“You all need to get out of the house NOW! The secret police are on the way.” Mei Liu ordered. Twenty-one year old Mei Liu was a member of the secret police, even though she was a Christian. She had joined to help her Christian friends by alerting them when the secret police were on their way. She was in love with Christ, and nothing could make her deny Him as her Savior. “Thank you so much Mei, God bless you.” The pastor of the house-church was truly grateful for the notice; he had scars from previous “interruptions”. Earlier Mei had heard her co-worker say “Let’s go get some rebels.” Why must China be so appalled by Christianity? Mei Liu was still thinking on that when she was shoved into a van to help with the chase. They got to the house church and as she had hoped, the secret police were too late. She was glad the Christians got finished earlier.
I wonder why Quan asked me to come to this restaurant; it’s the best in Xinbi. Xinbi was her hometown; she had lived there since she was two years old. Her thoughts were interrupted when Quan walked up. Twenty-two year old Quan Xi had gentle blue eyes, stern black eyebrows, and strong hands from plowing the rice paddies. Quan was her best friend; he had been the only child her age in her neighborhood, and they had become fast friends. “How are you today Mei?” he said awkwardly. Mei answered him, “Um, fine. What’s on your mind Quan? You don’t seem to be yourself.” Quan looked uncomfortably around the restaurant; not that Mei could blame him, it was stunning. It had walls made out of gorgeous brown brick, and the windows were open today, so they could see the beautiful Tallow trees that had been planted outside of the restaurant. She looked toward him to see what he was about to say. “Mei Liu, after being your friend for so long, I have come to love you.” He dropped down on one knee and said, “Mei Liu, from the house of Liu Wen, Will you marry me?”
Three weeks later, Mei was overwhelmed with wedding preparations. “Mei, you should have an nontraditional wedding.” “No Mei, You should have a traditional wedding.” Mei was tired of her mother and future mother-in-law fighting over the wedding. She finally got them to acknowledge her. “I am going to have a semi-traditional wedding, with the two loves of my life, Jesus and Quan.” In came the opinions of the mothers. She just shrugged most of their opinions aside. She went to her small, simple room. She looked in her closet; there were only a couple of pairs of pants, and a couple jackets, but there was one beautiful red silk Qui Pao, beautifully embroidered with all the colors you could think of. Above the dress, there was the traditional Bridal Crown. She knew that the dress and crown had cost her family around six-thousand Yuan. Because of the one-child policy, the child usually got a very elaborate wedding.
The wedding was tomorrow, and Mei was so excited she could hardly contain herself. She was also nervous. She had ended her career with the secret police after she had become engaged. The secret police had contacted her once a week until two months ago, and she had not heard from them since then. She hoped she wasn’t in trouble with the PSB for quitting. Or, she thought in the back of her mind, for helping Christians. She pushed the thought away. She knew that the consequences of helping Christians could be immense; she could be put into a solitary jail cell, with absolutely no contact with the outside world, or she could be beaten and tortured until she renounced the name of Jesus Christ. She shuddered at the thought. She convinced herself that she would be fine; her mother then came and told her to go to bed, tomorrow would be a long day.
The wedding music was playing. Mei Liu was very nervous; she kept saying, “I can’t do this, I can’t do this…” Right then, her mother came to her and said, “You will go up there when they play the bridal song.” Her mother and mother-in-law had both at first objected to a traditional American wedding; but in the end, they finally agreed. Mei was very worried; she had seen a few members of the PSB outside of the small courtyard in which the ceremony would be held, but she shook the worry off. This was, after all, the best day of her life. She was wearing the beautiful Qui Pao and the bridal crown.
She heard the bridal song, it was now or never. Her father took her by the arm, and started walking her down the aisle. She got down to the end of the courtyard. The pastor asked, “Who gives up this woman to be wedded?” “Her mother and I.” said her father, and then he went and sat down. Quan Said, “I Quan Xi, take you Mei Liu, to be my wedded wife. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish 'till death do us part. And hereto I pledge you my faithfulness.” She then said her pledge to him. “I Mei Liu take you Quan Xi, to be my wedded husband. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish 'till death do us part. And hereto I pledge you my faithfulness.”
This was the big moment, she had saved her very first kiss for her wedding day, the pastor was about to announce it. He said, “I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss the bride.” They were about to kiss when the PSB burst in the courtyard through the white picket fence. The PSB grabbed Mei and said, “You are under arrest for illegally contacting and warning the rebels.” She was so terrified, sickened, and disgusted all at once. After they handcuffed her, she looked back at Quan Xi, and blew him a kiss.
Quan Xi looked over at Mei, and rushed to protect her, but the guards from the PSB ran up to him, and tried to hold him back, he somehow escaped, and then even more guards ran up to him to hold him back. He didn’t know if he’d ever see her again, and so he began thinking; what if when she came back she had renounced her faith? What if…if she doesn’t want to marry me anymore? By now the PSB had dragged Mei out of the courtyard; and Quan stood at the end of the courtyard, held back by the PSB guards, and he wept.
They shoved Mei into a van; she was ready to cry, but she couldn’t show them any sign of weakness. They acted as though she was the slum of the earth, the slop in the pigsty. After they drove for about an hour, she was shoved into a cold, dark cell. Solitary she thought.
They then slammed the door, and she was engulfed in darkness; she was standing up, because she didn’t want to get her dress stained in the waste of the prisoners who had been there before her. Then she broke. It was as simple as that. She cried and cried; she cried until there were no tears left, she cried and all of heaven cried with her. She dropped to her knees, overcome with tiredness; she fainted from exhaustion, and from sorrow.
When she awoke, she felt her way around the cell; the stench was unbearable. She felt around and guessed it was about fifteen square feet; she decided to get at least a little organized. She decided the top left corner would be where she slept; because it was the cleanest, and the other corners she would go in as little as possible, because of the human waste. Oh how she wished she could have a drink of water: cool, refreshing water. She felt around the cell again and felt a bowl; it was empty. Then she felt a jug, and the jug had a lid covering it; she took a drink of the water; she savored it because she didn’t know how long it would be until she got more.
Just then she saw a panel in the door open, and she heard a voice say very, “Give me your jug and your bowl.” The voice sounded very annoyed, but she handed over her jug and bowl. The jug came back first, and then came the bowl; filled halfway with lukewarm barley congee. Because of the congee, the rats came. She stood up abruptly, and started kicking them with her foot.
When the rats had all finally left, she took a bite of the congee. It was unseasoned, stale, and she was pretty sure it had something growing on it. She was pretty sure that it had been reheated more than a few times. She compared it to eating the scum she saw on the top of her koi pond at home. She kept eating it though; she had been so hungry that the food was a great relief.
She wondered how long it had been since her wedding. She guessed about three days. Then she heard her door slowly creaking open, “Miss. Mei Liu, come this way please.” She presumed it was some sort of guard. She hesitantly followed. For the first time, she was able to see how much damage had been done to her dress. She was pleasantly surprised to see that her dress was only wrinkled. She was told to go wait in the “office”. She was astonished at how nice everything was; Maple chairs, table, and dresser. She sat down in one of the chairs as instructed. Then she waited for what seemed like forever.
When the head guard came in, he motioned to the dressing room, and said, “Go change into these.” Looking down at the pile of clothes, she could see that they were prisoner’s garb. She did as she was told, then came back out. The guard said to her, “If you just renounce Jesus Christ as your savior, I will let you go and have your wedding, and I will give you your wedding dress back.” She just now realized that they had taken her dress. Oh her beautiful dress, and she would get to see Quan again, and they could be married. “Make up your mind!” said the guard angrily. Mei was distraught, but she somehow uttered, “I… I can’t. I can’t renounce His name.” The guard, now enraged, shouted at his men, “Rip the dress!” She couldn’t believe it. Then, as she watched, they shredded her dress and proceeded to burn it. “No!” Mei shouted at the top of her lungs.
That was five years ago. She had woken up from the nightmare. She kept dreaming of the day that they had burnt her Qui Pao, the worst thing they had done to her by far over the course of five years. Yes they had beaten her, interrogated her fiercely, and put sand in her congee for weeks at a time, but the worst torture of all was the burnt dress, her hopes were gone, her dream of marrying Quan was gone. By now Quan would’ve married someone else.
She could replay her wedding in her mind, but it always ended when the PSB rushed in. She had nightmares about that day also. She hadn’t really been tortured physically as much as she had mentally, seeing that they had spent endless hours making her sit in a room with a recording that constantly said, “Renounce Jesus, renounce Jesus…” But she would not deny Him.
She would never deny Him, He was the only thing that kept her alive in the cruel cells, and she loved Him with all of her heart. She loved Jesus more than life itself. Through it all God had become more real to her, more necessary to Life, He became the thing she had been looking for, the thing she had waited so long for. She could care less about the misery of the cells. She had Jesus.
“Mei Liu, Come Out.” She wondered why the guard asked for her. It’s only been a couple of days since the last “Interrogation.” They usually wait weeks! The Guard had her come out of the cell, and he shoved her in the opposite direction of the office. “Be grateful you pitiful soul, you’re being released!” The guard said, annoyed. Mei Liu asked, “How am I getting out of here? I thought I’d be here the rest of my life!” The guard answered, “You got lucky okay? Now stop questioning me!” With that she was shoved out the entrance to the prison.
As soon as she got out of the gate, she went to a public bathroom. She saw how awful she looked; she couldn’t weigh more than seventy pounds. Her normally long, silky black hair was a short, tangled mess, and the clothes she wore were threadbare and stained. Her eyes had dark circles under them, and her face looked more like a thirty-five year old, as opposed to the young twenty-five she was. Her posture was bent over, and she had bruises on her face from the beating she had received two days earlier. Her lips were dry and cracked, and her green eyes didn’t have their usual sparkle.
For the first time, she realized she was in her hometown of Xinbi. “Thank you Lord!” She sang praise at the top of her lungs, she was free! She hoped that her family still lived in the same house; so she started to walk towards her house. She hoped that her family was well and living; and she hoped that Quan was still single. Oh no, Quan! What if he was arrested because he was going to wed her what if-? Her thoughts were cut off when she saw her mother at the front door of their house. She shouted with joy in her voice, “Mama! I’m back!” Her mother looked up and had tears in her eyes. “Mei? Mei Liu, is it really you? It can’t be, Mei?” Mei answered her, “Mama, it’s me!” And the mother and child embraced.
“Mama, what happened to Quan?” Mei said after three days of talking, telling, and weeping. “Well dear, why don’t you ask him yourself?” Mei turned around to see twenty-seven year old Quan Xi Standing behind her. “Mei? Oh Mei how I’ve missed you. I waited for you, we can finish the wedding ceremony tomorrow morning.” Mei stuttered, “You…you waited for, me? There was not one day in that jail where I did not think of you, not one day where I didn’t hope you waited.” ‘Oh Mei,” said Quan, “I missed you so much, Mrs. Liu, may we be married this evening?”
So that very evening, Mei Liu and Quan Xi were married in Quan’s Backyard; and this time, they had Christ as the center of their wedding. “I, Quan Xi, take Mei Liu to be my wonderful wife; I vow to love her as long as I live, and to protect her with my own life. I will take it upon myself, being the head of the family, to be the one who helps keep our family on the narrow road, I will pray for wisdom when I am not sure which way to go, and I promise to her that I will be faithful to her and Jesus my Savior. I will hold myself accountable to her on a daily basis. If she is sick, I will do everything in my power to help her be well, I will initiate the daily prayer and study of the bible, and I will seek guidance from the Holy Spirit on a daily basis.” Mei Liu was crying tears of joy as she said her vows. “I, Mei Liu, Take Quan Xi to be my wonderful husband, I vow to love him as long as I live, and vow to submit to his authority, if it does not conflict with God’s authority. I will help him by praying for him daily, and by not arguing against his better judgment. I will always be faithful to Quan Li and Jesus my Savior, and I will help him stay accountable, as I will be accountable to him. I will care for him tenderly, and if he is sick, I will do everything in my power to help him become well. I will help pray with him and I will seek guidance from the Holy Spirit on a daily basis.”
The Pastor announced, “After a long wait, you may now kiss the bride.” And with that said, a masked man came running through the courtyard, and Mei and Quan’s family were all scared out of their skin.“Just kidding.” Mei Liu’s dad said as he pulled off the mask. Mei didn’t laugh. With the wedding ceremony finished, Mei gave Quan a kiss. And from that day forward, Mei Liu and Quan Xi both dedicated their lives to serving the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the one true love, Jesus.
In the end, Quan Xi and Mei Liu lived happily ever after, Quan Xi got a job as a traveling minister, and Mei Liu traveled with him everywhere he went. Together they started a ministry called Freedom Ministries. They used the ministry to help prisoners be freed from their sin, they would volunteer to help wash off the prisoners, and the floors of their cells, and then they would tell them how Jesus washed away their sins to make them white as snow. Eventually, Mei Liu bore a daughter whom they named Chang Ming, meaning “forever bright.” Over the course of their lives, they helped over six thousand prisoners be freed from sin. Chang Ming continued the Freedom Ministry when her mother was too old to go to the prison, and she traveled to America to tell people about the cruelties of Communism. Mei lived to be 99 before she was raptured; and when she came up to heaven, she heard the almighty one say to her. “Well done, My beloved Mei Liu.”
*Authors Note: Most of the events in this tale are fiction, nevertheless, there really was a woman who worked in the secret police, and she really was arrested on her wedding day. She really did have to spend five years in prison, and her fiancé really did wait for her.
About the author
The author, Elizabeth Sarah Hartwig, goes by the name Libbi. She likes watermelon, the color pink, and tea. She lives in Greeley, CO, with her Mom, Dad, and three sisters.