By Xiaodong, Sichuan Province
God said, “The Chinese nation, corrupted for thousands of years, has survived until today, every manner of ‘virus’ advancing without cease, spreading everywhere like the plague; just looking at people’s relationships is enough to see how many ‘germs’ lurk within people. It is extremely difficult for God to develop His work in such a tightly closed and virus-infected area. People’s personalities, habits, the way they do things, everything they express in their lives and their interpersonal relationships—they are all in tatters …” (“The Path … (6)” in). The revelation in God’s words made me see how Satan’s corruption makes all relationships between people abnormal, because all are based on Satan’s philosophy of life, without containing even a shred of truth. Without God’s salvation, my eyes would still be covered and I would still be entrapped by emotions, but experiencing the work of God made me understand the essence of what it means to “help one another” and showed me the truth of friendship, love, and familial affection. I saw that only God’s words are the truth, and that only by living by God’s words could we escape the influence of Satan, and that only by comporting oneself according to the truth could one live out a meaningful life.
My parents were both Christians, and at the time our faith in Jesus brought us a great deal of grace. Especially in business, God blessed us with much in the way of material comforts. Most of my relatives weren’t as well off as our family, and my parents took good care of them financially and materially. My relatives had a great deal of respect for my parents, and naturally they looked at me with the same eye. That was the kind of advantageous environment I grew up in. I thought my friends and relatives were wonderful, and no matter what our family needed, they would be willing to help.
In 1998, my entire family accepted’s work, and because it was a difficult field, we stopped our family business. At the time, I didn’t understand the truth, so my heart still yearned for this world. I spent my days eating, drinking, and carousing with my close friends and relatives, and because I spent generously, I got more and more friends, and more and more classmate reunions, parties, classmates’ and friends’ birthdays and weddings, and other occasions couldn’t be held without inviting me, because I was too “important.” Beyond that, every Sunday I had to pick up and see off my girlfriend, and we often went out together. At that time, even though I never missed one of my three meetings a week at the church, I still had absolutely no understanding of God’s words, my heart still wandered in the world outside, and my belief in God felt like a yoke of rules. But God used environments to make me understand the truth. He showed me that relationships between people are based on nothing but mutual interest, and that there is no such thing as true feeling or love in them.
After the business stopped, my parents repaired our house and had to pay tuition for my sister and me, such that our family’s savings were almost gone after a few years. Just as the saying describes “Tributaries run dry when the mainstream runs low.” Because I depended on them for my income, there was a reduction in my own spending. I avoided weddings and gatherings, large or small, whenever I could, so my circle of friends began to shrink, and my status in the eyes of my friends became lower and lower. As the fortunes of my poorer friends and relatives improved, they associated less with us as well. This period was refining for me, because I felt I had no status in the hearts of others. Especially my girlfriend, who became more distant because I didn’t spend money as generously as I had in the past, and finally left me for someone else in 2001. When I learned of it, I couldn’t accept that it was real. I didn’t show it on the outside, but the knowledge was like a knife in my heart. I was loyal to her, my efforts for her were sincere, so why did I get her betrayal in return? That’s how our five-year relationship ended. I didn’t know how to forget her, so all I could do was bury the pain deep in my heart. After that, I hated it when others mentioned the incident. I couldn’t understand how something like this could happen to me. Then one day, I saw this passage of God’s word, “Most people live in the foul place of Satan and suffer its derision; it teases them this way and that until they are only half alive, enduring every vicissitude, every hardship in the human world. After toying with them, Satan puts an end to their destiny. And so people go through their whole lives in a daze of confusion, never once enjoying the good things that God has prepared for them, but instead being damaged by Satan and left in tatters. Today they have become so enervated and listless that they simply have no inclination to take notice of God’s work” (“Work and Entry (1)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). The revelation in God’s words is a true portrayal of human life. Thinking back on how I spent my days drowning in lovesickness, living in an imaginary world of “romantic love.” I was inextricably trapped, and I had no idea at all that these things were Satan’s tricks to fool people, ruses designed to trap people and make them live without any goals and without inclination to take notice of God’s work. Although I called myself a believer in God, I spent my days worrying and laboring over friendship and love, and if circumstances hadn’t changed for me, I would still believe in those “pledges of eternal love” and “loyal friends,” and I would never have escaped it. Because of the breakup with my girlfriend, I cut off all my relationships with my classmates; without such a noisy environment I could still my heart and devote myself to my faith in God. At meetings, through fellowshiping about God’s words with my brothers and sisters, I came to understand some of the truth and gained some penetration into love and friendship, and realized that only by pursuing the truth and understanding the truth, can one’s viewpoints on things be changed, and they will never be fooled by Satan. Slowly, my wounded heart began to heal. I felt the long-forgotten joy, no longer lost or living in my pain. Because there were no interruptions from the outside world, I was able to still my mind and focus on meetings. I became more and more interested in faith in God, and from then on I began fulfilling my duties.
When my relatives learned I believed in God, there was no end to their disturbances. They thought I had no business believing in God at such a young age. My maternal aunt often asked me for favors, my paternal aunt asked me to do business with her, even my foster mother pushed me to get married, saying she would take care of my child after it was born (because she had no son of her own), and my grandmother cried, saying, “I have absolutely no objection to your parents believing in God, because they worked half their lifetimes and gave all they have to pave the way for you, so it’s time to let them rest. You should focus on starting a family and a career.” She then went on to describe how my father grew up in poverty, how he started from nothing, how much he suffered, how hard he worked, and said that I was in such a good environment, and that I had no ideals. Their sudden “concern” for me was very flattering. I was confused, because it seemed like what every one of them was saying was right, they all wanted the best for me, and since they were my closest relatives, of course they wouldn’t hurt me. I was living in refinement, and even though I knew this was a spiritual battle, I didn’t have the strength to fight anymore. At a meeting, a leader showed me this passage from God’s word, “For thousands of years, the Chinese people have led the life of slaves, and this has so constrained their thoughts, concepts, life, language, behavior, and actions that they have been left without the slightest freedom. Several thousand years of history have taken vital people possessed of a spirit and worn them down into something akin to corpses bereft of a spirit. Many are those who live under the butcher’s knife of Satan…. On the outside, human beings appear to be higher ‘animals’; in fact, they live and reside with filthy demons. Without anyone to tend to them, people live inside Satan’s ambuscade, caught in its toils with no way of escape. Rather than saying that they gather with their loved ones in cozy homes, living happy and fulfilling lives, one should say that human beings live in Hades, dealing with demons and associating with devils” (“Work and Entry (5)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Through the revelation in God’s word and fellowship with my brothers and sisters, I realized that while they appear to be my relatives from the outside, and their words are in accord with the needs of my flesh, their thoughts, concepts, life, language, behavior, and actions are constrained because of Satan’s corruption. They are all unbelievers, all of their viewpoints and all they discuss come from Satan, and what they pursue are all the evil desires of the flesh, none of which are in accord with the truth. If I listen to them, I would fall into Satan’s schemes. I have none of the truth and no discernment, and further contact with them would only make me more degenerate. I would gain nothing from it, they could only bring me to ruination. At that time, I had some understanding of God’s words “All those who do not believe, as well as the ones who do not practice truth, are demons!” but I still didn’t fully grasp it. Later, God arranged circumstances that showed me the true essence of family ties.
Our family had always been a host family, and one day in 2005, thanks to an evildoer’s report, my parents and several brothers and sisters were arrested by the CCP police. My birth sister fortunately survived a near-drowning as she fled, only escaping with her life because God protected her. My parents and the brothers and sisters at my family’s house were detained and fined, and all were tortured, all came out with injuries. When I heard the news, I couldn’t control my emotions. I didn’t have the heart to fulfill my duties. I thought, “At a time like this I should go home no matter what. My parents raised me, and now that they’re in trouble, even if I can’t do anything, I should at least be there to check up on them and comfort them.” So, I took the train home and went straight to my paternal aunt’s house (who also believes in God) to see my parents. At that time I saw their wounds had not healed, I felt horrible inside, and tears burst from my eyes. It felt like my parents had been humiliated. That’s when my parents told me: During the escape from the police, my birth sister dove into the river (this happened in December, after dark). The water was up to her neck, and the river currents were strong, wild plants were found caught on her pant leg, her shoes were stuck in the mud, and she didn’t know how to swim, so it was an utter mystery how she got to the other side. God must have miraculously protected her, or the results would have been too terrible to contemplate (the deep water and strong currents had taken the life of a man in his 40’s several days before). Later, my birth sister hid at the house of an older sister who gave my sister a change of clothes while crying as she dried her wet clothes over the fire, and otherwise took very good care of her. Several days after that she learned that this older sister’s house was no longer safe, so my birth sister went to hide at my maternal aunt’s home. She came out during the day to bring a letter to our church informing our leader of my family’s situation, but when she returned, my maternal aunt’s younger daughter said to her, “Hey cousin, why did you come back? I thought you left. We’ve already folded up the bed.” My sister realized my maternal aunt was afraid of getting involved and didn’t want to let her stay there, so crying, she left their home, and risked arrest to come home because she had nowhere else to go. After my parents were released, when they learned about my sister’s near-drowning and how she was kicked out by my maternal aunt, they were very angry, but my maternal aunt, in a tone convinced she was right, answered with, “That’s right, we are afraid of getting involved. You brought these arrests on yourselves. You had a perfectly good life, but you had to go and screw it up, and now you almost got someone killed!” I never imagined that my closest relatives, the people closest to me in the past, at a time when the CCP was arresting my family and their lives were in danger, at a time when comfort is needed most of all, would actually say such inhumane words or do such cruel things. To know that they could made me very sad. None of the people we helped most in the past came to check in on us or comfort us. Those who had the best relationships with us not only didn’t speak to my parents when they met on the street, they moved out of my parents’ path. Some who used to nod and say hello to us now turned their backs to us and gossiped. Only our brothers and sisters came to visit us and fellowship in the evenings. I never believed our family could come to such an abject state. I was again trapped in pain, with thoughts of betraying God forming in my heart. Later, after receiving a revelation from God, I experienced what my brothers and sisters had fellowshiped about, “Relationships between people are based on nothing but mutual interest, family and friends merely help one another on a foundation of mutual use.” I also thought back to my parents’ talk about what they gained from their experience of being arrested, for example: When the police used a leather whip to beat my father, he said he didn’t feel too much pain, and that the belt broke into three pieces as they hit him. My sister said she didn’t feel any fear at all during her experience, and even though it was December, she said she never felt cold coming out of the water. God gave her extra strength and confidence. Arrest by the CCP had actually made their faith more steadfast. It had made them stronger. My father said that he hadn’t believed God’s words concerning how God exposes the CCP’s evil, hatred of the truth in the past, and that he was an admirer of the king of devils, but this incident had shown him the CCP was merely a gang of thugs, bandits who would take away anything in our house worth money and would rather arrest law-abiding believers in God than murderers and arsonists. I was ashamed when I understood that we all live under God’s leadership, everything we experience is part of God’s sovereignty and arrangement, no person has the power to help another, familial affection will only drive us away from God, and that the things people can help each other with only accord with the flesh, not with the truth. Thoughts like “not wanting my parents’ flesh to suffer” not only bring no benefit to their life, they bring no benefit to their salvation. Only God knows what man needs, and God loves man the most. I saw a passage of God’s word that said, “Ever since He created the world, God has done much work involving the vitality of life, has done much work that brings life to man, and has paid a great price so that man might gain life. This is because God Himself is eternal life, and God Himself is the way by which man is resurrected. God is never absent from the heart of man, and He lives among man at all times. He has been the driving force of man’s living, the root of man’s existence, and a rich deposit for man’s existence after birth. He causes man to be reborn, and enables him to tenaciously live out his every role. Thanks to His power and His inextinguishable life force, man has lived for generation after generation, throughout which the power of God’s life has been the mainstay of man’s existence, and for which God has paid a price that no ordinary man has ever paid. God’s life force can prevail over any power; moreover, it exceeds any power. His life is eternal, His power extraordinary, and His life force cannot be overwhelmed by any created being or enemy force. The life force of God exists and shines its brilliant radiance regardless of time or place. Heaven and earth may undergo great changes, but God’s life is forever the same. All things may pass away, but God’s life will still remain, for God is the source of the existence of all things and the root of their existence. Man’s life originates from God, the existence of heaven is because of God, and the existence of earth stems from the power of God’s life. No object possessed of vitality can transcend the sovereignty of God, and no thing with vigor can elude the domain of God’s authority. In this way, regardless of who they are, everyone must submit under the dominion of God, everyone must live under God’s command, and no one can escape from His hands” (“Only Christ of the Last Days Can Give Man the Way of Eternal Life” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Through God’s words and reality, I saw the extraordinariness and greatness of God’s life force, that He lives among man at all times, at all times guides mankind and displays His power, and that every person lives in arrangements masterminded by God. Facing God’s word, I saw how tiny I was and how insignificant emotional ties were. What could I have done against the difficulties my family faced? Wasn’t God the One who protected them, cared for them, and led them through the crisis? Can man’s love of another man be greater than God’s love for man? At the same time, God’s words judged me, “Who can truly and completely expend themselves for Me and offer up their all for My sake? You are all half-hearted; your thoughts go around and around, thinking of home, of the outside world, of food and clothing. Despite the fact that you are here before Me, doing things for Me, deep down you are still thinking of your wife, children, and parents at home. Are all these things your property? Why do you not entrust them into My hands? Do you not have sufficient faith in Me? Or is it that you are afraid I will make inappropriate arrangements for you? Why do you always worry about the family of your flesh? You always pine for your loved ones! Do I have a certain place in your heart? You still talk about allowing Me to have dominion within you and occupy your entire being—these are all deceptive lies! How many of you are wholeheartedly committed to the church? And who among you think not of yourselves, but are acting for the sake of the kingdom of today? Think very carefully about this” (“Chapter 59” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I saw that what I cared for in my heart was still my family, because I didn’t have true faith in God, I still couldn’t entrust them completely to God’s hands; I saw that I did not live in the truth, and even though I was performing my duties in God’s house, I often worried about my family, and did not let God occupy my heart. I could not respect God above all others and faithfully perform my duties. I had been fooled and afflicted by Satan. If not for these “unfortunate” things happening to me, I never would have seen things clearly. It’s just as this hymn of God’s word says, “When it comes to the state of man’s life, man has yet to find the real life, he still hasn’t seen through to the injustice, desolation, and miserable conditions of the world—and so, were it not for the advent of disaster, most people would still embrace Mother Nature, and would still engross themselves in the flavor of ‘life.’ Is this not the reality of the world? Is this not the voice of salvation that God speaks forth to man? Why, among mankind, has no one ever truly loved God? Why does man love God only in the midst of chastisement and trials, yet no one loves God under His protection?” (“People Don’t Know God’s Salvation” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). If not for what these circumstances revealed to me, I never would have truly understood the relationships between people, and I would still be controlled by family ties, love, and friendship, inextricably trapped in the pursuit of these things, deceived and made to suffer by them, happy in my ignorance; besides, I never would have received the truth, never would have taken the correct path of life, and it was God’s salvation that allowed me to never taste the flavor of “life” again. When I understood all this, I decided that I would wholeheartedly believe in God and pursue the truth to repay God’s love for me.
I have now performed my duties in God’s family for several years, and in God’s family I have experienced God’s love. No matter where I perform my duties, God is always there to take care of me. I get along with my brothers and sisters as if they were family, we don’t use each other, and there is no exchange of benefits. My brothers and sisters are so sincere that even if our corruption shows through to each other at times, through opening our hearts and communicating about our understanding of ourselves, there are no grudges or guardedness. We help each other and offer one another love, everyone is viewed equally, and no one is treated differently because they are poor or rich. I have health problems, so I often get sick, but my brothers and sisters are very considerate and take very good care of me, which made me experience that even without blood ties among my brothers and sisters, they can be even closer than relatives. I get along well with my brothers and sisters, and with God’s guidance, we all pursue the truth and strive to perform our duties.
My experiences throughout these years have also helped me gradually come to understand God’s will, as well as to see that the work God has done upon me is the work of salvation and love, the words expressed by God are the truth, but more so that they are the words which save our lives. These truths have become God’s best care and protection for me. If I departed from these words or did not view things from the basis these words provide, I would ruin myself. I was deeply corrupted by Satan and unable to directly grasp the meaning of God’s words, so God arranged many different circumstances, people, matters, and things, designed for my needs, to benefit and perfect me, to help me understand His words. Amid my hardships and trials, I unwittingly came to see that these words expressed by God are all truth, that they are things that mankind needs. Not only can they grant mankind life and allow him to live out the life of a normal man, they also point out the correct path in life, because God is the truth, the way, and the life. It’s God’s words that bring me to this day. I am willing to keep His words as my motto, the road sign to advance ahead, and the guide to act. Even though there is much of the truth I don’t understand, through my continuing pursuit of the truth and fulfilling my duties, God will provide me enlightenment and illumination so that I may understand His words. There is still much corruption in me that must be purified, and I need to experience much more of God’s work as well as God’s judgment and chastisement and the accompanying hardships and refinements. I will strive hard to pursue the truth. No matter what tribulations or hardships befall me in the future, I will follow God to the end!