Today, 7th of December, 2020 makes it exactly a year ago the world lost a firebrand German-American Pentecostal Evangelist known principally for his gospel missions throughout Africa since he started in 1967.
After sixty years of preaching across the world, German Pentecostal evangelist, Reinhard Bonnke in 2017 shared his farewell messages with over 1.7 million people over a five-day-crusade in Lagos, Nigeria.
Bonnke who is was also addressed as the ‘evangelistic son of Africa’, slept in the Lord on December 7, 2019 at the age of 79. According to reports, Bonnke who began his Christian walk in 1949, was born on April 19, 1940 in Königsberg, East Prussia, Germany to an army logistics officer and worshiper mother.
He left for missionary work in Africa at the age of 10 after being baptized. In numerous accounts, he said he received the calling in a dream where God told him “Africa Shall Be Saved” and a picture of the map of Africa spread in red was shown to him.
In 1974, he founded the mission organisation ‘Christ for All Nations’ also known as CfaN headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is estimated that close to 80 million people converted to Christianity under his tenure of preaching.
In 2017, Bonnke said he was commanded by God to return to Africa to start a new chapter. “Then the lord spoke to me, that I myself have to go back to Africa for one great opportunity to pass my burning torch to this generation,” he recounted.
It is during that period that he handed over the leadership torch of his international ministry, Christ for all Nations to staunch follower Evangelist Daniel Kolenda. He was 77-years-old at the time. “I don’t want it to fall, I want it to go just seamlessly continue and rise. The world is so big and God gave me Daniel Kolenda and I am very happy,” Bonkke said.
Months before passing the torch of leadership to Kolenda, Evangelist Bonnke was in what he described as ‘dark valley of sickness’ — the ‘Evangelistic son of Africa’ had been diagnosed with cancer of throat, but he only got to talk about it after handover crusade.
“In my weakness, but His strength, I kept up my ministry on FB with great joy. It is my pulpit. Meanwhile, Daniel Kolenda, my successor in CfaN, brought in hundreds of thousands of souls for Jesus in Africa,” Bonnke recounted.
The event in Nigeria saw 845,875 people saved. It was in Lagos where CfaN held its largest crusade to date — the Millennium Crusade in 2000, in which six million people attended and 3.4 million made decisions to accept or reaffirm their faith in Christianity. The crusade that span five-nights was eventful including Nigerian witchdoctors who surrendered their charms on the pulpit.
Kolenda who took over the church said, “As a young boy, I felt the calling to preach the gospel. I used to ride on my bicycle from house to house knocking on doors and witnessing to anyone who would listen. As a teenager, I started street preaching. Today, I do the same thing I have always done, just on a larger scale”.
After the handover, Evangelist Bonnke retreated to his American home from where he continued to preach the Gospel on digital platforms. “Evangelism is a fiery chariot with a burning messenger preaching a blazing gospel on wheels of fire! Allow the Holy Spirit to make your Ministry His Chariot,” Bonnke said. His latest messages centered on preparation for the Kingdom of God and the redemption of mankind.
Bonnke spent several years developing the ‘Full Flame Film Series,’ a series of eight inspirational films aimed at inspiring and challenging the church to Holy Spirit evangelism.
While his family announced his passing on with sorrow, many faithful are celebrating Evangelist Bonnke’s remarkable journey of preaching. According to his family, he was surrounded by loved ones and passed away peacefully on 7th of December, 2019 leaving behind his wife Anni, their children Kai-Uwe, Gabrielle, and Susie, and eight grandchildren.
LESSON FROM SELFLESS BONNKE FOR OUR PASTORS/PRIEST
Last week, Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke went to be with the Lord, which is Christian-speak for transitioned, passed on or in simple died. A beloved global figure, Bonnke is said to have converted over 75 million people to Christianity in the course of his lifetime.
On and off stage, those who knew him testify of his personal integrity and great humility. As head of an organisation called Christ For All Nations (CFAN), he believed in drawing the line between what was God’s and what was his.
He would not write a personal note to a friend or issue a personal cheque with CFAN pens believing them to be God’s property. Bonnke wielded tremendous soft power which he used for the betterment of mankind and the advancement of Christianity. When he first came to Kenya in 1998, the president ordered all stations to broadcast live his entire crusade.
Schools within the city were given a weekend off to attend his meetings. A story is told of how a West African dictator on his way home saw Bonnke hosting a meeting with a mammoth crowd in attendance.
There were close to half a million people. For three nights that followed, the dictator attended the crusade, but at an inconspicuous distance. He was shocked that the crowd swelled on each successive night.
Impressed by Bonnke, the dictator offered him a cash gift of 2 million dollars to “continue the good work”. To his amazement, the gift was politely declined and was never accepted even after repeated efforts over the years.
Another tale is regaled of how, during a financial scandal that rocked Germany, investigators decided to audit political parties and faith-based organisations. They went to CFAN offices unannounced. Bonnke happened to be in. The staff, including Bonnke, were herded into a common room and told that they couldn’t leave.
They were provided with food and clothing for four days. At the end of the in-depth audit, no impropriety was found within the organisation or on Bonnke himself. In fact, it was discovered that CFAN owed Bonnke in unclaimed allowances, monies he never collected up to his demise.
Some pictures emerge. The first is that the church in Kenya is a far cry from that which Bonnke typified. Many pastors are in ministry for self-advancement. Instead of obeying Jesus’s edict to feed the flock, they feed on the flock through nefarious schemes designed to shake-down congregants.
Some of these include endless building funds and manipulation from the pulpit designed to line the coffers of the men of the cloth. Little wonder then that unlike Bonnke, clergymen consort with crooked politicians and are often the recipients of illicit funds disguised as church-building funds.
The second is that the present-day church is conceited, arrogant and sanctimonious. A study of a number of mainstream churches will reveal them to be obsessed with the trappings of wealth manifested in the so-called “prosperity gospel.”
Big cars, retinues of bodyguards and ostentatious lifestyles are the rage, as if to say, the flashier one is, the closer to God they are.
This is a radical departure from Bonnke who was known for his humility. He wore his heart on his sleeve and made his intentions plain, leaving no room for second-guessing or conjecture about where his priorities lay; the winning of souls for Jesus
Third, contrary to popular belief, one need not to be a politician or be in government to bring about positive change in the lives of citizens. Bonnke’s ability to draw millions outside political circles reflects the Kenyan church of the 80s and 90s. The institution, then led by fearless clergymen, spoke truth to power and helped usher in an unprecedented increase of democratic space or “the second liberation”.
At the moment there is talk of changing the constitution. Is it not possible, like Bonnke or the late bishops Muge, Okullu and Gitari, for our clergymen to influence change outside of the three arms of government, and especially, the executive?
But such influence can only be exerted by people with moral ascendancy, paragons of virtue who are exemplars of honest living. These must of necessity, be people who have a demonstrated record of humility and service, who then can act as moral beacons in a country where a tremendous trust gulf exists between leaders and citizens. Can these people stand up please?
Source: THE STANDARD