"A million a month pass into Christless graves over there [China]," wrote John Stam to his brother. The need of the Chinese people for Christ gnawed at him. God would use him if he was broken and obedient to the Lord's will, he said. He studied at Moody Bible Institute and prepared himself for mission work. Determined to learn practical faith, he relied wholly on the Lord for his needs, convinced that " my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Every weekend he traveled 200 miles to minister in a small church and trudged the streets, reaching out to the lost. Back in Chicago, he attended a weekly China prayer meeting, preparing to offer himself to work in the toughest areas of that great, ancient land.
At the China prayer meeting he met Betty Scott. She, too, was preparing for China. They fell in love. Painfully they recognized that marriage was not yet possible. "The China Inland Mission has appealed for men, single men, to itinerant in sections where it would be impossible to take a woman until more settled work has commenced," wrote John. He committed the matter to the Lord, whose work, he felt, must come before any human affection. Betty would be leaving for China before him. As a matter of fact, he had not yet even been accepted by the China Inland Mission whereas she had. They parted after a long, tender day, sharing their faith, picnicking, talking, praying.
John continued his studies. That summer he went to a Philadelphia home of the China Inland Mission. After six weeks, on this day, July 1, 1932, he was accepted for service in China. Now he could at least head toward the same continent as Betty. Soon he was on his way, turning down a luxury cruise which was offered him, and crossing the ocean third class on the Empress of Japan. With so many missionaries suffering privation he did not feel it appropriate to indulge in such luxury.
Betty meantime found her ministry blocked in China. A senior missionary had been captured by the Communists in the region where she was to work. The mission directors decided to keep her in Shanghai. Mission decisions also brought John to Shanghai. Thus the Lord put them back together years before they expected it. They became engaged and soon married. In 1934 a daughter was born to them.
Shortly after Helen Priscilla Stam was born, the Stams were captured by Communist bandits. The Communists discussed aloud whether to kill the baby and rid themselves of the nuisance. An old farmer pleaded for her life. "It's your life for hers, then," said the Communists, and killed him on the spot. A few days later, John and Betty Stam and loyal Chinese Christians were beheaded. John died, an expression of joy on his face. Moments before, he had pleaded with his captors to spare the life of a Chinese Christian. Betty quivered once and accepted her fate. Pastor and Mrs. Lo brought their daughter, Helen Priscilla Stam, to safety.
- Huizenga, Lee S. John and Betty Stam; Martyrs. Zondervan, 1935.
- Pollock, John. Vicitms of the Long March and Other Stories. Waco, Texas.: Word Publishing, 1970.
- Taylor, Howard. The Triumph of John and Betty Stam. China Inland Mission, 1935.
Last updated April, 2007.