Samuel Murrombe: from gangster to international soul winner — Episode 2

  1. Samuel Murrombe: from gangster to international soul winner — Episode 1
  2. Samuel Murrombe: from gangster to international soul winner — Episode 2
  3. Samuel Murrombe: from gangster to international soul winner — Episode 3
Samuel Murrombe, crusade director of In His Name Ministries

Episode 2 of a gripping account in three episodes of how Jesus turned a hardened, violent criminal into a passionate crusade evangelist who is now turning tens of thousands of hearts to the Lord across Africa

After receiving Jesus as his Saviour and Lord in prison in late 2000 Samuel says he developed a hunger for the things of God.

He joined a group of fellow-prisoners called PUSH (Pray Until Something Happens). “We’d pray for our families who did not know God to know Him. We’d pray for other inmates (for salvation), even for prison warders who were corrupt, themselves,” he said.

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Somebody gave him a booklet called Why Tongues? by evangelist Kenneth Copeland that was translated into Samuel’s home language, Tsonga. It explained how you can, through faith in Jesus, receive the baptism of the Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

He was also given a book by Dr David Yonggi Cho which quoted Luke 11:13 — So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

Applying what he had learned from the two booklets he prayed on his bed one night. “I prayed: ‘Lord, I ask you right not that You will baptise me with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. I receive now by faith, in Jesus’ name, Amen!'”

He said he did not immediately start speaking in tongues but, by faith, he believed he had received the baptism.

The next morning as he was praying with members of the PUSH group something happened.

“We were holding hands and holding a joint prayer. Suddenly I don’t know what happened. It was as if the hand of Jesus was touching me. Suddenly I started mumbling — I was praying in other tongues, quite violently.

“So all the other brethren holding hands with me were on the floor and I kept on speaking in this heavenly language, speaking in other tongues. So, it was just joy bubbling in my spirit.”

He said one of the men in the group, who had not yet been baptised in the Spirit, but who knew about it, opened up the Bible at Acts Chapter 2 and said: “Brethren, what has just happened here today, it what the Scriptures say about the baptism of the Holy Spirit.”

Samuel said a great awakening followed. Other young men were baptised in the Spirit. “When we were let out of the cells for an hour to mingle we would start sharing the Gospel with others. We would turn it into a fellowship and while we were sharing the Gospel the other brothers were receiving the baptism without the laying on of hands. They started speaking in tongues right there. It was like a wild fire. And we would pray from 12 midnight until 4 in the morning — only by the help of the Holy Sprit.

Prisoners finding freedom behind bars (PHOTO: Loukas Foundation)

“I would have prison warders come to my cell, holding the door and having a paper on which was written their prayer request. And I would pray the power of God would heal them and as I was inside the cell the power of God would go outside and heal them. It was a revival.

“The pastors from outside would come inside and say we don’t have to preach — we want you to preach to us, because they would see the presence and the glory of God was all over us.”

During this period a significant divine connection occurred. A prisoner who recognised Samuel’s zeal for God, despite his lack of biblical knowledge, put him in touch with a man called Marco Swartz, who had worked for Christ for all Nations some years before and now had a ministry of distributing Gospel resources in prisons.

Samuel wrote to Marco and was surprised when, instead of writing back, he visited him in prison and thereafter provided him with literature by Yonggi Cho and Reinard Bonkke as well as video casettes of Bonkke sermons.

“And right inside the prison we started preaching the Gospel. I would speak to the religious worker in the prison and he would organise us a television and we would go into the hall and play the videos of Reinhard Bonkke. After playing them I would stand up front and say to the brethren: ‘Who wants to experience this? Who wants to receive Jesus now?’ And hundreds of prisoners would raise their hands and we would lead them to salvation.

“And after that we would play a video on the baptism of the Holy Spirit, where Bonkke was preaching on the importance of that and how to work with the Holy Spirit. And after playing that we would say: ‘Who wants to receive the Holy Spirit?’ And hundreds would raise their hands. And after that we would lead them to Christ and then we would pray for the fire to fall and they would receive the Holy Sprit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

“I would have prisoners from another section far away from where we lived coming to testify on a Sunday when we met in a big hall, and they would say: ‘In the midnight when I was praying I would hear the voice of brother Samuel, praying in other tongues and suddenly I was baptised and started speaking in other tongues,'” said Samuel.

He also shared another defining moment during his time in Baviaanspoort prison. “One day, as I was praying as usual I heard the voice of God audibly speaking to me: ‘Samuel, I am calling you to be an evangelist. You will travel the nations in Africa and you will preach the Gospel.’

“And there I had a big problem. I said: ‘Lord, you know I am Mozambican, and Portuguese is spoken in six countries in the world. What do you mean I will go all over the world and preach the Gospel?’

“He said to me: ‘What happened to you when you received the baptism of the Holy Spirit?’ I said: ‘Well, I received other tongues. He said: ‘Do you understand what you are saying when you say you spoke in other tongues?’ I said: No, what does that have to do with what You are saying now? He said: ‘Well, I hear everything you are saying when you pray in other tongues. You are speaking to me directly. Well, what I am going to do is, I am going to baptise you in English.’

“So, from that day, I opened the Bible when we were gathering with the brethren — I opened at John chapter 3 verse 16 and started reading in English — it was the New International Version Bible and I read in English that: ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever shall believe in Him shall not perish but shall have everlasting life.’ And all the brethren said in one breath: ‘Brother Samuel, you are speaking in English!’ I said: ‘Of course, yes.’

“And that was the beginning. I always say to people: I come from the University of the Holy Spirit (I started speaking English from that very moment forward). I speak in English, I write in English, I preach in English — everything is the work of the Holy Spirit.”

Later Samuel was transferred to Pretoria Central Prison. During his time there he said he led some prisoners to Christ and started some “home cells”.

But after two months he was moved again — to Atteridgeville Prion, Pretoria where he said there was a lot of prison gangsterism.

“We started evangelising there — and praying. In the hospital there were a lot of sick people. And we asked to use the open compound in the hospital to have a church there. And God started to heal people in that hospital. The hospital became empty. And a kind of a church started there.”

Samuel then asked to be transferred again, and was moved to Leeuwkop Prison in Johannesburg.

“That was my fifth prison. We met other brethren there and carried on preaching the Gospel. We met pastors who came in.”

During this time he met Helen Hulett, a white woman (now with the Lord) who went on to become a spiritual mother to him, visiting him in prison regularly and seeing to it that he received things he needed.

“She was about to marry an Indian man who was a pastor who about two years before had converted from very tough gangsterism. He still had a lot of enemies from his former life after him. He had tattoos all over his body. But the Lord has used that man to raise three people from the dead. And the Lord put it in his heart that he would come and ordain me — anoint me in prison. He came and anointed us and prayed for us and all that.

“Then when Thabo Mbeki became president I got an amnesty. I didn’t qualify for parole because I was a foreigner and my crime was a bit complicated according to them. It was in late 2003, just short of four years in prison.

“Because I did not have papers I had to be sent back to Mozambique.”

And so, years after he had left his home country, Samuel returned to his home in Beira. His mother was surprised to see him and said the whole family had thought he was dead because he had not communicated with them since he had left as a teenager.

Samuel said he told his mother that he was “born again”. But he said his family knew nothing about true Christianity. They worshiped “God” and ancestors and believed in witchdoctors.

Later his mother came to him offering him a cup of water. Samuel said the Holy Spirit told him that the water came from a false prophet who had, nevertheless, accurately told her that her son was a tall man with a light complexion who had come home with nothing. He gave her water which he said she should give to Samuel to drink.

“And right there I told my mother: ‘This water, you got it from a false prophet and he told you I would come back with nothing and these are marine spirits in the water and I am not going to be part of that.’

“My mother was shocked. She dropped the water. She said: ‘Are you a prophet also?’ So I told her: ‘I am not a prophet. I am a born-again Christian. I have found mercy in prison. I received Jesus as Lord and Saviour.’

“Then my mother said: ‘If this Jesus can do such things to you and begin to reveal things to you like this, I would love to receive Him. And I led my mother to the Lord.”

Samuel then told his mother that while he was still in prison God had spoken to him through Jeremiah 29:7 — Go back to the city where I caused you to be captive and pray for that city and in its welfare you shall have your welfare — in its peace you shall have your peace.

He told her that he knew God was talking to him about Alexandra, the Johannesburg township where he had lived as a gangster prior to his arrest. It was not a place he personally wanted to go back to but he understood it was where God wanted him to be.

“And so I said to my mother: “I want to go back to Alexandra. I want to testify to people about what God has done in my life.”

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