26. Unbreakable Faith
By Meng Yong, China
In December 2012, 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 deployed officers from the criminal police brigade, national security forces, the anti-drug squad, armed police forces, and the local police station, to come around in more than 10 police vehicles to arrest us. When a brother and I were just about to drive away, four policemen ran over quickly and cut off our car. One of them pulled out the car key and ordered us to stay in the car and not move. By then, I saw that seven or eight policemen wielding batons were furiously beating another brother, and that brother had already been beaten to the point that he was unable to move. I could not help but be filled with righteous indignation and rushed out of the car, trying to stop their violence, but the policemen held me back. Later, they took us to the police station, and our car was also impounded.
After nine o’clock that night, two criminal policemen 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 p.m., they 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 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 policemen then put a quilt over my body before beating me furiously with their batons, only stopping when they became too tired to catch their breath. 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 beating me up in this way, but later on I found out that they had put a quilt 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 quilt—it was all because they were afraid that their wicked deeds would be exposed. The Chinese Communist Party police are so treacherous and vicious! When the four of them got tired from beating me, they changed to another method to torture me: Two policemen twisted one of my arms back and forcefully tugged it upward, while another two policemen lifted my other arm over the shoulder to the back and pulled it down hard. (They called this type of torture method “Carrying a Sword on the Back,” which an average person would not be able to endure at all.) 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. 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 squat on the floor 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: “Over all these years in my life, 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 words of God enlightened me from within: “Today, most people do not have that knowledge. They believe that suffering is without value…. The suffering of some people reaches an extreme, and their thoughts turn to death. This is not true love for 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 will and would only make God sad and disappointed. Because amid this pain and tribulation, what God wanted to see was not me seeking death, but that I could 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, and it couldn’t be considered bearing witness for God, but 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 because of a bit of physical pain. Now I don’t want to escape it and I must stand witness and satisfy You no matter how much suffering I have to endure. But at this time, my 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. 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 house. As soon as I entered the detention house, four correctional officers confiscated my cotton-padded 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 quilt from them. Afterward, the correctional officers locked me up with 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 religious head, 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 “religious head” 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. He also gave away my quilt to the other prisoners. Those prisoners fought back and forth for my quilt, and in the end left me with an old quilt 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. So I kept calling out to God and begging for Him to protect me so I could overcome it. At this moment, I thought of a hymn of God’s words: “When trials come, you can still love God; whether you face imprisonment, illness, ridicule, or slander from others, or seem to have no way out, you can still love God. This means 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—seeking to love God and turning 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, always accepting and obeying God’s orchestrations and arrangements. With this in my mind, I was no longer afraid. No matter how the police and prisoners treated me, all I shall care about was giving myself to God; I would never yield to Satan.
Life in prison is practically hell on earth. The prisoners were instigated by the prison guards to use various ways to torture me: When I was sleeping at night, they would crowd up against me so I could hardly turn over, and they made me sleep right up against 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. There was a prisoner who deliberately woke me up and tried to take my long johns. After breakfast the next day, the cell head demanded I scrub the floors every day. 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. Then, several convicted 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 felt very miserable. At night, I pulled my quilt 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: “I admire the lilies blooming in the hills; the flowers and grasses stretch across the slopes, but the lilies add luster to My glory on earth before the arrival of spring—can man achieve such things? Could he testify to Me on earth prior to My return? Could he dedicate himself for the sake of My name in the country of the great red dragon?” (“Chapter 34” of God’s Words to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh). As I was pondering God’s words, I thought to myself: “The flowers and grass and I are all God’s creation. God created us to manifest Him, to glorify Him. The lilies are able to add luster to God’s glory on earth before the spring arrives, meaning they have fulfilled their responsibility as a creation of God. My duty today is to obey God’s orchestration and to bear witness to God before Satan. Today I am subject to persecution and humiliation because of my faith, but this is suffering for the sake of righteousness and it 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 submit to God’s orchestrations in all things.” When I started to think this way, I felt especially moved in my heart, and was once again unable to control my tears. I prayed to God silently: “Oh God, You truly are worthy of love! 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 …
Temperatures were very low on the sixth day in the detention house. As the wicked police had confiscated my cotton-padded 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 quilt, 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 great extent, I thought of Peter’s genuine and sincere prayer before God: “If You give me sickness and take my freedom, I can continue living, but if Your chastisement and judgment were to ever 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, and would be unable to see Your glorious face. How could I continue living?” (“The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). These words gave me faith and strength. Peter thought nothing of physical suffering. What he treasured, what he really cared about, was God’s judgment and chastisement. What he pursued was to experience God’s judgment and chastisement so he could be cleansed and ultimately achieve obedience even until death, and the ultimate love for God. I knew that I had to adopt the same pursuit as Peter, that God had allowed me to be placed in that situation. Even though I was experiencing physical suffering, it was God’s love coming upon me. God wanted to perfect my faith and my resolve in the face of suffering. I was really moved once I’d understood God’s earnest intentions, and I hated how weak-kneed, how selfish I was. I felt I owed God an enormous debt for not being considerate of His will, and I swore that no matter how great my suffering, I would stand witness and satisfy God. The next day, my high fever miraculously receded. I gave thanks to God in my heart.
One night, a vendor came to 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 bed sheets, clothes, and socks. The correctional officers in the detention house also made me wash their socks. In the detention house, I had to endure their beatings nearly every day. Whenever I could bear it no longer, I would think of God’s words: “You must, during your time on earth, do your final duty for God. In the past, Peter was crucified upside down for the sake of God; but you should satisfy God in the end, and exhaust all your energy for His sake. What can a created being do on behalf of God? You should therefore give yourself up to God, sooner rather than later, for Him to dispose of you as He wishes. As long as it makes God happy and pleased, then let Him do as He will with you. What right do men have to speak words of complaint?” (“Chapter 41” of Interpretations of the Mysteries of God’s Words to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words gave me power. Even though from time to time I would still be subject to the attacks, abuse, condemnation, and beatings of the prisoners, with the guidance of God’s words, I was comforted inside and didn’t feel painful anymore.
One time, a correctional officer took me to their office. I saw more than a dozen people staring at me with peculiar looks. 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: “Since believing in Almighty God, I saw that God’s word can truly save and cleanse people and lead them to take the right path in life. Hence, I decided to tell this good news to other people, but I never knew that such a good deed would be banned 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 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, gnashed his teeth and said: “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.
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 actually innocent, but other people ratted you out. So why cover for them? You seem like such a nice 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 masters of machinations and maneuvers! That hypocritical face of his filled my heart with hate for this pack of demons. I said to him: “I’ve told you everything I know. I don’t know anything else.” He saw my resolute stance and that he couldn’t get anything out of me; he walked away dejectedly.
After being held at the detention house 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. Later, on a groundless accusation of “disturbing social order,” the CCP got me sentenced to a one-year fixed-term imprisonment, suspended for two years.
After experiencing this persecution and tribulation, I had an understanding and could discern the devilish face and the evil essence of the atheist Communist Party of China, and developed a deep-seated hatred toward it. It uses violence and lies to protect its own position of dominance; it madly suppresses and persecutes the people who believe in God. It uses every trick in the book to hinder and disrupt God’s work on earth, and hates the truth to an extreme. It is the greatest enemy of God and also the enemy of those of us who are believers. After going through this tribulation, I can see that only God’s word can bring people life. When I was at my most desperate or at the brink of death, it was God’s word that gave me faith and courage, and allowed me to tenaciously hold on to life. Thank God for protecting me through those darkest, most difficult days. His love for me is too great!