When the Lord returns, how can we recognize His voice and welcome Him?
By Li Ai, Italy
“Don’t move and don’t scream! Do what I say, or this knife will end both you and your child!” said the vicious ruffian, threatening an unarmed pregnant woman with a sharp knife.
This was something that happened to Li Ai over 10 years before, and she still felt a lingering fear when thinking about it even now. After it was over, however, what she felt most of all was gratitude to God, for at that time of danger, had it not been for God’s guidance and protection, she dreads to think what might have happened.
It was October 2006, and Li Ai and her husband had bought a house in the suburbs. Because the house was far from where her husband worked, they decided to rent the house out. It wasn’t long before a middle-aged man who’d said he owned a factory took the lease, and said that his family would be moving in. Li Ai spoke with the man twice and, after the price and other matters were agreed upon, all they needed was for the contract to be signed.
One afternoon, Li Ai and the man agreed to meet at her home to sign the contract, but just as they were about to sign, something Li Ai could never have foreseen happened. The man led Li Ai into the small bedroom and, before Li Ai could do anything to prevent it, he suddenly drew out a sharp knife and, pointing it at her seven months pregnant belly, yelled, “Don’t move and don’t scream! Do what I say, or this knife will end both you and your child! This is what I do, and I’ve been in prison before now.” Li Ai was struck dumb by this unexpected turn of events and she felt as though she were dreaming. She never would have thought that today she would be starring in her own movie or TV drama, and she just couldn’t believe that the man she had just been exchanging pleasantries with could become such a ruthless killer in the blink of an eye. Li Ai instantly felt incredible panic and fear rising up within her and her heart was beating furiously. She thought to herself: “I’m finished. I’m going to die. Will he really hurt me? What will I do if something happens to my child?” Thinking these thoughts, so as to protect the child in her womb, she mustered her courage and said to the man, “You mustn’t do this. If your mother knew you were doing something like this, she would be so angry. And you will be a parent too some day, so you absolutely must not do anything so ruthless and unfeeling….” Without even waiting for Li Ai to finish speaking, the man just grinned and laughed coldly. “Hah! Don’t talk crap. This is who I am, and that’s that!” As he said this, he forced Li Ai into a corner of the room and made her stand against the wall. He then stabbed his finger at her and yelled, “Put down your phone and then raise your hands. Stand there and don’t move!” Li Ai was so afraid, and she had no idea what the ruffian might do to her next. So as not to enrage him, she had no choice but to do as he said. Just as Li Ai was putting down her phone, she felt even more anxious, as her phone was the only thing she could use to contact the outside world. Now the ruffian had taken it from her, so how would she be able to get help now?
Without giving Li Ai any time to think, the ruffian then barked at her, saying, “Be a good girl and give me your bank card!” The ruffian kept his knife pointed at Li Ai the whole time and glared at her menacingly. Between money and life, Li Ai knew that her life and the life of her unborn child were the most important, and so she took out her bank card and gave it to the ruffian. She’d thought that if she gave him her money then it would all be over. To her surprise, once she had given him her bank card, he twisted her hands behind her back and took out a cord from one of his pockets. He tightly tied both her hands and her feet, and Li Ai was unable to move even an inch. The ruffian then brought out from a pocket a small, bright knife, which he waved back and forth in front of her face, saying aggressively, “Tell me the pin number for your bank card. If you try to cheat me, then I’ll come back and both you and your baby are done for. One stab of this knife and both you and your child are dead! Think it over!” Li Ai saw the ruffian pointing his knife at her belly and her heart instantly began to race. She thought: “What can I do? What can I do? If he decides to stab me then both me and my baby will die. Who will come to save us both?” In her dire state, Li Ai thought of how her mom and her elder sister had always urged her over and over to never ever forget to pray to God no matter what difficulty she found herself in. They told her that God is the Creator and that people were His creations; they said that God gave us our very breath, and that everything that happens and every person we meet every day is all held under the sovereignty of God’s hands, and that God has the final say on everything. “Yes,” she thought. “I am a believer in God and God is our only support in times of danger. I must rely on God!” Thinking this, Li Ai hurriedly called on God: “O God! I’m so afraid right now and I’m so worried about my safety and that of my unborn child. O God! You orchestrate all things and I wish to place everything in Your hands. May You guide me through this predicament.” After praying,came into her mind: “Be not afraid; with My support, who could ever block the road? Remember this! Remember!” (“Chapter 10” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning). God’s words carried authority and power and they gave Li Ai both faith and strength. She thought: “Yes, only God is the sturdy ground beneath my feet and only God is my refuge. With God as my support, no one can do anything to me. My life and the life of my child are in God’s hands, as is this ruffian. Unless God permits it, this ruffian won’t be able to harm even one hair on my head. I must have , rely on God and experience His deeds!” God’s words brought comfort to Li Ai’s heart, she was no longer worried or afraid, and her nervous heart gradually became calm. Li Ai then began to think coolly about what to do next. She thought of these words in : “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (1 Timothy 6:8). “Money can only ever be something outside of ourselves,” she thought. “We don’t bring any into the world and we can’t take any with us when we die. The most important thing now is that my baby and I are safe, and I need to keep my baby from feeling my fright.” Thinking this, Li Ai told the ruffian her pin number without the slightest hesitation. After he had her bank card and her pin number, he said in a false way, “And what time will your husband be home? Perhaps we should give him a call and get him to leave work a little early today.” Just then, Li Ai dared not depart from God for a second and she continually called on God, asking Him to guide her to see through Satan’s deceitful schemes and to allow her to understand what she should do in this situation. She then thought of how her and her husband had just purchased a house and that all their savings were gone. The bank card she had just given the ruffian was for an account that only had around 800 yuan left in it, and she knew it would not be enough to satisfy his greedy desires. If he really did call her husband and used her and her unborn child as hostages, and he threatened her husband and got him to bring money to exchange for their lives, then that would be even worse. Thinking this, Li Ai felt anxious. All she could do was pray to God and ask Him to protect them, and she paid no more heed to anything the ruffian said. The ruffian then became crazed with rage and stuffed a cloth in her mouth and strapped it in place with sticky tape. He then closed all the windows and closed the bedroom door and locked it, before making his getaway.
Li Ai stood in that small, stuffy room, and loneliness and terror instantly flooded her mind. She thought of her very first child suffocating to death inside her for lack of oxygen. Her mouth was sealed shut and her nose was obstructed, and all the doors and windows were closed tight. To stay in such a room with no air flow for a long time, not only would her child be unable to bear it but she herself would suffocate to death. In her pain and helplessness, Li Ai called on God: “O God! I’m so worried that my child won’t get enough oxygen, and I’m afraid that the ruffian will take out the money in that account and be unhappy with how little it is, and then come back to threaten us. O God! My life and that of my unborn child are in Your hands. I entrust our lives to You and ask You to watch over and protect us!” After praying, Li Ai thought of God’s words that say: “Almighty God, the Head of all things, wields His kingly power from His throne. He rules over the universe and all things and He is guiding us on the whole earth. … The life of the resurrected Christ is within us. We really lack faith in the presence of God, and may God put true faith within us. The word of God is sweet indeed! God’s word is potent medicine! Put to shame the devils and Satan! If we grasp God’s word we will have support and His word will quickly save our hearts! It dispels all things and sets all in peace” (“Chapter 6” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning). God’s words once again gave Li Ai faith and strength; she understood that God administers all things and that the entire universe and all things in it are orchestrated in His hands. She also understood that, as long as we, and we rely on Him and look to Him with a sincere heart, then God will lead us to overcome every obstacle. Li Ai was now in this situation and she believed that all was in God’s hands. Whatever the outcome may be, she thought, even if both she and her child died, she would never blame God. Just then, Li Ai said a silent prayer to God, and she entrusted her difficulties into God’s hands. After praying, her mind that had been filled with fear and terror gradually began to calm down. The thought suddenly came to her that she could use the door handle to rub off the tape covering her mouth, as then she’d be able to breathe normally again. And so, she slowly moved herself over to the room door and managed to rub off the tape from her mouth. She then moved slowly over to the window and used her head to push up the window handle. Then, using all her strength, she pushed open the window and the problem of not having enough air to breathe was at last resolved. Li Ai felt very moved at that moment, as she knew that it had all been because of the wits and strength that God had given to her. If it had been left up to her alone, she would have just waited passively in a state of fear and terror, and who knows what would have happened in that case? In her heart, she kept thanking God for having guided her and led her.
Li Ai sat on the windowsill and gazed at the clear blue sky outside, pondering God’s love in her heart. Time crawled by, second by second, minute by minute, and the sky began to grow dark. The lights on the hospital across the street came on at 6 pm exactly, and she thought, “My husband will be back in a couple of hours’ time or so. All I have to do till then is just wait calmly.”
Before too long, Li Ai’s brother-in-law came rushing over to Li Ai’s home and, seeing ropes tied across the door of the room Li Ai was in and the door of the bathroom, he immediately called the police. It was over 20 minutes later when the police hurried over and opened the door of the room. Her brother-in-law said to her, “I kept calling your phone but couldn’t get through, so I called your husband. He said he had to work overtime tonight and wouldn’t be home until past 10 pm. I didn’t know what was up and I felt really uneasy inside. I was constantly worrying that something might have happened to you, so I came over to see.” After Li Ai had listened to what her brother-in-law said, she came to have an even greater appreciation of the omnipotence and sovereignty of God. God had moved the thoughts and feelings of her brother-in-law to make him hurry over. Otherwise, if she had had to wait until her husband came home, her health might have taken a turn for the worse. Just at that moment, Li Ai was filled with gratitude toward God and she thought, the fact that a seven-month pregnant woman could so calmly get through such misfortune was entirely down to God watching over her and protecting her. Just as God’s words say: “Man’s heart and spirit are held in the hand of God, everything of his life is beheld in the eyes of God. Regardless of whether or not you believe this, any and all things, whether living or dead, will shift, change, renew, and disappear in accordance with God’s thoughts. Such is the way in which God presides over all things” (“God Is the Source of Man’s Life”). All things, whether living or not, are in God’s hands, and only God controls and rules over all things in this world. Even the thoughts and feelings of man are moved and shifted along with the thoughts of God, and how God orchestrates things and accomplishes His deeds embodies His authority and power. During her experience, Li Ai came to have a practical appreciation for God’s authority and power. While she was in danger, it was God who had used His words to enlighten and illuminate her, to give her faith and the courage to face danger calmly. It was God, too, who gave her intelligence and wits, and orchestrated and arranged all people, events and things to enable her and her child to safely overcome this adversity. Li Ai truly witnessed God’s omnipotence and sovereignty, and she perceived God’s guidance and protection for her. She offered up her sincere thanks to God for showing her love and salvation!
After she returned from the suburbs, Li Ai was filled with all sorts of emotions. For a few short hours, she had walked on the brink of death, and if it had not been for God’s protection, she had no idea what would have happened to her and her child. That evening, when Li Ai’s husband came home from work and heard all about what had happened and saw that both her and their child were fine, he held Li Ai close and said emotionally, “Thanks be to God for watching over and protecting you. You’re fine, and that’s all that matters!” Later, Li Ai and her husband saw a kidnapping case appear on the news. A ruffian had taken a little girl hostage and extorted one million yuan from her parents. Afterward, the ruffian had tied the child’s hands and feet and shut her in a broken-down old house in a remote area. The child had been panicked, terrified and trembling, crying constantly for her mommy and daddy…. Seeing this on the news, Li Ai thought about what had happened to her that afternoon, and she felt even more grateful to God. If she had not believed in God and had not had God’s words to guide her and lead her, then she would have been just as terrified as that child when her life was being threatened, and she would have stayed in a state of pain and helplessness, not knowing what to do for the best. After watching the news, her husband’s words were filled with feeling as he said, “That God you believe in really protected you today! Lately, you’ve always been at home keeping the house nice and tidy and I haven’t seen you attend any of your church gatherings. Go find your brothers and sisters tomorrow. You have to believe in God in earnest!” Her husband’s words served as a reminder to Li Ai and she thought back over the time since they’d bought the house in the suburbs. She’d kept herself constantly busy with all their home matters, both big and small, and she had not been performing her spiritual devotions nor attending gatherings very regularly, and herhad grown distant. And yet when danger had come upon her, she had called on God and looked to Him and He had still been there with her, using His words to guide her, lead her, comfort her, to give her faith, to make her leave her fear and terror behind, to face that ruffian rationally and calmly, and God had protected both her and her child and made them come through unscathed. Li Ai felt just how great God’s love and mercy for her were! Just then, remorse and self-reproach flooded her heart and she wept tears thinking of how indebted to God she was. She then made a resolution that, from that day on, she would believe in God in earnest, pursue the truth, and be worthy of the salvation God had prepared for her.
Afterward, Li Ai regularly attended gatherings and actively performed her duty. She prayed to God and made a resolution to entrust the rest of her life, and her child’s life, into God’s hands, and she asked God to rule over and arrange everything in their lives. She wished only to submit to God’s arrangements, and to fulfill her duty well under God’s guidance in order to repay His love. Because he had witnessed the almightiness and sovereignty of God, Li Ai’s husband also accepted God’s kingdom gospel, and she was truly thankful to God for His love and salvation.
“Mommy, it’s dinner time!” Her child’s voice brought her thoughts back from her reverie to the present. Looking at her adorable child, she couldn’t help but think of how more than ten years had gone by in the blink of an eye. God had protected them for all these years and had enabled their family to live in happiness and joy under His blessings. Li Ai felt from the bottom of her heart that only with God could their days be peaceful and happy!
Thanks be to the salvation of God!