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 second half of the story of one such church member; part one can be found here.
This first-hand translation of Guan’s experience has been edited for clarity.
Crossing My Bottom Line
At 5 p.m., the police officer came to the interrogation room and told me, “Your team leader [from work] is here to bail you out.”
When I came out, I was surprised to see my father sitting just outside the case area. It turns out, they had gone to my old house to bring my father here in a police car. I also got in the police car. In the car, the police officers kept criticizing my faith, saying it would endanger future generations.
My father came in a second time, and even tried to physically knock some sense into me. I came out after 9 p.m. that night, under a lot of pressure.
The police took us to the station. Once we got there, the officer, my father, and my team leader all counseled me. They told me, both explicitly and implicitly, that I must commit perjury [and say that I was defrauded into tithing to the church]. If I did not, I risked being fired from my job. My father was very concerned. I said that, if I told this lie, I would be crossing my bottom line.
After I refused to cooperate – part of me was demonstrating loyalty [to God and my church] – I was called to another office. There, five or six police officers handling the case talked to me. My father came in a second time, and even tried to physically knock some sense into me. I came out after 9 p.m. that night, under a lot of pressure.
Jesus Gave Me Peace in Temptation
When I came out of the station, I learned that many other believers who had jobs were also determined not to lie about their donations. I thanked the Lord when I learned this. I thanked God for showing me my pride, and helping me to see that not only can I remain true, but many other believers can do it as well. This is God’s power, not my conscience or my own righteousness.
A few days later, my work unit again asked me to write a confession. When I refused to do this, I was suspended from my job. I thank God that he gave me peace throughout the process, and I also thanked him that I was able to return to work soon after.
Later, some other friends from our church were arrested. I was glad that I was still safe, but I was also worried about our church. There were only women and children left; the men were all gone. The Lord led me to read Scripture. As I read, I was moved many times. I especially read the account of when Jesus was tempted by Satan: “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came…”
Those who tempt us will use our other relationships – with parents, spouses, children, or leaders – and will constantly tell us that these relationships are more important than our relationship with the Father. Jesus gave us an example when he reminded us not to test God.
This reminds me that food is more than just nourishment; it is vital for survival. Satan thinks that we need food, and will not survive without it. But when Satan tempted him to eat, the God-Man, Jesus, said: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” He overcame that temptation.
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The second temptation followed: “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command His angels concerning you,’ and ‘on their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” In the face of the devil’s temptation, even the slightest doubt in his heart would have created a rift between Jesus and the Father. Jumping would mean he doubted; not jumping could mean that what God said would not happen. But Jesus replied with wisdom and great faith: “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”
Those who tempt us will use our other relationships – with parents, spouses, children, or leaders – and will constantly tell us that these relationships are more important than our relationship with the Father. Jesus gave us an example when he reminded us not to test God. Thanks be that he was victorious!
Finally, the Tempter took the glory of the nations and said to Jesus, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” The implication is that those who do not listen will not survive in society, and will have a future full of suffering. But Jesus said, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Angels came, and ministered to him. Jesus was victorious by the Word of God.
I experienced the same temptations as Jesus, and Jesus gave me peace so I can now say, “Be gone, Satan!” When I was afraid, the Lord reminded me that I might fail, but God would raise up even stones to praise him. The Lord did not need me – I needed him. I served God with trembling assurance, asking him to give me strength.
Beauty Through Persecution
Later, through reading the Bible, God allowed me to experience the power of the resurrection. He also opened my eyes and showed me that I still belonged to this world: my values were still those of the “walking dead.” I do not want to cherish the same values as the world, which are based on Satan and lived out by pursuing perishable money, power, and status. Instead, we must establish values based on God, and lived out in the pursuit of God’s imperishable love.
I am grateful for this persecution, and would not take a trillion dollars in exchange for it, because through it I experienced the beauty of Jesus.
We love every person in this world, and all things God has created. Because of that, we hate anything that does not have the image of God: deceit, threats, and lies. We love those things that have his image: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness. The more we know God, the more we live his love and joy, and experience life “on earth as it is in heaven.” As the Bible says: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
I thank God that I was resurrected after experiencing this persecution. I am grateful for this persecution, and would not take a trillion dollars in exchange for it, because through it I experienced the beauty of Jesus.
I was not ready and was afraid, but God showed me that martyrdom and persecution can be wonderful things. May God use our church in great ways, and may he use an insignificant person like me. May our testimony bless other churches, and encourage and comfort all believers!
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 that God will show believers who are experiencing pressure the blessing of their persecution. Pray they will know and love God more because of their experiences.