Stephen Lungu, a "beloved African evangelist," has died from complications of COVID-19, at the age of 78.

African Enterprise says that Lungu passed away on January 18 in hospital. Lungu was the former CEO of AE, an evangelistic association that held Christian rallies throughout the continent.

"Many of you have been aware of his being hospitalized due to Covid-19 related complications. We all prayed. However, it has pleased the Lord to rest him," current AE CEO, Stephen Mbogo says in the statement.

AE's founder, Michael Cassidy, paid tribute to his co-worker, saying "To be sure, there will be thousands and thousands of people in heaven because of Stephen Lungu.

“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,” stated the South African evangelist. “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.”

Christianity Today reports that Lungu grew up "abandoned and abused at age seven on the streets of Salisbury, Rhodesia (pre-independence Harare, Zimbabwe)." Lungu would grow up to become a leader of a violent street gang until he had a startling encounter with Jesus.

"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," AE says in a tribute to the evangelist.

Mbogo cited Psalm 116:15 in closing his announcement, which says, "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants."