Stephen Lungu: from Zimbabwean gang member to follower of Christ
A freedom fighter in Zimbabwe. A follower of Marxist ideology. A man who never laughed or smiled. Stephen Lungu once hated God.
Now, the man Lungu used to be has been forgotten. His sins have been erased by God and even by the African authorities.
Lungu visited Granada Heights Friends Church in La Mirada on Sunday, Oct. 2 to share his incredible story.
Life on the streets of Zimbabwe
Born to a mother only 14 years old, Lungu was a burden to her and she left him on the street at the age of four with his younger brother and sister. He didn’t know how to care for his siblings at all. His sister was taken to a hospital while he and his brother were brought to an orphanage, where he was beaten and abused.
After only a few years, he turned to the streets. The underpass of a bridge in the city was his home for almost 20 years. He recounts times he would wake up with poisonous snakes surrounding him.
But at this point, God was still the pinnacle of Lungu’s hatred. Instead of submitting himself to God’s authority, he took control with his own hands, his own weapons. Lungu joined the gang called The Black Shadows, known for its relentless beatings and killings.
Lungu believed communism was the only way for Africa to be run.
“God, indeed you had purpose for my life,” Lungu said, now looking back at how God brought him through many dangerous situations.
Because the Bible was brought to Africa by the white men, Lungu thought that all the white men did was brainwash the African people.
“I never used to laugh until when I accepted Jesus at the age of 20,” Lungu said. “That was the first time I laughed.”
A joyful man today, Lungu is hard to imagine angry.
Identifying with Christ
One day, on a mission along with other freedom fighters set out to fulfill a terrorist attack on a local bank, where many white people often went. On the way to the bank they came across a tent church. Lungu, in his disgust for the church, led his group to blow up the church instead.
The entire gang sat in the back row of the service.
“So we went inside to be there for two minutes only,” Lungu said. “There was a beautiful girl and she put me off balance.”
The preacher went on to read two verses: Romans 6:23 and 2 Corinthians 8:9. As he spoke about the life of Jesus, Lungu realized he identified with Jesus.
“I broke down in tears,” Lungu said. “I put down my AK-47 and bombs and I started walking forward ... I was crying for mercy.”
After the service, another gang came and ended up killing many of the church members that night. But Lungu went to his home under the bridge and cried out to God.
“I asked what must I do?” Lungu said. “And he opened my eyes.”
Shortly after he went to the authorities to tell them of all the horrible crimes he had committed throughout his life.
“I was interrogated for eight hours,” Lungu said. “After eight hours they said if your Jesus has forgiven you, we forgive you too.”
From that point on, Lungu has traveled all over Africa sharing his story and preaching the gospel to thousands. In 1980 he became a translator for Michael Cassidy, the founder of African Enterprise, an organization with a heart to evangelize to all African people, and also the host of the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization. Through translating he soon took over Cassidy’s position and now serves as the president and CEO.
He now lives in Malawi with his wife, Rachel and their family.
Lungu will also be sharing at Biola on Friday morning at chapel.