Apart from being a little shy and slow in speaking, Wu Yingming, at the age of 39, is no different from others. However, only he feels the pain deep in his heart. In 2008, he began to learn about the church of Almighty God and take part in its gatherings by chance. He lost himself in it for six years.
After joining the cult by mistake, he took family members as “devils”.
Wu Yingming was born in an ordinary mountain village in Laibin city of Guangxi Autonomous Region in 1977. His parents are both teachers, and he grew up in school. He met his wife while he attended a technical school and got a job in a factory after graduation. After marriage, they had their daughter and lived a happy life, but bad things started to happen. While working in the factory, Wu caught tuberculosis and began to feel much weaker than before. What’s more, he was not satisfied with his job. As a result of these hardships, he began to seek spiritual sustenance.
Wu got to know about Christianity when looking for a house to rent. In August 2008, he was brought to a gathering of Almighty God by its followers on the recommendation of his sister-in-law. After that, Wu got obsessed with it, became more and more weird in character, and stopped caring about his family. Devoted wholeheartedly to the cult, Wu stopped working and went to other places to make propaganda for the cult all year around, thus estranging himself from his family. His family seldom saw him during that time.
His wife became the biggest victim. To support their family, his wife had to take a second job in a supermarket. She had to travel a long way there, without Wu’s help. She said, “The work is hard but I don’t care. What makes me sad is seeing that others will be picked up by their husbands in case of storms or bad weather, while I don’t know where my husband is.”
On the rarest occasion when Wu came back home, he couldn’t help talking about Almighty God, which aroused disgust in his family. His daughter disliked Almighty God very much and would stop talking to Wu immediately Wu mentioned the cult. She would also discard the propaganda materials given to her by Wu.
Wu had received assistance from his father-in-law and mother-in-law before he joined the cult. After he fell into the cult, his father and mother in law asked Wu’s wife and daughter to live with them so as to prevent them from being influenced. They did their best to convince Wu to free himself from the trap, but Wu took them as “devils”, since anybody who prevented him from believing in “God” must be an incarnation of a devil. With no way out, they had to persuade their daughter to divorce Wu.
Fearful of being “repaired” by the cult, Wu dragged out an ignoble existence.
According to Wu’s memory, the Almighty God gave hope to its followers in the beginning and then diverged from its original direction. The “priests” began to hint that followers should curse their unfortunate relatives, advocate hatred among people, claim that “all miserable men are devils”, and changed the mind of followers by teaching them distorted Christianity myths. Wu said, “Because I trust the church, I choose to believe and follow blindly when the church changes its perception, without any thought or criticism.”
Apart from enchanting its followers, the Almighty God cult also asked them to complete impossible “tasks”. Wu said, “They (Almighty God) set a very unrealistic goal about the number of people being evangelized. They asked us to evangelize all around Liuzhou city. Therefore, we went out to do this late every night. Some of us even beat drums on the street and spread the message of the 2012 doomsday.”
To satisfy the requirements, Wu and other followers went out to “evangelize” every day. Every two or three months, they changed location. They lived in a small room provided by the cult and lacked personal freedom. Wu said, “We have to pull the curtains every day, eat and sleep in a small room. We have to be very careful when going out and coming back, fearful of being tracked and discovered. The church needs to change location very often. There’s no freedom. What the church asks us to do is to act like thieves. We can’t see daylight and are very depressed. Can you understand what kind of life this is?”
Besides hiding here and there, Wu was fearful of the church. Every day, after meetings, Wu and other followers had to face different “repairs” from within the church. “Repair” means criticism and pressure from above and marginalization from other followers. Even now when facing the interviews with reporters, he dare not mention some of the details.
This depressive life caused great pain to Wu. He was exhausted both physically and psychologically but didn’t dare tell others. He was afraid of being accused of not being pius and of being “repaired” by the church. Also, he worried that he would be cursed, as the cult claims that “those who don’t respect and worship the ‘Almighty God’ would be destroyed no matter whether their behavior or words are right or wrong.”
Again and again, Wu became desperate. He said that he didn’t see the beauty advocated by the church in those years. On the contrary, the life was dull and full of worries, fear and depression.
Making fake videos, Wu had the idea of leaving the cult.
Within the cult, Wu was in charge of church management. Although he believed in Almighty God firmly at the beginning, once the claim that believing in Almighty God would save people from the doomsday was broken, the church began to deny the fact that they advocated doomsday theory at all. Wu began to suspect the teachings and theories of the cult.
In those depressed and fearful days, Wu got the idea of leaving the church for the first time. At the end of 2012, he ran back home and stayed there for half a year. He was hesitant and in a state of self-contradiction. When he was wavering, Almighty God reached him in March 2013 and assigned him to their video group. In the process of making videos, Wu felt something was wrong because those videos and overseas materials recounting how the believers of Almighty God were persecuted were all forged.
Wu found that in those video materials, different roles were played by the same people, the scenes were arranged, and the actors were instructed. The videos about the arrest and interrogation of believers and about the cruel persecution by the “Big Red Dragon” were all made up. Wu said, “We didn’t have those experiences. So where did those materials come from? Why is it always said that the materials come from the north? I believe they are fabricated.” Despite those thoughts, Wu didn’t know how to free himself from the cult.
By receiving education, Wu got out of the cult and has a new life.
In July 2015, Wu took the opportunity of the church moving and left the cult. After coming back home, Wu received education and walked out of the cult. He realized the mistakes he had made during the previous six years and felt regret for the harm he did to himself, his family and society.
His relations with family members are improving. His daughter is beginning to talk to him again. The family is satisfied with their current life. They are very grateful for their reunion.
Wu told our reporter, “I’d like to thank the government for giving me the opportunity, thank my wife for supporting the family in the past six years.” His wife said, “It’s good that he has returned. Now his life is on the right track. No matter how far my workplace is, he comes to pick me up as long as I call him, even if there’s no bus.”
Wu has been reintegrated into society. Luzhai County is a base point for “Rural Taobao” so he has applied to be a partner of “Rural Taobao” this year. He opened a service station in the village, buying things for those in need. He is also looking for opportunities to sell agricultural products. He said that being a partner is a good chance to do what he likes and also a chance to serve society and farmers.
Returning home has been like a rebirth for Wu. He is free and relaxed, without any chains. His wife remarked, “My husband is a very kind person. He fell into the cult by mistake and has now got out of it. It’s good that he has come back.”