Lists and a man named Samuel LambPublished 7:00pm Thursday, August 22, 2013
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I remember the night they flew into Jackson International. She looked very cosmopolitan, striding through the airport terminal with jet-black hair hanging long down her back, and a leather portfolio, worn from world travels, slung over her shoulder.
Since the only thing likely to be slung over mine those days was baby food, you could say we really were from opposites sides of the globe.
My brother had gone to China on a mission and had brought back a wife.
No ordinary one, though, mind you. One that knew four languages and was able to win at Scrabble. One who could Black Friday shop with the best of us and, in time, fry okra like a local.
To say that we were delighted with this wife he brought back, and the three little almond-eyed girls born as a result, would be an understatement. These days, though, we are learning to love them long distance. Sometimes I think Indiana, though not Asia, might as well be a hemisphere away.
So when I recently read about the death of Samuel Lamb, one of the most important leaders of China’s house church movement, I employed the next-best thing to being there – texting – and asked my sister-in-law about him.
She recalled that he was imprisoned under Mao and that my brother had actually heard him preach once. She thinks they have one of his booklets on their shelves.
And apparently it was his booklets and preaching that cost Lamb so much – 20 hard years in a labor camp, during which time his wife died.
“I was not allowed to attend her funeral. It was like an arrow of the Almighty, until I understood that God allowed the pain, the loss, the torture; but we must grow through it,” he was quoted as saying.
After being released in 1979, Lamb continued to lead an underground congregation (one not registered with the state). Authorities threatened him through the years, and he stayed at “arrest ready” with a travel case near his front door.
When he died, attendance at the Guangzhou church had peaked at 4,000.
Lamb was an integral part of the remarkable tide of Christianity that has been affecting China – and people like my sister-in-law – for more than half a century.
There are indications that a tide is surging through the U.S., too, but it’s of a different sort.
The July 13 issue of WORLD magazine contains a photo of an Army Reserve training brief on hate groups. At the top of the list, which includes the likes of al-Qaeda, Sunni Muslims, Hamas, and the Ku Klux Klan, is evangelical Christianity.
That means members of the 186 churches covering two pages of the Copiah/Lawrence/Lincoln yellow pages just might fit into that category. And not to be left out, Jews, Catholics, and Mormons made the list of religious extremists as well. Alarming to be sure, but at least an Army spokesman told FOX News the training brief was “not condoned by the department.”
I was there at that federal courthouse in Hattiesburg when my sister-in-law took an Oath of Allegiance – her and all the others with their interesting accents and hopeful faces.
Who would have thought it would be her new country, this one, that may need a Samuel Lamb before long?
Wesson resident Kim Henderson is a freelance writer who writes for The Daily Leader. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.