I’m Zuo Zhaojun. I went to junior high school. My wife is Shen Xingfeng and she is illiterate. We were introduced to each other and got married in 1999. We live in Yongxing village, Shahe town, Xixiang County. I work in a fungi factory near my home, and my wife raises a few pigs and takes care of our one-acre of land at home. Our family is not rich but we were happy and satisfied. In 2002, the birth of our daughter brought great joy to our family, and filled my life with hope. After that, I decided to work hard, build up our house with my own effort, and raise my child with love and care. However, ever since this cult invaded our family, all the good wishes were gone. It’s a rather long story.
Just after the spring festival, when my daughter was just a few months old, my wife was still in poor health after giving birth. With her old stomach disease, she could only stay at home and take care of our daughter. Villagers like us usually stay together for a chat in our spare time. One day our neighbor, Old Zhang, and two ladies from nearby villages came to visit us at our house. After some usual greetings, Zhang said, “Hey, Xingfeng, how’s your stomach? Still hasn’t recovered? Actually it’s not that hard to cure your stomach. You should believe the “Eastern Lightening” god with us and then you’ll be cured naturally. This god can save mankind and cure all diseases. These two are the living proof.” Then, the two ladies began to tell my wife their stories of how their diabetes and high blood pressure had been cured without spending a single penny. Hearing their miraculous stories, my wife began to believe them. “All you need to do is to believe in our god from the bottom of your heart. Isn’t it great to have your stomach cured without spending a single penny? We only want to do you good.” Zhang persuaded her like this. Having lived in difficult conditions, my wife has had superstitious faiths since an early age. Their persuasion made her want to try.
After that, my wife began to take part in their cult activities, as scheduled from time to time. However, after some time, due to the physical exercise and psychological suggestion during those gatherings, my wife began to get better and eat more at meals. She believed that it was somehow the effect of believing in this god and became ever more obsessed after that. Not only did she take part in all those gatherings and exchange ideas with fellow worshippers, she even went out to advocate and urge more people to join. Some members told my wife that the god of Eastern Lightening is even better than Jesus. Seeing my wife getting better, I was so happy and thought that whatever the cause might be, we would welcome it so long as it made my wife better.
My wife saw through me and began to ask me to believe. After that, we were either having gatherings at other people’s places, singing “spirit” songs or having “spirit” dances at my house. It’s like holding onto a life-saving straw. Once at a gathering, some members asked me if they could leave some materials at my house. We had a spare room so I agreed without hesitation. My house then became the storage place for all such materials. They came to my house at midnight on motorcycles or tricycles, bringing large sacks of CD and materials including "Epiphany in the Flesh", "Lightening from the East", "The Savior is Back on the Clouds", "God Speaking to the Whole Universe", "trial at the home of god". They were piled in a corner of the room.
In July, 2004, due to tip-offs by villagers, the police found a large amount of Eastern Lightening materials at our house. Later, my wife was sentenced to one year in prison. During this year, I had to take care of my daughter while also doing heavy farm work. I suffered a lot being both mother and father.
After my wife was released from prison, she still kept in touch with those cult worshippers. They still had gatherings, only not at my house any more. I tried to stop her, but my wife insisted. She said, “It’s nothing. We shouldn’t give up halfway, just be more careful. ” I had to listen to her but our activities became more concealed.
In December 2012, the doomsday rumour was everywhere. During that time, my wife often took my daughter with her to those gatherings, letting her become immersed in the thoughts of Eastern Lightening. In the beginning, my daughter thought it was fun and danced and sang with us. She told me that this god would bless her with good grades and everything she wanted in her life. We all pinned our hopes and expectations onto this god.
The following two years, my daughter often went outside to the gatherings with us. With neither time nor effort in her studies, her grades became worse and she usually ranked last at school. During the gatherings, the other members persuaded her that it was no use putting effort in studies as long as the god could help us with everything. “It does more good to attract newcomers than to go to school. The god can bless you with good grades.” My daughter had no mood for studies after that.
Before the National Day holiday in 2015, my daughter, who was only in the seventh grade, decided to quit school. My wife, who believes the god can give us everything in the future, even supported her. I demanded that our daughter at least finish junior high school, but she resisted by drinking pesticide. In fear of accidents, I could only agree to my daughter’s decision to quit school and stay at home.
Now after the warmhearted assistance of anti-cult volunteers, I deeply realize the harmful nature of the Eastern Lightening cult. The house we live in is a dump compared with the beautiful apartments of other families. When I think of the happy family that we once were, I cannot help but be stricken by sadness. My wife was under penalty and my daughter has dropped out of school. Whenever I see my fifteen-year-old daughter suffer from hard labor with me in the mountains, tears run down my cheeks.