John Schmid Music

Stories of Faith

The Name of Jesus

Dennis Kinlaw was the president of Asbury College. He is probably the most brilliant man I ever knew personally. He was a true scholar. He read the Bible in the original languages (Greek and Hebrew), but when he preached, a six year old (and I) could understand him. He had the gift of bringing complex thoughts to the level of the common man. Here is one of his meditations on the Christmas season:

In a few days the world will pause to acknowledge the birth of Jesus. How many world leaders will see a relation between the One whose birth is celebrated and the events that take place in our world? Most of the Western world will again hear Handel’s Messiah, but few will think that the “Hallelujah Chorus” has anything to do with actual world events and history. The reality is that those lines- “King of kings and Lord of lords, and He shall reign forever and ever” -are not just music. They are truth. Jesus will reign. Better still, He does reign. It is He who presides over world history, even though the media and the politicians do not know it. Jesus is Lord.

Sam Kamaleson was preaching in an evangelistic crusade in Romania just as the Communist world of Eastern Europe was collapsing. His audience, so long deprived of God and His Word, was large and attentive. One night as he preached, Sam became conscious of an unexpected sound that swept across his audience. Slowly he recognized that the wave of sound came every time he used the name of Jesus. Then he realized that it was the women in the audience weeping. The sound increased, and he realized that the men were weeping as well. Sam said that soon, he found himself weeping everytime he mentioned the name of Jesus. He explained, “You know, when the last alternative option to Jesus has been exhausted and shown for its true bankruptcy, the name of Jesus takes on great power and allure.”

Sam’s statement is the best expression of the biblical philosophy of history that I have ever heard. When we choose to go our own way, God does not stop us. He lets us go until our lives collapse around us. Then in the chaos and hurt we become open again to the One from whom we have turned, and we find hope in His name. This is true for institutions, movements, countries, and cultures as well as individuals like you and me. We may reject Him for a long time, but at the end of every road will be the ultimately inescapable Christ. Ezekiel has a word for this, recurrent through his prophecy: “You shall know that I am the LORD.” (Ezek. 13:23)                                                            
– Dennis Kinlaw, This Day with the Master, pg. Dec. 2

Merry Christmas! May the Christ become more real to you this Christmas season!


Ex-marine, Chuck Swindoll, told this story:

Two California Highway Patrol Officers were conducting speeding enforcement on I-15, just north of the Marine Corps Air Station at Miramar Naval Air Station. One of the officers was
using a hand held radar gun to check speeding vehicles approaching the crest of a hill.

The officers were suddenly surprised when the radar gun began reading 300 miles per hour. The officer attempted to reset the radar gun, but it would not reset and then turned off.

Just then a deafening roar over the tree tops revealed that the radar had in fact locked on to a USMC F/A-18 Hornet which was engaged in a low flying exercise near the location.

Back at the CHP Headquarters the Patrol Captain fired off a complaint to the USMC Base Commander.

The reply came back in true USMC style:

Dear Sir

Thank you for your letter. We can now complete the file on this incident. You may be interested to know that the tactical computer in the F-18 Hornet had detected the presence of, and subsequently locked on to, your hostile radar equipment. The Hornet automatically sent a jamming signal back to your radar gun, which is why it shut down.

Furthermore, an Air-to-Ground missile aboard the fully armed aircraft had also automatically locked on to your equipment location.

Fortunately, the Marine Pilot flying the Hornet recognized the situation for what it was, quickly responded to the missile system alert status and was able to override the automated defense system before the missile was launched to destroy the perceived hostile radar position.

Our pilot suggests you cover your mouths when cussing at them, since the video systems on these jets are very high tech. Sergeant Johnson, the officer holding the radar gun, should get his dentist to check his left rear molar. It appears the filling is loose. Also, the snap is broken on his holster.You may want to look into this.

Thank you for your concern.

Semper Fideles

It’s easy for those in authority on earth to forget that there is a higher authority that hovers above them. There is a sovereign God, who presides over out times and our seasons…who does whatever He pleases…whose authority is supreme. He answers to no one. We answer to Him.

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.”   –Proverbs 21:1

The Bubonic Plague and The Passion Play


An outbreak of the Bubonic Plague devastated Bavaria in the 1630’s. The plague took the lives of several hundred thousand people in Europe during this time.  From September 1632 to March 1633, a total of 81 people died in the little German village of Oberammergau.

In October 1633, the villagers got together and vowed that if God spared them from the plague, they would perform a play every ten years depicting the life and death of Jesus. After that vow was made, not one person in Oberammergau died of the plague(!) and the villagers kept their word and have performed the passion play every ten years since 1634.

I first heard of the play in 1976 while visiting Oberammergau and I have wanted to attend ever since, but… life kept happening and I continued to be either busy or negligent and I never went.

THEN… This year, which is an off year because of another plague, COVID, I had several friends and friends of friends come back and tell how good the play was. Long story, but I got two tickets online (not cheap) on August 3rd and one week later my daughter, Amelia, and I were in Oberammergau!

Even though our seats were in the very back row and the play is in German and we had jet lag and my hearing is not good… it was an amazing experience to be part of an almost 400 year tradition of honoring Jesus by performing a play of his life, death and resurrection. 2000 village folks are involved in the production; actors, sound techs, props, tickets, etc. There will be 109 performances this summer with 5000 people in each audience. (109 X 5000= 545,000 viewers!)

The play is five hours long with a three hour break for supper. On the morning of the play an orientation about the play is given in English. Here are a few facts from that orientation:

-The actors are not professionals. They are residents of Oberammergau.

-You must live in the village for 20 years to be a part of the play.

-The play was exclusively Catholic. Then Protestants were allowed. Now, any 20 year resident can participate.

-There are many children in the play. The children have two rules:

            1. Do not look at the audience.

            2. Look at Jesus when he is speaking.

I wonder if that isn’t the most profound lesson of our week long historic Passion Play trip:

            1. Don’t look at the audience.

            2. Look at Jesus when He is speaking.

A great conductor once said, “To lead the orchestra, you must turn your back on the crowd.” These are great lessons for life.

One last thought: What great long lasting, historic tradition might come from the tragic COVID pandemic? Will our culture turn to God for relief from the plague like the citizens of Oberammergau did in 1633? Will we make a vow? A commitment? A promise?

If our culture will not turn to God, we can individually turn to Him. “…today is the day of salvation.” 2 Cor. 6:2    “Come unto me and I will give you rest…” Matt. 11:28

The Depth Of Your Ministry

Missionary David Seamands had a very exciting and productive ministry in India. He was born there to missionary parents. He went to college in the States and returned to India and become a missionary himself. After about three years he was assigned to the little village of Yadgiri, a remote and difficult assignment. This area was mostly Hindu or Muslim. It had a Christian population of just over 1%.

He was not looking forward to this assignment and was even advised by friends to resign rather than to “lower himself” by being removed from a vibrant ministry, but he heeded the wishes (orders) of the higher ups in the mission, packed up his family and went to Yadgiri.

Their move into a little bungalow coincided with the beginning of the monsoon season, when the streets turn to mud and even become small rivers. But this year (1957) the monsoon was unusually long and strong. It became a flood and the Seamands were basically trapped in their little hut. It rained for 40 days! (Sound Biblical?)

David was frustrated and stressed. Had God called him here, with all of his knowledge of the culture and education and his experience in missions, to sit in a small little bunagalow and do nothing? “God, why did you bring me here? Did I miss your call? Was I disobedient? So many people need to hear the Gospel and I am stuck in this little hut.” 

During this 40 day period of isolation David read the Bible, prayed, prepared sermons… complained to his wife and to God, paced the floor…

According to David’s son, Steve, (I called him to refresh my memory) it was right about this time that David “heard” the voice of God:

You take care of the depth of your ministry and I’ll take care of the breadth.”

From that point on, Seamands immersed himself in reading, praying and trying to stay positive. He even read a couple of novels, including, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.  The rains ended, the streets dried up, and ministry began again for David and his team.

Many years later (neither his son nor I could remember how many) David was counselling a student who was no admirer of Christianity or the Bible. In the course of the conversation the fairly brilliant student challenged this pastor that he considered out of touch with the real world: “You’ve probably never read Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand,” the student spouted out confidently.

“As a matter of fact, I have,” David countered, and went on to give the shocked student a summary of the book that he had read during a monsoon. The student was so stunned that he actually listened to an explanation of the gospel. He didn’t commit his life to Jesus at that session, but his mind was opened because years before a discouraged young missionary began to “…take care of the depth of his ministry…” 

Before I called David Seamands’ son, I texted Florida pastor, Rural Ausley, my college roommate, to see if he remembered that quote. Here is part of his response: “.Yes, I remember… he told me that he developed material during that time that he was still using years later. That quote has haunted me my entire ministry! In a good way, mostly.”

Take care of the depth of your relationship with the Lord. He will take care of the breadth.

Give Me One Divine Moment

“Give me one divine moment when God acts and I say that moment is far superior to all the human efforts of man throughout the centuries.” -Dennis Kinlaw, commenting on the Asbury Revival, 1970

David Stutzman is recovering from a paralyzing accident. While visiting him at the rehab section of Walnut Hills, he told this story: His father, Andy Stutzman, lived to be a hundred years old. Andy was known as a man of God in our community. He was a minister who had touched many lives over the decades and had a very unique and effective preaching style. A faithful man.

Two days after Andy’s 100th birthday, he confessed to David that he felt that he had not fulfilled the calling of God on his life. He felt that God had called him to the mission field to places like China, India or Africa, but because of helping his father on the farm, and lack of finances, and then marriage and being called by lot into the ministry, he never left this area. He wondered if he had missed God’s calling.

Three days after his 100th birthday, David got a call from a Chinese National TV crew who wanted to do a documentary on Amish culture. The man indicated that in China virtually every person, from the richest to the poorest, has a TV.  Apparently, there is not much available to watch on TV, but the Chinese love to watch documentaries. He asked David to be their guide in Amish country.

When the film crew arrived, David took them to places like the Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center in Berlin; several Amish businesses; a cheese house… Then the Chinese man in charge said he wanted to film a real Amish Farm and Homestead, so David took them to a relative’s farm, a perfect place to film, except that “order” of Amish does not allow filming. However, after David told the story of what was happening, and how many people it would influence, and the fact that the documentary would not be shown in the U.S., the Amish cousin relented (cautiously). Go ahead and film.

The crew had a wonderful time there; they got to see the basement of this large Amish home with artesian well water flowing through it to keep the food cold. All the walls were loaded with shelves of canned goods and preserved food-stuffs in jars. They filmed in the barn full of hay and big Percheron horses—the Chinese love horses! They filmed the windmill, the barnyard, the fields, the state-of-the-art kitchen in the shop where the Amish church meets when it is this family’s turn to hold services…

Then the Chinese man in charge (only 2 of the entourage spoke English) asked to meet “a real Amish/Mennonite Minister.” So David took them to his home to meet his father, Andy. The crew set up cameras in 3 places (or angles). The Chinese man asked David’s father Andy- sitting in his rocking chair-

“Sir, what is that in your lap?”

Andy said, “It’s my Bible; the roadmap to Heaven!”

The interviewer asked, “Would you read something from it to us?

So, Andy proceeded to quote Psalm 37 (by heart!), several other scriptures, some hymns and a poem. He then gave his testimony and explained the plan of salvation in a very simple, understandable way.

The interview was over, the crew left, and several months later this documentary was viewed in China by 1.3 billion (BILLION!) people! It was voted the best documentary of that year and possibly of all time! A week later Andy would have been too sick to film. He died 2 months after that.

This man who wanted to reach the world, but never lived anywhere but Holmes County, Ohio, reached one seventh of the population of the world just 80 days before the end of his 100 year life! He explained the gospel to more people in a half hour interview than he had reached in his 80 years of fruitful ministry in the local church! God is faithful.  Give me one divine moment…

“The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.” Romans 11:29 

“If you sow and don’t reap, someone else will reap; be faithful. If you reap, having not sown, someone else sowed; be humble.” -Steve Wingfield

They Are Watching

Let your light shine because your life is a testimony

“I knew this young man when he was 6 years old.”

Two inmates were standing in front of the chapel after I had given an invitation. They were waiting until everyone was finished praying so they could speak to the congregation before the yard was opened and the chaplain would release them to go to supper.

When the prayer time was over the chaplain looked up and nodded for them to step up to the mike.

Inmate William started speaking, “I was praying with this young man and I looked at his name tag so I could call him by name. When I saw his last name, I recognized it. I used to run around with people by that name. I asked him if he was related to Ray Abernathy (made up name). He said, ‘Yes, that is my uncle.’ How about Joe Abernathy? He said, ‘That is my dad.’ ”

Then William almost started crying. “Oh, my! I remember you! I used to do drugs and all kinds of crazy, bad stuff with your dad and uncle. I remember you as a cute little 6 year boy old hanging around us and wanting to be like us. I am one of the reasons you are here! I was a terrible example for you! I have become a Christian since I am here in prison and I’m not the same man you used to admire! Will you forgive me for being such a bad influence in your life?!” William went on to lead this newly arrived young prisoner to faith in Jesus Christ!

While he had the mike, he went on to repeat some of the points I made in my sermon:

  • No matter how big or small our circle of influence, we influence people by our lives.
  • People are watching.
  • Little boys want to be like the older men. Especially dad. And dad’s friends. As William had mentored this little boy to a life that eventually lead to prison, he now wants to mentor this young man to a life that leads to eternal life.

Folks, people are watching us. They watch how we behave at the basketball game, in traffic, at the restaurant… they watch how we react to adversity; how do we handle being treated unfairly, how we handle success… they watch us on Sunday and they watch us on Monday and the rest of the week.

I have heard Steve Wingfield preach from Mark 4 about Jesus calming the storm, and he notices a verse that might seem insignificant to the story: “There were also other boats with him.” (v. 36) But that little verse reminds us that in the midst of the storm the ‘other boats’ are watching. How will Jesus and His disciples handle the storm? Those other boats may be our children, our employees, our friends… maybe they are total strangers. But our reactions (our lives) are living testimonies that influence people, whether we are aware of it or not.

Your are a witness. Your life is a testimony, either for good or for bad. The professional athlete who says, “I’m an athlete, I’m not a role model,” doesn’t know what he is talking about. Little boys are watching. I watched. I put my bat behind my back like Rocky Colovito. I tried to fade away like Pete Maravich. I try to engage the crowd like Johnny Cash did. I read through the Bible every year like Dennis Kinlaw did. I work hard like dad did… I try to follow Christ like Paul did.

“But I’m not well known or influential.” Ah, dear friend, I beg to differ. Someone knows you and you have a circle of influence, small though it may be. You are influencing someone. May we live our lives so that if someone emulates us, he will end up in Heaven, not prison.

“Let your light shine before men so they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.” Mt. 5:16
“…you will be my witnesses…” -Jesus

Doomsday Predictions

This past weekend, September 23, 2017, the world was scheduled to end. David Meade prophesied that a planet was going to smash into earth and destroy the world. Since you are reading this, you probably realize that it didn’t happen. Not to worry: Meade has rescheduled this collision for the end of October.

Doomsday predictions are not new. The apostle Paul had to warn the Thessalonians to “not be idle.” Apparently they had misinterpreted messages about the coming of Christ and since they thought the world was going to end very soon, they decided to take it easy until He came. Meanwhile, they were living (mooching?) off of the church. Paul then commanded the church to “keep away from every brother who is idle…”

You may remember the book, 88 Reasons Why Jesus Will Return In 1988. As convincing as that book may have been, with all its mathematical calculations and reasonings, I didn’t believe it. Jesus had said, “No one knows the day or the hour, not even the Son of Man.” I did read the book and, yes, I believe that Jesus is coming back, but anyone who sets a date is setting himself up to be a fool. He can’t win. If Jesus does come back, so what? No one will congratulate him on the way up; if Jesus doesn’t come back… well, the fool resets the date.

Having said all that, I have to confess that the events in the last months have made me wonder if the end really might be near. Even leaders that I trust, “non-kooks,” like Ann Graham Lotz and John Hagee, have wondered if the Lord is speaking to us through these events.

Matthew 24 reads, “… You will hear of wars and rumors of wars… Nation will rise against nation… There will be famines… earthquakes… persucution… you will be hated… many will turn from the faith… there will be false prophets… the love of most will grow cold…”

In August there was a full solar eclipse, the first one in many years to be seen only in the US (God’s judgement on America?!) Last year was the blood moon. There have been three major hurricanes in a month. There was flooding in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico… an earthquake in Mexico and Guatemala, famine in Africa, major fires in Montana… North Korea is threatening war. The NFL has become a political quagmire… Political unrest; racial anger; police assassinations; school shootings (and stabbings)… whew…

Is God trying to tell us something? Is Matthew 24 being fulfilled?!

Here’s my take on these events and predictions of the end of the world: Yes, God is speaking to us through these events. But, He also speaks through every sunrise and every sunset every single day. He raises His voice through earthquakes, floods, famine, etc. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our troubles. They are His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Although I don’t believe in doomsday dates, here are some things that these predictions do for me: They encourage me to be ready.

  • Make sure I have committed my life to Jesus Christ.
  • Make sure I have no known sin in my life.
  • Be at peace with all men.
  • Live as if He is coming tomorrow, and work as if He’s not coming for 1000 years. Martin Luther said that we should live every day with the day of our death always before us, like a billboard that we see everywhere we turn. Jim Elliott said he wanted to live so that when it came time to die, there was nothing else he needed to do but die. John Wesley said, “Our people die well.”

Friends, the Lord is coming back. He didn’t come on Sept. 23. Or did He?! Well, yes, for two people that I know, He came. Two of my friends died and stood before the Lord on September. 23rd. For them, this life is over.

For everyone of us a date has been set. “It is appointed unto men once to die and then the judgement.” Hebrews 9:27

Pastor Bill Detweiler said, “There are only two days in all of history that matter: 1. This day, and 2. That Day! Live this day so that day, “the great and terrible day of the LORD” will be a day of rejoicing for you. Malachi 4:5

Be ready! The Lord is returning! When? I can tell you the date: THAT DAY!


Go West, Young Man

In the Klondike Gold Rush in Alaska around 1896, the Canadian Mounted Police would not allow anyone to enter the Yukon region unless he had a year’s supply of food and equipment. (No Yukon Wal-Marts in those days.)

These men would hike up the steep, icy, muddy, narrow Chilkoot Pass carrying about 65 lbs. of goods, drop their load off at the top of the hill and go back down for another load until they had about 2000 lbs. of food & equipment at the top.

After 30 trips up and 30 trips back down, the Canadian Mounties would weigh their food and if they determined that there was a year’s supply, they then gave them permission to proceed down the Chilkoot Pass to the Yukon River-–another 30 trips down & back, until the one-ton load was at the bottom.

It was 30 miles from Skagway to the Yukon River. One source estimated that a prospector would walk 2,500 miles by the time he got his year’s supply to the river bank! There he would build a raft and float 200 miles down the river to Dawson City to stake his claim and start mining. A few got rich, but the majority were too late.

I suppose I’m thinking about this because I just got back from Skagway, Alaska, where this scramble for gold took place about 120 years ago. Many thoughts went through my mind as I read about these amazingly hardy souls. What would possess a man to leave his home, family and farm or business and make the dangerous trip to Alaska to mine for gold? To walk 2500 miles carrying 65 lbs. on his back after he got there? Adventure? Greed? Desperation? Boredom? Lure of riches? Get out of debt?

I often wonder what I would have done if I would have lived during that time? Would I have “gone west, young man” like Horace Greenley encouraged? Would I have believed the amazing reports that a man could just pick up gold nuggets off the streets and become an overnight millionaire?

In my family research, I came across the obituary of my great-great grandfather, Nathan Smith. He was a farmer in Wayne County, Ohio. Born in 1827. Here is an excerpt from his obituary:

“…He was born and reared on a farm in Plain Township. In youth, aged about 20 years, he caught the gold fever and went overland to California with other gold seekers from Wayne County. Returning home from there he settled down in Plain Township and became a prosperous farmer, industriously and successfully following that vocation, marrying and rearing an estimable family of sons and daughters…”

A more detailed account is found in Paul Locher’s book, When Wooster Was a Whippersnapper, Pg. 68:

…he joined the Dennison Co., which was composed of 40 men, all from Wayne County. On March 11, the group left Wooster for California. The trip was made overland with mule teams, Benjamin Eason being one of the drivers. After spending five days in Salt Lake City for recreation, the party arrived in Placerville, 55 miles east of Sacramento, on July 4, 1850.

The Dennison Co. remained in California until the following winter, mining, trading and speculating. The group then returned home, traveling by steamer with “eyes still ablaze with scenes of border bloodshed and lawless cruelty,” as historian Ben Douglass described their experience.

Four months (116 days) on a wagon pulled by mules! No air conditioning. No MacDonald’s. No rest areas! Would I have “gone west?” Grandpa Nathan did.

At age 20, I possessed most of the above vices and virtues: adventurous, greedy, debts, no brains… I wasn’t bored or desperate, but I have the same adventurous blood flowing through my veins as great-great grandpa, Nathan Smith…

,BUT, at age 23 I committed my life to Christ, so maybe that would have governed my actions and attitudes during the feverish gold rush days.

What a history! What a story! I can’t judge or condemn those who sought riches (a better life), but I do have some sage advice:

“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” -Matt. 6:33

The Irish Revival of 1859

The Drimoleague Methodist Church in Ireland is a relatively small building with stone walls that are two feet thick. The sanctuary is about the size of my timber frame barn/office, maybe 24 by 36 feet?

“It was built in 1865 as a result of the Revival of 1859,” the locals told me.

“The Revival of 1859?!” I asked. And then I started hearing the stories of this amazing move of God.

The Revival started in Northern Ireland and spread over the whole country. A group of people got saved here in Drimoleague and began meeting west of town at the farm of my host’s relatives, the Kingstons. After several years of meeting there, The Drimoleague Methodist Church was built.

Pastor Greg came to Drimoleague from the town of Coleraine, in the north of Ireland. He said the revival crowds in Coleraine were so big in 1859 that the only building big enough to hold their meetings was the brand new, just finished, Town Hall Building.

After meeting there for several years, these “revival people” built their own new church building. Almost a century later, the people of Coleraine made a startling discovery in the Town Hall records: Because of the excitement of the Revival, the ‘new’ town hall had never had a Grand Opening! So, in 1959, the town of Coleraine had a Grand Opening Celebration for its brand new, hundred year old Town Hall!

The most amazing story I heard is what happened at The Harland & Wolff Shipyard in Belfast. This is where the Titanic would be built. Many of the rough, crude shipyard workers had conversion experiences and to clear their consciences, began to return tools that they had stolen over the years. The stolen tools began to pile up. So many tools came back that Harland & Wolff had to build a new warehouse to store them all! Our hosts in Donegal said that warehouse is still standing! (Think of how our economy would be affected if we would just be honest!)

There were (are) many more revival stories. Several of the churches where I sang were built during this exciting time in Irish history. The Coolkelure Anglican Church was built by the owner of the large estate whose life was transformed by Christ during this revival, so he built this beautiful church so his workers would not have to walk the 4 miles to Dunmanaway every Sunday.

I had 14 concerts in ten days on the “Emerald Island.” I performed in some amazing classic churches. I met some wonderful people. I was close to the ancestrial land of my great-grand mother (County Waterford). I was able to see some changed lives.

But as I sit back and reflect on my trip, the thing I think about most are the 158 year-old revival stories, and I am encouraged that God can break into any culture with His Spirit and change lives, change communities, change cultures–so much so that churches must be built to house the worshippers and warehouses need to built to hold the stolen goods returned by repentant sinners! Do it here, Lord!

Thank you for praying for Common Grounds Ministries and for my trip to Ireland. Pray for revival! It can happen!


May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
The rains fall soft upon fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Samuel Morris

From Liberia, Africa to Fort Wayne, Indiana

In Bolivia last week, David Harriman told about a man who knelt in front of a tombstone and prayed, “Lord, give me the same spirit that you gave this man, Samuel Morris.”

Samuel Morris was born Prince Kaboo in 1873 in Liberia, Africa, the son of a Kru tribal chieftain. As a child, he was captured by an enemy tribe. They demanded his father bring them a present each month if they wanted to see their prince again. His father brought a present each month, but it was never enough.

When he could bring no more, Kaboo was beaten every day. During one of many intense whippings, Kaboo saw a bright light and heard a voice from Heaven telling him to flee. The rope binding him fell to the ground; he ran into the jungle where he wandered for days living off snails, mangos, roots… He traveled at night and hid in hollow logs during the day. He eventually came upon a coffee plantation owned by a Christian former slave.

There he met Miss Knolls, a graduate of Fort Wayne College (now Taylor University). She led him to Jesus. He was baptized with the name Samuel Morris in honor of her benefactor. He learned to read using the Bible as his textbook. He wanted to know more of this Holy Spirit he was reading about. When she told him that a man named Stephen Merritt had led her to Jesus, Samuel decided to go to America to find him.

He hired on a British ship where the arrogant British passengers made fun of him and treated him with scorn. When the captain became deathly sick, Samuel prayed for him and he was healed. Samuel then led him to the Lord. The captain made Samuel his personal assistant. By the time they reached New York, the whole crew and many of the passengers had become Christians through Samuel’s witness.

In crowded New York City he miraculously found Dr. Merritt who kindly offered to show him the city. “I don’t care to see buildings. I want to find the Holy Spirit,” Samuel said. The doctor sent him to Fort Wayne College. Everywhere he went, people were drawn to Jesus. In one church, as he sat up front, people saw his glowing face and began to come forward before he even got up to preach!

In late 1892 he came down with pneumonia. Five months later, in May, 1893 he died. His goal to take the Holy Spirit back to Africa was not met. He had been scheduled to help lay the cornerstone at the newly formed Taylor University in Upland, IN. As he lay sick, he said, “God is sovereign. I have finished my job. God will send others better than I to do His work in Africa.” At his funeral many students committed themselves to go to Africa. He was buried in the Lindenwood Cemetery in Fort Wayne. Seventy some years later a man knelt and prayed for the same spirit.

Would you believe that while we were in Bolivia that man came to the guest house where we were staying?! I got to meet this man who had prayed at Samuel’s grave!

“God gave me the same spirit He gave Samuel Morris. I rose from my knees a different man,” he said. He went on to be a pastor and then the president of a large missionary organization. He just retired and was bringing some businessmen to Bolivia to show them how they could get involved in missions.

Taylor University named one of their dorms for Samuel Morris. He never got to go back to Africa, but his influence is still felt all over the world today, 124 years later.

The next time I am near Fort Wayne, I plan to visit his grave.