By Zhang Hong
The labor camp is simply a hell on earth.
Life in the labor camp was practically hell on earth. One night, a cell head suddenly punched a brother in the throat for no reason, who immediately fell senseless. Upon seeing this, we several brothers all desperately cried out to the Lord for help and after a while the brother finally came around. However, our cries alarmed the prison guards, who then came over to question us. A brother stepped out, saying it was he who started all this. Then the guards ordered him to write a self-criticism essay but he refused, because of which he was sent to a solitary confinement room (a dark room). And each of the rest of us was forced to stand still in a 3 feet diameter circle drawn with lime powder, scorched by the sun.
As the CCP condemned believing in the Lord as participating in a reactionary organization, they forced us to write ideological reports saying that we would quit the organization and renounce our faith in the Lord, but we all refused to do so. At that time I thought to myself, “In the Bible the Lord Jesus said, ‘Whoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father which is in heaven. But whoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven’ (Matthew 10:32–33). Denying the Lord is betraying the Lord. Since I believe in the Lord, I must glorify Him and bear witness for Him and never betray Him.” The police suspected that I was the one who took the lead, so they began to keep a close watch on me. To prevent me from talking with other brothers, they assigned a prisoner to be my full-time “monitor,” who kept close company with me regardless of when I was working, eating, having a rest, or even using the toilet. When my family came to visit me from far away, they didn’t allow me to see them. And even the work points I earned by laboring all went to the prisoner who supervised me (for our sentences were lengthened or shortened based on how many work points we had earned)—I was totally deprived of freedom. Nevertheless, I still didn’t yield to Satan and, in the end, they sent me into a solitary confinement room with an accusation that I was too stubborn to accept education and reform.
When I was being locked up in the confinement room (a dark room), I didn’t drink a drop of boiled water or eat any vegetables, nor did I ever eat my fill for a single meal. During that time, whenever I heard footsteps outside the room, a strong desire would arise in my heart—I wanted to be free, to enjoy some sunshine and to meet my brothers. Yet even these had become luxuries for me. Every day I was just like a fool imprisoned in a dark dungeon, not knowing how long I would have to stay there. Gradually, I fell into low spirits and my body was reduced to skin and bones. All I wished was to flee from this dark room, the place that caused me endless pain, as soon as possible. The more I thought this way, the more I became passive, so I hurried to pray to the Lord, saying, “O Lord! You know my weakness, and even more You know my stature. I want to stand witness but now my flesh is too weak to withstand all this. Please give me faith and courage and protect me so that I can hold on to the end.” After praying, I thought of a story about three Jews in the Bible. Because they worshiped Jehovah God instead of the golden image of King Nebuchadnezzar, they were thrown into the midst of a blazing furnace of fire. But in the end, they saw God was there with them and they were safe and sound without a strand of hair being singed—this was all achieved by their faith. Today trapped in this hell on earth, I also should cooperate with the Lord by faith. Even if I were to die, I mustn’t surrender to Satan and humiliate the Lord’s name, nor should I give up on myself as a coward. After that, I began to sing hymns in praise of God. With the Lord beside me, I didn’t feel as painful and depressed as before and the feeling of hunger also evaporated. Thanks to God’s mercy and protection, I was eventually released forty days later. Although at that time I looked all skin and bone like a living dead, I felt fulfilled within my soul and didn’t have any illness. Seeing this, other prisoners all said it was a miracle that I could come out alive, because usually one could only persevere for fifteen days at most after being put in confinement, while I could hold on tenaciously for forty days. I knew this was all thanks to God’s protection.
However, the CCP police still didn’t let me off after I got out of solitary, and continued forcing me to write the reports of thoughts. Again refused by me, they held a meeting, announcing that my sentence would be extended three months as a punishment for my resistance to reform and education. At first, they planned to arrange for me to spin thread in a carpet factory but later decided to have me work in a brickyard. I thought to myself, “My body is very weak now. If they assign me to carry bricks in the brickyard, will I be able to tolerate the heavy labor?” At this thought, I immediately cried out to the Lord, begging Him to make a way out for me. To my surprise, as I arrived at the brickyard, they didn’t have me work in the kiln, but asked me to pasture the sheep. Realizing that it was the Lord’s mercy and protection and that it was Him making a way out for me, I was filled with gratitude to Him. Yet, pasturing the sheep required walking miles every day and, once I did anything unsatisfactory to them, they would abuse and beat me, or even extend my sentence. Because of this, I lived in a state of fear and trepidation every day and had to be cautious in everything I did. Just like this, I led a miserable life whereby I labored like a beast of burden but what I ate was worse than pig or dog food.
Finally, after three years and eight months, I emerged from this demonic prison.
I’ve gained a lot from these ordeals.
During these experiences, I truly appreciated how real the Lord’s love is. It was the Lord who helped me get through the persecution and tribulation time and again and who was always by my side watching over and protecting me. Although my flesh had suffered a lot, I was sated in my spirit, and I experienced the Lord’s almightiness and witnessed the authority and power of His words. Without the guidance and enlightenment of the Lord’s words, I couldn’t imagine how passive and weak I would have been in the face of the CCP’s cruel torture. Without the Lord’s protection and grace, I might have already been tortured to death by the CCP and, without the Lord’s mercy for me, I would not be here today.
Through these experiences, I also see clearly the ugly face of the CCP devil, which in essence is an evil spirit and the demon that opposes God. It repeats the slogans “democracy,” “humanism,” and “freedom of religious belief,” but in secret it lays its murderous hands on Christians, frantically arresting them and torturing them both physically and mentally. This allows me to see clearly the CCP’s hypocritical and evil essence—they put up banners saying, “civilized society,” “protecting the people,” and so on, but oppress the people behind the scenes. Experiencing the CCP’s arrest and persecution has strengthened my faith and resolution to follow the Lord. Although the CCP government is still hunting for Christians, I will never retreat but will continue following the Lord to walk the right path in life.