Stephen Lungu’s mother gave birth to him when she was fourteen. Things went downhill from there for both of them.
The Zimbabwean teen-age girl had been forced to marry a fifty-year old man. A brother then a sister quickly followed Stephan and the young lady found herself with three children before her twentieth birthday.
Horror ruled the home. The child watched his father, a respected man in his church, beat his mother. Church was one thing but the man was an animal at home.
“The only time we smiled was when he left for work,” Stephan remembers.
The four-year old tried to intervene to help his mother when the beatings started and got pushed against the wall for his troubles. Once his head was bleeding and a rage burned in his young heart, “Let me grow up. I’ll kill you!” he thought. “I wanted to kill him every day.”
Finally his mother could take no more and she ran away to another city. There she left the six-year old with little brother and younger sister while she went to the bathroom.
She never came back.
The children waited for hours and finally the police found them. They were separated and it was 39 years before Stephan saw his sister again.
For four years he bounced back and forth between cranky relatives and the orphanage.
When he and his brother were placed in an orphanage it was worse than their broken home. Some of the bigger boys beat him and when he told the person in charge, the man asked for names.
The child didn’t know their names but the man insisted, beating him with twelve lashes because he couldn’t tell. Stephan cried out in his heart, “God, if you’re there I hate you! Why did you create me to suffer in this world?”
One day the man beat him again but the boy made up his mind he wouldn’t cry. Twelve lashes rained down on his back but no tears escaped from his eyes. The man was determined to make him cry and gave him twelve more blows but he still didn’t cry.
Something changed in Stephen that day. “When a boy doesn’t cry you’ve created a dangerous creature. Those tears that you hold back, they hurt you.”
Finally, he had enough and he ran away from the orphanage at the age of ten to live on his own on the street.
“God, in his mercy took care of this young boy,” he says, even though he wanted to kill himself three times.
At ten years of age, he tried drugs for the first time. He was eleven when he first stabbed someone. He would scavenge for food in trash bins in the white areas of town.
Later, he joined a gang called the Black Shadows which was composed of boys like him who came from broken homes.
In the racial system of that time, all the power was concentrated in the hands of the white people and Stephan learned to hate anyone who was white. He wanted to kill them. “I would say, ‘You kill the white man first, then you greet him. A white man who speaks makes a slave out of you.”
Stephan joined a group that the government called terrorists. They called themselves freedom fighters. “We fought for our liberty. We weren’t terrorists. We fought so that we wouldn’t be oppressed any longer.”
He learned to bomb buildings and fight against the government.
When he was twenty, he and some friends were going to bomb a bank frequented by whites when we saw a big tent. “Three thousand people were inside, praising Jesus. I was angry because for me Jesus was the white man’s God.”
He told his men that they were going to surround the tent and shoot into it with their AK-47s. First of all though, they planned to go into the tent and see the people they were going to kill.
“It’s good to give God two minutes,” he said.
“Everyone sang choruses. We sang out of tune. A pretty girl told how she had become a Christian.” Stephan was surprised because he thought religion was for old grandmas. But this young lady’s face shined.
The evangelist who preached was black. He had a disconcerting way of pointing his finger when he preached and Stephan felt it was often aimed at him. He said to his friend next to him, “Why did you tell the preacher about my sins? …That finger made me restless.”
The young man would duck down each time the finger pointed his way but it didn’t help him. “You can’t hide from the finger of God.
“Suddenly I began to understand what Christianity was all about. It was for someone like me! I could identify with this Jesus. He had suffered in all the ways that I knew so well. Poverty, oppression, hunger, thirst, loneliness. I had known all of these, and so had he…My wages were death, but Jesus paid the price for me. On the cross he had become a nobody so that I could become a somebody.”
“I got under conviction (for my sins) and I cried out, ‘God have mercy on me…God, I have nothing. I am nothing. I can’t read. I can’t write. My parents don’t want me. Take me up, God, take me up. I’m sorry for the bad things I’ve done. Jesus, forgive me, and take me now’ …
“I invited Jesus into my life. I was a new creature. The desire for drugs left.”
The next day he went to the police station to confess his crimes. After grilling him for eight hours, another miracle took place as the police told him, “If God forgives you, we do too.”
Stephan began to share his testimony on the streets and many people came to know the Lord Jesus. He was even able to see his painful past in another light. He feels it helped him in his ministry to others. “God prepared me by my sufferings,” he said. “My passion is to win souls and to walk with my Lord Jesus.”
God gave him a well-educated wife. “He brought us together for a purpose,” he says.
He also delivered him from hating white people. He now has a white daughter-in-law.
He preaches all over the world these days and he is amazed at how God has used him. “God can take a nobody and send him all over.”
Stephan is 71. Twenty years ago, a lady came to one of his meetings and God touched her powerfully. She stayed after the service and Stephan told her to come back the next day.
She insisted on talking to him and shared something that floored him: “After listening to your testimony, I think you must be my son!”
And the evangelist experienced another healing. He forgave his mother. He built a house for her and took care of her. He eventually preached her funeral service and many people came to the Lord that day.
“God can give you the strength to forgive and be reconciled,” Stephan says simply.
Source consulted: https://urbana.org/blog/stephen-lungu