Friday, December 16, 2011

Testimony: "My April 10"

Shouwang members detained in a school on 04-10-2011
I have attended outdoor worship services for many times, and the most impressive one was the first outdoor service on April 10.

I read in some sisters’ testimonies that they even got ready for facing machine guns on April 10. However, I thought that there would not be that brutal since it is already 21st century; at most they would cordon off the location, shout at us, while let us worship. However, I was proved wrong, I underestimated the situation.

When I got near the platform that morning, I felt that the atmosphere was much more intense than I expected. Cordon, policemen, police car…many plainclothes policemen walked around with headphones, the scene of which reminded me a word in my secondary school’s textbook, which is often used to describe the brutal confrontation with the enemy, “white terror.”

When I walked around the platform with disturbed feelings, I met a small group of believers. We stood on the roadside and did not know what to do. Then plainclothes policemen surrounded us, took us to a bus, and drove us away. Some believers tried to resist, but were in vain. I knew that it would be useless to resist, so I faced this dramatic incident calmly.

“Then what will happen? Where are they going to take us?” I was nervous, but also was curious and excited at the same time, as though I was going to experience a magic Disney adventure. It might be the fact that I was sure of God’s presence and protection made me feel this way.

The bus seemed to have driven a long distance till it drove into a school, Caihefang primary school. Later I got to know that this school was not far from the platform, which means it was only long for me psychologically.

When we got off the bus and walked into the classroom, we found that it was packed with people. Policemen stood in the front, and our fellow believers stood in the back. Brother Xiaofang was leading people to pray. I had no more worries when I saw so many brothers and sisters; I had the peace immediately, as a fish arrived the ocean. I sat on a small chair in the classroom, looking around with curiosity. Outside in the corridor, more believers were brought in and then were assigned to different classrooms. Our group was also transferred into another classroom, and was required to register one by one there; we were asked to write down name, address, job, place of birth, ID number, and so on.

After the registration, we waited there. Believers started to follow the program to worship, or to chat in small groups. A sister came in with dust on her clothes. She told us that she had physical conflict with policemen when she was taken in. As we comforted her, she started to weep, and later quieted down as she got relieved. Another elder sister was not willing to register due to her concern for her daughter, and she argued with policemen emotionally. She later also calmed down as a sister talked to her with gentleness. During this period of waiting, brother Shifan, known for being a maverick, came in and shouted at the police, and was soon taken to another place.

The bathroom was located on the other side of the school. I met pastor Xiaobai, who was guarded by a police, as I went there under the guard of a policeman. I was pleasantly surprised and said hi to him, and pastor Xiaobai waved at me with smiles; his peaceful face gave me the illusion that we were meeting in a retreat. The fact that the pastor was with his flock in this circumstance greatly comforted me.

Then police from different police stations took believers under their jurisdiction away, and the primary school gradually quieted down. Since my location belongs to Heibei province, I had to wait for police from there. But at the end, there was no one from there to take me away, and police from Beijing took me to Huayuanlu police station. I was very familiar with that area since I once lived nearby, and the Old Story Restaurant is also there, which made me feel at home.

When I arrived in the police station, I was taken to custody, and was requested to turn over belongings like keys and cellphone. The narrow aisle of the custody room was packed with people. When I was wondering whether there were believers there, a young lady stood up and asked me to take her seat; and I immediately knew that she must be a believer. The fragrance of Christ distinguished God’s children from others in the crowd in this kind of environment. I thanked her and did not take the seat, so the guard let me sit in the empty waiting room next to it.

The waiting room is a single room, with the door can be locked from the outside, and a long wooden bench along the walls. There is a iron chair made of stainless steel in the middle, with iron hoop for arms, legs and waist; it stood there, deterring people silently with the glow of cold metal. Walls are dirty, with many footprints, scratches, and a black bloodstain on, which make people think of stories behind. Later I got to know that there are similar waiting rooms like this in each police station, which is called “cage.”

I could not see what was going on outside in the cage. It seemed like that sister was praying and fasting—she did not take the meal from police. Police called her name, “Li Yanxia,” which is familiar; and I am sure that she is from our church.

I did not turn in my Bible in my pocket, so I took out and started to read it. But the guard came in and did not allow me to read it. I did not have much to say when I prayed. And the time seemed long and boring.

It was getting dark outside, and I had not eaten anything since I went out in the morning. “Why don’t they give me the meal as the sister outside did not want it?” Well, I would not ask them for it. They called Li Yanxia for several times, asking her to sign and persuading her to give up. But no one came to talk to me. Well, it was good to be alone, but I was hungry.

Maybe the police finally remembered that I did not eat, or maybe they did it on purpose to make me hungry. They sent in a bowl of cooked instant noodle. I prayed and ate it. Then I felt sleepy and lied down on the bench.

After a few hours, someone woke me up and took me out. They gave back my belongings, asked me to take the trash out from the waiting room, and said that they would release me. I was very happy that I could still go to work tomorrow.

The policeman brought me to police station stood at the door of the custody room, and stopped me when I was walking out. He said, “wait, let me ask you a question to see whether I will release you or not.” I was very nervous. He continued, “Will you go to join the outdoor service next time?” I did not give a quick answer. I looked at the front gate of the police station, and then looked back at the cage next to the custody room, trying to decide what to answer. The policeman was waiting to hear back from me, seemed very interested in my answer.

A few steps forward is freedom, and a few steps backward is the cage; it is a hard choice, what should I do? Well, I have already decided.

I turned to the policeman, smiled, “I will go.” He suddenly lost his temper, started to talk about rules and regulations, and asked me to study it. I turned around, and was ready to go back to the cage after he finished talking. However, when he finished, he waved at me, “you can go now.” “What? I can go now?” I suddenly understood that it was a test. Thank the Lord, I just went through a test and successfully overcame it.

When I walked out of the police station, it was dark, but with bright streetlights on. As soon as I turned on my cellphone, brother Guo Mingxin called in to ask about my situation. I told him that I was safe, and went to a bus stop with joy. It was about nine o’clock, and I could take a bus directly to my company to rest there; Jehovah Jireh, he already provides!

This was my April 10, and I wanted to summarize it with a verse:

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Hallelujah! Glory and praise be to the Lord.

Brother in Christ: M R