House Church Leader Spent Two Decades in Prison for His Faith
8/6/2013 China (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Samuel Lamb (also known as Samuel Lam), a long-time leader of China’s persecuted house church movement, died on Saturday at the age of 88. Known for saying “more persecution, more growth,” Pastor Lamb spent twenty years in Chinese labor camps for refusing to allow his church to merge with the government-controlled “Three-Self” church.
The son of a Baptist minister, Lamb first began preaching in Eastern China at the age of 19. A little more than ten years later, Lamb was arrested under the Communist regime of Mao Tse-tung for “anti-revolutionary” activity before being sentenced in 1957 to 19 years of hard labor. Pastor Lamb spent the majority of his sentence working under extremely difficult conditions in a coal mine but continued to teach Christianity. Despite the death of his wife while in prison and harsh treatment by prison authorities, Pastor Lamb never lost faith and only a few years after his release restarted his house church in Guangzhou.
Eventually Chinese authorities in Guangzhou halted raids on Pastor Lamb’s church. Pastor Lamb attributed this both to the publicity which his story of persecution eventually began to receive in the West and the fact that increased pressure seemed to consistently result in even greater church growth. Today, Pastor Lamb’s church continues to hold multiple services throughout the week and has as many as 4,000 members. In an interview with ICC early last year, Pastor Lamb said that even the police in Guangzhou had begun to unofficially offer directions to the church for newcomers.
Yet Pastor Lamb was always quick to caution observers who became overly confident in the security of the house church movement in China. According to Open Doors, Pastor Lamb regularly warned, “We must be prepared to suffer. We must be prepared for the fact that we may be arrested. Before I was sent to prison, I already prepared a bag with some clothes, shoes and a toothbrush. When I had to go to the police station, I could just pick it up. I was ready. People are still being arrested. You don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Today the authorities are not bothering us. But tomorrow things may be different. I pray that we will receive the strength to stand firm.”
Just last month, ICC reported on multiple raids in China’s Northwestern Xinjiang province. The raids scattered dozens of house church members and left two church leaders in short-term detention. Xinjiang province is also home to Alimujiang Yimiti, a house church leader and father of two sentenced in 2009 to 15 years of imprisonment for activities related to “spreading Christianity.”
Ryan Morgan, International Christian Concern’s Regional Manager for China, said “Having had the wonderful privilege to meet with Pastor Lamb last year and listen to his powerful testimony in person, I must admit that I cannot help but find his passing something of a personal shock. The joy I witnessed on his face as he relived stories of victory over tremendous hardship and the warmth of his hospitality cannot be easily forgotten. His passing is certainly a momentous occasion for anyone involved in the unprecedented revival of Christianity that has swept across China in recent decades. His life and work are testament not only to the indomitable spirit of our Chinese brothers and sisters, but to the miraculous way in which spiritual revival has sprung from what once seemed an almost impenetrable darkness. His words of caution are also a sobering reminder that we must remain vigilant and ready to assist the body of Christ in China wherever and whenever persecution arises. The markedly improved conditions for Christians in China over the past two decades are welcome and acknowledged, but beneath China’s carefully manicured public image, persecution is still taking place on a daily basis.”
For interviews, please contact Ryan Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org
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