Aug
07

China’s Beloved Pastor Dies

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August 3, 2013 [Persecution, China] This week, one of the most well-known and beloved pastors in China, Pastor Samuel Lam, passed away at the age of 88. Until very recently, Pastor Lam was still giving weekly sermons to thousands who attend the services at his church. Every Sunday, Pastor Lam invited foreign guests into his office, and with his broad customary smile, began to tell the story of his life, summarized in one ‘holy principle’: “More persecution, More growth.”

The son of the pastor of a small Baptist church, Pastor Lam experienced China’s communist oppression first hand. He faced his first arrest in 1955, during one of the first big waves of persecution under Chairman Mao Zedong. In all, Pastor Lam spent some 20 gruesome years in labor camps where he mostly worked in coal mines.  But despite the harsh punishments, he continued to teach.

Pastor Lam was largely targeted for his refusal to merge his church into the Three Self Patriotic Movement, the state-led Protestant Church.  But despite his years in prison, Pastor Lam restarted his church in Guangzhou in1979. Today, the church is still unregistered, but tolerated by the authorities.  Around 4,000 people attend the four services held each week.

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For 20 years, Pastor Lam worked tirelessly to teach and disciple and provide for Christians. Throughout his life, Pastor Lam remained steadfast in his faith, saying, “Suffering is limited—but the attitudes of accepting suffering should be limitless. . . even unto death. We must make up our minds daily to be willing to suffer for Christ. Then and only then will we experience blessing, peace, and victory.”

I visited his church in 2005, which was like a four-story townhome on an off-downtown street. Below are scenes from the area, and the interior of one of the floors of the church. It’s amazing to think they could fit 1,000 people in that building at any one time. Seating was on every floor, like this and there were speakers on each floor for people to hear. However, as I remember, they had to keep the windows closed (it must have gotten hot!) lest the neighbors complain about the singing.

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