Frank Houghton – Eager to Glorify God

Houghton’s insistence on strengthening the local churches included a respect for Chinese culture.

Frank graduated from the University of London, was ordained in 1917, and served as curate in Liverpool and Preston. In 1920, he answered a call to serve with the China Inland Mission (CIM), against the advice of his doctor who was concerned about Frank’s heart problems. Frank was not the only one in his family to become a missionary. Three of his siblings answered a call to China and two to Burma.

 

The news of the brutal murder of John and Betty Stam – together with a local shopkeeper who tried to defend them – shook the missionary community and other Christians everywhere. It was December 1934, and the 10th division of the communist Red Army had just arrived in the Anhui Province. of China. The Stams – missionaries with the China Inland Mission – were an easy target. They were beheaded after a night’s imprisonment and a 12-mile march to the place of execution.

When Frank Houghton, then editorial secretary for the China Inland Mission, heard the news, he reacted in a way that may sound counterintuitive. Instead of minding his own security, he began a tour of missionary outposts in China in order to encourage and strengthen the churches. According to the Stams’ great-nephew, Carl (“Chip”) Stam, while Houghton was “travelling over the mountains of Szechwan, the powerful and comforting words of 2 Corinthians 8:9, ‘though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor,’ were transformed” into this Christmas hymn:”[1]

Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,

All for love’s sake becamest poor;

Thrones for a manger didst surrender,

Sapphire-paved courts for stable floor.

Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,

All for love’s sake becamest poor.

 

Thou who art God beyond all praising,

All for love’s sake becamest man;

Stooping so low, but sinners raising

Heavenwards by thine eternal plan.

Thou who art God beyond all praising,

All for love’s sake becamest man.

The Stams had given up their earthly life, but Christ had given up so much more, assuming a human nature forever in order to save men and women who had willfully rebelled against him – all while remaining the everlasting “God beyond all praising.”

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