Morris' Contemporaries

While God used Samuel Morris in amazing ways, his story is filled with other extraordinary people of faith. Below are just a few of the individuals who were instrumental in Morris' life.

Stephen Merritt

Stephen Merritt was an affluent New Yorker who, at the time Morris met him, was serving as the pastor of the St. James Methodist Episcopal Church in Manhattan. Merritt had formerly served as secretary to Bishop William Taylor and his African Missions. Lizzie Macneil, a young missionary who was preparing to leave for Liberia, had been encouraged and mentored by Merritt for her upcoming service.

Shortly after arriving in Africa, MacNeil met Samuel Morris. His thirst to learn about the Holy Spirit exhausted her of all she could offer. MacNeil suggested he travel to America to receive further instruction from Stephen Merritt. Upon meeting him, Morris called out, "I have come from Africa to talk to you about the Holy Spirit." Merritt took the boy in and exclaimed to his wife Morris was "An Angel in Ebony."

At Merritt's church, Morris ministered to a packed congregation who sent him to Taylor University in Fort Wayne, Indiana where he could be trained to minister to his own people. Three days later he boarded a train for Fort Wayne. Nearly 10,000 conversions took place between then and the time Merritt retired from the pastorate—many might not have occurred apart from the influence of the young African who was so deeply committed to Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit.

Stephen Merritt died on January 29, 1917.

Henry O'Neil: The firstfruit of Morris' ministry

Henry O’Neil was born in Africa, baptized with an American name, traveled to the States in search of education and eventually found himself at Taylor University. Henry O'Neil wrote Samuel Morris a letter on April 18th, 1893.

In the biography Samuel Morris (Prince Kaboo), Thaddeus Reade details the story of how Samuel Morris' friend, Henry O'Neil, came to America. Sammy wanted to quit school to work to bring Henry to America. The same evening of this conversation, Reade wrote a letter to Mrs. Drake, who with her noble husband had been missionaries in Africa until her husband passed, to see if anything could be done. The next morning Sammy came into Reade’s office and said, “Mr. Reade, I very happy this morning. Father tell me Henry shall come.”

A few days later, Reade received a letter from Mrs. Drake saying measures were already on foot to bring Henry over. In a few months, he came and after spending time learning, he went back to Africa to preach to his people.

Less than a month before Morris' death, O'Neil wrote to Samuel discussing his own struggle with sickness and his faith in the Lord. This letter is the only known correspondence to Samuel Morris in existence. Nearly a decade after Morris' death, his dream of having Henry O'Neil come to Taylor was fulfilled. After returning from Africa, O'Neil arrived on Upland's campus in August 1904.