The Voice of the Martyrs joins Christians from across China and around the world in celebrating the life and legacy of Samuel Lamb (Lin Xingiao in Chinese), who died on August 3 in Guangzhou at the age of 88.

Lamb was one of the best-known leaders of the Chinese house church movement. Numerous VOM staff members have visited his church in Guangzhou, as have hundreds of foreigners since the church was founded in 1979, the year after Lamb finished serving a 20-year prison sentence for his Christian work.

Lamb was born in 1924 in southern China. As the son of a Baptist pastor, he preached his first sermon at age 19.

Samuel Lamb

When the Communist Party took control of China in 1949 under Mao Zedong, Christians were forced underground or forced to submit to Party control. Those that refused were interrogated, arrested, tortured, imprisoned or even killed. Samuel Lamb became one of the best known of these persecuted church leaders.

Lamb first tasted prison in 1955, when he was sentenced to serve 18 months. He was imprisoned again in 1958, this time receiving a 20-year sentence. Part of his sentence was spent serving forced labor in coal mines, where working conditions were deplorable and many prisoners died. Lamb would later talk about how God preserved his life even in the midst of such dangerous work.

When visitors from the West visited Lamb’s church in Guangzhou, he often cited the statistics of how the church in China had grown despite persecution:

Samuel Lamb

“Before I was arrested, my church had only 200 members,” he told VOM workers on one visit. “After I was released from prison the first time, I found the church had grown to 900 members! Then came the confiscation of [books and equipment in] the church. Before the government confiscated our church, the church numbered 900 members. After the confiscation, the church had grown to 2,000 members! Persecution good for church!”

Lamb often talked about the millions of people coming to Christ in spite of the persecution and the communists efforts to close down churches, saying, “More persecution, more growing!”

“Pastor Samuel Lamb has lived a life of Kingdom faithfulness,” said VOM spokesperson Todd Nettleton, “and now he’s arrived safely home. He’s been a partner in VOM’s work in China for many years, and a great example of what it means to follow Christ, no matter the cost.”