By Zhang Hong
My name is Zhang Hong and I am 70 years old. Over my thirty or so years of believing in the Lord, I have been arrested four times by the CCP government, and was detained three times and sentenced to hard labor once. I’ve personally experienced the cruel persecution and suppression by the atheist CCP government, and the ruthless tortures it inflicted on me have left many wounds in both my body and heart which may never be healed.
Being certain about the true way, I started to believe in the Lord.
From the Bible, I learned that, in order to redeem mankind, the Lord Jesus was nailed to the cross and took on our sins so that we could be forgiven of our sins. Deeply moved by this, I realized that only the Lord could pay such a great price for us mankind, and thus I became certain that the Lord Jesus Christ is the true God. Plus, because the Lord Jesus taught us to respect our parents, not to assault or curse others, to tolerate, endure, empathize and forgive others, and to love and help each other, I determined that this is the true way and made up my mind to believe in and follow the Lord.
Persecution befalling me, I was arrested and detained.
One day, however, three levels of cadres of the County Bureau of Religion, the town police station and the village government held a meeting in our village for a whole morning, where they warned us, “The government does not allow you to hold private meetings at home. It is illegal. If you don’t listen to us and continue to have meetings, you will be arrested and imprisoned.” They also said that believing in the Lord Jesus was participating in a reactionary organization, and asked two brothers who led gatherings to write self-criticism essays. After that, they forced me into a police car and took me to the detention house. When I arrived there, I felt somewhat afraid. What would they ask me? How should I answer their questions? What vicious methods would they use to torture me if they were not satisfied with my answers? Would I be able to bear it?
At that time, I constantly prayed to the Lord in my heart, asking Him to give me the will to endure suffering so that I wouldn’t sell out and become a Judas. Afterward these words of the Lord appeared in my mind: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). The Lord’s words allowed me to realize that there was nothing to be feared from the police, for they could only kill my body while my soul was in God’s hands. If I couldn’t endure the suffering and became a Judas, not only would I not be able to save my life, but my soul would also be destroyed in hell. Besides, if God didn’t permit it, they couldn’t deprive me of my life. Thinking of this, I set my resolution that I would never betray the Lord like Judas.
Half a month later, I was transferred to the county detention center, where the heads of the prisoners subjected me to torment at the instigation of the CCP police, which brought great humiliation to my integrity and dignity. They asked me to kneel in front of the toilet with my face toward feces and urine, during which time they punched me in the back and laughed loudly—they simply didn’t treat me like a human being. There was another time when I failed to memorize the prison rules, and then the cell head slapped me three or four times in the face until I felt a burning pain on my cheeks. Living in this hell on earth was very painful for me, and all I could do was silently pray for the Lord to give me faith. One morning, two months later, a guard suddenly opened the cell door and asked me to pack my things. I was very excited and happy and thought I could finally go home. But to my surprise, they didn’t release me but handcuffed me to another two brothers and shoved us onto a truck, and they then drove us to the town hall for a trial. But due to insufficient evidence, they finally released me after I paid a fine.
One hot day in the summer of 1986, I was working at home when the village leader suddenly came and said to me, “The police from the County Public Security Bureau are waiting for you in the village office. They want to see you. It’s about your belief in Jesus.” When I arrived there, I saw several brothers who believed in the Lord with me were also there. Upon seeing me, a policeman said, “You are under arrest!” Stunned, we asked him, “Why?” “Because you didn’t attend the study class we organized with the Bureau of Religion,” he answered furiously. “You are opposing the government, and that is why!” We asked them to show us the arrest warrant, yet not only did they not show us anything, they instead came at us like wild dogs, pushed us to the ground, and handcuffed us. At that time, I was very scared and hurriedly called out to the Lord: “O Lord, may You give me faith and courage. No matter how they will treat me, I will never be a Judas and sell out the brothers and sisters.” Afterward, they asked me to wrap around a cement column in the corridor and handcuffed me. The burning sun was scorching the earth, making the ground and cement column boiling hot. I sat on the cement ground, arms and legs clinging to the column, chest and face pressing against it, unable to move at all. I felt a burning pain on my bottom, and my chest and arms were burnt red. Sweat kept running down my face and body, soaking through my clothes, and I was just like a drowned rat. Sweat flowed into my eyes but I couldn’t wipe it away with my hands, so I had to close my eyes. The scorching heat, coupled with the pain in my wrists, made me suffer unbearably. Just then, I thought of these words of the Lord Jesus: “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. … for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:10–12). I then thought of those apostles, prophets and disciples who had martyred themselves for the Lord—hadn’t they all suffered persecution because of their faith in the Lord? James was beheaded and Peter was nailed upside down on the cross…. They were all people who were persecuted for the sake of righteousness, and what they did was righteous. Thinking of this, I gradually came to submit and pulled myself together. Just like this, they had me handcuffed from about 10 a.m. all the way until the afternoon. Later, without any evidence, they detained me for half a month.
Being arrested again, I was sentenced to labor reform.
One morning in May, 1987, around eight or nine o’clock, some policemen from the Public Security Bureau climbed over the wall and got into my house. Upon entering the room, they yelled: “How dare you still be dishonest! The government cracked down on you so hard, yet you still refused to repent, and even led others to have gatherings at your home. You are engaging in reactionary activities, disturbing the social order and resisting the government. Aren’t you courting death?” Seeing the ferocious expressions on their faces, I knew I would be detained and beaten by them again, so I silently prayed for the Lord Jesus to strengthen my spirit, and resolved to stand witness and never humiliate the Lord’s name even if I would die. Before I had time to think any further, they rushed upon me, pushed me to the ground and handcuffed me, after which they took me to the riverbank in front of the village leader’s house, where they asked me to cling to a thick poplar tree and handcuffed me, leaving me unable to move. It was a bitterly cold day, howling wind whipping at the branches, blowing leaves down on me, which gave me an even greater sense of desolation. When I got arrested that morning, I only wore a thin shirt and shoes, and my family didn’t dare to bring me clothes. Chilly gusts of wind from the river hitting me, I felt piercing cold and was trembling all over, nearly frozen stiff. My joints ached so badly as if they were going to break, my hands became black and blue because the handcuffs obstructed the flow of blood and hurt like hell, my face was red with cold and I couldn’t feel anything in my feet. At that time, I silently prayed to God in my heart, asking Him to protect me through this plight, and expressing my willingness to obey even if I would be martyred. Just then, I thought of these words of the Lord: “For whoever will save his life shall lose it: and whoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25). The Lord’s words greatly increased my faith and allowed me to understand what I should gain and what I should give up, and I no longer felt sad. At that time, there came more and more villagers, who started talking about me as they looked on. Some humiliated me, some mocked and slandered me, and others said: “The believers in Jesus are good people. He shouldn’t be treated like this.” In short, they said all kinds of things. When I was enduring the villagers’ criticism and sneering, those policemen were eating and drinking at the village leader’s house, caring not a bit about my life and death. It wasn’t until 2 o’clock that afternoon after they had eaten and drunk to their fill that they finally uncuffed me from the tree. After that they handcuffed my hands behind my back until they became black and blue. My wrists were swollen and ached so badly that I kept rolling around on the ground.
That day, they sent me to the local county detention center and, after being detained there for more than 20 days, I was transferred to the detention house. Later, they took me to some place in the county for a trial. When they pronounced that I was the core member of a reactionary organization and was detained for “shelter for investigation,” two policemen behind me grabbed each of my arms and kicked the crooks of my legs to make me kneel on the floor. Immediately, a searing pain shot through my entire body and I suffered beyond telling. They then wrapped a rope around my body a few times and drove a vicious knee into my back to tighten the rope, after which they bent my head backward and forcefully lifted up the rope. All I heard was a “click,” and my entire body hurt unbearably like I had cramps from head to toe. I saw stars and felt dizzy, unable to keep my balance. That anguish was beyond words, and I felt as if I was on the verge of death. Just when I was in much pain and couldn’t carry on much longer, these words of the Lord enlightened me from within: “You shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized with shall you be baptized” (Mark 10:39). The Lord’s words gave me faith and strength and allowed me to understand what hardships were valuable and should be endured. I no longer felt miserable or aggrieved, but instead picked myself up once again. Later, no matter what means they employed to deal with me, I still persevered with my faith. In the end, they sentenced me to three years of reeducation through labor without any evidence.
Afterward, they sent me to a dark room lit by only a candle. After some inquiries, I came to know that it was the Investigation Office of So-and-So City. That night, I lay on a shakedown on the ground tossing and turning, unable to sleep. I thought of how, in the past few years, I had been arrested several times and suffered a lot for my belief in the Lord, and how now I was sentenced to labor reform. Because of this, my neighbors all looked down on my family, my children were discriminated against by others and their hearts were seriously hurt. I thought: “Now both my son and eldest daughter have become old enough to get married, will they be able to find partners? My youngest daughter is still at school, will she be discriminated against by her teachers and classmates? My wife is so thin and weak—how could she undertake the burdens of running a family? How will our whole family survive the future?” As I thought of this, my heart ached dully, so I silently prayed to the Lord to entrust all this into His hands. It then occurred to me: “Isn’t all my suffering caused by the CCP? They oppress good people so cruelly, but still they claim that black is white, saying that it is we who are against the government, and make groundless accusations against us. There is simply no venue of reason for us in the world!” Seeing that the CCP government is so truly evil without a speck of humanity and that it is entirely a gangster that imperils the country and the people, I felt both indignant and sad and asked the Lord to protect me so that I could see through Satan’s tricks. I made up my mind to follow God to the end and never betray Him.
To Be Continued …