How are we supposed to free ourselves from the spiritual emptiness and the degenerate life and find a genuine life? I was so lost and befuddled before, but now I’ve found the answer.
The Overcomers’ Testimonies“God’s Word Is My Real Life”
Xu Zhigang Tianjin City
In the past, I was deeply influenced by Chinese traditional concepts and regarded purchasing property for my children as my life goal. Therefore, I devoted myself to studying car repairing technique and opened up a garage. The business was doing very well. At that time, I thought that man’s destiny was in his own hand. When my wife’s elder sister preached the gospel of Jesus to me, I refused and mocked at her. However, good times didn’t last long. The profits of my garage decreased day by day. No matter how hard I tried, it was in vain. As a result, I was tormented so much that I was exhausted physically and mentally and felt extremely miserable. Every day I sought solace in drink. Once, due to my distraction, I had an accident when driving. The car was badly smashed, but I survived miraculously.
Before long, in the spring of 1999, my wife preached Almighty God’s end-time gospel to me. From God’s word, I knew why I lived so miserably and had no way to go before. Actually, I accepted the rules of living instilled by satan and wanted to create a happy home with my own ability. As a result, I was fooled so much that I became extremely miserable, and I almost lost my life. It was Almighty God who saved me from the edge of death and brought me to his family. I really received God’s great salvation. From then on, I read God’s word every day and had meetings and fellowshipped with the brothers and sisters. I felt especially brightened and had enjoyment in my heart, and I was thankful that I had found the real way of human life. However, soon the news came that I became the one to be arrested by the CCP government because of believing in God, so I had to perform duty in another place. Although I had weakness within, I believed that wherever I went and however satan the devil hunted me, God’s word would guide me. In the over ten years that followed, under the guidance and supply of God’s word, I lived a rich and meaningful life every day. Later in my personal experience of being arrested and persecuted by satan the devil, I tasted more practically that God’s word is the power of my life, which enabled me to stand firm and be fearless in satan’s cruel tortures and shame satan completely in the end. Having experienced all these, I even more feel the preciousness of God’s word and I can’t leave God’s word at any time.
It was one day in February 2013. I went to preach the gospel with several brothers and sisters. On the way back we were stopped by a car. Three policemen got out and questioned about our identities. Hearing my nonlocal accent, they forcibly searched me without allowing me to speak. They confiscated an Agricultural Bank card with more than 700 yuan in it, more than 300 yuan in cash, a cell phone, an MP5 player, and some gospel materials in my pockets. When one policeman learned that I was a believer in Almighty God, he immediately bared his ferocious feature. He forcibly handcuffed me and pushed me into the car. At the police station, they ordered me to stand against the wall. A policeman snapped at me, “What’s your name? Where are you from? Who spread to you?” I was afraid that the books on believing in God and the things of the church in my house might be taken away by them, so I didn’t answer him. Seeing that I said nothing, he flared up in a fury. He immediately pulled my down jacket off and threw it aside, and from behind he pulled my sweater over my head and then beat my back fiercely with a baton. Every few blows, he questioned me, “Speak up or not?” Just like that, I was struck fifteen times. I felt like the flesh on my back was badly mangled and felt unbearable pain as if my spine were broken. But no matter how he beat me, I didn’t say anything. At last, he cursed exasperatedly, “I’m really fucking served. My wrist has pain from the vibrations, but you still say nothing!” I knew inwardly that it was God’s keeping for me and that I couldn’t bear such a violent beating by myself. I thanked God in my heart. Seeing that the method didn’t work, they changed for another one. A vicious policeman brought a rod about one meter in length and six centimeters in diameter and said with an insidious smile, “Let him kneel on it and ‘enjoy.’ Let’s see if he still refuses to speak!” It’s said that if one kneels on such a rod for 30 minutes, he can hardly stand up or walk. Facing such a cruel torture, I knew I was too small in stature and my flesh could hardly stand it, so I was very frightened in my heart and cried out to God desperately, “O God! I’m so small in stature. I fear that I can’t withstand such cruel torment. May you keep my heart and give me strength, so that I can stand such a cruel torture and never betray you.” I cried out to God over and over again. God knew the weakness of my flesh and answered my prayer. Ultimately, the vicious policemen didn’t use that torture on me. Facing the fact, I saw God’s almightiness and sovereignty and saw that all people, matters, and things are manipulated in God’s hand, and both the dead and living things are moving according to God’s thoughts. So, my faith in God increased a little, and my timidity lessened a lot. Although they didn’t use that torture on me, they still didn’t let me off and thought of a nasty trick. They forced me to kneel on the floor with my back straight and asked a fat and strong policeman about 1.8 meters tall to stand on my lower legs and tread on them hard. The moment he stood on them, I felt a heart-piercing pain, so I prayed to God earnestly, “God! Though I can’t withstand such inhuman torment, I’m willing to satisfy you. May you give me faith and give me strength and the will to suffer. I’m willing to stand testimony for you.” I thanked God that he answered my prayer again. As that fat policeman couldn’t stand steadily on my lower legs, he got off after a short time. A vicious policeman beside him incited, “You trash! Why do you step off after such a short time?” This gang of devils were really merciless and malicious beyond compare. They tried every possible way to torment me, wishing to put me to death, and only then would they be satisfied. They ordered me to kneel straight like that without the slightest movement. One of them winked at the others, so they all went out, and only he was left to guard me. He came up and cottoned up to me, saying with a hypocritical smile, “My mother also believes in God. Tell me how you began to believe. I want to believe in God with you. Please take me to meet your leader.” Hearing his lies and looking at his false smile, I immediately felt very sick. I was about to expose his scheme when I suddenly remembered God’s words, “You should have my courage added within you…. But moreover, for my sake you should not yield to any force of darkness. Walk the perfect way by my wisdom. Don’t let satan’s schemes succeed.” (from “The Tenth Piece of Word” in The Word Appears in the Flesh) God’s words guided me in time and I understood: Before satan I should have not only courage but even more wisdom; no matter when, I should fight satan with the wisdom bestowed by God; only the testimony borne in this way is resounding and powerful and can better defeat satan; if I confront him by the flesh, I won’t be able to honor God and testify God, but will leave satan a handle. Under the inspiration and leading of God’s words, I knew what I should do. Then I said to him, “If you really want to believe, you may read God’s word at home and you needn’t go out to meet anybody.” As soon as I had finished speaking, the vicious policeman who beat me came in and spat the words out venomously, “I’m so fucking impressed!” I knew that satan was put to shame and defeated, so I thanked God in my heart. I saw that God was always with me, pointing out the way and giving encouragement to me and wonderfully defending me from the devils’ hands of doing violence. God’s love for me was really so great! At this point, although I was in prison, I felt I had a closer relationship with God than at any other time and felt very assured and supported in my heart. They had me kneel for more than two hours. The interrogation lasted till past 1 o’clock in the early morning but was still resultless, so they had to leave in dejection.
The next morning, the policemen took me to the sub-bureau. After I entered the interrogation room, the captain of the criminal police team questioned me with angry eyes, “What’s your name? Where are you from? Who spread faith in God to you? How long have you believed? Who do you get in touch with? Confess! If not, you’re dead meat!” No matter how he questioned me, I didn’t say anything. For a whole day, he used soft and hard tactics, but got nothing. At last, he shouted at me exasperatedly, “You don’t confess, right? I’ll let you have a good taste of life in the detention house. You refuse a toast only to drink a forfeit. If you don’t tell, you’ll be imprisoned forever!” Then, I was sent to the detention house and was put into a cell in which the worst criminals were in greatest numbers. On entering it, I felt it bloodcurdling and ghastly. The room had four-meter-high walls and was gloomy and damp. There was only a small window through which sunlight could barely shine in. It was stinking and suffocating. The small room was crowded with prisoners. Some were murderers, some drug addicts, and some robbers, and all of them were felons. They were all hideous and fierce-looking. Some were big and tall and ferocious-looking and had tattoos of dragons, phoenixes, and snakes, etc. on their body. Some were very thin like skeletons and looked very frightening. The prisoners there were graded, and the believers in Almighty God were lowest in position and didn’t have any rights. The emergency pager mounted on the wall was originally used for prisoners to ask the officer for help in emergency, but the believers in Almighty God couldn’t use it at all. No matter what inhuman maltreatment they suffered, no one paid heed to them.
On the first day I was in the cell, the head of the cell learned my situation, and then he pointed at me and sneered, “You believe in Almighty God; why not ask your God to release you? Since your God is good, why does he let you come here?” The vicious prisoners beside him also jeered at me blindly, “Tell us, is our head good or is your God good? Say it!” Hearing that they despised and insulted God like this, I felt extremely angry. I thought of the word in Fellowship and Preaching About Life Entering In that the substance of the evil is the devil. It’s absolutely true! These devils are indeed unreasonable and deserve to be cursed! Seeing that I kept silent, the head slapped me fiercely twice and punched me on the chin, and I was knocked to the ground. Facing these devils, I felt very frightened in my heart. So I kept crying to God, “O God! You know that I’m timid and cowardly, always frightened of the underworld people and the like. May you keep me and give me faith and strength, so that I won’t lose testimony in such an environment.” Seeing that I said nothing, these devils adopted various means to torment me. A prisoner like a skeleton came before me and forced me to the foot of the wall, with my back against the wall. He had two prisoners hold my shoulders at my sides and began to pinch my inner thighs hard. After pinching my left thigh, he continued with my right one. Waves of heart-piercing pain made me feel extremely miserable. Later, several big swellings were left in my legs (which haven’t subsided even today). Then, he punched my outer thighs. A short time later, I felt difficult to stand up after squatting down. In the days of the twelfth lunar month, the water froze as soon as it dropped down. But those devils ordered me to strip all my clothes, press my body against the wall, and squat under the tap to be showered in cold water without stop. And they deliberately opened the window, so I trembled with cold. Seeing that I clenched my teeth and struggled to hold on, one prisoner fanned me hard with a foam board. I felt my blood almost congealed, and my teeth kept chattering. I kept praying in my heart, “O God! Such an environment comes upon me, and there is your good purpose. May you lead me to understand your will. I really can’t withstand these evil demons’ torment by myself. O God! May you give me greater faith and strength, so that I can have the will and perseverance to go through this difficulty.” After praying, I thought of God’s words, “‘For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.’ In the past, you all heard this word, but none of you understood its true meaning. Today, you deeply know its real meaning. This word will be accomplished by God in the end time, and it will be accomplished in people in the dwelling place of the great red dragon who are cruelly persecuted by the great red dragon. Because the great red dragon is the persecutor of God and the enemy of God, people in this place all suffer humiliations and persecutions for believing in God. So, this word is accomplished in you group of people.” (from “Is God’s Work So Simple as People Imagine?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh) God’s words made me understand his will. Today I can undergo these sufferings because of believing in God, and this is a glorious thing and is my honor. The purpose of satan tormenting me is to make me betray God and deny God because my flesh can’t bear the pain. I’ll never yield to satan. At that moment, I suddenly thought of that vicious policeman’s word of letting me taste the life in the detention house. Immediately, I was awakened that the prisoners’ tormenting and maltreating me by every possible means was instigated by those vicious policemen! Only then did I see clearly that those sanctimonious “people’s police” are so sinister and contemptible. They try to use the prisoners to get rid of me. Their hearts are indeed too malicious and they are totally devils that kill people without spilling blood. From my childhood, what I feared most was those evil men like underworld thugs. These devils just attack my weak point so as to make me yield to them, but God’s wisdom is based on satan’s schemes. Through such an environment, God wants to perfect my true faith in him. He wants to save me in my weak point so that I can be strong and courageous before the devils and won’t lose testimony. After understanding God’s will, I felt enlightened in my heart and had strength. I shouldn’t fall into satan’s schemes. No matter how my flesh suffered, I would stand testimony for God. I thanked God for giving me strength so that I overcame the cruel tortures of the devils and overcame satan again.
In the detention house, every day we ate frozen cabbage boiled in water, pickles, and small steamed corn bread. I couldn’t eat my fill at all. At nights, the head of the cell and his followers slept on the kang, while the others could only sleep on the floor. Lying on the cold floor, looking at those prisoners around, and thinking about my present situation, I suddenly had a sense of desolation in my heart. In the past, when I was with the brothers and sisters, I was very happy and joyful every day. But now, I stay with these prisoners every day and have to be bullied and insulted by them. I felt extremely distressed and tormented…. I came before God and prayed to him, “O God! I don’t know how long such days will last and I don’t know how to pass through the following days. Now, my flesh is very weak, and I’m unwilling to face such an environment in my heart. O God! May you give me the will to suffer and lead me to understand your will, so that I can satisfy you in this environment.” After my prayer, God’s words clearly came to my mind, “God has had so many sleepless nights for the sake of the work of mankind. He comes to the lowest place from the highest place and descends into the living hell where men live and spends days with them. He never complains about the miserableness of the world or rebukes men for their disobedience, but endures great humiliation doing the work he does personally. …for the sake of all mankind and for the whole mankind to enjoy rest earlier, he endures humiliation and swallows injustice to come to earth, personally coming into ‘hell’ and ‘Hades’ and coming into the tiger’s den to save men. What qualification do men have to resist God? What reason do they have to complain against God again? How could they have the face to see God again? The God in heaven comes to the filthiest licentious land, and he never expresses his grievances or complains against men but silently endures men’s tortures and oppression. Yet he never opposes men’s unreasonable demands, never makes excessive requirements of men, and never has unreasonable requirements for men, but only wholeheartedly and uncomplainingly does for men all the works they need: teaching, inspiring, rebuking, refining with words, warning, exhorting, comforting, judging, and disclosing.” (from “Work and Entering In (9)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh) While pondering God’s words, I thought of the sufferings God has undergone for mankind through being incarnated twice to come to the world, and my eyes moistened involuntarily. The Lord Jesus was nailed onto the cross for redeeming mankind and gave his blood and life to redeem mankind corrupted by satan. Today, Almighty God is incarnated and comes to China, a country that resists God most severely, uttering his voice and speaking to save us at the risk of his life. Who knows the hardships and pains in that? And who can understand them? I, a corrupt person, have lived with these prisoners just for a few days, but I feel it unbearable and want to escape from this environment. The holy and righteous God has been living with us for dozens of years in this evil and fallen age. Aren’t the sufferings God undergoes greater? I believe in God for pursuing to cast off corruption and be saved, so I’m hunted, persecuted, afflicted, and tortured by the CCP government. However, the innocent God doesn’t belong to the world or to the hell on earth. Because of his love for man, God would rather sacrifice his life than not save man. If I have a little love for God, I won’t feel it so hard in such an environment or feel myself maltreated too badly. Compared with God’s love, I felt too ashamed to show my face. Thinking of God’s love, I felt a tide of warmth in my heart. God is so great, and God’s love for man is so deep and so sincere. If I didn’t experience such an environment personally, I couldn’t know that God is dear and lovely. In undergoing such an environment today, although my flesh is greatly afflicted, it is quite beneficial to my life. Thinking of these, I was full of gratitude toward God in my heart and again had the will to suffer.
In the detention house, the head of the cell often told me about various means the officers used to torment the “prisoners” who believe in God: They stick pins into their ten fingers, and simply the pain may kill them. They fill a mineral water bottle with boiled water and force them to put their finger into it, not allowing them to take their finger out until many blisters appear. Then, they sprinkle the wounds with chili powder…. Hearing about these bloodcurdling tortures, I couldn’t help seething and had more hatred for the evil CCP. It speaks every fine word but does every evil thing. It proclaims such things as “freedom of religious belief,” “everyone enjoys the lawful rights and interests of citizens,” and “treating the prisoners as relatives,” but in secret it tortures people illegally and treats human life as straw and simply doesn’t treat people as human beings. When believers in God come here, they seem to enter the eighteenth level of hell and they can only be trampled and exploited by it as it likes. It is uncertain whether they can get out alive. Thinking of these, I trembled with fear, truly afraid that these tortures would be used on me. Every time I heard the officer open the small window in the iron door, my heart almost leapt into my throat, and I was fearful of being dragged out to be tortured. Enveloped with the horrifying atmosphere all day, I sank into it and couldn’t extricate myself. In suffering, I could only in my heart, “O God! Now I’m very weak within and live in timidity, but I’m willing to satisfy you. May you give me faith and strength. I will rely on you to overcome satan’s temptation!” After the prayer, God’s words inspired and guided me, “Do not fear this or that. The Almighty God of hosts will surely be with you. He will be your rear guard and shield.” (from “The Twenty-sixth Piece of Word” in The Word Appears in the Flesh) “When man gives up his life completely, nothing is difficult. No one can daunt him. Is there anything more important than ‘life’? In that case, satan cannot possibly do anything on man and has no way to do with man.” (from “The Thirty-sixth Piece of Word” in The Word Appears in the Flesh) God’s words are the specific medicine, giving me great comfort and encouragement. Yes. God rules over all things in the universe. The One I believe in is the Creator who created the heavens and the earth and all things and who is sovereign over everything. All matters and all things are in his hand. How much more man’s life and death? Without God’s permission, satan the devil dare not do anything to me. I live in timidity and fear all day; doesn’t it mean that I’m afraid of death and fleshly suffering? Satan attacks me just through this weakness for the purpose that I’ll yield to it and betray God, which is its scheme of devouring man. If I’m ready to give up my life, is there any other suffering that I can’t bear? At that moment, I thought of Job’s experience. When satan made a wager with God, what came upon Job was fleshly agony. But, without God’s permission, no matter how satan tormented Job, it couldn’t take his life away. I’ll imitate Job and have true faith in God. Today, I’m ready to give up my life and no longer have myself bound and restrained by death. Even if my flesh is tortured to death by the devil, my spirit is in God’s hand. No matter how the devil treats me, I’ll never yield to its despotic power and would rather die than be a Judas! I thanked God that his words guided me in time and saved me from darkness. Due to God’s keeping, I didn’t suffer those tortures. From it, I saw God’s almightiness and sovereignty once again.
Several days later, the vicious policeman came to interrogate me again, attempting to get information about the church leaders from my mouth. I turned a deaf ear to him. Then he unleashed all his ferocity. Staring with angry eyes, he seized me by the chin, shook it from side to side, and cursed me while gnashing his teeth, “Are you a fucking man? You just believe! I’ll post your image on the Internet and then fabricate some stories about you, letting all believers in Almighty God know that you’ve betrayed God and sold out the brothers and sisters. Then, everyone will reject you. In the end, we’ll take you to an uninhabited place and dig a pit to bury you alive. Anyway, no one will know that.” In angry desperation, the devil spoke out their unpresentable businesses and dirty tricks in secret, which are also their consistent tricks. They have secretly done too many such inhuman things as framing people, killing people by making false charges, and murdering people in cold blood! Hearing the vicious policeman’s roars, I felt very calm within that time, not in the least afraid, because God was my powerful rear guard. Having God with me, I was afraid of nothing. The wilder satan goes, the more it will reveal its ugliness and incapability. The more it persecutes, the more it will reveal its evil and reactionary substance of being hostile to God, running counter to right principles, and acting against Heaven. The more it afflicts the believers in God like this, the more it will stir up my resolution to believe in God and follow God to the end. I’ll devote my whole life to God and rebel against this old satan thoroughly. Just as God’s words say, “People have long readied all their strength to consecrate all the effort and all the price to this, tearing up the ugly face of this devil, and causing those who are blinded and suffer hardships and afflictions to rise up from the miseries and rebel against this old devil!” (from “Work and Entering In (8)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh) At the moment, all my blood was boiling and surging. I made a resolution inwardly: No matter how long I stay here and no matter how the devils torment me, I’ll never betray God. Seeing that I still said nothing, the vicious policeman sent me back to the cell in the end. Like that, because of the leading of God’s words, I overcame the devils’ tortures and interrogations time after time. After I spent over fifty days in the detention house, the devils released me reluctantly.
Through the experience of being arrested that time, I have seen clearly the devilish substance of the CCP government. It opposes Heaven and is hostile to God. It doesn’t worship God and is the object to be destroyed by God, but it tries all possible means to deceive and control people and prevents people from believing in God and worshiping God, attempting to make all people stay away from God and resist God and finally end up being destroyed in hell together with it. It’s really too base, too malicious, and too evil! What’s more, that experience has made me have some true knowledge of God’s almightiness, sovereignty, wonderfulness, and wisdom. In such a country which regards God as its enemy, believers in God are thorns in the flesh of the atheistic party. However, because of God’s great power and sovereignty, it can’t restrict the true believers in God at all. No matter how it persecutes, imprisons, and afflicts our body, it can’t imprison our desire of longing for light and pursuing the truth and can’t change our resolution to believe in God and follow God. Not long after I believed in God, I was wanted by the CCP, but God’s great power and God’s tender love have been keeping me till today. That time, I was arrested out of God’s permission and personally experienced the devils’ torture, which was even more a great edification and perfection to my life. Through arrest and persecution, satan attempted to make me yield to its despotic power, but God’s words had been leading me and giving me wisdom, faith, and strength, so that I stood tenaciously in satan’s cruel persecution, experienced God’s deeds practically, had a more practical knowledge of God’s word, and tasted that God’s word is the truth, is the power of man’s life and man’s life spring, and is the precious inheritance God bestows upon man. I only wish to make greater efforts to pursue the truth and let God’s word truly become my life. That experience has further strengthened my faith in God. With the leading of God’s words, I have nothing to fear. No matter how many difficulties and dangers there may be on my way ahead, I’ll follow God to the end!
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