Farewell in That Late Autumn - Christian Persecution Testimonies
One day in Autumn, Qiuli’s eldest son, squatting on the floor, was blowing hard into a heap of firewood wet with rain in the kitchen range. With a rush of thick smoke, he was choked, coughing and rubbing his eyes with his hand. Then he closed his eyes, fanning the dense smoke and continuing blowing. Suddenly, the flame emitted from the kitchen range, he withdrew his head instinctively….
Qiuli, dragging her ailing body, came with a stagger. When she saw the scene of her son cooking, a spasm of sadness welled up in her heart. Three months ago, Qiuli’s whole family gathered with the brothers and sisters at her home, having a church life, but it was broken ruthlessly by an unexpected arrest of the CCP. Nowadays, Qiuli’s husband was forced to leave home and be on the run. In order to escape arrest by the CCP, Qiuli with her children who were compelled to give up their studies, had no choice but to take shelter in an apple orchard to scrape along, often eating half cooked meals. Thinking of this, her tears slid down her cheeks. As of now, there’s something that worries her most, and made her think: It’s late October. Apples have long been picked and most of the leaves on the apple trees have fallen. It is not safe to stay here any longer. If not leaving here, I will be easily found and arrested by the CCP once more. But if leaving, where should my children and I go?
“Mom, the meal is ready.” Her eldest son’s word interrupted her train of thoughts. She wiped away her tears and sat at a small wooden desk with her three children to have the meal. Her second son, seeing the half-cooked meal, frowned and said resignedly, “Mom, when can we go home? When can we have a decent meal?” She saw her sons with pity and comforted them, “When the CCP doesn’t arrest us, we go home.”
At this moment, Qiuli recollected every scene of her twice being arrested and tortured by the CCP: To force her to sell out the brothers and sisters and betray God, the cops of the CCP put her into an iron cage and threatened to strip her naked if she didn’t confess; during the period of interrogation, they tied her to the torture-rack and beat her fiercely with the baton; they twined electric wires around her thumbs to shock her three times, which caused her pulse speeding up, muscles keeping twitching, stomach seeming to explode which made her vomit repeatedly, and sweat flowing down continuously as well as wetting her hair; the evil cops put the big lock toughly into her mouth four times, which led to her upper jaw having only three teeth left…. At that time, Qiuli who fell into the CCP’s talons, deeply tasted what God says, “Forefathers of the ancient? Beloved leaders? They all oppose God! Their meddling has left all beneath heaven in a state of darkness and chaos! Religious freedom? The legitimate rights and interests of citizens? They are all tricks for covering up sin!” The CCP, under the guise of the freedom of belief, persecutes the believers in God cruelly in secret. It attempts to force them to give up the belief in God with various base means and yield to its despotic power, for the despicable purpose of controlling and devouring man and establishing a godless realm in China. For all that Qiuli was stuck in the devils’ den, she saw clearly the CCP’s winning fame by deceiving the public and its reactionary substance of being hostile to God. She had been tormented within an inch of life, but even so, she knew in her heart that it is God who created the heavens and earth and all things and supplies mankind for its existence; as a created being, believing in God and worshiping Him is right and proper; it is the most glorious and righteous thing to be persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Qiuli kept calling on God in her heart, asking God to give her faith and strength and to keep her so that she could stand testimony. Then God listened to her prayer and made her have the determination and resolution of being faithful to God and bearing witness for Him even at the cost of death…. Whereas their brutal and inhuman tortures left sequelae on her: headache, sore legs, numb feet and ache in arms. But she was aware that had God not protected her and sympathized with her weakness all this way, she would have already died in the CCP’s talons.
The thatched shack was rustling in the autumn wind. After the meal, Qiuli saw her children were depressed in such an environment, and then the following words of God came into her mind, “Is not the suffering you encounter now the very same suffering of God? You are suffering along with God, and God is suffering along with people. Today you all have a part in Christ’s tribulation, kingdom, and patience, and in the end you will obtain glory.” Qiuli fellowshipped, “Boys, the persecution of the CCP comes upon us now. God wants to strengthen our faith and resolve to suffer through this thing and let us see clearly the CCP’s hideous countenance and devilish substance under these terrible conditions and truly hate and reject it to bear strong and resounding testimony to Him. The CCP devil tries to destroy our will and let us care for our flesh, complain against and misunderstand God. Let’s think about it: To save mankind, God personally became flesh and works among man. He is rejected and misunderstood by the whole mankind. It is a meaningful and glorious thing that we can experience such suffering! What’s more, God is always with us, protecting and caring for us. We should understand His will and the meaning of the suffering. We cannot fall for Satan’s evil scheme. No matter how hard the path ahead is, we’ll follow God to the end!”
The children listened carefully and nodded thoughtfully. Her eldest son said firmly, “Mom, however the CCP persecutes us, we’ll follow God!” Her second son muttered, “Then we don’t go home.” Qiuli felt gratified to see her children become strong and sensible in the tribulations. Just then, they suddenly heard footsteps outside. Her second son ran out of the shack hurriedly….
“Aunt, here you come.” He shouted happily. Sister Zhang caressed his head and came in with a wide smile. Qiuli was excited to see her and recalled that during these past three months, the brothers and sisters had been risking arrest to visit and sustain her. It was the guidance of God’s word and solicitude of the brothers and sisters that gave her great faith to experience the tribulation.
After Sister Zhang asked the condition of Qiuli’s family, she said to Qiuli heavily, “Sister, some of the brothers and sisters were arrested several days ago. And the cops had broken into your house at midnight several times. It seems that the CCP won’t let you off easily. Now, the apple trees have shed their leaves. It is not safe for you to live here. The Lord, ‘But when they persecute you in this city, flee you into another’ (Matthew 10:23). According to your practical situation, the brothers and sisters suggest you go to another province to hide out.”
Three children’s eyes were popping with fear, they looked now at their mother and now at Sister Zhang. And Qiuli felt sad at this news. Could the children take care of themselves independently without her husband and her around? … At the thought of that, she was filled with hatred for the CCP: The CCP, the evil party, pressing me closely, arresting and persecuting the believers in God, makes us unable to go back home. Now I have to face the separation from my family. … All of these sufferings are brought by the CCP devil!
Sister Zhang patted Qiuli’s shoulder and comforted her, “The CCP is ferocious and vicious; God does not have the heart to let us fall into its hands and be tortured by it. So, the church let me tell you to leave your home temporarily. This is God’s love. We should understand God’s good intentions. Whom the CCP wants to arrest are you and your husband. Let the children go home to live. God will care and protect them. God says, ‘Why do you not entrust them into My hands? Do you not have sufficient faith in Me? Or is it that you are afraid I will make inappropriate arrangements for you?’ Let’s put aside our misgivings and commit everything to God.” Qiuli nodded.
Even though the children were loath to part with their mother, they witnessed the scene of their parents being arrested and saw their mother’s miserable condition after being beaten cruelly by the evil cops of the CCP. So, they would rather let their parents leave them than see their parents be arrested and persecuted by the CCP again. The eldest son said strongly to Qiuli, “Mom, don’t worry about us. I’ll look after my brothers. Besides, God will be with us!” Her two younger sons nodded. The second son watched Qiuli with some reluctance and said, “Mom, go ahead. We’ll do what our brother tells us to.” Seeing the children were willing to rely on God to face the environment, Qiuli had more confidence to commit them to God, believing God will surely lead them.
In the late autumn, it was a little cold in the early mornings of the north. Seeing Qiuli get up early, the children got up too, as they knew if they got up late, they would not see their mother. After breakfast, the eldest son carried Qiuli’s luggage and her two younger sons followed her closely with reluctance. At the door, Qiuli said strongly to her children, “It’s cold, go in.” Then she took the luggage from her eldest son’s hand, leaving home. While she was walking, she sang the hymn of God’s word “The Most Meaningful Life” in her heart, “You are a created being—you should of course worship God and pursue a life of meaning. ... Since you are a human being, you should expend yourself for God and endure all suffering! You should gladly and assuredly accept the little suffering you are subjected to today and live a meaningful life, like Job and Peter. ... You are people who pursue the right path, those who seek improvement. You are people who rise up in the nation of the great red dragon, those whom God calls righteous. Is that not the most meaningful life?”
Three months later, a sister took Qiuli a message from her home. Qiuli heard that the children had learnt to live independently under the concern and help of the brothers and sisters, even though their parents were not by their side…. At that moment, Qiuli was moved to tears. She knew deeply that this was God’s love, and that it was God who relieved her family worries and who let the children grow up strong and healthy in adverse conditions. Therefore, she resolved in her heart that she would follow God to the end and perform her duty loyally to repay God’s love!
The Eight Years When She Was Compelled to Be Separated From Her Son - Christian Persecution Testimonies