Editor's note: Sunshine Workstation of Changzhou City was set up on July 1st 2004. The Workstation uses the community as a center to help educate and transform cult victims. Changzhou has created a new way for combating cults which is worth learning from.
12 years’ perseverance requires willpower, 12 years’ companions require passion and 12 years’ achievement requires diligence.
Working as members in Sunshine Workstation, do you really love educating and transforming the cult victims?
Hearing the question, my colleagues gazed at each other and they were at a loss for words. The member of China’s Communist Party Zhang Kui thought for a while and said that we chose this career, not just because of love. More accurately, it was the sense of responsibility; the heavy sense of responsibility propelled us to help those struggling people.
Indeed, ordinary people can hardly understand the hardship and irritation occurred in transforming cult victims. Immersed in the cult, many Falun Gong practitioners are poisoned by the evil thoughts and deceived by Chinese and foreign reactionary forces. Those practitioners suffer from distorted personalities, affective disturbance, eccentric behaviors and defensive attitude. In the early stages, many practitioners who are under correction education feel empty. Due to the physical and mental strain, those practitioners start to practice Falun Gong again, which makes it more difficult for the Workstation to help and educate them. Sometimes, the staff in the Workstation have to spend several days talking with one practitioner. During that period, they always feel thirsty and tired, and lose temper for no reason.
As Zhang put it, “After a month’s hard work, some colleagues start to suffer from gastro-spasms. It is really a kind of torture. Why do we choose to work here for 12 years? Upon reflection, I think there are two reasons. First of all, combating cults is of great significance. Secondly, the more people we meet who accept help and education, the deeper our sympathy becomes for them.
According to the staff in the Workstation, most people who choose to accept help and education are kind. However, after being trapped in cults, those people have lived in an illusory spiritual world and their families have encountered unprecedented crises. Away from the normal social life, some of them blindly believe in the magic power of cults and die due to refusing medical treatment, some falsely believe that they will enter an amazingly “beautiful world”, and some delude themselves as having supernatural abilities. Zhang said, “We have witnessed so many tragedies. For example, when the staff in the Workstation knew a cult member who was suffering from severe diabetes, we went to help. However, his elder sister, a zealot of the cult did not allow him to see the doctors and take medicine. At the end of his life, the man held the hands of the station staff tightly. We will never forget that from his eyes, we could see his eagerness for life. How anxious and desperate we were! As the Workstation for the China’s Communist Party and government to combat cults at the most grassroots level, we are responsible for maintaining social stability, and helping those cult victims who accept help and education to enjoy life and to return to the real world.
We have motivation for perseverance. Then, how can we persevere for such a long time?”
The achievements of Sunshine Workstation come from diligence
The Workstation serves as the frontline for combating cults at the grassroots level. The people we help and educate here are all cult victims whose situations and problems vary; and mindsets and emotions are not stable. In a neglected moment, those people will be adversely affected by those zealots of cults again. In addition, situations in different families vary. Some families are helpful, while others are reticent or helpless. The staff need to mobilize family members of cult victims and grassroots-level institutions to participate in educating and transforming those cult members. Efforts usually need to be exerted for several years. It is not difficult to imagine the heavy workload.
One hard rule is that “staff must visit people who accept help and education under 3 situations”, that is, when the people feel sick, experience mental instability and undergo dramatic family changes. It is hard to calculate the time the staff has spent on those people’s families over the past decade. There is another rule in the Workstation. Along with family members, the staff in the Workstation should go to pick up those cult victims who have just end their education courses. In addition, the cult members who have been punished should also be picked up by the staff. Those people will be sent to Sunshine Workstation in the first place. Then, they can find out about the Workstation and that the Workstation will become their future home. After all the aforementioned efforts, the follow-up work can be carried out easily and be integrated with the early education, naturally. The workload of the Workstation increases greatly, but the assistance and education effects become more prominent. For instance, Zhuang from the Huayuan Xicun Community was punished by the public security administration in 2014. When she was released from the detention house, the staff gave up their weekends to pick her up. Zhuang was deeply touched. Her talks with staff and participation in the Workstation’s activities improved her understanding of the cult. Furthermore, she started to mobilize her mother to participate in the Workstation’s activities. Now, both her mother and Zhuang have become volunteers in the Workstation. In 2016, her family has been ranked as an “excellent happy family”.
It is an arduous job to help and educate cult members regularly, and hold a themed week, monthly, and gathering on every Monday. Without hardworking spirit, staff can hardly persevere for such a long time.
According to an employee in the Workstation, the nature of our work is grassroots work. Grassroots work just refers to basic work. In fact, the real situation of those cult members should be paid attention to. Also, we should help them to tackle daily difficulties, care about their mental and emotional changes and attempt to understand their daily conversation topics. These specific issues cannot be avoided. As the Workstation only employs a small staff, to solve those issues requires hard work.
The Sunshine Workstation has always emphasized prudence, patience and care
The Workstation aims to help other people. To help other people, staff members need to devote their whole heart.
After they leave cults, many practitioners who are under correction education feel empty. Some people may start to practice Falun Gong again because of a dream, illness or physical disorders. They want to return to society, but they are afraid that they will be looked down upon by family members and the rest of society. They feel isolated and depressed, so they gradually develop eccentric personalities. A headache, fever or physical discomfort will lead them to panic or become anxious.They need a lot of care and they want to get out of shadow so eagerly. The prerequisite is that a friendly environment should be created gradually to help them, and guidance should be given to them with prudence, patience and care. Only in this way, can they form proper ways of thinking and behaviors.
The Workstation’s approach is to help people to go to the outside world and ask staff to enter the heart of the people who accept help and education. In recent years, the Workstation always organizes people who accept help and education to visit other places to understand the progress of the economic development of society. Those people have already visited Changzhou new airport, the new wharf of Changzhou port, the base for the Yuan Wang-class tracking ship, nursing home and new rural areas. During the Tomb Sweeping Day this year, 30 people went to worship ancestors in Changzhou Martyrs Cemetery. One person told the author that they travelled to other places in the spring and autumn, including Suzhou, Taizhou, Wuxi, Huaxi Village. They also visited the Shanghai Expo. The Workstation supports these people to go to the outside world and to open their hearts. They have opportunities to see the colorful world and enjoy a colorful life.
Also, the Workstation staff enters the hearts of the people who accept help and education. According to the Workstation’s song, Song of Sunshine, “The roads, which are tougher, will become broader and sky after winds and rains will become clearer…” In the weekly gathering, the people who accept help and education will sing this song. Some people are enamoured with the song. Their eyes are full of tears.They certainly will not forget the warmth and kindness they feel in the Workstation. In the Mid-Autumn Festival, the Workstation prepared vegetarian cakes for each of their families. The small-scale dumpling-making activity held in the Spring Festival made them feel the warmth of family. When one person fell ill, Xu Yaping cooked specialty dishes and visited them. Xu and the sick person talked and enjoyed lunch. Such stories happened in the Workstation every year and warmed the hearts of every one who accepts help and education there.
The sunny life brought by the Workstation
Respecting and believing in people is a bold and long-standing principle in the Workstation. The staff realizes that the important task of the Workstation is to help awaken people so that they can return to society consciously, rediscover their own value and contribute to society with gratitude.
Since its establishment, the Workstation has set up volunteer teams. People who have accepted help and education have become volunteers. They not only help the anti-cult authorities to help and educate cult members, but also organize cult members to participate in various social charity activities. These volunteers play a prominent role in organizing activities for the Workstation and reaching cooperation between communities and the Workstation. Through security patrols, civilized city development and other voluntary activities, many cult victims have changed their mindsets and social roles. They deeply recognize their own social values, re-establish their self-confidence and feel the warmth of the world.
According to Zhang Kui, 64 people have registered officially as volunteers and more than 200 people participate in the voluntary activities throughout the year.Those volunteers are responsible for helping and educating other people so that they can better serve the community. At first, we were anxious about whether the voluntary work could bring benefits to volunteers. However, it comes to us that voluntary work helps them leave their small circles, return to society and serve the society thy shut themselves off from. It also shows our greatest respect and trust for them. Establishing mutual trust is a fundamental basis for us to change those cult members. As long as we work meticulously and take the role of voluntary activities into full play, better results can be achieved.
A 67-year-old man rides his bike for one and a half hours to participate in every activity of the Workstation. Every time he hears that someone needs mental guidance, despite the long distances, he rides his bike to provide help. The staff in the Workstation attempted to persuade him to save his time and energy, but he just said, “You rescued me and let me face the real world. Now, it is my duty to help those people who have not awakened.”
Indeed, the Workstation shows respect to people, to the cult members who accept help and education. The Workstation trusts people, trusts the cult members who accept help and education. With trust, the cult members will return to society with spiritual and mental health and enjoy a happy life.
(Editor: Xin Mu)