Click, click, choo—choo—the sound of trains speeding by has always haunted me like a nightmare. During the four years from the beginning of 2005 through 2008, I traveled around the country by train and collected 30 million Yuan of “devotion money” for the “Almighty God” cult organization. In those four years, I gave up my family and my job, living a miserable life without dignity.
Dragged into an evil cult
My name is Tan Xiaoxia. I was born in a small village in Foshan, Guangdong Province, where the picturesque scenery and unsophisticated folkways contributed to the simplicity and integrity of our family members. There are five brothers and sisters in our family who lived a very harmonious life. After graduation from primary school, I began to work as a farmer. In October 1993, I got married to my husband in his hometown, Pingnan County, Guangxi Province and settled down there since then. My husband, who was a compulsive gambler with no regular job, ran up a lot of gambling debt after marriage.
In 2003, Sister Cai, one of my workmates, warmly invited me to study the Bible and chat with her at her home. I was told there that God had come to China after being incarnated as a woman. It was said that this God was known as “Female Christ” or “Almighty God” though he was also Jesus Christ and that those who didn’t believe in this God would be destroyed when the catastrophe came.
Required to work for “God”
In April 2003, I returned to work in Foshan, my hometown. One day, a workmate called A-Ying brought me a book called The Book Opened by the Lamb, saying the book included all the words of God and should be read often since the Bible was out of date now. From then on, A-Ying came to my living quarters twice a month to instill the idea of “Almighty God” in my mind. Nine months later, A-Ying suddenly asked me to quit my job and do my part for God. After resignation, I was taken by A-Ying to see a woman named A-Zhen in Huangqi, with whom I was to work for preaching the gospel while earning my living by doing manual work in my spare time.
“Cherishing the opportunity”
In February 2005, guided by A-Ying, we came to Guangzhou after some twists and turns. Sister Yang, a woman in charge of receiving us, arranged for me to live in a reception family in Baiyun District, Guangzhou. Another girl named Xiao Yan also lived with me in the same room. Sister Yang told us to do our "part" for God and cherish the opportunity to satisfy God's requirements so that we could achieve our aims.
This special “part” we were required to do was travel around the country by train to collect the “donation money”, and that money to be donated to God by brothers and sisters mustn’t be embezzled, lost or revealed to anyone. Before we did our special “part”, we were asked to write a letter of guarantee. Xiao Yan and I wrote on a piece of white paper as Sister Yang said: “God! Thank you for being so kind as to let me do my special part for you. I’m willing to serve you faithfully; I promise not to embezzle, misappropriate, privately take away, or lose your money. I will compensate for it if I lose it; and if I fail to do it, may God curse me with the wish that I would be killed by a car.” After writing these words, I solemnly signed my name "A-Li" (my pseudonym) and gave it to Sister Yang.
Travelling around different cities
Our first stop in our journey was Shanghai. Outside the train window in our journey, a line of trees flashed past my eyes, bringing my thoughts back to my hometown. I often missed my home, my parents, and my children. I couldn’t refrain from smiling when I thought of them, but I dared not keep on thinking about them, because God told us to stop thinking about home, otherwise we would be distracted. If I didn't do my part properly, it would be bad for us and our family; and if we gave up halfway, we would be punished by God more severely than those with no faith in God. Within a whole year, we made more than 50 round-trips between Guangzhou and Shanghai, collecting and delivering more than 5 million Yuan of “donation money.”
In February 2006, Sister Yang and Sister Xiao Man came to our living quarters, giving us two train tickets to Jinan and several bags of instant noodles.
In July 2006, we went to Shijiazhuang…
In October 2006, we went to Hangzhou…
In February 2007, we went to Hefei…
In July 2007, we went to Zhengzhou…
In February 2008, we went to Chongqing…
In those four years, I was filled with fear and nervousness whenever I went out on a trip. I was afraid that I would have to compensate for the lost money on account of my errors, and that I would be punished if I didn’t do my part well since I had written a letter of guarantee. Every week, I would travel back and forth among different places by train and collect the money donated to God by church brothers and sisters. I once asked Sister Yang where so much money would end up and she immediately got annoyed, saying, "Don't inquire about where the money will go. It will go where God wills it!" According to detailed statistics, the “donation money” handled by me from 2005 through 2008 amounted to more than 30 million Yuan!
Call from family for me to be back home
I had been looking forward to visiting my parents and parents-in-law in those years, especially on holidays, which were the most difficult time for me. I missed my parents and two young children and often cried for missing my home. However, Sister Yang said: "Holidays are Satan's tricks to fool people. There is no holiday in God’s House and there will be no home when disaster comes. Here is our real home!" As I didn't have any extra money at my disposal to buy a ticket home, my longing for my loved ones slowly died down. Gradually, I got used to living without family members around me and working for God heart and soul.
During the Spring Festival of 2009, I finally met my family. My grey-haired old mother hugged me like a child and said repeatedly with tears in her eyes, "It’s good that you’ve come back; it’s good that you’ve come back..." In a flash, all God’s warnings flew out of the window. I needed the warmth of my family and I need to be someone my children can depend on! I had no idea that my family members had been to almost every place that I might have been to, from Foshan to Pingnan and Guangzhou, asking everyone who might have come across me about my whereabouts without ever giving up their efforts! As my husband whose hands had been shivering due to his hyperthyroidism was unable to make money by working, my two children were initially provided for by my elderly mother-in-law and later lived with their uncles during their school years, relying on others for a living. After graduation from primary school, my children dropped out of school and began to work. When I held my daughter in my arms, she couldn't help crying: "Mom, you are back at last. Did you know how miserable our life was when you were away?"
Little did I think that I would have caused so much mental harm to my children due to my belief in an evil cult, nor did I expect that when I worked wholeheartedly to collect 30 million Yuan of “devotion money” for God, my family members would have lived an extremely miserable instead of a smooth and stead life with God’s blessings.
"Just come back!" It's a call for me from my family. Watching the happy faces of my family members and stroking the young faces of my children, a multitude of feelings surged up in my heart.