By BosNewsLife Asia Service
BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife)– Chinese Pastor Samuel Lamb, who spent more than 20 years in a forced labor camp and prison for his house church activities, has died, his supporters confirmed Monday, August 5.
Lamb, whose last name was also spelled as Lam, passed away Saturday, August 3, in Guangzhou city at the age of 88, said Open Doors USA, a major advocacy and aid group with close ties to Chinese house church Christians.
Born in 1924 in a mountainous area overlooking Macau, he was raised as a Christian while his father pastored a small Baptist church, Christians said.
As a young enthusiastic preacher, Lamb was first detained during what Christians called “one of the first big waves of persecution” under Chinese leader Mao Zedong and was held in prison from 1955 to 1957.
The Chinese authorities sentenced him a second time in 1958. “He spent 20 gruesome years in labor camps, where he mostly worked in coal mines,” Open Doors USA recalled. Despite the reported harsh punishments, Lamb continued to teach the Christian faith behind bars.
He saw his wife for the last time during the five months that he was on remand. She died in 1977, a year before Lamb’s sentence ended.
Christians who knew him well say Lamb was targeted by the government was his refusal to merge his “illegal house church” into the Three Self Patriotic Movement, the state-led Protestant Church.
“The government used to forbid Christian leaders to preach about the second coming of Christ and to teach minors under 18 years old. China basically made the state church evolve around the state and not around God,” Open Doors USA commented.
Following his release, Lamb continued his work as pastor. He soon experienced “God’s response” said Open Doors USA, adding there has been “an amazing growth of the Church in China” now estimated at up to 130 million believers.
“More persecution, more growth,” Lamb said about these developments. His own Guangzhou-based congregation now has 4,000 members. It is located in block of three-storey houses while in a neighbouring block, another two storeys also serve as part of the church, Christians said.
PREPARE TO SUFFER
Though his congregation is technically still illegal, it hasn’t been raided in years, according to Christians familiar with the church in Guangzhou.
Yet, he always remained cautious about the government. “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,” Lamb reportedly said.
“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,” the pastor was heard saying in talks with visitors.
Open Doors USA called Lamb “a heroe for millions of believers” and a “reliable partner” in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, when he helped to deliver over 200,000 pieces of Christian literature to Chinese believers.
“The death of Samuel Lamb leaves a hole in the Chinese Church,” the group added.
“Together with other heroes of faith like Wang Mindao and Allen Yuan, he symbolized the brave faith of a Church that grew at an unprecedented speed in world history. Long after his passing it will be said in many churches that more persecution only has one outcome: more growth.”
(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is ‘Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals’ since 2004).
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