31. God’s Love Knows No Bounds
By Zhou Qing, Shandong Province
I have suffered the miseries of this life to the fullest. I hadn’t been married many years before my husband passed away, and from that point on the heavy burden of caring for the family fell squarely upon my shoulders. Having a young child, I lived a hard life. I was always a target for the derision and contempt of others; weak and helpless, I washed my face with my tears every day, feeling as though life in this world was just too hard. Just when I was wallowing in the depths of pessimism and despair, a sister shared the gospel of Almighty God’s work of the last days with me. My heart was filled with warmth when I read these words from Almighty God: “When you are weary and when you begin to feel something of the bleak desolation of this world, do not be lost, do not cry. Almighty God, the Watcher, will embrace your arrival at any time” (“The Sighing of the Almighty” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God called to me like a loving mother and I felt like I’d finally found my home, found my support, and found the resting place for my spirit. From then on, I read God’s words every day, and I came to learn that God is the source of all life, that God rules the fate of every person, and that Almighty God is mankind’s one and only support and salvation. So that I might come to understand more truths, I actively attended church meetings and, in The Church of Almighty God, I witnessed the brothers and sisters all being simple and open with each other. When I was with them I felt at ease, I felt a great sense of release in my heart, and I enjoyed a happiness and joy I’d never felt before in the world. I therefore became filled with confidence and hope for my future. I began to perform my duty in the church in order to repay God’s love. To my surprise, however, the CCP government simply doesn’t allow anyone to believe in the true God or follow the right path, and I was subjected to brutal and inhuman capture and persecution at the hands of the CCP government simply because of my faith.
One afternoon in December 2009, I was doing some laundry at home, when all of a sudden five or six plainclothes policemen burst into my courtyard. One of them yelled, “We are from the Criminal Police Brigade specially tasked with cracking down on believers in Almighty God!” Before I could regain my composure, they began turning everything in my house upside down like a gang of robbers. They rummaged through my house, both inside and outside, and confiscated some books about belief in God, a DVD player, and two CD players that they found. They then escorted me to a police car and took me to the police station. On the way there, I thought about how the brothers and sisters had described being arrested and cruelly tortured by the wicked police, and my heart leaped into my throat; I was so afraid. In dire straits, I urgently prayed to God: “O Almighty God! I feel so weak right now. The thought of being tortured leaves me so afraid. Please give me faith and strength and drive away my fear.” After praying, I thought of two passages of God’s words: “Those in power may seem vicious from the outside, but do not be afraid, for this is because you have little faith. As long as your faith grows, nothing will be too difficult” (“Chapter 75” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “In all of My plans, the great red dragon is My foil, My enemy, and also My servant; as such, I have never relaxed My ‘requirements’ of it” (“Chapter 29” of God’s Words to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh). As I contemplated God’s words, it occurred to me that I was afraid of the cruel tortures of Satan because I did not possess true faith in God. “Satan is in fact a foil which renders service to God’s work,” I thought. “No matter how savage and cruel it is, it is still in God’s hands, and it has no choice but to obey God’s orchestrations and arrangements. What’s more, the more savage and cruel Satan is, the more I have to rely on my faith to bear witness for God. At this crucial moment, I absolutely cannot be cowed by Satan’s despotic power, but instead must lean on the faith and strength God gives me to defeat Satan.” Thinking this, I no longer felt so afraid.
When we got to the police station, two policemen slapped handcuffs on me without a word, and they kicked and shoved me up to the second floor before snarling at me, “We have some ‘special treatment’ for the likes of you to enjoy!” I knew in my heart that this “special treatment” meant torture. Just then, I kept praying to God in my heart, and I dared not leave God even for a moment, afraid that I would lose His care and protection and be taken in by Satan’s cunning schemes. As soon as I entered the interrogation room, one of the wicked policemen told me to kneel. When I didn’t, he aimed a vicious kick at the back of my knee, and I involuntarily fell to my knees with a thud. They then surrounded me and began to beat and kick me until my head spun and my eyes grew blurry, and blood was pouring from my nose and mouth. They still weren’t done, however, as they ordered me to sit on the floor and placed a chair in front of me. One of the evil policemen then began to strike me hard on the back, and with every strike my face and head would crash against the chair. My head was ringing, and the pain was unbearable. One of the policemen gave me a wicked grin and said, “Someone has already sold you out. If you don’t start talking, we’ll beat you to death!” After he said this, he punched me full in the chest, which hurt me so badly that I couldn’t draw breath for a long while. Another policeman then shouted, “Do you really think you’re some kind of Liu Hulan? Sooner or later we’ll beat the truth out of you!” The gang of wicked policemen tortured me in all kinds of ways, only stopping when they grew tired. Just when I was thinking I might be allowed some time to breathe, a policeman in his fifties came over to try and trick me with his good cop routine. “Someone has now told us that you’re a church leader. Do you think we won’t be able to charge you with anything if you don’t talk? We’ve been following you for a long time, and we only arrested you because we now have enough evidence. So start talking!” I was shocked to hear him say this: “Could it be true?” I thought. “If someone really has been a Judas and sold me out, then wouldn’t they already know everything about me? Can I get away with not telling them anything? What should I do?” In my desperation, Almighty God’s words came to mind: “You think of all the grace you have gained. You have heard so many of My words—could you have listened to them in vain? No matter who runs away, you cannot. Other people do not believe, but you must. Other people abandon God, but you must uphold God and bear witness to Him. Others slander God, but you cannot. No matter how unkind God is to you, you must still do right by Him. You should repay His love, and you must have a conscience, because God is innocent. He has already suffered great humiliation by coming to earth from heaven to work amongst mankind. He is holy without the slightest filth. In coming to a land of filth, how much humiliation has He endured? He works on you for your sake” (“The Significance of Saving the Descendants of Moab” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Every one of God’s words beat upon my numbed heart and my conscience felt greatly reproved. I thought about how I had followed Almighty God for years, how I had enjoyed endless love and warmth from God, obtained the plentiful life supply of God, understood truths no one throughout history had been able to understand, realized the meaning and value of life, and rid myself of my past dark life of pain, desolation and despair. God had given me such tremendous love—how could I possibly forget that? How could I find myself at a loss and even have thoughts of betraying God the moment I heard that someone else had betrayed Him? Thinking these thoughts, I wept and wept, and hated myself for being so lacking in conscience and humanity. Whenever someone showed me kindness, I would think of every possible way to return the kindness. God, however, had given me so much grace and so many blessings, and had bestowed such great salvation upon me, and yet my conscience remained numb. Not only had the thought to repay God not occurred to me, but instead when I found myself in dire straits, I was even thinking of betraying God. I was causing God’s heart so much grief! At that moment, I felt such deep remorse for having wavered. If someone else truly had just betrayed God, then God would surely now be feeling extremely pained and grieved, and I should now be trying to comfort God’s heart with my own loyalty. And yet I was being so selfish and despicable that not only had I not stood on the side of God, but I had thought of betraying God just so that I could go on dragging out a pathetic and ignoble life. I had thought only about myself, without any conscience or reason whatsoever—I was causing God’s heart so much grief and making Him hate me so! In my self-reproach and remorse, I silently said a prayer to God: “O Almighty God! I’m so lacking in conscience and humanity! All You have given me is love and blessings, and yet all I’ve given You in return is hurt and pain. O God! Thanks be to Your guidance for allowing me to know what to do now. I now wish to satisfy You this once with real action. No matter how Satan may torment me, I would rather die than fail to stand witness for You, and I will never betray You!” The wicked policeman saw how much I was crying and thought that I was beginning to crack, so he walked up to me and said with feigned gentleness, “Tell us what we want to know. Tell us, and then you can go home.” I fixed my gaze on him and said furiously, “No way will I ever betray God!” Hearing me say this utterly enraged him; he began to slap my face and yell hysterically, “So you’d prefer the stick over the carrot, hm? I tried to give you a way out with some dignity, but you throw it back in my face. Do you think there’s nothing we can do to you? If you don’t start behaving and fess up, we’ll lock you up in prison for five years and your child won’t be allowed to go to school.” I replied, “If I’m to spend five years in prison, then that is just something I’ll have to endure. You can stop my child from going to school, but his fate remains his fate. I will submit to God’s sovereignty.” The gang of devils became even angrier, and one of them grabbed me by the collar and dragged me over to a concrete platform. They then made me sit on the floor with my legs outstretched. One policeman stomped on one of my legs, while another forced his knee into my back, pulling both my arms roughly backward. My arms were immediately in unbearable pain as though they had both snapped, and my head lurched involuntarily forward and banged against the concrete platform, immediately causing a huge lump to form. It was the middle of winter at that time, with bone-chilling winds and every drop of water turning to ice, and yet these evil policemen were torturing me to the point that I was sweating buckets, soaking my clothes through and through. Seeing that I still wasn’t giving in, they tore off my cotton-padded jacket and made me lie face-up on the freezing floor wearing only my thin underclothes, and they continued to question me. When I still wouldn’t answer any of their questions, they gave me another kicking. This gang of devils tortured me until evening had fallen and they were all worn out, but they’d still gotten nothing out of me. When they went to have their evening meal, they threatened me, saying, “If you continue to keep your mouth shut tonight, we’ll just handcuff you to a tiger bench and leave you to freeze to death!” After saying this, they stormed off in a rage. I began to feel afraid just then, and I thought to myself: “What other tortures will these evil police put me through? Will I be able to hold out?” Especially when I thought of their savage faces and the scenes of them torturing me, I felt even more distressed and helpless. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to endure the cruel torture and that I would betray God, and so I kept on praying to God. At that moment, God’s words gave me a reminder: “If man harbors timid and fearful thoughts, it is because Satan has fooled them, afraid that we will cross the bridge of faith to enter into God” (“Chapter 6” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words cleared my mind and I knew then that my fear was because Satan had deceived me, and thus I had lost my faith in God. I also realized that I really needed to experience this kind of situation in order to be tempered and edified, or else I would forever be unable to develop true faith in God. Even more, I realized that I was not fighting alone through this adversity, but that I had Almighty God as my staunch backup. I then thought of when the Israelites were led out of Egypt and were being hunted by the Egyptian soldiers all the way to the Red Sea. By that time, there was no going back, and they obeyed God’s word and relied on their faith to cross the Red Sea. To their surprise, God parted the Red Sea and turned it into dry land; they passed over in safety and escaped danger, thus evading being pursued and slaughtered by the Egyptian soldiers. Me facing the cruel torture of the CCP police right now was just the same. As long as I had faith and relied on God, I would surely defeat Satan! And so, strength returned to my heart and I no longer felt so timid and afraid. I said a prayer to God in my heart: “O Almighty God! I wish to do battle with Satan while relying on You and not be cowed ever again by the despotic power of the wicked police! I will stand witness for You!” At this time of danger, not only did Almighty God act as my powerful backup, but He also showed mercy and compassion for my weakness. The police did not come to question me again that evening, and I passed the night safely.
Early the next morning, several policemen with murderous looks in their eyes came and began to intimidate me, saying, “If you don’t play ball, you’ll pay for it! We’ll give you a taste of death! Your Almighty God cannot save you now. You wouldn’t get through this even if you were Liu Hulan! If you don’t start talking, don’t expect to get out of this alive.” They then made me take off my cotton-padded jacket again and lie on the freezing floor while they questioned me. Seeing each one of them fixing their gazes on me, permeated with evil, all I could do was call desperately on God and ask Him to keep me standing firm in my testimony. Seeing that I was remaining silent, they were shamed into anger. One of the policemen began to hit me viciously on the head with a file folder until I felt dizzy and woozy. While striking me he called me filthy names and threatened me, saying, “Let’s really give her a taste of the gallows today. Where does her son go to school? Notify the school principal and bring her son here. We’ll make her wish she was dead.” They then questioned me about the things they’d found at my home, but because I didn’t answer to their satisfaction, they began to smash the file folder against my mouth until blood trickled from the corners of my lips. They then beat me fiercely all over my body, only stopping when they grew tired. Just then, a policeman came into the room and saw that I’d made no confession, then four or five of them came over to me and undid my handcuffs, then handcuffed my hands again behind my back. They made me sit before a large desk, with my head level with the edge of the desk and my legs outstretched. When they thought my legs weren’t straight enough, they would stomp on them and press down on my shoulders. For a long time, they held my arms and handcuffs aloft behind me and made me stay absolutely still in the posture they had prescribed for me. If I moved forward, I would hit my head on the desk, if I moved left, right, or backward, I got severely punished. This despicable tactic of theirs left me in so much pain that I just wanted to die and I let out one blood-curdling shriek after another. Only when they saw that I was close to death did they let me go and allow me to lie flat on the floor. After a little while, that gang of inhuman devils began to torture and wreak havoc on me again. Four or five evil policemen stood on my legs and arms so that I couldn’t move, then they held my nose and squeezed my cheeks to get me to open my mouth while they poured a constant stream of cold water into it. Suffocating, I struggled desperately, but they still didn’t let me go, and I gradually lost consciousness. I have no idea how long I was out for, but I suddenly awoke, choking with water, and began to cough violently. Water came out of my mouth, my nose and my ears and my chest was in agony. The only thing I could sense was utter darkness surrounding me and it felt like my eyes were bulging out of their sockets. I was choking so much that I could only exhale and not inhale. My eyes were blank, and I felt as though death would soon come for me. Just as my life was hanging by a thread, I suddenly had another violent fit of coughing and convulsions, and I was able to spit out some water. I felt a little better after that. One of the wicked policemen then dragged me by the hair into a sitting position and yanked roughly at my handcuffs. He then ordered one of his underlings to fetch an electroshock baton to use on me. To my surprise, when the underling came back, he said, “I could only find four. Two of them don’t work and the other two need charging.” Hearing this, the officer roared in fury, “You’re too stupid to do anything! Bring some chili pepper water!” I prayed nonstop to God in my heart, asking Him to protect me so that I might overcome all the cruel torture inflicted on me by those wicked police. Just at that moment, something unexpected happened: One of the policemen actually said, “That’s too much. We’ve already tortured her badly. Don’t do that anymore.” When this policeman heard this, all he could do was relent. At that moment I truly perceived God’s sovereignty and rule over all things, as it was God protecting me and giving me this reprieve. These wicked policemen were not ready to let me go just yet, however. They handcuffed my hands behind my back again, stood on my legs and pulled my handcuffed hands upward with all their strength. All I could feel was unbearable pain as though my arms were breaking, and I screamed without stopping. In my heart, I kept calling on Almighty God, and without realizing it I blurted out, “Almi …” But then I immediately lowered my voice and just said, “All I know … I’ll tell you all I know.” That gang thought I really wanted to tell them everything, and so they unhanded me and yelled, “We’re all professional case investigators. Don’t even think about tricking us. If you don’t behave and tell us everything now, you can forget about living much longer or ever leaving this place. We’ll give you some time to think about it!” I was incredibly distressed in the face of their torture and threats, and I thought to myself: “I don’t want to die here, but I really don’t want to betray God or sell out the church either. What should I do? What if I told them about just one brother or sister?” But I suddenly realized that I could never do this, and that to tell them anything would be to betray God, and would make me a Judas. In my pain, I prayed to God: “O God! What should I do? Please enlighten me and guide me, and please give me strength!” After praying I thought of God’s words that say, “The church is My heart.” “You must give everything you have to protect My testimony. This shall be the goal of your actions—do not forget this” (“Chapter 41” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Yes,” I thought. “The church is the heart of God. To sell out a brother or sister would be to wreak havoc in the church, and that is the thing that most grieves God. I must not do anything to hurt the church. God came to the earth from heaven to work to save us, and Satan keeps its greedy eyes fixed upon those of us chosen by God, vainly hoping to catch us all in one go and destroy God’s church. If I sell out my brothers and sisters, would I not be allowing Satan’s insidious plot to succeed? God is so good and everything He does on man He does out of love. I must not hurt God’s heart. I cannot do anything for God today, so I ask only to be able to stand witness to repay God’s love—this is the only thing I can do.” Once I had understood God’s will, I said a prayer to God: “O God! I have no idea what kind of torture they still have in store for me. You know that I am of such small stature and that I often feel timid and afraid. But I believe that You hold everything in Your hands, and I wish to make a resolution in Your presence to stand witness for You, even at the cost of my own life.” Just at that moment, one of the wicked policemen shouted angrily at me, “Thought it over yet? If you don’t behave and tell us everything then I’ll make sure you die here this very day! Even omnipotent God cannot save you!” I closed my eyes tight and, clinging to my resolve to stand witness at the cost of my own life, I said not a word. The policemen gnashed their teeth in their fury, rushed toward me, humiliating me and torturing me nonstop just as they had before, by stomping on me and beating. They viciously beat me in the head until it began to spin. Everything went black before my eyes and my head felt like it had split open. I gradually began to feel that I couldn’t move my eyes, my body became numb to the pain, and I couldn’t hear anything clearly. All I could perceive were their voices which seemed to be coming from a long way away. My mind was crystal clear, however, and I kept on silently repeating these words: “I’m not a Judas. I’ll die before I become a Judas….” I have no idea how much time went by, but when I awoke, I saw that I was soaked in water, and four or five evil policemen were squatting all around me, as though checking to see whether I was alive or dead. As I looked at this gang of officers who were no better than beasts, I felt great indignation rise up within me: These were the “People’s Police” who “loved the people like their own children”? These were the enforcers of the law who “upheld justice, punished the wicked and helped the good”? They were all just demons and monsters of hell! Just then, I thought of a passage from a sermon: “The great red dragon resists and attacks God most viciously and frantically, and it harms God’s chosen people most fiendishly and terribly—these are the facts. The great red dragon persecutes and coerces God’s chosen people, and what is its purpose in doing this? It wishes to utterly eradicate God’s work of the last days and eradicate God’s return. This is the maliciousness of the great red dragon, and it is the cunning scheme of Satan” (Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life). Looking at the facts around me in light of these words, I saw with crystal clarity that the CCP government is the embodiment of Satan and that it is the evil one that has opposed God since the beginning. It is because only the devil Satan hates the truth and fears the true light, and wishes to banish the coming of the true God, because only it can cruelly hurt and so inhumanly torture those who follow God and who walk the right path. God has now become flesh and has come to work within its lair, and He arranged such a situation for me to undergo so that I, as profoundly deceived by it as I was, could realize that it is the devil Satan that harms and devours people, that there is light beyond its dark rule, and that there is a true God who watches over us and provides for us day and night. The coming of Almighty God has brought truth and light to me, and has allowed me finally to see the demonic face of the CCP government that flaunts itself every day as being “great, honorable, and right,” arousing bitter hatred toward the CCP government in me. His coming has also allowed me to realize the meaning and value of pursuing the truth, and to see the path of light in life. The more I thought about it the more I understood it, and I felt a strength rise up within me, helping me to face the officers’ cruel torture. My physical pain also diminished, and I knew deep down that this was God protecting me and helping me to get through the police’s attempts to extort confessions from me through torture.
In the end, the police saw that they could get nothing out of me, so they charged me with “disrupting public order” and escorted me to the detention house. The CCP government makes prisoners work like machines in those places, forcing them to work nonstop all day long. I couldn’t even get a meager five hours’ sleep every night, and every day I would get so utterly exhausted that I felt like my whole body was falling to bits. Despite this, the correctional officers would never let me eat my fill. I was given only two small steamed buns and some vegetables without a drop of oil for each meal. During the time I spent locked up there, the evil police came to question me several times. The last time they interrogated me, they said they were going to sentence me to two years of reform through labor. Boldly, I asked them, “Doesn’t state law make a provision for freedom of belief? Why sentence me to two years of reform through labor? I’m sick. If I die, what will my child and parents do? With no one to look after them, they’ll starve.” A policeman in his fifties said sternly, “You’ll be sentenced because you’ve broken state law, and the evidence is irrefutable!” I retorted, “Believing in God is a good thing. I don’t commit murder, I don’t commit arson, I don’t do anything bad. I just seek to be a good person. So why won’t you let me have my faith?” They were shamed into a rage at my retort, and one of them came over to me and gave me a slap, knocking me to the floor. They then forced me to lie flat. One of them held my shoulders down while another held my legs down. Yet another stomped hard on my face with his leather shoes, and shamelessly declared, “It just so happens that there’s a market on today. We’ll strip you naked and parade you around the market!” Having said this, he stomped hard on my lower body and on my chest. He stood on my chest with one foot and raised the other foot menacingly, and then did this repeatedly, occasionally stomping on my thighs. My trousers had become torn from being trampled on and the crotch was ripped as well. I was so humiliated that tears poured ceaselessly from my eyes, and I felt like I would go to pieces. I simply couldn’t stand being humiliated by those devils in this way. I felt that it was just too hard to live like this, and that I would rather be dead. Just as I was feeling this terrible distress, I thought of God’s words that say: “The time has come for us to repay God’s love. We may suffer no small amount of ridicule, slander, and persecution because we follow the path of belief in God, but I believe this is a meaningful thing. It is a thing of glory, not shame, and no matter what, many are the blessings we enjoy” (“The Path … (2)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake” (Matthew 5:10). God’s words immediately jogged my memory. “Yes,” I thought. “The pain and humiliation I suffer today is of the utmost meaning and value. I’m suffering this because I believe in God and walk the right path, and it is suffered for the sake of gaining the truth and gaining life. This suffering is not shameful, but instead is a blessing from God. It’s just that I don’t understand God’s will, and when I suffer this pain and humiliation, I want to die to put an end to it, and I cannot see God’s love or blessings at all. How could I not be causing God grief?” Thinking these things, I felt so indebted to God, and silently I made a resolution: “No matter how these devils may shame me and torment me, I will never kowtow to Satan. Even if I have only one breath left, I will still spend it well and bear witness for God, and absolutely will not disappoint God.” After torturing me for two days and nights, they still got nothing out of me, and so they sent me to the Municipal Detention House.
At the detention house, I thought about everything I’d experienced over the past few days and, slowly, I understood that undergoing such persecution and adversity was God’s more profound love and salvation for me. God wanted to use this situation to temper my will and my resolve to suffer and to instill true faith and love inside me so that I could learn to be obedient in such dire straits and be able to stand witness for Him. In the face of God’s love, I remembered how I had become weak and rebellious time and time again while I was being cruelly tortured, and so I came before God in profound repentance: “O Almighty God! I’m so blind and ignorant. I didn’t recognize Your love and blessings, but always thought that physical suffering was a bad thing. Now I see that everything that is happening to me now is Your blessing. Although this blessing is at odds with my own notions, and it may look from the outside as though my flesh is suffering pain and humiliation, in truth this is You bestowing life’s most precious treasure on me, it is a testimony to Your victory over Satan, and even more, it is You showing me the truest, realest love. O God! I have nothing to repay You for Your love and salvation. All I can do is give You my heart and suffer all this pain and humiliation to stand witness for You!”
What came as a complete surprise was that, just when I had prepared myself to go to jail and became determined to satisfy God, God opened up a way out for me. On my 13th day at the detention house, God raised up my brother-in-law to invite the police out and give them some gifts, costing him 3,000 yuan. He also handed 5,000 yuan over to the police so that they would let me out on bail pending trial. When I got home, I saw that the flesh on my legs had become necrotic from how much the evil police officers had stomped on me. It had gone hard and black and it took me three months to recover. The torture meted out to me by the police also caused severe damage to my brain and heart, and I have been left with the aftereffects. I still endure the torment of this pain until this very day. Had it not been for God’s protection, I would perhaps have been paralyzed and bed-ridden, and the fact that I can now live a normal life is entirely down to the great love and protection of God.
After experiencing this persecution and adversity, I truly came to see the God-resisting, demonic essence of the CCP government. I also came to clearly see that it is the evil one and the irreconcilable enemy of God. I harbor an undying hatred for it deep within my heart. At the same time, I also came to have a deeper understanding of God’s love than I had before, and I came to understand that all the work God does in people is done to save them and is done out of love for them. Not only does God show His love for us through grace and blessings but, even more so, He shows it through suffering and adversity. Being able to stand firm throughout the cruel torture and insults the police heaped on me, and being able to walk out of the demons’ lair, I came to truly appreciate the fact that this was all down to Almighty God’s words giving me faith and strength. Even more so, it was because I was inspired by Almighty God’s love, which enabled me to overcome Satan one step at a time and walk free from the demons’ lair. Thanks be to God for loving me and saving me, and all glory and praise be to Almighty God!