The Switched On week of outreach is in full swing, with around a hundred meetings a day in and around PE, and various evangelists, leaders, sporting icons and media personalities in the city to preach the gospel. What a moment for us!
Along with all the meetings and events, our regular outreaches carry on. I’m privileged to visit a local detective headquarters on a Tuesday morning every couple of weeks, to give a ten-minute encouragement to the men and women there. This morning was my turn, and as I thought and prayed yesterday, I felt that it’d be great to share a testimony about a criminal whose life had been changed by Jesus. These detectives see the worst parts of our society, and come into contact with some of the worst crimes imaginable. I wanted to remind them that Jesus can change anyone, no matter who, and as I reminded myself of testimonies I’d heard, one randomly came to mind.
I’d read a blog post months ago that featured an excerpt from a book, ‘Out of the Black Shadows’, by a man named Stephen Lungu. It was incredible. His life was a tale of violence and brokenness almost from birth, and he became the leader of a gang, the Black Shadows, in the early 1960s. They arrived at a tent revival meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe, in 1962, armed with weapons and petrol bombs and ready to kill as many people as possible. Stephen made the mistake of going into the tent to check out the meeting before they attacked, and was stunned by the message. He was born again that night.
Thirty years later, as he shared his testimony in a small church in Durban, two old ladies jumped up and excitedly showed him a Bible. They’d been aware of the meeting in Harare three decades before, and that very night had written the date – 14 May 1962 – in the back of a Bible, along with a prayer: “Lord Jesus, will you save on gang leader tonight.” Stunned, they showed him the Bible with its date and prayer, and said, “You were the answer to our prayer all those years ago!” The three hugged, cried and praised God.
What a story! The detectives had to hear this story, I thought, and I would try my best to do it justice. I didn’t know anything about the guy except this amazing account, but I was sure it’d touch their hearts. I got a call, though, about an hour before I was meant to be sharing it with them, and it was from the lady who oversees the roster.
“Shaun,” she said, “I hope you don’t mind, but because it’s the Switched On week, I’ve arranged for a guest speaker for the detectives. Would you possibly be able to pick him up, take him there and introduce him?”
I felt so much faith to share the testimony that I was a bit disappointed, but it would be great to have a guest sharing with them. “Sure,” I said, “what’s his name?”
“Stephen Lungu. He’s got an amazing testimony.”
When God has an agenda, there’s no stopping it. When I met Stephen and told him, he just laughed and praised God. The Holy Spirit spoke powerfully into the lives of those men and women, and it was an honour to be part of it.
There are many Stephen Lungus in our city who haven’t been stunned by the message of the cross yet, and our God is ready to show them who He really is.
Use us, God!