Many Christians, particularly in China, were saddened by the passing of Pastor Samuel Lamb this week at the age of 88. 10,000 mourners, under the watchful eye of a heavy police presence, came out for the funeral of a man who was instrumental in the establishment of the Chinese house church movement for the last several decades.
Pastor Lamb spent 20 years in a labor camp for refusing to resister his church with the Chinese government. After his release in 1978, his tiny church in Guangzhou (Canton) began to grow as he unashamedly shared the Gospel of Christ with those that would hear.
I had the privilege of meeting Pastor Lamb on a number of occasions in the early 1990′s. (I have a few pictures of us together that are no doubt in a photo album somewhere in storage.) Pastor Lamb was under house arrest at the time and confined to his church. I would take teams from churches across the world to visit him and bring bibles for his congregation. Pastor Lamb was gracious with his time and would encourage us with stories of God’s faithfulness and goodness during his time of captivity. Despite his years in prison Pastor Lamb had a joyful heart, an infectious smile, and was always steering people toward Jesus.
The local officials seemed to unofficially tolerate his still “unregistered church” because of the International attention he achieved over the years. He once showed me the ball point pen President Reagan had sent to him as a gift as well as a photo of himself with Apollo astronaut Jim Irwin.
Recently I had an e-mail exchange with a friend where I commented that our educational and economic status has offered us the privilege of sipping lattes and musing with friends over an abundant dinner the nature of God’s faithfulness and goodness. My memories of Pastor Lamb remind me that, historically, many people have had to question God’s goodness from chains, prison, and forced labor. They didn’t have the opportunity to make a witty Facebook comment that generated a number of “likes” or blog on a trendy topic de jour.
Instead, their understanding of God’s goodness was forged in a different fire; and the Body of Christ would do well to listen to them and learn.
Samuel Lamb is with our Father now where chains and fear have been banished. But his life and message remain with us. I was honored to have known him.