My name is Zhao Xia. I was born to an ordinary family. Due to the influence of dictums like “A man leaves his name behind wherever he stays, just as a goose utters its cry wherever it flies,” and “As a tree lives for its bark, a man lives for his face,” reputation and face became particularly important to me. Everything I did was to earn other people’s praise, compliments, and admiration. After getting married, the goals I set for myself were: I will live a wealthier life than others; I must not let anyone say negative things about how I treat the elderly or about my behavior and conduct; and I will make sure my child gets into a famous university and has good prospects, so as to add more luster to my face. Therefore, I never quarreled with my in-laws. Sometimes, when they said harsh things to me, I would feel so aggrieved that I’d hide and cry rather than give them attitude. When I saw others buy clothes for their parents during Chinese New Year and other holidays, I would immediately go buy some for my mother-in-law, and it would be of the best quality too. When relatives came to visit, I would help buy food and cook. Even when it was a little tough or tiring I would still be completely willing. Afraid I would be less well off than others, I left my baby daughter behind a month after giving birth to her and went straight back to work. As a result, my daughter suffered from malnutrition and became only skin and bones because she couldn’t drink my breast milk. Her situation improved only after 100 nutritional injections, while I was so tired that I had a sore back every day. Though it was difficult and tiring, I endured the hardship and gave tirelessly for the sake of earning a good reputation. In just a few short years, I became a famous daughter-in-law in the village, and my family became wealthy and envied by people around us. As a result, my in-laws, neighbors, relatives and friends were all full of praise for me. In the face of praise and compliments from those around me, my vanity was greatly satisfied. I felt my hardships over the last few years were not in vain, and I was very flattered inside. However, my serene life was interrupted after my brother-in-law got married. His wife always spoke to me sarcastically, saying that I had ulterior motives in treating our mother-in-law well because I just wanted her assets. She always said that our mother-in-law was biased since she gave us more things than she gave them, and we often argued as a result of this. I felt very aggrieved and wanted to argue with her in public to protest my innocence, but it would ruin the good image I had built up in people’s hearts. Hence, I would force myself to hold back, and when I could bear it no longer I would have a big cry in private. Afterward, the sister-in-law pushed her luck by occupying the land distributed to my side of the family, which made me shake from anger and not eat or drink for days. I even wanted to fight it out with her. However, thinking that it would make me lose face, damage my reputation, and make those around me look down to me, I swallowed it all up, but inside I felt so suppressed that I was in torment. I looked sad and sighed all day, feeling like it was too painful and tiring to live and not knowing when there would be an end to such a life.
Man’s end really is God’s beginning. Right when I was in pain and feeling helpless,reached out His hands of salvation toward me. One day, my neighbor asked me: “Do you believe in the existence of God?” I answered: “Who doesn’t? I believe God exists.” She then said that the God she believes in is the one and only true God who created the universe and all things, and that in the beginning, mankind lived in God’s blessings because they worshiped God, but after they were corrupted by Satan, they no longer worshiped God and thus lived under God’s curse and in pain. Almighty God of came to bestow upon people and save them from the abyss of misery. In addition, she also communicated her own experience of believing in God. After listening to her communication, I felt I had found my closest confidant, and could not help but tell of all the pain in my heart. Afterward, she read a passage of God’s word to me: “When you are weary and when you begin to feel the desolation of this world, do not be perplexed, do not cry. Almighty God, the Watcher, will embrace your arrival any time. He is watching by your side, waiting for you to turn back. He is waiting for the day your memory suddenly recovers: becoming conscious of the fact that you came from God, somehow and somewhere once lost, falling unconscious on the roadside, and then, unknowingly having a ‘father.’ You further realize that the Almighty has been watching there, awaiting your return all along” (“The Sighing of the Almighty” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words flowed into my heart like a warm current, consoling my painful and sad heart, and I could not stop my tears from falling. In that moment, I felt like a wandering child in suffering who had suddenly returned to the embrace of her mother. There was an unspeakable excitement and emotion in my heart. I kept thanking God, for He took me to His house and cared for me when I had nowhere else to go. I shall follow God with my heart and soul! Since then, I read God’s words, prayed to God, and sang to praise God every day, which made me feel especially relaxed in my heart. Through attending meetings, I saw that brothers and sisters were much like a big family, even though they are not related by blood. Their interactions were simple and open, full of understanding, tolerance, and patience, and without jealousy, conflict and scheming or pretension and duplicity. They did not bully the poor while loving the rich, and were all able to treat everyone with sincerity and equality. My heart would feel especially free when we sang hymns praising God together. I hence fell in love with this loving and warm, fair and joyous church life. I became convinced that Almighty God is the one true God and made up my mind that I would follow Him to the very end.
Through reading God’s words, I understood God’s urgent desire of saving mankind to the greatest extent possible, and saw that many brothers and sisters were doing their utmost to give and expend for the sake of spreading the kingdom testimonies of God’s work of the last days. Who knew that after communicating with her for three straight days she would not only have no intention of accepting and would instead yell toward me: “How brazen you are! I already said I don’t believe it, and yet you won’t stop preaching.” Her words struck me right where it hurts. My face burned as though I had just been slapped several times in public, while my heart ached with wave after wave of dull pain. I thought: I came to preach to you with good intentions and exhausted myself helping you with your work until my back got sore, and yet instead of accepting it, you treated me like this. How heartless you are! I felt extremely humiliated and did not want to talk to her anymore, but I also felt that this was not in line with God’s intentions, so I prayed silently in my heart and suppressed my inner pain to continue communicating with her while helping with her work. However, no matter how hard I communicated I could still not get through to her. I collapsed like a deflated rubber ball upon returning home. The words of my preaching target kept showing up in my head. The more I thought about it the more I suffered: Why am I bothering? All I got in return for my good intentions were jeers, slander, and abuse. This really is too unjust! No one had ever treated me like that. Spreading the gospel is simply too painful and difficult! No, I cannot go out to preach the gospel anymore! If I continue preaching I won’t have any face left to see anyone. Just when I felt so wronged and in pain that I was no longer willing to preach the gospel, the words of God enlightened me: “Are you aware of the burden you shoulder, your commission, and your responsibility? Where is your historic sense of mission? … They are poor, pitiable, blind, and at a loss, wailing in the darkness, ‘Where is the way?’ How they yearn for the light, like a shooting star, to suddenly descend and disperse the force of darkness that has oppressed men for so many years. Who can know just how anxiously they hope, and how they pine day and night for this? These men who suffer deeply remain imprisoned in the dungeons of darkness, without hope of release, even on the day that the light flashes; when will they weep no longer? These fragile spirits who have never been granted rest are truly suffering such misfortune. They have long been sealed off by the ruthless ropes and the history that is frozen in place. Who has ever heard the sound of their wailing? Who has ever seen their miserable visage? Have you ever thought how grieved and anxious God’s heart is? How can He bear to see the innocent mankind He created with His own hands suffering such torment? After all, mankind are the unfortunates that have been poisoned. Though they have survived to this day, who would have thought that they have long been poisoned by the evil one? Have you forgotten that you are one of the victims? Out of your love for God, are you not willing to strive to save those who have survived? Are you not willing to use all your effort to repay the God who loves mankind like His own flesh and blood?” (“How Should You Attend to Your Future Mission” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). The lines between God’s words all revealed His concern and anxious sadness and care for innocent people. God cannot bear to see people created by His own hands fooled and harmed by Satan. God keeps bitterly waiting for mankind to return to His house soon and receive the great salvation He has bestowed upon them. Yet when I was faced with a few harsh words from my preaching target, I felt wronged and tormented and complained about the hardship and suffering. I was even no longer willing to cooperate because I had lost face. Where was my conscience and reason? To save us corrupted people in the last days, God has been continuously hunted and persecuted by the government, abandoned, condemned, blasphemed and slandered by religious circles, and misunderstood and resisted by us followers of God. The pain and humiliation God had suffered is too much, too great! However, God did not abandon His salvation of mankind, and continued to supply mankind’s need in obscurity. God’s love is too great! His essence is too beautiful and kind! My hardships today are nothing compared to the suffering God has endured for the sake of saving mankind! I recalled that I was also a victim, someone who had been harmed by Satan for years. If God had not stretched out His hands of salvation to me, I would still be struggling painfully in the dark, unable to find the light and the hope of living. Having enjoyed God’s salvation, I should bear the humiliation and pain to do my utmost to cooperate with God, fulfill my duty properly, and bring those innocent people still being harmed by Satan before God. This is more valuable and meaningful than any job in the world, and is worthwhile no matter how much suffering has to be endured! When I thought of this, I no longer felt that preaching the gospel is a painful thing, and instead felt fortunate to be able to coordinate with the kingdom gospel. This was my honor and also God’s exaltation. I made up my mind: No matter what kind of hardships I have to encounter in my gospel work, I will give my all and bring more and more people who hunger for God before Him to comfort His heart! Afterward, I threw myself back into gospel work again.. I thus also became actively involved in the preaching of the gospel. God’s work of the last days is to save and change mankind. To purify and change me, God targeted my corrupt nature and executed His chastisement and as well as mercy and salvation upon me time and time again. One time, I went to preach the gospel to a potential believer. When I found out she was a leader, I made up my mind to coordinate with God to bring her before Him no matter what. It was the busy farming season at the time. After seeing how busy she was with farm work, I went to work alongside her while giving her
Following a period of training, whenever I encountered a preaching target who had a bad attitude or spoke harsh words to me during the fulfilling of my duty, I would be able to deal with it in the right way and continue to cooperate with a loving heart. Because of this, I felt I had changed and no longer cared as much about face and status. But when God set up another environment to test me based on what I needed in life, I was thoroughly exposed once again. One day, the leader ofasked me how I had been doing lately and also communicated God’s current intentions and way of practice. When I found out during the conversation that she would be transferred to another church to fulfill her duty, I could not help but feel a wave of excitement: It is possible that I could be made the leader of the church after she leaves. If so, I must really cooperate well! Just as I was feeling secretly happy, the sister said that another sister in my village would be coming over tomorrow. My heart churned as soon as I heard it: What is she coming for? Is she going to be made the new leader of the church? I could not help but grow nervous: She has not believed in God for as long as I have, and also she comes from the same village as me. If she is made leader, then what about my face? How would brothers and sisters see me? They will surely say that I don’t pursue the truth as much as she does. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I tossed and turned in bed at night, unable to fall asleep. During the meeting the next day, I paid constant attention to the tone and attitude of what the leader was saying because I desperately wanted to know who would be chosen as the new leader of the church. Whenever the leader looked at me as she spoke, I felt hopeful of being made leader. My face would fill with joy and I would nod and agree with whatever she said. On the other hand, whenever the leader faced the other sister while speaking, I would become certain that the sister would be named leader, and feel depressed and be in agony as a result. Over those couple of days, I was tormented by face and status so much that I became anxious and distracted. I lost my appetite and even felt that time was passing especially slow, as though it had been frozen. The church leader could see the situation I was in, so she found a passage of God’s word for me to read: “You are now followers, and you have some understanding of this stage of work. However, you have still not put aside your desire for status. When your status is high you seek well, but when your status is low you no longer seek. The blessings of status are always on your mind.” “Although you have gotten to this step today, you still have not let go of status, but are always struggling to ‘inquire about’ it and observing it daily…. The more you seek this way the less you will reap. The greater a person’s desire for status, the more seriously they will have to be dealt with and the more they must undergo great refinement. That kind of person is too worthless! They must be dealt with and judged adequately in order for them to thoroughly let go of that. If you pursue this way until the end, you will reap nothing. Those who do not pursue life cannot be transformed; those who do not thirst for the truth cannot gain the truth. You don’t focus on pursuing personal transformation and entering in; you always focus on those extravagant desires, and things that constrain your love for God and restrain you from getting close to Him. Can those things transform you? Can they bring you into the kingdom?” (“Why Aren’t You Willing to Be a Foil?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Each line of God’s words knocked at my heart, making me feel that God was beside me, monitoring my every word and movement. I could not help but self-reflect on my thoughts and actions over these past two days. I realized that my view of pursuit was too base and influenced by dictums like “As a tree lives for its bark, a man lives for his face,” and “A man leaves his name behind wherever he stays, just as a goose utters its cry wherever it flies.” I always wanted status so I could win more praise from others, which resulted in me being tormented by face and status so much that I became anxious and distracted, lost my appetite and couldn’t fall asleep, and made a fool of myself like a buffoon. Such an environment was set up by God in accordance with my situation. It was God’s love falling upon me. God’s work today was to save me, to help me escape the dark influences of Satan so I could achieve salvation. The way I was pursuing ran contrary to God’s work and requirements. I would not have been able to receive God’s approval even if I had believed in Him until the end. I would have been left with nothing! I therefore prayed silently to God: “Oh God! I am willing to obey Your work, walk on the right path of believing in God in accordance with Your requirements, and put in effort on Your word to achieve understanding of the truth and get rid of my corrupt disposition. Regardless of whether I am made leader, I will pursue the truth and pay attention to changing the things on me that do not satisfy Your intentions.” After understanding God’s intentions, I felt especially calm in my heart and enjoyed communicating no matter what the content was. After the meeting, the church leader said that, based on the recommendations of the majority of brothers and sisters, the sister would be the new leader of the church, and that I would coordinate with her work. I was very calm inside and readily accepted, agreeing work in harmony with the sister to fulfill our duty.