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Posts tagged ‘Samuel Lamb’

10 Well-Known Christians Who Met the Lord in 2013.

From left, clockwise: Richard Twiss, Edith Schaffer, Charles Lamb, Pat Summerall
From left, clockwise: Richard Twiss, Edith Schaffer, Samuel Lamb, Pat Summerall

Media outlets have published lists this week of celebrities who died in 2013—lists that include Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher, Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, novelist Tom Clancy and actors Peter O’Toole, Jean Stapleton and Paul Walker of Fast and Furiousfame.

But religious leaders often don’t make these lists, mostly because the work of the Spirit is rarely celebrated on this side of eternity. As this year comes to a close, I decided to look back at 2013 and honor the memory of church leaders who died this year. They include:

1. Samuel Lamb. This brave Chinese pastor died in August at age 88. He spent 20 years in prison for his faith because he refused to bow to his communist oppressors. He taught his flock: “The laws of God are more important that the laws of men.” Today the illegal church he planted in the city of Guangzhou has grown to 4,000 members.

2. George Beverly Shea. Perhaps the best-known gospel singer of all time, Shea performed at Billy Graham’s crusades for decades and recorded more than 70 albums. A Canadian known for his booming bass-baritone voice, he teamed up with Graham in 1947. Ever willing to stand in the shadow of the more famous evangelist, Shea prepared audiences for Graham’s message by singing trademark songs such as “I’d Rather Have Jesus” and “How Great Thou Art.” He died in April at age 104.

3. Edith Schaffer. She and her husband, Francis, both Presbyterian missionaries, established L’Abri Fellowship, a retreat center in Switzerland that became a think tank for Christian theologians and activists. Some believe Edith and her husband—through their many books and lectures—galvanized the Christian Right in the 1980s by encouraging believers to challenge culture rather than hide from it. She was 98.

4. C. Everett Koop. Hated by some members of Congress because of his personal opposition to abortion, this distinguished pediatric surgeon was tapped by President Reagan to serve as U.S. Surgeon General. When Dr. Koop took office in 1981, 33 percent of Americans smoked; when he left in 1989, the percentage had dropped to 26 percent because of his strident campaign against tobacco use. A devoted Presbyterian who wrote a book about his faith journey, Sometimes Mountains Move, he also defended the rights of the elderly and children with birth defects. He was 96.

5. Richard Twiss. Once a monthly columnist for Charisma, Twiss was a rare breed: An outspoken charismatic Christian from a Native American background. His ministry, Wiconi International, focused on promoting reconciliation between whites and Native people. Born on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, Twiss wrote the popular book One Church, Many Tribes, and used his pulpit to reach Native people for Christ. He was only 58.

6. Pat Summerall. Perhaps the best known sportscaster in the U.S., he was fondly referred to as “the voice of the NFL” because his career spanned more than 40 years—and 16 Super Bowls. But what many TV viewers did not know was that the man with the famous voice experienced a dramatic conversion to Christ in 1992 after battling alcoholism. He wrote in his autobiography: “My thirst for alcohol was being replaced by a thirst for knowledge about faith and God. … I felt ecstatic, invigorated, happier, and freer. It felt as though my soul had been washed clean.” Summerall became a Southern Baptist before he died at age 82.

7. Paul Crouch. Raised in the Assemblies of God and driven by a desire to spread the gospel through television, Crouch built his Trinity Broadcasting Network from scratch, starting in 1973 with a station in Tustin, California, using $20,000 of his own money. When Crouch died in November at age 79, TBN had more than 18,000 network affiliates. His fund-raising tactics and spending habits made him plenty of enemies, but millions of donors looked beyond his flaws to help him build the largest Christian TV ministry in the world.

8. Dallas Willard. Considered a leading authority on spiritual formation, Willard was a philosophy professor at the University of Southern California whose books included The Spirit of the DisciplinesThe Divine ConspiracyRenovation of the Heart and Hearing God. He was a passionate proponent for rigorous discipleship, and he chided the American church for thinking we can be Christians without being disciples. He wrote: “The spiritual life is a life of interaction with a personal God, and it is pure delusion to suppose that it can be carried on sloppily.” He was 77.

9. T.L. Osborn. This unassuming Oklahoma-based evangelist always kept his focus on evangelism, and he preached in 90 nations before he died in February at age 89. Never a showman, he did huge outreaches in developing countries that drew crowds as large as 500,000—but he didn’t brag about his accomplishments. (In one of his crusades he shipped and delivered 56 tons of literature!) Throughout his life he reminded Christians of their responsibility to obey the Great Commission. He summarized this in an interview I did with him in 2011. “I once had a vision of the Lord,” Osborn explained. “But in the vision, God didn’t have any hands. Then He looked at me and said, ‘You are my hands.’”

10. Faye Pama Mysa. Few Americans have ever heard of this 47-year-old Pentecostal pastor who served as secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria. But he died a martyr’s death in May when Islamic militants burst into his home in Borno state and shot him. He is only one of hundreds of Christians who have died in Nigeria in recent years, victims of the Boko Haram terrorist group.

Organizations that monitor the persecution of Christians say the numbers of martyrs increased in 2013, especially in Nigeria, Egypt and Pakistan. In September in Pashawar, Pakistan, 78 worshipers were killed in a bomb attack at a church. In May, officials at the Vatican announced they believe 100,000 Christians are killed annually because of their faith.

I can’t list all their names here. But I pray our hearts will be filled with the courage of a martyr as we head into 2014.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of The Mordecai Project ( You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. He is the author of Fearless Daughters of the Bible and other books.

Chinese Underground Church Leader Samuel Lamb Dies.

Samuel Lamb
Pastor Samuel Lamb became a hero of the Christian faith for millions of believers inside and outside China.

Every Sunday after the service, Chinese pastor Samuel Lamb (also known as Samuel Lam) invited foreign guests into his office and immediately began to tell the story of his life, which he summarized in the one “holy principle” of “more persecution, more growth.”

He experienced Communist oppression and spent more than 20 years in prison. He also experienced God‘s response: an amazing growth of the church in China, now estimated at 80 million. Lamb became a hero of the Christian faith for millions of believers inside and outside China.

He passed away on Saturday at the age of 88.

Lamb (Lin Xingiao in Chinese) was born in a mountainous area overlooking Macau. His father pastored a small Baptist church, and he was raised as a Christian. Lamb was arrested during one of the first big waves of persecution in Mao’s China 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. Despite the harsh punishments, Lamb continued to teach.

The main reason 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.

In 1979, Lamb restarted his house church in 35 Da Ma Zhan in Guangzhou. Attendance grew quickly, and he moved his congregation to a bigger building in the same city. Now his urban house church is still unregistered but tolerated by the authorities. The church has over 4,000 attendees each week with four services.

Lamb’s theology challenged the government, the attendees of his church as well as other believers inside and outside China. He taught that Christians should obey the government unless those leaders directly oppose God with their law enforcement. “The laws of God are more important than the laws of man,” he said.

Suffering played an important part in many of Lamb’s sermons. He repeated “more persecution, more growth.” That phrase had not only to do with numbers of believers, but also with spiritual growth.

“I can understand Job’s victories and Job’s defeats,” he often said. “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.”

Lamb always remained cautious about the government. Even though his congregation is still illegal, it hasn’t been raided in years. He always 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.”

In the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, Lamb proved to be a reliable partner for Open Doors’ ministry. Through his network, over 200,000 pieces of Christian literature were delivered to Chinese believers.

“The death of Samuel Lamb leaves a hole in the Chinese church,” says an Open Doors spokesperson. “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.”



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