It is with great sadness that I heard Reinhard Bonnke went to heaven today. I have been inspired by his example and motivated by his fire. The first time I met him he told me, “That which is considered great today is going to be normal tomorrow!” His massive crusades are just the beginning of what God is going to accomplish in the area of mass evangelism!
Reinhard Bonnke (1940-2019) was born in Germany on the eve of World War II. After the war, his father pastored a small Pentecostal church in Krempe. From an early age, Bonnke knew God was calling him to be a missionary to the continent of Africa. At the age of eleven, he was filled with the Holy Spirit.
He attended a Bible school in Swansea, Wales that had its roots in the Welsh revival. On his way home from Bible school, he miraculously had an encounter with George Jeffreys (1889-1962), a famous evangelist who founded the Elim Pentecostal Churches.
He married Anni Sülzle in 1964. His denomination required every missionary to pastor for two years so right after they married, they planted a church in Flensburg, Germany. After two years, they moved to South Africa to serve with the Apostolic Faith Mission. He was sent to the Kingdom of Lesotho. It was known as the “boneyard for failed missionaries” but Bonnke achieved great success. He wrote a series of Bible lessons and distributed them to every house in Lesotho using a team of one hundred “bicycle-evangelists.”
While Bonnke was in Lesotho, God showed him a vision of a “blood-washed Africa,” an Africa washed in the blood of Jesus. Bonnke began to proclaim, “All of Africa shall be saved, from Cape Town to Cairo.”
Reinhard and his wife Anni spent seven years as missionaries in the country of Lesotho reaching out to people in the traditional way, but Reinhard became frustrated at the low number of salvations. In a mighty step of faith, in 1974, he launched his evangelistic organization which is now known as “Christ for All Nations.” The ministry held its first crusade in the national stadium in the country of Botswana. Out of the many churches in the city, only one small fellowship decided to help with the crusade. Bonnke was disappointed when only one hundred people came the first night. Yet, as he preached a powerful message, a man jumped up and shouted, “I’ve just been healed!” Other healings began to happen, and news spread across the city that God was doing miracles. By the last night of that first crusade, the entire stadium was packed. Thousands were saved and healed and twelve years later, when Reinhard returned to do another crusade in the city, the leader of a large denomination announced that eighty percent of his pastors had been saved in that first crusade.
His first tent seated eight hundred people, but later a huge tent was purchased to accommodate the massive crowds of people who began coming to Bonnke’s crusades. This tent seated thirty-four thousand people and covered three football fields, but the tent was too small. Soon, crowds of up to one hundred and fifty thousand people were attending each meeting.
As the size of the crowds multiplied, Reinhard started to hold his crusades outside on fields. He formed two crusade teams, one for east Africa and one for west Africa, so that the ministry could accelerate.
He gave away 103 million books in over 123 languages. He often held “Fire Conferences” to train church leaders for world evangelism. People flocked to his crusades because of the miracles which result from the mighty preaching of the word.
Reinhard often said he was “plundering hell to populate heaven” and the reports from one crusade prove that he accomplished exactly that. On November 12, 2000, 1.6 million people came to single crusade meeting in Lagos, Nigeria. Over thirty thousand pastors and church leaders attended the “Fire Conference.” In this historic, six day crusade, over six million people heard the gospel message. Blind eyes were opened, breast tumors disappeared, the lame walked, mutes began to speak, and many other miracles were reported. Six million booklets were passed out and over two thousand churches participated in following up on all the converts who were saved.
– The Psalmist rejoices, “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will p
raise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them” (Psalm 139:13-16).
– “Did not He who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same One fashion us in the womb?” (Job 31:15).
– “Thus says the Lord who made you and formed you from the womb, who will help you…” (Isaiah 44:2).
Recently, John MacArthur told Beth Moore to “go home” because he does not believe in woman preachers. What do I think about woman preachers?
I like what Reinhard Bonnke said in response to the question, “Should women preach?” He replied, “If I was a drowning man, I would not care if it was a man or a woman who tossed me a lifeline.” There are too many people dying and going to hell to tell over 50% of the body of Christ they are not able to preach. Philip the Evangelist had five virgin daughters who prophesied, in order to prophecy those girls had to be able to speak. God does use women, especially if He can’t find men. If He cannot find a woman, He will use a child. If He cannot find a child to preach, the rocks will cry out. The Gospel must be preached and God is willing to use any gender who is willing to be used.
I am thankful for women preachers like Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, Sharon Daugherty, Marilyn Hickey, and my wife, Jessica Shen King. The sinful world needs to hear their voices preaching good news!
This month I was asked to be on the advisory board of the Next Generation Alliance (NGA), an organization dedicated to helping evangelists. Over 700 evangelists from a broad spectrum of Christianity are members of the NGA. By serving on this board, I will be able to encourage and train evangelists. Because of this new opportunity, your support of our ministry will be multiplied in a mighty harvest of souls around the world.
If you are an evangelist, I encourage you to join the NGA. Click here for more info. The Next Generation Alliance is led by Evangelist Luis Palau, who is known as the Billy Graham of Latin America. When I was fourteen years old, he came to Juarez, Mexico to do an evangelistic festival. I was invited to minister to 7,000 children at his KidsFest. It was partially his example that put the dream in my heart to be an evangelist.
Luis Palau shared a powerful message on evangelism recently. He read from 1 Corinthians 9 and made three big points.
Paul writes, “For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast since I am compelled to preach. WOE to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16)
What drives this idea of “WOE?” We feel “WOE” because we do not want to make God upset. We feel “WOE” because our hearts are moved with compassion for the lost. We feel “WOE” because we know the losses are only a footstep from hell.
As an evangelistic ministry, we feel compelled to preach the Gospel. We preach the Gospel because we love the lost. We will not give up preaching the Gospel no matter how hard it is or what obstacles we face.
Paul continues, “I have made myself a slave to everyone, to WIN as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to WIN the Jews. To those under the law, I became like one under the law…so as to WIN those under the law. To those not having the law, I became like one not having the law…so as to WIN those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to WIN the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” (1 Cor. 9:19-23)
Five times in this passage, Paul mentions the word “WIN.” He says he wants to WIN as many souls as possible. He becomes all things to all people so that he can save people from hell.
The word “WIN” implies warfare. Evangelism is the epitome of spiritual warfare. When we preach the Gospel, Jesus is the winner and the devil is the loser. Winning is important to God.
As evangelists, we use our words to persuade people. We can never have enough converted. We still have more people to reach for Jesus. We are in a battle and we want to WIN the fight for every soul!
Paul writes, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners RUN, but only one gets the prize? RUN in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not RUN like someone running aimlessly…” (1 Cor. 9:24-25)
Four times, Paul mentions the word “RUN.” We RUN to get a prize. Paul preached for a reward. The Lord motivates the soul winner with the promise of a reward.
An evangelist is always on the RUN. We are in a hurry. We RUN to the next place to preach the Gospel. We RUN as fast as we can because time is passing quickly. When God opens up a door, it is important for us to RUN through the door before the door closes.
We need to take advantage of open doors. We do not dare give up preaching no matter how hard it is. We continue to RUN because there is an everlasting crown that is waiting for those who WIN the lost.
So, in 1 Corinthians chapter 9 we find these three important words: WOE, WIN, RUN. Today I encourage you with these three sentences that motivate me:
WOE if we preach not the Gospel.
WIN as many as you can.
RUN through every open door.
Thank you so much for all you do to help us to WIN souls and to RUN to the nations! You are so valuable to us and we appreciate you.
Excited About Reaching the Lost,
P.S. In a few short weeks, we leave for our next Gospel crusade in the Buddhist nation of Burma (Myanmar). We still need funds to pay for this outreach. Will you help us rescue people from hell with the Good News of Jesus Christ? I’ll be waiting to hear from you. Thank you for your generosity!