18. Victorious Through Satan’s Temptations
By Chen Lu, China
This was back in December 2012, while I was out of town spreading the gospel. One morning while in a gathering with over a dozen other brothers and sisters, there was suddenly urgent knocking at the door, and then six or seven police officers burst in aggressively, wielding batons. They shoved us apart and then started searching, turning the place upside down. A sister stepped forward and asked, “We haven’t broken any laws—what right do you have to conduct a search?” An officer’s angry response was, “Behave! You stand there like you’re told, and don’t speak unless spoken to!” Then he violently pushed her down onto the floor, breaking off one of her nails and drawing blood right there. Seeing how vicious the police were left me both irate and afraid, so I said a silent prayer, asking God to give me faith and strength, hoping to stand witness for Him. I felt much calmer after praying. After a sweep of the place, the police confiscated quite a few gospel materials and books of God’s words and put us all into their vehicles.
At the police station, they took everything we had on us and demanded to know our names, addresses, and who the church leader was. I didn’t say a word. Then when they were getting ready to interrogate me on my own I started to feel really afraid; I’d heard that the police were brutal with those they find traveling to share the gospel, and they had marked me as a prime target for interrogation. It looked really grim for me. Just then I heard a sister who was right by me pray, “Oh God, You are our strong tower, our refuge. Satan is at Your feet. I want to lean on Your words, stand witness and satisfy You!” This brightened my heart, and I thought, “That’s right. God has our back, so what do I have to fear? As long as I lean on God I can certainly triumph over Satan.” My fear dissipated and I felt ashamed at the same time. She prayed and relied on God in the face of this without wavering in her faith, but I was trembling with fear, totally lacking the backbone a believer should have. Through the encouragement and help of this sister’s prayer—the love of God—I silently resolved within my heart that I would definitely stand witness, that I absolutely would not become a Judas and betray God.
Around 10 o’clock, two officers handcuffed me and took me into a room for individual questioning. One of them said something to me in the local dialect that I couldn’t understand, so I asked him what he’d said. To my surprise, this enraged all of them, and the one standing next to him grabbed me by the hair and yanked my head back and forth with it. That left me dizzy and disoriented; my scalp felt like it was being ripped right off and my hair was all over the floor. Right after that, another officer barked at me, “We’ll get it out of you one way or another! Talk! Who sent you out to proselytize?” No sooner had I said “Sharing the gospel is my duty” than he grabbed me by the hair and started slapping me, all while yelling, “I’d like to see you try sharing that gospel again!” My face was burning from being hit and was getting swollen. He only let go once he’d worn himself out, but he kept barraging me with questions. “You’re not from around here—you talk so pretty, you’re not just an average person. Open your mouth! Why are you here? Who sent you here? Who’s your leader? …” My heart leapt into my throat and I was calling out to God nonstop, asking Him for faith and strength. Praying steadied my nerves and I responded, “I don’t know anything.” Then he pounded on the table and shouted, “Just you wait. We’ll get you in line in no time,” while he picked up my MP4 player and started toying with it. Frightened and wondering what kind of tactics they would use to torture me, I urgently called out to God. It just so happened that a reading of God’s words started playing on the MP4 player, saying, “Toward those who showed Me not the slightest loyalty during times of tribulation, I shall be merciful no more, for My mercy only extends so far. I have no liking, furthermore, for anyone who has once betrayed Me, much less do I like to associate with those who sell out the interests of their friends. This is My disposition, regardless of who the person may be. I must tell you this: Anyone who breaks My heart shall not receive clemency from Me a second time, and anyone who has been faithful to Me shall forever remain in My heart” (“Prepare Sufficient Good Deeds for Your Destination” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Hearing this really stung for me. I thought about how, when the Lord Jesus was performing His work, He had so many people following Him and enjoying His grace. But when He was crucified and the Roman soldiers were going crazy arresting Christians, a lot of them turned tail and ran in fear. That was so hurtful for God! Just the same, I had also been enjoying God’s grace and blessings, and confidently following Him, but as soon as I faced hardship that required me to suffer and pay a price, I became timid and fearful. How could that bring comfort to God’s heart? In the last days, God has become flesh and come to China, this land of demons where the Chinese Communist Party rules, in order to save us, corrupted human beings. He has suffered through being oppressed and hounded by the Communist Party, but even so He’s never stopped expressing truths and guiding us. The price He has paid to save us has been enormous, and I had been freely enjoying God’s salvation, but I couldn’t handle a little bit of hardship to satisfy God. That was incredibly selfish. My conscience really felt accused and I felt a deep sense of God’s love and care for me. God knew what an immature stature I had and that I was fearful in the face of Satan’s abuse. That’s why He allowed me to understand His will by having the police play a reading of His words that I could hear, to help me stand witness through adversity. I was so moved by God’s love that tears flowed down my face, and I silently prayed, “God, I will not betray You. No matter how Satan torments me, I will resolutely stand witness and shame Satan to comfort Your heart.”
The officer suddenly turned off the MP4 player with a smack and said to me menacingly, “If you still won’t talk, I have plenty more in store for you!” Then the police made me stand on the floor barefoot and handcuffed my right hand to an iron ring set in a concrete block that was really low to the ground. They made me bend at the waist instead of squatting, and they wouldn’t let me brace myself on a leg with my other hand. After a while, when I couldn’t stay standing anymore and squatted down, an officer shouted at me, “No squatting! If you want some relief, you’d better talk!” All I could do was force myself to hold that position. After a while, I don’t know how long, my feet were as cold as ice and my legs were painfully sore and numb. I squatted down, truly unable to stay up. The police hauled me back up and dumped a glass of cold water down the back of my neck, leaving me shaking from the cold. Then they uncuffed me, had me sit on a wooden chair, handcuffed my arms behind me to each side of the chair, and opened the window and turned the air conditioner on. With the frigid air blowing directly on me, I was shuddering from the cold and silently praying nonstop, asking God for the resolve to withstand this, to allow me to overcome my fleshly weakness. Just then, I thought of a line from a hymn of God’s words: “Faith is like a single log bridge: Those who cling abjectly to life will have difficulty in crossing it, but those who are ready to sacrifice themselves can pass over, sure of foot and worry-free” (“The Onset of Illness Is God’s Love” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). I realized that the police wanted to get me to betray God through physical torture, and if I cared for the flesh, I would fall for their trap. I had to have faith in God and stand witness for Him, no matter how much I may suffer. After that, the police brought over a big pot of cold water and poured it down onto my neck, thoroughly soaking my clothing. I felt like I was being thrust into an icehouse. Seeing how hard I was shivering, an officer grabbed me by the hair and forced my head up so I was looking at the sky through the window, then said mockingly, “You’re cold, aren’t you? Have your God come save you!” When I ignored him, he dumped another big pot of cold water over me, set the air conditioner to its lowest setting, and pointed it straight at me. The freezing cold air and the chilly wind from outside enveloped me once again, freezing me so that I curled up into a little ball. I felt like I was about to become frozen solid and my blood felt like it was turning to ice. I couldn’t stop myself from thinking wild thoughts: “Pouring cold water on me and using the air conditioner on such a cold day—they’re trying to freeze me to death, aren’t they? If I die here my family won’t even know….” The more I thought like this, the more I succumbed to darkness. Just then, the way the Lord Jesus suffered on the cross for the people He redeemed suddenly came to mind, as did this passage of God’s words: “Love that has experienced refinement is strong, not weak. Regardless of when or how God subjects you to His trials, you are able to lay down your concerns about whether you live or die, to gladly cast aside everything for God, and to happily endure anything for God—thus your love will be pure and your faith real. Only then will you be someone who is truly loved by God, and who has truly been made perfect by God” (“Only by Experiencing Refinement Can Man Possess True Love” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words really encouraged me. God suffered to the utmost and even gave up His life in order to save us. Shouldn’t I, as a created being, be that much more ready to endure any kind of suffering for God? Being able to stand witness for God in front of Satan was God uplifting me, and even if it meant my death, I had to be steadfastly devout to God. Very gradually, my feeling of cold subsided. The police continued their interrogation from midday all the way until about 7:00 that evening. Seeing I still wouldn’t open my mouth, they just locked me in the interrogation room with the air conditioner still going.
The police had their dinner and then came back in and said threateningly, “Spit it out! Who’s your church’s leader? If you don’t tell us, we’ll have you drink hot chili water, drink soapy water, make you eat shit, rip off all your clothing and drag you into the basement to freeze to death!” Hearing them say this really showed me that they weren’t remotely human, but were a pack of demons wearing human faces. The more brutal they were, the more they menaced me, the more I despised them and the more resolute I became to never fold. When I still didn’t give in, they soaked a cloth bag in water and put it over my head, held my head so I couldn’t move it, and started to pull the opening tight. I was practically suffocating in no time at all, but still handcuffed to the chair, I couldn’t move in the slightest. I felt like my whole body was starting to get stiff. That still wasn’t enough for them. They poured cold water from the pot into my nose, saying that they’d smother me if I kept refusing to confess. I was having a really hard time breathing and could feel death looming closer bit by bit, so I silently prayed to God, “Oh God, this breath is given to me by You. No matter what the police do to me, even if I lose my life, I will not betray You. I am willing to submit to Your orchestrations and arrangements.” Just as I was on the verge of losing consciousness and I nearly couldn’t breathe, the police suddenly let go. I gave thanks to God within my heart over and over. I knew that even though I had fallen into the police’s hands, unless God allowed it, they could never take my life. My faith grew even greater.
The next afternoon, a few officers took me and another sister to a detention center. One of them said to me threateningly, “You’re not a local, so we can just lock you up for a few months and then sentence you to three to five years. No one will ever know.” I weakened a bit at the mention of being sentenced and thought, “If I really am sentenced and go to prison, how will I ever show my face again? What would people think of me?” The cell I was locked up in was full of sisters from The Church of Almighty God, so when they saw that I was feeling negative and weak, they fellowshiped on the truth with me to help and support me, and sang a church hymn for me called “Repaying God’s Love and Being His Witness,” which says: “God humbly became flesh to save mankind, walking among the churches, expressing the truth, painstakingly watering us, guiding us every step. This He has done every day for decades, it’s all to purify and perfect man. He has seen many springs, summers, autumns, winters, happy to take the bitter with the sweet. He’s selflessly sacrificed all without any regret, He’s given all of His love to mankind. I’ve undergone God’s judgment and tasted the bitterness of trials. The sweet follows the bitter, my corruption has been cleansed, I offer up my heart and body to repay God’s love. I go from place to place toiling, expending myself for God. Loved ones discard me, others defame me, but I will unwaveringly love God till the end. I am utterly devoted to following God’s will. I endure the persecution and tribulations, experience the ups and downs of life. Even if I endure a life of bitterness, I must follow God and testify to Him” (Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). Pondering the hymn lyrics really heartened me. We were in China, this country that hates and resists God more than any other, following the true God and taking the right path in life, so it was inevitable that we would suffer plenty of pain and hardship. But that was nothing to be ashamed of—we were persecuted because we had faith and were on the right path. We were suffering oppression for the sake of righteousness, and that was an honor. I thought of all the saints through the ages who had never gotten to hear so many of God’s words, but they still had faith in God, and no matter how great their oppression or what kind of humiliation they suffered, they never betrayed God, even if it meant their deaths. They were resounding witnesses. I had freely received so much watering and sustenance from God’s words and gotten to understand mysteries and truth that generations of people had never understood before, so why couldn’t I suffer a little and give testimony for God? This thought left me feeling ashamed and guilty, and I regained my faith, strength, and resolve to stand witness for God.
After 10 days, the police brought me to a detention house alone. The moment I went in, another prisoner said to me, “Most people who come in here don’t get out. We’re all waiting for our verdicts, and some of us have waited for months and months.” This made me think of the brothers and sisters who had served sentences for eight, 10, or even 15 years. I didn’t know how many years I would get—what if I stayed locked up in this dark hell? How would I get through the long days ahead? I was in agony, and tears welled up in my eyes. Aware that I was falling for one of Satan’s tricks, I prayed fervently and asked God to protect my heart. And then I gained a clear guiding light within me: God was allowing this to happen to me, just as Job’s trials—I couldn’t complain. These words of God came to mind: “The testimony to My defeat of Satan lies within the loyalty and obedience of man, as does the testimony to My complete conquest of man. … Would you rather submit to My every arrangement (even if it be death or destruction), or flee midway to avoid My chastisement?” (“What Do You Know of Faith?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). This question from God left me feeling ashamed. I realized I was totally lacking in devotion and obedience to God. I claimed I wanted to be a wonderful witness for God, but when I actually faced prison time, I wanted to run away and escape the situation. What kind of submission was that? Thinking back on the time since my arrest, God had been guiding and encouraging me with His words the entire time, always leading me to see through Satan’s tricks, to triumph over those demons’ brutal torture and keep on living. I saw how very real God’s love for me is, that it’s not remotely empty or false. But I wasn’t thinking of standing witness for God and satisfying Him in this environment; instead, I was selfish and self-serving, only thinking about fleshly gains and losses and wanting to flee the moment I suffered a bit. It was so selfish and despicable. Where was my humanity? Where was my conscience? I was filled with regret and self-recrimination at this thought, so I silently prayed to God with remorse. “Oh God, I was wrong. I can’t keep paying lip service this way and being dishonest with You. I want to please You with actual deeds. I will stand witness without a doubt, no matter what the verdict turns out to be.” The weather was cold, so the other prisoners in the detention house gave me some clothing, and they helped me with the labor I had to perform every day. They took care of me in all sorts of ways. I knew this was what God had arranged, and I offered Him my heartfelt thanks.
The police would question me once every few days in the detention house. Seeing that harsher tactics weren’t working, they switched to a softer approach. One officer tried to chat with me with this congenial look on his face, and bought me some nice things to eat. He also said he could help me find a good job. I knew this was one of Satan’s tricks, so I completely ignored him. During one interrogation, the police finally revealed their evil intention: “We don’t have anything personal against you—we just want to eradicate The Church of Almighty God, and we’re hoping you could work for us.” Hearing them say something so horrible deeply angered me. God has become flesh and come to the world in the last days in order to save mankind, but the Chinese Communist Party madly opposes and condemns Him, and arrests and persecutes believers. And now they wanted to get me to sell out the church and become their puppet. It was despicable. I saw that the Communist Party is a gang of demons who are determined to fight God—they’re so evil and reactionary! I was filled with all-encompassing hatred for the Party and wanted nothing but to bear testimony to shame those demons of Satan. The police tried another psychological trick when I still didn’t say anything. They found my husband through the mobile phone service provider and brought him and our child in from out of town to see me at the detention house. My husband had never been opposed to my faith, but because of the police threatening and enticing him, he was saying over and over, “I’m begging you to give up your faith. Even if it’s not for my sake, just think of our son. Imagine what it would do to him to have his mom in prison.” Hearing this from him was really hard for me. I thought of this hymn of God’s words right then: “The utmost faith and love are required from us in the work of the last days. We may stumble from the slightest carelessness, for this stage of work is different from all the previous ones: What God is perfecting is mankind’s faith, which is both invisible and intangible. What God does is convert words to faith, to love, and to life. People must reach a point where they have endured hundreds of refinements and possess faith greater than Job’s. They must endure incredible suffering and all manner of torture without ever leaving God. When they are obedient unto death, and have great faith in God, then this stage of God’s work is complete” (“What God Makes Perfect Is Faith” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). God’s words filled me with faith and strength. I didn’t waver at all, no matter what my husband said. Finally, he dropped this bomb on me: “If you just refuse to listen, we should get a divorce!” The word “divorce” shattered my heart. I knew that if it weren’t for the Communist Party lying and blaspheming God’s work, threatening, coercing, and sowing discord, he never would have said something so heartless. I detested the Party more than ever. It was the main culprit in pushing our family to the brink! They wanted to exploit my feelings and the draw of my family to get me to betray God—I absolutely couldn’t fall for their ploy. After thinking this through, I calmly responded, “You can take our son and leave.” Seeing how everything they were trying was failing, an officer paced angrily in front of the desk and shouted at me, “We’ve put so much into this without getting a single word out of you! If you don’t open that trap, you’ll be labeled a political criminal. Today’s your last chance to talk!” But no matter how they raged at me, I stayed quiet, praying to God the entire time, asking Him to help me stay resolute in my faith.
I mulled over what my husband had said when I was back in my cell. It seemed he really was prepared to divorce me—I’d lose my home, and I still didn’t know how long my sentence was going to be. I was utterly miserable. Just then, some of God’s words came to mind: “Now you should be able to clearly see the precise path that Peter took. If you can clearly see Peter’s path, then you will be certain about the work being done today, so you will not complain or be passive, or long for anything. You should experience Peter’s mood at the time: He was stricken with sorrow; he no longer asked for a future or any blessings. He did not seek profit, happiness, fame, or fortune in the world; he only sought to live the most meaningful life, which was to repay God’s love and dedicate what he held utterly most precious to God. Then he would be satisfied in his heart” (“How Peter Came to Know Jesus” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Peter’s accomplishments were deeply moving for me. It was true—Peter spent his life seeking to love and satisfy God, without giving the slightest consideration to his own future and destiny, to his own interests. He was crucified upside down in the end, serving as a beautiful, resounding witness for God. I was fortunate to be able to follow God incarnate and enjoy the sustenance and leadership of His words, but I’d never offered up anything to God. The moment had come that I needed to stand witness—I absolutely had to satisfy God now. Wouldn’t I be left with a lifelong regret if I missed this chance? At that, I prayed to God, “God, I want to do as Peter did. No matter what I may face next, even if it’s divorce, even if it’s prison, I’m ready to stand witness and please You, and even if I spend the rest of my days in prison, I will not bow down to Satan and betray You.” When I truly offered up everything, I saw God’s wondrous deeds. A few days later, a correctional officer said to me out of the blue, “Get your stuff together. You’re going home.” I simply couldn’t believe my ears. I was thrilled. Satan had been shamed and defeated in that spiritual battle, and God resoundingly glorified!
Over the 36 days of persecution that I endured, I fully and clearly saw the Chinese Communist Party’s evil, reactionary essence—it’s vicious and tyrannical, and totally contrary to Heaven. I came to despise and reject it from the bottom of my heart. Throughout this ordeal, it was God’s words that enlightened and guided me, allowing me to triumph over Satan’s attacks and temptations time after time. I genuinely experienced that it is God’s words that are mankind’s very life and strength, and I realized that God rules over all, that everything is within His grasp. No matter how many tricks Satan tries to play, it will always be vanquished at God’s hands. Even though it tortured my flesh to force me to betray God, its cruelty not only failed to break me, but actually opened my eyes to its evil countenance. I came to know God’s love and salvation, thoroughly rejected Satan, and became steadfast in my faith and in following God. God’s wisdom will always triumph over Satan’s schemes. I give heartfelt thanks to God!