Xiaoli Henan Province
Since I was small, my desire for reputation was always very strong, and when I interacted with people I paid particular attention to my own image, my status in other people’s eyes, and their assessment of me. So I always allowed other people to have any convenience, any benefits, and I just buried difficulties or grievances in my heart. I didn’t express those things to anyone, and when other people experienced difficulties I would always think of ways to help them. So in my parents’ eyes, I was a good girl; I was a real delight. In my neighbors’ and friends’ eyes, I was warm and generous. After getting married, I also got along very well with my husband’s family. When my sister-in-law and brother-in-law found partners and got married, I was running around like crazy. I contributed both money and effort, and I shared the burden with my parents-in-law. Before long I had become the good daughter-in-law and the good big sister. In reality, at that time I was exhausted every day and I was worn out to my very core because I was always tiptoeing around to maintain my relationships with other people and taking care of everyone else’s feelings; I would monitor their expressions and then speak accordingly. I was afraid of hurting someone else and leaving them with a bad impression, and damaging my own reputation. After gaining these “good names,” in my heart I felt proud, and that the price I had paid was worth it. I felt that I was very successful as a human being. I frequently thought to myself: If someday I encounter any difficulties, my friends, family, and neighbors will definitely extend a helping hand to me and help me out of my troubles. But just as I was basking in my “accomplishments” as a human being, a disaster came out of nowhere—it completely destroyed my fantasy and changed my views.
On December 4, 1991, my husband was in a terrible car accident. His spleen ruptured, his liver and kidney were damaged, and there was major intestinal damage. He was bleeding uncontrollably. He underwent four surgeries in just one month with more than 2000 milliliters in blood transfusions. Even so, his life was still hanging by a thread. The doctor said that if they didn’t continue with the blood transfusions, his wounds simply wouldn’t be able to heal. At that time we had just finished building a house and had also bought a car, so we were heavily in debt. There was absolutely no way for us to bear such huge medical fees, and my parents exhausted all their resources so that my little brother could go to college. They had no ability whatsoever to help us, so I had no choice but to reach out to my relatives and friends. But I had never imagined that these people who were usually surrounding me would, one by one, find an excuse to turn me down, to dodge me. I was very hurt. Later, I heard that a relative who we had helped quite a bit had said to someone else: “We couldn’t possibly lend them money. There was absolutely no hope of curing him, and if he died, his wife would just get married to someone else, and then who would pay us back? And even if he doesn’t die, I bet he’ll be disabled for the rest of his life, so wouldn’t lending him money just be throwing it away?” After hearing these cold, heartless words, I could only cry because I knew that this was the voice of all those people who would not lend me money. But what was even more disappointing for me was the unkindness of my husband’s family. My parents-in-law clearly had money, but they only gave us 500 yuan, and later on when they were settling accounts with us, they counted the costs of their transportation, meals, and fruit from when they came to visit my husband in the hospital. My husband had two well-off younger brothers, and when they came to visit him in the hospital they only gave 500 yuan between the two of them. That little bit of money given by my in-laws was a drop in the bucket for us. It couldn’t help resolve our real difficulties. In the midst of pain and hopelessness, I could only apply for loans from the bank, but the bank denied my applications. In the end, I had no choice but to sell the car for a low price to fund my husband’s treatment. In spite of all this I wasn’t able to put together enough of my husband’s medical fees. I was really out of options, and three months later, my husband was discharged early when his wounds had not yet healed. But I never imagined that just as we were stepping into our home, those we owed money to were right on our heels, rushing through our door. Even my elder sister-in-law came to our house asking for money. Facing this situation, I was hurt beyond words. I ran out alone to a wooded area on top of a hill to cry. I had just turned 24 at the time and had only been married to my husband for one year. My ruthless parents-in-law had placed this entire burden on me, and not a single person around us was willing to extend a helping hand to us. The road ahead would be long—how could I bear that kind of blow, that kind of burden? When I was in the woods, I thought and cried, and thought and cried. I really didn’t have the courage to continue on, and I yelled up at the sky: “Heavens! Why is my life so difficult? I really can’t go on in this world. Oh Heavens, I beg You to take my life away from me!” Suffering is suffering, and practical difficulties must be faced in the end, and I didn’t have any choice but to pick myself up, steel myself, and support my family. Enormous life stress led to me, who had always been cheerful and energetic, moping every day. When my husband saw me so wronged, he cried and said: “You should leave this home; you don’t have to suffer like this for me!” To tell, I also had some thoughts of leaving, but I saw my reputation as more valuable than gold, so absolutely would not leave my husband under those circumstances. The days following were even more difficult. My husband couldn’t do any physical labor, and on top of that there had been three years of drought with almost no harvest for three years running, so I was carrying a heavy debt. Even eating became an issue. Just when I was fully awash in despair and I had no hope for continuing on, someone advised me to believe in . After believing in Him, I saw Jesus’ words in saying: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16-17). In the midst of those days of suffering, those words from God brought me great comfort. I also read in the Bible that after the was resurrected and left us, He went to prepare a place for us, and if it had been prepared He would meet us. From then on, in my heart I looked forward to the day that God would return, and I thought: When God returns, I will no longer need to suffer in this world.
In the fall of 1998, by the grace of God I had the good fortune to encounter a sister who believed in. When I learned from what my sister told me that God had already returned and that He was doing new work, I couldn’t restrain my feelings of excitement. I prostrated myself before God and prayed: “Oh Almighty God, my hope that You would return has finally been realized. I have suffered enough and lived enough in this miserable world. I can’t stay even one more day. Oh God, no matter what work You have returned to do or what kind of requirements You have, I am willing to follow You closely.” Later, through reading the words of Almighty God, I understood many truths that I had not understood before. I saw God guiding people as to how to and how to live out proper humanity. I recognized that all of God’s words are truth and are humans’ words to live by, and that God is leading us to rid ourselves of sin, to live out proper human lives, to walk on the proper path in our lives. On top of that, I saw the genuine love of the brothers and sisters through my interactions with them, and I was deeply moved. This further showed that Almighty God is the coming of the Lord Jesus, that He is the true God who came to work and save mankind. That happened to be at the time of the fall harvest. When the sister in charge of ’s work learned that my husband was unable to work on the land, she came to see me and right then I was carrying a load of corn on my shoulders. She pulled it right off of my shoulders and told me frankly: “I’ll do it, take a break!” The next day, she found a few other brothers and sisters to come help me harvest the crops. She had even bought steamed rolls, noodles and vegetables for me, and she gave my child sunflower seeds and candy. After the work was done we went back to my house and some of them helped me make food, take care of my child, and some helped me do laundry. Two brothers also bore witness to my husband on God’s work in . In the evening we read the word of God together, sang , and my brothers and sisters listened to me speak about my difficulties. Some of them cried along with me, and some gave me fellowship of the truth. Among them, one sister said to me in fellowship: “Without these misfortunes, you may not have become a believer in Jesus Christ, and you would not have been able to accept God’s work in the last days. Even more, you wouldn’t be able to experience His love and salvation; this isn’t a bad thing, but a good thing.” I felt that everything they were saying was very novel and was all just what I needed. It really drew me in. When I saw their sincere help for me, I truly was very moved. We had neither kith nor kin, but they were dearer to me than family. Experiencing years of hardships and tribulations in my life and other people’s indifference had made me disconsolate, but the love and care of my brothers and sisters made me feel so warm—the long-forgotten expression of a smile appeared on my face. I hadn’t imagined that I would see this sincerity I had been wishing for so many years in my brothers and sisters from . From the truths they shared in fellowship with me and what they lived out, I realized that only Almighty God can do this type of work and can change people. So under the encouragement of God’s love and with the help of my brothers and sisters, my numb heart regained a bit of feeling, and I once again had confidence and courage for living. Later, I saw that my brothers and sisters would run around working and pay a price for the work of God and I could not sit still, so before long I also put myself into the work of preaching God’s gospel of the last days. As my interactions with my brothers and sisters deepened, I saw that they truly were not the same as worldly people and that within the church, you never needed to worry about who would mock you or be calculating, nor did you need to fear saying something carelessly and offending someone. The brothers and sisters were always simple and open when they were together, and they would speak whatever was in their hearts, and even if it meant exposing some corruption it could all be dealt with correctly. All of it could be accepted from God and no one fixated on anyone else’s issues. It didn’t matter who said or did something wrong; no grudges were held and everyone looked into their own hearts to know themselves and learned whatever lessons they needed to learn. Whichever brothers or sisters were experiencing difficulties, everyone would work together to help them, to put their hearts into fellowship on the truth so that when they encountered these difficulties they could understand God’s will and put the requirements of God into practice. Between brothers and sisters there was no division by hierarchy—everyone came together as equals. The workers were the same as average brothers and sisters; no one was special. From Almighty God I saw the light, I found something to lean on, and in my heart I was able to experience a peace and stability I had never had before. Every day I had an inexpressible enthusiasm and joy.
Later, I was uplifted by God to be a church leader from August 1998 to the end of 2005, and even though I spent quite a bit of time in the church, during this time I enjoyed a great deal of grace and blessings from God. What was most unbelievable to me was that my husband had fully recovered. He could work and earn money just like anyone, and not only did that take care of our home’s debts, but we had some savings. We passed our days in peace and in harmony. I was praying and giving praise in front of God every day, thanking Almighty God for saving me, this miserable person, and for blessing our home that had suffered such difficulties. I set down my will in front of God and said to Him: I am willing to give the rest of my life to God, to expend it for God, to repay Him for His great love.
By reading God’s words nonstop, I came to understand that God’s goal in choosing people isn’t merely to allow them to enjoy material blessings and His grace, but more importantly, it is to judge and chastise the disobedience within them, to allow them to cast off their corrupt disposition, to live as a true human being. Just as Almighty God said: “Today man sees that with the grace, love, and mercy of God alone, he is incapable of truly knowing himself, much less is he able to know the essence of man. Only through both the refinement andof God, only during such refinement can man know his deficiencies, and know that he has nothing, and thus, man’s is built upon the foundation of the refinement and judgment of God. If you only enjoy the grace of God, with a peaceful family life or material blessings, then you have not gained God, and your belief in God has failed. God has already carried out one stage of the work of grace in the flesh, and has already bestowed material blessings upon man—but man cannot be made perfect with grace, love, and mercy alone” (“Only by Experiencing Painful Trials Can You Know the Loveliness of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). In order to more completely save me, God carried out judgment and chastisement of me, from which He allowed me to more vividly experience His love and salvation for me.
When I was the church leader, because I cared too much about my reputation and status, I always maintained my relationships with others in my work for fear that my brothers and sisters would say that I did things for status and that I was too strict, that they would then have a poor appraisal of me. So even when I saw my brothers and sisters do things that clearly violated the principles of the truth and were not beneficial to the church, I could not communicate these points in a timely manner so that the issues could be resolved. I remember that there was a period of time when a sister who had initially been responsible for guiding my work was demoted, and then was arranged to participate in work in the church I was leading. When I reviewed her work I discovered many deviations and omissions. In my heart I knew that we should have fellowship together and I should help her so that she could know herself and adjust these methods. But as soon as I thought about the fact that she used to be my superior, I worried that if I pointed out the errors and deviations in her work, she could say I was too arrogant, or could develop a bias against me. When I thought of all that I kept my mouth shut, and regarding the work she was responsible for, I started to just let things slide. This was to the point that the work of gospel that she was responsible for hadn’t picked up for several months, many brothers and sisters were negative and weak, and finally she was weak to the point that she entirely lost the work of theand was suspended so that she could reflect on herself. As for my own situation of corruption, the sister responsible for my work had guided and helped me many times by fellowship in the truth, but because I had continued to fail to know myself, I did not know the seriousness of the issue. I had not taken it seriously at all, and after it was over I was still living that way. I hadn’t really changed. In December of 2005, the church issued a sermon: “Only Selecting Leaders Who Pursue the Truth and Have a Sense of Justice Is in Line With God’s Will.” This required us to begin a new audit of the church leaders of every location, and the sister in charge of my work told me: “Based on weighing of the principles, you’re not suitable to act as a church leader. You don’t have a sense of justice, and when something comes up you always prefer to maintain your relationships with people. You are the ‘nice guy’ who can’t offend people. When I point out the deviations and problems that exist in your work, you justify it and make excuses for yourself. You don’t accept it when others deal with and prune aspects of you, and you are always considering your own reputation and status, considering your image in other people’s hearts. Looking at it overall, you are one of the people referred to in this sermon—one of the ‘nice guys,’ one of the deceitful people without a sense of justice who must be dismissed. This is because when you encounter an issue you always consider your own benefit; you always speak and act for your own face and your own status. You absolutely do not care for the will of God, and you do not think of what to do to benefit the church or the lives of your brothers and sisters. You are leading the church this way and bringing your brothers and sisters in front of you; it is a serious resistance of God. You’ve been given guidance many times on what you’ve displayed in these circumstances, but you have not taken it seriously, nor have you focused on changing. So, according to the church’s recent principles for using people, it has been decided that you should be relieved of your duties in order to reflect on yourself. This does not at all mean that you are not able to change. I hope that you can treat this properly and really reflect on yourself, recognize your own corrupt aspects, and focus on change. This will be beneficial to your own life and it will also benefit the work of the church.” As my sister was speaking to me my entire face turned red. I felt I didn’t have anywhere to hide. I had gotten to that age and had always been looked up to and praised by others. No one had ever exposed me to my face that way. I was in great pain and was extremely embarrassed. I wanted to crawl into a hole and disappear. I generally did not pursue the truth and I had never seriously dissected my own corruption, so that day when that sister suddenly told me that the nature of my essence was deceitful and I was being replaced for that reason, I absolutely could not accept those facts. I felt that I had reached a low point—I couldn’t help but lose control and start crying. I felt negative and was in despair. Amidst this painful refinement, I saw the words of God that said: “People bring their ways of serving officials and lords to the house of God, vainly thinking that such ways can be wielded here. Never did they think that God has not the disposition of a lamb but that of a lion. Therefore, those associating with God for the first time are unable to communicate with Him, for the heart of God is unlike that of man. … If you lack real knowledge and are not equipped with the truth, then your service with passion will only bring upon you the loathing and abhorrence of God. Now you should understand that belief in God is no mere study in theology.” “If you are a hypocrite and one who is adept at ‘socializing,’ then I say that you are definitely one who trifles with God. If your words are riddled with excuses and valueless justifications, then I say that you are one who is very unwilling to practice the truth” (“Three Admonitions” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). The indisputably correct judgment in God’s words stunned me. I was exactly that type of deceitful person who despicably attempted to be dishonest in front of God, who relied on Satan’s worldly philosophy in my actions and resisted God. When I reflected on the time since I had become responsible for the church’s work, even though I had unceasingly performed my duty, I was doing it entirely for my brothers and sisters to see me highly, to satisfy my own vanity and even more to safeguard my own status. When the church assessed our degree of entering into the truth, I heard from that sister’s words that in the aspect of recognizing their own corruption, the degree to which the brothers and sisters in our church had entered in was skin-deep. When I was filling out the questionnaire, I consciously answered the questions with an eye to the aspect of knowledge of myself so that this sister wouldn’t think less of me, as well as to imply to her that I had the capability to lead our brothers and sisters to know themselves. In the past I had provided guidance for a sister based on my own will, which led to a serious problem in her work. This ended up causing a great loss to the church. When the church leader brought this up with me, I believed that she didn’t know the whole story, so I feigned ignorance and didn’t mention my own responsibilities. This type of thing happening to me wasn’t just a one-time occurrence, but a consistent way of doing things. I thought of all the times these types of situations had occurred, and my sister had always diligently communicated with me about it to help me understand the truth and know myself, but in order to protect my own face and status I would make excuses to justify myself. I would discuss right and wrong, and wouldn’t accept the help of my sister’s guidance. This seriously impacted the work of the church and could not possibly bring my brothers and sisters true edification or sustenance. That today I was relieved of my duties and reflected on myself was entirely God’s righteousness. This is because God is holy and He does not allow people to bring the worldly pretensions of their machinations into His house to use. He particularly does not allow all those who carry a satanic disposition to lead a church. In the enlightenment and guidance from God, I thought of His words: “If you are especially cordial and loyal to your relatives, friends, wife (or husband), sons and daughters, and parents, and never take advantage of others, yet you cannot be compatible and at peace with Christ, then even if you send your all in relief to your neighbors or have taken good care of your father, mother, and household, I still say that you are wicked, and cunning, too. Do not think that you are compatible with Christ if you are compatible with man or perform some . Do you believe that your kindness can purloin the blessing of Heaven? Do you think that good deeds are a substitute for your obedience?” (“Those Incompatible With Christ Are Surely Opponents of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words laid my essence bare as if cut open with a knife. So-called “good people” in the world are not good people in God’s eyes. Out in the world people can just exhibit good behaviors, but when in the house of God if you cannot carry things out in an upright manner, and you cannot be an honest person, in God’s eyes this is an insidious and deceitful person. Thinking of the fact that from the time I was small up until then I was always working hard to fabricate a positive image, helping and caring for everyone else, constantly monitoring others’ expressions then speaking and acting accordingly. I was willing to accept so much suffering and being wronged in order to maintain this image. These methods to win people over truly did work out in the world and I gained praise from worldly people; this was because they didn’t believe in God and didn’t have the truth. They could not see through to people’s essences, and they could not make out people’s intentions and motives in their actions. They only distinguished between good and evil based on others’ external behavior. It didn’t matter who it was, as long as they pretended well enough and they could do good things on the outside, they could win people over and gain a good reputation. But when I brought these worldly things into the house of God and applied these earthly philosophies to my work in the church, this was exactly what disgusts God. It displays a lack of a sense of justice, and crooked deceitfulness. God is a holy and good God, His love and effort for humans is true and never empty. In order to save mankind, He is willing to sacrifice all without demanding anything. When He speaks and acts there is no adulteration; it is all the natural revelation of His disposition. Therefore, God prefers people with a true representation of themselves, who speak and act sincerely, who do not have pretensions. But my intentions in doing things were not to honestly show consideration for God’s will and satisfy Him, but to have my brothers and sisters look up to me and recognize me. It was to establish my own image and prestige, to satisfy my own desires. I was exactly what God exposed in His words as a deceitful and insidious person. Because the work that God is completing in the last days is that of judgment and chastisement, and changing people’s dispositions, He must expose and purify people through various types of environments. And I, as a church leader, could not be considerate of God’s will; when my brothers and sisters revealed corruption I was not able to help them recognize that in themselves or see through to the essence of the problem to achieve true repentance and change. I only protected my own image in other people’s minds; I was afraid of offending others so I kept my mouth shut and tried to always be the “nice guy.” This meant that the corrupt dispositions of my brothers and sisters could not be resolved in a timely manner—wasn’t this leading them into harm? Don’t I have a terrible heart? Thanks to God’s enlightenment and leading, I finally saw that the attitude of “pursuing others’ high regard, satisfying your own vanity” is a harmful thing, that it is a cancer planted deep within me by Satan! But I had always pursued these as if they were positive things, seeing them as the basis of how to conduct myself and even took them into the house of God to use, cheating God, cheating my brothers and sisters, treating the work of the church as a game. It really was misguided and pitiable. I flattered myself thinking that I was successful at being a good person, but that day under the judgment revealed in God’s word, I finally recognized that everything I was living out was Satan’s demonic disposition. It was not at all what should be lived out in proper humanity. It was the judgment and chastisement of the words of God that made me finally clearly see how Satan corrupts mankind. It had long planted deep within my soul the poisonous seeds of leaving a name for yourself, of saving face, the idea of targeting a person but not their reputation and exposing them but not their shortcomings. This was to poison me, to toy with me, to make me more and more superficial and deceitful, so that I would become a truly deceitful person.
After I recognized the truth that I had been corrupted by Satan, I immediately prayed to God to seek the appropriate truth to resolve my own corruption. Then, I saw these words from God: “My kingdom requires those who are honest, not hypocritical, and not deceitful. Aren’t the sincere and honest people in the world unpopular? I am completely opposite as it. It is acceptable for the honest people to come to Me; I delight in this kind of person, I also need this kind of person. This is precisely My righteousness” (“The Thirty-third Utterance” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “That God asks for people to be honest proves that He really loathes those who are deceitful. God does not like deceitful people, which means that He dislikes their actions, disposition, and even their motivations; that is, God does not like the way they do things, and so, if we are to please God, we must first change our actions and manner of existence. Previously, we relied on lies, pretense, and falsehood to live among people. This was our capital, and the existential basis, life, and foundation by which we lived. And it was all despised by God. … And so, today, the die has been cast: If we are not honest, and if, in our lives, our practice is not directed toward being honest and we don’t reveal our own true face, then we will never have any chance of gaining God’s work or gaining God’s praise” (“To Be Honest, You Should Lay Yourself Open to Others” in Records of Christ’s Talks). The clear guidance in God’s words gave me a standard for being a human being and a direction in my life—to be an honest person. An honest person shows a true representation of themselves and does what they say. There are no pretensions, no personal schemes, they don’t work for reputation or their own benefit. In all things they only seek to satisfy God, and to benefit people’s lives through their words and actions. So only an honest person is a real person, is a person that brings God joy. Only those who become honest people can receive His salvation and enter into God’s kingdom. I can no longer rely on falsehoods and pretensions in my life. I have to change my survival methods, resolve my own intentions in my actions, and no longer live for reputation or status. In all things I must focus on genuinely being a human being, acting according to God’s requirements.