Samuel Murrombe: from gangster to international soul winner — Episode 3

  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 and his wife Connie

Episode 3 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

When Samuel returned to Alexandra in obedience to God’s call he was not only thinking about ministry but also about some vital unfinished business that had started while he was in prison.

And that was the matter of what to do about a woman who was a member of a ministry team that used to visit the prison — and who the Lord had told him was to be his wife.

As things worked out, the leader of that very prison ministry team, Apostle Joseph Maliboho, met him at Park Station when he arrived in Johannesburg from Mozambique. Joseph also provided him with a 1-bedroom house in Alexandra and an opportunity to serve in his church, Victory In Christ Ministries.

Two other people who had reached out to him in prison — Helen Hulett, who became his spiritual mother, and Marco Swartz, who had introduced him to Reinhard Bonkke ministry resources — also played a key role in his early days back in Alexandra.

Helen and Marco got Samuel involved in prison ministry and he told his spiritual mom about Connie, the woman he wanted to marry. He explained how, when he was still in prison he had asked God to show him his future wife so that “I will not be mixed up when I come outside”.

He shared how he had asked God to confirm his wife-to-be by certain signs and how during a prison ministry visit, Connie had exactly fulfilled those signs through words she spoke. Samuel said he was very religious at the time and prayed that if this was a trick of the devil it should be cancelled. But the Lord said: “This is your wife”.

He said Connie was sceptical when he told her and her pastor, Joseph, that he was supposed to marry her. She knew his past as a gangster and prisoner and pointed out he did not even have money for proper shoes for himself, let alone to pay lobola (a customary payment to the family of a bride-to-be).

But Samuel said God gave him miraculous favour with Connie’s family and they were married in 2004 — and the first of their three children was born the following year.

Some time later Samuel was invited to start a new church in Alexandra. It seemed that God was in it and Joseph, who loved Samuel and Connie, eventually released them to plant what became the Harvest Time Church. The church grew to about 300 members but they reached a point when it was clearly time for them to hand over the church and move on.

After a period of uncertainty Samuel said God spoke to him and said that if he wanted to start a ministry, its name should be Firebrand Ministries. “I quickly called Marco Swartz who I regarded as a father to me and said I’ve got this revelation. And he said: ‘It is Firebrand Ministries International. Don’t leave out international because you are going to travel.'”

Then, together with some strong intercessors who felt God wanted them to work with Samuel, Firebrand Ministries International was launched as a church in Alexandra. Many people got saved, healed, delivered and introduced to church life. Samuel discipled and trained some young people who were in a bad way and eventually appointed them as pastors because he knew he was destined to travel.

Marco Swartz later introduced Samuel to Andre Brink, the general manager of Christ For All Nations South Africa, the evangelism ministry founded by Bonkke. Andre invited Samuel, together with a young South African evangelist, to accompany him on a ministry trip to Zimbabwe.

While in Zimbabwe, Andre asked Samuel what he was doing. He explained he was working as a lawnmower salesman and leading a church. “He [Andre] said: ‘I believe you are not called for that — you are called to preach the Gospel across Africa. He was very specific and it was the first time somebody redirected me to my original calling,” said Samuel.

At the end of the Zimbabwe campaign Andre told Samuel he would stay in touch. But Samuel did not expect he would be interested in him as he felt the other young evangelist who had been on the ministry trip with them was smarter and more eloquent in English and he was a South African, while Samuel was a Mozambican.

Evanglists Samuel Murrombe and Tamryn Klintworth pictured on a Gospel crusade poster

But to his surprise Andre called him out of the blue and said he wanted to introduce him to Tamryn, “a young lady of God, called to be an evangelist, to see if you and she can work together”.

Samuel vividly recalls his first meeting with Tamryn, who later became Andre’s wife. “He brought this tall young lady. I remember she was wearing red heels and jeans and she had a big smile on her face. We hugged each other — and it was, you know, love at first sight!”

Tamryn asked Samuel if they could have a crusade and he said yes, they could, right there in Alexandra. He subsequently shared the vision of the crusade with the pastors’ and soon, with a small team of young people from his church, began to plan the event.

“We made posters and put them up at night because I had to work in the day. We had no transport, so we walked, praying for the success of the crusade at the same time.

“I still remember the poster was blue in colour and it was Evangelist Samuel Murrombe of Firebrand International and Evangelist Tamryn Klintworth of In His Name Ministries.”

They held the crusade in a big hall in the San Kopano resource centre. “The Lord filled the hall to capacity and many people were saved and many people were baptised in the Holy Spirit,” said Samuel.

More crusades followed in different areas. Then the Lord spoke through a vision to one of Samuel’s team members — asking why they used two names as a front for their crusade ministry. “Right there we agreed and I said: ‘I believe we can use In His Name Ministry. And from then all posters were made in that name with both of our pictures.”

The ministry grew and the crusade meetings progressed from halls to tents, to bigger tents until the Lord said to them: “It is time for the open air.”

In 2016 the ministry went international, with a crusade in Kenya, followed by one in Mozambique. “Then the Lord spoke to us through Andre that we need to go to Ethiopia.”

Samuel went to Ethiopia where he connected with churches and shared their vision of conducting massive crusades there. With the blessing of the Ethiopian churches they began to hold crusades in Ethiopia in 2017. 20 000 people attended their first crusade and thousands gave their lives to Jesus.

At first they operated under the covering of the Evangelical Churches Fellowship of Ethiopia. Later they registered as a non profit and set up a permanent office in the country.

As the international crusade director of In His Name Ministries, Samuel goes to venues three weeks ahead of crusades in order to connect with church and community leaders, to lay the vision, to oversee logistics, to train counsellors and ushers and everybody else involved with the crusade and to pray with the intercessors.

“Wherever we go we make sure we are working with fraternals — with pastors. We always have to preach to the pastors and the saved first before we can reach the unsaved. Because a lot of people came before and misrepresented Christ.

“I enjoy the job because the crusade starts before the crusade. I get to the level of the people to reach people. It has become my greatest joy to do that.”

He said God has given him much wisdom for working in Ethiopia and specifically for winning the hearts of leaders whose support is vital to the success of campaigns. This entails understanding and immersing himself in the culture, even to the extent of eating local delicacies such as raw meat.

“I already speak two languages in the country. One of the things the Lord has taught me is when you speak to people in English it goes to their heads but when you speak to them in their mother tongue it goes to their hearts.”

Explaining his gift with languages, Samuel said: “So far, by the grace of God I speak more than 25 languages here in Africa, including Swahili, which I learnt in Kenya in 3 weeks.”

He said: “In His Name Ministries has been growing from glory to glory from strength to strength. The only thing that is limiting us is resources. But to be honest to you, the Lord has given us Ethiopia. The crowds have grown to over 60 000 at our biggest meeting — with almost half giving their lives to Jesus.”

Recalling some of the challenges they have faced in Ethiopia he said: “I remember when the pandemic broke out we were in the middle of planning a crusade. We were one week from starting.

“We had done the training, people were on fire, miracles were already breaking out in the area just in training. Then the prime minister announced that all mass gatherings were not allowed.”

However, he said being active in Ethiopia proved strategic during the pandemic season as during a long season in which SA was locked down, open air crusades were allowed in Ethiopia.

He said they have also been affected by civil war in Ethiopia. Once, while they were planning a crusade in a town called Ambo, they went to Addis Ababa to buy some provisions. On arriving in Addis they learned that war had erupted in Ambo and that people were dying next to their hotel. They had to wait for three or four days to return to Ambo. On the scheduled day of the crusade local government authorities told them to take down the stage they had erected as the space was needed for the prime minister’s helicopter to land in order to address the people.

After the prime minister spoke and departed, the crusade team rebuilt the stage in order to go ahead with the crusade that day, as planned.

“We had just a few people. We had no lights, so we preached the Gospel with torches. The few people gathered there received Jesus. We prepared properly next morning and thousands gathered in the afternoon. We preached the Gospel and thousands were saved, healed and delivered.”

Samuel paid tribute to his In His Name Ministry colleagues Andre and Tamryn.

“Andre plays a big role as a father to me. He is such a great example of a true servant of God. He served Christ For All Nations for 20 years and when he resigned with blessing of Papa Bonkke, he came and did the simplest job here — to run around and take pictures. I found him to be a true father and a true example of a leader. He teaches me a lot of things even in his silence.”

Speaking of Tamryn, who chose to follow a calling of evangelism shortly after graduating as a lawyer, he said: “What a great example, what a woman of God. Throughout the years I have learned how to serve God from both of them. I have no words to express their love towards me and my family and how they always want the best for us. It has motivated me to work even harder.”

He acknowledged that his lifestyle was challenging for Connie who had to stay in SA to care for the children while he was away. But he was grateful to God that Tamryn and Andre had had the wisdom to appoint Connie as the ministry’s office manager in Johannesburg.

“She is also one of the the greatest intercessors for the ministry. And she is also a preacher of the Gospel and a soul winner herself,” he said.

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