Testimony of sister Xie Lin

China Aid Association
My name is Xie Lin. I’m 31 years old, and I live in Handan City, Hebei Province.
I came to the Lord when I was about six years old, following my mother. When I was very little, mother often told me the story of how Joseph was sold to Egypt. From then till I grew up, I was still confused about how to follow the Lord. Later I continued with my school. Mother had been attending the Three-self Church, so we were just followed with a confused mind. All I knew was that we should pray, so our sickness would be healed, and get what we asked for. Later I went to a vocational school. When I graduated and waited for the arrangement for a job, I felt that my heart was so empty, that there was hardly any hope for a person living in this world. I went for some sundry work, but was frustrated. I lost heart and stayed at home.
After a couple of days, an evangelist came to my home, saying that South China Church was to hold a meeting, and asked my mother to join them. At that time Mother was attending the Three-self Church, but receiving the evangelists from SCC as well, for she was also not very clear about the belief. The church asked my mother to study Complete Salvation in the south, but she refused, saying that she had something to do at home. I heard it, and found it interesting. I wanted to go to the South for the worship gathering. I had no idea what it really meant to follow the Lord; I just felt that it was fun to go there. So I asked if I could go. The evangelist said, “I’ll think about it.” A brother in the Three-self Church said to me, “Just go down there to check it out! Zhongxiang is like a ‘revolutionary center.’ The church there was huge! You have never been to the South. Why don’t you just go and take a look at the big bamboos? There are things you have never seen before.” So, curious as I was, I took a train and went to Zhongxiang, Hubei Province in November 1992. We studied the book Complete Salvation. In the beginning I didn’t even know how to pray. I had no idea who the Lord was. So I just squandered time there. But when we reached the 14th and 15th lesson, I realized that I hadn’t been saved yet. Only then did I realize there was salvation for the believers. I knelt down to pray, only to burst into tears. I felt that I hadn’t been saved and was to go to hell.
After that meeting, I went home. The first thing I said when I got back was that I hadn’t been saved, and that I was afraid the Lord wouldn’t want me anymore. I was to go to hell. Later I learned that one got to repent to get saved. So I took out my Bible, turned to the page of “ten Commandments.” I read it and prayed, kneeling in bed. But I still found no peace after this. Then I lost heart for salvation, thinking that God wouldn’t save me. I felt I didn’t want to follow the Lord or be saved. After some time, two evangelists went to my house. It was the first time for them to come; it was mere chance. I was at home then, so they asked my mother about me. Mother said that I wanted to go to a “life meeting,” for I hadn’t been saved yet. They said to me, “There’ll be a ‘life meeting’ in Taiqian, Henen Province. You can come too.” I was kind of disappointed in God, thinking that I had been seeking Him for so long yet was not saved. I said, “It’s a long way off! What then if I still don’t get saved?” I hesitated even when the train was about to start. They said to me, “Just go ahead! You’ll know when you get there. It’s great to be saved!”
Thus we went to Taiqian, Henan for the “life meeting.” The first day they talked about sin. I felt troubled by sin, but felt that it was so boring to confess. I wasn’t moved. The second day I felt that some of the sins I had confessed, but there were a great many others. I still felt burdened. On the morning of the third day, the preacher said in his intercessions, “Lord! Wherever we sin, you suffer right there.” This touched my heart. I remembered how the Lord was crucified, and this was all because of my sin. I was so touched that I burst into tears, and confessed my sins one by one before the Lord. I prayed that He would forgive me. After that, I felt the burden was gone. I knew that the Lord’s love comforted my heart, that only He could free me and get rid of my sins. I was joyful after the meeting, but thinking about the Crucifixion, I felt troubled. For a couple of days I stayed at the reception house to read books and pray earnestly. All I remembered in my prayers was that the Lord was crucified for me. I felt unworthy whenever I remembered how deep His love is. He did save me from sin. I had thought that living wasn’t so meaningful. But now I was saved. I knew He lived in me, which made me joyful and peaceful.
After a while I went to the “truth meeting.” A letter came from home, urging me to return. I hadn’t been back for a long time, since I came for the “life meeting.” But I said I would go to the “truth meeting,” and see what it was like, and that I wanted to evangelize too. In the meeting, an evangelist talked about how the overseas missionaries out all they had aside to come and save the souls of the Chinese people. I was moved when I heard this. When I sang Martyrs of the Lord and Grow up, O Samuel, tears would flow out. I should leave all I had, I thought, since the missionaries had done the same. The last lines of Martyrs of the Lord went like this, “I’m willing to pay the price, and become a martyr too for the Lord.” I was greatly moved by this. I decided to evangelize during the “truth meeting.” No matter how my family members were against it, I would leave all I had to preach the Good News. After the meeting, I undertake a spiritual discipline at the reception house, and decided that I wouldn’t return. Later another letter came from home, which said that my job had been arranged. Mother came to Taiqian for me, saying, “They have got you a job in a hospital.” I had studied to become a nurse in my vocational school. The basic salary had been set (137 RMB per month).
I registered for the work on June 1. Mother said to me, “You can evangelize after you register. We have been running here and there for your job. The leaders will be waiting for you to register on that day.” I said, “I’ll go evangelizing. I know whatever you do in the world is meaningless. Sickness in body can be healed, but that in the soul can’t. It’s meaningless.” Mother tried to persuade me, saying, “Now you are strong in faith. What then if you get weak again?” I didn’t know how to answer that. All I said was, “I want to evangelize anyway. I’m not going to work no matter what. I don’t like the work. I want to evangelize.” So later I began to evangelize.
In October 1993, I started a three-month’s study on theology. I was greatly encouraged because of the Word itself. The zeal to save souls grew bigger and bigger. I was so moved when I studied that I bowed down before the Lord, wept, and devoted my entire life to Him. I wanted to go forward and never go back. After I graduated, I was sent to Taiqian, Henan to evangelize. We held all kinds of meetings each year, and led the other members to build up the church.
In June, 1996, I was transferred to the Communication Center of North China. On August 14th, 2000, we held a study group for students. There were over 20 children on the meeting. It was during the summer vacation, so we were able to hold the meeting for seven days. After that, a student went home, and ran into his father, who hated us Christians. He couldn’t even bear the sight of us. Seeing that his son went there too, he reported it to Tangxian Police Department. Cops went for his son, who was only a little more than 10 years old. They demanded him to lead the way to the reception house, and arrested the sister of that family. Then the cops went everywhere in the village, arresting the members of reception families. All the believers in the village were to be arrested. They caught six on that day. Some of them were in the meeting, some had been there, and some didn’t go at all. As long as the cops got to know the names of the believers, from the children or whatever, they could go arrest them. (They went to the children and threatened them, “if you don’t tell, we’ll arrest your mom, so that no one will feed you.” They were so frightened that they told the cops who had been cooking during the meetings.) Many members of the church were arrested. Two of the m got out after their relatives paid the cops money. The other four stayed in the detainment center of Tangxian Police Department. We preachers had been very careful and hid our selves. We didn’t get caught.
On December 9th, my co-worker and I went to a reception family in Beigaochang village, gaochang Township, Tangxian County. A sister had left home to evangelize secretly. Her father was an unbeliever, and held that it was the believers who took his daughter away. Seeing that we went into the reception house of the village, he brought all his relatives and neighbors, blocked the door, and wouldn’t let my co-worker and me leave. Then they called the Police Department of Gaochang Township. Nobody answered the phone. (Question: Is that township in Tangxian, Hebei?) It was the Police Department of Gaochang Township, Hebei. It was 12 a.m., so nobody was there. They dragged the two of us by force to the police department. There was only an old man on duty, who called the superintendent. The superintendent interrogated me while shouting at me, asking me where I was from and what I was doing there. I didn’t tell him my real intention, for I knew how evil the world was. I just said that I had come here t treat my illness. He roared at me till seeing that there was no way to get me talk. So he said in a milder tone, “If you are really in trouble, tell me about it. Treat me as your friend.” I said nothing, and he took me to the detainment center of Tangxian by car.
After I got there, the inmates surrounded us that night. When we fist go there, this superintendent said to the guards that my identity was unknown. He said to me, “you’ll have to confess here. If you don’t, they’ll beat you to death.” That night, the inmates surrounded us, and demanded hwy we were there. They didn’t believe what I said, and were ready to beat me. At that moment a guard came, so that they didn’t get to beat me. On the 11th, (for the 10th was a Sunday) two people from Tangxian Police Department came to interrogate us. One of them was Li Jianzhu, the chief of the political section. He was in his forties. He separated me from my co-worker, took me into a room, and asked me my name and addresses. I said nothing. He orated at me, dragged me up, and kicked me hard. I still kept silent. Seeing that I wouldn’t talk, they used some tricks. They called over the husband (not a believer) of a believer. The cops took me to him, pretending to ask me if I was sick. Then they told that man to testify against me. He said that I had been to their house, and stayed there for some time. Then they questioned me several times, but got nothing from me.
On January 10th, they took out us two from the detainment center, handcuffed us, and hung hardboards on our necks. We had no idea what they were doing, so we asked them. They said, “To have you executed!” My arms were bound behind my back, and the board said, “Xie Lin, a suspect of being a cult member” they escorted me to a truck, and paraded me through the streets. It had just snowed. There had been few people. But seeing that there was a judgment meeting to be held, people all swarmed into the streets. The truck could barely move. We all stood in the first truck, which took us to a square. The meeting started with video cameras around us. They announced my “guilt” with a loudspeaker, saying that I belonged to a cult called SCC, who had organized a gathering for young people, and that I was under criminal detainment. After the meeting was over, we were taken back to the detainment center.
After a couple of days, they called us our again. They pointed at a paper, and asked us to sign our names. They didn’t even tell us to read what it was all about.
They just told us where to sign. I read in it that I was detained in Tangxian detainment center, for I was guilty of disrupting the execution of the law by organizing and employing a cult organization. I refused to sign, saying, “I’m not a cult member. I can’t sign.” They roared at me, “Are you signing nor not?” I said nothing. There were many guards in the room standing there. Seeing that there was nothing they could do, they just said, “Refuse to sign, huh?” and switched us to a lockup. We stayed there for a long time, and they just ignored us. We didn’t see the interrogators either. Then it was April. It started to get warm, my I was still in my padded jacket. So I made the request to the executors again and again that they tell my family to bring me some clothes. But we never saw the interrogators. In April two men came to interrogate me. They said nothing, but told me to write down my name, address, personal account, and sign. I saw that in front of what I wrote was a paper about me, which said I had been holding meetings in a village, and that the person who recognized me was a child, who was also in the meeting. This was all I saw. Then they grabbed it away, forbidding me to read. I was confused. Nobody had come to recognize how I was. I had never seen kids testifying against me. They just caught me and labeled me with all this. (Question: Did you sign?) I signed for what they asked me. The paper I saw he wouldn’t let me read. After I signed, they just ignored us. All this time we stayed at the lockup.
On April 10th, a paper of “education through labor” came that said I was an important member of SCC cult, which had already been declared illegal, that I was active in cult activities and organized over 30 young people to gather. It said I was engaged in illegal evangelizing, disrupted social security severely, therefore I was to receive three-year’s education through labor. I said to them, “I believe in Christianity, not some cult belief. I can’t sign.” They said, “Christianity is a cult belief.” I said, “From December 9th 2000 to January 1 2004 is three years plus one month. Why should I labor an extra month?” They said, “We don’t care. Our job is to send you this paper.” I felt that the executors of the law were too careless in dealing with us Christians.
After that, my co-worker and I and another believer were sent to Balizhuang Labor Camp, Baoding City, Hebei Province. Three members of the church had already been sent in there. They were from the reception family that helped to hold the students’ meeting. They received three-year’s sentence too. The elder sister of a believer who served in the church was sentenced to two years. First day we got there, we were frisked. The letters we wrote to the church were found and taken away. We were punished to stand for seven hours and memorize the regulations of the labor camp. Later we were sent to the team under surveillance. We were being strictly watched there. There was a member of the church in the team, but we couldn’t talk to each other. The team leader told the monitor to watch over us. As long as we speak one word to each other, we would be stopped immediately. We couldn’t pray together. So we could only pray to the Lord in our heart that He will make a way for us. It was wonderful’ God did make a way. Usually a person had to stay in that team for three months, but we just stayed over ten days before we were sent to the common team. The surveillance was less strict, but the labor was more stressful. When we were in the common team, the team leader would take us out occasionally one by one, just to “talk sense” into us. They thought that as long as the inmates do their work obediently, everything would be fine. Liu Junhui the teamleader said to me, “now the government is very strict with religious affairs. If you still believe in Jesus like you used to, you would receive severe sentences in the labor camp.” She also said, “You came such a long way from Handan to Tangxian, just to evangelize. It’s not worth it!” All the team leaders said the same things. Some said, “You have to realize that you have done wrong. Though it’s a good thing to believe in Jesus, the government wouldn’t allow you to.” After I listened to this, I thought to myself, it might be a chance to evangelize to them. So I told them that there is a God in universe, who knows all about people’s heart. Liu Guohui said, “If your God is real, you wouldn’t even be here. He would have come to your rescue.” I tried to talk to them with other methods, but they wouldn’t listen.
The common team was not under very strict control. There was a regulation that said we were not supposed to walk around freely. But there were several church members with us. When there were few people, we would pass some verses around to comfort each other. Sometimes we would go to the bathroom or elsewhere, to talk to each other, write words down for each other to take away, when there were few people. We could even kneel down and pray, though we had but little time. We weren’t with the church, but we could encourage each other. Sometimes the other inmates would bully us when we were working. We would encourage each other, and intercede for each other. Some unbelievers ridiculed us, “how come you Christians are here? You must have done something wrong. Why doesn’t your Lord come to your rescue?”
We labored there. Sometimes it was handicraft, which required a lot of time on it. When we stitched the beads to the sweaters, we had to work day and night. There were over 1000 beads for one sweater, each of which needed two times of stitching. There were a lot of other rules to it too, like you had to make a straight line, and there shouldn’t be just one line of thread for one bead. Sometimes we were too sleepy to work, so we would take a nap, and get to work again. We felt dizzy all the time. We had no break time, and couldn’t do a very good job. If the products were labeled as unqualified, we would have to do the work again. We kept praying in our heart that the Lord would add on us more strength. While we were out there, we didn’t feel much. But in the labor camp, we could feel that the Lord was with us, especially when we did heavy labor work, like carrying chests, goods, and dig up earth. We couldn’t have finished that without God’s grace. Looking back on it, I could see it was God adding strength on us. I was exhausted in body, but my soul was not troubled. All that I felt was I had inexhaustible strength. Sometimes we had to go into a workshop to carry lead boards, the temperature in which was over 70 ℃. The boards weighed several tens of kilos, and we had to go through doors and go upstairs and downstairs into the workshop of low temperature. We had to do these tens of times. Many of the unbelievers burst into tears after they did all this, felling tired out and that fate was cruel to them. They didn’t even know when they could get out. But I felt wonderful. I was tired for sure, but was also joyful. Sometimes, lying in bed, I remembered how the Lord protected me and cared for us in jail, and was joyful. When we believers got together, we would talk about how God’s grace was more than enough for us. Sometimes we would also have some quiet time, or talk about how God led our church, the truth He revealed to us, and encourage each other.
In August, 2001, the team leader told me to go downstairs while I was working. She said, “Several people from Handan Police Department came to investigate, but not on you.” She didn’t want me to get nervous. I was taken to the visitation room. There were three of them there, who said on seeing me, “We are paying you a visit from our hometown.” They asked me, “Are you a member of SCC?” I said, “Yes.” They said, “Who is the leader of SCC?” I said, “I don’t know. I don’t even know what you are saying.” They said, “You have just said you are a member of SCC. How can you say you don’t know what we are saying?” I said, “That’s the truth.” They asked how long I had been out there, who was with me, where else had I been, and had I been to Xiangtai. I said, “No. I just came out to seek for a job.” They asked, “Don’t your parents miss you?” They sounded as if they rally cared for me. I said, “I don’t know.” They said, “Where did you go for worship gatherings? Whose house did you stay at?” I said, “I’m out for a job, not some gathering.” They went away later. I had no idea why they were asking me those questions, traveling all the way from Handan to the labor camp.
It was not until 2002 that I was informed of the persecution on the church through visitations. The teacher had been put to prison, and many members of the church had also been arrested. Only then did I know why the cops came to question me. I felt distressed on hearing the news, unable to believe that it was true. I thought it was impossible that the teacher had been sentenced to death. He didn’t break the law just by talking about God’s plan of salvation. The environment was very hostile, and a lot of information couldn’t get through. All that I knew was the teacher had been sentenced to death and was to make an appeal. During the day we worked, while at night the other believers and I would talk about this. We were feeling very distressed. We said, “All that we can do is to pray.” When I was arrested, it was still all right out there. In but several months, everything changed. I felt very bad thinking about this. Lying in bed at night, I would shed tears. It was impossible to cry out in the labor camp, for they would stop me. I had no idea if I could still see the teacher again or what the circumstances were like out there. The other believers and I would talk together, saying that we were living a untroubled life in the labor camp, but the co-workers out there might be pursued and running here and there. We kept praying that the Lord would protect the church, that it wouldn’t fall apart, and that our teacher could get out sooner. I prayed, “Lord, I would rather stay in jail all my life, as long as you take the teacher out.” We didn’t hear anything new for a long time. There was a period of time when my faith was weak. The unbelievers all bullied others and shunned the work, while we Christians all worked honestly. They would bully us during the work, cursing us without end for trivial things. They would turn against each other when there was profit ahead. When they saw that we Christians were awarded or the terms were lessened for us, they would envy us and accuse us in front of the team leader. Three years was a long time! Thinking about it made me lose heart. God did know people’s heart; He comforted me through a letter from the church, in which the situation was described, asking me not to worry, and pray more about it. My mother also used words with hidden meanings in her letter, like, “All your friends and relatives are longing to see you get out soon. They hope that when they see you, you are still health, body and soul.” It appeared common in an unbeliever’s eyes. But I could detect the hidden meanings. I had been weak for a while. But the Lord encouraged me with his words, we believers also sang praise songs together, and my family wrote me letters. All this was a great comfort to me.
I spent two and a half years in the labor camp, thanks to the Lord who looked after me. Six months was off my terms. On May 25, 2003, I was released. All these two and a half years I could see God protecting and shedding His grace on me, especially when I lost heart. He did miracles on me. His words comforted me, making me strong again. Now I’m not depressed or desperate for I had been in the labor camp. Instead, I looked at the unbelievers and felt that the world was such a vanity fair. Living without the Lord and His salvation is but meaningless and worthless.
Orally presented by Xielin
April 23rd, 2004

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