On 25th of July 2016, Sam Kian Seng was released by royal pardon from his 28 years of imprisonment in Kajang Prison, thanks to a campaign led by Star Media Group chief executive officer and group managing director Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai.
“Although I prayed for God to release me from prison, I believe God has His proper timing. All these things that happened in prison were like a tuition to me, so that I can face the world,” said Sam, who completed reading the Bible from cover to cover, four times in a year.
On 1st of September, Sam spoke at the Full Gospel Business Men Fellowship (FGBMF) of Damansara Utama led by Bro Victor Liew. Sam shared about how real God was to him in prison. Though he was locked behind bars, the Lord’s freedom was in him (1 Cor 7:22a).
For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord’s freedman (1 Cor 7:22a)
Raised in a poor family of 12 children, he moved from Pahang to Chow Kit, to work for his aunt before he turned 12 years old. His parents was only earning RM140 per month to feed the whole family at that time.
A place plagued by gangsterism, spending time in the streets Chow Kit eventually led him to join gangsterism. When he grew up, he found a lucrative job of becoming a debt colletor by day and a club bouncer by night.
However, things took a turn for the worse when Sam was charged for gun possession. He was convicted of natural life term, which doomed him to die in prison by the court on September 13, 1988. He was only 31 years at that time.
The first three years behind Kajang Prison was hardest for him, as he struggled to accept his sentence. After that, he came to accept his circumstance and calmed himself down.
During then, Sam was invited to join a Malaysian Care gathering who would come weekly to share the Word of God. “I asked myself, ‘What can this God do for me?’ I have worshipped all kinds of random gods before.”
So, he llstened to the Word of God spoken from the Bible, every Tuesday and Sunday. Wrought with anxiety and fear, he prayed to God to change him and give him peace. “I believe that the Spirit of God is present even though we are in prison.”
He also began to learn to read his bilingual Bible and prayed to God for wisdom to read and understand English with his Oxford dictionary. From not being able to properly pronounce ‘A’ to ‘Z’, he could speak English in six months!
As he read and understood the Bible, he began to develop reverence for God. The fellow inmate who was leading worship at that time, was taking drugs, smoking and causing trouble in prison. Disturbed with his lack of holy reverence, Sam began to pray to God for wisdom to sing and play the guitar, eventually taking over worship in the weekly gathering.
Not only that, he also found himself rejecting vulgarity, whether it was heard or spoken. “The Spirit of God was working in me to transform my life.”
Through the years, God has also helped deliver Sam from smoking 40 cigarettes a day, after he prayed and fasted for 72 hours without water. “We need to honour God with our body because God stays in our body (1 Cor 6:19), and that is wonderful. Don’t play a fool with God.” Today, he has been freed from smoking for 15 years.
As he grew in Word and Spirit, Sam led a chapel service in Kajang Prison with 60 men coming regularly. Their loud singing caused complains from jealous parties, which eventually led to the closing down of the chapel. However, when Sam retreated to worship in his room, the crowd got bigger than the chapel’s crowd! The authority decided to return the chapel as a place of worship to Sam. Praise God!
Sam also requested to do Bible study with the prison newcomers, one cell at a time. “The newcomers really need the Bible to comfort them. I believe the Bible can transform their lives. My life is a testimony to them. I said, ‘Uncle, look at me, I am staying in prison for life and I can go through this. You can go through this too.’”
Sam was highly respected by his fellow inmates. For example, his fellow inmates would stop discussing about inappropriate topics as he approached them. He would also readily give away soaps and toiletries to other prisoners, and helped to rehabilitate those that even prison wardens find hard to handle.
At one time, his fellow inmates also obeyed his instruction and refrained from breaking a spoilt clock that would annoyingly sound every 45 minutes. “I only asked people to do good and not the wrong things.” Even though the clock continued working for the next six months, Sam could always sleep through the night. “This became a testimony for God. I told those around me that my God is helping me.”
His patient and firm determination of wanting to be a good man, won the hearts of both his fellow inmates and prison wardens, so much so his appeal was supported by even the wardens.
After 28 years of serving in prison, Sam found a second chance of life at 59 years old. He will be starting his seminary education in Tung Ling Bible School this September. “I don’t know how my future is going to be, but I will wait on God to make all my decisions. I believe God will provide me a way. Brothers and sisters, please pray for me. I believe the prison has temptations but the world has more temptations. I need your prayers.”
From gangster to prison church leader, Sam has shown an amazing transformation, molded by the hands of the living God! ‘What is impossible with man is possible with God’ (Luke 18:27).
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