Sam Ennis memorial

SERMON TOPIC: Sam Ennis memorial

Speaker: Ken Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 23 July 2016

Topic Groups: DEATH

Sermon synopsis: Sam was born in 1932 in Belfast, at the Royal Victoria Hospital. He lived his early life in a small, terraced home with his grandparents in East Belfast. His first job as a teenager was delivering newspapers and medicines. He said he then spent his life delivering the good news and the healing message of Jesus. Sam came to faith when he was fifteen. Someone invited him to a Salvation Army meeting: Sam went, but the friend did not, so Sam sat on the end of the row planning his escape, but he stayed. When the appeal was made to accept Jesus, he found himself responding, prompted by the power of the Spirit.
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A reflection on the life of Sam Ennis 1932-2016.

(John Gosling)

Sam was born in 1932 in Belfast, at the Royal Victoria Hospital. He lived his early life in a small, terraced home with his grandparents in East Belfast. His first job as a teenager was delivering newspapers and medicines. He said he then spent his life delivering the good news and the healing message of Jesus. Sam came to faith when he was fifteen. Someone invited him to a Salvation Army meeting: Sam went, but the friend did not so Sam sat on the end of the row planning his escape, but he stayed. When the appeal was made to accept Jesus, he found himself responding, prompted by the power of the Spirit.

Sam Ennis 1932-2016.

That night he blew the dust off a Bible and commenced reading from Genesis. He continued to attend the Salvation Army church and became a member. When Sam was just 20 he was invited to be the senior elder.

We entered Bible College together in 1955. On completion of his studies Sam was appointed to Newry in Northern Ireland in 1957 and two years later to Enniskillen where he remained for seven years. My brother-in-law was stationed in a nearby military base and often went to Enniskillen on Sundays. Why? Because he discovered the value of Sam’s preaching and teaching.

In 1966 Sam, who was still a bachelor, was appointed to Manchester where, after two years, pressure of work took its toll on his health. His Christian doctor advised him to spend time in South Africa where the climate would be more suitable for his asthmatic condition.

Sam Ennis 1932-2016.

Sam was met in South Africa by John Bond a leading member of the Assemblies of God. On the first evening John asked Sam (who had been unable to preach for many months due to ill health) if he would preach. In faith Sam accepted and thence followed a quickly arranged tour for Sam to preach in many churches in South Africa.

After some months Sam arrived at one of his preaching venues and took his seat on the platform. At that moment 14- year Linda crept up to Louise and whispered ‘Lou that’s the man!’ It was a prophetic word. A few nights later Sam invited Louise for a quiet evening walk in the moonlight. Two weeks later they were engaged and after four months were married on the 23rd May, 1970 in Roodepoort Assembly.

Following a honeymoon in Ireland, Sam and Louise took up ministry in a Free Methodist Church in North Belfast where they served during the bombings and unrest of those dark years, before being called to serve in Roodepoort as pastor. Sam and Louise were blessed by the birth of their sons, Patrick and Stephen.

Sam, Louise and the family.

Sam Ennis leaves Ireland. (Louise)

In 1968, Sam who was at that time “Commanding Officer (Pastor) of the local Salvation Army Corp in Cofermanagh was urged by the chest Doctor to go to South Africa for health reasons. Eight months later after prayerful consideration he sailed for SA and was met by John Bond in Cape Town.

He preached his first sermon in Fish- hoek and the same night, arrangements were made for Sam to travel through all four Provinces of South Africa , Southern and Northern Rhodesia and Mozambique to preach and so throughout 1969 he did so making life long friends wherever he went.

Sam meets Louise.

In January 1970, on Sam’s first night preaching in Van Der Bijl Park, he encountered Louise who was singing in a ladies trio and 2 weeks later he formally asked her father for her hand in marriage. The date was set for 23rd May 1970, and it was the start of a 46 year marriage.

After the proposal Sam worked under Bro Mike Attlee in the Coastal Assemblies until the end of April 1970 and then returned to Roodepoort for the “Big Day”

In July 1970 Sam and Louise flew to Ireland to meet his parents and there he accepted a pastorate for 2 years and 3 months and they then returned to SA in October 1972 to take up the call to Roodepoort Assembly where he faithfully pastored the Assembly for 30 years, and around you is some of the evidence of God’s blessing on that ministry.

Sam and the AOG & AGF etc.

Sam served on the Board of Trustees for the Assembly of God and then for 20 or so years was the Chairperson of the Assembly of God Fellowship until he retired from the Roodepoort Assembly in 2002.

He was guest speaker for the week long “Intercessors for SA” conference for 11 years and was also invited to serve on the Board of Trustees of “Jews for Jesus” which he regarded as a great honour.

After his retirement in 2002 he preached by invitation, most Sundays, at AGF, AOG, Brethren, Baptist, Independent and Methodist Churches, once again forming many friendships that brought blessing into both his and Louise’s lives.

Sam’s departure.

In 2013 after a visit to his family Stephen, Patrick, Kate and the grand children, Isaac and Eirlys in the UK, Sam was diagnosed with heart failure and advised to stop preaching.

During his slow recovery, Sam often quoted from

Philippians 1:23.

“For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ which is much better...”

Only the thought of leaving Louise kept him from making this a prayer.

In the last 3 years, Sam accepted the occasional invitation to minister, the last been Sunday 29 May at The Salvation Army Church Penzance, Cornwall, UK

Sam’s departure.

In this last Sermon, Sam used one of his most loved portion of Scripture.

Psalm 103:1-5.

Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.

Sam died quietly at 8.52pm (UK time) on the 2nd of June.

Sam Ennis.

Special Easter services at Bethshan tabernacle, Bulawayo {24th April 1973}

Man’s average lifespan.

One of man’s greatest quests through medical science is to prolong life.

Up to the flood: Over 900 years Genesis 5

After the flood: Reduced to 120 years Genesis 6:3.

iii. Subsequent average: 70-80 years Psalms 90:10. Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty........

iv. In the Millennium man’s lifespan is increased. Isaiah 65:20. Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.


God himself ordained for man to die. Genesis 3:22-24. And the Lord God said, The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever. So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

God instituted death as a blessing to grant redemption from this body that is under sin’s curse.

Romans 7:23-25.

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 8:23. we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.


It is not good for fallen man to live too long. Genesis 6:1-3. Then the Lord said, My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.

You may think it gives a person more time to repent, but

76% of Christians decided to follow Jesus Christ before the age 16.

85% of Christians decided to follow Jesus Christ before the age 21.

The older you get the harder your heart gets.

Ecclesiastes 12:1 Remember your Creator in

the days of your youth,


I don’t claim to understand death and sickness, but I know that both are as a result of man’s original sin.

In Acts 8 Stephen was stoned to death but Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were delivered from the fiery furnace.

God protected Job’s life, but all his children died.

Incorrect teaching on sickness and death has destroyed the faith of some immature Christians and believers need to be reminded that faith does not make us immune to death and disease but enables us to cope with them and be more than conquerors.

Romans 8:36-37. As it is written: For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

James killed but Peter freed.

Acts 12:1-4. King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also.

Acts 12:5-7. So Peter was kept in prison, but fervent prayer for him was persistently made to God by the church.......... And suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the place where he was. And the angel gently smote Peter on the side and awakened him, saying. Get up quickly! And the chains fell off his hands.

Paul spent much time in prison.

Peter was set free from prison by an angel, but this was not the case for Paul the Apostle.

Acts 20:22,23.

Prisons and hardships are facing me.

2 Corinthians 11:23.

In prisons more frequent.

Ephesians 3:1.

Paul refers to himself as a prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Imagine if Peter wrote a book “How to get out of prison with Angel intervention” Those doing prison ministry would have always recommended that Paul read it.

John was imprisoned and then beheaded.

In the case of John the Baptist, he got offended with Jesus for leaving him in prison.

Matthew 11:2-6.

When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else? Jesus replied, Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.

Remember that Jesus read Isaiah 61 in the synagogue in Nazareth.

Jesus had come to set the captives free.

Luke 4:16-21. (Isaiah 61)

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour. Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.

Setting the captives free.

Setting the captives free from imprisonment from man was not the focus and thrust of Jesus ministry, in fact many Christians today are imprisoned because of their faith in Jesus and for sharing that faith with others.

John the Baptist was not going to be set free, in fact he would be put to death by Herod to honour the promise to his wife’s daughter who had impressed him with her dancing.

Which prisoners did Jesus come to set free?

Setting the captives free.

Ephesians 4:8-10.

When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people. What does he ascended mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.

Jesus told his disciples that the gates of Hades would not prevail against His Church (Matthew 16:18)


Because he came to set the captives free, before he died on the cross no-one who died went to Heaven, they went to Hades where the righteous and the unrighteous were separated by a chasm that no-one could cross.

Setting the captives free.

Luke 16:22-26.

The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire. But Abraham replied, Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.

Setting the captives free from Hades.

Remember Jesus on the cross said to he the thief next to him.

Luke 23:43. Today you will be with me in paradise”. But Jesus was not going to Heaven, he was on his way from the cross to spend 3 days in the heart of the earth.

Matthew 12:40. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.


Revelation 1:18. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

Jesus was going to open those gates and set the captives free and the Church would never have to go there like the Old Testament saints had to, as the price of sin had been paid.

These are the captives referred to in

Ephesians 4:8.

Sheol & Hades.

The Greek word “Hades” in the New Testament and the Hebrew word “Sheol” in the Old Testament refer to the same place.

Psalm 16:10. Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (Sheol)

Acts 2:27. Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (Hades)

Jesus did not go to the wicked dead in Hades were but to Abraham’s bosom/ paradise to set the captives free and His promise in Matthew 16:18 is that His Church, would not have to go to (Hades) where the people of the Old Covenant went to when they died. He conquered death and Hades.

Teaching that Jesus when to Hell and was tormented by demons is false doctrine. On the cross He said “IT IS FINISHED” and the veil in the temple was torn in two, signifying that the work of atonement was finished and the way into the Holy of Holies was open.

The idea of Satan poking people in hell with a fork and his demons are tormenting them does not come from God’s Word, but from supposed out of body experiences that some testify of and comic books which take their queue from medieval art.

Sheol & Hades.

The Hebrew word Sheol appears 65 times in the Old Testament.

In the KJV

31 times it is translated “Hell”

31 times it is translated “Grave”

3 times it is translated “Pit”

3 different translations for the same word

In the New Testament (KJV)

Luke16:22-23. Jesus said “the rich man died and was buried and in hell” (Hades)

Matthew 23:33. Jesus said “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can you escape the damnation of hell” (Gehenna)

2 Peter 2:4. For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell (Tartarus)

3 different words, 3 different places, all translated hell.

Setting men free from the fear of death.

Not only did Jesus set those free who had already died and gone to Hades, he freed those still alive but held in bondage by their fear of death.

Hebrews 2:14,15.

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death that is, the devil and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

Christians should not be afraid of death.

Christians should not be afraid of death.

In fact the Christian walk starts with a burial.

Colossians 2:12.

Having been buried with him in baptism,

in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

Galatians 2:20. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.

The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Paul’s perspective on death.

The problem is that the modern day preaching of wealth and health and a life of blessing devoid of the suffering, that Jesus warned us we would have, has deceived people, and made the followers of the cheap Gospel prioritize this life above the next.

Philippians 1:20-25.

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me.

Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.

God’s perspective on death.

Psalm 116:15.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants

Isaiah 57:1-2.

The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.

Does it matter if we live a life that glorifies God?

Don’t we all as Believers end up in Heaven?

1 Corinthians 15:35-42.

But someone will ask, How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come? How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. Not all flesh is the same:

People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendour of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendour of the earthly bodies is another.

The sun has one kind of splendour, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendour.

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead.

The rewards of the Christian.

Hebrews 2:9.

But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

2 Timothy 4 6- 8.

The time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

James 1:12. (The crown of life)

1 Peter 5:4. (The crown of glory)

1 Corinthians 9:25. (An incorruptible crown)

1 Thessalonians 2:19-20. (Crown of rejoicing)

The Resurrection of the dead.

Even in death, Sam has left us with a life lesson.

He wanted no tributes at his funeral . It is not what man thinks or says that is important, that is our reputation, God’s opinion is the one that matters.

Reputation is what man thinks we are.

Character is what God knows we are.

Sam reached the place where he felt that he needed to step aside and make place for a younger man, both in his own Church and in the AGF. He didn’t try hold on to position or rank and had a distaste for titles.

One of the things that I appreciated, was his regular visits to Brakpan AGF to minister.

Unlike some of the TV personality preachers who will not come minister at your church unless it is a certain size and the cheque is big enough and you put them and their entourage up in the right 5 star hotel, Sam was prepared to come to a small church in a low income community, just like Jesus who instead of always wanting a crowd, was there at the well to minister to just one woman, a Samaritan woman, one who had been married 5 times and was now living with a man.

My relationship with Sam.

Sam was there for me through the very good and very bad times in my 28 years in Ministry.

Calling, induction, Anti-porn campaign, divorce and Church problems, re- marriage.

Finishing Strong (Steve Farrar)

Sam finished strong.


You’re Not Home Yet An old missionary couple had been working in Africa for years, and they were returning to New York City to retire. They had no pension; their health was broken; they were defeated, discouraged, and afraid. They discovered they were booked on the same ship as President Teddy Roosevelt, who was returning from one of his big-game hunting expeditions. No one paid much attention to them. They watched the fanfare that accompanied the president’s entourage, with passengers trying to catch a glimpse of the great man.

As the ship moved across the ocean, the old missionary said to his wife, Something is wrong. Why should we have given our lives in faithful service for God in Africa all these many years and have no one care a thing about us? Here this man comes back from a hunting trip and everybody makes much over him, but nobody gives two hoots about us.

Dear, you shouldn’t feel that way, his wife said. I can’t help it; it doesn’t seem right. When the ship docked in New York, a band was waiting to greet the president. The mayor and other dignitaries were there. The papers were full of the president’s arrival, but no one noticed this missionary couple.


They slipped off the ship and found a cheap flat on the East side, hoping the next day to see what they could do to make a living in the city. That night, the man’s spirit broke. He said to his wife, I can’t take this; God is not treating us fairly.

His wife replied, "Why don’t you go into the bedroom and tell that to the Lord? A short time later he came out from the bedroom, but now his face was completely different. His wife asked, Dear, what happened?

The Lord settled it with me, he said. I told him how bitter I was that the president should receive this tremendous homecoming, when no one met us as we returned home. And when I finished, it seemed as though the Lord put his hand on my shoulder and simply said, ‘But you’re not home yet!

I’d rather have my reward in heaven, and for years and decades and centuries and millennia and eternity to have a body that reflects a life of faithfulness and commitment and service to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.


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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

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