Sister Liu, a 50 years-old interviewee, is a former “Almighty God” cult follower who has been away from home for 11 years. Recently, she made a big decision to reveal her own “scars”, sharing her painful experience of so many years with the families of the cult victims, to help them find their loved ones who had been away from home with no contact.
Host: Hello, Sister Liu! You were originally a Christian, so why did you believe in Christianity?
Sister Liu: I used to live a miserable life because my husband wasn’t considerate of me and had no sense of responsibility as a man. Later, I came to believe in Jesus Christ. At that time, I thought that believing in Jesus Christ would change my husband for the better and bring me inner peace, joy and spiritual support.
Host: In other words, the original purpose of your believing in Jesus Christ was to have a better life in the future. Then how did you come into contact with the “Almighty God” cult later?
Sister Liu: Initially, some “Almighty God” followers asked me to go to do business, that is, buying goods from them and reselling them for a profit. Later, they taught me the doctrine of “Almighty God” for several days and gave me an “Almighty God” book for reading, thus leading me toward believing in the “Almighty God”.
Host: How come that you converted your belief to “Almighty God”?
Sister Liu: They lured me to a far-away place and then they put me under house arrest through various means to force me to believe in the evil cult.
Host: That is to say, they wanted you to believe in “Almighty God”, but they adopted nasty practices. As you previously believed in “God”, although not “Almighty God” but Jesus Christ, so they intimidated you by saying you were going to hell if you didn't believe in “Almighty God”. They used various means including temptation, deception, house arrest, and intimidation against you, is that right?
Sister Liu: In the beginning, I read a small “Almighty God” book, which mainly talks about the doomsday catastrophe and the second coming of Jesus Christ. It says that there will be a great calamity in the future and that only those who believe in the “Almighty God” will be saved while those who don’t will be destroyed. It also tells us that this will be the last work of “Almighty God”. So I came to believe in “Almighty God” and no longer thought about making a change in my family.
Host: So, at that time, you wanted to be saved and also help more people out of the disaster. Is there any change in your relationship with your family since you came into contact with “Almighty God”?
Sister Liu: There is indeed some change in my relationship with my family after I came into contact with the “Almighty God”. When I was a Christian, I used to be a good wife, daughter and mother. But after I converted to “Almighty God”, I thought that I had to save others at the sacrifice of my own family since a disaster was coming. I changed my outlook on life only to save others, and that’s why I left my family.
Host: What was your attitude towards your family at that time? Or what place did your family hold in your heart?
Sister Liu: In my heart, my family members were divided into only two types: those who believed in “Almighty God” and those who didn't. That's how I thought about my family members. They forced me to quit “Almighty God” as if Satan was trying to stop me from believing in it. I used to treat my husband, children, father-in-law, and mother-in-law kindly, but later on, I considered my belief in “Almighty God” as the top priority, thinking it was the most important.
Host: Why did the “Almighty God” organization arrange for you to leave home at that time? What was the main reason?
Sister Liu: If a follower met with opposition in his or her family, the “Almighty God” organization would arrange for him or her to leave home to “do his or her part”. As I served as a preacher and leader at Poetry Church when I was a Christian, so they considered as useful and thus arranged for me to go away from home.
Host: Under what circumstances would they arrange for a follower to leave home?
Sister Liu: They needed people who were capable of working. For example, I was good at communication, preaching, and capable of recruiting new people from outside, the so-called "indoctrinating" in our jargon. Young brothers and sisters could go out to establish connections, while older people could go out to rent houses if they were healthy enough to work as host families.
Host: A follower must be useful to the church before he or she could be arranged to leave home. Did you serve as a preacher when you left your home?
Sister Liu: Yes, he or she must be useful to the church. I became a local church leader after I went away from home.
Host: Was there any restriction on your freedom after you left home? For example, could you call your family and go home to see your family every month?
Sister Liu: Of course, there were restrictions on us after we left home. We were required to write a promise: Since we follow the “God”, we mustn’t turn back even if we die; if we turn back, we will be cursed by God. We no longer had any contact with our families as we were not allowed to do so except to preach, pray, read, or meet for evangelism every day.
Host: So, you were very reluctant to leave home. Did you feel guilty or sad about your family after you left home?
Sister Liu: When I left home, my son was a teenager while my daughter was only 5 years old, so I couldn't bear to cry when leaving them, as if I would never be able to see her again.
Host: How far did you go away from home when you left?
Sister Liu: It depended on your jobs. Different places required different jobs. My location wasn’t fixed, basically 50 kilometers away from home, sometimes 100-150 kilometers away.
Host: What did you do every day? Did you have time to go home and see your family? Or were you afraid of being punished by the “God” for feeling that going home to see your family was disloyal to the “God”?
Sister Liu: I got up at 5:30 am every day to read God’s words and pray. Then I washed up and had breakfast before going out by bike to recruit new people or attend gatherings. Every day went on like this. You were not allowed to go home to see your children, because the “God” says that we must break up our families and that we mustn’t have parents and children except to satisfy God’s demands. If you didn't believe in and follow the “God” in earnest, you would be eliminated and go to hell instead of being saved.
Host: So, what you did every day was dealing with God's words and you had no chance or time to get in contact with the outside world?
Sister Liu: That’s right. We were mostly staying at the meeting place, where we gathered and prayed every day. It took me two or three hours to ride a bike to and from the place every day, which was very tiring.
Host: Where was the meeting place usually located? Did you have to rent a house or was there any one to receive you?
Sister Liu: Sometimes we rented a house as the meeting place. If all the members of a family were followers, then the home of the family would serve as a meeting or reception place. Usually, three or five people were meeting together.
Host: Where did you get the money to rent a house to live in?
Sister Liu: Some brothers and sisters who were well-off volunteered to contribute money to rent a house.
Host: How did you solve your problem of food and clothing?
Sister Liu: Those of us who were away from home had host families responsible for our boarding and lodging. Our clothes were donated by our church brothers and sisters. We were given 50 yuan every month as our living expenses and we spent our own money buying our articles for daily use with our money.
Host: The host families had to take care of the believers’ eating and drinking, which was a heavy burden for them. The 50 yuan you got every month wasn’t enough for your daily living, was it?
Sister Liu: The host families generally had better conditions. However, some host families with poor conditions suffered a miserable time, so they told the church about their situation, but the church told them to have faith that God would have everything prepared for them. They were only being brainwashed to “do their duty”.
Host: What if a believer fell ill or got seriously ill?
Sister Liu: When you were ill, the church would say: you should know yourself, as the “God” is disciplining you; you should reflect on yourself or you can heal yourself by faith. Anyway, the church didn’t care about you. I remember that a host family paid the medical bills for a sister who suffered appendicitis. Life was very hard at that time. You had to overcome minor illnesses like the cold because you had no sources of income.
Host: What kind of situation would result in someone being eliminated?
Sister Liu: Those who were seriously ill would be eliminated and sent back home for fear that they might die, and those who worked inefficiently and had no use to them would also be eliminated. If you were eliminated, you would be given 30 yuan and then driven away.
Host: Was there any age limit? For example, if you turned 60 or 70, you could go home as you were no longer needed.
Sister Liu: There was no age limit. The only precondition was whether you were useful to the church. For example, you could serve as a receptionist if you could; if you couldn’t, you would be assigned to another job. However, if there was nothing you could do, you would be told to go home. If you could receive others, contribute money or work after you went back home, then you could still play a useful role, so you would still be allowed to attend gatherings instead of being eliminated, even if you turned 80.
Host: In many cases, all the members of a family left home as “Almighty God” followers. Would they still live and attend gatherings together after they left home?
Sister Liu: No, they wouldn’t. They would be assigned different jobs based on their strong points and then go to different places.
Host: God’s words tell you that you should love people around you, but they also tell you that you can’t have feelings or affection. This is a contradiction. Did you question it at that time?
Sister Liu: The words of the “Almighty God” cult are different from those of Christianity. Christianity says that we should love others as we love ourselves and that we should also love God. But according to “Almighty God”, Christianity is about the work of the past, and only “Almighty God” can be believed in now; those who believe in “Almighty God” and those who don’t are two different types of people, and the believers mustn’t have feelings.
Host: So you were afraid of being punished because you had written a promise or pledge in the beginning?
Sister Liu: Yes, because God’s words say you must love him and be afraid of him if you believe in him; otherwise, you will be punished and cursed instead of being saved. So no matter how hard it is, you have to be absolutely obedient to him to be saved and gain an eternal life.
Host: So, did you ever think about going back to see your family when you left home?
Sister Liu: Of course, I did, but I dared not go back home. Whenever I saw other families enjoy themselves together, I would miss my parents and children. But God’s words say that all your family affairs have been arranged by God. At that time, I did a very good job, so I wouldn’t be allowed to go back home. As I was usually very busy with our work, I had no time to be indulged in missing my family.
Host: Did anyone say when you would be able to finish your work, get an eternal life, and go to heaven?
Sister Liu: When I converted to “Almighty God”, I was told as follows: God's work was coming to an end and a great calamity was about to come, so only by keeping up with God's new work could we be saved.We should save people as soon as possible. Those who didn’t believe in God would perish while those who did would be granted eternal life. Although we had been told that God’s work was almost over, it isn’t over until now.
Host: Did you have time to contact with the outside world, watch TV, surf the Internet and so on? What were your usual means of transportation?
Sister Liu: We didn’t watch TV usually, but read God’s words, listened to music, and attended gatherings. We had no access to news from the outside world. We did have mobile phones, but we changed our Sim cards from time to time. We did so when we felt we were not in a safe situation, and we used code words for communication. Usually, we went out by bicycle, and later by electric bicycles. If we went to a far-away place, we would take the bus, but we avoid using our ID cards.
Host: How did you use code words and signs to pass messages usually?
Sister Liu: For example, if a pot of flowers was placed on the doorstep of the home of a host family whose husband wasn’t an “Almighty God” follower, it meant that we couldn’t have a gathering there as the husband was at home. If no pot of flowers was placed on the doorstep, it meant we could have a gathering at the host family’s home. There were also “secret signs” when speaking on the phone. For example, when you said you’re “sick” or “not feeling well”, it meant the situation wasn’t good enough for attending the gathering. “Eldest sisters”, “second sisters”, and “third sisters” represented respectively the first, second, and third-line leaders.
Host: Then what qualifications would enable one to be arranged to go abroad?
Sister Liu: Those who were young, computer-savvy, and good at translation, as well as those who had a strong working ability and high efficiency would be arranged to go abroad. They must be obedient, as those disobedient people rarely had the chance to go abroad.
Host: What if those who went abroad were eliminated? Would they be sent back?
Sister Liu: Those who went abroad were also placed in host families. They had to try to produce benefits in their work. If they produced no benefits, they would be eliminated, and they had to find a way to make their living.
Host: What's the attitude of your family towards you when you went back home?
Sister Liu: When I went back home, my son had got married and had a child, while my daughter had turned 16.My husband had already passed away and our family had nothing left. As I had been absent from home for 11 years, my daughter didn't have much affection for me, but she still welcomed me home. The elders in my family were still very kind to me, as I used to be very kind to them when I was at home. After returning home, I worked very hard,doing the housework and earning money to make up for the responsibilities and obligations I had failed to carry out. Now my daughter's relationship with me has been repaired, and all my family is very good to me.
Host: Did the followers of the “Almighty God” cult ask you to continue to follow it after you returned home?
Sister Liu: Yes, they did. They still asked me to leave home and continue to follow “Almighty God”, but I refused. As long as you are useful to them, they’ll still ask you to work for “God”. If your family opposes it, they will ask you to leave home to “do your part”.
Host: Then what should we do to prevent our family members from leaving home?
Sister Liu: If a family member “does his part” locally, treat him well, influence him slowly, and reason with him, instead of beating or scolding him. If you beat or scold him, he will run away from home.
Host: If other followers are to come to him at home, how should we block their contact?
Sister Liu: Try to cut them off in every possible way, while learning more knowledge and analyzing the contradictions in the words of “God”.
Host: So, will they leave home after this year's COVID-19 pandemic is over?
Sister Liu: Of course they want to go out to “save more people” when the pandemic is over. Therefore, we need to take the opportunity to transform them and make them believe that it is not the “God” but the scientists and medical workers that are saving people.
Host: Thank you very much for sharing your experience with us today. I believe that many people have gained a better understanding of the “Almighty God” cult through your experience sharing, and I hope that it will help more family members break away from the evil cult and return to their families.