By Shi Chuan
On May 17, 1985, I got back home after a morning shift from the coal mine. When I had just finished breakfast, the township public security officer came to my house. He said that the police from the Municipal Public Security Bureau came for me because of my belief in God and he asked me to go with him. At that time, my wife was so scared that she cried, saying, “Our child is so young. What should I do if you are imprisoned?” Hearing her words, I couldn’t help but shed bitter tears. The township public security officer urged me, “Stop! Hurry up! They are waiting for you outside.” I had no choice but to follow him. Outside the village, I saw two police in a three-wheeled police vehicle with a side-car attached to it. One of them said fiercely, “We are police. Come with us!” Then they pulled me into the side-car violently without any explanation, and said to me intimidatingly, “Behave! Don’t try any tricks, or I’ll treat you badly!” Thus, I was taken to the Municipal Public Security Bureau.
In the Public Security Bureau, they, one on each side, grasped my arms to go upstairs. As soon as I got on the second floor, I heard blood-curdling screams and the sound of furious beating. The screams were very lamentable. I listened carefully and found it seemed like the voice of a brother whom I knew. At once I was startled and became nervous: I might be the next one to be beaten. I hurried to cry out to the Lord silently, “O Lord! Now I have fallen into the hands of the CCP government. Please give me faith and strength. O Lord! I can only lean on You, You are my strong Rock.” After the prayer, I was much calmer. After taking me into an interrogation room, they first took away my belt, and then asked me to take off my shoes and sit on the floor with legs extended. There were four police officers in total. One was in charge of interrogating me, one writing down the statement, and the rest torturing me. Seeing their wolfish likeness, I thought of the words the Lord Jesus said to His disciples, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the middle of wolves: be you therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will whip you in their synagogues; And you shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles” (Matthew 10:16–18). The words of the Lord opened my understanding, allowing me to understand: Now it is time for me to bear witness to the Lord. Ordinarily I have been crying out to love the Lord and suffer for Him. Today it is the time for the Lord to test my faith. At this crucial time, I’ll act according to His words and use wisdom to deal with the police to bear witness to Him. I will absolutely not be Judas, the betrayer of the Lord. Then, the police, in charge of interrogating me, asked, “Do you know for what reason you are taken here?” I replied, “I don’t know.” He said viciously, “You don’t know? You really don’t know what you have done?” I said, “I really don’t know.” He pounded on the table with eyes open wide and said fiercely, “Don’t feign ignorance. We have made inquiries and we are clear about your belief in God and illegal gatherings. It doesn’t matter even if you say nothing. We can still sentence you without evidence!” After hearing these words, I immediately thought of the words of the Lord Jesus, “But let your communication be, Yes, yes; No, no: for whatever is more than these comes of evil” (Matthew 5:37). I also thought of the words in Proverbs 13:3, “He that keeps his mouth keeps his life: but he that opens wide his lips shall have destruction.” Then I thought to myself: Yes! I’ll listen to the Lord’s words to be an honest person. If I don’t know, I’ll say I don’t know. Besides, I should keep my mouth shut, lest I fall into Satan’s scheme. So I shook my head at him and said nothing.
Seeing me say nothing, the police tried another way at once—asking me to identify others. The police showed me a list of names and asked, “Do you know these people?” I looked at it and found they were names of my sisters in the church, so I said, “Yes. They are all believers in the Lord.” Yet they burst out laughing, coming out with some verbal abuse which was really unbearable to hear. Upon hearing their words, I felt greatly humiliated. Weren’t they insulting us believers in the Lord? I was so indignant in my heart that I said in stern righteousness, “Don’t insult us believers. We keep the law and the commandments of God. We gather to worship God and seek the right way of life. It is heaven’s law and earth’s principle for us to worship God, and this is unobjectionable. The constitution expressly stipulates that the citizens have freedom of religion. Why does the government persecute us believers in the Lord? Isn’t this deliberately breaking the law? …” Before I could finish speaking, the police interrogating me said, “The Communist Party is the law. You must submit even if you aren’t willing to! Here! Show him something hard! How dare he believe in the Lord!” Then the evil police ran over all together and punched and kicked me. And an evil policeman slapped me on both cheeks as hard as he could. I felt my face swelled up immediately; I was bleeding from my nose and mouth; my head was ringing. Another evil policeman kept striking me with an electric baton, which was giving off light with zapping and popping noises. As soon as it touched my body, I began to tremble from head to foot. The electric baton branded red dots one after another on my body and some of my skin was burned. I was so scared that I wanted to evade it but I couldn’t. Then an evil policeman ferociously kicked me in the legs with his leather shoes, shouting, “We’ll see if you still dare to believe in the Lord! How dare you believe!” I felt as if my legs were broken. They didn’t stop until they were tired. I was so badly beaten that I went limp on the floor, unable to move. I was very weak in my heart: Having fallen into the hands of the CCP devils today, can I get out alive? At that moment, God’s love didn’t leave me. The words of the Lord echoed in my ears, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever will save his life shall lose it: and whoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:24–25) and “You shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of” (Mark 10:39). The words of the Lord showed me the direction. I thought: The suffering I endure today has been long ago endured by the Lord Jesus. The Lord was crucified on the cross in order to take on the sins of man. So great His love is. Those disciples who followed Him were martyred for the sake of bearing witness to Him. And they were approved by Him. Today since I believe in the Lord, I should give up my life to follow Him and bear good witness to Him. I will absolutely not be a cowardly Judas, the betrayer of the Lord. Thinking of these, I had strength all over, and slowly I tried hard to sit up.
Seeing me sit up, the police tried another way again—forcing me to squat. They pulled me up and asked me to squat and extend my arms on which they put an electric baton—they tortured me by having me squat. At first I could hold on for a moment, but after a while, I couldn’t go on. I was sweating all over, my legs were trembling, and my arms lost balance, such that I swayed and fell on the floor. At that moment, the evil police ran over all together and then beat me violently again. One of them even grasped my hair and kept hurling my head against the wall. I felt as if my head split open. My head was muddled and swimming, and my ears were filled with humming. After beating me, they forced me to go on squatting, threatening me, “Let’s see how long you can hold on. Still not talking? We can take turns keeping torturing you.” Just as he was speaking, another four police came in. It was past twelve o’clock at night at the time. It seemed they wanted to carry out “wheel combat” on me. When seeing that, I became a little weak, and didn’t know how they would torture me. The more I thought, the weaker I was. All of a sudden, I felt my state was not right. I quickly prayed to God, “O Lord! You know my weakness, and You know my stature is small, too. O Lord! May You help me, for I can’t take it much longer. O Lord! I beg You to guide me to stand firm with strength.” At that time, the words of the Lord occurred to me, “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. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear you not therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:28–31). The words of the Lord gave me strength. I thought: My life is in God’s hands. However cruel and malicious the CCP is, they can do nothing to me without God’s permission. Even if the CCP tortures my flesh to death, my soul still belongs to God. What do I have to fear since I have God’s care and protection? From then on, I didn’t care for my flesh, nor did I worry about severe punishment or death. Instead, I was watchful at all times and kept an eye on every move of them, for fear that I would be tricked by Satan and thus betray God. They still punished me by having me squat. Every time I couldn’t support myself and fell down to the floor, I would be beaten up. After being tortured by them repeatedly like this for more than ten hours from 4:00 in the afternoon to 8:00 in the morning of the next day, I had been completely exhausted such that I fell on the floor and could no longer stand up. At that time, I thought of a passage of verses in the Bible, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:7–9). Lying on the icy floor, I greatly felt comfortableness and peace at the thought of these words. The evil police saw that they didn’t get anything from me through such a long time of interrogation, and they didn’t sleep all night long either and got tired of beating me, so they stopped. Relying on the power of the Lord, I eventually overcame the cruel tortures of the CCP.
When the police of the CCP realized that taking a hard line wasn’t working, they switched to employing softer tactics. A policeman came to me and helped me sit up. Seeing my dry lips, he said hypocritically, “Are you thirsty? Let me get a glass of water for you.” While speaking, he fetched me a glass of plain boiled water. At that time, I was so thirsty that I picked up the glass and emptied it in a gulp. Then I felt comfortable and no longer nervous. Glancing down, I saw my clothes were covered in white sweat stains and mud, and realized I had sweated a lot last night, and actually had been tortured by them to such an extent. At this moment, I realized it was God who showed mercy for my weakness and gave me a glass of water to drink, through the police. I thanked the Lord for His love silently in my heart. At the same time, I was full of hatred for the CCP. But what could I, short and thin, do before the evil police? I had no choice but to bury my fury at the bottom of my heart. Then I thought of the words in the Bible, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Then I thought: Yes! For the sake of the glorious hope for the future, I must bear the temporary affliction before me. Thinking of these, I had consolation in my heart at once. At that time, the police pretended to be concerned about me and said, “You are so young. You can do anything else, but why do you believe in the Lord? What good will believing in the Lord do for you? It can neither give you money, nor put food on your table, and what’s more, the government opposes it. What is it all for? Is it worth suffering like this? Even I feel a kind of sympathy for you. You are too hard headed. Can’t you be flexible? Can’t you say you don’t believe anymore?” After hearing this, I immediately thought of the words of the Lord Jesus, “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). The words of the Lord made me have discernment. I thought: It turns out that he wants me to betray God by saying that. If I don’t acknowledge the name of the Lord before men, God won’t acknowledge me in the future. Thus won’t I have believed in vain? It turns out that he is the servant of Satan who comes to deceive me. I can’t be fooled by him. So I answered firmly, “I firmly believe in the Lord. This is my freedom of belief. No one else has the right to interfere. My belief in the Lord doesn’t mean I don’t work or eat. Instead, I walk the right path of life as a citizen who observes disciplines and abides by law. How could it be wrong?” He said slyly, “You are still too young to know the modern history of the world. What you believe in is the traditional culture of the western ancient Greece. It isn’t suited to China’s national conditions. The religious beliefs, like a kind of spiritual opium, are used to numb Chinese people, so that after believing in the Lord, people lose their will to fight, unable to stand up to defend the invasion of the foreign countries. This is a plot with which the western countries attempt to carve up China. So the Chinese government must take strong measures and intensify efforts to restrict and abolish religious beliefs. Do you understand?” I answered, “We believers don’t participate in politics. Man is created by God. Everyone should worship the true God. This is heaven’s law and earth’s principle. So, religion has no borders. As long as it is the true way, mankind should believe in it regardless of whether it is foreign or domestic. God is the Lord who saves mankind and makes mankind live in harmony on earth. So, He has no intrigue, nor does He want to numb the spirits of mankind. Instead, He is leading mankind to walk the right path of life.” He said disappointedly, “You are really stubborn. It seems you have been assimilated. Well, let’s say something else. Even if you fear nothing for believing in the Lord, don’t you consider your descendants? If you are sentenced, they will be implicated. Such as joining the army, entering a higher school, joining the Party, being promoted to cadre, and so on—these will all be canceled. Don’t you think about such big matters? What’s more, your wife is so young and your child is so little, and you are the head of the family. Do you have the heart to let them live without support? If it were up to me, you would just confess and then you would go home. Think about that carefully.” I was somewhat shaken by his words, for the people I was concerned about most were my wife and my child. How would they live if I wasn’t at home? So I thought: Or … I agreed with him first. It will be still good if I believe in my heart but I say I won’t believe … Just when I was hesitating, the words of the Lord came to me, “He that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that takes not his cross, and follows after me, is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37–38). “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). The Lord’s words of warning startled me: Doesn’t the thought just now mean I will compromise with Satan? Satan is so cunning. It attacks me through my weakness. I’m almost deceived by it. Ordinarily I harped upon my love for God. Nevertheless, the fact proves that I don’t have a heart that loves God at all. Thanks to the words of the Lord, they woke me up in time, so that I didn’t fall into the trap of Satan. I prayed to the Lord silently in my heart, “O Lord! Thank You. You know my weakness and immaturity. May You show tolerance and mercy on me, not remembering my sins and foolishness and ignorance. I’m willing to follow You forever and never deny Your name. O Lord! I beg You to not forsake me. May You continue to lead and guide me. Amen.” As praying, I was so moved that I shed tears constantly.
After a while, that policeman saw that tears were running down my face, and thought I had regretted my previous decision, so he hurriedly came to ask me, “Well? Have you thought things over properly?” I answered courageously, “Yes, I have. It’s like I’ve said: I’ll believe in the Lord as always.” Upon these words, he was so angry that he began to tremble and said between his teeth, “How dare you still believe! Then you shall not leave here!” As he said these words, he pulled one of my ears and twisted hard until it was bleeding. I felt as if my ear fell off and the pain was beyond endurance. He yelled while twisting my ear, “You wanna believe! Believe this! Don’t think we can’t condemn you without your criminal facts. The central government has long ago issued an order that the robbers and swindlers can be given a light sentence, but you believers in God must be punished severely….” Seeing that he was so angry and mad, I felt laughable and wasn’t shaken by his despotic power in the slightest. Then, he shouted at the top of his voice, “Take him out! I’ll escalate the torture of him!” Soon, two policemen came. They handcuffed me, took me downstairs, and pushed me in a tumbrel. They conveyed me to the Municipal Detention Center and locked me up in a prison cell for interrogation. After a long period of interrogation and investigation, even though having no proof, finally, the CCP fabricated something out of thin air and forcibly sentenced me to 13 years’ imprisonment on trumped-up charges, and sent me to a Reform-through-Labour Detachment to serve my sentence. Thus, I was persecuted by the CCP for belief in the Lord and put into prison for 13 years on an unjust charge.
When I was in prison, a brother, my fellow prisoner, died there because when he had a cerebral hemorrhage, the CCP didn’t give him treatment. His wife married again, and his son was left an orphan. As a result, his family was torn apart and destroyed. During my imprisonment, my wife was harassed by scoundrels many times, her parents repeatedly forced her to divorce me and marry another man, and my child was often bullied by others. After I came out of prison, I didn’t have a good reputation because I had been in prison. I wanted to find a job, but no one wanted me. So I led a difficult life. All these sufferings were caused by the CCP. If it were not for God’s care and protection, I would have long ago perished. However, the CCP boasted shamelessly and threatened the young preachers in the house churches, “See! Even though Shi Chuan (they refer to me) didn’t break the law, we still sentenced him. Whoever of you dare to preach here will get the same end as him. Anyone who opposes the Communist Party will come to no good end.” Because of their threat, some preachers didn’t dare to come to the church anymore. The CCP has wildly banned Christianity, and abused, slaughtered, and insulted Christians. Under its cruel persecution, many Christians have died unjustly; many Christians cannot return home, taking flight outside their hometown; moreover, many parents have lost their children, many children have lost their parents, and many families have fallen apart; even some Christians are still ravaged in jail by the CCP today. The sins of the CCP are piled up to heaven, too numerous to count; ultimately it must suffer God’s righteous punishment!