By Chen Chen
Monday, December 5, 2016, Cloudy
Today, I was released from jail. I’m overwhelmed with emotion. I’ve just spent four years in “hell on earth” and could still survive. This was entirely due to God’s protection and guidance.
At about 3 p.m., I was brought back to my village by some local officials, including the director of the local Bureau of Justice office, an officer at the police station, the village committee secretary, and the township public security officer. They took me to the local Bureau of Justice office first and then to the police station; at the same time, they took samples of my hair, blood, and handwriting and also took fingerprints and photographs. The police officer, who took charge of me, said to me, “You must stay within the county. If you go outside, you must report to us; otherwise, we’ll arrest you if we find you leave without permission. And one more thing—you must come and report every month.” Hearing this, I was indignant, and thought: “Just because I believe in God you arrested me and gave me a four-year sentence; you deprived me of my freedom and subjected me to inhumane torture and torment. I narrowly escaped death and finally got out of jail, and you start to control and restrict my personal freedom again even before I get home. Isn’t this putting me in a jail without walls? You’re too hateful.”
Monday, December 12, 2016, Sunny
I’ve been back for a week. Although life at home is much better than in prison, I can’t go out to attend meetings or see the brothers and sisters because of the CCP’s restrictions. At 4 o’clock this afternoon, the head of the police station came to talk to me. He asked me, “You were imprisoned for several years. Have you realized that you were wrong in your belief?” I hesitated for a moment, and my heart was at war: “If I tell the truth, will he send me straight to jail again? No, I must break through these dark forces. No matter what, I’ll stand on God’s side and never make concessions to Satan.” Then, I replied firmly, “My belief in God is not wrong.” He gave me an icy stare and said, “Then you will be under our supervision for five years. If you behave well, we’ll relax control over you after two years.” I realized that this was Satan’s temptation. They wanted to induce me to give up my faith in order to get rid of their supervision sooner. Undoubtedly, they wanted me to deny and betray God. How sinister and cunning they are! I prayed to God silently: “O God, the CCP is crafty, and is doing its utmost to entice me to betray You. I implore You to keep my heart so that I won’t yield to them for the sake of my own interests.”
Sunday, December 18, 2016, Sunny
In the morning, I secured the door and read God’s words at home. Suddenly there was a pounding noise on the door. I was stunned, and hurried to hide my book of God’s words. Then, calming myself first, I opened the door. It was the township public security officer coming to talk to me. He said, “Don’t believe in God anymore. What is God anyway? If you want to believe in anything, believe in the CCP.” His words grated on my ears and I said, “It’s my freedom to believe in God. You have no right to restrict me.” He angrily said, “Then you can only believe at home. No gatherings. And you must cooperate with us: If someone comes to preachor asks you to attend meetings, call me and report it right away.” Hearing this, I felt resentful, and thought: “It’s a self-evident truth that we created beings should believe in God and worship God. You not only prevent me from believing in God, but also want to force me to report others, trying to make me become a Judas to sell out my brothers and sisters. How crafty and malicious you are. I’ll never be deceived by you.”
Saturday, January 28, 2017, Foggy
Today is New Year’s Day. I’m so happy that my son is coming back. It has been four years since the last time we saw each other. I decided to cook something delicious for him as part of our family reunion dinner. After lunch, I began to make preparations, humming hymns of God’s words happily. Suddenly, I heard a knock at the door. My husband opened it and found the head of the police station and three other policemen standing there. They’d come to harass us even on New Year’s Day. It was as if we were being haunted by ghosts; my good mood was spoiled.
The head said to us, tongue in cheek, “We’ve come to implement the communiqué from the central government (the “family-like ethnic bonding” campaign). All people who have religious beliefs are who we should bond with. From now on, we are relatives. What plans do you have for the year ahead? If you have any difficulties in your household, just tell us.” Hearing this, I was very astonished. I thought: “We have neither money nor influence, and we have been abandoned by society because of believing in God. How come you, as a government official, care about my family and say you are our relative? There must be one of Satan’s schemes in it. I can’t let my guard down.” I kept praying to God in my heart, begging Him to protect me. Then, without our permission, they forcibly took photos of us. Before they left, they said they would come to “visit” us often in future.
After they left, I thought: “How crafty the CCP is! With this excuse, they can justifiably come to our home. And I will have less freedom. Just because my husband and I believe in God, both of us were imprisoned for a total of ten years, where we were forced to labor like slaves for the CCP. I had never thought that even now they would still not let us go, and now want to come and harass us every few days.” This reminded me of God’s words: “Satan builds its reputation through deceiving people, and often establishes itself as a vanguard and role model of righteousness. Under false pretenses of safeguarding righteousness, it harms people, devours their souls, and uses all sorts of means to benumb, deceive and incite man. Its goal is to make man approve of and go along with its evil conduct….” “In every matter, Satan’s behavior exposes its evil nature. Out of all the evil acts that Satan has carried out upon man—from its early efforts to delude man into following it, to its exploitation of man, in which it drags man into its evil deeds, to its vindictiveness toward man after its true features have been exposed and man has recognized and forsaken it—not one of these acts fails to expose Satan’s evil essence, nor to prove the fact that Satan has no relation to positive things and that Satan is the source of all evil things.” God’s words have thoroughly revealed the evil substance of the CCP. It always publicly claims “freedom in religious belief,” and misleads people into believing that China is a country that has freedom of belief. Actually, under its autocracy there is no freedom of belief. All that it does are tricks to cheat and fool people. It also sets itself up as a “great, glorious and correct” party but, in reality, it is only pretending to be kind to people. In fact, it projects a false image to confuse people. Now they are promoting the pretext of being our relatives so as to be perfectly justified in interfering in our belief in God. It’s really “the fox wishing the goose all the best for the new year.” The CCP is tricky and crafty and cunning indeed.
Wednesday, March 8, 2017, Light Rain
At 9 o’clock p.m., the township officer told me to go to the office of the village committee for a meeting. I felt a little nervous, as I didn’t know what tricks Satan intended to play. I could only beg God to protect my heart so as not to be deceived by its lies. During the meeting, the Secretary of the County Standing Committee read a communiqué from the central government on cracking down on religious beliefs. And he also told me, “From now on, I’ll be responsible for your family. I’ll often visit you and help you find ways to get rich.” I knew this was another trick of Satan. What he read and said implied something else to me. On the surface, he seemed to want to help us get rich soon, but his actual intention was to use this means to occupy my heart so that I would fall for the temptation of money. I’d thus have no time to worship God and would maybe even give up believing in God. Facing Satan’s tricks, I couldn’t help but feel sad, and thought: “They harass me like this over and over again; will I ever lead a peaceful life in the future?”
Saturday, April 1, 2017, Cloudy
Early in the morning, when I was practicing my spiritual devotions, I heard a voice over the village loudspeaker shouting, “Anyone who reports strangers, suspicious people, preachers, or believers who have gatherings can get a reward of 500 to 1,000 yuan. …” What a morning! I couldn’t even continue my devotions in peace. Hearing that voice, I couldn’t help recalling the matter of the Secretary of the County Standing Committee reading the document on cracking down on religious beliefs last month when I was in the office of the village committee. It seems that the CCP is arresting and persecuting believers in God more and more frenziedly, and that its methods are becoming more and more malicious. In order to make China a zone of atheism, it’s even using public funds as rewards to encourage people to report on believers in God, yet pays no heed to the hardships of the people. It isn’t a proper administration at all.
Late in the morning, I went to town to buy some vegetables. Hardly had I gotten home and begun to cook when my husband’s cell phone rang. It was the head of the police station, and he asked me where I had been this morning. After hanging up, my husband angrily said, “It seems that they are spying on us.” Even when my husband worked at a nearby factory, he would often receive the calls from the leader of the village committee or from the police station. They would ask him where he was and what work he was doing. It was so disturbing that my husband couldn’t work normally. Eventually, his boss became dissatisfied with him and he had to quit that job.
Tuesday, August 29, 2017, Cloudy
At night, Sister Li quietly came to my home. She told me, “We’ve learned that the CCP has issued another communiqué. They want to re-arrest those who were previously arrested and have had their information recorded. Some brothers and sisters of several churches have already been arrested again. Hurry up and find a place to hide.” The sudden news made me feel that I was in a dangerous situation. I know that the way the CCP treats believers in God is to torture them to death. I spent four years in prison, and it was as if I had made a trip to hell on earth. Even today, my heart still flutters with fear. I sank into a painful state and thought: “Where can I go? To my sister’s home? No. Since I was imprisoned due to believing in God, she has given me the silent treatment. To my uncle’s? No. His family are all atheists; not only do they not support me, but they will persecute me. How about my aunt, who lives far away? But my ID card must be shown if I take a bus or train. No, I can’t go there. If I’m caught halfway, won’t it mean that I’ve ‘escaped from the wolf’s den but then fallen into the tiger’s lair’?” I searched my memory, but found nowhere to go. At that moment, I felt extremely miserable and distressed, and couldn’t help sobbing. In pain, I prayed to God, “O God, I beg You to enlighten me so that I can know Your will, gain confidence to face all this, and overcome this difficult barrier. May You help me and guide me.” After my prayer, I read a passage of God’s words: “How should man love God during refinement? By using the resolve to love God to accept His refinement: During refinement you are tormented inside, as if a knife were being twisted in your heart, yet you are willing to satisfy God using your heart, which loves Him, and you are unwilling to care for the flesh. This is what is meant by practicing the love of God. You hurt inside, and your suffering has reached a certain point, yet you are still willing to come before God and pray, saying: ‘O God! I cannot leave You. Although there is darkness within me, I wish to satisfy You; You know my heart, and I would that You invest more of Your love within me.’ This is practice during refinement. If you use the love of God as the foundation, refinement can bring youand make you more intimate with God.” “God is eager for man to love Him, but the more man loves Him, the greater man’s suffering, and the more man loves Him, the greater man’s trials. If you love Him, then every kind of suffering will befall you—and if you do not, then perhaps everything will go smoothly for you and all will be peaceful around you. When you love God, you will feel that much around you is insurmountable, and because your stature is too small you will be refined; moreover, you will be incapable of satisfying God, and you will always feel that God’s will is too lofty, that it is beyond the reach of man. Because of all this you will be refined—because there is much weakness within you, and much that is incapable of satisfying the will of God, you will be refined internally. Yet you must clearly see that purification is only achieved through refinement. Thus, during these last days you must bear testimony to God. No matter how great your suffering, you should walk until the very end, and even at your last breath, still you must be faithful to God and at the mercy of God; only this is truly loving God, and only this is the strong and resounding testimony.”
Instantly, a warm current rushed through my body. God’s words comforted my tormented heart, making me no longer worry or fear. Grateful tears ran down my face. Then I thought of Job’s story. He had heard of God only by word of mouth, and yet he had such strong faith in Him: When he was tested by Satan, although he lost all his property overnight and had sore boils all over his body, he still held fast to his integrity, feared God and shunned evil. In the end, he stood testimony to God and made Satan flee. As for me, I’ve heard God’s voice with my own ears and received God’s personal nurturing and provision, and have enjoyed God’s great love. Yet, when my flesh just suffers a little, I feel weak and negative. I am concerned for my own flesh and always want to lessen the suffering of the flesh. Myis really too small. In fact, this suffering is valuable and meaningful, for God says: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” After understanding God’s kind intention, I was willing to submit myself and experience God’s work practically. No matter how great the difficulties and danger ahead, I would face them with courage. Thinking back on these many years since I believed in God, I’d endured persecution and suffering many times, and though I had known pain and weakness, was it not God who led me through them all the way? At that moment, it occurred to me that I could go to my cousin’s home for shelter.
Wednesday, September 6, 2017, Sunny
I set a time with my cousin for her to come to fetch me tonight. Thinking about whether I could come back or not in the future, I felt a bit reluctant to leave. But if I didn’t leave, if I was caught by the CCP police and sent to the devil’s jail a second time, there would be more unbearable torment for me. I know how hard my life was when I was in jail for those few years. Without God’s words to accompany me, I would really have a life worse than death. So, in order to continue believing in God and following God, I had no other choice but to leave home. My cousin is willing to take me in; wasn’t this the way that God had opened up for me? At this thought, I gained confidence and no longer worried.
At 10 p.m., my husband drove me to the pre-arranged rendezvous spot on his motorcycle, and then my cousin and I took a taxi. Sitting in it, I recalled some scenes from these years of my believing in God. Through experiencing the arrests and persecution of the CCP, I saw clearly its true face, and that God was always with me by my side. When I was faced with the repeated probing of the CCP, it was God who guided me to see through Satan’s tricks and gave me faith so that I was able to stand witness and not deny Him. When I was in the midst of misery and weakness, it was God’s words that guided me and comforted me so that I had faith to continue following Him. When I was faced with the danger of being arrested by the CCP again, God couldn’t bear to see me suffer torture in prison, so He arranged for the sister to inform me so that I could escape from that dangerous situation. … God’s guidance made me truly taste His love and care for me. I can never thank God enough. The CCP’s hunting of me drove me to love God more and follow Him more faithfully. I hummed a hymn in my heart: “I’ve believed in God all this time and I have finally seen the light. I have traveled a rocky road of persecution and tribulation. My flight brings constant suffering, with no place to lay my head. How many nights have I spent in prayer, unable to sleep? The world has forsaken me, loved ones shun me. Through bitter and sweet, I’ve cried an ocean. I have freedom only in name. What of human rights? How I hate Satan and long forto take power! This world’s darkness and evil drive me to seek the light of life more. Christ is the truth, the way, the life, and I will follow Him to the end.”
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