“No. It’s not,” I stammered, grabbing my Bible off the coffee table. “I can show you.”
I flipped my Chinese Bible open and went straight for the book of Revelation.
Sitting in my living room were two cult members who all but said they had a “third testament” of the Scriptures that only those in their cult were privy to. Just as Christ gave the church the responsibility to carry the gospel to the nations before His ascension, so they believed they had the responsibility of making what they understood to be the second coming of Christ known to the world.
From my conversation with Tam a couple of years previous along with some of my own research, I knew the basics of Eastern Lightning’s doctrine. They believe Christ had already returned to earth, this time in female form. They believe this Christ has written more Scripture and that they have the responsibility to spread the word.
Seeing as how they hadn’t directly mentioned the first point yet, but had pulled out a book claiming it was God’s Word just as much as the Bible, I decided to attack the second point first.
“Look here in Revelation chapter 22,” I turned my Bible towards them and pointed at verses 18 and 19. “Read here, please.”
XiaoHong shot a glance at XiaoZhang. He had a stoic look on his face, probably unsure of what to do but not wanting to let on.
She looked back at me for a moment and then down at the passage of Scripture in front of her, skimming it over.
“Go ahead,” I urged. There was more silence.
Wanting to further the conversation along and get things moving, I read the first of the two verses myself, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.”
“You see, adding to the Bible brings about plagues. The book that you have in your hands there is just that, an addition,” I said, pointed toward the book in XiaoHong’s hand.
Elevating the Bible slightly, I went on, “This is the Word of God in its entirety, and according to this verse, what you have there is an addition. You both need to realize that you are deceived and need to repent of spreading this false gospel.”
XiaoHong shot another glance XiaoZhang’s way.
“This is not a false gospel, XiaJun,” XiaoZhang retorted. “Why don’t you play the song for him?” he said looking back at XiaoHong.
XiaoHong nodded with understanding and began rummaging through her purse which was still setting on my couch.
Play the song? I wondered. What does a song have to do with anything?
I had no clue of the depths of lunacy the conversation was about to devolve into. Had I known, this would have been the perfect time to buckle up.
Pulling out her iPhone, XiaoHong scrambled to unlock it and search for what I could only assume was this mystery song that XiaoZhang had spoken of.
“This is it,” she said presumably pushing play. “You should recognize this, XiaJun.”
Then I heard it. Something I never expected to hear in a heated theological discussion. It was that song. The song, all in English, began…
“Remembering me, discover and see
All over the world, she’s known as a girl…”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This “pop” song, which I had never heard until I arrived in China a few years previous, was for some strange reason very widespread in China. Oftentimes walking in downtown Longyan the song could be heard blaring from clothing stores in an attempt to draw attention to their shops.
In fact, the song was actually sung by students at my school in a previous English singing competition that I judged. The competition was designed to encourage young students to learn English songs and improve their English. Judging the competition, I had wished I could have known beforehand that the group of third grade girls from “class EE” had chosen this song so I could have advised them to choose a different one to learn.
Now, here in my apartment, in the face of these two cult members, I was hearing it again, this time in an attempt to prove a point of their false doctrine to me! I sat in disbelief as the song reached it’s chorus…
“God is a girl, wherever you are
Do you believe it, can you receive it?
God is a girl, whatever you say
Do you believe it, can you receive it?”
“God is a girl,” punctuated XiaoHong in broken English as she paused the song on her phone.
I chuckled. Perhaps that wasn’t the appropriate response. But then again, what exactly is the appropriate response to someone that uses an estranged “pop” song to prove a point of theology?
I was speechless. They can’t be serious, I thought.
I glanced at XiaoZhang. He had a strange look on his face. Looking back, he was trying to figure out why I chuckled.
They were serious. Quite serious.
XiaoHong continued, “I know this song, ‘God is a Girl’, is very popular in America. Certainly you’ve heard it before. We often have to use it to show Chinese believers that they are deceived by the Communist Party. You Americans have the truth. You know that God is a girl. You sing about it. We in China have songs like this censored so we won’t learn the truth of the second coming of Christ.”
I could not believe what I was hearing. XiaoHong seemed to be implying that she truly believed that this song was very popular in America and that that “fact” somehow lent credence to the “fact” that the false gospel that she and the rest of Eastern Lightning believed was actually true.
“But…but that song isn’t popular in America,” I replied, trying to fumble for what to say. “I had never heard that song until I arrived in China. I can tell you that that song isn’t American without a doubt. In fact, I imagine it’s probably sung by a Chinese singer.”
XiaoHong, suddenly looking stunned herself, shot a glance at XiaoZhang.
I could see the look in her eyes drastically change in that moment. It was the look of one who truly believed something have their belief system begin to crash in on them.
“You’ve never heard this song in America?”
XiaoHong had probably been feeding these lines about the song being American to Chinese people for so long that she had just assumed it was true. Knowing, as many Chinese do, that Christianity came to China from western missionaries, she surely had also assumed that if Americans sang songs about God being a girl that they must believe it and that the Communist Party of China was hiding the truth from Chinese believers.
But now here she was, in an American’s living room, sharing her gospel with him, but he was telling her it was all lies.
Her glance at XiaoZhang had an air of Why would you lie to me like this? in it. It was as though she were asking him Is what this American saying true?
Realizing her doubt of their doctrine, XiaoZhang elbowed her again. It seemed to work. Her serious, confident attitude snapped back.
From there, they persisted in trying to persuade me of Christ having returned as a female for another minute or two, but I stood by what I had shown them in Revelation 22 and reiterated that they were adding to the Bible.
Noticing XiaoZhang wasn’t going to relent on his position and realizing he was probably speaking in fear of what his higher-ups in the cult might do to him and his family if he were to even consider the truth of God’s Word, I decided they had to leave.
“I’m going to have to ask you both to leave. Now. Leave and repent of this false gospel. Jesus Christ, the one that came two thousand years ago and has yet to come again, is in His patience giving even you false teachers this opportunity to repent.”
I didn’t quote 2 Peter 3:9. In fact, I didn’t even flip to it for them to read. But I attempted to communicate the truth found in that verse to them in what I was saying.
Seeing me stand up, they knew it was time for them to go.
“You need to repent. Stop spreading these lies. I can and will call the police if I need to.”
With that, they left and began making their way down the stairwell that led down to the market eight floors below.
As I watched them round the bend in the stairs and out of sight, I couldn’t help but be relieved. Relieved that nothing happened to me. Relieved that nothing that Tam mentioned in our conversation over chicken nuggets a few years ago happened to me or others at my church.
But at the same time, I was also saddened. Saddened for the many Chinese they may already have or one day will deceive. Saddened for them as well. Saddened that XiaoHong and XiaoZhang were fed these lies, maybe even against their will, but being in no position to face the blackmail that might await defectors, had to accept and propagate themselves.
Returning toward my couch and noticing the bag of grapes and dragon fruits on the coffee table, I snatched it up and trashed it. Having heard of Eastern Lightning’s penchant for poisoning targets, there was no telling what they had done to the fruits before bringing them here.
Slumping into my couch with relief, I had survived the battle, at least for the time being…
This is part five in a series of posts about Eastern Lightning, also known as The Church of the Almighty God, which is a cult in China that stands in opposition to true believers there.
Posts in this series: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |