I am Zhang Mei, 50 years old. Due to the circumstances of my family, I got married to a man from Inner Mongolia before I was old enough to be sensible. My husband showed no concern or consideration for me after marriage. Besides, he was very lazy, without the sense of responsibility required of a man, so I led a very painful life in those years. In 1992, I came into contact with Christianity and found spiritual sustenance in the Bible.
However, the "Almighty God" cult group set its eyes on me unexpectedly. Its members lured me to a prearranged place and brainwashed me for a few days, telling me about the three steps of God's work, the second coming of the incarnate Lord Jesus, the Revelation, the upcoming apocalyptic disasters, five wise virgins being saved after receiving their bridegrooms, and five foolish virgins being locked out of the door after refusing to receive their bridegrooms. Being deluded by the cult group, I gradually accepted "Almighty God".
In 2005, being indoctrinated with the doomsday idea of “Almighty God”, I left my family, my parents, my husband, my daughter and my young son behind to spread the so-called Gospel, despite the dissuasion from my family members. During those days when I was addicted to “Almighty God”, I had been promoting it vigorously even in the teeth of wind and rain. Besides, I assumed that I was preaching the Gospel to save people according to the will of God, and that I was also doing what was viewed by God as good deeds to save people at the sacrifice of my own family.
During the years I preached for "Almighty God", I came across many people and events incompatible with human values. Puzzled as I was about it, I had to accept it obediently as required in the heresy of “Almighty God”, because you would be considered an antichrist if you didn't accept it. Living outside in such an atmosphere year after year, I missed my family very much, but I had to suppress my homesickness and work diligently for God.
It had been going on like this until one day we were arrested for our illegal acts. Thanks to the patient help and instruction of the police, my mind gradually calmed down. In the initial period after my arrest, I felt extreme pain in my heart.
My reflections began little by little when I recalled my past.
In those years after I joined “Almighty God”, I got up at 5:30 a.m. every morning, saying prayers, reading the Almighty God’s books, having my breakfast at my host family and so on. Then I rode for two hours to a place to indoctrinate a group of new followers. By noon, I came back to my host family for lunch before going to another place to indoctrinate another group of people. When night fell, I went to a third place where I had to stay until 11 p.m. in the night before I could return to my host family. It had been the same routine day after day and year after year.
However, whenever our leader gathered us for a meeting, she would find fault with us under various pretexts. I couldn’t understand why they treated us this way, but I could do nothing about it, as we had to be unconditionally obedient as required in God’s Words. Now, recalling the tone of the leader’s voice, I felt that she was suppressing people with her power. Isn’t it said in God’s Words that we as brothers and sisters should care for each other? Two church sisters who had been away from home for more than ten years were eliminated on the pretext that their work hadn’t produced any beneficial results. The two sisters, who were sent away after being given only 30 yuan, begged the leader for permission to stay with them for the time being to find a job to earn a living, as they had been homeless for many years. But the leader refused their request, saying that they were villains and antichrists.
I often wondered what outcome would wait for me if I became old and my work no longer had any benefit. Would the same outcome wait for me? We had never been paid for doing our part for “Almighty God”, except for the 50 yuan given per month for buying daily necessities. We usually wore the ordinary clothes donated by the grass-roots brothers and sisters.
Also, there are always contradictions in God’s Words. According to God’s Words in Incarnation Mystery II, the work of God’s second incarnation was completed immediately after she finished speaking, unlike the work of Jesus Christ which continued for 2,000 years after its completion in three and a half years. God’s Words say that God left as soon as she finished speaking after incarnation, instead of living with people for 20 or 30 years. So, why hasn't she left yet? Besides, God’s Words say that the duration of God’s business plan will be over in 6,000 years and that there have been 6,000 years now. However, God’s Words also say in another place that the Age of Law lasted 2000 years and the Age of Grace 2000 years too. Since the Age of Kingdom is just beginning, there couldn't have been 6,000 years up to now. We are also told that God is engaged in the work of speaking instead of the work of starting a family and having children. On one side, we learned from God’s Words that a God who starts a family and has children isn’t the incarnated God; on the other side, we were told by Zhao Weishan, the high priest, that the incarnated God is still a God in essence even if she starts a family and has children. Isn’t it a contraction?
I thought hard about it, with my heart turning over and over. Then I thought of the followers of other religions in society and found that they were also very devout and kind. Even those nonbelievers were also kind and honest. Then my thought turned to medicine, science and technology, psychology and philosophy, which had all made progress in creating a better life for mankind. Should human beings be destroyed by disasters, how could theology survive? Most people who believed in “Almighty God" were those who hadn’t received much education.
"Almighty God" followers took to the streets openly and recruited new members at the end of 2012, claiming that the doomsday was approaching based on the Maya prophecy
After introspection and soul-searching, I decided to turn back from the wrong path and make a fresh start in my life.
In 2016, eleven years after I left my family, I finally came back home only to learn that my husband had died in a car accident in 2009. I had lost everything in my life！For many years when my children had no parents around them, they had to live with their old grandmother. As a result, my daughter always felt deeply self-abased, while my son had no affection for me. During those years, they lived under very poor conditions, spending an unhappy childhood.
My heart is aching at the thought of this, which is all attributed to my belief in the "Almighty God" cult! Now, I have to work hard wholeheartedly to fulfill my responsibilities and obligations as a mother, make up for my debt to my children, reduce my inner guilt and self-blame, and compensate for the maternal love my children had missed in their childhood. I will do everything I can to make a good living and help my son get married and start a career. Sometimes I feel pain and hardship, and other times, I feel exhaustion and remorse, especially regretting the ten-plus lost years of my life. However, I shouldn’t live in pessimism and despair, not should I live in the shadow of the past; Instead, I should cherish the present and anticipate the future, because my parents need me, and my children need me more. Furthermore, there are still many fellow citizens who need to be saved from the “Almighty God” cult. When I think of all this, I will adjust my attitude and work harder for a better tomorrow. My son and daughter, seeing what I have done for them, have gradually restored their feelings for me. Nevertheless, the death of my husband has left me with endless regret.