With a tinkling sound of the bell, I received a baby photo sent via WeChat on the mobile phone, followed by a text message: "Hi, teacher, this is a photograph of my newborn baby. I want him to be a doctor when he grows up because I was so touched to see the heroic deeds of doctors during the corona virus pandemic. Doctors are real heroes who are saving people." Reading the message from Xiaohong on the phone, I couldn't help but bring up in my mind the scene when I met her a year ago.
"Hi, teachers, I got married. These are my wedding candies; please taste two pieces of them, as good things come in pairs." Accompanied by a burst of hearty laughter, a young girl full of vitality entered the room, holding a handful of candies and handing them out from person to person. I fixed my eyes upon the girl for a moment and found it was Chen Xiaohong. Yes, it was her indeed. She had changed so much that I almost didn't recognize her. Although she wasn't fashionable in her outfit, she was young, beautiful, and energetic. It was evident that she had gained weight and her complexion became ruddier than before, quite different from her previous skinny appearance when she was addicted to the evil cult of "Almighty God (Quannengshen)”.That’s how I met Xiaohong on January 2, 2019, when she specially brought us her wedding candies.
The story about Xiaohong has to be told from twelve years ago.
as a teenage girl
Xiaohong was a simple girl born in a rural family in Guangxi Autonomous Region. Her parents worked away from home in Zhongshan, Guangdong Province all year round. Due to the rural patriarchal ideology, her parents only brought their younger brother with them while working away, leaving Xiaohong behind to live with her grandmother in their hometown in Guangxi. In Xiaohong's memory, the days she spent with her parents each year added up to no more than half a month, which had become an unspeakable pain in the girl’s heart. She often felt that she was a lonely child as if she was an orphan. It was in this way that Xiaohong grew up.
In 2008, when Xiaohong graduated from a junior high school, she went with her parents to work in Zhongshan, Guangdong province, where she met by chance her classmate Ah-Li, one of her best friends during her junior high school years. From then on, the two of them often played together. One day, Ah-Li mysteriously told Xiaohong: "Now the end of the world and the great calamity are coming. Only by believing in Almighty God can we survive the calamity, and anyone who doesn’t believe in it will be destroyed." As a result of her curiosity and fear of ghosts and spirits since a child, Xiaohong accepted what Ah-Li said without any hesitation and was drawn into the "Almighty God" cult before knowing what it was. In that year, Xiaohong was a teenage girl, at the age of only 17.
Running away from home due to addiction to an evil cult
Xiaohong attended the "Almighty God" gatherings with Ah-Li out of curiosity in the beginning. As she attended more and more often, she was constantly indoctrinated with heretic ideas, such as that "If you betray ‘Almighty God’, you will be punished, thrown to dirty ghosts and evil spirits, and killed by lightning." Besides, she was asked to make a variety of poisonous vows. As Xiaohong grew up without parental care, she gradually came to depend on “Almighty God” and indulged in the gatherings organized by the Church of “Almighty God”. Little by little, she lost herself and got addicted to the evil cult for 10 years, almost causing irreparable loss to her.
According to Xiaohong's recollection, as she was active and young in the "Almighty God" organization, she was elected to be a leader when she had just turned 20. Since then, she went further and further along the path of the evil cult. For the so-called "Age of the Kingdom” (“An empty promise” to believers by the “Almighty God” organization), Xiaohong, who had no interest in work now, concentrated all her mind on meeting the church brothers and sisters, “eating and drinking God’s words” (i.e., reading the doctrine and understanding its content), praying every day, and even trying to draw her relatives into the evil cult. What’s more, she not only considered her family members who didn’t believe in "Almighty God" as devils or Satan, but also regarded her parents' care for her and advice to her as tricks of the demons or Satan to drag her to hell, with emerging hatred in heart for her family. It was becoming increasingly difficult to understand her at that time.
One day in the summer of 2012, Xiaohong hadn’t got home from a gathering until 11 p.m. When her father asked her out of concern where she had been, she dismissed her father's inquiry as disrespect to “Almighty God” and due to her long-standing dissatisfaction with her father, suddenly shouted angrily at him: "Did you ever taken care of me when I was a child? Where I have been is none of your business! You have no right to question me. I have God's care and love. All those who don’t believe in God will go to hell!" With that, Xiaohong stormed out and ran away from home. Her father was so shocked that he couldn't understand how his daughter had become like this. He wondered: where is the Xiaohong who was once a cute little girl?
Giving up true love for an evil cult
After running away from home, Xiaohong met a fellow provincial named Ah-Yuan, who was particularly kind to and considerate of Xiaohong because they came from the same province. With the quick heating-up of their relationship, they soon fell in love with each other. Xiaohong found satisfaction in their relationship and also enjoyed the sweetness of love. But at the same time, she was struggling in her mind,not knowing what to do with their relationship, as she knew that once Ah-Yuan, who was against her belief in “Almighty God,” found her still attending the “Almighty God” gatherings, the love between them would probably come to an end. In order to keep him from knowing what she did, Xiaohong pretended to go out to work during the day, but actually, she was going to attend the gatherings secretly. By evening, Xiaohong would return home to prepare dinner and wait for Ah-Yuan. Being in love with Xiaohongfor five years, Ah-Yuan was completely unaware that Xiaohong had never been to work. He gave Xiaohong pocket money every month, thinking that it was his natural duty to take good care of her.
However, there is no concealing the truth.Before the Qingming Festival in 2017, Ah-Yuan accidentally broke his leg and thus suggested that Xiaohong ask for leave to take care of him at home. This placed Xiaohong in a dilemma: how could I go out to attend the gatherings if I stay at home? She had no choice but to confess to Ah-Yuan that she still believed in “Almighty God” and had to attend the church gatherings anyway. If Ah-Yuan couldn’t accept it, she said, she would break up with him. Hearing what Xiaohong had said, Ah-Yuan didn’t blame her, and instead, he said warmly: "I will take care of you for the rest of your life as long as you quit your belief in ‘Almighty God.’ Let's get married right away, shall we?" Stunned by Ah-Yuan's unexpected proposal, Xiaohong was suddenly caught in a painful tangle: What should I do? Get married? She didn't even dare to think about it, because “Almighty God” says that there is no love between human beings; that only God’s love is selfless; and that the loved ones who don’t believe in “Almighty God” will be eliminated instead of being saved in the future. “No, you mustn’t get married!” A voice in Xiaohong’s heart told her with certainty that she mustn’t give up her belief in “Almighty God” for the sake of marriage, because “Almighty God” says that those who give up their family and marriage for their belief in God will be praised by God; that those who choose not to believe in “Almighty God” will be punished in the future; and that those who give up their previous belief in “Almighty God” will be punished even more severely than the nonbelievers.
Xiaohong firmly rejected Ah-Yuan's proposal, coldly offered to break up with him, and then left him decisively. At that moment, despite Ah-Yuan’s heartbreaking request for her to stay, Xiaohong still went away, daring not to look back at Ah-Yuan for fear that it would ruin her path to "Almighty God" if she hesitated somewhat and changed her mind.
Tasting all the bitterness of life for an evil cult
From then on, Xiaohong devoted herself to the belief in “Almighty God” and completely cut off contact with her family and boyfriend. According to Xiaohong’s recollection, she ran into many obstacles later when she was looking for a job. She never worked for more than three months in a job she had landed because there were always time conflicts between her work and church gatherings. As a result, she almost lost the source of income. Sometimes, the church brothers and sisters had no money to buy food when they organized a gathering, so a dozen people had to share a plate of green vegetables and a pot of white porridge. Being unable to afford to buy cooking oil, they had to boil the rotten vegetables they picked up in the market and eat them with soy sauce. Xiaohong hadn’t eaten an apple in months, almost forgetting its taste. In that year, she had been on the go, working for the “Almighty God” organization every day. Occasionally, she had to walk ten kilometers on foot, as she couldn’t afford even a two-yuan bus ride. Due to the long-term malnutrition, Xiaohong almost turned into all skin and bones half a year later, her complexion looking sallow and dull. Under the long-term brainwashing of the "Almighty God" cult, Xiaohong had become a puppet at the mercy of others, gaining nothing but her faith in "Almighty God" throughout the years.
Dispelling the clouds and seeing the sun
In August 2018, Xiaohong's father found her whereabouts by reporting to police for help. Also, with the help and education of the anti-evil-cult personnel, Xiaohong dispelled the clouds shrouding her heart, gave up her resentment towards her parents and reconciled with them. She returned to her warm family, regaining her family’s affection. Meanwhile, she recognized the ugly face of the "Almighty God" cult, breaking free from the shackles that bound her heart. Besides, Xiaohong hadn’t expected that her boyfriend Ah-Yuan, who had never given up his love for her, had been looking for and waiting for her. Finally, Xiaohong, who had started a new life, recovered her real love. She and Ah-Yuan registered for marriage on December 28, 2018. The lovers finally got married! Now, Xiaohong had become a mother with the birth of her first baby.