From an October 2012 Standing Strong Through the Storm daily devotional at : http://www.opendoors-usa.org
Pastor Samuel Lamb (1924-2013)
Pastor Samuel Lamb from southern China celebrated his 88th birthday in October, 2012. A quarter of his life was spent imprisoned for his faith. He still preaches several times on Sunday in his large house church and most week nights in Bible studies. His brilliant smile shines from a slight body suffering chronic disability resulting from 15 years confinement in a coal mine. “God gives me the strength I need,” he says. He has never left China, fearing that if he traveled, the authorities would not let him return.
Lamb credits God for the faith to accept what has happened in his life. It has deepened his ministry. Lamb believes that sometimes God is more glorified through sickness and poverty than through health and wealth. Christians travel thousands of miles to discuss house church ministry with Pastor Lamb and visitors from around the world seek out his house church in Guangzhou, China, which gathers 3,000 members each week.
Pastor Lamb often refers to persecution and growth as intertwined. He is known for his quote, “Remember the lesson of the Chinese church: more persecution, more growth.” As the pastor explains, “Before I was put into prison in 1955, this church’s membership was 400; when I came out in 1978, it built up to 900 in a matter of weeks. Then after 1990, when everything was confiscated here and the church briefly closed, we re-opened and in a matter of weeks we had 2,000 members. More persecution, more growth—that’s the history of the Chinese church, that’s the history of this church.”
Though the two are related, persecution in other parts of the world has not necessarily always brought church growth. North Africa is an example.
But the Bible, especially in the book of Acts, is clear that church growth will likely bring persecution. Each time the gospel made advances in Acts, persecution would break out. And in Acts 8:4, the persecuted and scattered believers went everywhere preaching the word.
Pastor Samuel Lamb on Youtube:
Acts 8:1b-4 — On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.
Romans 5:2b-5 — We boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
II Corinthians 12:9-10 — (The Lord), said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Matthew 5:10 — (Jesus said), “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.“
I Peter 4:12-16 — Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
An Open Doors Prayer for the Church:
Thank You, Lord, that You use all situations to grow Your church. Help me to be an active and eager participant.