In 1873, Samuel Morris was born in Liberia, West Africa as Prince Kaboo, the son of a tribal chief. When his father was defeated in battle, Kaboo was held for ransom. One day, Kaboo saw a bright light and heard a voice from heaven telling him to run. The ropes that held him fell to the ground, and Kaboo ran into the jungle.
He walked through the jungle for days until he arrived in the city of Monrovia. In the city, a young boy invited Kaboo to church. When Kaboo visited the church, a missionary was telling the story of Paul’s conversion. As she told about the bright light and voice from heaven, Kaboo recognized that this was the voice he had heard in the jungle! He soon accepted Christ as his Savior and was baptized with the name Samuel Morris.
During the next two years, Samuel Morris painted houses to support himself while he studied the Bible. He was particularly interested in learning about the Holy Spirit and life in the power of the Spirit. After a missionary told him she had taught him all she knew, Morris asked, “Who was your teacher?” She told him about a holiness preacher in America named Stephen Merritt. With no money and no transportation, Morris walked to the nearest seaport to find a ship to America. He was determined to learn more about living in the Spirit.
He slept on the beach waiting for a ship. When a ship landed, Morris asked the captain to take him to America. The captain refused, but a short time later, two of his crew members ran away. The captain then told Morris that he could work in exchange for transportation to New York. During the voyage, he was mistreated by the crew and given the most dangerous tasks on board. However, Samuel showed the love of Christ to his shipmates until, by the time the ship arrived in New York, the captain and most of the crew had been converted.
When Morris arrived in New York, he found Stephen Merritt’s mission and told him of his desire to learn more about the Holy Spirit. Mr. Merritt had to go to a meeting but left Morris at the mission for the evening. When he came back, he found Samuel leading a prayer meeting. On his first night in America, Samuel Morris led nearly twenty people to Christ.
Stephen Merritt helped Samuel Morris enroll at Taylor University so he could prepare to evangelize in Liberia. Morris arrived at the campus in Indiana with no money, but with complete faith in God’s provision. He said to the president, “Please give me a room that no one else wants.” Late at night, his fellow students would hear him “talking to my Father.” His absolute trust in God influenced the campus as well as surrounding churches.
Although Morris planned to return to Liberia, God had a different plan. Within two years of arriving at Taylor University, Samuel Morris died from pneumonia. He was only twenty years old, but he was at peace with God’s plan. Samuel told the president of the university, “It is not my work. It is his. I have finished my job. He will send others better than I to do the work in Africa.”
Morris’s life impacted so many people that hundreds of people lined the streets for the funeral procession. Several fellow students went to Africa as missionaries, serving “in memory of Prince Kaboo.” The president of Taylor University said, “Samuel Morris was God’s messenger to Taylor University. He thought he was coming here to prepare himself for his mission. Instead, God sent him to prepare Taylor University for her mission to the whole world. All who met him were impressed with his sublime, yet simple faith in God.”
Today, a memorial plaque at Samuel Morris’ grave in Fort Wayne, Indiana reads:
Samuel Morris 1873-1893
Native of West Africa
Famous Christian Mystic
Apostle of Simple Faith
Exponent of the Spirit-filled life
The short life of Samuel Morris shows that every believer can live in the power of the Holy Spirit. A holy heart and a holy life is God’s purpose for every believer.