Less than three miles from Kajang Prison, where he was incarcerated for twenty-six years, Sam shares his testimony at a rehabilitation center in Kuala Lumpur. It’s where Crossroads Malaysia holds discipleship sessions using Crossroads Bible studies.
Sam has an incredible story of how God removed him from a violent gang life and rescued him after twenty-eight painful years behind bars. Sam, who now participates in the Crossroads Malaysia discipleship program, is passionate about helping those who have lost their way like he did. He now has the opportunity to share his story with drug addicts, beggars, and homeless youth.
It’s a powerful story that began during his childhood in the Malaysian highlands. When Sam was thirteen, his mom died, and he had to move to Kuala Lumpur to live with his aunt’s family. He began selling newspapers and cigarettes at a roadside stall to support himself. After a few years, Sam dropped out of school to lead a gang of thirty other boys, including ten of his classmates.
The money and worldly attractions of the gang lifestyle were great temptations. To protect himself and his gang, he smuggled a gun across the Malaysia–Thailand border. For fifteen years, Sam rose through the ranks of one of the biggest gang networks in Malaysia.
Life as he knew it came to a halt when one of his debt collection meetings went awry and a debtor refused to pay back his loan. Enraged, Sam pulled out his gun, fired warning shots into the wall, and commanded the man to empty his safe.
“My actions in those few minutes turned my life upside down and led to me being put behind bars,” Sam said.
For two years, while Sam waited for his trial in Pudu Jail, he lived in a small, crowded cell infested with lice and bedbugs. He and his ten cellmates had to take turns sleeping, and the bucket they used for a toilet was only emptied once a day. “Awaiting the date of my trial was the most painful time in my life. . . . I had never appreciated the freedom I had until I was placed behind bars,” Sam said.
In the early days of his incarceration, Sam held on to the hope that he would be bailed out by his gang network. But after he received his life sentence, he sank into self-pity and hopelessness.
Shortly after being transferred to Kajang Prison, he was invited to join a Bible study. At this point, he had little experience with or interest in Christianity. One of the first glimpses he had of Scripture had been some torn pages that covered the bucket in his cell at Pudu Jail.
After a year of attending Bible studies, he recognized the value of those pages, asked God for forgiveness, and turned his life over to Christ. Hungry to learn more, Sam read the Bible from cover to cover four times that year.
“I had to be brought down to my knees before I could see that there was Someone far greater than Sam Kian Seng. My pride dissipated, and I began to see a great light,” said Sam.
Although he was still facing life in prison, Sam watched his life transform. “As God changed my life, my passion to serve Him grew,” he said. He stepped in to help lead worship and disciple newcomers at the prison.
In 2016, Sam was surprised to hear that an application he had submitted for a royal pardon was accepted. After twenty-eight years in prison, at fifty-nine years old, Sam was released on good behavior.
After his release, he quickly looked for ways to share the Gospel that had transformed his life. One of the ways he has done this is through a book he published in Malaysia, Kajang Redemption, in which he shares his testimony.
“I am certain that the things that happened in my life were God’s lessons for me, preparing me to face the future,” said Sam. “I believe God has worked all things out for good according to His perfect plan and timing, and He continues to do so. I look forward to seeing what He has in store for me ahead.”
This year, Crossroads Malaysia celebrates its tenth anniversary of ministry. As we witness life-changing stories like Sam’s, we eagerly anticipate the next decade of God’s transformative work. Join us in praying that more doors will open for our leaders around the world as they faithfully answer the call to care for people in prison.
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