Christian gospel musician Stephen B StewardHandcuffed To Music: A Parole Agent’s Story

Born the 9th of 12 children in Smithville, Mississippi, it was inevitable for Stephen B. Steward to be a great singer. Raised in the church, he acquired a love for music at an early age. It was routine for him to sing with his siblings in the choir and school bands from elementary school through high school. He especially loved the music of Andrae’ Crouch going through college, and it was songs like “The Blood”, “Take Me Back” and “My Tribute” that carried him through some difficult times. Though music was key in his upbringing, his strong ties, family values, love for church and community led him on a path that postponed the birth of his musical dreams.

After graduating from Mississippi College, Stephen moved to California to begin working for the County of Los Angeles. Shortly thereafter, he married his wife, Onesha, and started a family. Over the next 15-20 years, Stephen continued his work in law enforcement, raised his children, and established businesses, while continuing to write and serve as worship leader at his local church. Before he knew it, he had compiled countless songs. During those years, he knew God’s plan for his music was beyond the paper he wrote the lyrics.

Stephen & Onesha

Yet another turn in his life would take him down a path where he questioned God. Being a parole agent was strikingly contrasting from the singer/songwriter he longed to become. But there was a connection. It was ministry. Working on the dangerous streets of Los Angeles, he witnessed what he calls “raw redemption, deliverance and healing” where gangsters fall on their knees and say lead me to Jesus, addicts of 30 years receive deliverance from heroin and rock cocaine and others are healed from sickness and disease. Such encounters along with tears and many prayers created fertile ground within his heart for God to birth more songs through him, now well over 200 songs to his credit.

God at Work

It began with two firm knocks on the door – the usual. His firearm was holstered at his waist as he approached the small house on Kansas Street. “Agent Steward,” he called out. As the door opened, an eye-blurring stench breathed into the air pushing against his face. The stale frame of a woman directed him to step inside of her home. Agent Steward covered his nose and mouth as he tried not to notice the feces on her pajamas. This woman; skin stained of old habits, brittle bones pressed and twisted by cocaine, coiled and cut from abuse, this woman; wore the details of her life on her face -used by men, used by moments. This woman needed to hear, she needed to know. In the midst of the questions he asked her, “Did your parents ever teach you about God?” As he left her home, his soul cried out for her. “Save her God, save her, deliver her,” he prayed. And through his tears, his prayer became his song.

One month later, amidst the business of a typical Tuesday afternoon, a lady sat poised in the parole lobby. By divine providence, Agent Steward happened to pass through. “Agent Steward,” she calls out twice before he stops and turns toward her. The woman was wearing a nice dress, makeup, and had her hair styled about. Waving one hand she called again, “It’s me!” “Who is me?” he questioned, “I don’t know you ma’am.” Again, she continued, “Agent Steward, Ms. H!” In amazement he asked, “Ms. H?” She said, “Yes, it’s me.” She was changed. It was a night-and-day difference within a matter of weeks. She reminded Agent Steward of what he’d told her about Jesus at her home on Kansas Street. She went on to say she stopped using drugs as a result of that encounter and that she was totally transformed. He stood amazed at what God had done.

Writing inspirational gospel lyricsThe Project

2011 began the year Stephen and Onesha kick-started an independent record label, GS Records, to catalyze Stephen’s career as a national recording artist. Stephen released his first album, ENTER YOUR GATES, May 20, 2014, debuting in the top 10 of the gospel billboards best-selling albums. This album showcases an audio decorated by fresh, inspiring songs of worship and declaration from the heart of an artist who has dedicated his life to ministry. ENTER YOUR GATES plays host to a collection of songs composed much like “With My Whole Heart,” co-written by gospel legend Andrae’ Crouch, featuring ingredients of fulfilling testimonies, a dash of his unmistakable baritone, and skillfully-crafted worship numbers ranging from contemporary Christian to gospel. The album’s eclectic recipe combines flavors sure to meet the tastes of all praise-and-worship music lovers.

 

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