Erlo Stegen Biography [Image: The Citizen]Erlo Stegen Biography [Image: The Citizen]

The biography of Erlo Hartwig Stegen, the renowned founder and director of KwaSizabantu Mission in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. He was a pioneer, missionary and revival preacher who devoted his life to serving God and the Zulu people. He died on September 27, 2023, at the age of 88.

Erlo Stegen Early Life

Erlo Hartwig Stegen was born on March 2, 1935, on the Mbalane farm near Durban, as the fourth of Irmgard and Carl Stegen’s six children. He was of German descent and had historical family ties to the Hermannsburg missionaries who came to South Africa in the 19th century.

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Despite his adventurous personality, Stegen faced several accidents and illnesses that left him with recurring headaches. He attended school until the 10th grade and then joined his father’s farming business. Raised in a Lutheran church, where his father served as chief elder for over 27 years, Stegen longed for a more personal relationship with God and a deeper understanding of the Bible.

Answering the Call to Ministry

In 1954, Stegen attended a youth conference in Pretoria, where a sermon by Reverend Fred Roberts challenged him to surrender his life to Christ. He responded to the altar call and underwent a radical conversion that transformed his life.

Erlo Stegen Biography [Image: The Citizen]
Erlo Stegen Biography [Image: The Citizen]
Feeling a divine calling, Stegen set out to minister to the impoverished and oppressed Zulu people under apartheid. As an evangelist, he travelled to rural Zulu communities, spreading the gospel and distributing Bibles and tracts.

In 1966-67, a powerful revival swept across the Zulu population under Stegen’s leadership, resulting in thousands repenting, experiencing healing, and deliverance from oppression. Remarkable miracles, including rain in drought-stricken areas and miraculous healings, further affirmed Stegen’s belief in the Bible’s divine authority.

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Founding KwaSizabantu Mission

Erlo Stegen Biography [Image: Reformatorisch Dagblad]
Erlo Stegen Biography [Image: Reformatorisch Dagblad]
In 1970, Erlo Stegen established KwaSizabantu Mission on land donated by farmer Mr. Potgieter. This mission aimed to provide new converts discipleship, training, and practical assistance. Stegen, alongside his wife Kay, co-workers, and Zulu believers, built various facilities and ministries, including schools, clinics, churches, and more.

The mission rapidly expanded, attracting millions of visitors from around the world seeking spiritual guidance, healing, and deliverance. KwaSizabantu Mission also extended its influence globally, establishing outstations on multiple continents.

Erlo Stegen Controversies and Criticism

Erlo Stegen’s popularity was not without its controversies and criticisms:

  • Accusations of cult leadership and abuse of power.
  • Allegations of human rights violations, including sexual abuse and forced labour.
  • Investigation by the CRL Commission.

These controversies cast a shadow over his legacy, though some supporters praised his humanitarian and spiritual contributions.

Death and Legacy

Erlo Stegen passed away on September 26, 2023, at the age of 88, after battling dementia and other health issues. He left behind his wife, four daughters, 15 grandchildren, and a vast spiritual family. His legacy includes a massive mission enterprise and a reputation as a pioneer, missionary, and revival preacher who dedicated his life to serving God and the Zulu people.



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