’ll give you another chance. If you tell us, you’ll be all right. I will show you great leniency. You were innocent in the first place, but other people ratted you out. So why cover for them? You seem like such a well-behaved person. Why give your life for them? If you tell us, you can go home. Why stay here and suffer?” These two-faced hypocrites saw that the hard approach didn’t work, so they decided to try the soft approach. They really are full of cunning tricks and old masters of machinations and maneuvers! Seeing that hypocritical face of his filled my heart with hate for this bunch of demons. I said to him: “I’ve told you everything I know. I don’t know anything else.” Upon seeing my resolute attitude, he knew he could not get anything out of me, so he walked away dejectedly.
After being held at the detention center for half a month, I was released only after the police asked my family to pay 8,000 yuan in bond money. But they warned me not to go anywhere and that I must stay at home and guarantee to be on call. On the day I was released, the correctional officers did not give me any food to eat intentionally, while the prisoners said: “Your God is amazing. We were not sick people, but we all became sick people here. You came here full of illnesses, but now you’re leaving without any illness. Good on you!” In this moment, my heart became even more thankful and full of praise toward God! My uncle is a prison guard. He kept suspecting that I was released because my father has a special connection to someone powerful, or else there’s no way I would have been released from a high-security prison within half a month—at the very least it should have been three months. My whole family knew very well that this was determined by God’s omnipotence and that it was God revealing His wonderful work on me. I saw clearly that this was the contest between God and Satan. No matter how savage and vicious Satan is, it will always be defeated by God. From then on, I became convinced that everything I encountered was part of God’s arrangement. In late May, 2011, under the crime of “disturbing social order,” the Communist police got me sentenced to one year of re-education through labor, to be served outside prison under surveillance, and suspended for two years.
After experiencing this persecution and tribulation, I had an understanding and could discern the evil essence of the atheist Communist Party of China, and developed a deep-seated hatred toward it. All it does is use violent methods to maintain its ruling status, striking and suppressing all just causes and detesting the truth to the extreme. It is God’s greatest enemy. So it can achieve its goal of permanently controlling people, it stops at nothing to obstruct and disrupt God’s work on earth, furiously suppressing and persecuting believers of God, using both the carrot and the stick, getting others to do its bidding, saying one thing while doing another, and concealing deception and schemes at every turn. The contrast it provides allows me to see even more that only God’s word can bring people life during suffering. When people are at their most desperate or at the brink of death, God’s word is like the water of life, nourishing people’s dry hearts. It’s also like a miraculous elixir that can cure the wounds of people’s souls, rescuing them from danger, fueling their lives with confidence and courage, and bringing them unlimited energy, letting them enjoy the sweetness of God’s word amid their suffering, that can give comfort to their souls, and make them feel that the vitality of God’s word is inexhaustible and never-ending. Throughout this half-month of prison life, if God had not been with me, using His words to remind, enlighten, and encourage me, there was no way my weak nature could have withstood such suffering. If it were not for God looking after and protecting me, there was no way my weak and fragile body could have withstood the torture and ill-treatment of the wicked police, which, even had it not tormented me to death, would have left my body sick and wounded. But God wonderfully protected me through those darkest, most difficult days, and even cured my original illness. God really is too almighty! His love for me is really too deep, too great! I really don’t know how to express my gratitude toward God, and can only say from the bottom of my heart: Oh God, I hope to love You ever deeper! No matter how rough and bumpy the road ahead is or how much suffering I must endure, I will obey Your orchestration and be determined to follow You to the end!
Although my physical body suffered a little through this experience, the benefits I have gained from it are significant. This is a turning point in my road of believing in God, as well as a new starting point in my road of believing in God. I feel deeply that, in the ten years I have believed in God, I have never appreciated God’s love as deeply as I do today, and truly felt that the value and meaning of believing in God, following God, and worshiping God is too great; and moreover, I have never been as willing to seek loving God and offer my remaining life to repay God’s love as much as I do today. I would like to take this opportunity to offer my heartfelt appreciation and praise. All glory and praise to Almighty God!