Editor’s Note: At every level of society, from officials and elites all the way to the most humble common people, anyone who gets hit with the gambling bug finds it very difficult to quit. How many have sunk from riches to poverty because of gambling? How many have gone bankrupt, had their families torn apart, and ultimately seen their families ruined? Christian Xiaoliang had a two-decade gambling addiction, but was miraculously able to give it up. How did he succeed? Let’s look for the answer in Xiaoliang’s personal experience.
Gambling Drives Me to Ruin
Since early childhood, I had often heard the saying “gamble a little to feed yourself, gamble a lot to get rich.” There were also many people around me who were obsessed with gambling, and steeped in that kind of atmosphere, it wasn’t long before I learned to gamble as well in the hope of earning some extra income. I started out making small bets and I didn’t win much, but the people around me were constantly goading me, saying things like “The bold die of gluttony; the timid die of starvation,” and “You have to invest more to earn more.” I also noticed that when people bet more, they won more, so I was eventually tempted. I thought that if I placed bigger bets I’d win a bigger take. Gradually, the size of my bets grew and my gambling addiction grew in tandem. Once, bet after bet, I lost hundreds of yuan. In those days, hundreds of yuan was a sizeable sum, and I was very upset. It was almost Chinese New Year and my family needed money to buy goods for the festivities, so with no other option, I sold our only pig. I meant to bring the money I earned from the sale home to pay for the things we needed, but on the way back I met a friend and fellow gambler who invited me out gambling again, and I thought, “Why not try another round? I might even win back those hundreds I lost. That way the family won’t be in such dire financial straits.” With that in mind, I went with my gambling friend, didn’t return home for the whole day, and lost all of my money. I was incredibly upset. I thought, “What will I do now? It’s practically the holiday and I even lost all the money we needed to buy holiday goods by gambling. How will we make it through Chinese New Year now?” I felt extremely guilty and silently promised myself I would never gamble again.
After that, I borrowed some money from a friend and opened up a small shop, and then once I had some savings, I bought a house in the county seat. But before long I lost a significant sum of money after investing in a friend’s scheme, and I thought, “I’ve lost so much money and it would take ages to earn it back just through my own business. Everyone says you can get rich by making big bets, so why not give gambling another go?” So, I bought tens of thousands of yuan worth of lottery tickets, but didn’t win anything. I was frustrated but still told myself that if I persisted, I was sure to strike it rich. My wife often tried to convince me to stop, saying, “Don’t gamble anymore, let’s just do honest business and gradually earn the money back.” But I couldn’t listen. I thought gambling could make us the money back more quickly. If we just worked honestly to get the money back, when would we ever see it again? Seeing that I wouldn’t take her advice, frustrated and angry, my wife said, “How will we survive if you keep gambling like this?” I felt that my wife didn’t understand me at all and said impatiently, “Can’t you see that I’m doing this for our family? …” Thus, my wife and I started fighting over my gambling all the time and our once-peaceful home was no longer so. But after that, I not only didn’t win any more money by gambling, but ended up with even more debt. Faced with debtors pursuing our family, constant collection phone calls from the bank, and private loan collectors pushing us to repay interest, I was overwhelmed. By that point I was already stripped of all assets but my home. The only valuable thing my family owned was my wife’s gold necklace. In desperation, I had no choice but to take that and pawn it. It was unbearable for me to see my wife’s disappointed, helpless expression, and I silently swore to myself that I would never gamble again. My initial intention was to use that money to pay back the bank interest, but on the way I ran into a gambling buddy, and I was nearly pulled in again, but I thought, “I’ve lost a lot of money, and I’ve pawned my wife’s gold necklace. I can’t gamble again.” But then this occurred to me, “Why don’t I try one more time? Maybe my luck will turn this time, and I’ll make enough to pay back the debt.” I couldn’t help myself—I went back to the gambling house, and after losing the money from pawning the gold necklace, my heart was filled with remorse. I hated myself for not being able to control my gambling addiction.
My life was a mess by then. My relatives and friends didn’t want to hear from me, and some deliberately avoided me because they were afraid I would try to borrow money from them. Left without any other options, I reluctantly sold the new house we had lived in for just three years to pay off our debts. When we were moving I could see the anxiety on my wife’s face, and I saw her disappointment with me from the look on her face. I was in torment; tears of remorse blurred my eyes. I hated myself for being such a failure. I had gambled away my wife’s only gold necklace, the house we had worked hard to earn was lost, and I had made my wife and child suffer along with me. I was a failure as a husband and particularly as a father. I silently vowed to myself that I would never gamble again. But just like my previous promises, each time I made that vow, it wasn’t long before I broke it again. When the people around me urged me, I always went to gamble in spite of myself, hoping to win back the money I had lost. But I only ended up losing more money the more I gambled, and in the end I owed a massive debt of more than 700,000 yuan.
One day as I was crossing a skybridge, I thought of the enormity of my debts. My creditors were pushing me to pay it back every day, but I would never be able to pay it back on my own. … The immense pressure I was under made me miserable, and I felt like life wasn’t worth living anymore, that death would be a better option. If I was dead, I could escape everything. But as I put my foot over the edge of the bridge and prepared to jump, an image of my wife and child flashed through my mind, as well as my aging mother, and I couldn’t help but think, “If I die, the family burdens will fall entirely on my wife, my child will be without a father, and my elderly mother will have to endure the torment of burying her still-young son. Our family’s problems all originated with my gambling. I’ve hurt them enough. If I jump and end it all, will they be able to bear that blow? If I do this, aren’t I just being irresponsible?” The more I thought, the more miserable and guilty I felt, and it was only then that I dispensed with the idea of killing myself. But my huge debt and the shame of what I had done to my family left me feeling tremendous pressure and torment, and I really wasn’t able to pay back all the debts, so I simply drowned my worries in alcohol every day. Gradually, my body became unable to take the abuse and gave out, I lost interest in running my business, and I was simply wasting away my days.
A Light Appears in the Darkness
Just as I was losing hope in life and didn’t know what to do, my sister-in-law shared God’s gospel of the last days with me and my wife.
Later, I saw these words from God, “There is an enormous secret in your heart, of which you have never been aware, for you have been living in a world without light. Your heart and your spirit have been wrested away by the evil one. Your eyes are obscured by darkness, and you can see neither the sun in the sky nor that twinkling star of the night. Your ears are clogged with deceitful words, and you hear neither the thunderous voice of Jehovah, nor the sound of the waters flowing from the throne. You have lost everything that is rightfully yours, everything that the Almighty bestowed upon you. You have entered an endless sea of affliction, with no power of rescue, no hope of survival, and all you do is struggle and rush about…. From that moment onward, you were doomed to be afflicted by the evil one, far away from the blessings of the Almighty, out of reach of the provisions of the Almighty, walking down a road of no return” (“The Sighing of the Almighty”).
awakened my heart which had been lost for so many years. I understood that the reason we live in so much pain is that, after leaving God’s care and protection, there is no longer any place for God in our hearts, and because we lack the guidance of God’s word, we become corrupted and harmed by Satan. I thought of how ever since I had become addicted to gambling, every time I won, I just wanted to win even more; if I lost, I just wanted to place another bet to win back the money I had lost. Either way, I couldn’t extricate myself from the vortex of gambling. In the end, I not only lost the house we had worked so hard to buy, but was also massively in debt. I had caused my entire family to bear my suffering along with me, leading me to feel even more anxious and bitter. I was ashamed to face my family, but I couldn’t shake off my gambling addiction. Life was misery, and I even wanted to die to put an end to the pain. What God’s words revealed were precisely the painful scenes I had lived for so many years. I was obsessed with gambling, had lost my way, and lived struggling in torment. Once I understood these things, I swore an oath to God that I would have faith and would no longer gamble and allow Satan to continue harming me.
From then on I actively participated in church life, read God’s word, gradually came to understand some of the truth, and I began to feel some spiritual comfort. I was no longer as disappointed and pessimistic about life and I felt a great deal of release in my heart; I also steered clear of gambling and found a proper job as a motorcycle taxi driver. It was difficult, but I felt at ease in my heart.
Finding the Root of My Obsession With Gambling, a Change in the Direction of My Life
One day as I was passing a lottery shop, I saw a crowd of lottery players crowded around watching; and a red banner hung above the door which said that such and such a person had won some sort of award at that shop. Seeing that really got me going. I thought, “Why not spend a couple yuan to try my luck? If it’s good I could win a few thousand yuan.” Just as I was about to go buy a lottery ticket, I suddenly remembered that I had already sworn an oath to God to never gamble again. If I gambled then, wouldn’t that be dishonest? But then I thought, “I’ll only buy one lottery ticket for two yuan. It’s not much money. It should be fine. I’m not asking for millions, just a few thousand to buy a motorcycle.” So, I bought one lottery ticket, but I couldn’t control myself. I didn’t win anything on the first try, so I bought another, and another, until in less than two hours I had spent more than a hundred yuan, the money I had worked all day to earn. I felt a deep sense of sadness and regret. I thought, “That was hard-earned money I brought in with my labor, and just like that I lost it all. From now on, no matter what, I can’t gamble anymore!”
I planned to never buy another lottery ticket, but on the next day and the day after that, every time I went by the lottery store I always wanted to win back the money I had lost. I couldn’t stop myself from going in. I blew through more than five hundred yuan over the course of three days. Seeing my hard-earned money vanish that way was unbearable. I slapped my own face and despised myself for failing again. I knew very clearly that this was Satan’s way of entrapping me in suffering, so why did I insist on letting myself be trapped? I couldn’t understand it. I had already been deeply hurt by gambling, and I always swore to myself that I would stop buying lottery tickets, so why couldn’t I overcome it? Why did I always fall for Satan’s tricks? After getting home I rushed to: “God! I don’t want to be harmed by Satan and fall into the vortex of gambling. Living like this is too painful, but I don’t have the strength to overcome my sin. Please help me …”
Later, I read these words of God, “No one is willing to exist in the care and keeping of God. Instead, they wish to rely on the corrosion of Satan, the evil one, in order to adapt to this world, and to the rules of existence that wicked mankind follows. At this point, the heart and spirit of man have become man’s tribute to Satan and become Satan’s foodstuff. Even more, the human heart and spirit have become a place in which Satan can reside and its fitting playground” (“God Is the Source of Man’s Life”). “It seems like a world of gaiety and splendor, one that is becoming more and more so. People’s hearts are all drawn to it, and many people are entrapped and unable to extricate themselves from it” (“Practice (2)”).
God’s harsh words cut deep into my heart like a sharp sword. I felt as though they were a condemnation of me. I understood that I couldn’t stop gambling and that my life was so painful because I had been poisoned too deeply by Satan’s evil trends. I had been steeped in satanic fallacies like “gamble a little to feed yourself, gamble a lot to get rich,” and “the bold die of gluttony; the timid die of starvation,” and these had made me feel that I earned too little doing business honestly, that if I wanted to earn big money, if I wanted to get rich overnight, if I wanted to be wealthy, I had to make bets, because that was the only way I could live an extraordinary life. So, I started experimenting with gambling, small amounts at first, but due to the temptations and urging of my gambling friends, I wanted to win more money, so I started making bigger and bigger bets, and the more I lost, the more I wanted to win it back, so I became ever more deeply entrapped. I not only lost all of the family’s savings, I also pawned my wife’s only gold necklace, finally lost the house we had worked so hard to buy, and still owed a massive debt of over 700,000 yuan. Each day was unbearable agony, and I had wanted to die to escape the pain. After I started believing in God, from God’s word I learned that without God’s guidance, we live in misery under the influence of Satan, and I also swore an oath before God that I wouldn’t gamble again, but when I saw others win a huge prize from buying a lottery ticket, I couldn’t resist the temptation, I bought lottery tickets against my will, and I lost the money I had worked so hard to earn by carrying passengers. I not only caused myself misery, I made God detest me. It was because I couldn’t see clearly how Satan uses gambling to corrupt people, and because I was manipulated and controlled by Satan’s fallacies and evil sayings, that time and again I broke the vows I swore to myself, became trapped in Satan’s snare against my will, and was toyed with and harmed by Satan. I couldn’t help but think of one of my friends, who lost everything due to gambling, went bankrupt, and had to return to his village to live. My second brother also became addicted to gambling after being steeped in evil social trends, and he often quarreled with his wife, ruining his once happy and harmonious family. I also had a young neighbor who spent so much on lottery tickets he couldn’t pay back his debts, and who finally, in desperation, jumped from the seventh floor of a building and ended his own life…. These were all the results of being harmed by Satan’s evil trends. Satan uses people’s desire to get rich overnight, as well as evil trends, to gradually seduce people into hell. Satan is truly sinister and vicious! Once I understood these things, I yearned even more to escape the grip of Satan’s evil trends and live by God’s word.
Afterward, I read another passage of God’s words: “I have a lot of wishes. I wish you can conduct yourselves in a proper and well-behaved manner, be faithful to fulfill your duty, have truth and humanity” (“Transgressions Will Take Man to Hell”). “You are a created being—you should of course worship God and pursue a life of meaning. If you don’t worship God but live within the filthy flesh, then aren’t you just a beast in human attire?” (“Practice (2)”).
In God’s words, I saw His hopes for us mankind. God hopes that we emerge from our lives of depravity, pursue the truth, worship God, do our utmost to fulfill the duties of created beings and repay God’s love, become people who possess the truth and normal humanity, and live meaningful lives. I thought of how deeply immersed I was in the evil trend of gambling, and though I had lost all my savings, worse was the spiritual suffering I felt, the miserable life I lived, and the irreparable harm I did to my family. But now, God’s word had pointed out the goals and directions I should pursue, and I wished to practice according to God’s word and live with normal humanity. So, I made a vow to myself: Although betraying my gambling addiction would be very difficult and very painful, I would practice the truth no matter what, rely on God to quit my gambling addiction, and live out the life Christians should have. After that, I no longer wanted to get rich by buying lottery tickets, and when I was passing the lottery shop, although I was sometimes tempted, I could overcome the temptation by praying to God and contemplating God’s word, and I could be content with earning money through driving.
I Quit Gambling and Gain Spiritual Release by Relying on God
One day, I was invited to a friend’s house for dinner. After the meal, they asked me to come gambling. At the time, sitting down at the gambling table felt entirely natural to me, but just when I was about to start gambling, I remembered God’s words, “It seems like a world of gaiety and splendor, one that is becoming more and more so. People’s hearts are all drawn to it, and many people are entrapped and unable to extricate themselves from it…. If you do not strive for progress, are without ideals, and have not rooted yourself on the true way, you will be swept away by this sinful wave” (“Practice (2)”). The enlightenment in God’s words instantly awakened me. It’s true that all of society is dark and evil today. Satan uses all kinds of evil trends to corrupt and swallow people, and if I can’t see through Satan’s tricks, don’t pursue progress, don’t practice the truth, and abandon myself to sin, I would forever be imprisoned by Satan, and I would continue to live in depravity and be toyed with and harmed by Satan. I thought of how hard it had been for me to finally overcome my gambling addiction and stop gambling by relying on the guidance in God’s words, but Satan still refused to give up. It used my friends to tempt me because it wanted to make me continue to live in depravity and harm me. It wouldn’t stop until it pulled me straight down to hell. Satan is truly evil, and I couldn’t let it lead me around by the nose anymore. So, I silently prayed to God, “God! I don’t have the power to overcome my sin. I ask that You give me strength in these circumstances, so that I no longer fall for Satan’s schemes.” After I prayed, I felt strength in my heart, and I said to my friends, “I believe in God now, so I can’t gamble anymore.” After that, I got up and left the gambling table, leaving my friends shocked. After I refused my friends’ temptation, I felt especially secure and at peace.
But Satan refused to let me go, and tempted me using all kinds of people, matters, and things. Once, after dinner with my friends, they invited me to gamble, saying there were 3 of them and needed 4 for a game. I knew very clearly that this was a temptation from Satan, but I couldn’t allow myself to fall for Satan’s tricks anymore, so I resolutely rejected them. When I began to sincerely rely on God to refuse gambling, my friends no longer invited me gambling with them, and I completely bid farewell to the gambling table.
Once, while I was having dinner with my friends, they said I changed a lot, and finally stopped gambling. When my wife heard those words, an appreciative smile appeared on her face. Thanks be to God, because it was God’s word that changed me and gave me the right direction in life. After I quit gambling, my entire mental outlook felt as though it had been completely refreshed. After my mother saw the change in me, she couldn’t help but exclaim that this was truly God’s work, because nothing else could have changed my bad habit of gambling. Later, she also accepted God’s work in the last days. Now, our entire family can read God’s words together when we have free time, when things happen we can find a path to practice in God’s word, and when anyone exposes corrupt dispositions, we can purely open up and speak about them, and everyone can lovingly and patiently fellowship on God’s words and help one another. Our past life of quarreling over gambling has become one of happiness and harmony, and all of this is the result achieved by God’s words and work. My thanks to God for saving me from my gambling addiction of more than 20 years and giving me a new life.
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