Editor’s note: In the last several years, more churches in China have experienced persecution and/or pressure. This is still not the only story that is true of the Chinese house church, but more and more pastors and laypeople are preparing themselves to stand firm when they are pressured to betray God and their fellow church members. This is the story of one such church member. The second part of this story can be found here.
This first-hand translation of Guan’s experience has been edited for clarity.
“I Was Very Nervous”
Last year, a friend and I took our children to climb a nearby mountain during summer vacation. I did not expect our pleasant trip to be interrupted by police. But on an August night, we were all arrested and taken back to our local police station. My wife was pregnant and I was very nervous, so I did what the police told me to do that night, and cooperated in any way I could.
A few days later, the head of my work unit called and told me that authorities had asked him to cooperate with police in their investigation [of me] so his job would not be affected. The day after that, police called and asked me to come in and make a statement. I was on another trip, but I returned that very day to make my statement, thinking they would then leave me alone. When I arrived, I found that, since I was not home, my brother had been taken into custody in my stead. He was released later that night. My summons showed that I had been deemed a “suspect.” That news scared me.
My summons showed that I had been deemed a ‘suspect.’ That news scared me.
The next day, I went to the police station for the first time. My wife was pregnant [and I knew they would not harass her too much], so I deflected everything the police asked me onto her. When they asked if I believed in Jesus, I did not deny my belief. Instead, I said I did not know. When they asked about my children’s education, I said my wife was in charge, and I did not know much about it. They asked about tithing, and I told them why wife was in charge of finances. She gave me monthly pocket money, and I did not tithe out of that.
During that interrogation, the police told me I should not be a two-faced person, like Judas. I was struggling in my heart, and at the time I even felt God was speaking to me through the police. But because of fear, I did not dare to confess my faith in the Lord. I signed the police summons that day, and they released me home, asking me to return the next morning. When I went to the police station for the second time, my interrogation lasted from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
While I was away that day, other police came to my house and threatened my pregnant wife and my sick mother-in-law. My mother-in-law was so frightened by the police that she clenched her hands and had trouble breathing. When they arrived, the police started to search my house. God gave my wife the courage to stop them from searching everything, but they did take photos of all they searched through. When I came home and found out about this, I was scared. I was afraid they would ask me questions I would not know how to answer about the things they photographed. My wife told me to deflect all questions to her, and to let the police ask her.
The police continued to call me in. I went one day to give a statement, but thank the Lord, this time was about other things, and I went home that evening. Two days later I went again. This time, when I had just arrived at the station, the police told me directly that I was not honest. They took out my bank statement and asked me if I had ever given money to the church. I was confused as to how to answer.
The police told me I should not be a two-faced person, like Judas. I was struggling in my heart, and at the time I even felt God was speaking to me through the police. But because of fear, I did not dare to confess my faith in the Lord.
“God Took Care Of Us”
I must share this testimony: a few years ago, I lost a really large amount of money in online gambling. When I was at my most helpless, God allowed me to pay off the money I lost through gambling without affecting the needs of my family. God took care of us, and my wife did not blame me at all, even when I was cheated online. She prayed for me, and we worked together to pay off the debt, giving glory to God Almighty. So after all that, it was ironic when the police wanted me to say I was cheated out of the money I voluntarily gave to God! It did not matter what I saw, heard, or felt. What mattered was what the police had already decided I should say.
One night, I learned that the charge of “fraud” is very serious. [In China, the charge of “fraud” is often levied against Christians because their churches collect tithes and offerings. Usually, these charges are pressed against pastors and church leaders. In this case, several church leaders who had gone on this trip to the mountains were charged with fraud, and church members like this man were asked to testify against and condemn their friends.] I saw photos posted online of my friends’ children, missing their parents. Out of loyalty to my friends, I consciously decided I could not betray them [by confessing to being cheated out of money when I tithed]. After that decision, the police repeatedly verbally abused me. They tempted me, threatened me, used my parents, my children, and various other means to force me to betray my Lord and my friends.
Would You Pray With Us Today?
I told Zhao: ‘I am very weak, and may not be able to make it tomorrow. Please pray for me!’ The hymn Zhao chose to share was very comforting for me. She also prayed for me. One of the phrases she prayed touched my heart: ‘I ordained from before the foundation of the world that you should experience these things.’
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After I was released at 9 p.m. on my fourth day of questioning, I was told to come back the next day. My wife had spent that day at the home of Zhao, at her house. I told Zhao: “I am very weak, and may not be able to make it tomorrow. Please pray for me!” The hymn Zhao chose to share was very comforting for me. She also prayed for me. One of the phrases she prayed touched my heart: “I ordained from before the foundation of the world that you should experience these things.” I thanked the Lord, and went home in peace.
I arrived at the police station the next morning for my fifth day of questioning. They turned on their recorder and asked me three times if I would acknowledge their predetermined conclusion [that I was cheated out of money when I donated to the church]. Then, I was taken to another area of the station. I signed a summons, and was handcuffed. It became inconvenient for me to eat or even go to the bathroom. Zhao’s words from the night before gave me a lot of strength.
Guan Kai is a pseudonym for a Chinese Christian man who has experienced, alongside his church body, a significant amount of pressure and persecution.
Pray for Guan Kai and other Chinese Christians who are fearful when they are persecuted.