A recent photo of the author
We are each free to believe what we want and it is my view that the simplest explanation is there is no God. No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization. There is probably no heaven, and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe, and for that, I am extremely grateful.
My purpose in writing this article is not only to tell the story of my sister and me but also to show the helplessness, hardship and joy I have experienced during my work as an anti-cult volunteer. My several years of experience have made me brave enough to join the efforts in fighting against evil cults and saving their victims.
The story begins with a phone call...
"Lao Liu (my pet name), are you going home this Spring Festival? Let's have a family reunion for dinner then." On the eve of Chinese New Year this year, I was surprised to receive a phone call from my elder sister. It was a normal call, but I had waited for it for 6 years! You can hardly imagine how excited and happy I was!
The last time I got a call from my elder sister was in 2012, shortly after I came to the organization where I am now working. The call was very short, with a tone of concern and urgency. "Lao Liu, don't be afraid when the end of the world comes. You should kneel and worship, facing the north and praying for God's protection. Be sure to remember to kneel and worship, facing the north." Knowing little about what she said at the time, I just faltered out a few words as a response. But my instincts told me that she must have been poisoned by some evil cult. Later, based on my sister's various behaviors, I judged that she believed in the "Almighty God" evil cult.
According to my parents, my elder sister had been weak physically since childhood, but she was always outstanding in her studies and thus became a role model for us siblings. In my memory, my elder sister was "quiet, weak, kind, and outstanding in her studies" in her childhood. However, as a sweet and lovable sister of mine, she had suffered unbearable hardships later. In the eighth year after her marriage, her husband died prematurely of uremic poisoning when their child was only five years old.
With the increased knowledge of evil cults, I felt increasingly sad about my sister. I keep reminding myself that I must persuade her to quit the “Almighty God” cult and return to her normal life. Over the years, whenever I returned to my hometown, I would grasp every opportunity to share my views with my sister about evil cults. At ordinary times, I called her regularly to tell her about the characteristics and dangers of evil cults, advising her not to stick with wrong ideas, but to integrate into the society and return to the normal life as soon as possible.
I thought my sister would have followed my advice, but I was totally wrong. She refused to listen to my persuasion. Sometimes, she even admonished me: "Younger brother, please don’ttalk to anymore! I beg God not to blame you." Finally, my sister didn't want to talk with me face-to-face or even answer my phone calls anymore. At that time, I was particularly helpless, feeling that my sister had been completely deceived by the “Almighty God” cult, unable to extricate herself from it. Now, she had become totally different from what she used to be.
If the failure of persuasion only made me feel helpless and guilty, the death of my mother provoked my hatred of my elder sister. When our mother passed away in December 2014, our whole family was plunged into grief. As required by the customs of our hometown, we as children must be dressed in mourning and keep vigil at the grave. I still remember vividly that when my mother's coffin was being carried to the burial ground and her children and grandchildren were crying sadly all the way holding the mourning sticks, my elder sister just stood numbly at the entrance of the road with tears in her eyes, without paying her last respects to our mother.
I decided to change the strategy of saving my sister. I read a great deal about how to fight against evil cults and save people from them. Through years of accumulation, I have acquired a great deal of knowledge about combating evil cults. In order to persuade my elder sister to quit the “Almighty God”, I significantly increased the frequency of both going back to my hometown and talking to my sister on the phone in the past two years, which greatly reduced my sister's contact with the evil cult. During every face-to-face communication with my elder sister, I would mainly tell some short stories about the harms brought by other evil cults, occasionally mentioning the "Almighty God".
Since my elder sister began to accept the dialogue between us, I have told her almost all about the evil cults both at home and abroad. By citing concrete examples, I explained to her the characteristics, common tricks, and practical harms of evil cults, guiding her to keep away from the “Almighty God" Under my continuous persuasion, my sister finally recovered her original nature of always pursuing the good. Gradually, she regained her self-confidence and was no longer as bigoted as before, with her attention concentrated on new things. Besides, her prejudices against the real world have disappeared little by little.
It’s a great advantage for me to have many brothers and sisters in my family. Apart from encouraging my siblings to change their thinking to avoid discriminating against my elder sister, I persuaded them to empathize with her hardship and suffering, help her get through the difficulties in life, respect her thoughts and feeling, and guide her out of the confusion in her mind. Under my influence, our family members joined hands and finally pulled my poor sister back to our family and the real world from the evil cult.
Hard work paid off. Slowly, my sister showed her willingness to communicate with others and became more and more talkative, with the smile returning to her face. In addition, she was willing to visit relatives and friends on her own initiative, and she found a stable job on her own. I know that my elder sister who used to be lively and gentle is here again!
With the experience of my sister and me, I decided to join the ranks of anti- cult volunteers and use my personal experience to help more victims of evil cults return to their families.
So, that’s the end of the story I told of my sister and me, from which you may know why my elder sister gave me a phone call before the Spring Festival this year. When I came home for Chinese New Year and our whole family sat around the dining table, I saw my dear and respectable elder sister again, who had finally come out of her closed world. Besides, she not only talked with us actively but also told a joke occasionally, immersed in a warm and happy family environment full of laughter.
Recently, I received a phone call at work from my sister, who told me that after the Spring Festival, she went to his son in Suzhou, where she found a job. She asked me not to worry about her as she is now living with her son and everything is well with her. I admire my sister's courage to get out of the shadow of the evil cult, and I praise her even more for her strong determination in the face of adversity.