Eastern Lightning | Transformation of an Only Child
— Only Almighty God Can Save the Degenerate Youth of Today
Bian Hua, Yunnan Province
I started following Almighty God when I was 19 years old: As soon as I left school I joined The Church of Almighty God. I had had very little to do with society, and didn’t really know much about what was going on in it. But I did know that I totally represented one of the special characteristics of Chinese society in that I was a selfish only child.
As a result of my parents having to be subject to the Chinese government’s policy of population control, I was in the first batch of “achievements.” After I was born, everybody in my family started treating me with the care and protection deserving of a rare and precious treasure. My mother told me that in my first year I often had a fever and so my father would hold me in his arms and walk around the bedroom all night to stop me from crying. As my parents both had jobs, and so didn’t have the time to look after me, I was sent to kindergarten before the age of 2. My grandma was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to adjust, and so would often stand outside the kindergarten to see if I was crying or not, which made her often late for work. Once when the weather was very cold my mother stayed up all night knitting a warm sweater for me to wear the next day. In school my grades were always good, and having me as a high achiever was gratifying to my parents’ and grandparents’ vanity of longing to see their children succeed, giving them more reason to treat me like a precious pearl. During my school years, the first thing my father would do when he got home from work was to massage my hands to prevent them from getting tired from doing homework. In the summer when I got home after school, my mother would always get a bowl of peeled, frozen, sugary tomatoes from the fridge for me to eat. I remember one time when my parents found a teacher to teach me the pipa, a kind of Chinese lute. But after practicing some finger movements for a couple of days I got tired of it and told my parents that I wasn’t going to learn it, so my parents reluctantly conformed with my wishes. Every weekend I would go to my grandma’s house and she would always put some money in my pocket. If I told her I didn’t want it, she’d say: “Free lunch, why not? Take it. I’ll give you money as long as you come every week.” She always used to stuff my mouth with tasty treats too, and I’d eat so much that I’d get stomach ache. Thinking back on this now, I can see that Chinese parents don’t have truths and that’s why they don’t know how to educate their kids. So what did I turn into from being smothered with all this affection? I turned into a selfish, temperamental, fragile kid who had no willpower or purpose in life. I was like an invalid who sits in bed every day holding out their hand to take whatever is given and opening their mouth when it’s time to be fed, but never caring a jot for anyone else. I was totally unforgiving toward my parents, and I never accepted anyone else’s opinions. If my parents said something critical about me I’d retort with 10 times as much. My father even gave me the nickname “twisted donut” because I’d become so twisted and troublesome. I particularly hated doing anything that resembled hard work, so if my folks weren’t home when I was off school then I wouldn’t eat, because I was too lazy to heat up the food that they had cooked for me. Later, they would give me some money to go out and buy something to eat, but I couldn’t be bothered going for a little walk so I went hungry instead. So my parents told me a story about an idiotic child. The child’s mother cooked a flatbread for him and hung it round his neck because she had to go out for a long time. But when she got home she discovered that her son had died of hunger because he’d only eaten the bread in front of his face and hadn’t known to eat the rest of it hanging around his neck. My mother said I was an even bigger idiot than that boy. Apart from studying, I had no other purpose in life. By the time I got to high school I was even more resentful: School was a bit far from home so I had to cycle an hour every morning and there was a lot more pressure to pass exams. One morning when it was raining heavily, I fell off my bike on the way to school. I ended up lying in a big puddle with my lunch scattered all over the ground. I wanted to cry, and really thought that high school was a living hell. I felt it was all too hard, too tiring, and I really wanted to drop out of school. At a later date, I read in the newspaper about a first-year student at Qinghua University who had hung himself in the college dormitory. This student had become tired and depressed with having to do all the other tasks in addition to studying — doing his own laundry, getting meals in the cafeteria, tidying up his room — that students have to do. Apparently, he was particularly upset by having to peel his hard-boiled eggs at breakfast (at home his parents used to peel them for him), and, feeling that he was under too much pressure, took his own life. People started calling this kind of student “high grades but low basic abilities,” and my mother was scared that I’d become one of these useless creatures, so she started nagging me about becoming more independent. But I was already 16 or 17 years old and my character was pretty much fully formed, and so my parents’ exhortations had no effect on me — whatever they said just went in one ear and out the other. At school, a popular saying among my schoolmates at that time was: “Walk your own way and let others say what they want!” But my schoolmates were all just like me: China’s spoiled only children who lacked learning and talent and had no direction in life.
I’m really grateful for God’s salvation that resulted in my whole family accepting the work of the last days of Almighty God when I was 19, which enabled me to quickly start fulfilling my duties in the church. I had never been in a village before then, so I had lots of nice ideas about village life because I had seen programs on TV showing men plowing fields and women weaving cloth as they enjoyed the wonderful natural scenery. When I was young, I’d also heard a song called “In the Field of Hope,” and it conjured up images of bountiful fields of grain swaying in the breeze. In my mind’s eye life in the countryside was really lovely….
Three years later, my “dream” came true. Some of the brothers and sisters in my church had been detained by the communist government and I was involved, so I had to leave home to avoid being captured too. Our church leader arranged for me to go to the countryside, which was also an opportunity for me to fulfill my duties as best I could. My parents didn’t want me to leave them, but I was secretly pleased because at last I could live in a village while fulfilling my duties! After a fast drive out of the city I arrived in the main town of a certain county. On getting out of the car I was taken aback at what I saw: There were just a few 2- or 3-storey buildings and some derelict shacks, there was dust everywhere, and the people were dressed in fashions from years ago. I thought: “I never would have believed that such a backward place still existed in China! What about all those programs on TV about socialist new villages? Isn’t everyone these days supposed to be middle-class prosperous? How come they’re not?”
But I was soon caught up in doing my duties, and the first test I had to pass was riding a bicycle. My duties took me far and wide, and sometimes I had to ride my bike 15 or 20 kilometers for a single trip. Riding long distances was something I could handle, but what really bothered me was the poor condition of the “short-life” roads that the CCP government had built. The local people told me that the roads had only been built a few years when big potholes began appearing in them. Some of them just had bricks for the foundation and a thin layer of asphalt on top, and so started to disintegrate very quickly. Riding my bike along these roads was like riding a horse over rough grasslands in that it was constantly dipping or rearing up, and sometimes my hands went numb from all the vibrating. I actually felt sorry for my bike and thought: “Poor bike, you’re suffering and I can’t do anything about it. This is one of China’s special ‘socialist highways,’ meaning that most of the money went into officials’ pockets while we ordinary citizens have to put up with bumpy rides.” I was used to the hustle and bustle of the big city so I felt really bored riding along these rural highways with nothing but fields to the left and right, and just the occasional cow or a few goats to relieve the monotony. Every day I cycled to do pastoral work with a few of the local sisters and I always ended up far behind them, puffing and panting, while they waited for me up ahead. One time one of them urged me to ride a bit faster, and I didn’t say anything but in my mind I was thinking: “I’m already pushing myself as hard as I can. Why can’t you understand that? How am I supposed to keep up with you when you’ve been riding bikes since you were a kid?” So my heart started to make unspoken complaints and it was with this attitude of resentment that I went about my duties. Every day the distance seemed too far, and my duties too odious. I wanted to go home, but because of the situation there I couldn’t. Then one time when I was doing some self-reflection I read this passage of God’s words: “God’s dealing of people’s external disposition is also one part of His work; dealing with people’s external, abnormal humanity, for example, or their lifestyle and habits, their ways and customs…” (“Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “No matter what your actual stature is, you must first possess the will to suffer hardship as well as true faith, and you must have the will to forsake the flesh. … God will perfect you through these things. If you lack these conditions, you cannot be perfected” (“Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). From these words of God’s I understood His intentions for me. I had no humanity left after being corrupted by Satan and had become addicted to a life of comfort and ease. I hated hard work, and wasn’t even able to take care of myself properly. That’s why God had arranged for me to be sent to this kind of place: To build willpower, strengthen my perseverance, and supplement my deficiencies. Once I knew God’s intentions for me I no longer resisted. From then on, every time I cycled I would pray or sing hymns, and would often be moved to tears by God’s words. My heart felt that it was getting closer and closer to God. Even though the distance I had to travel was as far as ever, I no longer felt it was far, and sometimes I felt that just a short while after starting to draw near to God I arrived at my destination. That was when I first felt that God had put me in a good situation. The countryside air was pure, there were few vehicles on the roads, and there weren’t many things that could distract me from God. I often quiet myself before God to ponder over God’s words and long for His love, which was all conducive to my believing in God, pursuing the truth, and growing in life. At home I had always been a very fussy eater. For example, if there was some fat on the piece of meat I was eating I would bite it off and spit it out. My father used to tell me the story of the son of a rich landowner who only ever ate the filling of Chinese dumplings and would spit out the casings, and in the end died of hunger during a famine. But, as usual, his admonitions had no effect on me — only God has the means to really change people. I had been transferred to a very poor place to fulfill my duties, a place where the locals lived hard lives and all they had to eat was steamed buns, pickled vegetables, and watery soup. As their meals didn’t contain any oils, I went from being a person who ate very little at meals to someone who ate 4 large buns at every meal and still felt hungry soon after! After being “pruned” like this for a few months I stopped being a finicky eater and began to like everything that was put in my bowl. To be honest, when I first began my duties in the village I really felt resentful about having to wash my own clothes and blow up the tires of my bicycle. I wanted to weep (my parents used to do all this kind of stuff for me) but after interacting with the sisters in the village for a while I came to appreciate just how amazing they were! For example, one of sisters, who was 2 years younger than me, got a flat tire while riding her bike. But without batting an eyelid she got out the tools that she carried in her bag, levered off the tire, repaired the puncture with a rubber patch, and was back on her bike in no time, humming a tune as she cycled off. I couldn’t help thinking that if it had been me I would have stood there crying (there was no one around). From then on, I knew that any problems I encountered in the future I would have to resolve them myself because crying and complaining were no use whatsoever. I spent a year and a half in that village, and God sent many people, things, and events to help to perfect me. I learned things that I hadn’t been able to learn in the 20 years I spent with my parents and in school: How to take care of myself and how to solve problems myself with God’s help rather than relying on other people. I also became better at enduring hardships and was no longer fussy about what I ate. All this brought me closer to God. What was even more miraculous to me was that during that year and a half I wasn’t a weak and sickly youth at all. I didn’t even catch a cold once, the enteritis that had bothered me for years disappeared, and I was brimming with energy from riding my bicycle every day for months on end. While fulfilling my duties I was also able to witness the reality of life of the villagers: Many places didn’t have running water and so they were drinking well water that was contaminated with polluted surface water; many villages didn’t have asphalt roads so every time it rained their roads turned into muddy, potholed tracks that were very difficult to navigate; some places had only recently been connected to the national power grid. In general, the villagers worked hard all year round for little money and often suffered from exhaustion and poverty. Their lives were nothing like that depicted by the CCP news reports — all that stuff about “with these socialist new villages China has already become a prosperous middle-class society” was complete nonsense. If God hadn’t arranged for me to spend time in the countryside and witness it for myself I would have remained a deluded, silly child who believed all of the CCP’s propaganda. I would never have gotten to see that side of their whitewashing, lies, and hoodwinking. As a result of the CCP’s education and trickery, my generation had come to believe that everything was simple and beautiful. I had little grounding in reality, and so whenever I encountered difficulties it was like I was paralyzed. If God hadn’t saved me I would have spent my whole life as a piece of useless junk.