Despite the Hardships, I Gloried in Walking the Way of the Cross

Before, I was a preacher of a religious sect. At that time, because of the great work of the Holy Spirit, the gospel here was more and more prosperous. In that case, the CCP government started to arrest and persecute us Christians frantically.

In March of 1994, I hosted two brothers who were hunted by the CCP government. Besides, I also adopted a daughter of Brother Zhu, the leader of our local church. This was because he had been arrested and imprisoned, and thus no one took care of his daughter. For this reason, the villagers often laughed at and slandered me. Many people even said with a sneer to me: “Why do you believers in the Lord become refugees and even have no home?” Every time I heard these mocking words, I felt so pained like needles sticking in my heart. But I thought of the following words of the Lord: “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake” (Matthew 5:10-11). The Lord’s words gave me comfort and made me realize that suffering humiliation and ridicule because of my faith in the Lord was a blessed thing and was approved by Him.

In February of 1995, my younger daughter was arrested and sentenced to 3 years in prison by the CCP government because of her faith in the Lord. This news struck me like a bolt from the blue: She was sentenced to 3 years at such a young age—she just turned 19. What kind of cruel tortures will she encounter? Can she bear the cruel torture of the CCP government? My heart became extremely pained. So I could only pray to the Lord silently: “O Lord! I’d like to give my daughter to You. Please protect her so that she can stand testimony and not be a Judas.”

One day in March of 1995, a large co-workers meeting was convened here. More than 40 co-workers from Anhui Province and Henan Province attended it. At around 12 o’clock that very night, the police from Anhui Province and Henan Province united together and arrested all of them. Because I went out to work that day, I escaped from the arrest. But I was blacklisted by the CCP.

In April of that same year, the two brothers whom I hosted were arrested by the CCP at their co-workers meeting in Henan Province. Several days later, at around 12 o’clock at night, I was awoken from a sound sleep by rapid knocks on the door. After I got up, I learned that it was the police who came to arrest me. So, I hurriedly climbed over the wall and escaped. Thank the Lord for protecting me from being arrested again. However, from then on, I didn’t dare to live at my home or go out during the day. Only in the evening could I go out to support my brothers and sisters.

One day in October, I heard that the police went to my home to arrest me again. Because I was not at home, they took away more than 5,000 kilos of grain which my family painstakingly harvested, leaving nothing behind. They also took away our piglet weighing over 20 kilos, which we just bought. My house was cleaned out. When I heard this, I hated the CCP bitterly. I thought: What have we believers in the Lord done wrong? Why do you back us into a corner? Without any grain, how can my wife and son live? In the midst of my suffering, I had no choice but to call out to the Lord repeatedly and ask Him to give me faith so that I would be able to stand witness for Him. Afterward, I went to my elder daughter’s house. She told me that the police was arresting me everywhere. They went to the houses of my relatives and friends to dig up my information, and asked the villagers to monitor me and report to the police station immediately once they found that I returned home. Apart from this, they also said: “Chen Jia must be found, no matter dead or alive!” After hearing this, I felt very pained and weak in my heart, and couldn’t stop my tears from flowing. At that time, I thought of the words of the Lord Jesus: “And he that takes not his cross, and follows after me, is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:38). The Lord’s words gave me faith. I couldn’t help but think: To redeem us, the Lord Jesus was crucified and gave us His most precious life. Today, what I am suffering is also the cross given by Him. He has already suffered for mankind, and so I can’t back off. No matter how the CCP government treats and persecutes me, I will follow the Lord to the very end.

On the morning of November 21, 1995, I exposed my whereabouts accidentally when I went to a brother’s house. In the night, our local police station immediately joined with another one in the neighboring county to arrest me. At around 2 a.m. the next day, the police suddenly barged into the brother’s house and asked him: “Chen Jia shelter here? Speak up!” The brother did not acknowledge. Then, the police searched the rooms one by one. Finally, they found me in a room. Instantly, five or six policemen pounced on me like vicious wolves, pushed me down to the ground, cuffed my hands backward, and slapped me twice in the face. One of them sternly asked: “You are Chen Jia? Damn it! Today we’ve finally arrested you. Do you know how many days we have secretly monitored around your house? We’ve got you! See how we’ll take care of you!” Then they pushed and shoved me into a police vehicle. I prayed in my heart silently: “O Lord, this time the CCP won’t let me go easily. Please protect me and give me faith. No matter how they treat me, I will absolutely not be Judas nor sell my brothers and sisters.” After I prayed, I had faith and power.

After I was taken to the County Public Security Bureau and registered, the police sent me to the county detention center immediately. There, they asked me to confess where other co-workers were. I said: “You’ve arrested all that should be arrested. I am the last one. I’ve nothing to tell you.” Seeing that I said nothing, they sent me to a prison cell. After entering into it, a prison guard hypocritically said to the prisoners: “Don’t mess things up!” As he was speaking, he winked at the cell boss and left. After that, the cell boss asked me: “Why are you here?” I said: “Believing in the Lord.” After hearing that, the prisoners said: “You’re a counter-revolutionary for believing in the Lord.” Then the cell boss forced me to strip all of my clothes off, and then go to the courtyard and lean against the wall with my hands up. It was the chilling cold of winter then. He asked seven or eight prisoners to pour basins of cold water on me. When doing this, they beat and teased me, saying: “How is it? Feel warm?” They beat me so badly that I really couldn’t bear it and squatted. However, once I squatted, they would ask me sharply to stand up. At that time, when Brother Yu, a co-worker who was sentenced to 8 years and locked up with me, saw that I couldn’t take it anymore, he pleaded with them for me: “Please stop. He has got beaten up.” Unexpectedly, after hearing this, a prisoner punched him on the chest, which made him move back a few steps and lie paralyzed on the ground. Seeing this scene, I felt very miserable, and couldn’t stop the tears flowing down my face. Finally, they did not stop torturing me until they were tired. I had been beaten so badly that I couldn’t stand. I was so cold I started to shiver. I felt a tearing pain on the bone of my back and it seemed my internal organs had been parted. Also, I felt dizzy and even had no strength to put on my clothes. The only thing I could do was to keep calling out to the Lord in my heart: “O Lord, please protect me! Please protect me! …” When night came, Brother Yu encouraged me: “This is the darkest hour before the dawn. We must have faith in the Lord, not losing our confidence. We must stand witness for Him!” At that moment, though I was in this plight, the presence of the Lord and the brother’s encouragement made me have more faith to face the following torture.

At around 6 a.m. the next day, they started taking turns to punch me in the chest. The cell boss specifically arranged several strong and violent prisoners to work as his thugs. They forced me to lean against the wall and punched me on the chest at will. They set a rule that each of them give me at least 50 punches (sometimes 60, 70, or 80). Over time, my chest was swollen and burning badly as if it had been parted from the bone. Each time they gave me a punch on my chest, my face was twisted with pain and I was unable to breathe. During the period of more than 9 months at the detention center, I had to suffer their punches every morning.

Usually the cell boss also asked me to strike a particular pose, as if I was smoking opium. As soon as he said to his thugs: “Let the counterrevolutionary smoke opium,” they would force me to lean against the wall—only the back of my head could touch the wall with my feet 60 or 70 centimeters away from the wall and my hips straight. My whole body, the wall, and the ground should form a triangle. Moreover, I was forced to cross my legs, and close my eyes, with posing like smoking opium with my left hand and waving the fan with my right hand. I was just like an opium addict while doing this. After seeing my pose, they laughed loudly at me. Suddenly the cell boss kicked my leg from one side furiously and I instantly lost the balance, so that my head and upper body fell heavily to the ground. My head was completely blank immediately. One time, I fell to the ground and fainted on the spot. My head was broken and bleeding. What’s worse, as my head touched the ground, I bit my tongue terribly, and the blood came out of my mouth. During those days, even if the prison guards saw that I was tormented by the prisoners, as if they didn’t see anything.

In the detention center, the warden asked the prisoners to thread colored lights—a type of work. Every day we must finish the quota. If we couldn’t complete the tasks, we weren’t allowed to rest. The thread ends of the colored lights were very thin, and I was poor in sight, so I threaded slowly. Consequently, the cell boss asked me to work overtime to finish the task. It was too much for me to stay up late, so I often felt dizzy and powerless.

A month later, I was so thin that the skin of my arms swung, which was like that of the neck of the ox. My physical condition got worse and worse, so I felt a little weak in my heart and thought: Will I die here? I am only 44 years old. Could it be that I will die here in vain like this? If so, I will not be able to see my family. Thinking about this, I felt so pained that tears suddenly rushed out. At my most miserable and weakest moment, I thought that the Bible said: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). The Lord’s enlightenment gave me a little comfort. The hardships I suffer today won’t be in vain, because the Lord commemorates this. So I made a resolution in my heart: No matter how great my suffering is, I will follow the Lord to the end. Whether I will die or live is controlled by His hands. In the end, after being held at the detention center for 9 months, I was accused of “a political offender” and sentenced to 2 years in prison.

In prison, all the prisoners called me “counterrevolutionary.” Every day the prison police asked me to recite the prison rules. Moreover, we started to work at five or six o’clock in the morning, and were not allowed to stop until 10 o’clock at night. One night, it was raining heavily, and the construction site was muddy and potholed. We dug the foundation in the rain. The prison police stood by and watched us, and didn’t allow anyone to shelter from the rain. That night I was so exhausted that I lay on the bed, motionless and silent. The next day morning, before we had a good rest they asked us to get up early and continue to work. I was so tortured that I was exhausted both mentally and physically. For several times, because of tortures, I had a constant high fever all day and night, having no strength and being giddy and dizzy. However, not only did the prison police not allow me to see a doctor, but they asked me to continue working. In the time of my most pain and helplessness, I prayed to the Lord: “O Lord, I really can’t take it. I only ask You to give me strength, so that I can stand firm in this situation.” I was thankful that the Lord heard my prayers. My high fever unknowingly receded. One time, the prison police said to me: “Work here with peace of mind honestly. Don’t greedily hope for the opportunity to get a reduced sentence. Even the murderers and arsonists can get a remission, but only you believers in the Lord can’t.” When I heard these words, I felt very angry and detestable. The CCP gets things completely backward, mistaking wrong for right. The day before I was released, Captain Li, from the prison, said to me: “Stop believing in the Lord after you go back. If you get here again, you counterrevolutionaries will never have chance of getting released and will surely die here.” I thought: “No matter what you say, as long as I get out, I will still continue to follow the Lord.” In the end, on January 10, 1998, my sentence was fulfilled and I was released. Two years’ life of the hell was over.

After I returned home, my wife told me that during my escape, in order to arrest me, the CCP brought all those related to me to the police station, including my uncles and brother. Both of my uncles were fined RMB 2,000. My cousin was a teacher of a middle school. Because he said something for me, the police put the handcuffs with teeth on him, which caused his wrists to be bleeding on the spot. At last he was fined RMB 500. The police coerced my relatives and said: “If you don’t hand him over to us, you won’t be released.” Thus, my relatives were held at the police station, and weren’t released until I was arrested. In addition, my wife also said that our younger daughter suffered many insults in prison. One of the tortures was called “brushing the teeth,” which made her undergo all kinds of humiliations and pain. After hearing her speaking this bitterly, I even more detested the evil CCP in my heart. It is really so malicious and evil! I even more established a resolution: No matter how much suffering I will endure in the future, I will follow the Lord to the end!

Although I was released, the CCP didn’t relax in its persecution and restrictions of me. Before long, the township government called upon the villagers to watch and monitor me through the loudspeaker, speaking that anyone who found that I still believed in the Lord should report to them immediately. As a result, when my neighbors found that I still spread the gospel everywhere, I was reported to the police again. Following this, the police came to my house to warn me many times, saying that if I was found spreading the gospel again, I would be arrested and imprisoned. Afterward, the chief of the County Public Security Bureau personally came and frightened me once.

During these years of my belief in the Lord, the CCP government had never relaxed in its persecution of me at all times. Having experienced its oppression and persecution personally, I saw clearly its evil, contemptible, and ugly face, and understood what is just and evil and what is bright and dark; I even more saw the Lord’s loveliness. No matter what kind of pain and torture I experienced, the Lord was always with me, which solidified my faith and determination in following Him to the end until death! I knew the path of the cross was full of ruggedness. However, suffering these hardships because of my faith in the Lord was His grace and even more my honor.

By Chen Jia

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