My name is Deng Xing and I work with the human resources department of Hongyue Hotel, Yizhang county, Hunan province. On October 5, 2009, a new colleague named Ouyang Chen came and I handled the entry procedures for him. He worked as stock man in our hotel. His ID showed that he was born on November 16, 1988 and lives in Sixi village, Matian town, Yizhang county. I paid special attention to him because he is the nephew of my colleague’s elder brother. His two older sisters are married. His father was a simple and honest man, who farmed and did odd jobs. His mother was in charge of housework. They were not rich but lived happily. However, after the family began to believe in “Almighty God”, it became strange and family broke apart.
The whole family believes in the cult and is similar to the family in the “Zhaoyuan Tragedy”.
In May 2011, Ouyang Chen’s mother joined “Almighty God” on the words of a preacher from another place (she thought she believed in “Christ”) because of long pain in her legs. She prayed every day. One day, she suddenly said that her pain had eased and told several “miracles” of illnesses being cured by praying. Then she persuaded the whole family to believe in the so-called “God”, saying that “doomsday” was coming and those who believed in “God” would go to heaven, while those who didn’t would go to hell. She even asked her two married daughters to believe in “God”. After that, it was like the whole family was possessed and did nothing but worship “God”. Despite of its poverty, the family contributed money to “God” often. Ouyang Chen didn’t concentrate on his job. He often left his post and looked to gain higher status in the organization. Once he was taken into a dark room by a preacher from another place and listened to him preaching (it’s actually brainwashing) for more than ten days. He was not allowed to go outside. Not long after, he became an inner “backbone member” and enjoyed “popularity” within the cult. At home, he was the boss. The family reminded me of the family of Zhang Fan who was a major criminal in the Zhaoyuan Tragedy. Zhang Fan’s family was also a family of five, i.e. father, mother, sisters and brother. They all believe in “Almighty God” and never stopped contribution to “God”. In this case, Ouyang Chen has taken the place of Zhang Fan.
He quit his easy job and rented a shop for “gatherings”.
Without his relatives, Ouyang Chen would have been dismissed long ago. In July 2012, he didn’t go to work or earn a salary. To manifest his ability, he rented a shop on Fuhao Road of the county town and started a “business”. At that time, the rent for such a shop was about 2000 yuan per month. Besides, he had to pay a transfer fee of tens of thousands yuan. He pretended to do business. Actually, he set up a gathering point, gathering the members he recruited every Tuesday and Saturday to “discuss God” and pray. These gatherings were secret. To recruit more people, he often came to our hotel and asked our colleagues to go to his “shop” and listen to lectures. Colleagues told him that this was “Almighty God”, also called “Eastern Lightening,” that it was a cult and that “doomsday” was a lie. He didn’t listen to us and said angrily that non-believers would go to hell.
The whole family was devoted to “God” and cut ties with all other relatives.
The relative of Ouyang Chen who also works in Hongyue Hotel told me that after believing in “God”, Ouyang Chen’s family cut connections with all its relatives. They didn’t notify their relatives of such important issues as Ouyang Chen getting married and giving birth to a child. They didn’t host a wedding banquet or invite their relatives to have a dinner. This was abnormal according to local customs. Ouyang Chen told his relatives that “God’s” believers were not allowed to host a wedding banquet, which was a great disrespect to God. In recent years, his mother caught an incurable disease and his relatives didn’t even know about that. Ouyang Chen’s family didn’t attend banquets or parties hosted by their relatives. At first, their relatives didn’t know why but later they found out that it was because the whole family believed in “God” but not in family love.
The mother was not allowed to see a doctor and “praying” delayed treatment.
Ouyang Chen’s mother was increasingly ill during “prayers” and couldn’t get up. Their neighbors all advised them to see a doctor. Ouyang Chen said, “as long as we believe in God and pray every day, all diseases and disasters will go away. As long as we evangelize sincerely, we will get protection from God.” Thus, Ouyang Chen and his sisters entrusted their mother to “God” while they were busy evangelizing outside. They didn’t come back home for long periods and didn’t take care of their mother. Their mother moaned in pain and got help from their neighbors. She deeply regretted being in the cult and shed tears. She wanted the whole family to be together, wanted her children to come back to take care of her, wanted to go to hospital and live a good life. However, it was too late. She died of terminal cancer in the winter of 2016.
Mother died in regret without burial.
I see the coldness of an “Almighty God” family from the death of Ouyang Chen’s mother. Ouyang Chen’s father believed that her death was because of her insincerity in her belief in “God”. The two daughters and one son disappeared and nobody took care of their mother’s funeral. The head of the village was worried and asked after the whereabouts of Ouyang Chen and his sisters. When he was finally connected to Ouyang Chen, he got an astonishing reply from him: he said that “God” was supreme and if they came back for the funeral of their mother, it would be disrespectful to “God”. According to rural customs, dead persons were buried under ground. But Ouyang Chen’s father said that they would not bury her because they believed in God. The villagers had to ask the mortuary house of Pingshi town to take the body of Ouyang Chen’s mother for cremation. At the cremation house, Ouyang Chen’s father attempted to run away but was controlled by villagers until he went through the cremation procedures and received the ashes. Then he poured the ashes into a river. Ouyang Chen’s mother had nowhere to be buried. If she knew this, she would regret bringing the whole family on the wrong track.
Closing: For the sake of “God”, two sisters of Ouyang Chen are still missing. The three siblings all have families and children. There are three victim families left behind. When my colleagues heard about this, they all feel regret for Ouyang Chen. Cults are not far from us. We should tell our relatives and friends to stay away from cults.
(Editor in charge: Lu Yuan)