By Jamie Morrison —
One of the great evangelists of the last generation, Stephen Lungu, passed away January 18th in Malawi after a brief battle with coronavirus. Stephen was 78 years old and has had diabetes for quite a number of years and so was tragically not able to fight off the virus.
Stephen grew up in pre-independence Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) and was the product of a dysfunctional family where he ended up living on the streets and getting involved with street gangs.
He felt abandoned by his parents and angry at the minority white government that ruled the country, which was called Rhodesia at that time.
In his well-known testimony, Stephen recounts an evening where, in his late teens, he took his gang to throw petrol bombs into an evangelistic tent meeting in the capital city of Harare. As they awaited the appointed time to do this, the words of the preacher penetrated Stephen’s heart and he ended up staggering forward to give his life to Christ instead.
He was uneducated and illiterate but ended up being discipled by Patrick Johnstone, a British missionary and author of the prayer guide, “Operation World.” From there he went on to be a powerful evangelist, first with the Dorothea Mission and then, from the early 1980s onward, with African Enterprise. He became the AE Malawi Team Leader for several decades and then succeeded Michael Cassidy as AE’s second International Team Leader from 2007 until 2013.
Few people had a greater passion for Christ or shared the Gospel more powerfully than Stephen Lungu. He will be greatly missed, most especially by his wife Rachel, his five children and many grandchildren, his friends in African Enterprise and countless thousands across the world who witnessed his ministry.
Tributes to Stephen Lungu
Stephen Mbogo, African Enterprise International Team Leader
It is with great sadness that I formally bring you the news that Stephen Lungu, our immediate former International Team Leader/CEO passed away in the early hours of 18th January 2021. Many of you have been aware of his being hospitalized due to Covid-19 related complications at the end of last week. We all prayed. However, it has pleased the Lord to rest him. Let us continue to uphold Rachel, his dear wife, who received this information while in house isolation. Let’s also remember Stephen’s family which is scattered within and without Malawi – for comfort and strength during this sad time.
“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants.” — Psalm 116.15
International Team Leader
Michael Cassidy, African Enterprise Founder
It is my great privilege to pay this heartfelt tribute to my beloved friend, successor in AE as International Team Leader and colleague in the Gospel, Stephen Lungu, who has today gone to Glory to be with the lord he served so faithfully. I send to you all the deepest sympathy on behalf of my wife Carol and myself, and everyone in the AE ministry worldwide.
It must have been an enormous shock to you Mama Rachel and the family, when you got the news earlier today of Stephen’s death. I must say I have felt absolutely stricken in my own spirit since I received this news. Stephen was one of my most loyal personal friends and long-standing colleagues in the AE ministry. He was of course my successor as International Team Leader and CEO of African Enterprise, a role in which he distinguished himself on all fronts as a leader of the work, a frontline and highly effective preacher, as well as an accomplished fundraiser.
In the midst of all this he was a deeply dedicated family man and, Rachel, he loved you dearly, as well as the family, and he always spoke fondly of you, even sometimes in his preaching. We know you and the family will feel the loss of him profoundly but we are trusting that his Lord and yours will fill your hearts with divine comfort and a wonderful sense of his Presence.
I have known many preachers over the years in African Enterprise, and beyond it, but I don’t think I have ever known a more passionate and endlessly energetic preacher of the Gospel than Stephen. None of us could ever match his energy or his day and night sharing of the Gospel, whether from public platforms or in shops and restaurants. To be sure there will be thousands and thousands of people in heaven because of Stephen Lungu. These will range from ordinary citizens and common people to leaders in high places and to teenagers and little children. Young people, and of course older ones, were always heart-warmed by his infectious smile, rollicking laughter, all with his sparkling white teeth shining through!
His marvelous sense of humor and his dramatic testimony was exceedingly effective in university and high school missions. Alan Smedley, Chaplain of Michaelhouse, a prominent private school in South Africa, said that “the whole school, every single boy, responded to Stephen Lungu when he came to the school.” That kind of thing happened all over the world.
I will always remember the night in the early 1980’s when Stephen interpreted for me in a Malawi Keswick Convention. I was always convinced in that sermon that Stephen was preaching a much better message than I! Afterwards we sat together in a little Volkswagen where I felt constrained to invite him into African Enterprise. Not long thereafter Stephen joined us and became a frontline preacher and ball of fire for Christ preaching the Gospel all over Africa, and around the world, sometimes in astonishing places, such as the Oxford Union, and even the Pentagon!
Perhaps I should now tell you that I had asked Stephen to preach at my own funeral, and he had agreed. So he is a naughty boy to have died ahead of me!
We close assuring Mama Rachel and the family and the Malawi team of our prayers and deepest sympathy at this time.
And, beloved Stephen, enjoy heaven with your Lord and we look forward to seeing you there.
Founder, African Enterprise