“Oh Lord, what are you doing to our family?” cried the 20-year-old son of Pastor Stephen when he heard that his father had been killed.
His mother, Leah, collapsed on the ground, weeping in deep shock and grief.
“I find it too hard to believe that this happened to my husband. He was a good man,” she cried.
Her eldest son, at just 20 years of age, is a pastor like his father. The other children, aged 18, 11 and 9, also wept when they heard the sad news of their father’s death.
Before Stephen became a Christian, he was a Communist Party member for five years. His commitment to the party made him popular among the members.
However, a family friend was a pastor. He prayed for Stephen for some time and eventually led him to the Lord. Stephen left the Communist Party and his old friends behind to follow Christ.
As soon as he became a Christian, Stephen wanted to tell everyone about Jesus. He served faithfully in the church, and after a time he set about training to become a full-time pastor. He loved serving God.
Farmer and pastor
Tragically, Stephen had only been a pastor for 12 months when he was killed. His death shook the Christian community where they lived.
To support his family, like many pastors, Stephen worked on the family farm and continued his pastoral duties as well.
On 14 November 2015, Stephen was working on his farm when a large group of about 80 communists arrived, started a debate and finally bound Stephen up and dragged him away from his coffee plantation. Some of them were known to Stephen, regularly harassing him to return to communism.
One of the members of Stephen’s church was among some witnesses who hid nearby. They clearly heard the conversation between the communists and Stephen.
Keeping quiet for fear of being seen, they watched as one of the communists threatened Stephen with an AK-47 rifle pressed against his cheek.
“We will see if your God can help you today,” he menaced.
Stephen replied, “If you kill me right now, I will be with my Lord!”
Immediately, another angry communist, standing beside Stephen, shot him three times with his M-16 rifle. As Stephen slumped to the ground, he cried a single word with his dying breath: “Hallelujah!”
Stephen was 55 years old when he went home to be with his Lord. He paid for his faith with his life, and the communists ran into the jungle. The coffee plantation workers who had witnessed the event remember the final word of the man of God who never denied his Lord.
On the day of Stephen’s funeral, Leah determined, “I’m going to continue to serve the Lord.”
VOM Australia representatives met Leah at a pastor and leaders’ seminar in February of this year. She was encouraged to attend the event with one of her son’s friends, another pastor.
It was clear Leah was still grieving for her husband and struggled to participate in the seminar. When we realised the family’s poverty and lack of clothing, two of the senior pastors’ wives took Leah to the market where she could buy clothes for herself and her children. The next morning her whole countenance had changed. Although the clothing was a small gift, Leah was encouraged by the love of God’s family. VOM also plans to help Leah further with a small business that will provide a regular income besides the family coffee plantation, which requires a great deal of work.
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