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Not Without A Witness – The Providential Salvation of Samuel Morris

Not Without A Witness – The Providential Salvation of Samuel Morris

David Livingstone was moved to become a missionary by the cry of Robert Moffat, “Many a morning have I stood on the porch of my house, and looking northward, have seen the smoke rising from villages that have never heard of Jesus Christ.” Such words are certainly inspiring, to go, to tell, to save. But, these same words might also be cause for an unsettling doubt. The gospel of Christ is so exclusive, requiring faith in Jesus alone. What about those from these villages who have never heard of Jesus Christ? Must they trust in Jesus? Does God reject them simply because no missionary has come to share the good news? The answer lies in the missionary heart of God Himself, who left His heavenly home to walk among us so that he could bring us the good news. The gospel is His, it is an unchangeable plan, and He will providentially make it known to all who belong to Him, with or without a missionary. An amazing example of this is the salvation of Samuel Morris.

Samuel Morris was the oldest son of a tribal chieftain, a prince. But in his case, this was not a desirable position. Among his people, if a chief was defeated in war, he had to give his eldest son as a pawn or hostage until he could pay his war debts.  If payment lagged, this pawn was often tortured.

Samuel’s tribe had been defeated by a cruel and unjust chief who demanded a debt too great to pay. No matter what his father brought, the victorious chief claimed it did not fulfill the pledge. This failure to redeem his son would result in Samuel’s torture and horrible death.

Daily, Samuel was whipped with a thorny poison vine which implanted a fiery virus with every stroke. His wounds were never allowed to heal. Soon, he became so exhausted from loss of blood and fever that he could no longer stand or even sit up. Unbelievably, an even more horrible death awaited him. Already, they had dug the pit. He would be buried up to his neck.  His mouth would be propped open and smeared with a sweet mixture to attract ants from a nearby ant hill.  They would be followed by the dreaded driver ants which would kill him by devouring his flesh.

Before this could happen though, his enemies built a cross tree and threw Samuel on it for one final beating. In that moment, all hope and physical strength left him.  Suddenly, a great, blinding light, exploded around him. A loud voice commanded him to rise and flee.  Though everyone heard the voice and saw the light, they saw no one. Despite the fact that he was desperately ill, had been beaten until close to death and hadn’t eaten or drunk all day, Samuel’s strength was miraculously restored. Leaping up, he obeyed this mysterious voice and fled from the astonished natives with the speed of a deer.

This earthly prince, who had been put on a cross tree of torture as a ransom for his tribe, knew nothing of a heavenly Prince, who had been mocked and beaten as a prisoner, and had suffered a degrading death by slow torture on the tree – all for us.  All he knew was that some strange and invisible power had come to his rescue. This amazing experience happened on a Friday – a day Samuel never forgot. He called this “Good Friday” his Deliverance Day.

As night fell, Samuel realized his perilous journey had just begun. He had nowhere to go. He could not return to his own tribe, for this would bring the bitter revenge of their enraged conqueror.  If he was found by another tribe, they would return him to claim the large reward paid for an escaped pawn.  Worse, many jungle tribes were cannibals, some of the most savage races in the world.  And man was only one of his threats. Moving only in the dark, cobras, vipers, pythons and leopards posed deadly danger that he could not even see.

In the midst of this, another miracle occurred.  The same light that had flooded the scene of his intended execution again shone around him. As the Israelites had been led by a pillar of fire at night, Samuel was able to travel safely through the darkness, gathering food, and avoiding predators.  Days later, he emerged from the jungle into the settlement of Monrovia, capitol of Liberia. This, in itself, was amazing. At this time, all of Liberia was under the domination of jungle law. Monrovia alone was a slave liberating colony – the only community out of thousands where he would be truly safe.

On Sunday, Samuel was invited to attend church.  The interpreter was providentially sharing about Saul’s conversion, explaining how a light from heaven shone upon him and a mysterious voice spoke from above.  Samuel cried out, “That’s just what I saw! That is the same light that saved me and brought me here!”  Having the gospel shared with him, Samuel then received the Savior of Souls as the same “Unknown God” who had saved his body.  Although he later died at the young age of 21, his life was greatly used by God to turn people to repentance and faith.  Many were inspired to go to Africa and around the world as missionaries because of him.

Some argue that Jesus cannot be the only way to salvation because there are those who have never heard from a missionary. Even some Christians believe that while Jesus ALONE saves the world, He CANNOT save the world alone. But God shows that He is sovereign; He can save people in regions untouched by Christian missionaries. While God greatly uses missionaries, He can personally shine his light in the darkest night, in the most unreached areas, because, “even the darkness is not dark to Him.” And this reinforces the inescapable truth that, “There is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”