I was born in a poor family which is in a remote mountain village. To bring my two brothers and me up, my parents were heavily in debt, thus my neighbors all looked down on us. After dropping out at the age of fourteen, I worked from dawn to night as a construction laborer as well as a handyman from place to place. Nevertheless, my income was barely able to make ends meet. I was extremely anxious and didn’t know when I could pay off the debts in this way, let alone live a good life. When I could find no way out, in June of 2002, my elder brother who was far away in Guangdong called me and told me that it would be easier to make money with him there by sending the gas. Thus, I came to Guangdong in hopes.
What we sent was the bottled gas. We could make seven yuan per bottle delivered and were able to earn more than two thousand yuan per month. Comparing with eight hundred yuan per month earned as a handyman in the construction site, I felt quite satisfied. One day, I saw accidently one of my counterparts who lived next door pouring the gas from a big bottle into a small empty one via high-pressure tube. Feeling puzzled, I asked him what he was doing, and he talked to me in a low voice, “Just pour respectively fraction of gas equally out of two or three big bottles to fill a small one. And the big bottles can still sell as full ones. As long as customers don’t require to weigh them, nobody will know. In this way, we can gain more money every day. Many people of our kind all do this. You and your brother always send whole bottles of gas, and how can you earn much money? If you do like me, I can assure you that you will double or triple your income.” Hearing what he said, I thought it inconceivable, but in the meantime, I was somewhat tempted by it. I had a sudden realization that we could do business in this way. We could indeed make money rapidly by this means, but … it’s really against conscience and morality. What’s more, if it’s discovered by the regulator, we will be punished; if customers find out, they won’t buy our gas anymore. Wouldn’t the losses outweigh the gains? I told him my concern, but he said confidently, “Don’t worry! Few people will weigh the gas. As long as you give adequate gas to those who haggle over every ounce and have scales, it will be fine.” Hearing his words, even if I felt it was immoral, I thought, “Although I used to work very hard to make money, I still couldn’t get rid of poverty or become better off. It is indeed rare to have such a good way to gain money rapidly. As the saying goes, ‘If a horse isn’t given hay in the evening, it won’t become stout; a person without ill-gotten wealth can’t become rich.’ It is money that counts. Just do it! I will clean up my act by the time I pay off the debts, buy a house and live a good life.” Thus, driven by profits, I started to steal the gas. In the beginning, I dared not pour too much but to pour respectively one kilogram of gas out of four big bottles to fill a small bottle. I was always on tenterhooks when I delivered the gas, out of concerns of being discovered by customers. Later, as it went unnoticed, I gradually set aside worries and began to gain more money through stealing the gas boldly.
Once, when I stole the gas, it leaked so much that I ventilated the room by opening the door. My neighbor happened to be cooking. The leak gas met open flame, with a bang, the room was filled up with flames. The neighbor was spooked, threw down the spatula and ran outside. Before I reacted, my eyebrows and hair were already charred, besides, lips and arms were also burned in different degrees. Fortunately, the big fire lasted only several seconds before I put it out using a wet towel in a hurry. Thinking back what had happened at that time, my heart was still fluttering with fear, and was shaking like a leaf. I thought to myself: How dangerous it was! I almost lost my life! It’s not easy to make money by this means! It’s better to stop stealing the gas from now on. Nonetheless, after being cured and ran the business normally just for a time, I began to take risks stealing the gas again thereupon, for I earned less in a normal way. Before long, because of improper operation, a new colleague caused an explosion in the process of stealing the gas, which left a hole in the roof. Moreover, his body was severely burned, which needed over a hundred thousand yuan to cure. This incident touched me once again: Is it worthwhile to lose life for illegitimate profit? Should I continue doing that? I began to hesitate. Nevertheless, nobody around me stopped on account of the incident. Then I consoled myself in my heart constantly: As long as I am more careful, I will be fine. In order to make money, I continued to push my luck to steal the gas. As time went by, I became increasingly bold, and thereby stole more and more gas. In the beginning, I stole gas from four big bottles to fill a small one, but later I stole gas from one or two big bottles to fill a small one. The most I had ever stolen was to get 11kg of gas from a bottle with net weight 14.5kg of gas. Over time, some clients began to complain, “Why was the gas used up so quickly? Did you give short weight?” Hearing this, I quibbled immediately, “Did you forget to turn off the gas and caused gas leak so that the gas ran out so quickly?” When I phoned it in, my customers had to take everything I said with a pinch of salt, but have nothing to say.
Afterward, besides stealing the gas, I also followed my colleagues’ example to substitute semi-new bottles for regular customers’ new bottles, then resold the new ones to new customers to pocket the difference. In this way, I made more and more money and then bought house and car, living a better material life. However, whenever I quieted my heart and thought of the ill-gotten wealth I got in these years, I always had a sense of inexplicable emptiness and fear. As the saying goes, “Gods mill grinds slow but sure.” The consequences of selling my soul to the devil would come home to roost one day. However, attracted by outsize profits, I couldn’t control myself even though I wanted to stop …
In July of 2011, I accepted the kingdom of God from my friend. Through God’s words and brothers and sisters’ fellowships, I have known something of my wrong actions of stealing gas. God’s words say, “Man’s corrupt disposition stems from his being poisoned and trampled upon by Satan, from the egregious harm that Satan has inflicted upon his thinking, morality, insight, and sense. …Before he was corrupted by Satan, man naturally followed God and obeyed His words. He was naturally of sound sense and conscience, and of normal humanity. After being corrupted by Satan, his original sense, conscience, and humanity grew dull and were impaired by Satan. …” (“To Have an Unchanged Disposition Is to Be in Enmity to God”). After reading God’s word, I reflected upon these years when I did business: I had inexperience of life originally and could earnestly do things in good conscience at first. However, influenced by the surroundings and driven by the interests, I learned to stop at nothing to gain money afterward, such as substituting insufficiency for sufficiency, replacing new one with old one covertly, and telling lies as usual. Besides, I regarded the fallacy that “a person without ill-gotten wealth can’t become rich” as a rule for survival. For the sake of build my fortune, I became deceitful and selfish, and even cheated my good friends. When others scolded me, I deemed shamelessly that doing business by fair means or foul was the unspoken rule. Everyone acted in this way, and there was nothing wrong. Not until read God’s word did I come to my senses: Corrupted by Satan, man’s conscience and reason have become deplorably numb. Harming others to benefit themselves isn’t regarded as evil or disgrace at all. Faced with the enticement of the interests, many people stop at nothing to gain benefits. Little does man realize that when he sinks into evil and is unable to extricate himself from it, these wicked behaviors have long since been extremely loathed by God.
Though I had realized that the means of my doing business was disgusted by God, I plunged into a dilemma, for I could only gain one-thirds profit if I stopped stealing gas, which was barely to pay my basic living expenses. What if there would be something wrong with health and life in the future, but I hadn’t enough money for emergencies? Upon reflection, I found a happy medium: I won’t cheat brothers and sisters as well as familiar friends, nor give them short weight, but cheat others. I even thought that although I could not totally practice according to God’s word, God would be considerate of my difficulties and wouldn’t blame me. When I was against my conscience to continue following Satan to do evil, I found myself overwhelmed with a moral pang. In the past, I could find reasons to cover up my behavior of cheating customers, but afterward, every time whenever I cheated others, I felt that God was watching me, like a son of disobedience stealing things to his parents’ face. Especially I still prayed to God and read His words while I was two-faced, did I have face to consider myself a believer in God? Wouldn’t I bring shame to God?