John and Betty Stam

Today on Extreme devotions, it's a story of two missionaries who sacrificed their lives for the gospel of Christ. 

Betty was raised by her missionary parents in China, although she returned to America to continue her studies at Wilson College. There she met her future husband John. Betty returned to China to continue her mission work, and John eventually followed. After a lengthy courtship Betty and John were married on October 25, 1933, in Tsinan, China. 



Eleven months later Betty gave birth to their daughter, Helen. Three months after their daughter was born, the family was kidnapped by Chinese communist bandits. The Stam family were held for ransom in a local jail cell while the local prisoners were released to make room. When the baby began to cry from the sound of gunshots, the bandits decided to kill the infant. One of the newly released prisoners protested and was killed for his actions, however, Helen was spared. The family were held prisoners for a few days before they were paraded through the streets in their underwear to their deaths. In the confusion, Betty managed to hide her daughter in a sleeping bag within a hut, along with ten dollars a letter, before she and John were beheaded. The bandits also killed a local man who protested the killings of the American missionaries. A local Christian man discovered Helen over 27 hours later, and used the money to buy rare formula for the baby, who was eventually returned to American and raised by relatives. The same man who rescued Helen also preserved her parents bodies by covering them with lime and hiding their coffins until the fear of lingering bandits was over. About a month and a half later the coffins finally were taken to the local missionary hospital where the young couple were given a burial service in a local Christian cemetery. The Chinese government hunted down and beheaded the lynch mob. Betty and her husband went on to be considered Christian martyrs. The hymn "By Life, or By Death." written by Will Houghton was based on Betty and her husband.

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