Jan 18, 2012

Excerpt from the Life of Samuel Morris

Sammy Goes to College


In view of Sammy's purpose in coming to America, Mr. Merritt decided that Taylor University, then located in Fort Wayne, Indiana, would be the place where Sammy could best receive a Christian education.

 He recommended Sammy to the school authorities as "a diamond in the rough".

When Mr. Merritt proposed sending Sammy to Taylor University, no one was more eager to see him go than Mrs. Merritt, but not because she liked Sammy-she wanted him gone from her house.

However, at Sunday dinner, it was Mrs. Merritt that asked Sammy to give thanks.

He prayed such a simple, moving prayer that even Mrs. Merritt was moved to tears. The prejudice and reserve in her heart was wiped away. After dinner, Mrs. Merritt put her arm around the black boy, and said,

 "Our home is yours, Sammy. Whatever we have, we will share with you. Stay with us as long as you like."

A "Sammy Morris Missionary Society" was formed, which took on itself the responsibility of providing Sammy with clothing, books and the other things he would need at the College.

There were so many gifts that they filled three trunks.

Within a few days, Sammy was on his way to Fort Wayne, which he reached on Friday, his "Deliverance Day".

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When Dr. Reade, the President of the College, asked Sammy if he had any preference as to living quarters, Sammy answered. "If there is a room nobody else wants, give it to me."

Later, Dr. Reade, writing to a friend, said,

"I turned away, for my eyes were full of tears. I was asking myself whether I was willing to take what nobody else wanted.
 In my experience as a teacher, I have had occasion to assign rooms to more than a thousand students. Most of them were noble Christian young ladies and gentlemen, but Sammy Morris was the only one of them who ever said,  'If there is a room nobody else wants, give it to me.'"

At the university Sammy had difficulty getting adjusted. He could hardly read at all, and still had a poor command of the English language. A student said to him, be ready for breakfast in ten minutes, but Sammy said he did not know what 10 minutes is. Another person told him that the gas in the gas lights is poison, but he didn't know what poison was. He was unable to fill out an application form. Even the college president was heavy-hearted because of this situation.

On top of that, the College was in the throes of a financial struggle, and Sammy was a non-paying student.

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An appeal was made for funds to educate the lad who had come from the jungles of Africa to learn about the Holy Spirit.

The response was disappointing, until a butcher, Josiah Kichler, donated five dollars for what he termed the "Samuel Morris Faith Fund". This act and name suggested a way to arouse interest in Sammy's education and, when the "Faith Fund" was advertised as such, money was given in ever-increasing amounts. When Sammy was confronted with this fund, he said that the fund should be used to help all needy students, not just him.

One day Sammy asked Dr. Reade if he could get a job.

 "I want to earn money so that Henry O'Neil can come here to be educated. He is a much better boy than I am. He worked with me for Jesus in Liberia."

It was decided that they pray about the matter, and the next day, Sammy, with a bright smile on his face, exclaimed, "Henry O'Neil is coming soon, my Father tells me." Within a short time, Dr. Reade was informed that a missionary who had known both boys in Africa had returned to America and was arranging for Henry's education in the United States.

Still, Sammy's schooling posed serious problems, for what he had learned in Monrovia had been extremely elementary. He required special teachers.

Again his Father provided for him: Several young Christian women volunteered to take turns teaching him.

Sammy heard of a Black church in Fort Wayne, and on his first Sunday at the College, he set out to attend it, but it was so far that he reached it late. The minister had just come to the pulpit when Sammy walked in.

 Instead of taking a seat, he walked right up to the pulpit and spoke to the minister:"I am Samuel Morris, and I've just arrived from Africa. I have a message for your people."

"Do you have a sermon prepared?" the minister asked.

"No sermon, but I have a message," Sammy replied.

Somehow, the minister was convinced that he should let Sammy speak. He began, not by preaching, but by talking to his Father. Quickly the church was filled with commotion as people got on their knees, weeping, praying, and shouting for joy.

The church was revived, and the presence of God was so mightily felt that nobody want to go home. The people basked in the presence of the Lord. Sammy had appealed to their heavenly Father from the depths of his own soul, and they understood that Samuel Morris had spoken the language of the human soul. His intercession had been uttered in absolute faith, and the Spirit was there in answer to that child-like faith.

The results of such a revival could not be hidden, and local newspapers made known to a wide area the name of Sammy Morris, the young African attending Taylor University. Many persons came from far and near to visit him.

Always courteous, but not interested in mere chit chat, he handed each visitor a Bible and requested that they read a portion out loud. In this way, he hid the Word of God in his heart.

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A student in the College, with atheistic ideas, thinking he could confound the African lad by his arguments, asked for a personal confrontation with Sammy.

When he came into his presence, Sammy according to his usual custom, handed him the Bible, requesting that he read a chapter. Instead, the older man threw the Bible on the table saying scornfully,

 "I never read that Book anymore; I don't believe a word it says."

Sammy, astounded, was silent for a few minutes. Then, with tears coursing down his cheeks, he asked incredulously,

"My dear brother, when your Father speaks to you, do you not believe Him? When your Brother speaks, do you not believe what He says? The Sun shines, and do you not believe it? God is your Father; Jesus is your Brother, and the Holy Spirit is your Sun. Kneel down and let me pray for you."

The Spirit of God smote the heart of the proud man and, before the end of the school year, he was converted and later became a Bishop.

During Sammy's career at the College, the financial condition became most acute, and it seemed the school must be closed. Interested persons felt this could not take place, with such a Spirit filled student as Sammy Morris in attendance. And the "Faith Fund" saved the College. So many donations were given that the trustees were able to purchase ten acres of ground for a new a new building/campus for the school in Upland, Indiana.


Taylor University still stands there today-a memorial to the Negro youth who exemplified to his generation-and many succeeding ones-the possibilities and power of God's grace. At the dedication of the new ground-breaking, Sammy was chosen to give the dedicatory prayer and preach a sermon.

Sammy loved the country that had taken him to its heart.

 The changing seasons were sources of enchantment and gratitude. He interpreted the falling snowflakes as messages from Heaven and once in prayer fervently exclaimed,

"A year here is worth a lifetime in Africa."

One time someone asked him if he liked eating turkey. His answer: "In Africa, we ate raw monkey; here we eat roast turkey."

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