By Xin Lu
My name is Xin Lu. And this year, I am 62 years old. Three generations of my family all believe in God. Ever since I can remember, my brothers and sisters and I have believed in God with our parents. Jesus taught us that we ought to take up the cross, love our neighbor as ourselves, love our enemies, and have forbearance, patience, and forgiveness toward others. Accordingly, following faithfully the teachings of God, our whole family are benevolent and never quarrel with others. All our neighbors say, “You believers in God are really good people.” However, after the commencement of the Four Cleanups Movement (clean up politics, economy, organization and ideology), our three generations were persecuted brutally by the CCP government.
As the Four Cleanups Movement began in 1964, the CCP government, waving the flag of maintenance of state power, fabricated rumors and whipped up public opinion, with slogans and big-character posters plastered across the country, saying that the Catholic Church was the penetration of foreign influence, attempting to overthrow the authority of the state. Later, we believers were abused inhumanely and repressed bloodily by the CCP. Even the children under the age of 10 years couldn’t escape. The whole of China was in turbulence at that period. Zhang, the Village Secretary, framed us, saying that we established an organization called the Rose Association, within which my mother and our church friend Wang were pillars. So he put the label of “active counterrevolutionary” on them. Besides, my grandma and father were labeled as one of “the four kinds of elements” (landlords, rich peasants, counterrevolutionaries, and bad elements).
Every night, Zhang would hold a general meeting of commune members. He shouted the names of my grandma and parents. Then each of them, one by one, was tugged up to the platform to be attacked and whopped. To torture them, two young and robust goons of the CCP forced them to bend their heads, twisted their arms behind their backs, and then forced them to raise their arms high like flying birds. After a while, their strengths gave way and they pitched on their heads before the public. Just then, several goons rushed forward and lashed them repeatedly about the head with V-belts, snarling ferociously, “How dare you oppose the Communist Party! How dare you hate the Communist Party! Go to hell, you reactionaries!” Meanwhile, Zhang yelled to confuse the masses below the platform, “All of those Catholics are having illicit relations with foreign countries and attempting to subvert the state. Every time they say the rosary, a Communist will be eliminated.” At the instigation of the CCP government, the masses followed to shout abuse as well. Bruised and lacerated, my grandma and parents were writhing on the ground. Hearing their agonized cries, I felt as if thousands of arrows were through my heart, and for two pins I’d fight against those ruffians. But I couldn’t, because I was a Catholic, and furthermore, I was only a child. I could but close my eyes and hang my head to choke back my tears, yet I failed. Not until those goons worn out to fight anymore was the beating over. Then they ordered my grandma and parents to kneel down again and continued the attack. At that time, Zhang’s hoarse shouts and invective resounded in the entire meeting place.
One day, after midnight, the struggle session was over. My elder brother and I assisted our injured grandma home, inch by inch. When we were back, my elder brother bent over the table and sobbed his heart out. Seeing my grandma’s drawn countenance and massive injuries, I couldn’t stop the tears flowing from my eyes. Just when I was overwhelmed with sorrow, the teachings of Heavenly Father occurred to me: “But I say to you, That you resist not evil: but whoever shall smite you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue you at the law, and take away your coat, let him have your cloak also. And whoever shall compel you to go a mile, go with him two” (Matthew 5:39–41). Remembering God’s words and His love toward us, I felt a bit relieved: We are sinners; we should tread where He had trod and suffer what He had suffered. It’s glorious for our family to suffer for God.
Zhang, under the instruction of the CCP government, not only attacked and beat up my grandma and parents, but compelled them to get up early to sweep the streets and do heavy farm work. At that time, an able-bodied adult could dig an acre of corn stubble every day, while they each were demanded to dig an acre and a half, and could only get 150 or 200 grams of food. In order to fill my belly, every noon, while others were having a rest, I picked some leaves to eat. In summer, without clothes, I had to strip to the waist. As a result, my scrawny body was burned dark by the sun. In winter, we had no quilted jackets, and all of my family could only cover ourselves with a worn blanket at night in a house that could not keep out wind and rain. It seemed the painful times would never end, and we didn’t have any expectations, which made me overcome with a feeling of utter despair. However, even so, the CCP government stitched white strips of cloth reading “A Counter Revolutionary” on the clothes on my parents’ and grandma’s backs, parading them through the streets with signs that read “A Counter Revolutionary” on their breasts. The mental torment was far more grievous than the physical persecution, making me unable to breathe.
Late one night it was 2 am, and the attack had been over, but my parents still didn’t return. Then, my little brother, not yet one year old, was awoken by hunger and began to howl on the kang bed (a kang is a kind of stove, which is heated by means of a furnace and casts all its heat into it). My elder brother and I waited and waited for our parents, yet they didn’t come back, so we went out to look for them. As we were outside, we felt the night was eerily silent. A waning moon hid behind the clouds as if it could not bear to watch the tragedy in the world. In the endless dusk, we searched through streets, yet failed to find them. At last, there seemed to be two figures under a persimmon tree outside the village. When we got closer, we heard our parents sobbing. As soon as they saw us, they wept more broken-heartedly. My mother whimpered, “Our life is over. The devil has pushed us over the brink …” “Our little brother still needs to suck; if you leave us, how could we go on living?” my elder brother choked. At that moment, we truly felt we had been sent to our doom. Nobody knew how much longer we had to endure this life before it ended. Our whole family could but weep in each other’s arms, teardrops of my mother wetting my clothes. Seeing they were persecuted by the CCP, but I was powerless to help, I felt a burst of desolation hitting me. At the most painful, helpless, weakest time, we could only pray to God for protection as well as encourage each other, and therefore we survived strongly.
After a few years, because I insisted on believing in God, Zhang sent me to ditch on the most bitter, tiring, and dangerous front line. We needed to dig a tunnel 27 meters below the ground, and the tunnel was 4 meters in height. After blasting, the roof of the tunnel was crooked. It seemed the stones would fall off at any time, which made me extremely shuddering and terrified. As we were working, several air drills operated together, making my ears sing. Additionally, dust as well as stones raised by air drills was like a dense fog, and we became “white” men in the twinkling of an eye. Even so, we should do our damnedest to work, for if we were less nimble, the taskmaster would hit us right in the face with a stick. After more than ten hours’ work, my clothes were wet through with sweat, and mixed with stones and dust raised by the air drills, nearly causing me a clay figure. And before long, I caught a respiratory disease. Some people just worked here for a day and walked off; some sloped off by night. Workers came and went in waves, but Zhang said that I was the descendant of counterrevolutionaries, so he forced me to keep on working. Afterward, the roof of the tunnel caved in on us. Everyone was sent to hospital for treatment except me. And the taskmaster growled, “Lie up for a few days, and you’ll be fine.” After a week, I still couldn’t be up and about, and therefore I begged to be taken to a hospital for examination. He said darkly, “If the examination shows no disease, tomorrow, you must start work. And you pay all the medical expenses.” I reluctantly agreed. Then he drove the donkey cart, and took me to hospital. After having an X-ray, I saw the case report form read “fracture of the third and fourth lumbar vertebra.” The doctor asked how long I had been injured. I answered, “A week.” He said, “Why didn’t you undergo treatment in time? You might be maimed.” I was sad after hearing his words. The taskmaster saw me become a disabled person, so he sent me home. Workpoints of other workers injured in the industrial accident were recorded during the convalescence, and the taskmaster distributed flour and nourishment to them, while he shut his eyes to me after sending me home. My father inquired about it, and yet was attacked severely in the struggle session. In this way, my family were tortured in a living death. Many times I cried out in my heart: What on earth have we who believe in God done wrong? What law have we actually violated? I felt very puzzled. And I was bathed in tears every day, feeling so grieved that I didn’t want to live. At that time, our life had been very hard, and then it was compounded by my disabilities and private treatment. Unable to stand the torment from the CCP government, my grandma fell seriously ill shortly afterward, and she passed away due to having no money for treatment. For the same reason, my lumbar vertebrae became so deformed that I have difficulty walking up to now.
In retrospect, I still have a lingering fear. Nevertheless, in these tribulations, we Chinese believers have distinguished between good and evil. Moreover, our love, forbearance, faith, and hope are created as well. Thank God!