FATHER, IT SEEMED GOOD IN YOUR SIGHT!
The First Detention Center
Still unable to control the joy in my heart after entering the First Detention Center, I even laughed aloud. The prison guard remarked, ¡°Are you mentally sick? How can you laugh when you should hasten to cry?¡±
With a grateful heart, I said to the Lord, ¡°Lord, it¡¯s good in Your sight! Amen!¡±
The guard searched me carefully and took away from my head the hairnet and hairpins. She then gave me a small piece of paper with ¡° 1443¡± written on it. ¡°From now on, your name will no longer be used; this is your designation in place of your name,¡± she said. With my hairnet and hairpins taken away and my messy hair lowered, I followed the guard to women¡¯s cell No. 1.
My luggage was already in the cell. I sat on it and said to the Lord, ¡°Lord, Your will be done!¡±
The guard asked me, ¡°Have you had dinner?¡± ¡°No,¡± I answered. She asked again, ¡°Do you want to eat?¡± ¡°Yes,¡± I said.
A few minutes later , she brought me a box containing some rice with a spoonful of pickled vegetable. Having bowed and said grace, I finished eating the whole box of rice. When the cellmates saw this, they were surprised and said, ¡°This is a religion-eater 1 , a believer. How can she eat when she should hasten to cry?¡±
After I finished eating, the guard asked me, ¡°Look around, do you know anyone here in this cell?¡±
I looked around. There was only one night - stool (a bucket for containing human waste) in the center of the room and there were holes for ventilation between the walls and the ceiling. The prisoners were all sitting on the ground with their backs against the walls, and except for their eyes, were quiet and motionless, as lifeless as idols in the temples. In fact, supervision was very tight; one could only sit and not move, or cry, or laugh or talk to one another. I answered, ¡°I don¡¯t know anyone here.¡± The guard left.
So it was here that I began the experience of ¡°life behind iron bars¡± for a period of 14 months. There was no mattress in the cell, and I had to sleep on the cold, hard cement floors. The love of the Lord warmed my heart and I rested well.
The next day during the time for ¡°airing¡± 2 and face-wash, everyone was given a day¡¯s ration of a cup of clear water, weighing about 1.4 pounds. As I was washing my face, a prisoner came to me and whispered, ¡°Miss Zheng. ¡± Taken by surprise, I asked, ¡°How do you know me?¡± ¡°I¡¯ve heard you preach in the meeting at Mrs. Ma¡¯s home in Model Village. Don¡¯t let anyone know about this.¡± As soon as she had finished speaking, she left. Soon, another person came by and uttered in a low voice, ¡°Thank the Heavenly Father that you¡¯ve come!¡± She went on to introduce herself, ¡°I¡¯m a Catholic, of the Legio Maria.¡±
I thanked the Lord with all my heart. In this cell I was accompanied not only by the Lord but also two sisters, and I felt less lonesome.
According to prison regulation, apart from bedtime, the day was to be spent sitting quietly reflecting on our own faults. After sitting quietly for 2 days, I was interrogated on the third day. The interrogator asked for my surname, name, age, birthplace, occupation and so on. I gave all the answers.
He went on, ¡°Huiduan Zheng, do you know why you¡¯re here?¡±
¡°I don¡¯t know. I was about to ask you: why was I brought here?¡±
Such a reply angered the interrogator, and he pounded the table and shouted, ¡°What! You¡¯re asking me? Are you the one to be interrogated, or am I?¡±
And so, abruptly, the first interrogation ended. I had personally experienced, ¡°The preparation of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord¡± (Proverbs 16:1).
During the second interrogation, many questions were raised regarding brothers and sisters.
¡°How many universities in the nation have you worked in?¡±
¡°I¡¯ve worked in 66 colleges in the nation.¡±
¡°You must be well-informed on the condition of college fellowships, aren¡¯t you?¡±
¡°I do, but I¡¯m not going to tell you.¡±
¡°How dare you! I¡¯ve not met such a prisoner ever since the Liberation. The worst reply was ¡®I don¡¯t know¡¯; yet you even dare say you ¡®know but will not tell me!¡¯ ¡±
I said nothing further and he angrily ended the interrogation.
During the third interrogation, I was asked, ¡°Why aren¡¯t you married? Did the God you believe in order you not to marry?¡±
I replied, ¡°This has nothing to do with my case.¡±
He was silent.
During the fourth interrogation, he asked many questions regarding the condition of brothers and sisters and I replied, ¡°That¡¯s not true.¡±
The interrogator patted his black leather suitcase and spoke with exaggeration, ¡°All the evidence is in here; there¡¯s no wave without wind.¡±
¡°Based on your logic,¡± I said, ¡°the word ¡®fabrication¡¯ should be deleted from the dictionary.¡±
He stared at me and remarked with a sigh, ¡°You have a sharp tongue!¡±
I was actually inarticulate by nature; my words were from the Lord (Matthew 10:18-20).
Since then, the Lord had sealed my mouth. During my stay in the First Detention Center, I had not said or written anything other than the previous words. I did not say anything in the interrogations that followed, which caused the interrogator much anxiety. Once, he roared, ¡°You aren¡¯t mute; why don¡¯t you speak? If you don¡¯t, how can I finish my task?¡±
¡°Otherwise, you may simply nod or shake your head,¡± he compromised.
By the grace of the Lord, I neither nodded nor shook my head.
Another time, the interrogation was designed to convert the heart instead; I sat and listened to the lesson on patriotism for 2 to 3 hours. Through the window behind the interrogator¡¯s table, I saw a cloud passing by in the sky, a rare and beautiful scene unavailable from a cell closed off to the sky. I was so delighted that I almost cried out. I said to myself, ¡°The heavens are your throne and the earth your footstool; you¡¯re the greatest of all. You¡¯re seated in Heaven and your eyes search the whole earth. Today, You¡¯re watching your child being interrogated here; one day, Your child will be sitting with You on the throne, with a rod of iron in hand to judge these people.¡±
¡°Huiduan Zheng!¡± I was awakened by this sharp call. The interrogator asked me harshly, ¡°What were you doing?¡±
¡°I wasn¡¯t doing anything.¡±
He sternly pressed on, ¡°You still aren¡¯t being honest! What were you doing just now?¡±
I replied, ¡°I saw a cloud floating by outside the window, and it was beautiful.¡±
Annoyed, he said, ¡°What place is this; what time is it? You even have the state of mind to appreciate clouds! This is like playing a musical instrument before a cow; a waste of time!¡± Having said this, he walked away, leaving me locked inside the interrogation room.
One day in June, there was the sound of ¡°report¡ report!¡± coming from women¡¯s cell No. 3 on the opposite side of the cell. A cadre asked, ¡°What report?¡±
The prisoner said, ¡°I request removal of my cuffs.¡±
The cadre said, ¡°Now that you¡¯re cuffed, what makes you think the cuffs could be removed so unconditionally! You were told not to pray, yet you did not obey; if you want the cuffs removed, you need to first write a self-criticism statement swearing that you¡¯ll not pray again.¡±
The next day, there was the sound of a cuff removal in cell No. 3.
I felt very sad indeed, and prayed, ¡°Lord! Even a communist member, when being executed (by the Kuomin Party) could shout ¡®Long live Communism!¡¯ yet today your child, just for the sake of removing hand-cuffs, would write the self-criticism statement and oath, failing to testify in front of unbelievers!¡±
The Lord immediately gave me these words, ¡°No sooner has one fallen than another steps into the breach.¡±
I shuddered to think of the discomfort the steel cuffs must have caused on soft skin and flesh, otherwise this sister would not have written the self-criticism statement. Yet, the words ¡°no sooner has one fallen than another steps into the breach¡± had strongly grabbed my heart. I seemed to see a battlefront where the banner-carrier fell to the ground and the one after him lifted up the banner and moved bravely on. I called out to the Lord, ¡°Lord! Your child is weak; please increase her strength. Now, your child can¡¯t preach with words but can only do so with body language to witness before the unbelievers. You¡¯re the God of Daniel and his 3 friends, and you¡¯re also my God. Please be with me as well and increase my strength!¡±
Since then, the arrowhead was turned towards me. They forbade me to say grace; I did not obey because this was the best opportunity for me to witness God. One time, when I was saying grace, the cadre interrupted and even refused to let me eat; I handed him the rice bowl and chopsticks and endured his ¡°condemning education¡±. After a whole week of ¡°educating¡± me openly through criticism in public meetings (actually a kind of real mental torture common all over Communist China), the cell door was suddenly opened and I was brought into an empty room to see the officer-in-charge and the educator (a female) of the First Detention Center. They talked to me from lunchtime until dinnertime, urging me to give up praying as well as my faith. I did not agree to any of these. The officer-in-charge became furious and took out a pair of handcuffs from his pocket, throwing them on the table.
Silently, I cried out to the Lord for mercy, ¡°Lord! Your will be done.¡± Right away, I stood up and stretched out my hands to be cuffed. The supervisor said solemnly, ¡°Huiduan Zheng, since you¡¯re so determined, I¡¯ll let you have what you want.¡± He then cuffed me.
After returning to the cell, the Lord made me see my own shortcoming and my own sins. ¡°Lord! The cuffs serve me right! I ought to be cuffed, ought to be cuffed!¡± I thanked the Lord for separating me from sin through this suffering. ¡°Since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin¡±(I Peter 4:1). That night, I prayed throughout the night, enjoying the sweetness of being with the Lord. Not only did the Lord sanctify me with the cuffs, He also let me partake of His suffering; I felt unworthy and my heart was filled with joy.
Three days after I had been cuffed, I was again led out of the cell for a talk. My attitude had not changed. ¡°For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers¡ shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord¡± (Romans 8:38-39). They changed the way they cuffed me from the front-cuffs (with 2 arms in front of the chest) to the reverse cuffs (with 2 arms bent over the back), greatly increasing my physical suffering.
Thank the Lord for his compassion on my weakness. Back in the cell, the Lord¡¯s Spirit filled me and gave me joy and a smiling countenance.
A cadre told me to stand by the window and asked, ¡°What are you smiling at? You should hasten to cry; how could you smile! You¡¯re smiling even though you¡¯ve been cuffed ¨C how shameless!¡± He added, ¡° Don¡¯t smile! Did you hear that?¡±
¡°Yes,¡± I said.
He ordered, ¡°Now that you¡¯ve heard it, don¡¯t smile any more! Sit down.¡± Still, I could not hide my joy.
Two days later, the cadre again made me stand by the window as a punishment, saying, ¡°I told you not to smile, but you¡¯re still smiling. You¡¯re looking cheeky day and night and don¡¯t think thoroughly over your own (serious) problem!¡± He went on to give me a lengthy ¡°condemning-education¡±. Another day, the cadre again admonished me. I said, ¡°I didn¡¯t smile.¡±
He remarked, ¡°You¡¯re lying with your eyes wide-open. Ask the people in the cell: ¡®Did I smile?¡¯ ¡±
It dawned on me then that the smile came out from the inside (my spirit)! I said, ¡°I really did not smile. If the smile flowed from my heart, then I wasn¡¯t even aware of it myself.¡± Afterwards, a cellmate told me: ¡°It¡¯s obvious from your eyes that your religion gives you joy.¡± Thank the Lord for giving me joy from the heart!
Wearing cuffs all day long had created many inconveniences in daily living. Going to sleep at night, I had to kneel down on one leg first and then on the other before lowering my upper body sideways to drop like a log on the ground. Because of the reverse cuffs, after I had lowered myself on the ground, I could not turn sideways or lie with face up; I could only lie on my stomach with my head turned sideway. The cellmates, either out of sympathy or curiosity, would pass me by to look at me when they got up at night to use the nightstool. One of them told me, ¡°My heart was greatly burdened, yet when I saw you smiling and sleeping so sweetly, my burden was gone.¡± Thank and praise the Lord! May His name be greatly glorified!
The Lord¡¯s grace was sufficient for me (II Corinthians 12:9). During the time I was cuffed, He made my whole body so flexible that it seemed like boneless. I could wash my own face, brush teeth, rub and bathe and even wash clothes; I could eat on my own and could finish every bit of food apportioned for the 3 meals. This was truly the Lord¡¯s miraculous work on my body.
After 40 days of reverse-cuffing, they again ordered me to the empty room for talks, with the same purpose of making me give up my faith. I still maintained my Christian position; for how could I let my Lord down after He had been so true to me! They then replaced the cuffs with a pair that was heavier, bigger and tighter. Once I had them on, my whole body turned numb, cold and trembling. I begged earnestly, ¡°Lord! By your stripes, let me be healed (Isaiah 53:5)¡±. After just this short prayer, the pain was suddenly gone and my whole body felt as comfortable as if it was immersed in warm water, giving me the full taste of the goodness of the grace of the Lord (Psalm 34:8).
Since I had not combed my hair for several weeks, there was an accumulation of dust and dirt that had caked my hair, which had led to the forming of scabies on my lower scalp and the back of my neck. They were swollen and sore, making it hard for me to fall asleep at night; the pus, seeping from openings that were as wide as the thickness of a chopstick, adhered to my hair, giving out a foul smell. Thank the Lord for His grace; the cellmates who sat by my side at day and slept beside me at night had never complained about the smell. Mrs. Lo, who sat beside me, was even sympathetic and said softly, ¡°You¡¯re suffering too much! Don¡¯t be so stubborn.¡±
I comforted her, ¡°Don¡¯t worry. The heaven and hell that I told you about are real; that¡¯s why I¡¯m willing to pay such a high price. Don¡¯t be afraid, just believe.¡±
When fellow-sufferers noticed much pus seeping from my scabies, coupled with my daily weight loss and my yellowing complexion, they persuaded me to report to the cadre and request treatment. I knew that once I did that, the cadre would again think of ways to make life difficult for me. I therefore did not do as advised, which led them to remark, ¡°You¡¯re so stubborn! Since you don¡¯t report, we¡¯ll do it for you.¡± They really did report to the cadres. The doctor then took me to the clinic in the Detention Center.
As expected, the officer-in-charge who cuffed me was already sitting outside the clinic and asked me in a weird tone, ¡°Huiduan Zheng, why have you come? Why do you need to see a doctor; why don¡¯t you ask your Lord to heal you? You love Him so much; how come He did not protect you?¡±
I said, ¡°Even if God takes my life, I¡¯ll still believe Him.¡± 3
The doctor wanted to cut my hair, but I did not accede. This same day, I was interrogated again.
When the interrogator saw my messy hair, he mocked, ¡°Oh, Huiduan Zheng, entering the Detention Center is bad enough! Why do you make yourself suffer more than the others? Do you really have to bring along a granite brain to see your God?¡±
I ignored him.
He further mocked, ¡°The way you are ¨C even Jesus would have to move several steps back in awe if He should see you.¡±
¡°No!¡± I said, ¡°If today I go to heaven, the angels and the armies of heaven will all welcome me!¡±
He became so furious that he pounded the table and blasphemed my God.
Agitated, I dashed towards the interrogating stage.
The interrogator stood up and shouted as he retreated, ¡°Huiduan Zheng! What do you want?¡± As if preparing for a bad confrontation, the police guard immediately rushed in, positioned themselves at vantages and with pistols in hand, prepared to shoot.
Overcome with righteous anger, I responded, ¡°I don¡¯t want to do anything. If I¡¯ve done something wrong, you mayhandcuff or shackle me, or even drag me outside and execute me. You aren¡¯t to curse and blaspheme my God!¡±
Back in the cell, the Lord said to me, ¡°Child, you¡¯re sostupid! I¡¯ve given you so much grace; since you can wash face, eat, rub and bathe, and wash clothes, how come you can¡¯t comb your hair?¡±
I said, ¡°Lord! Give me more strength and let me try.¡±
So, I sat down and slowly combed my hair. As the hairpins and hairnet had been confiscated when I first arrived in the cell, I rolled a large handkerchief into a rope about the thickness of my thumb, arranged it around my knee and tied the 2 ends up to form a loop. I then parted the hair that had taken me hours to comb, twisted the 2 parts and stuck them into the loop.
The fellow-sufferers jokingly said, ¡°With hair combed and tied with a bow, you look prettier!¡±
Unfortunately the guard outside had noticed this, and ordered me to stand by the window. He asked, ¡°Who combed your hair for you?¡±
I replied, ¡°I combed it myself.¡±
He did not believe, ¡°Nonsense! You could comb hair with hands reverse-cuffed?¡±
I said, ¡°If you don¡¯t believe, let me show you how!¡±
He watched with amazement how I combed my hair with hands reverse-cuffed, and quietly left.
One day in September, there was a storm and the weather suddenly turned cold. I was wearing just a thin traditional dress 4 , not enough to withstand the cold winds. Facing the window, I looked at the sky and said, ¡°Father, your child is cold.¡±
That afternoon, a cadre opened the cell door and led me into an empty room to see the supervisor who cuffed me. He smiled and said, ¡°Huiduan Zheng, it¡¯s been decided that your cuffs be removed.¡±
I cried out madly, ¡°No! Absolutely not!¡±
Taken by surprise, the supervisor said, ¡°You don¡¯t want the cuffs removed; does it mean that you want to wear them for the rest of your life?¡±
I did not reply.
He remarked with a sigh, ¡°Such a granite head!¡± and added, ¡°Today your cuffs will definitely be removed. You¡¯ll be given 3 days to think it over.¡±
¡°There¡¯s no need,¡± I said, ¡°I¡¯ve already made up my mind for a long time. Why take the trouble of removing them and putting them back on again?¡±
Furious, he turned around, slammed the door shut and left, leaving me alone in the room.
About 45 minutes later, 2 armored guards came in, one holding me up whilst the other removed my cuffs. Back in the cell, I felt very sad, as if I had lost something precious. I cried out to the Lord, ¡°Lord! Please don¡¯t desert me because of the cuff-removal!¡±
Having worn reversed-cuffs for a long time, my 2 arms had already been accustomed to the backward position, and returning them to the normal position all of a sudden resulted in unbearable pain. To ease the pain, the prison doctor gave me a painkiller every 4 hours. Nevertheless, my 2 hands had already become numb and could not hold anything, making it necessary for me to seek help with putting on and taking off clothes and buttoning up.
I pleaded, ¡°Lord! Please heal my hands. I¡¯ve yet to go through Labor Reform and shall need to labor with my hands. If I¡¯m unable to earn a living, then I¡¯ll not be able to glorify you.¡± The Lord who listens to prayers and does miraculous things deserves to be praised! He forgave my sins and healed my hands (Psalm 30:2), and both hands completely recovered!
Later on, when I was in the labor team, not only was I able to labor normally but I was also the best worker in the team - leading in both quantity and quality in the making of straw sandals and ropes. I was able to pick over 50 pounds of cotton daily and more than 25 pounds of tea leaves, and I was even a fast seedling picker in the rice fields. Thank God for manifesting His great power through me!
One thing that I learned during the time I was cuffed was the deliverance from the hell fire. The bathroom used by male and female prisoners and cadres was situated right below cell No. 1. In the summer, the hot air generated from the water-furnace heated our cell-floors and caused the temperature to be higher inside the cell than outside. Throughout the day cellmates had to sit on the hot floors with their backs to the walls that were also very hot. The daily ration of less than a cup of water (around 1 pound) was not enough to quench prisoners¡¯ thirst. The daily supply of only seven-tenths of a cup of water for washing (about 20 ounces) for each person was hardly enough for washing the hands and face. Many cellmates, therefore, developed heat-rashes and boils all over the body and suffered greatly.
I was wearing a traditional dress with hands cuffed on the back. I could not use a fan and could hardly stretch my limbs, perspiring continuously throughout the day as though the whole body was immersed in water. Thank the Lord for His special grace, for my whole body was free of rashes and my heart was filled with soothing sweetness. Compared to the endless scorching in hell¡¯s fire, what I had experienced was but light affliction for a moment.
The Lord¡¯s salvation had not only relieved me of the lake of fire but ¡°our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. (II Corinthians4:17)¡± Hallelujah, praise the Lord!
Another realization during the time I was handcuffed was that the Word became flesh and the Truth had set us free. Entering the prison, I had lost my freedom; with hands cuffed, I was in constant discomfort. Whenever I experienced discomfort or lack of freedom, I would recall the great love of the Lord - He is the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God who created all, fills all and reigns over all; for the purpose of saving sinners, he willingly forsook the matchless glory of Heaven, being born of a virgin, subjected Himself to the limits of laws and flesh, endured great sufferings as well as rejections of sinners, and was eventually victimized by wicked people and died a terrible death on the Cross. The Lord was the Word that was with God in the beginning (John 1:1); ¡°the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, ¡¡ full of grace and truth¡± (John 1:14). By His grace, my sins were forgiven and I became a free person, not under the rule of Satan; in His light, we know the truth, and ¡°the truth shall make you free¡± (John 8:32). In the past, when I had physical freedom, I bore witness to the Truth; now that I was physically imprisoned, I would still be a good witness for the Truth! Praise the Lord!
When I noticed that all the fellow-sufferers were looking distressed, not only without physical freedom but with their souls under Satan¡¯s rule, my heart felt like it was on fire, and I earnestly wanted to preach the gospel to them. Under the tight supervision, however, prisoners were not even allowed to talk to each other. Spy-holes the size of the brim of a cup had even been drilled on the cell doors to enable the cadre on duty to randomly check on the prisoners¡¯ movements. With prisoners not being allowed to talk to each other, gospel preaching was almost impossible.
However, there had to be dishwashing following the 3 meals, and the cadres on duty then had to oversee the work of those prisoners assigned for such labor. We therefore had at least 3 chances to chat briefly each day. I seized this good opportunity to preach the gospel to the cellmates and to teach them to sing short gospel songs and to recite the Bible.
For instance, to recite :
The Preacher says: ¡®Vanity of vanities, vanity of vanities, all is vanity. What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun? (Ecclesiastes 1:2, 3)
As he came from his mother¡¯s womb, naked shall he return, to go as he came; and he shall take nothing from his labor which he may carry away in his hand. (Ecclesiastes 5:15)
Through God¡¯s words, the Holy Spirit, like a big hammer 5 , had broken people¡¯s hearts. The wife of the former mayor of Qingdao was touched and had accepted the Lord. Two people from Shanghai had also accepted the Lord. The mother of a young lady, who was a member of Bethesda Church, acknowledged her serious sins and earnestly repented and turned to the Lord, praying daily. A graduate of the Fudan University¡¯s mathematics department also repented and accepted the Lord; one 16 year-old girl, who had a believing heart that was both innocent and fervent, sat on my lap everyday after dinner with her arm around my neck and asked tearfully, ¡°Aunt, when¡¯s the Lord coming to deliver me?¡±
Thank God, for He had not only saved them but also kept them; I noticed that they often prayed in the cells and lived by faith.
In 1958, when Christmas arrived, these believing cellmates piled up bars of soap to form a cross behind the cell-door. One by one, they knelt before it and prayed. Even though such an act was not quite right 6 , yet, as they fixed their eyes on the Lord and worshipped him in times of affliction, they were blessed!
I thanked the Lord especially for enabling me to depend solely on Him under such unfavorable and difficult circumstances. As I emptied myself of all my sins and sanctified my vessel, I became more spiritually enlightened and constantly heard the Lord speaking to me; the Lord had even frequently revealed to me by inspiration the things that were yet to take place. 7 For instance, on matters like changing cells, inspection of cells or adding new fellow-sufferers, I was able to, through inspiration by the Lord, notify the cellmates in advance; one by one, they came true.
Praying in broad daylight one day, I seemed to envision that the cell-door was opened and in came 3 persons. The one who was especially tall entered with the help of the other 2 and they also brought along baggage. I told the fellow-sufferers that 3 new friends would soon come to our cell. True enough, in less than half-an-hour, the cell door was really opened and in came 3 persons. The tall one was of mixed-race and was also a God-loving sister. Thank God for proving what I had preached through these miracles and wonders, and for using them to strengthen the faith of fellow-sufferers in Christ.
The prisoners here came from all directions. Some were arrested from piers, others from parks, streets and trains; most did not receive aids from relatives, so they were penniless and scantily clothed. I was perhaps the only one arrested at home and had brought along belongings and money totaling more than $30. Seeing that some fellow-sufferers had no laundry soap and some sitting on nightstools for long periods for lack of toilet paper, I made use of each ¡°account withdrawal¡± opportunity to purchase one item for each of them. Seeing some fellow-sufferers had nothing to change into besides what they were wearing at the time of arrest, I gave them my own cotton blouse, cotton pants, sports blouse, sports pants, wool blouse and wool pants.It was abnormally cold in Shanghai in the winter of 1958. My cellmates were wearing all my warm clothes and I had only a flimsy traditional dress with two underpants beneath it to tide over the winter. Though I often trembled in the cold and even had frost-bite on my soles, my heart was full of comfort and warmth whenever I thought of the Lord¡¯s teachings: ¡°You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Mat t hew 19:19)¡±; ¡°inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me. (Mat t hew 25:40)¡± I truly understood the saying, ¡°not only preach but also practice¡±. Such instances not only increased my own faith, love and hope, but had also touched the cellmates, resulting in greater love and care among members of the Body of Christ.
For instance, a 25 year-old cellmate who was a Catholic (of Legio Maria), seeing the inconveniences I experienced because of the hand-cuffs, always secretly helped me. As Catholics did not eat meat on Fridays, she always secretly stuck her piece of meat into my rice-bowl. Also, after I had been sentenced, another Catholic said to me, ¡°The traditional dresses that you wear will cause you inconvenience when you undergo labor reform.¡± As she was speaking, she took off her pants and gave them to me. Many instances had illustrated that, in days of strife, the love of the Lord had broken down walls erected by men, had filled up ditches dug by men and had united members in Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:13-16)
One morning in the spring of 1959, a female cadre took me out of the cell. After walking some distance, we reached another cell. When the door was opened, I was pushed inside. I saw that all the prisoners in the cell were male; I was the only female. I said to myself, ¡°Lord, what¡¯s all this?¡± I felt very calm. Soon, a police guard holding cuffs approached me and put one cuff on my hand. As he was about to put the other one on a male prisoner, I swung my arm without knowing what made me so bold, and said, ¡°I don¡¯t want to be cuffed with him¡±. The police guard stared at me and shouted, ¡°If you don¡¯t want to be cuffed with him, then whom do you want to be cuffed with?¡± He then randomly grabbed another male prisoner¡¯s hand and cuffed me with him. Then, all the prisoners had to line up to leave the cell in pairs to board a red police car. Presuming that the car would take us to be executed, I prayed, ¡°Heavenly Father, take the spirit of your child!¡±
Once inside the police car, I nudged the male prisoner in his twenties who was cuffed with me, and asked, ¡°Who are you?¡± He replied, ¡°I¡¯m a student in the Fudan University history department, just one year before graduation.¡± He asked, ¡°Who are you?¡± I replied, ¡°I¡¯m a preacher.¡± He said, ¡°My father is an elder in The All-Sufficient Gospel Church in Shanghai.¡± The wonderful Lord had done a marvelous thing. I refused to be cuffed with the other male prisoner and yet went along with this student; this was actually planned by the Lord!
After a while the car stopped and we were ordered to get out. I looked up and found that I had arrived at the Shanghai Mid-Level People¡¯s Court instead of an execution site. Apparently, prisoners from this car were to be sentenced. I was quite at peace because the Lord was with me. When court commenced, the student who was cuffed with me in the car was sitting right next to me. I said to him, ¡°The God of Abraham was the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Your father¡¯s God is your God. If only you¡¯ll confess your sins and repent, ask for the blood of Jesus to cleanse you and accept Jesus as your savior, you¡¯ll be saved. From now on, no matter what happens to you, if only you¡¯ll call on the God of your father, He¡¯ll definitely save you.¡± A police guard noticed that I was conversing and immediately dashed towards me and scolded, ¡°How come you got so much to say and can¡¯t stop?¡± Without giving me a chance to explain, he dragged me to another row of seats. Once seated, I asked the male prisoner beside me, ¡°Are you a believer of the Lord Jesus?¡± This skinny and distressed prisoner gave me a surprised look and lowered his head.
I asked again, ¡°Have you heard the Gospel of Jesus?¡± He responded, ¡°I¡¯m a Christian.¡± I asked, ¡°Where did you accept the Lord?¡± He replied, ¡°In Xian.¡± I further asked, ¡°Do you still pray?¡± ¡°I haven¡¯t prayed for a long time; I forgot,¡± he answered. I said, ¡°How the Lord loves you! He especially sent me to look for you, a lost little sheep. You should repent like the prodigal son and return to the bosom of the Heavenly Father. Should you have any difficulty, you just have to tell Him and He will deliver you.¡± ¡°From now on, I¡¯ll surely pray,¡± he responded. The court proceedings were temporarily halted in the afternoon and lunch was served on the premises. Each person was given a bowl of rice and a spoonful of pan-fried dehydrated turnip. I noticed that the Xian Christian had a good appetite, so I gave him half of my bowl of rice. Paul said, ¡°Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season¡± (II Timothy 4:2). I personally realized that the Lord was working even in the court. However, whenever I reflected on this experience, I always felt that I had fallen short! I prayed, ¡°Lord! Owing to laziness, your child had not seized the opportunities to preach your Gospel. There were so many lost souls that need to be saved in the prison and in the court; though your child had preached, she had not done enough. Have mercy, Lord! In the name of Jesus, Amen!¡±
In the evening, the police guards escorted us out of the court. Most prisoners had already boarded the police car when I told the police guard that I had not yet been heard. He immediately ran up to relay the message and then led me to appear in court. The jury just asked a couple of questions when the police guard hastened to leave. Thus, the hearing was abruptly brought to an end, and I was taken back into the car to return to the cell.
One afternoon, several days after the court hearing, the verdict arrived. I did not want to read it and stuck it inside a paper box by my side. I ate and slept well that night as if nothing had happened.
Early the next morning, the cellmates secretly told me, ¡°You could even sleep soundly! Others who had received verdicts all cried so sorrowfully as if they no longer wanted to live.¡± 8 I responded with a smile.
1. During the early stage of gospel ministry in China, some ministers, in order to develop believers, provided monthly for gospel-seekers with things such as food and aid-supplies. Such gospel-seekers were called ¡°religion-eaters¡±; they might not truly believe in Jesus.
2. In order to ventilate the cells and for prisoners to breathe fresh air, prisoners were let out, normally once a day, to walk in the open yard. This was called ¡°airing¡±.
3. ¡°Behold, if He slay me, yet would I trust in Him; but I will defend mine own ways before Him ¡± (Job 13:15, John N. Darby Translation).
4. A tight-fitting lady¡¯s dress with high collar and slit skirt.
5. ¡°Is not My word like a fire¡± says the Lord, ¡°And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?¡± (Jeremiah 23:29)
6. Matthew 5:8 - ¡°Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.¡±
7. In accordance with prison regulation, a prisoner could leave his money in the care of the Detention Center. Once a month he could withdraw $3 for the guards to purchase for him items of person needs. The prisoners called this practice the ¡°account withdrawal¡±.
8. ¡°These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)¡± ¡°Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid¡± (John 14:27).