Faithful Heroes: Samuel Morris, from Prince to Missionary
Samuel Kaboo Morris was a Liberian prince who converted to Christianity at around the age of 14.
He was born in 1873 Liberia. Little is known about his early life, other than he was the oldest son of the tribal chief.
He was captured when his tribe was attacked by the Grebos when he was fourteen.
He was used as a pawn, which meant his people, the Kru, would have to bring the Grebos a present each month in order to see their prince again. His father, the chief, came each time but it was never enough.
When the Kru could bring no more, Kaboo was beaten on a daily basis.
One night, during his beating, there was a flash of light, his ropes fell off and his sick body gained strength. A voice told him to flee. He ran into the jungle and lived off of snails and mango’s. He survived on the laws of the jungle.
Finally, he came to a coffee plantation owned by a former slave, who was a Christian.
Eventually, he arrived in Monrovia. He heard a missionary speak of the Apostle Paul’s conversion and recognized the similarities to his own life.
For the next two years, he painted houses and became a fervent member of the Christian community.
Kaboo longed to come to America to learn more about God, having learned everything possible from missionaries in the area.
He decided to go to New York and find Stephen Merritt, who had taught the missionary.
He prayed for a boat to meet him along the shore and a tramp ship, which made money by trading goods, pulled up. The captain refused to take him to America, but he continued asking. He eventually earned passage as an unpaid sailor. “When he arrived on the ship, he was disliked and abused, but by the time the ship reached America, they were all praying and singing hymns.”
Kaboo, now known as Samuel, found Stephen Merritt. When Merritt returned from a prayer meeting, he found Samuel holding his own prayer meeting at the mission.
Samuel had a way with people and eventually won them over. At a time when racism was commonplace, the men that he worked with seemed to become “colorblind”.
Eventually the Samuel Morris Missionary Society was created to collect money to send Samuel to college at Taylor University.
When he arrived at the college in December 1891, he was asked what room he wanted. Morris replied, “If there is a room nobody wants, give that to me.” Morris’ faith had such a profound impact on the Fort Wayne community he was frequently invited to speak at local churches. At night, he could be heard in his room praying, which he simply called “talking to my Father.”
People around the world came to hear Samuel speak and students would stop by his dorm room to pray with him.
In late 1892, Samuel developed pneumonia and could not shake it. Samuel prayed for healing, but it never came. “God revealed that his work on earth was done and it was time for him to come home.”
Samuel Morris died on May 12, 1893 at the approximate age of twenty. His fellow students served as his pallbearers.
“After his funeral, many of them said they felt led to go to Africa to be missionaries in Samuel’s place, fulfilling Samuel’s prophecy.”
“Though it was the custom in those days to bury blacks in the Negro section of the cemetery, Samuel’s body was later moved to the center of the cemetery, linking blacks and whites in death like he did in life. A memorial is placed at his gravesite that reads:
Native of West Africa
Famous Christian Mystic
Apostle of Simple Faith
Exponent of the Spirit-filled life
Student at Taylor University 1892-3
Fort Wayne, now located at Upland,
Indiana. The story of his life
a vital contribution to the
development of Taylor University.
The erection of this memorial
was sponsored by the 1928 class
Taylor University and funds
Were contributed by Fort Wayne
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