From prison to preacher
Jesus is in the business of changing lives. The moment someone decides to follow Him is not only the end of their old life, but the beginning of a whole new life. And when someone really experiences that miracle regeneration, they can’t help but tell the world. There is a powerful, exponential multiplier effect, when those who have received salvation become sharers of the Good News themselves.
Today, I want to share with you a story that demonstrates just what an impact your donation to CfaN makes for individuals and for the Kingdom of God. It’s the story of a man whose life seemed to be a lost cause – and how a CfaN Fire Conference that he didn’t even attend changed his life.
A journey to nowhere
In the year 2000, Samuel Murrombe was 23 years old and sitting in jail. He was already a hardened criminal, a gangster accustomed to terrible violence. He wasn’t always that way. He was brought up by parents who were loving and morally upright, though extremely poor. As a teenager, he had hopes and dreams powerful enough to make him leave his home country of Mozambique, and literally walk – without shoes – all the way to South Africa, in search of a better life. When he finally made it to Alexandra, a poverty-stricken suburb of Johannesburg, he tried to find honest work.
But he didn’t speak English, and no-one was willing to help him. No-one, that is, until a local gang of criminals took him in. They quickly introduced him to drugs, and taught him how to handle a gun. Soon, he was taking part in armed robberies. It wasn’t long before he became a gang leader, known for his violence and hardness. When the police finally caught him and put him in prison, it seemed inevitable.
A new destination
Life in prison was not much different from outside. He and his friends continued to take and sell drugs. Samuel was just doing his time, waiting for release. Then one day, another prisoner invited him to attend a Christian meeting in the prison. He had no interest in the service, but the promise of homemade sandwiches got him there. Once inside the door, he made sure he stood as far back as possible.
But as the pastor at the front preached, something miraculous happened. This man who had felt nothing for years found himself weeping, tears pouring down his face. Without knowing how he got there, he was suddenly standing right at the front. The pastor had not given an altar call yet. He stopped preaching and asked, “How can I help you, son?” to the broken man before him. The sermon was over – the preacher led him in the sinner’s prayer right there.
Samuel felt like he was floating out of that room. When he got back to the cell that he shared with another prisoner, he put all his drugs together, intending to get one last hit. But the smell of it disgusted him. No-one had told him it was wrong, but he knew he could never take the stuff again. To his cellmate’s horror, he flushed everything he had down the toilet. He knew he was free.
That night, Samuel didn’t sleep. He prayed and wept, as his sins were brought before his mind’s eye. It played like a video, all the terrible, violent things he had done, all the blood he had shed. “Forgive me,” he cried, over and over. And as the morning dawned, incredible peace and joy washed over him. He was a new man.
Growing in Jesus
Now Samuel experienced a tremendous hunger for God. He couldn’t get enough of the Word. He and other inmates started daily Bible study and prayer groups. At first, the only prayer he knew was the “Lord’s Prayer”, which he prayed unceasingly, until a visiting minister taught him that he could speak to the Lord with his own words, too. Sam longed for more. He read and watched any spiritual teaching material he could get his hands on.
God saw the cry of his heart, and brought along a man called Marco Swartz, who had worked for Christ for all Nations some years before. Now he had a prison ministry, where he distributed VHS cassettes of Reinhard Bonnke’s sermons. He also wrote down the sermon content and made copies, so that those who couldn’t watch could read instead. Sam couldn’t get enough.
A prison revival
One morning, after Samuel had learned about the baptism in the Holy Spirit, he and other Christian inmates prayed together – and the Holy Spirit fell. Sam found himself praying in tongues, filled with the Spirit. Then one day, Marco brought another stack of CfaN video tapes. In that pile was one really old tape that Sam says he can never forget. It was a recording of a session that Reinhard Bonnke preached, from one of the first Fire Conferences, held in Frankfurt in 1987. The title was, “The Anointing of God on the Battlefield”.
In Sam’s words:“As I was watching, I felt something get fired up inside me. Suddenly, I knew my calling. I knew that God was calling me to be an evangelist. I said, ‘God, if that is how you can use people, then use me!’”
Inspired and motivated, Sam and his believing friends began to preach the Gospel to other inmates. They would invite men to come and watch these old tapes of Reinhard Bonnke preaching – and then they’d turn off the video player, and give an altar call. And hundreds of men got saved! Word spread like wildfire through the cells. Hardened criminals were getting saved, healed and delivered all over the place. A revival was happening inside the prison walls.
In faith, they prayed for the sick and saw wonderful miracles take place. When a man broke his back in the prison gym, Samuel received a word of knowledge that he would be walking again within 3 months. In less than a month, that man joyfully demonstrated that he was completely well. God was doing amazing things in their midst.
Pack your bags and get ready to go!
Samuel devoured all the CfaN tapes he could get his hands on, watching them over and over again. He studied the sermon notes, and did not hesitate to preach the Gospel and pray for the sick. And then he heard God clearly say to him, “What are you waiting for? Pack your bags and get ready to go to the nations with the Gospel!”
“Yes, Lord!” Samuel answered. But he was unsure of one thing. “Lord, what do you mean by ‘nations’? I can’t speak English, only Portuguese – so how am I going to preach out there?”
In his heart, Samuel heard the Lord say, “I will give you a baptism of English.” In faith, he reached for a fellow inmate’s English Bible, and flipped it open. Out loud, he read John 3:16. Those were his first spoken words in English – and from that moment on, he began to preach in English. He was ready to fulfill God’s call upon his life.
Free in mind, body and spirit
Samuel was already free in spirit, and now God freed his body. He received amnesty and was released from prison. In the years since then, he has gone from strength to strength. Once a prisoner of sin, now he preaches the Gospel far and wide. Through his ministry, thousands upon thousands have come to Jesus in South Africa, Kenya and Ethiopia.
He loves to tell the miracle story of how God turned a gangster into a man of God. And of how God called a young prisoner to be an evangelist through a video tape so old, it’s a miracle it still played.
God’s multiplier effect
We humans don’t really understand God’s arithmetic. The Gospel has a built-in miraculous multiplication effect that goes far beyond what we, with our limited lifespans, can imagine. The person who gets saved today will share the Good News with others, who will share with others, and so on and so on. Only in heaven will we truly understand the mathematics of eternity!
What we know, with all our hearts, is that we have a job to do. We have a task to accomplish. Every bit of effort that goes into our Gospel Campaigns and Fire Conferences is part of this multiplication plan. Every donation, big and small, is sowing for eternity. And in God’s economy, it is all multiplied beyond our imagination.
Thank you for joining your faith with ours, and helping us to plant fruit that will last in Africa and all over the world.
Together with you in Jesus,
Evangelist Daniel Kolenda
P.S. In 2019, many seeds of eternal value were planted through this ministry. Give God the glory with us, as we look back on the year at cfan.eu/review. And thank you, if you are able to help us reach more people like Sam.