Monday, 9 June 2008

out of hatred & violence - a true story

Stephen Lungu was born in Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harare in Zimbabwe) in the last days of the white minority rule. His teenage mother left her arranged marriage to a much older man and abandoned Stephen, aged three, and his younger brother and sister to the reluctant care of an aunt.

For the next few years, Stephen experienced abuse and hard times in orphanages and with relatives. He began staying out at nights and drifted into life on the streets, sleeping under bridges, scavenging food from the rubbish bins of well-off whites, and stealing when he could.

Once, when Stephen was in his early teens, he met his mother again, and tried to kill her, but missed with his knife. In despair, he fled and tried to hang himself.

Stephen joined other friends to form an urban gang, the Black Shadows. They combined criminal activity, mostly robbery at knifepoint, with violence and thuggery.

By now it was the late 1950s, and the movement to achieve black majority government in Rhodesia was attractive to young blacks. Members of the Black Shadows, including Stephen, were recruited into the liberation struggle, indoctrinated and trained.

Soon he was joining in a welter of revolutionary activities - petrol bomb attacks in parks, beer gardens, churches, political meetings and even on police cars. Then, aged just 16, Stephen joined a group of a dozen heading for the local shopping centre to petrol bomb a bank. But on their way they came across a christian mission in a large circus tent.

Stephen's hatred of the white man's religion welled up and he hastily arranged a plan to spread out around the outside of the tent, and mount a coordinated petrol bomb attack.

But before they carried out the plan, the group went inside to check it all out. They were about to leave when a pretty young black girl began to speak. Intrigued, Stephen listened as the girl, from Soweto in South Africa, told of her life and her faith in Jesus. Deep inside he felt a yearning for something better than the dirty life he was living.

Then the preacher got up and talked of violence and death, sin and forgiveness, despair and hope. Stephen wanted to talk to him, and moved to the front of the tent. Then violence erupted as petrol bombs were thrown and people fled. In the midst of the violence, Stephen and the preacher talked.

Stephen could not believe his life had any hope, even with Jesus. But the preacher listened to Stephen's story with compassion, then told him his own story, of abandonment at birth, a similar sense of despair, and the hope and purpose he now knew.

This was exactly what Stephen needed, and he left the tent that night, creeping through the darkness outside where the chaos was being dispelled by the riot squad, with a new faith in Jesus and a sense of hope and peace he had never known before.

Stephen learnt to read, married and had children and became a christian evangelist. Now in his sixties, he is the head of Africa Enterprise, a large mission, reconciliation and social welfare organisation that operates throughout the continent.

Read Stephen Lungu's story in a little more detail, or read about Africa Enterprise.

1 comment:

  1. I first heard his story at a church a couple of weeks ago and I was so moved; sometimes it really is the most broken and hating souls that are most powerfully affected with Jesus's message; because the very idea of grace gives a kind of hope and peace that stops hatred in its path!


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