In the spring of 1999, I believed in thebecause of the disharmony of my family. Since then, I received much grace and had peace and joy in my heart. This made me even more certain that the Lord Jesus is the true God. So I began to preach , and very soon 20-odd people turned to the Lord. Later, as the number of believers in the Lord increased, I provided my two empty rooms as the meeting place for convenience of brothers and sisters. At that time, although I often read the Bible, yet I couldn’t explain it well because I hadn’t believed in the Lord long. Thus, I taught brothers and sisters to sing hymns, and I led a full life every day. However, when we were immersed in happiness, the Chinese government’s sudden persecution befell us. …
It was a Sunday morning in the spring of 2000. Over a dozen brothers and sisters were having a meeting at my home. Suddenly, five policemen broke in; without saying anything, they began to snatch the Bible from us. We were all frightened by this, stood there and didn’t know what to do. I took a close look at them, finding that three of this gang of police had come to my home the other day. At that point, they wore everyday clothes and said they came to purchase medicinal materials. I preached the gospel of the Lord Jesus to them, and they all said believing in the Lord was a good thing. Before leaving, one young man even said that he would let his wife believe in the Lord and asked when we would have a meeting. I trusted his words and told that to him. Until now, I knew they were plainclothes policemen and had long planned to arrest us. How sinister and vicious they are! In short order the policemen put more than twenty Bibles and the hymn books all into a bag. Moreover, they flipped my house upside down and turned it into a mess. Seeing Sister Wang and I stand in the forefront, they took us away without a word.
At that time, although I heard the CCP persecutes religious belief, I always thought: We just have gatherings and praise the Lord at home, and we don’t do anything illegal, so even if the police take us away, they merely ask us about something. However, the fact fought back against my notion greatly. When Sister Wang and I were taken to the Town Police Station, the policemen separated us for interrogation. Three policemen interrogating me said many blasphemous words against the Lord. Not only did they say our gathering was illegal and disturbing the social order, but questioned us closely about who the upper-level leaders were and who preached the gospel to us. Seeing their baleful look, I thought of the Lord Jesus’ words, “But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you” (Matthew 5:44). Then I kept calling out to the Lord in my heart, “O Lord! The police force us to betray our church, but I will never be a Judas, the Lord’s betrayer. May You forgive their sins and move their hardened heart so that they turn to You. …” After my prayer, I felt assured in my heart and also had faith. Seeing I didn’t say anything, one of the policemen gnashed his teeth and threatened me in a harsh tone, “If you still believe in Jesus, I’ll sentence you and put you into the labor camp at once.” Hearing that we would be sentenced, I was in a panic and thought: I still haven’t harvested wheat. If the harvest is delayed, we’ll suffer the loss of this year’s harvest. Then how will my family live in the future? And moreover, my five-year-old granddaughter is at my home; if I’m sentenced, who will look after her? Thinking of this, I unconsciously felt weak. At this moment, a policeman took out the paper and pen and asked me to write a letter of guarantee, saying that if I didn’t believe in the Lord and paid a fine of two hundred yuan, I would be allowed to go home. Hearing that I needed to pay the fine, I became very angry, thinking, “If a person does something wrong or takes the wrong path, he should pay the fine. But God created us humans, and supplies us with everything. It’s the law of heaven and earth that we believe and worship the Lord. If I pay the fine, doesn’t that mean I am wrong? They have us write the guarantee, don’t they want us to betray the Lord?” But seeing their fierce look, I felt somewhat afraid. “If I don’t act according to their words, I really don’t know how they will treat me.” Just as I was timid, the Lord Jesus’ words occurred to my mind, “Whoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Mat 10:32–33).
The Lord’s words gave me strength, and made my nervous heart calm down. I said firmly, “It’s proper and right for us to believe in the Lord. No matter when, I will believe in the Lord.” Hearing my words, the policemen were at their wits’ end, and then they brought Sister Wang and me to the County Public Security Bureau.
After we arrived there, two policemen interrogated me and questioned closely about the same questions, but I flat-out refused him. Finally, when they saw their plot failed, one policeman roared wildly, “You believers in the Lord are too stubborn.” With that, he waved his hand and immediately came several policemen. They forced Sister Wang and me into a police car and took us to the county detention jail. As soon as I entered there, I felt it was ghastly and horrible that I couldn’t help shivering. The police took us before a dark room and pushed us hard into it. With a bang, the iron door was locked. I looked around, seeing nothing except for a hard bed. The only fresh thing was the small window, through which the light could filter in. Because Sister Wang and I were exhausted by the police for a whole day without eating and drinking, at that time we felt both hungry and tired, feeling as if every bone of our bodies had scattered apart. I slumped on the bed, thinking back to what had happened during the day, and felt very indignant. “We neither steal nor rob, however, the CCP impose on me a charge of ‘disturbing the social order’ just because we have meetings and worship the Lord at my own home. Where is the fairness? Where is the right of human? The Chinese government outwardly proclaims that the citizens enjoy the freedom of religious belief and have the legal rights and interests, but only today do I see through that the CCP’s word is a cover to fool ordinary people and deceive the world.” I could not help but sigh: The CCP—the atheist political party—is so dark; believing in the Lord in such a country is too difficult. The next day, the CCP sentenced Sister Wang and me to fifteen days’ punishment of detention on the charge of “disturbing the social order,” and forcibly let us sign our names on the detention warrant.
During the half month in the detention jail, for each meal we could only eat half bowl of undercooked polenta and several pickle stalks. In the first few days, I could hardly eat such kind of food. One prisoner said to me, “Don’t be so silly. Nobody cares even if you don’t eat and die of hunger, they won’t take pity on you.” Then I thought: “Yes, she is right. I do see these policemen don’t treat us as humans at all. Besides, brothers and sisters in my church are expecting us to return home.” So I swallowed the meals which were like pig feed unwillingly.
Time passed day by day. The day before we were released, two policemen took Sister Wang and me to the yard beside the jail. I saw five or six policemen were waiting there, and on the table were two signs with our names written on them. The policemen asked us to put our fingerprints on the signs. Seeing this scene, I didn’t know what tricks they were about to use. Just when I was thinking, the policemen forcibly grabbed my hand and took my fingerprints. Then, they hung the signs around my neck and Sister Wang’s. One policeman began to take photos of us. At that moment, it felt like an insult to my integrity and a trampling on my belief. Only then was I slightly conscious that the CCP hates the Lord long ago before it hates us. The worldly people acknowledge we Christians are good people, but why does the CCP arrest us? This precisely proves that they regard the Lord as an enemy. Just as the Lord Jesus said: “If the world hate you, you know that it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18). At this point, I wished to rush to fight against these policemen. But I thought that the Lord wouldn’t be pleased if I relied on my temper to do that. So, I restricted my anger, bowed my head and kept silence. Tears welled up in my eyes, but I choked them back. One policeman said, “Take them out to parade through the streets. Let people see what becomes of those who don’t listen to the CCP.” Hearing this, the other five or six policemen burst into laughter. I was startled: If we really were hung with signs and were paraded through streets, the people who don’t know the truth will believe that our believing in the Lord is doing bad things. Then how can I face others after all this? I have never undergone such a humiliation. At that moment, I felt very weak in my heart, afraid that the police would play other tricks to insult us. Then, I thought of the Lord Jesus’ words, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mat 5:10). The Lord’s words comforted me and gave me strength. I prayed to the Lord in my heart, “O Lord! Today we are arrested by the police, and this is permitted by You. It’s a glory that we undergo sufferings because of believing in You. I’m willing to take the way of the cross….” After my prayer, I didn’t feel scared, thinking, “Anyway I didn’t do anything that shames the Lord. I just let them parade me.” When I sacrificed myself, I never expected that the police didn’t make us parade through the streets but sent us to the dark room again. They also said our family would pick us up the next day. I realized that it was the Lord who sympathized with my weakness and that it was indeed the Lord’s mercy for us. At that moment, I was full of gratitude to the Lord.
The next morning, the police notified the family of Sister Wang and me to give them 200 yuan fine, and then they released us. When I returned home, I went to see brothers and sisters. After chatting with them, I knew that because we were arrested and fined, some sisters’ unbelieving family began to hinder them from believing in the Lord. When I went to support these sisters, their families didn’t show me kindness. And some new sisters dared not to believe because of their husbands’ constraints. Every time I walked on the street, the villagers pointed at me behind my back. I thought of the days before I was arrested: When some villagers saw the changes of some brothers and sisters after believing in the Lord, they said believing in the Lord was so good that anyone who believed in the Lord knew to forgive others and thus their families were harmonious. However, when we were arrested because of believing in the Lord, the villagers considered the people who were arrested must have done something illegal. So, they stayed away from me like avoiding plagues; also, the relatives and friends ignored me. Even my brother didn’t look at me in the eye. Especially, when I saw the gathering place, once filled with laughter, but now turned into a desert one, my heart was in pain as if being pierced by a knife. Later, because I was afraid to be reported, I could only take several sisters to have meetings in the mountain secretly. When it rained, we would hide in a sister’s empty room to have a meeting. At that time, we had no other way except to hide ourselves here and there.
Thinking of why my church got into that point, this was all because of the CCP’s persecution. Though I was weak due to this, the weakness couldn’t take me away from God. Because after I experienced this persecution, I had true discernment of the lies of the Chinese government, and I came to know that since the foundation of the state, the CCP persecutes our house churches all the time. Many Christians are persecuted by it, thus being separated from their children and wives, and having their families destroyed. Many Christians always suffer the CCP’s inhuman torment in prison. In such an environment, although I suffered a little, yet the Lord led me along the way so that I truly saw the Lord is real and living, and truly felt God’s amiableness and loveliness. After I experienced this persecution and tribulation, the foundation of my belief in Lord was laid on the rock—Jesus Christ, my spiritual life was nourished and had some progress. Though it is hard to take the path of believing in the Lord in China, and though I don’t know what persecutions of the Chinese government will befall me, yet I believe that with the Lord as my shield and my timely help, I am not lonely.
By Cui Lian, China