When the Lord returns, how can we recognize His voice and welcome Him?
By Tanran, Canada
I work in a fast-food restaurant and one of the staff members there is a Christian. Seeing that I liked to listen to Christian hymns, she brought along an older woman to testify to me of God’s work of the last days and to read me many passages of. Over time, I came to know that all things on earth come from God, that God is the source of human life and about God’s three stages of work to save mankind, and so on. Moreover, I felt that God’s words carried authority, I found them to be very stirring to my heart, and they also revealed many mysteries, and so I accepted God’s work of the last days. After I’d begun to , I often read God’s words and attended gatherings with brothers and sisters, and I felt enriched every day; I no longer felt that life was boring and empty, like I had before. Never had I imagined that my tranquil life of believing in God would be shattered because of the rumors spread by the CCP …
One day, I went to the factory owned by my elder sister and her husband (my mom and dad were there too) because I wanted to preach the gospel to them. First, I told my mom about my belief in God and she thought it was great. I then told my dad a little about it and, although he didn’t believe in it, he didn’t object to me believing in God either. The next day, I was just strolling along outside the factory when my dad rushed over and called me back inside. I didn’t think anything of it at that point, but I saw how anxious my dad was and I wondered what could have happened. Just as I entered the room, I was struck by the taut atmosphere, and my dad said to me sternly, “Do you believe in Almighty God?” And I said, “Yes, I believe in Almighty God, the returned.” Without waiting for me to finish speaking, my dad dragged me over to my sister’s computer. Seeing them all wearing such serious faces, I turned and looked at the computer screen, and on it was displayed a lot of negative publicity about The Church of Almighty God. My sister said gravely to me, “You don’t work very hard at your job and you’re either believing in this or believing in that! Do you see what it says online? The Church of Almighty God that you believe in is an organization whose members get arrested by the Chinese government. How can you still believe in it?” And my dad then said, “You’re not to have anything to do with these people anymore. Put some distance between you and go back and tell them you don’t believe in it any longer.” Hearing my family take it in turns to warn me and seeing the rumors online, I didn’t have a leg to stand on, and I thought to myself: “How can this be? Am I believing in the wrong thing? Could The Church of Almighty God really be like it says online?” As I rode the bus back to my work, I wanted to be certain about this, so I searched for the words “Almighty God” using my cell phone. It turned up a lot of negative publicity, and I began to have my doubts about the work of Almighty God.
When I got back to work, the Christian sister who worked there ran cheerfully over to me and asked, “How did it go with your mom and dad? Did you preach the gospel to them?” I looked angrily at her and said in a loud voice, “You expect me to still believe in God? Look what it says online about it!” I wanted to say more but, seeing that there were people around us, she asked me to speak a little more quietly. I felt hurt and resentful just then and I didn’t want to bother with her, so I just got on with my work. When I got back to my rented room after work, Brother Wang, whom I’d met before at a gathering, came to see me. Worried, he asked me, “Is there something on your mind? Tell me and we can talk about it.” I said doubtfully, “I preached the gospel to my family and they searched online for reviews of The Church of Almighty God. They said it was an organization and that I shouldn’t believe in it anymore. I feel very weak and full of doubt, and I don’t know what to do.”
Brother Wang then patiently gave me fellowship, saying, “Actually, all the negative publicity online are rumors fabricated by the CCP in order to attack and discredit The Church of Almighty God, and we must not believe in them blindly. We must understand that the CCP is an atheist political party which forbids people from worshiping God and which forbids God from coming to save man. Ever since it came to power, it has hated and resisted God’s work so much. It has labeledas the book of an evil cult, labeled Catholicism and Christianity as evil cults, and even a few Christians gathering together are criminalized as ‘disrupting public order.’ In order to ban religious belief, the CCP constantly and wantonly arrests, incarcerates, tortures and torments Christians. Especially after Almighty God appeared and began His work in China, the CCP sees more and more people of all religions and denominations from all over the world turning to Almighty God. What’s more, the truths expressed by Almighty God, as well as all kinds of movies and videos which bear testimony to God are released publicly online and they attract more and more people to seek and study God’s work. The CCP fears that, after people accept God’s work and understand the truth, they will then see clearly its evil essence and will reject it. If that happens, then its crazy ambition to control people will be in tatters. In order to destroy and obstruct God’s work, the CCP engages in unrestrained rumor-mongering through online media, and it falsifies evidence to tarnish and discredit The Church of Almighty God. Its purpose in doing this is to deceive people, to make them hate God’s work, and to make them take its side and resist God. The CCP has even stretched forth its black hand overseas to buy some well-known media and online platforms so that it can use them as publicity tools, and this is why information online is simply not to be trusted. Also, the information online is rehashed and compiled by people, and the people who operate online platforms all belong to corrupt humanity. They are without the truth and they do not worship God. All they can do is follow what the religious world and the ruling regime say and blindly rehash the rumors and outright lies of the CCP—would they then say online that belief in God is a good thing? Therefore, when we study the true way, we should determine whether or not this way has the truth and whether or not it is the voice of God, and not go by the things that are published online.”
Hearing the brother speak this way, my heart was somewhat moved. “Yes,” I thought. “There are all kinds of things written online, and who knows how much of it is true and how much is false? How could I just believe it blindly? Moreover, the CCP is an atheist political party that has always opposed God. The negative publicity it puts out through online platforms can be considered even less to be factual truth. It really won’t do to listen only to one side of things and not the other—I must continue to study God’s work of the last days.”
Brother Wang continued his fellowship: “It says online that The Church of Almighty God is an organization, but is this really the case? God says, ‘The work of every age is initiated by God Himself, but you should know that, whatever the way in which God works, He does not come to start a movement, or to hold special conferences, or to establish any sort of organization in your behalf. He comes solely to carry out the work that He ought to do. His work does not suffer the constraint of any man. He does His work however He wishes; no matter what man thinks or knows of it, He is concerned only with carrying out His work. From the creation of the world to the present, there have already been three stages of work; from Jehovah to Jesus, and from the Age of Law to the Age of Grace, God has never convened a special conference for man, nor has He ever assembled all mankind together in order to convene a special global working conference and thereby extend the domain of His work. All He does is to carry out the initial work of an entire age at an appropriate time and in an appropriate place, thereby ushering in the age and leading the human race to live their lives.’ From God’s words, we can see that when God comes to begin His work, He doesn’t start any movement or establish any organization or hold special conferences, but instead He performs the work of saving mankind in accordance with His management plan. In the Age of Law, God proclaimed the laws and guided the life of man; in the Age of Grace, He became flesh and was crucified as a sin offering for mankind; now, in this final age of the Age of Kingdom, God has once again become flesh to express His words and perform His work of judging and purifying man—all three of these stages of work are connected to the salvation of mankind. The organizations of man, however, are established to profit individuals or groups and have nothing to do with God’s work whatsoever. The CCP distorts the facts and says that The Church of Almighty God is an organization, and they do this with the aim of deflecting people’s attention and intentionally concealing the facts of the appearance and work of Christ of the last days—Almighty God. It is also an excuse for the CCP to suppress and persecute God’s church, and we must be able to see through the CCP’s deceitful schemes! Furthermore, you have had contact with brothers and sisters for six months now. What do you think about how they conduct themselves? Is it like the online rumors say? You can decide this for yourself.”
Brother Wang’s words served as a reminder to me. “Yes,” I thought. “My contact with brothers and sisters in reality is not like it says online at all. At gatherings, brothers and sisters give fellowship about their experiences and understanding of God’s words and they all pursue the truth and seek to be honest people. And the way they treat others is so full of compassion. When I first started believing in God, there were many truths I did not understand, and they all patiently gave me fellowship about them; seeing that it was a long way for me to get home, they would lend me a motorbike and would always fill it up with gas beforehand. To express my thanks, I bought some gifts and went to see them on a national holiday, but they would never accept my gifts. I saw that the brothers and sisters lived out lives that were different from the unbelievers’ and they couldn’t possibly be like those online rumors said, that they did immoral things. What’s more, God’s words teach us how to rid ourselves of our corrupt dispositions and to live out a normal humanity, and these are all positive things. How could such a church be an organization?” Thinking this, I no longer believed the negative publicity online so much, and I wished to continue to attend gatherings.
Over a period of time, by reading God’s words and through the fellowships given by my brothers and sisters, I came to have some understanding about such aspects of the truth as how Satan corrupts man, how God saves man and what is worthwhile for man to pursue. From the bottom of my heart, I became certain that the work Almighty God was doing was the work to save man, and I was no longer influenced by the negative publicity fabricated by the CCP.
Thinking about all the people who still lived in darkness and who had not accepted God’s salvation, in my free time from work, I would proactively go preach the gospel. One time, while on a return visit to my hometown, I preached the gospel to my uncle. Not only did he not believe it, but he also told my parents about my belief. My dad scolded me over the phone, saying, “Your uncle says that you are still believing in Almighty God. You just work hard and don’t go running around everywhere, preaching the gospel to whoever you come across. We’ll be back home in a few days.” Suddenly faced with this situation, I felt a little at a loss. After hanging up, I said an urgent prayer to God in my heart: “O God! Whether my parents come back home or not and whether they try to stop me from believing in You or not is all in Your hands. If they really do come back here, I shall face them, and I ask that You give me intelligence and wisdom, and give me the right words to say.” After praying, I felt a little more confident. No matter what situation I would be facing next, I was willing to obey God and rely on Him to get through it.
A week later, my parents really did come back to our hometown. They came looking for me at the restaurant and, without mentioning anything else, they just immediately told me that I’d be going home with them and that they wouldn’t let me work there anymore. Having no alternative, I asked the restaurant manager for a few days’ leave, got my things and went home with my parents. After we got home, my parents took it in turns to watch me and they wouldn’t let me go out to get in touch with my brothers and sisters, much less go out to preach the gospel. I was unable to contact my brothers and sisters and I didn’t have my book of God’s words—what was I to do? Then, I suddenly remembered that there was a memory card in the computer that had been brought back here from my rented room, and that on it there was a copy of the book of God’s words and some hymns, so I used the computer to listen to the hymns. One morning, just as I was listening to hymns, suddenly my mom burst into the room. Before I had time to hide them, my mom saw the files on my computer and she said to me, shocked, “Oh, why do you still want these things about believing in God?” I said to her, “Mom, you mustn’t so easily believe what it says online! I’ve had contact with brothers and sisters myself and they’re wonderful people. They’re not like it says online, and those things written online are not to be trusted. They’re just rumors fabricated by the CCP, and you mustn’t try to stop me from believing in God.” My mom was a little disgruntled and she said to me, “Maybe the things online are not to be trusted, but your belief in God could get you arrested! What shall we do if one day you happen to get arrested for your belief in God? Getting you to stop believing in God is for your own good! You just stay here at home.” I said staunchly to her, “Mom, you don’t need to worry about me. Whether I get arrested or not is in God’s hands, and the Chinese government is also under God’s rule. God has the final say on everything.” No matter what I said to her, however, my mom had no intention of letting me go. I began to despair, and I didn’t know how long I would have to stay at home. Scenes of my previous gatherings with brothers and sisters kept floating through my mind. Whenever I raised an issue at a gathering, the brothers and sisters would always patiently fellowship with me and help me; whenever I encountered a difficulty in life, they were always very concerned for me and they looked after me, and they made me feel warm inside; I really missed my days spent together with my brothers and sisters. Now that I was shut up at home and was unable to fellowship about God’s words with my brothers and sisters, my heart felt totally empty, I had no one to whom I could confide the feelings of constraint within my heart, and an unexplainable feeling of loneliness and helplessness flooded my mind—was this how my life would be from now on? When would they let me out? Just then, I hurriedly went before God and said a prayer: “O God! My parents still have no intention of letting me go and I don’t know how long they want to keep me locked up for. My heart is beginning to weaken, and I feel that believing in God in this kind of environment is too difficult. How should I get through it? I ask for Your guidance.” After praying, I thought of God’s words, “In every step of work that God does within people, externally it appears to be interactions between people, as if born of human arrangements, or from human interference. But behind the scenes, every step of work, and everything that happens, is a wager made by Satan before God, and requires people to stand firm in their testimony to God. Take when Job was tried, for example: Behind the scenes, Satan was making a bet with God, and what happened to Job was the deeds of men, and the interference of men. Behind every step that God does in you is Satan’s wager with God—behind it all is a battle.” From God’s words, I understood that my family’s attempts to obstruct me and coerce me were not their own deeds, but that it was rather a war going on in the spirit world. Satan knew that I’d only just started believing in God and so, to stop me from coming before God, it was using my family to beleaguer me and put me under house arrest, with the aim of forcing me to give up my belief in God., however, was that I see through Satan’s deceitful schemes and stand firm in my testimony. It was just like when Satan tried to crush Job’s , and it took away Job’s property and his children and caused Job to break out in painful boils, and Satan also used Job’s friends and his wife to tempt Job so that he would abandon his faith in God. Although these things befalling Job were actually the temptations of Satan, they were also a trial from God. Job, however, did not blame God for having lost all his wealth and property, and he did not forsake God because he was being harassed by his friends and his family, but instead he kept his faith in God, stood firm in his testimony and ultimately received God’s praise. I had to emulate Job and not get caught out by Satan’s deceitful schemes. No matter how my parents tried to stop me, I had to strengthen my faith and follow God. And so, I said a silent prayer to God in my heart asking God to open up a way out for me, so that I would be able to go out and meet with my brothers and sisters.
Afterward, I said to my mom, “I’ve been stuck in this house for a week now. Let me go out. I’ll just go back to work.” She didn’t believe me, but I suddenly thought of something, and told my mom that I had a girlfriend, and if I didn’t go out to see her then it was unlikely that we would end up getting married. My mom became fearful that keeping me at home would ruin this chance at marriage, and so she let me go. I came to understand from this that God is by my side and that, no matter what difficulties I may encounter, by praying and relying on God, any difficulty can be easily resolved; my faith in God grew a little after that. After I got out of the house, I returned to my rented room and saw that my parents had already taken all my things—where would I live? I then gave one of my brothers in the church a call and told him that I had been let out. To my surprise, this brother helped me find a good place to stay, and he arranged for me to attend gatherings.
However, my family’s attempts to stop me were not yet over …
As it was approaching Chinese New Year, I went back home. My parents happened to be there just then too, and my dad told me in no uncertain terms: “You are not to believe in this anymore. If you continue in your belief, then I will have nothing more to do with you. This time you’ll come with me and go to my work!” After he said this, I thought to myself: “If I go with my dad, he’ll just be watching me all the time, so how then will I be able to go out and attend gatherings?” Just then I didn’t know what to do for the best, so I just kept praying to God in my heart: “O God, my dad is demanding that I go with him to his work, and I don’t want to go. But I don’t know how to deal with him. Please give me faith.” After praying, I told my dad that I didn’t want to go with him. Unexpectedly, saying this enraged my father and he gave me a good scolding. Seeing that I still wasn’t relenting, he started to kick me and hit me, all the while demanding to know whether I would go with him or not. Afterward, my mom and my grandparents tried to advise me, and my mom wept as she said, “Why have you become so surly? What will we do if you get arrested one day for your belief in God?” Seeing that I would not relent, my dad became so angry that he stormed off to the kitchen and came back with a knife, which he held to my throat, and he asked: “Do you believe in Almighty God now? If you say yes, then I will no longer have a son.” Seeing my family gathered around me and faced with their leaguer, I felt incredibly distressed and tears streamed uncontrollably from my eyes. I thought to myself: “How come no one in my family understands me? Just because I believe in God, my dad says he’ll cut off all ties with me. Are these people still my family?”
In my pain and weakness, I called on God in my heart: “O God! I feel so distressed right now and I don’t know how to get through this situation. Please protect my heart.” After praying, God enlightened me, and the hymn of God’s words “No Matter How Great Your Suffering, You Should Pursue to Love God” came into my mind: “Thus, during these last days you must bear testimony to God. No matter how great your suffering, you should go on to the very end, and even at your last breath, still you must be faithful to God, and at the mercy of God; only this is truly loving God, and only this is the strong and resounding testimony.” These words of God also came to me: “No matter who runs away, you can’t. Other people don’t believe, but you must. Other people abandon God, but you must uphold God and bear witness to Him. Others slander God, but you cannot.” God’s words gave me faith and strength, and I understood that this situation had befallen me today because God wanted me to bear witness. My family didn’t believe in God, they had become bewitched by the CCP’s rumors and they didn’t understand God’s will to save man, and so they were trying to stop me from believing in Him. Through reading God’s words, however, I knew that this was the true way, and no matter what they said, I would not follow them or do anything that betrayed God. And so, I said steadfastly to my dad, who still held the knife to my neck, “Do it! Whether alive or dead, I won’t go with you.” Hearing me say this, my dad absolutely exploded, but he saw how unflinching my manner was and, in the end, all he could do was lower the knife. Just before he left, he asked me one more time whether I would go with him, and I said firmly that I would not. He then kicked me angrily and all I could do was endure it. In my heart, I prayed silently to God, asking Him to protect my heart. In the end, my dad said helplessly, “Do what you want. I just can’t handle this anymore.” Hearing this, I thanked God so much, for I knew that this was God opening a way out for me. Afterward, I was once again able to attend gatherings with my brothers and sisters and, seeing that I was dead set on believing in God, my parents no longer tried to stop me like they had before.
Thinking back to my experiences during the time my family was trying to stop me from believing in God, I saw how hateful the rumors fabricated by the CCP to attack and discredit The Church of Almighty God really were. At first, my family acknowledged that faith in God was a good thing, and they weren’t opposed to me believing in God. But because they were deceived by the rumors spread about by the CCP, misunderstandings arose in them about The Church of Almighty God and they became afraid of the evil forces of the CCP and worried that I would be arrested, and so they tried to stop me from believing in God and force me to give it up. I myself was deceived by the CCP’s rumors as well and wanted to renege and not believe in God anymore, and I languished in pain because of my family’s attempts to constrain me—the Chinese Communist Party had been the source of all this pain. But all along the way, God was always silently guiding and helping me; when I was deceived by the CCP’s rumors, it was God who used the fellowships of my brothers and sisters to enable me to tell the difference between right and wrong and to keep following God; when my family put me under house arrest, scolded me and threatened me, it was God’s words which gave me faith and which led me out of my negative, weak state; when I let go of everything and followed God, God opened up a way out for me, and my family no longer tried to stop me from believing in God. It was God who guided me through every one of my family’s repeated attempts to stop me from believing in Him, and I give thanks to God’s love that never once abandoned me! All the glory be to Almighty God.