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January 11, 2011

Continued from Part 1

Shortly after the birth of baby Helen, John and Betty Stam received their posting to the city of Tsingteh. And this brings us back to where we began in the beginning of the first part. After only a couple of weeks in their new home the Communists took over the city, took John and Betty captive, plundered their home and threw them in prison. And yet, as you remember, they rejoiced, trusting in God.

And now they were in prison, being held for ransom. The soldiers saw baby Helen and thought that this baby would prove to be a problem—she might slow down her parents as they followed the army. In front of John and Betty they talk about killing her. And then a strange thing happened. One of the men who had been tossed into prison by the Communist soldiers protested. He said, “The baby has done nothing worthy of death!” The soldiers told him, “It’s your life or hers.” The man said, “I am willing.” And just like that the soldiers struck him down and killed him, leaving the baby alone and unharmed. No one knows who the man was or why he would do such a brave thing.

Early the next morning the soldiers woke John and Betty and they all left the city, John walking and Betty riding on a horse. They started riding toward the town of Miaosheo. John had planned on going to the city that day anyway and waiting for him there was a friend, a man known as Evangelist Lo. As the soldiers marched into Miaosheo they took Lo captive. They asked him what he did for a living and he told them that he distributed tracts. They apparently didn’t know what that meant so they let him go. He hurried away, though he would return soon enough.

The soldiers pillaged the town just like they had pillaged the last one, taking anything that was valuable. John and Betty were hauled into a home that would serve as a jail and a guard watched them through the night. Betty was allowed to be free within that room, but John was tied in a standing position so he could not rest or sleep.

It was the next day, a Saturday morning, that the soldiers came into John and Betty’s room and told them to take off their clothes, to walk out of the house in just their long underwear. They tightly tied their hands behind their backs and led them out. John walked barefoot, having given his socks to his wife to protect her feet. They left the baby behind; Betty had tucked her into her little sleeping bag and then nestled her into a big pile of bedding. The soldiers forgot all about little Helen.

January 10, 2011

John and Betty StamIt was a dreary December day in the city of Tsingteh when John and Betty heard a rumor that Communist soldiers were drawing near to the city. The Communists were battling for control of the country and, of course, hated Christians or anyone else who would bring Western influence to their country. At the time the missionaries were not concerned; since they had moved to the city, just two weeks ago, rumors had been circulating but nothing had happened. They had been assured that government forces had come into their province to fight against the Communists. An hour later a man came running down the street shouting that the Communists were only a couple of miles away and would be upon the city in no time. Now the danger was clear. John and Betty grabbed a few supplies but they couldn’t find a way out of the city. Before they were able to flee, the soldiers surrounded the city, climbed the walls and opened the gates. There was no way to escape.

Very close to the city gate was the missionary home and it did not take long before the soldiers came upon it. The soldiers barged in and demanded to know the names of the people there; they demanded to know where they were from. Obviously two Americans would stand out in a small Chinese city. They took all the medicine they could find, all the money, all the valuables. John and Betty responded by brewing up some tea and serving each of the soldiers cake. But soon they were hauled off and put in the small local prison. They were told that they would be released only for a ransom of twenty thousand dollars. Read this letter that John wrote from prison—he wrote it to China Inland Mission, the missions organization that had posted them to China.

Dear Brethren,

My wife, baby, and myself are today in the hands of the Communists, in the city of Tsingteh. Their demand is twenty thousand dollars for our release.

All our possessions and stores are in their hands, but we praise God for peace in our hearts and a meal tonight. God grant you wisdom in what you do, and us fortitude, courage, and peace of heart. He is able and a wonderful Friend in such a time.

Things happened so quickly this a.m. They were in the city just a few hours after the ever-present rumors really became alarming, so that we could not prepare to leave in time. We were just too late.

The Lord bless and guide you, and as for us, may God be glorified whether by life or by death.

Here is a man captured by ruthless bandits, in prison with his wife and baby daughter. And his concern is not for life or for death, but only for the glory of God.

We’ll return to this most important day. But first let’s go back to the beginning.

September 01, 2010

I know that there are far more who read this web site than listen to the podcasts. Well and good. But today I want to encourage you to listen in to this one; it’s just 20 minutes or so but along the way our guest shares some things that I’m convinced will be a blessing to you.

In this week’s podcast we speak to a man who helped begin an amazing ministry. Jeff Anderson, working through International Bible Conference, helps train pastors from around the world. From very humble beginnings this organization has grown to the point where they are now leading conferences in Africa with 5,000 pastors attending, many of whom have no training and no Bible. Each of these pastors is exposed to sound doctrine, learns the value of expositional preaching and walks away with a Bible. In this interview Jeff shares some of the ways God has worked through this small organization, drawing people to himself (saving hundreds of pastors in one of the conferences!) and grounding thousands of pastors in the truth of the Word. I was encouraged to hear about it and I know you will be too.

You can learn more about International Bible Conference at internationalbibleconference.org. Here is just a short snippet from one of their reports:

The Pastor’s Conference emphasized “family,” teaching mostly from Ephesians 5. Again, hundreds professed faith in Christ and thousands were encouraged and strengthened by sound doctrine and expository preaching. Over 8000 copies of the MacArthur Study Bible were received with indescribable joy and commitment. Two pictures describe it best: after running to receive the Bible, pastors lifted both hands toward heaven and knelt in an open field giving thanks!

Imagine 8000 voices resounding with upraised Bible in hand, “I will study the Word. I will obey the Word. I will preach the Word!” Alleluia! The shout of praise shook the earth!

Much of what encourages me about this ministry is simply its humble beginnings and low profile. This is not an effort brought about by a major international ministry, but one carried on by a single local church that simply seeks to obey God. It’s a beautiful thing!

If you want to give us feedback on the podcast or join in the discussion, go ahead and look up our Facebook Group or leave a comment right here. You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or another program. As always, feedback and suggestions for future topics are much appreciated.

August 20, 2005

I never had a chance to be a bachelor. I started dating Aileen when I was still a teenager, got engaged at twenty and married at twenty-one. We both lived with our parents until the day we married. We had both lived at home through our college years. Over the past years of our marriage I have only rarely spent a night apart from her. I believe we were apart for almost a week about six years ago, but since then we haven’t been apart for more than two nights, and even when she has been away, I’ve always had to keep the kids. So this week of solitude has been, well, different.

For example, I didn’t eat very much. Cooking for just myself seemed like a waste of time. I found, though, that if I timed things just right, it was possible to make do on exactly one meal per day. A large meal at about 2 PM could be made to last through the evening. If I got to work early in the morning I would forget all about breakfast. I tended to get hungry late in the morning, but I could suppress my desire to eat for a couple of hours. Saved time, saved money. I’m sure all the ladies out there will scold me, but I am impenitent.

I also found that working from the crack of dawn until 11 PM is not conducive to a good night’s sleep. My body has grown quite dependent on some evening downtime, usually spent with my nose stuck in a book. Forfeiting this time guarantees at least two or three hours of tossing and turning before I finally shut down enough to sleep.

Yesterday I picked up the family and brought them home. Aileen made a remark about being the only family who leaves the cottage on a Friday to spend a weekend in the city. She raises a good point. Anyways, having the family back with me gave me an opportunity to think about the single life versus family life. Here are a few discoveries I made. If I were single I would:

Eat less. I would eat one meal a day with a couple of snacks when I got bored.

Work more. A lot more. I’d probably work myself nearly to death. I found that beyond my family and work I do not have enough activities to keep me busy outside of work hours. This is something I may wish to further examine.

Read less (see above). I would spend more time working which would leave less time for reading. Then I’d probably lose my position over at World blog. That would be disappointing.

Be deaf. I listen to music all day long, but am sensitive to the fact that my family is right upstairs and does not want to hear bass thumping through the floor all day long. When I am home alone the music gets loud. In fact, it gets loud enough that it cannot be good for my hearing. So I’d be deaf as a post in no time.

Have more money. After all, if I work all the time and cut out most of the food bill I’d have more money than I do now.

Have no one to spend it on. That would be disappointing and probably not too fulfilling.

Be depressed. And here’s the crux of the matter. I just wasn’t cut out for this single life. Not even for a week. There are lots of people who do not need and crave family like I do. I have rarely lived a week of my life without close contact with family members. The single life just wouldn’t work for me. So this weekend I am especially thankful for the family God has seen fit to grant me. They make me who I am.