GUANGZHOU, China – One of the most influential leaders of China’s Christian home church movement has died at the age of 88.
Samuel Lamb (known by some as Samuel Lam) was born in 1924 to Christian parents in mainland China. As reported by World Watch Monitor, Lamb preached his first sermon when he was only 19 years old, despite harsh regulations on sermons by the Chinese government.
In 1955, Lamb was arrested for the first time, charged with violating his country’s strict preaching laws. Although he was behind bars for 18 months, his zeal for Christ was undiminished, and he again began preaching after his release.
“The laws of God are more important than the laws of man,” he would say.
However, authorities once again cracked down on Lamb in 1958, this time condemning him to 20 years in labor camps, where—according to Charisma News—he was forced to work under grueling conditions in coal mines. While he was suffering under these conditions, his wife died. He was not allowed to attend her funeral.
“I can understand Job’s victories and Job’s defeats,” Lamb later shared. “It taught me that grumbling does not help—not against God and not against those who persecuted me. My dear wife died while I was in prison. I was not allowed to attend her funeral. It was like an arrow of the Almighty, until I understood that God allows the pain, the loss, the torture; but we must grow through it.”
Despite his lengthy jail sentences, Lamb’s faith was unshaken.
“We must be prepared to suffer,” he once said. “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.”
Following Lamb’s release in the late 1970’s, he launched a home church in his residence, which quickly grew in size. Eventually, weekly attendance reached approximately 5,000.
Although the Christian church in China was extremely small when he began his ministry, Lamb’s efforts and those of other preachers and missionaries brought phenomenal growth throughout latter portions of the 20th century. Today, the Chinese Christian church numbers in the tens of millions, with some estimates suggesting that 10% of Chinese individuals are now Christians.
“The death of Samuel Lamb leaves a hole in the Chinese church,” said an Open Doors spokesperson following word of his passing. “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.”
Photo: Open Doors USA