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Review of From the Jaws of Death— A 78-Year-Old Lady’s Arduous Journey of Believing in God
By Ivan, USA
This film, From the Jaws of Death, in a factual manner, truly shows an arduous process about a 78-year-old lady’s suffering persecution after persecution for believing in God in China. As an atheist party, the CCP has been arresting and persecuting Christians for years. In order to obstruct people from believing and following God, it spreads various rumors which don’t accord with the facts to deceive the public. Under such a circumstance develops this narrative. The plots in the film are derived from the life, authentic and natural, such as: having meetings in the copse and cotton field, readingwith holding a flashlight stealthily at daybreak, and so on. For the sake of better telling the story, the directors compress the plots in the way of speaking aside, perfecting the narrative coherence and making the film more dramatic. And the real performance is deeply rooted in the minds of people.
The heroine, Liu Zhen, who is an ordinary village housewife, acceptedthree years ago. After believing in God, she, who used to be weak and ill, becomes healthy and even able to work in the fields. Through reading God’s words, she changes many views and opinions on matters and becomes positive and optimistic. Seeing her transformation, her family are all in favor of her belief in God. In this way, she is enveloped in the happiness. Unexpectedly, because of her belief in God, she is summoned to the police station by the CCP police three times. On the one hand, the CCP police warn her not to believe in God any longer and force her to put her fingerprint on a letter of guarantee. On the other hand, they threaten and frighten her family, saying that she will be sent into prison if she continues her belief in God, and that it can be worse that she won’t walk out alive from the prison; the welfare of the family will be cancelled; even her grandson’s and granddaughter’s school will be affected. At last, she isn’t set free until being fined 3,000 yuan forcibly by the chief of the police station.
At the sight of these plots, I feel indeed unbelievable. The film which is adopted from a true story, from another aspect, shows us the hardship of Christians’ believing in God under the control of the CCP. Just as Liu Zhen’s words say, “Why does the government of a great country always make a difficulty for an old lady who believes in God?” Though I had heard long ago that liberty of conscience isn’t established in China, I never thought that the CCP should persecute the religious belief to such an extend—they don’t let go of even a 78-year-old lady. What can a 78-year-old lady do?
Although it is just a short film lasting for over one hour, I am touched deeply. There are several points I want to talk about.
The Oppression Brought By the CCP’s Red Domination to the Public
Seeing Liu Zhen’s transformation after believing in God, her husband, son and daughter-in-law all support her faith. Moreover, the three of them are all kindhearted persons. But subsequently they stand on the side of the CCP to block Liu Zhen from believing in God. What causes it? After watching the film, you will find there are lots of resignation and bitter actually within them. By their original desire, they are unwilling to hold Liu Zhen back from believing in God, yet under the pressure of the CCP, they have to keep her from believing in God, which can be recognized absolutely from some plots.
When the village head is taking Liu Zhen before her husband, her husband asks to go to the police station together but is rejected. Liu Zhen and her husband stare at each other shortly when she leaves, and her husband’s anxiety and worry can be seen from his facial expression. From the CCP’s time after time of intimidation, her husband knows that the CCP won’t let Liu Zhen off easily. She has been 78 years old and could lose her life if being put into the jail. Faced with the fierce persecution from the CCP, her husband is afraid, thinking: “In our later years, what we want is nothing more than peace and health. What am I to do if anything happens to her?” So in order to protect Liu Zhen from being arrested, her husband starts to block her from believing in God.
Zhang Liang, Liu Zhen’s son, is dutiful. With regard to his mother’s belief in God, he thinks that nothing is more important than his mother’s good health and mood. However, because of the CCP government’s persecution, his mother is in the danger of being arrested at any time. Since the ancient times it is rare for human life to reach seventy years. As far as he is concerned, he just wishes to keep his mother happy and healthy in her old age. During the three years his mother believes in God, she spent the happiest and fullest time in her life. From her transformation, he realizes it is the right way of life to believe in God, and in his own heart he supports his mother’s belief in God. Nevertheless, as a consequence of the CCP’s threat after threat, he, honest and timid, grows increasingly worried and scared. For the sake of his mother’s security, he begins to prevent his mother from believing in God again and again, although he can notice his mother’s sadness. He is unwilling to do that, but he has to do so because the CCP’s persecution of Christians is too cruel. Thus in order to protect their little family they work so hard to build and keep his mother in safety for the rest of her life, unconsciously he acts as a tool for the CCP.
Chen Xiuying, Liu Zhen’s daughter-in-law, is a great daughter-in-law though she is a little selfish. During the several years Liu Zhen believes in God, she has also seen plenty of. But due to Liu Zhen’s faith, not only does the CCP fine them 3,000 yuan, it also threatens them, saying that the children’s applying to go to university and asking for jobs will be affected if Liu Zhen continues her faith. Besides these, the government will confiscate the land believers in God contracted to work and cancel their cooperative medical insurances. Chen Xiuying also recognizes the fact that the CCP is backing the believers in God into a corner. She is afraid that this family can’t stand such persecution from the CCP if Liu Zhen keeps believing in God. It is a good thing to have faith in God, yet now they live under the regime of the CCP. They can’t fight city hall. Consequently, she has to keep Liu Zhen from believing in God, so as to maintain their little family.
The transformation of the family’s attitude to Liu Zhen’s faith makes people feel a little sad. From their resignation, we gain a better understanding of their unfavourable situation and feel ashamed for the CCP’s despicable acts of persecuting beliefs by means of lies and violence. The three persons—Liu Zhen’s husband, son, and daughter-in-law—represent the Chinese working people. As a matter of fact, lots of her compatriots all have a knowledge of the CCP’s hegemonic regime, yet everyone is angry but doesn’t dare to say anything. How does it happen? You will get it after knowing the CCP’s means against all dissidents. The words of Zhang Liang in the film, “Mom, I can understand all you said. I know believing in God is a good thing. But this is the fact that the Communist Party is still in power, and it doesn’t let off anyone who believes in God and even persecutes him. If you persist in believing in God, how can we spend our current days?” show the truth, as well as the misery of Chinese people.
Having No Way to Go Under the Pressure
Faced with the pressure from the CCP, the family, the outward mock, slander and supervisory control, this 78-year-old lady falls into great anguish. At home, the book of God’s words she reads is confiscated, and she is unable to, attend meetings, or get in touch with other Christians. In addition, the police always go to their house to disturb them. On the outside, she has to bear the muttering, pointing and hissing from the villagers. What’s more, the police put a tail on her. Owing to the CCP’s threat, her son asks her husband to watch her and not permit her out of the house alone. … Driven to the desperation by these pressure, she has nowhere to turn and can only often shed tears secretly and give thought to God. Though she has gotten through so much pressure from outside sources by relying on God’s words, she knows deeply in her heart: As long as she continues believing in God, the CCP’s persecution will never stop, and her family will also keep blocking her from following God. Nevertheless, she knows more clearly that if she abandons God, she is incapable of living at all without God’s supply; even if she drags on from day to day, her body is just a carcass. In the dilemma, this 78-year-old lady reaches an impasse. The story reaches such a point, as if it comes to a dead end. Without any hope or a path, it seems that the only thing waiting for her is death.
Then, the film works up to the climax. On a quiet evening, death is really approaching her. Suddenly, she becomes unconscious. 18 hours later, the doctor diagnoses that she is hopeless and advises her family to make a preparation for her funeral. The news makes her family who have blocked her from believing in God for one year sink into extreme suffering and self-accusation. Over this last year or so, the three of them saw how painfully and oppressively Liu Zhen lived. Though feeling terrible, they could do nothing. Seeing that Liu Zhen will never wake up, Zhang Liang loses control and starts crying. His mother has worked her life away and hasn’t enjoyed life. Even now when old, she just wants to have faith in God and read God’s words, but she is unable to get such a little freedom because of the CCP’s persecution. Zhang Liang is very regretful and blames himself: I should not listen to the CCP police to prevent my mother from believing in God; now due to my obstructions, my mother will pass away with regret and grief. If she dies in this way, I won’t forgive myself for life.
A Miracle Occurred
If the film came to an end in this way, it wouldn’t be worth mentioning. The magical point is that the 78-year-old lady comes to life unexpectedly after 18 hours’ dead faint. Even the doctor who has worked for over twenty years can’t help but call it a miracle repeatedly. The words of the doctor, “I have never met such a medical case of illness. But for my seeing it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t dare believe this is true,” add the mystery to the story. Rising up from the dead, which should only happen in films, is truly acted on this ordinaryin the . This experience witnesses almighty God’s authority and power and shows us the true meaning of the words “Life and death are determined by fate; riches and honors come from Heaven.” That man’s life is fated by Heaven is true. All believers in God know that life and death, fortune and misfortune are all in the hands of God; no matter how savage Satan is, it’s still incapable of changing anything.
Through Liu Zhen’s personal experience, Liu Zhen’s family, who have been being threaten by the CCP and deceived by its rumors, see God’s deeds and are conquered by God’s great power. They realize the One Liu Zhen believes in is indeed the one and only God who created the heavens, earth and all things because only God possesses such authority and power. At that moment, they are astounded. I believe that from then on they won’t keep Liu Zhen from believing in God any more no matter how the CCP persecutes. Is there anything more heartshaking than seeing such a miracle with our own eyes. It reminds me that the resurrection of Lazarus glorifies God, which is recorded in the. At that time, Lazarus had already died for four days, but the Lord still made him come to life (see John 11). This is the manifestation of God’s identity.
God Gave Her A Second Life
From the Jaws of Death is about a peculiar narrative. The film interprets the story from two angles. On the one hand, it is Liu Zhen’s death and resurrection, just like what we have seen. For a 78-year-old lady, this is a miracle. It is God who gives her a second life. This testimony overturns lots of people’s opinions. At the meantime, it allows us to realize that our fates are all controlled by God, which is completely beyond doubt. On the other hand, since the CCP’s evil hands have stretched out for Liu Zhen, persecution after persecution inflicted upon her makes her live on the brink of death every day. Every hindrance and persecution is like a battle of life and death for her. Especially the pressure from her family agonizes her. Without standing her ground, she could abandon her faith at any time. I believe every Christian has first-hand knowledge of that kind of sadness for losing God. Frankly speaking, Liu Zhen’s surviving under such environment enables me to see God’s wondrous deeds.
From the warmth and happiness at the beginning of the film to the depression and sadness in the middle, and then to the happy ending at last, the plots are interlocked and gripping. Short as it is, it puts across very well the reason why the CCP persecutes Christians, and why God has not destroyed the CCP though it resists God so wildly and persecutes Christians so cruelly. Whether for having a knowledge of the reality of religious persecution in China or for experiencing God’s almightiness and sovereignty, From the Jaws of Death is a film worth watching.
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