By Zhang Zhi
Editor’s Note: Zhang Zhi, a Christian, was arrested and brutally tortured by CCP police for having faith and sharing. After his release, he’s unable to withstand life long-term in the prison without walls he’s subjected to, and so he flees. Several years later the CCP is still tightening its noose—his family members are arrested and a 50,000 yuan reward is offered for his capture. But with the guidance of God’s words, he makes it through all those arduous days and nights. Let’s take a look at how Zhang Zhi relies on God and stands witness as the CCP is closing in on him.
God’s Love Guides Him Through Brutal Torture
On December 12, 2012 around 9:00 p.m., Zhang Zhi was reported by the village head for sharing the gospel. The news traveled swiftly, and he was arrested by police and taken to the county police station.
As Zhang Zhi was handcuffed very tightly to a tiger bench, an officer barked at him, “When did you start believing in God? Where did you get these religious materials? What’s your role in the church? Do you know where the church money is kept? Speak up!”
Faced with police interrogation, Zhang Zhi didn’t hesitate to silently call out to God, asking for God’s protection so that he wouldn’t fall for Satan’s tricks, so he wouldn’t be a Judas and betray God. After praying, he said calmly, “I just read God’s words and seek the truth. I have nothing to do with any money.”
The officer said viciously, “You’re pretty tight-lipped. I’m warning you—you’d better be up front and tell me what you know, otherwise, I’ll have no problem dealing with you!”
Over two hours of interrogation yielded no results—the officer was enraged. He took Zhang Zhi into a room without any surveillance cameras and started slapping him over and over, alternating between the left and the right side. After doing this a dozen or more times, Zhang Zhi was seeing stars and his face was burning with pain. The officer then snarled as he picked up a wide leather belt and savagely whipped him in the face with it. Zhang Zhi cried out loudly from the pain; the officer tightly restrained both of his arms and affixed a leather belt over his mouth so that he couldn’t make any noise. For a moment Zhang Zhi felt unbearably suffocated and his head rapidly swelled with blood. There was a whirring sound in his ears and his vision was going fuzzy. Two evil police officers tightly clamped down on his hands so he couldn’t even struggle. It was then that Zhang Zhi finally saw the true face of “the people’s police”—they’re nothing but a pack of deranged demons.
Zhang Zhi’s consciousness was becoming a bit fuzzy, but he faintly heard one officer bellow at him, “So how about it? Are you going to talk or not? Looks like we have to get a little tougher!” Saying this, he took a blanket and wrapped up Zhang Zhi’s body with it, then beat him all over with an iron bar. He was in pain and afraid and all he could do was continuously call out to God in his heart: “Oh God, please save me!” After praying his pain suddenly lessened—he was deeply aware that this was God’s accommodation for his fleshly weakness. After a while they tore the blanket off and stopped beating me. They were out of breath from their exertion. Zhang Zhi couldn’t hold back his thanks to God for protecting him through this ordeal.
Then an officer demanded, totally exasperated, “Will you talk or not? Who is your leader? Who told you to proselytize? If you don’t tell us everything we’ll get you sentenced and sent to prison.” Zhang Zhi still wouldn’t say a word. An officer with a ferocious-looking face yelled, “So it looks like we need to get tougher! Get him ready for ‘Erlang carries a mountain.’” Two officers quickly twisted one of Zhang Zhi’s arms backwards and hauled it up forcefully while two others lifted his other arm over his shoulder and twisted it behind his back. They then dragged it down, forced his arms together, and handcuffed him. For a moment Zhang Zhi felt like both of his arms had been broken. He cried out loudly, in so much pain that he nearly couldn’t breathe. Not long passed before, he lost feeling in both hands. They then ordered him to stand in a squat. The pain throughout Zhang Zhi’s entire body caused him to break out in a cold sweat and there was a buzzing sound in his head. His consciousness became even less clear, and he really had the feeling that he was on the verge of death.
Zhang Zhi really could not withstand such inhuman torture; he was very much afraid that he wouldn’t be able to consciously control himself because of the weakness of the flesh, and he would divulge information on the church. He called out to God, “God! I really can’t take this anymore. I’m so afraid that these awful police are going to torture me to the point that I lose my resolve and betray You. Oh God, please bring down a disaster so that this pack of demons and I all come to our end!” At that moment, he thought of these words of God: “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!” God’s words made Zhi Zhang’s head suddenly clear and he realized that his prayer was not in line with God’s will. In the mist of pain and hardship, God’s hope was that he could lean on God and be a witness who could overcome Satan. If he died now because of his fleshly weakness, not only would there be no testimony, but Satan would get the last laugh—it would be a mark of shame for God. God’s words inspired Zhang Zhi’s resolve to rely on God to overcome the pain of the flesh and stand witness. He prayed over and over, asking for God’s help. Less than 20 minutes later the police loosened the handcuffs, seeing he was at his last gasp.
The police ended up seeing that Zhang Zhi would sooner die than tell them anything, and so they put a halt to their interrogations and had him put into a detention center. When he got there officers confiscated his warm, padded coat and gave him a thin prisoner’s uniform instead; they also incited the other prisoners to torment him. The other prisoners grabbed his shoes and blanket and forced him to memorize all the prison rules. If he forgot any, they boxed his ears. Zhang Zhi became very ill because of the cold and the physical torture—he lay in bed with a fever so high that he wasn’t fully conscious, but the other prisoners continued to torment him, intentionally hitting him in the head and not letting him sleep. During the day they would order him to wipe down the floors with cold water, then deliberately find some problem to say that he hadn’t done a good job; they would then punch him viciously, and every time he was beaten within an inch of his life. In the dark detention center, devoid of justice, pain, sadness, depression, and being wronged constantly haunted Zhang Zhi. He didn’t know when that torment would finally come to an end.
At night he would burrow into his blanket and silently. “Oh God, I’m so weak in this kind of environment and I don’t know how to take the path ahead of me. God, may You guide me to understand Your will.” As he was praying a hymn of God’s words popped into his mind. “God admires the lilies blooming in the hills. The flowers and grass stretch across the slopes, but the lilies add luster to God’s glory on earth before the arrival of spring—can man achieve this much? Could he testify to God on earth prior to His return? Could he dedicate himself for the sake of in the country of the great red dragon?” Humming this hymn brought some comfort to his heart. It’s true—the lilies, the flowers, and the grass are all able to bear the bitterness of winter and wait for the arrival of spring, to dedicate themselves for God’s glory on earth. But he thought about how he was a believer and a follower of God; he had read so many of God’s words and had come to understand some truths, so he in particular should not bend under the brutal persecution of the CCP, the great red dragon. Even if it meant death, he had to stand witness and allow God to gain that glory. He gave thanks to God for using His words to lead and guide him in the midst of his weakness and negativity. Zhang Zhi’s terror and pain gradually abated; he immersed himself in being moved by God’s love.
A couple of weeks later when their interrogations still hadn’t yielded anything, the police forced Zhang Zhi’s family to pay 8,000 yuan to release him on bail, and they let him go. They also warned him to never again have anything to do with other believers, and if they discovered he was still practicing his faith, he would be arrested and sentenced. He also had to guarantee that he would be available any time they called him in.
In a Prison Without Walls After Release, He’s Forced to Flee His Home
After returning home Zhang Zhi remained under CCP’s strict surveillance. The National Security Brigade was surveilling and controlling him via telephone, and even if he got a new number they were still able to find him. The police would also call him once every few days to inquire into his situation, required him to write “thought reports” on a monthly basis, and would show up at his work to give him propaganda materials slandering and blaspheming God. Zhang Zhi felt that he was utterly lacking in personal freedom and felt deeply angry. The CCP turns a blind eye to all sorts of criminal behavior throughout society but takes arresting and persecuting believers in God as a top-priority task for the government. On the surface, it waves the flag of freedom of belief, but in reality, it gives no room at all for people to believe in and worship God. It wantonly arrests and cruelly persecutes Christians just so it can maintain its own dictatorship, and after they’re released still closely monitors them and restricts their personal freedom. It’s incredibly evil. As thesays, “Forefathers of the ancient? Beloved leaders? They all oppose God! Their meddling has left all beneath heaven in a state of darkness and chaos! Religious freedom? The legitimate rights and interests of citizens? They are all tricks for covering up sin!” Zhang Zhi had personally undergone the CCP’s oppression and gained some discernment over the CCP’s evil essence of opposing God and acting as His enemy—he developed a visceral hatred for the CCP.
Zhang Zhi had a strong desire to be free of his life of pain and suppression from the CCP’s long-term surveillance and disruption: He couldn’t be in contact with other brothers and sisters or properly read God’s words and live a life of the church. He thought of these words of the: “But when they persecute you in this city, flee you into another” (Matthew 10:23). And so, Zhang Zhi fled his hometown with his family members and went to a new city where he was finally able to freely read God’s words. He felt a great release in his heart.
However, all good things must come to an end. Just two months later, Zhang Zhi heard that the National Security Brigade had not been able to reach him at his old number and reported this to the vice squad. The police went to his home three times and didn’t find him there, so then went to a relative’s house to inquire into the whereabouts of his family. They also posted photographs of his entire family to the local police station and listed him as a wanted person online. Hearing this, Zhang Zhi’s beleaguered heart which had just begun to relax once again went on full alert. He felt that he was facing the danger of arrest at any moment, so he fled to another city as quickly as he could. He was well aware of the CCP’s inhuman treatment of believers in God and deeply feared being rearrested by the police. Every siren he heard left him on edge. He knew that he was of small stature and could do nothing but keep praying to God and asking for Him to care for and protect His heart so that he wouldn’t live in fear.
One day, he saw that God said: “Regardless of how ‘powerful’ Satan is, regardless of how audacious and ambitious it is, regardless of how great is its ability to inflict damage, regardless of how wide-ranging are the techniques with which it corrupts and lures man, regardless of how clever are the tricks and schemes with which it intimidates man, regardless of how changeable is the form in which it exists, it has never been able to create a single living thing, has never been able to set down laws or rules for the existence of all things, and has never been able to rule and control any object, whether animate or inanimate. Throughout the vast expanse of the universe, there is not a single person or object that was born from it, or exists because of it; there is not a single person or object that is ruled by it, or controlled by it. On the contrary, it not only has to live under the dominion of God, but, moreover, must obey all of God’s orders and commands.” God’s words of authority gave him confidence and strength, and he recognized from these words that only God rules over people’s fates, and only God has heaven, earth, all things, and the universe and stars in His grasp. No matter how great the evil forces of the CCP are, no matter how madly they pursue and persecute him, without God’s allowance they wouldn’t dare touch a hair on his head, nor would they dare cross the boundaries drawn by God. He then thought of his days under arrest and being brutally tortured by the CCP. If it hadn’t been for God’s guidance and protection, he would have been gone long ago. It was God’s great power that guided him to peacefully come out from the valley of death. And at this time, God was permitting a situation of the CCP’s pursuit to come upon him—this contained God’s benevolent will. This knowledge strengthened his faith and allowed him to lean on God to face the CCP’s persecution and stand witness for God. Thinking of all these things, Zhang Zhi continued forward with all faith. After arriving in a new city he got in contact with local brothers and sisters and was able to read God’s words and perform his duty as usual. With the guidance of God’s words, he gradually grew stronger and more resolute in his faith to follow God.
The Hand of Evil Reaches for Him and His Family, Again Revealing the CCP’s Brutality
In 2018 the CCP rolled out another nationwide operation called “Operation Thunder” to carry out large-scale arrests and persecution of Christians. Its evil hand was once again extended into Zhang Zhi’s home.
One day Zhang Zhi found out his younger sister had been chatting with one of his brothers on QQ who had moved away for work, and the conversation turned to things having to do with faith. Through cellphone surveillance and positioning the CCP determined their home location. His sister was arrested. After that the police went to Zhang Zhi’s rental home and conducted a search. His father, another brother and his wife, and their 8-year old son were all arrested. Zhang Zhi and his mother evaded that—they happened to not be at home. The police sealed up the main entrance to that rented house and lied to their surrounding neighbors, saying, “Zhang Zhi is listed as wanted online for trafficking children and religious beliefs. There’s a 50,000 yuan reward for reporting him.”
Hearing this terrible news hit Zhang Zhi like a bolt of lightning in the middle of a clear day. He thought about the countless times he and his family had moved over the years to avoid arrest by the CCP, hopping from one county to the next. It was shocking that the CCP had never given up on their pursuit and persecution, but this time had used cellphone positioning to arrest his family, not even sparing the 8-year old child. They also fabricated a charge of child trafficking against him and offered up a reward. Zhang Zhi could see that in order to exterminate all believers, the CCP would stop at nothing. It’s despicable and incredibly evil!
Later, Zhang Zhi read in the word of God: “It wishes to wipe out God’s all in one blow, to again insult and assassinate Him, and attempts to tear down and disturb His work. How could it allow God to be of equal status? How can it tolerate God ‘interfering’ with the work among men? How can it allow God to unmask its odious face? How can it allow God to disrupt its work? How could this devil, fuming with rage, allow God to govern its court of power on earth? How could it willingly admit defeat? Its odious countenance has been revealed for what it is, hence one finds himself not knowing whether to laugh or cry, and it is truly difficult to speak of. Is this not its essence? With an ugly soul, it still believes that it is incredibly beautiful. This gang of accomplices! They come down among the mortals to indulge in pleasures and stir up disorder. Their disturbance causes fickleness in the world and brings panic in the heart of man, and they have distorted man so that man resembles beasts of unbearable ugliness, no longer possessing the slightest trace of the original holy man. They even wish to assume power as tyrants on earth. They impede the work of God so that it can barely move forward and close off man as if behind walls of copper and steel. Having committed so many sins and caused so much trouble, how could they expect anything other than to wait for chastisement? Demons and evil spirits have been running amok on earth and have closed off the will and painstaking effort of God, making them impenetrable. What a mortal sin! How could God not feel anxious? How could God not feel wrathful?”
Zhang Zhi understood from God’s words that the CCP’s evil intention in its mad arrests and persecution of Christians is to disrupt God’s work and undermine His management plan to save mankind. It doesn’t want all people to come before God and be saved by Him, but it wants everyone to be strictly within its control so that it can achieve its wild, hegemonic ambitions. That’s why it goes berserk oppressing and arresting believers. Zhang Zhi thought of when he was in custody. Trying to force him to sell out the church, the police beat him practically to death, and even after being released continued to frighten and threaten him, not allowing him to interact with any other believers. They also used cellphone surveillance and positioning to track him, and spared nothing to disrupt his life. He was backed into a corner with no choice but to leave his home behind and flee. Not only that, but its evil hand also encroached into his family, and they posted a reward for him as a wanted person. Zhang Zhi then fully saw the CCP government’s essence as an evil demon that is an enemy to God. It does not want to allow God to save mankind, or to allow people to believe in God, follow God, and follow the right path in life. In order to exterminate all believers as soon as possible it is establishing China as a zone of atheism to achieve its goal of keeping the people in its grasp and swallowing them up. It even uses cellphone surveillance against believers to strictly confine them within a certain range; it searches their homes and fines them; it frames and entraps them; it brutally tortures them, and offers rewards for them as wanted people. But God’s righteous disposition will tolerate no offense. The CCP’s evil deeds are multitude and its crimes could fill heaven and earth. What awaits it is God’s righteous punishment.
Zhang Zhi fled to an even more remote place to hide from the CCP listing him as a wanted person. Fleeing time after time, Zhang Zhi was always warmly received by brothers and sisters allowing him to experience the warmth of God’s house.
By undergoing the CCP’s brutal persecution, Zhang Zhi had a genuine experience of the authority and power of God’s words. When he was subjected to the CCP’s arrest and persecution, God’s words enlightened and guided him to get through such a terribly bleak time. When the CCP came to his home to perform sudden arrests, God protected him, allowing him to evade its claws. When the CCP viciously arrested his family members and framed him, listing him as wanted, God’s words guided him and allowed him to more clearly see the CCP’s evil essence, inspiring him with the resolve to forsake the CCP demons. He became willing to firmly resolve to follow God until the very end, and to perform his duty to repay God’s love!
“Accomplices” are of the same ilk as “a band of hoodlums.”