Print Version    Email to Friend
Massive funeral for popular pastor

GUANGZHOU (AsiaNews): At least 30,000 people attended the funeral of Pastor Samuel Lamb on August 16 in Guangdong province, mainland China.

Pastor Lamb, whose real name was Lin Xiangao, is recognised as one of the pillars of the underground Protestant Church movement.

People queued for hours under the constant gaze of the police at the Yinhe morgue, Tianhe District, to pay their last respects to him, which some pointed out eclipsed any display of affection of popularity for any leader in the Communist Party in Guangdong.

Pastor Lamb died on August 3 at the age of 88.

In 1958 he was sentenced to 20 years in prison, because he refused to register his community with the government. 

After his release in 1978, Lamb re-opened what has become the largest domestic Church in Guangzhou.

In recent years, his community has been allowed to carry out its activities in relative peace, but for at least 20 years previously, it had suffered raids and frequent arrests of its leaders.

A typical Sunday service, held in a private building in the district of Yuexiu, draws at least a congregation of 5,000 people.

Although the situation of religious freedom may have improved marginally in China, Pastor Lamb used to say, “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 had 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.”

Religious activities outside the supervision and control of the Ministry of Religious Affairs attract constant attention from the authorities. But often the regulations are adapted to local situations.

Over the last 20 years the underground Protestant communities, often referred to as House Churches, have grown to tens of millions of followers, while membership in the official Protestant Churches registered with the Three-Self Movement, has dwindled.

 

Since 2007 in many Chinese provinces, a police campaign is now underway to force the underground Protestant communities to become part of the official community, on the threat of their services being closed down.

More from this section