Memorial Day is a very important day of national remembrance. It is not simply a day off or a day for picnics or spring clean-up. It is an opportunity to pause and remember those who gave their lives to preserve the freedoms that we enjoy. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell was attending a World Economic Forum in Switzerland in 2003. George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury suggested that America’s involvement in Iraq was guided by selfish motives. Powell responded, “We have gone forth from our shores repeatedly over the last hundred years…and put wonderful young men and women at risk, many of whom have lost their lives, and we have asked for nothing except enough ground to bury them in…” Powell understood the importance of honoring those who gave their life in a noble cause.
We as the church also have a responsibility to honor those who gave their life in service to Christ. John & Betty Stam were American missionaries to China with the China Inland Mission. They graduated from Moody Bible Institute and left with their 3-month old daughter, Helen, to work in China’s Anhui province.
In 1934, they were arrested by Communist soldiers and marched twelve miles where they stopped for the night. The very next morning they were being marched down the streets to meet their deaths. A Chinese shopkeeper stepped out of the crowd and tried to persuade the soldiers to spare the Stams. The soldiers arrested the shopkeeper. He was found to be a Christian and they led him alongside the Stams. They were all executed later that day.
The baby, Helen, was found two days later by a Chinese pastor who took her home and took care of her. Eventually she was returned to her maternal grandparents who were also serving as missionaries in China. May God help us to never forget the sacrifices of those who have served faithfully.
Photo credit: https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:USMC-060218-M-7280S-006.jpg