On a summer evening in July 2003, when darkness had just fallen, the villagers in Mafanggou Village, Xile Town, Chayouhou Qi, WulanChabu City, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, were shocked by a sudden scream. They hurried to the house of Yang Zhilei, from where the scream eminated, and found that Yang’s face was covered with blood. Yang was shouting and jumping like crazy, and there was blood everywhere on the floor. It turned out that Yang had cut out his own tongue.
Yang was ill-fated. He was born on 3 December, 1965 and his pet name was Cheng Long. His mother was blind and married a villager in Mafanggou Village thanks to a matchmaker. Due to poverty, he dropped out of primary school despite his cleverness. He helped his parents plant crops and raise livestock. Finding that he loved fiddling with small things, his relatives persuaded his parents to send him to learn how to repair electronic devices. Several years later, Yang returned to the village. He did farm work and repaired household electrical appliances for the villagers. Thanks to his good skill and enthusiasm, he became very popular among the villagers. In 1988 when the TV series “Journey to the West” was on, Yang bought a broken TV from a salvage station and repaired it. Many villagers came to his house at night to watch TV, since they didn’t have one.
At the age of 30, Yang married a mute girl by the surname of Xue from the nearby Yushuwan Village, Jining District. The girl didn’t detest him for his poverty. She was clever and capable of cooking and hairdressing. They lived a good life. In June 1997, they gave birth to a boy who they named Pengpeng. The whole village felt happy for him, saying that he was well repaid for the hardships he had gone through.
In 1999, outsiders frequently went to the village to evangelize and persuade villagers to join a group called Almighty God. They told villagers that doomsday was coming and human beings would be punished by God. Only by believing in their God could people be blessed and survive the disaster. Their relatives could also be protected from the disaster. Recalling those days, some elderly villagers are still frightened: “A good person was ruined by the cult.” At that time, Yang’s mother was seriously ill. As a dutiful son, Yang was doing his best to help his mother recover. The evangelizing believer told Yang that Almighty God was omnipotent and that God could cure all diseases and provide safety. A few of the believers gathered in Yang’s house each day, took care of Yang’s mother and prayed to their God. Yang’s mother seemed to get better. Yang was not well educated, so he didn’t understand what Almighty God was about. Seeing that his mother was getting better, Yang began to trust Almighty God. Yang was a stubborn person, so while others could still do their routines and follow the cult, he studied the teachings of Almighty God wholeheartedly. His house became a gathering point and he went out to evangelize. His land became desolate and he stopped repairing electrical appliances for others.
After that, Yang neglected his duty and often quarreled with his wife. He wouldn’t listen to his mother and his wife became desperate and left home with their son when he was evangelizing outside. It often seems like misery loves company and this certainly appeared to be the case for Yang. After his wife left him, his mother died due to not receiving prompt treatment for an illness.
The death of his mother and departure of his wife made Yang believe firmly that disaster and doomsday were coming. He examined his “wrongdoings” each day, fearing that he wouldn’t be redeemed at the dawn of doomsday. One day in July 2003, the village head criticized Yang for not taking care of his crops, and Yang talked back to him. That night, Yang feared punishment from God for quarrelling with others, so he cut out his tongue.
Yang was still popular in the village and got help from the villagers. They donated money and his relatives sent him to a hospital in Jining District to receive surgery. However, even after the surgery, Yang couldn’t speak clearly.
After returning from the hospital, Yang locked himself at home and went nowhere. He acted normal when not talking about Almighty God, but would become nervous when talking about the cult. At the mention of doomsday, he would become scared, show mental disorder, and cut his mouth with a knife. The villagers then sent him to an old folks’ home in nearby Dandai. Yang still had issues there and often talked nonsense. He ran outside of the house frequently and sometimes didn’t eat all day. He got weaker and weaker and died of illness at the age of 45 in the house in 2010.
(Editor in chief: Saiyinbilige)