The church was being persecuted especially by a very zealous young man called Saul. Stephen was mightily used of the lord. So much so that people stopped their ears. What he had to say challenged their lives and greatly disturbed them, so they did not want to hear it. They finally decided they had enough, they would silence him forever and they would not be confronted with his message again. Or so they thought. Even then God was speaking loud and clear. Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit. He saw heaven open and the son of man seated at the right hand of God.
Steven was taken out of the City and stoned to death. Saul approved of this. Yet we know that Saul became the apostle Paul. I have often wondered what Paul felt after he himself became a believer. Did he look back in sorrow, or regret? One thing we do know is that Stevens execution is recorded in acts. There would have been witnesses to it including paul and I think Luke who wrote Acts got much of the testimony from Paul.
I also think Paul in his own devotion to God, especially when he was suffering would have drawn inspiration from Steven.
When it all seems to be going wrong, how devoted to God are we? Steven trusted God to the end and would have no knowledge of how God would use his death both at the time and also in the present day. What God demands of us is faithfulness.
Acts 7:54; Acts 8:3