Faith

Fugitive no more: God cleans up one convict’s mess

Arul John // December 29, 2019, 11:00 am

Young Kingsley Morrando

Bad boy and proud of it: Kingsley Morrando was mired in drink and drugs from a young age. All photos by Arul John.

When he was four, Kingsley Morrando watched his father die of a heart attack in front of him. Then, at 18, he was at home when his mother suffered a fall in the kitchen.

“It was 6am and I was asleep that day when I heard a loud thud outside my room. I jumped out of bed and opened my room door to see my mother on her back on the kitchen floor.”

“You had better save her! You understand me?”

His mother was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance where the doctor on duty told him to call her next-of-kin. “I grabbed the doctor and shouted at her: ‘You had better save her! You understand me?’

“I ran to her and held her. I was in a mess.

“I tried to say goodbye but couldn’t get the words out – and that was when I saw her breathe her last,” recalled Morrando. “I remember running out of the hospital bawling.”

Downward spiral

Already a rebellious teenager with a prior conviction in court for armed robbery, Morrando was a drug addict and alcoholic who was highly involved in gang activities.

A police mugshot photo of Kingsley Morrando for armed robbery. Photos by Arul John

Wanted for armed robbery: A police mugshot of the young Kingsley Morrando made his identity public.

After his mother’s death, he hit rock bottom. “I became very angry at God and had no consideration for anything or anyone, including myself.”

He recounted: “I was raised a Catholic and was an altar boy from the age of six to eight. But I started to question the dogmas and traditions, among many other things, and my mother and I did not agree with the answers we got.

“I became very angry at God and had no consideration for anything or anyone, including myself.”

“We left the church and my mother and I later attended a charismatic church, where I was converted and baptised.”

Morrando learnt about Jesus in Sunday school. Nonetheless, by his own admission, “life spiralled out of control”. He failed his ‘O’ levels for the second time and that year, he was arrested for heroin consumption.

By 23, he had done time in prison for several offences. Feeling fed up with Singapore’s laws, Morrando decided to leave Singapore for Canada using the money from a trust fund that his late parents had set up for him.

He spent 15 years there as an illegal immigrant and continued his drug addiction – this time, on cocaine.

Momentarily sober

Even so, God was not far from him. Morrando recalled a miraculous incident where he was driven to cry out to God for help.

One day, after using cocaine in a “crack shack”, Morrando was high and decided to go out and get some air. “While I was on the porch, I felt as if my heart was going to jump out of my chest! Everything was spinning, the air became very thin, I was gasping.

“I cried out to God; I didn’t want to die like this!”

“I cried out to God; I didn’t want to die like this! The next thing I knew, the ‘high’ had left my body and I was completely sober! I got up off the floor and just left.”

Instead of turning back to God, however, Morrando returned to bad company, drugs and alcohol. 

The turning point came in the form of a call from the Canadian immigration authorities.

“They called my home and said they were investigating me for being an illegal immigrant. I went on the run but was eventually caught. Then I spent a few months in a Canadian jail before I posted bail with the money my friends raised for me.”

He admitted: “I initially contemplated forfeiting the bail money and going back on the run. But I realised that I had enough and decided to return to Singapore and face the music.”

Home, for good 

Morrando confessed to overstaying in Canada and at the age of 38, was deported to Singapore, but due to a statute of limitations, he was only charged with leaving without a valid exit permit.

“When I attended court several months later, I was fined $5,000 and in default, spent 30 days in jail instead.

“I wondered why my life was spared as I had done things that would have got me the noose had I been caught.”

“I lost most of my friends when I returned to Singapore. I had no money or family either.”

That was when he finally turned back to God.

“I had been beaten, stabbed, bottled, pistol whipped, piped, slashed, shot at, had my nose broken three times, overdosed and was left for dead – among other things. I wondered why my life was spared as I had done things that would have got me the noose had I been caught.

“That was when I saw how God had preserved my life, and how He had been patient and kind to me, and decided to return to Him.”

Morrando decided to give back to society, especially youths at risk.

Kingsley Morrando with Pastor Leon Stewart of St Paul's Church (extreme left) and members of Band of Brothers. Photo by Arul John

Kingsley Morrando with Pastor Leon Stewart of St Paul’s Church (extreme left) and members of the Circle of Brothers.

Sins washed white

He now owns his own renovation and remodelling business, and regularly visits Tanah Merah Prison’s Reformative Training Centre where those under 21 convicted of offences such as theft, assault and drug abuse are sent.

In October 2019, Morrando was recognised with the prison’s Long Service Award in recognition of his five years of service.

The turnaround was as written in Isaiah 1:18: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

God’s gift of a new life: Kingsley Morrando and his wife, Cathy.

Morrando said: “God showed me mercy and grace that I did not deserve by preserving my life on numerous occasions. From being someone with a very short fuse, I now look at things through the lens of the One who took my place at the Cross, and am more forgiving.”

“I now look at things through the lens of the One who took my place at the Cross.”

When he started attending a new church in his area, he tried to persuade his then-girlfriend, Cathy, to join him but she initially rejected him.

When old acquaintances ran into him, they were wary as well. Soon, however, they realised that his life was truly changed and that he was the real deal.

Today, Cathy and Morrando are happily married and attend the same church, seeing God manifest Himself in amazing ways in their lives.

Morrando is also part of the Circle of Brothers, a group of ex-offenders working with the Singapore Prison Service to inspire inmates with their stories and provide them with guidance and friendship.

High on drugs, he fell 15 storeys and not only lived to tell the tale but to transform his life

About the author

Arul John

Arul John contributed this story for Salt&Light, a platform to facilitate marketplace unity in Singapore and the region.