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  • Shawn Thornton

A Woman of Total Surrender

Saturday - March 19th

Scripture to Read Today: Philippians 1:15-26


For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Philippians 1:21

Betty Scott Stam determined at a young age to surrender all to Christ. In the end, that is precisely what her faithfulness to her Lord required of her. Betty Stam was a woman of total surrender to Jesus!

Born in 1906 in Albion, Michigan, she grew up in China, where her parents were missionaries. When Betty was seventeen years old, she returned to the United States for her last year of high school. She then attended college at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. During her college years, Betty penned a prayer that has become the petition of many other believers who long to live a life of unconditional surrender to Jesus as Lord:

Lord, I give up my own plans and purposes, all my own desires, hopes, and ambitions, and I accept Thy will for my life. I give up myself, my life, my all, utterly to Thee, to be Thine forever. I hand over to Thy keeping all of my friendships; all the people whom I love are to take second place in my heart. Fill me now and seal me with Thy Spirit. Work out Thy whole will in my life at any cost, for to me to live is Christ. Amen.

While at Moody, Betty fell in love with a young man named John Stam. John believed God was calling him to be a missionary in China. While for a brief time in college, Betty felt a tug to go to Africa to share the hope and love of Jesus with lepers, John's call to China confirmed her call. Betty would indeed return to the people among whom she had been raised.

Betty returned to China in 1931 to serve with the China Ireunited on the mission field, and an engagement followed shortly. John and Betty were married in October of 1933 and served together in the Anhui province. Most of their days were spent visiting nearby villages to share the Gospel. Their evenings were spent working with another missionary to offer outreach meetings. The work was difficult, as the area was mountainous and the people extremely poor. Still, the Stams celebrated the opportunity God had given them to share the good news of Christ with others.

On September 11, 1934, their daughter, Helen Priscilla, was born. Three months later, John and Betty, along with baby Helen, were arrested by hostile communist soldiers. After spending the first night in a local prison, they were forced to march twelve miles to another town. They finally stopped for the night at the home of a wealthy man who had already fled the communist advances. Before they left the following morning, Betty hid their baby in the man's house inside a small sleeping bag. Then, John and Betty were marched down the town's streets, their hands tightly bound, stripped of their outer garments.

On their way to the execution site, a fellow Christian (a shopkeeper) tried to persuade the soldiers not to kill the couple. He, too, was dragged away to be killed. When John pled with the soldiers not to kill the man, the Communist leader ordered John to kneel, then beheaded him with a sword. Betty fell down, bound at her husband's side, no scream coming from her lips. Moments later, the same sword that had killed her husband ended her life.

Baby Helen was discovered thirty hours later by a local pastor. She was safe and warm, apparently none the worse for having gone all that time without milk. Inside the little sleeping bag in which Betty had hidden the baby, the pastor found extra diapers. He also found two five-dollar bills that Betty had pinned to Helen's clothes. It was just enough money for whoever rescued Helen to get her to safety.

Betty was twenty-eight years old when she was killed. When she wrote the words of her well-known prayer, "Work out Thy whole will in my life at any cost," she had no way of knowing that her total surrender would cost her so much. Although some might consider the cost excessive, we can be confident that Betty, having laid down her life for Christ, would not think the price too high. Betty Stam and her husband John had given the Lord all they had to share His hope and love with others. They gave their very lives.

A small group of believers found John and Betty's bodies and buried them on a hillside. Betty's gravestone reads:

Elisabeth Scott Stam

Born February 22, 1906

Died December 8, 1934, Miaosheo, Anhui

"For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." Philippians 1:21

Reread Betty's prayer at the start of this devotional. Then, make it your own prayer to the Lord. Most of us will likely never face death because of our faith, but we should all be surrendered to the Lord and His will like Betty Stam was!

Jesus gave all for us. Are we willing to give all for Him?


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