Today, I would like to talk about a legendary gospel movie From the Jaws of Death. Maybe those who are familiar with the Bible all know that the Lord Jesus once performed the miracle of resurrecting Lazarus in the Age of Grace (See John 11：43-44). I wondered what “from the jaws of death” means in this movie.
The movie starts with a melodious song, and the camera is focused on the heroine. Seeing the happy look of Liu Zhen, I feel quite curious: What makes the 78-year-old countrywoman so happy? From the dialogue among the family members, I came to know that Liu Zhen’s happiness came from the God she believed in. Her family say that she is in better health and full of energy, and her viewpoint also has changed after she believed in God, and that all of them have enjoyed much grace because of her belief in God. It can be seen that her family is not rich, but they live a happy life, which can be seen from the movie. What have they encountered and how can such a harmonious and happy family have connection with death?
Liu Zhen’s asides not only tell us the background of the story, but also reduce some unnecessary plots; besides her asides make the film directly and coherently convey to us audience a whole story.
With the atheistic CCP government’s persecution of beliefs, Liu Zhen is taken to the police station and she is interrogated, which impresses me a lot. Director Ma says: “Old lady, don’t be so stubborn. … If you don’t come clean, we can only send you to prison. You are at such an old age, whether you can get out alive is not sure.” Listen to these words! The director uses both threats and inducements to continuously make the 78-year-old countrywoman disclose something. She is just a believer in God, and only has gatherings in her home. I can’t figure out what on earth he wants her to disclose. Could it be that believing in God is a sin? What kind of logic is this? Anyway, the real plots convey an important message: It is too hard to tread the path of belief in God in a country under the reign of the atheist CCP. People believing in God in China are at the risk of being terminated their lives at any time!
The family members who once supported Liu Zhen in her belief begin to oppose her believing in God because of the persecution of the CCP government after her coming back from the police station. Her family is fined and threatened by the CCP, and even her grandson and granddaughter’s attending college will be influenced in the future. Especially when her husband says, “We are getting old. We haven’t got long to live. We’d better not make trouble for our son and daughter,” she feels extremely painful. Believing in God is a nice thing, and her family have received much grace since Liu Zhen believed in God, which is a fact for all her family to see. Moreover, her family also admit that believers in God learn to be good and walk the right path of life. However, under the persecution of the CCP government, her family have to follow the government to oppose her belief in God. In free and democratic countries, it is incredible; however, in China, this is the most ordinary thing. Believing in God is a nice thing, but why doesn’t the CCP allow people to believe in God? What on earth is the CCP afraid of? Is it really afraid that no one will follow it if all the Chinese people believe in God like Liu Zhen, just as Director Ma said? And if this is true as he said, then how come the deed of the CCP government is the same as that of Herod the king who persecuted the Lord Jesus two thousand years ago? The persecution of the CCP makes Liu Zhen be caught between a rock and a hard place. She is also in agony when seeing her family live in pain. She doesn’t want to bring them any harm. But if she listens to her family and stays alive and gives up her belief, she will be more painful. From the conversation between Liu Zhen and her family, we know she will definitely not give up her belief in God. Therefore, the CCP’s persecutions of her become fiercer.
Not only is Liu Zhen taken to the police station and interrogated three times, but she also loses freedom at home completely. Her daughter-in-law, for fear that the whole family will get involved, hides her books of God’s word. Her son, who was once filial, after seeing her go out alone, becomes angry and says: “I’ve told you not to go out alone, why don’t you listen? Couldn’t you set our mind at ease?” Even her husband, seeing her praying, slams his cup on the table with anger. In great pain, she can’t pray to God and tell Him about the affliction in her heart until all is quiet at night. Her eyes are full of sorrow because the cotton field can no longer be a place for meetings; she can’t fall asleep, tossing about in bed at night, and longing for God in the moonlight. These plots reflect Liu Zhen’s affliction in her heart, which become quite a contrast to the plots of the beginning of the movie. The smile on the whole family’s faces vanishes. Instead they show sadness in their faces. Such a happy family is falling to pieces under the CCP’s endless persecutions. When the CCP police cross-examine her about her belief again, the words Liu Zhen has fought to suppress for a long time come out: “I believe in God. One, I haven’t committed any crimes; two, I haven’t broken the law. You interrogate me, fine me, keep a watchful eye on me, and even come to harass me in my house. You keep pestering me. Can’t you just let me live my life?” Yeah! These sentences reveal the present situation of the belief in China. Though the CCP government proclaims that “every Chinese citizen enjoys freedom of religious belief” outwardly, it persecutes Christians ceaselessly and secretly, forcing people to give up their belief. Aren’t its hypocritical and sanctimonious actions backing Chinese Christians into a corner? How can they have any freedom?
Later, one night, Liu Zhen suddenly fainted. Then she lingers in a coma for 18 hours. The doctor subtly tells her families to be prepared for the worst, saying: “I can only cure man’s illness, but I can’t save man’s life.” Her son, coming to her sickbed, sobs out the words from the bottom of his heart, which moves and saddens us, but what’s the point in that? One can never wake up from death. Her son, for fear that she will be arrested because of believing in God, opposes her belief in God. As an unbeliever, how could he understand his mother’s heart? Liu Zhen, having believed in God for 3 years, doesn’t understand too much truth, but she is sure that the One she believes in is the true God, and God’s words can indeed change and purify people. Forbidding her to believe in God means killing her. Then, are his deeds protecting her or grieving her?
Her families all think Liu Zhen is most likely to die. And the story seems to be over. But if so, then how is “coming back to life” explained?
Of course, the movie will not end so quickly, rather it reaches a climax with Liu Zhen’s “death.” After 18 hours, she revives miraculously. Even the doctor says that it is really a miracle. However, Liu Zhen says to her family that it is God who has saved her, and God has given her a second life! This marvelous survival is obviously God’s miracle. This has overturned many people’s definition of life and death in large measure.
Liu Zhen comes back to life, which is worth cheering and rejoicing. For a 78-year-old lady, such a thing would have been unlikely, yet it really comes upon her. It can only be said that human fate is indeed ordained by Heaven. Ordinary people will choose to cherish the life they have now and enjoy it under this circumstance. After all, when one is 78 years old, how much time does he have left? However, what Liu Zhen cares is not about this. It is much more important for her to bear testimony about God’s deeds on her to others than to eat well, drink well and enjoy a good life. At the end of the movie, her husband, playing an important role in the movie, says he would like to believe in God with her. Liu Zhen’s experiences have shocked and influenced him a lot, so his affirmation of Liu Zhen’s belief is objective and true. After neighbors hearing her testimony, some of them also choose to believe in and follow God. This proves that the true testimony of one’s experiences is most impressive.
Through her experience of waking up from death, Liu Zhen has a firmer faith to follow God. I think that, to Liu Zhen, the survival doesn’t simply mean waking up from death. From her words and expressions, it can be seen that she has entrusted the rest of her life to God completely and let God be her sovereign in the rest of her life. Because she has experienced that the God she believes in has authority and power, truly and really, and that He is the One who is worthy of people’s trust. It is the happiest thing that one can find the real reliance in his life.
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The film shown, “The Long Road of Exile,” is a part of the Chronicles of Religious Persecution in China series; it is a documentary made based on Chinese Christians’ real-life experiences of persecution. It drew the attendance of a number of local Christians.
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