Persecution and Tribulation Perfects True Faith
In 1976, I believed in the, and before long I became a preacher. Over the course of twenty years of spending for the Lord, I had been cruelly persecuted by the Chinese government. Thanks to the Lord’s protection, it made me stand testimony during the persecution and tribulation, and strengthened my faith and resolution to spend for the Lord.
The Chinese atheistic party has issued a document that illegal preaching is forbidden, which required that any preacher of Christianity without a preaching license should be deemed as preaching illegally and be subjected to justice. Therefore, the Chief of the Bureau of Religion ordered the town Mayor You to repeatedly warn me that I must apply for a preaching license and join the Three-Self Church, or they would arrest and put me into prison. I thought: If I join the Three-Self Church, I must preach according to what the government stipulates. Isn’t this betraying the teachings of the Lord Jesus? The Lord Jesus said: “Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20). The Lord’s word said clearly: I should tell brothers and sisters all that the Lord commanded man; I can’t listen to the government and go against the Lord Jesus’ word. Since I, I should obey God. Then, I thought of the Lord’s words: “And he that takes not his cross, and follows after me, is not worthy of me. He that finds his life shall lose it: and he that loses his life for my sake shall find it” (Mat 10:38–39). Right! No matter how many dangers and tribulations lie ahead, I must bear the cross to follow the Lord. So, facing the Mayor You’s warning, I refused solemnly with justice: “I will surely observe the government’s law, but concerning the faith, I must listen to and obey God. What you require isn’t in line with the Lord’s teachings, so I can’t submit to it.” Hearing my words, he pointed at me and roared: “Let’s see! I’ll see how the Chinese Communist Party fixes you. Humph!” After he spoke these words, he left in a huff. Afterward, the government began to persecute and arrest me.
One night, about eleven o’clock, I was jarred awake by a violent knocking. I heard someone shout outside: “We are policemen of the Town Police Station. Open the door!” I shuddered and realized they came to arrest me, so I instinctively got out of bed. My children were so scared that they huddled up and cried in a corner of the bed, daring not to make any movement. On that day, my wife happened to have gone to visit a relative. I comforted my children and said: “The police have come to arrest dad, so dad has to leave and hide. Don’t be afraid at home.” After finishing this only word, I hurried to escape through a hole in the wall of my old mud house. I quietly hid behind my house to hear what happened inside. I could hear the police burst the door open and broke into the room. My children cried more loudly out of fright. Hearing the cries, I felt my heart breaking, and was blazing with anger. I really wanted to rush into the room to protect my children. At that moment, I thought of the Lord’s words: “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. … Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Mat 5:10, 12). The Lord’s word made me calm down little by little. Just then, I heard the police severely frightened my children and asked harshly: “Where is your dad?” Then followed the sound of them rummaging through boxes and chests mingled with my children’s cries. After a while, I heard Mayor You say: “It’s strange! The village secretary said clearly that he was at home. We rushed here as soon as we got the news. How come he is not in?” “Can it be that Niu Li can make himself invisible?” One evil policeman said, sounding perplexed. “I don’t believe Niu Li can get away from us.” You shouted angrily, “Let the village secretary and the neighbors keep monitoring him. Now it is the world of the CCP. Such an incorrigible preacher as he must be put in prison.” Hearing his words, I knew it is impossible to freely believe in God in China that was ruled by an atheistic party, so I prayed to the Lord in my heart and asked Him to give me faith and strength. A few minutes later, I saw a police car was coming quickly on the main road. Then, a policeman got out of the car and shouted: “Mayor You, go back quickly. Your son was beaten up by someone and was hospitalized.” Then, the police cars rushed off. I was so excited that I clenched my fists and cried out: “Thank the Lord! Thank the Lord! It is the Lord who opens a way for me.” I rushed into my house, and saw my children huddled together with fear on their face. I felt grieved, and then moved over to them and comforted them: “Don’t cry. Dad’s here. The policemen have gone. Everything is alright!” Since then, my entire family has led a fearful life because the Chinese government was constantly trying to arrest me.
On the morning of March 3, 1985, of the Chinese traditional calendar, all my family were happily busy with my son’s wedding at home when the local ruffian Gao, a policeman of the Town Police Station, walked into my home. He haughtily showed me the arrest warrant, on which said “Illegal gathering. Illegal preaching.” He said to me: “Today, we finally caught you. Come with me to the police station. Our cars are waiting for you at the entrance of the village.” With these words, he pushed me outside. I said: “As you see, there are so many guests at my home. If I leave, what will my family do?” Gao smiled coldly, saying, “Stop talking nonsense. Go quickly. Since we couldn’t catch you in ordinary days, we will take this opportunity to arrest you.” At that moment, the wedding guests started shouting: “Today is a great and joyous day. How can the police take him away while this wedding ceremony is going on?” “That’s right. This government is really unreasonable.” “Alas, why doesn’t this government arrest bad men but particularly go against those good people who believe in God?” My wife and my sister followed me about fifty meters, they stamped their feet, shouting to the policeman and crying: “We aren’t against the law in believing in God. How can you arbitrarily arrest him?” “Your heart is too cruel. How can you arrest him on his son’s wedding day?” Hearing the cries of my wife and sister, I became even more miserable. I had to pray in my heart: “Oh, Lord, encountering this thing must contain Your good will. I commit all my family to You….” When I was taken to the police station, I came to know Wu, the Deputy Director of the County Public Security Bureau, specially came to the local police station to arrest me. Wu pointed at me with his finger and said fiercely: “Niu Li, run away if you can. How dare you preach against the government’s stipulation? I don’t believe that you are unable to be subdued. This time I will let you learn the hard way from experience.” Then, he ordered Chai, the chief of the local police station: “You send him to the County Detention House.” Chai bowed obsequiously and said: “Yes sir! Yes sir!” After that, they locked me in a room. While I was worried about what means they would use to interrogate me, I thought of the Lord Jesus’ words: “And you shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what you shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what you shall speak. For it is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaks in you” (Mat 10:18–20). The Lord’s words gave me strength, so I knelt down and prayed to the Lord: “Oh, Lord, now I know Your will is letting me bear testimony for You. No matter what kind of means the police use on me, I won’t betray You. Please give me strength and the words I should say.” At two o’clock in the afternoon, they sent me to the County Detention House. As the policemen took me to a cell where thirty-seven prisoners were detained, a foul smell assailed my nostrils. A policeman pulled me to the toilet and pushed my head down to the squat toilet, saying maliciously: “Get a good whiff of it.” About three minutes later, he released me, but he said to the head of the cell: “He believes in God; teach him a good lesson!” Then, the policemen left. According to what he was told, the head of the cell let me stand against the wall, recite the prison regulations, clean the toilet, sleep on the concrete floor, and so on. They used different kinds of methods to torture me; as long as I wasn’t in line with their will, they would give me bashes and kicks.
Afterward, I was taken to an interrogation room. Chen, the Chief of the Interrogation Section, fiercely ordered me to kneel down. “As a believer in God, I only kneel to God, not to people.” I said. Seeing that I didn’t do as he said, Chen said in exasperation: “If you don’t kneel down, I’ll sentence you to several years of hard labor.” At his threatening words, I didn’t know how many years they would sentence me, so I became somewhat weak within. At this point, I remembered the Lord Jesus’ words: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. … But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear you not therefore …” (Mat 10: 28, 30, 31). The Lord’s word gave me faith and strength, and made me no longer be afraid. Then, Chen said: “The government forbids preachers talking about Revelation and, but you insist on doing it, so you can be sentenced according to this.” I answered: “Since the Bible contains Revelation, I must talk about it.” They saw I didn’t obey them, so they intended to screw me: They asked me alone to dig a hectare of land; when I was tired and wanted to have a rest, the evil police didn’t allow me to rest, but stared at me and said ironically: “Are you feeling tired? Don’t you believe in God? Why don’t you pray to your God and ask Him to come to help you dig?” Without any choice, I had to sustain my efforts with my exhausted body and go on digging. Sometimes, when I couldn’t bear it any longer, I prayed to the Lord and asked Him to keep my heart from submitting to and giving in to Satan. At that time, the Director and Deputy Director of the County Public Security Bureau, the Chief of Interrogation Section, and three other people discussed amongst each other to sentence me to hard labor on a trumped-up charge, but under the Lord’s protection, their trick didn’t work. I was released forty days later after being put into the detention house. Just as the Bible says: “The king’s heart is in the hand of Jehovah, as the rivers of water: He turns it wherever He will” (Proverbs 21:1). I saw: Though the Chinese government wantonly persecutes us, yet without the Lord’s permission, no one of my hairs will be lost. After this experience, I had a firmer resolution to follow the Lord. When I went back, I continued to preach the gospel, give sermons, and sustain the church.
In order to prevent me from preaching, the government monitored me all the time and didn’t give me the slightest freedom. When the first-generation identity cards were issued in China, all our villagers went to apply, so did I. But when others got their identity cards, I didn’t receive mine, so I went to ask the village secretary about the reason. He said: “You’re not allowed to obtain an ID card from the police station. They said that if you got your identity card, then you would preach everywhere, so I won’t give it to you.” After I heard his words, I was very indignant, thinking, “These people are so malicious. They actually use such base means to hinder me from going out to preach. Although they had withheld my identity card for 20-odd years, they still failed to prevent me from traveling everywhere to preach and work. Glory be to the Lord!
When the Chinese government saw I still preached everywhere, they tried to arrest me many times, but because of God’s protection, I wasn’t arrested by them. One night in September of 1987, about eight o’clock, I rode my bike and just reached the main road in front of my house. Suddenly I saw two police cars flicking the warning lamp and were going fast toward my home from half a kilometer away. I knew this was the police coming to arrest me, so I immediately rode my bike fleeing along the secluded alleyways to the outside of the village. When I approached the lock-bridge, the only exit to the village, I saw a police car was parked across the bridge, with its lights flashing. I hurriedly lay down my bike in the dark, and lay prone in the sweet potato field by the road. For a while, I saw several policemen walked toward the police car. One of them asked loudly: “Have you seen if Niu Li has come through here? We went to his home a minute ago, but he wasn’t at home. Some villagers saw Niu Li ride his bike and fled this way.” A policeman inside the car answered: “We have been here all the time. We didn’t see him. He must be around here somewhere. He couldn’t have run too far. Let’s quickly search around here.” With these words, several policemen were shining their lights and walked into the sweet potato field to search for me. So I immediately bent down and went into a cotton field. A few minutes later, one policeman found the place where I had lain prone just moments ago; he shot up in the sky several times. All the other policemen gathered around him, and the policeman said: “Look, these sweet potato vines were pushed down; this must be a place where he hid. Let’s search quickly. He can’t flee this time.” The sound of the pistol and their talk gave me the creeps and made me break out in a cold sweat. I hadn’t thought they would come to arrest me with guns this time. I thought: If they can’t find me, then they will shoot blindly to the field. Won’t I die at once? I squatted in the cotton field and dared not to make any movement, afraid that I could be discovered by them. With this crisis, I kept praying to the Lord in my heart: “Oh, Lord, my life is in Your hand. Please watch over and protect me. Without Your permission, I can’t fall into the hands of the police.” After my prayer, my heart calmed down a lot. So, I bent down and carefully left the cotton field, and then crawled along a path by the ditch. I crawled about half a kilometer, crossed a dyke, and then ran to the home of Brother Li whose family all believe in the Lord; only then did I feel safe.
The police hadn’t arrested me; therefore, they frequently went to my home to arrest me. I thought of the Lord’s word: “But when they persecute you in this city, flee you into another” (Mat 10:23). So, I left my home and family, and went to another county to preach and build churches.
In my personal experiences, I saw: The Chinese government outwardly puts up banners saying “religious freedom,” but secretly uses every possible means to persecute religious belief and hinder people from believing in God. The Chinese government indeed is the satanic regime that persecutes God. Thank the Lord for His watching over and protection of me, so that I can overcome the Chinese government’s arrest and persecution time and again. In the persecution and tribulation, I had a firmer faith in and love of the Lord.