Where are you going? We are going to Heaven.


Twenty-eight year old John and Betty Stam were missionaries to China in the early twentieth century.  They had a three month old baby girl Helen in 1934 when the Communist party chose to execute them for their work.  The communists came and after taking all of their money they took John to jail, returning for Betty and Helen a few days later.  From jail John wrote a letter to his mission board, China Inland Mission, (a letter which was never delivered), that stated that they were being held for $20,000 ransom.  He closed the letter with Philippians 1.2:

May Christ be glorified whether by life or death.

In order to make room for the Stam family in the prison, some of the other prisoners were released.  But because of Helen’s crying, the jailers suggested killing her.  One of those recently released prisoners questioned why they would kill an innocent baby and the jailers asked if this man was willing to die in the place of the baby.  He was then hacked to pieces and Helen was spared.  The following morning the family was ordered to march twelve miles to the execution site.  That night, upon arrival, Betty was allowed to care for Helen and she hid the baby in a sleeping bag.  The next day, December 8th, 1934, they were stripped of their clothes and marched to their death.  A shopkeeper attempted to intervene for the Stams and after they discovered that he was a Christian as well, he was taken as a prisoner alongside the Stams.  Another curious onlooker asked John Stam,

“Where are you going?”

John answered, “We are going to Heaven”.

John was then beheaded as was Betty immediately after, along with the shopkeeper.

Two days later the baby was found by a Chinese pastor who delivered the baby to Betty’s parents who were also missionaries in China.  Helen was ultimately returned to the United States and raised by her aunt and uncle.  The three martyrs were found and buried by a small group of Christians.  The tombstones read:

John Cornelius Stam, January 18, 1907, “That Christ may be glorified whether by life or by death.” Philippians 1:20

Elisabeth Scott Stam, February 22, 1906, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21

December 8, 1934, Miaosheo, Anhui, “Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life.” Revelation 2:10

Stories of martyrdom often lead to an insurgence of more mission work.  Many were inspired to come and join the effort that had been started by the Stams.  One hundred years before the Stam’s martyrdom, Edward Mote wrote a hymn that is still sung regularly today, “The Solid Rock”.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

 – Edward Mote, 1834

Mote referenced a verse in Hebrews 6,

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

– Heb 6.19-20

We have an anchor of the soul, and it is hooked in Heaven, within the veil.  Before Jesus came to the Earth, the Hebrew people had the tabernacle tent and then the temple where they would worship God.  The temple was set up systematically and in the very center was the “Holy of Holies” where God’s presence resided.  Only the high priest was allowed to enter this holiest of places, and that only once a year.  But when Jesus died, the veil which covered the residence of God was torn, symbolizing the fact that God no longer resided there.  Jesus became the high priest who intercedes for us before God – in Heaven.  Jesus is our hope.  He is our anchor, in the very presence of God, in the Holiest of Holies – the Heavenly court – interceding for us.  The other end of the rope is fastened tightly to our souls, and cannot be undone.

This is a strange anchor, that reaches up into Heaven instead of down into the sea.  But it is the most secure of anchors.  And John and Betty Stam were confident and assured of their anchor.  Is your soul secure in its destination?  Are you anchored in Heaven, unwavering and firm?  If someone asked you on your deathbed where you are going, could you answer, “I am going to Heaven”?


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