My name is Wang Yan, 82 years old now. I was born in a very poor family in Hebei, China. When I was young, all my family often went hungry, for my father couldn’t do any job because of his long illness and my mother couldn’t do heavy labor as a result of foot-binding. At my nineteen years old, I got married to a fellow believer. The whole family of my husband believed in God. Every day, we read the verses and prayed together. And we always kept the Sabbath and celebrated religious holidays. All the family loved each other and were patient with each other, which made all happy. From the bottom of my heart, I felt grateful to God for His selection and great love. However, it wasn’t long before the happy life was completely broken by the CCP’s persecution.
In August 1964, the Four Cleanups Movement (clean up politics, economy, organization, and ideology) began and the CCP government started to persecute Catholics cruelly. At that time, a task force was stationed in each village. Gao, the leader of the task force in our village, kept us fellow believers together in a study class. With his eyes wide open, he shouted at us, “You believe in the foreign religion. You are collaborating with foreign forces on anti-party scheming to overthrow the government … Never believe in the foreign religion again.” On August 3, Gao ordered me to the west room of the village head’s office alone. He forced me to expose that the Catholic father and nuns were sexually promiscuous. (There lived a Catholic father, some friars and some nuns in the Catholic church in the south of the village.) I gravely said, “I haven’t seen that, so I can’t bear false witness. Bearing false witness is against the Ten Commandments. It is offending God.” Gao found that I didn’t cooperate with him, so he was very angry with me. The next morning, he ordered me to the office again and said aggressively: “Wang Yan, you are charged with establishing an anti-party organization called the Congregation of the Holy Spirit. The believers read a passage of words in the rosary secretly and a Communist will be cursed to death. Don’t try to be slick! Level with me! What have you done against the Party?” I said to him: “You are fabricating things! I have never been against the Party. We read the rosary in order to pray to the Virgin Mary to keep our heart be compatible with God’s heart so that we won’t do any illegal deeds.” Hearing those words, Gao exasperatedly cried: “You are fucking not honest. We’ll loosen your tongue. You’ll see!” He took out a pistol from his pocket and fiercely threw it onto the desk opposite. The pistol rebounded and happened to hit me in the leg. At once, I felt a sharp pain. Then, he shouted: “You are fucking stubborn. If you still don’t admit in three days, you will be paraded through all the villages. I will make you feel you’d be better off dead.” On the fourth morning, the task force ordered all the three thousand villagers to the struggle session before the stage. They stuck on my back a piece of cloth which reads “The Counterrevolutionary.” Then they pushed me and some other believers onto the stage to be on parade. They made me kneel down, lower my head and hold high up my arms backwards like a flying swallow. After one hour, I couldn’t stand it so that I fell down to the ground. Just then, some thugs of the CCP came up and kicked me. And they ordered me to take the same posture again. One of them put up his hand and shouted: “Down with Wang Yan!” And the villagers also followed together: “Down with Wang Yan!” The seven of us had been criticized and denounced for over two hours. Later they paraded us through the streets in the village. The struggle session didn’t end until midnoon. I couldn’t bear such disgrace. When the task force were escorting me home, I saw a well halfway, and then ran to it, attempting to kill myself by jumping into the well. However, I was prevented by two guards. They reported it to Gao. He hurried to the spot and ferociously said to me: “If I let you kill yourself, I’ll be too soft on you! You dare not cooperate with me, I’ll slowly torment you and make your life hell.” Subsequently, Gao assigned some people to watch me by turns and I had completely lost my freedom ever since.
What was the most difficult for me to bear was that they interrogated me and criticized me whenever they wanted to. I had to go to their office as soon as I was called. If there was any struggle session in other communes, they still ordered me to stand with other “criminals” on the stage and receive criticism and denunciation together. Also they stuck on my back a piece of cloth reading “The Counterrevolutionary” and hung on my neck a board saying “Four Kinds of Elements” (landlords, rich peasants, counter revolutionaries, and bad elements) to intentionally humiliate me and insult my personality. At that time, I felt I was ravaged mentally and physically. I couldn’t live in the world even one more day. When I was extremely painful, I silently prayed that thewould help me through the tough time and protect me from betraying Him. After my prayer, I remembered the Lord told His disciples: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). The Lord’s words comforted me. I knew that the Lord was looking at me. His love deeply moved me. I was determined to carry my cross and follow Him. In no way would I betray Him. No matter how I was humiliated and how hard the life was, I would live on and follow the Lord until the end.
Seeing that the parade didn’t make me give in, Gao began to force me to sweep the streets before dawn. I couldn’t get any rest until noon. And I had to work from 1 p.m. until dark. Other people could have a break for an hour when they were tired, but we “Four Kinds of Elements” couldn’t get any rest. Even in the evening, we had to work extra hours. At that time, I only earned two dime a day. Seven out of ten of my food was coarse fare and the rest was fine fare. My family of eleven were often kept on short commons. Because of this, I had severe anemia and often felt dizzy and weak. And I became as thin as a rake. But I had to work every day and I felt that I couldn’t hold on any longer. On August 5 1966, I dragged myself home after work. When I passed by the water well at the entrance to our village, I wanted to jump into the well but thought better of it. If I jumped into it, I would still be treated as a jinx and abused by a lot of people after my death. So it was better to jump into the dry well outside the village. When I got to the gate of my home, my mother-in-law was holding my two-month-old son who was crying. She said: “Four, don’t cry. I know you are hungry, and your mother will come back soon. She will breastfeed you.” When I heard my son crying, I felt heart-rending pain. I thought to myself: If I don’t suicide, it is difficult for me to bear the trample and insult; if I jump into the well, my son will starve to death. At that time, I was in a dilemma. After a difficult struggle, in the end, because I couldn’t bear to see my son starve to death, I entered the door with difficulty and cried with my son in my arms. When my family knew I again wanted to jump into a well because I couldn’t bear the ravages of the CCP government, they all burst out crying. I knew inside that it was the heavenly Father who protected me and made me live on. The heavenly Father can see and penetrate all things. Since then, I gritted my teeth and determined that however hard it was, I would follow the Lord to the end and never betray Him.
When the Cultural Revolution happened, the CCP government considered the relatives of those who believed in God guilty. They said: “The old man a true man, the son is a hero. The old man a reactionary, the son is an asshole.” So my thirteen-year-old son didn’t escape the same treatment. He was dragged to the platform and the teachers and classmates cursed and satirized him. Besides, They often attacked and ostracized him. He often returned home crying and his heart was ravaged while he was so young. Just like this, from 1964 to 1977, all my family lived through all the seasons and endured all endless nights over the thirteen years. I suffered cruel persecution of the CCP government for thirteen years. Later, although I was rid of the label of “the Counterrevolutionary,” the chief of the Third Section of the county Public Security Bureau would come to investigate me and see whether I was home each year on the four religious festivals (Christmas, Easter, Advent, and Assumption). Even he ordered the cadres in my village to watch over me secretly …
Now when I recalled the old days, I feel the Lord’s care and protection of me is so precious during the hard and painful times. I can do nothing but give my thanks and worship to Him. In the following dozens of years, although I have been being controlled by the CCP government, I feel that the Lord’s love is always around me …
By Wang Yan