“Samuel Morris was a divinely sent messenger of God to Taylor University. He thought he was coming over here to prepare himself for his mission to his own people; but his coming was to prepare Taylor University for her mission to the whole world.“ -Thaddeus Reade, President Taylor University
“Let no one despise you for your youth. Instead, be an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity. “
1 Timothy 4:12
I Have Seen That Light
Samuel Morris was born Prince Kaboo, the oldest son of a tribal chief in Liberia (Africa), in the year 1872. His tribe was frequently at war with neighboring tribes. When Samuel Kaboo was 15 years old, he was taken captive during one of such wars. He was daily tortured and beaten.
One day Kaboo was tied down and beaten until he was too weak to stand. He was crying out for help and suddenly a bright light shone around him and the ropes fell off of his wrists and ankles. He heard a voice calling his name and commanding him to run. He felt a surge of supernatural energy and ran into the jungle and hid in a hollowed out tree.
The light continued to guide Kaboo out of the jungle and on to a farm. He met another young man there who was kind to him. The young man helped him get a job and told him about God. He invited him to church with him.
At the church service, a foreign missionary was speaking about Paul’s road to Damascus conversion (Acts 9:3-19). This story was so strikingly similar to Kaboo’s own that he stated, “I have seen that light.” He immediately gave his life to Christ.
He was baptized as Samuel Morris in honor of the man who gave the funds to support the missionary work at the church. Samuel was discipled, learned English, and had a hunger to learn more.
An Example in Conduct and Faith
Samuel’s hunger grew and he wanted to learn in the same way as his missionary teachers. He decided to go to New York and meet with some leaders of the faith.
Samuel waited at the dock until he found a boat parting for New York. The captain did not want a young boy on his ship so they turned him away. Samuel prayed all night that he would change his mind and when he went back the next day, the captain told him that if he would help sail, he could come aboard.
The other sailors soon learned that Samuel knew nothing about sailing and they began taunting and sometimes abusing him. Instead of reacting in anger or fear, Samuel responded by being a model of kindness, patience and love in conduct. He prayed for them on his knees every night. Eventually, attracted to his peace and example, the crew one by one came to know Christ as their Savior.
Samuel did not prove any less exemplary once arriving in New York. He was found by Pastor Merrit, the man he came to see, on the floor prostrate leading a prayer meeting with a group of men. Later, he proved helpful in spreading the gospel at a local homeless mission.
Soon, Pastor Merrit, who had ties at Taylor University in Fort Wayne, IN, suggested that Samuel attend the university to earn a bible degree. His Sunday School class raised the money for his trip.
Once he arrived, he was asked by the president which room he wanted. Samuel replied, “If there is a room that nobody wants, give that one to me.” His humble heart quickly endeared him to the leaders of the university.
He began speaking at local churches, leading prayer meetings, and inspiring the entire town by his faith and boldness. A local newspaper printed a story about his all-night prayer service and included the story of his miraculous conversion. This led to money and support coming in to the university from all over Indiana. So much so that they started the “Samuel Faith Fund” and were able to help many needy students.
Samuel’s life was cut tragically short in just five years after coming to America. In 1893, at the age of 20, Samuel died of complications from the cold that his body could not adjust too. His funeral was attended by an overwhelming multitude of people who he had touched in his short time in their town. On his gravestone, it reads, ” Famous Christian Mystic. Apostle of Simple Faith. Exponent of the Spirit-filled Life.”
Short Life, Long Legacy
Samuel led countless to people to Christ in his short years as a believer. The fruit of his labor is passed on through their lives and work.
In addition, the great faith and Spirit-filled life he led, challenged and changed the atmosphere of Taylor University forever.
- His death inspired several students to head to Africa as missionaries.
- Taylor University still aides needy students through the “Samuel Morris Faith Fund”.
- The university is working with the Liberian government to open the Morris Centre in his honor. This centre will care for the medical and spiritual needs of his community.
- Three statues stand at Taylor university as a reminder and challenge to the faith of the students.
Samuel Morris did not let anyone despise his youth. He set an amazing “example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” The only thing that matters in this world is what we do for the kingdom of God because all else is fading away. Samuel’s short life left a long legacy of faith and fruit!!
I hope you have enjoyed reading this series for Black History Month on the heroes of the faith. Samuel Morris was one I saved for last because he was such a young man but so full of great faith. I hope that you find a way to share his story with your children. The last link and video below on his life are just for kids. Don’t forget to check out the other heroes in this series: Part 1: George Liele Part 2: Katy Ferguson Part 3: Perpetua and Felicity
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