What Price Will American Christians Pay for Their Faith?

Samuel Lamb, a Chinese Christian pastor, spent over 20 years in prison for his faith. Samuel Lamb, a Chinese Christian pastor, spent over 20 years in prison for his faith.

Samuel Lamb defied the Communist Chinese. A leader in the underground Christian community, Lamb passed away earlier this month in Guangzhou, where he ran a house church for decades. Voice of the Martyrs reports:

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.

For most American Christians, Lamb’s experience lays so far outside our own that it can be hard to perceive as modern. Living as we do in a land of relative religious liberty, we understand persecution only as an intellectual concept. It lurks in the depths of church history, or haunts the horizon of a distant future glimpsed through biblical prophecy. The idea of facing persecution today, in present America, seems unthinkable at first consideration. After all, we’ve spent our whole lives driving past a church on every corner, swearing oaths on copies of the Bible, and covering our hearts while swooning over the Land of the Free.

Be that as it may, as the culture makes radical shifts in the 21st century, the price of Christian confession begins to rise. If certain coalitions have their way, adherence to the Christian faith will be regulated out of public existence. Oh, the church buildings may stand, and 501(c)3s operating in the name of Christ may remain. But biblical Christianity taught without compromise will be relegated to underground enclaves like those formed under the Communist Chinese.