Human Interest

Born to a mentally challenged survivor of gang rape, he now shares a message of life and hope

As an author, recording artist, national pro-life speaker, and founder of Broken Not Dead Ministries, Steventhen Holland knew his inherent value as a child of God. But he was also the child of an 18-year-old mentally challenged mother who became pregnant with him when she was gang raped by five men while walking to her job from the Tennessee mental institution where she lived. His mother kept quiet about the rape until she was visibly pregnant, but no police report was ever filed.

Despite mounting pressure to abort her child, the woman with the mental capacity of an 11-year-old fought to give him life.

Born to a mother in difficult circumstances

Holland told Live Action News, “My mother, Glenda Sue, faced unsurmountable obstacles. She knew my life had purpose, but she had no access to resources and no support. So, she traveled alone to Chattanooga to get assistance from a woman’s home but eventually ran away and ended up living in a cardboard box, nine months pregnant and homeless. But she didn’t give up.”

One day, a 16-year-old boy wandered by the dilapidated cardboard box and saw it move. Peeking inside, he discovered a frightened woman in advanced stages of pregnancy. He took her home where he and his parents nurtured her. 

“That young man was a God-send,” Holland said. “He tried to help my mother care for me when she came home from the hospital, but his family was impoverished and couldn’t afford to feed me adequately. So, with my mother’s permission, this 16-year-old boy took me to Human Services where I could get the assistance I needed.”

Nursed back to health by foster family

Human Services eventually placed a malnourished Holland with a foster family who had to squeeze milk into his mouth to nurse him. When they later expressed interest in adopting him, Human Services resisted, telling them that because Holland was bi-racial and they were Caucasian, he needed to be placed with an African-American family. But the family’s community sent more than 200 petitions to Human Services requesting the adoption be allowed. 

“The whole community fought hard to keep me in the only home I had ever known,” Holland said. “Our voices matter. When we come together as this community did, we can move mountains.”

Holland found out he was adopted when he was eight years old. It was obvious, given the different race of his parents, but the revelation prompted him to seek information about his background, specifically his medical history. The timing to conduct a search never seemed right.

A search for his mother

When Holland was 27, he was serving as a youth pastor and had founded his ministry, Broken Not Dead. But something was missing from his life. He wanted some closure regarding his mother. The question of why a mother would give up her son often haunted him. He didn’t have the complete picture of the circumstances surrounding his birth.

Holland said, “One day, the Holy Spirit told me it was time to look for my mother. I was married and my wife had lost two babies. I just wanted to get information on my medical history, at least. Maybe it would give me the answers as to why my wife had so many miscarriages. But most importantly, I just wanted to tell her I loved her and thank her for giving me life.”

Holland discovered his biological mother had five siblings with mental disabilities and lived either in orphanages or state mental facilities – except one uncle who performed as a professional magician. Holland connected with this uncle through his website and arranged to meet him.

“My uncle revealed that my mother was alive and living in a mental facility,” Holland said. “He organized to host a magic show for the residents which gave me the perfect opportunity to meet her.”

The long-anticipated meeting with Glenda Sue was poignant. Holland recalls feeling compelled to sing Amazing Grace with her and it was a heartfelt moment when mother and son joined their voices together in praise and worship. As he learned the amazing story of his mother’s courage and love, Holland’s heart filled with compassion and gratitude.

Holland told Live Action News, “The realization hit me that it was a miracle I was alive. My mother chose life despite not being able to care for me. It was a great act of love to let me go so I had the chance to thrive.”

READ: Abortion survivor Jaelyn, conceived in rape, has taught her adoptive family that each person is valuable

A testimony that saves lives

Glenda Sue passed away a few years after the reunion with Holland, but the cherished moments are forever etched on his heart. Now a father of three daughters, he might not have gotten all his answers, but he understands well the importance of sharing his story and its pro-life message.

“I can never be silent,” Holland said. “I must be faithful and share my testimony even to the doubters and especially to those who believe abortion is acceptable in cases of incest and rape. I wasn’t supposed to be here but a woman who was homeless, unemployed, and mentally challenged chose life. If she can overcome the most challenging of circumstances, then I believe so, too, can others.” 

Holland’s mantra is “my crap has become fertilizer” and he’s seen firsthand how God has used his testimony to make an impact. He recalls meeting a 12-year-old Hispanic girl at a youth camp who was raped by her uncle living in the home with her parents. She was being pressured by her parents to abort her child but instead, she went to a pregnancy center and chose life for her baby after being inspired by Holland’s story. The girl was eventually adopted by a Christian family after her parents refused to evict the uncle for his incestuous behavior. Her baby was placed with an adoptive family.

Later, Holland encountered the young girl, who looked him in the eye and asked, “How will I ever know that my baby knew I loved him?”

Holland said, “My heart was overwhelmed with so many emotions. All I could tell her was that she did the right thing for her baby and that I would pray they would be reunited one day. But even if that didn’t happen, I wanted her to know how courageous she was and to believe he would be okay.”

The fight for life continues

Life had come full circle for Holland in that moment — a young girl, the same age in physical years as his mother was in mental capacity, both understanding how precious and valuable life was. Holland’s story of another young girl’s experience many years prior had saved the life of another child.

“No doubt, the fight for life is going to turn ugly if Roe is overturned,” Holland said. “But I’m not afraid. My eternity is secure. I will continue to plant seeds wherever I go sharing my message of hope and restoration until God calls me home. That’s what I’m mandated to do. The battle for life is too important to give into fear.”

Editor’s Note, 6/2: This post originally listed Glenda Sue as Linda Sue. We regret the error.

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