Standing Firm to Follow the Lord Until the End

By Zhansheng

When in primary school, I believed in the Lord with my parents. That was just the time of the Great Cultural Revolution, when the CCP government declared all believers in the Lord Jesus as doing superstitious activities and disturbing the social order. Because of this, the local church deacons and elders were all made to wear tall hats (a tall conical hat made out of paper) and then brought to every village to parade through the streets; besides, the CCP held special meetings to criticize them and wantonly propagated “Beating all ghosts and monsters down and banning all belief activities of believers in God.” Owing to such oppression, over thirty believers in Jesus in our village had to attend one meeting every over one month. My home was a gathering point. Generally, not until the evening when others all fell asleep, did we start to have a meeting. Although we were restricted by the CCP, all of us would be present in every gathering, with full of brothers and sisters in my bedroom and living room.

After 1982, the CCP gave freedom of faith in name. However, it must be permitted by local governments to set up gathering points of the Three-Self, and during the period of the meeting, government people would come to speak about policies and establish institutions. For example, believers were not allowed to arrange gathering points in private; otherwise, they were said to be attending meetings unlawfully: At best they would be fined, while at worst they would be sentenced to hard labor. Besides, every time believers had a meeting in the church, the government would arrange for people to monitor, so the contents of sermons had to be restricted. Seeing these, I thought: How is that believing in God? Isn’t this believing in the national government? Not only does the CCP strictly control our meetings, but they even monitor the contents of our sermons. Where after all is the freedom of faith? In the end, we, around a dozen believers, left the Three-Self church and established a house church after praying and seeking. We ourselves arranged the time of gatherings and chose the contents of our sermons according to our requirements, no longer being monitored by the CCP’s informers. During this time, the CCP had been persecuting the house churches and arresting the sisters and brothers from house churches all the time. Once arrested, the believers had to wear a sign round their necks on which was written the word “anti-revolution,” and be forced to parade everywhere through the streets; also, they would be criticized in big meetings and questioned: “Will you still believe in your Lord Jesus?” If the brothers and sisters clung to their belief in the Lord, they would be cruelly beaten; however, they all pressed on in their faith in God. For this reason, many Christians were sentenced to prison for from seven years to ten years. I was very indignant to see these: You repeatedly claim that everyone enjoys freedom of belief, while in reality, lots of Christians are persecuted by you so that they are separated from their wives and children and can’t go back home, or they are sentenced to prison. Afterwards, in order to avoid the persecution and arrest of the CCP and much more to be able to meet together to worship God normally, the brothers and sisters dug tunnels underneath the house into each other’s house, so as to make it easy for us to attend meetings.

Although we were cautious about attending every meeting, yet the arrests of the CCP befell me. One evening, in August, 1987, I went out for a meeting. When I had just reached the gathering point I saw cops coming to make the arrests. Therefore, I quickly hid the Bible and the spiritual books, yet the cops found them. When questioned, “Whose book is this?” I said, “It is mine,” for fear of other brothers and sisters being involved. At that moment, a cop angrily said, “You are disturbing the social order. Illegally attending meetings is forbidden by the state.” Then, not allowing me to speak, he gave me a kick to make me kneel on the floor, took out rope to truss me up tightly and escorted me out of the room; the host sister was taken together. The cars of the CCP cops were outside our village. I was bound tightly with the rope that I ached unbearably, so I walked fast, thinking that it could reduce my pain. The vicious cop, seeing me walking fast, said, “We can bind you all to death with impunity. Walk so fast. It looks like the rope isn’t tight enough. Let me tighten your rope again.” I, gritting my teeth and enduring pain, walked before the car with difficulty; yet they said, “You’re so strong. Tighten your rope again.” With these words, they tightened the rope once again, so that this time the rope stuck into my flesh, which made me in unbearable pain. I really couldn’t hold on, so I prayed to the Lord in my heart. At this point, the Lord led me to remember His word, “Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:11–12). At that moment, I understood the Lord’s will, and I felt assured and peaceful instead of feeling so pained. Once arriving at the local police station, I was locked in an empty house. Because the rope was too tight, I couldn’t lift up my head and felt as if my waist were breaking. Seeing my head bent, the vicious cops thought that I was praying, and said, “Here, you actually dare pray. Tighten your rope again.” As a result, the rope was tightened once again. Just then, I heard the sister arrested together with me crying loudly in pain, for the rope was tightened by the evil cops.

Not until I was taken to the house of detention, did the vicious cops untie the rope. As my arms were tied too tightly, when they were loosened, I found my hands without any feeling. I felt much pain within, thinking to myself: I’m so young but become disabled, and need to endure such great sufferings. How will I lead my life in the future? Thinking of this, I was burning with anger in my heart, and my hatred of the CCP, the evil party, reached its peak. It’s right and proper for man to believe in God. I neither murdered nor set fire but was actually tortured to that extent; what right did the CCP cops have to do this? In pain, I prayed to God, “The Lord! I’m very weak. Beg You to give me strength, so that I can bear testimony for You.” After praying, I thought of the Lord’s word, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10). The Lord’s word encouraged me greatly. I couldn’t help remembering that, for the sake of redeeming mankind, the Lord Jesus was scourged and shamed by soldiers, and was finally nailed on the cross with His precious blood dripping dry drop by drop for mankind. While I was thinking about this, I instantly had strength in my heart: I will repay the Lord’s love. No matter how much pain I have to suffer, I will take the way of the cross unswervingly and will never leave God.

The leaders of the police station saw my arms were disabled but said, “You are so young. What else can’t you do? Why do you believe in God? As your arms are disabled, your wife will no longer be with you after you go home. You yourself can’t support your children, so they won’t look after you when they grow up. You’d better not believe in God any longer so as not to suffer more hardships.” At his words, I was in great indignation, thinking: Isn’t all this caused by you? But you shifted the blame and responsibility onto God. You’re really calling white black.

In the period of four months in the house of detention, I couldn’t take care of myself because of my disabled arms. Every time I ate, a brother in the Lord placed my bowl on the cement board in front of me. I first bowed my head to drink soup slowly with my mouth, and in order to get the soup from the bottom of the bowl, I had to tip the bowl slightly by holding the bowl in my mouth, setting it against the wall, and pouring the soup into my mouth; also, with steamed bread put between my two legs, I lowered my head to eat it little by little; furthermore, when I went to the toilet, the brother in jail helped me take off and put on my trousers. Seeing I was unable to look after myself, the vicious cops said to me, “Look. Now you can’t take care of yourself. Why don’t see your God look after you?” Hearing these words, I indignantly said, “God has created the Heavens and earth and all things to provide for us human beings, so we can survive until today. God is the dearest.” After hearing my words, the vicious cops angrily said, “In the future, we won’t allow prisoners to help you. We will see how you can live.”

Afterwards, in the trial, the CCP cops forcefully questioned me, “Who has been in contact with you? To how many people have you preached the gospel by now? Who gave these books to you? …” With these words, they took out various instruments of torture to threaten me, saying, “If you don’t tell the truth, you will wait to suffer. Although you have been disabled, we still won’t let you off.” At his insane words, I couldn’t help but shiver with cold and thought within: These cops are lawless and can do anything. Will they really treat me with instruments of torture? Now I have been disabled, and if they torture me again, can I continue to live? The more I thought, the more afraid I felt. All that I could do was to unceasingly cry to God in my heart. I asked God to give me the confidence and determination to suffer, so that I could overcome all misery and would never be a Judas and betray God. At that moment, the Lord’s words rang in my ears: “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). Oh! My soul is in God’s hands. They can persecute only my flesh. The Lord’s words increased my strength and thus I no more feared to suffer cruel torture. As a result, in the following trial, no matter how they questioned and threatened me, I didn’t reveal the things about the church.

They saw me not yield to their despotic power, and then used a more treacherous way to induce me. Several days later, when they brought me to trial, they suddenly said to me with smiles, “Don’t you miss your family? Hurry to tell us and you will be able to go back home to meet your family. There is a lot of farming work in your home which you need to do. …” After a while, two cops about my age came in and said to me, “Look. We are much of an age; however, we have our jobs and our salary, while what advantage can you get in believing in God? Besides, you now have become this way. Is it worthwhile?” I thanked the Lord’s protection. I was very clear to realize that this was Satan’s trick: They were using such a way to weaken me and let me betray the Lord. They were truly too contemptible and sinister. So I didn’t respond to them. In the following several trials, thanks to God’s protection, they didn’t get any information about the church from me.

In four months in the detention house, my brothers gave me much help with my life. Under the leadership and inspiration of the Lord, I no longer feared the CCP’s affliction to my flesh, but I still often worried about my own future life, especially when seeing myself without the basic ability of living. I thought: If I’m set free and go home, will my wife despise me, finding me like this? I’m the main labor force in my family, but now I can hardly support myself. I, alive, am an encumbrance to my family, let alone support my family, so how will my whole family live? The more I thought, the more worried I felt, the more I had the idea of wanting to die. My heart was extremely hurt. Just then, I thought of the Lord’s word, “Therefore I say to you, Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature?” (Matthew 6:25–27). The Lord’s word brought me the hope of living. My future fate is in the Lord’s hands. There is no need for me to worry about that. What I will eat and wear in the future, the Lord has arranged for me early. I am willing to give my entirety to God.

Four months later, the CCP charged me with “propagating reactionary booklets” and had me put my fingerprints on the documents. Only in this way could I go home. I was on board with this and said, “I have read the two books several times, the Bible and Spiritual Hymns of Praise, in which there’s nothing about opposing the CCP at all. However, you ask me to put my fingerprints on the documents to admit that I’m sinful. I never agree.” Eventually, they could do nothing to me. Over a period of time, I was back home.

In this experience of the persecution of the CCP, my flesh suffered some pain but the Lord had never left me. When I was weak, pained and helpless, the Lord’s words had been leading me and thus I penetrated Satan’s tricks and stood testimony. I have made the determination: No matter what affliction and persecution from the CCP I must face on the way of the cross in the future, I will stand firm to follow the Lord until the end!

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