Bonnke (right), with Rick Joyner
19 April 1940 |
Königsberg, East Prussia, Germany
|Occupation||Evangelist Founder, Christ for All Nations|
|Christ For All Nations|
Reinhard Willi Gottfried Bonnke (born 19 April 1940 in Königsberg, East Prussia, Germany is a German charismatic Christian evangelist, principally known for his gospel missions throughout Africa. Bonnke has been an evangelist and missionary in Africa since 1967. According to his website, he has personally preached to over 120 million people, leading 72 million people in the prayer of salvation.
Reinhard was born again at the age of nine after his mother spoke with him about the punishment for a sin he committed, unless Jesus saved him. He felt a call to preach the gospel in Africa at the age of 10 and shortly had the experience of Baptism in the Holy Spirit. He is the son of a pastor and ex-serviceman in the German Army who initially did not take Reinhard's Call to preach the gospel seriously. He studied at The Bible College of Wales in Swansea, where he was inspired by the Director Samuel Rees Howells. In one meeting after Howells spoke of answered prayer, Reinhard prayed, "Lord, I also want to be a man of faith. I want to see your way of providing for needs."  After graduation, he pastored in Germany for seven years. He began his ministry in Africa, with which he is principally identified, preaching in Lesotho in 1967. He has subsequently held evangelical meetings across the continent.
Conversion of the Bonnke family
After studying his family tree drawn by one of his brothers, Bonnke realized that his family had not been pious Christians from generation to generation. Knowing that his father was now a pastor of a church, he wanted to find out how his family became religious. His father told a story of how his grandfather was terribly ill with a form of rheumatism, making him sensitive to touch. He screamed and yelled in agony day and night, with his cries being heard across the span of the village they lived in. However, one day an American missionary lost his way journeying to a village and stumbled upon that village where his family grew up. He immediately inquired if there was anyone sick in the village, and was led to the Bonnke household. After a dramatic healing ministration through him, the Bonnke family received Jesus Christ as Saviour and were filled with the Holy Spirit. Reinhard attributes his call and ministry to have been connected to that experience.
"Africa Shall Be Saved"
Encountering poor results from his evangelistic efforts and at frustrated at the pace of his ministry, Reinhard entered a state of heavy depression. He had a dream with a picture of the map of Africa being spread with red and heard the voice of God crying "Africa Shall Be Saved". This dream recurred four nights in a row and led him to adopt large scale evangelism, rather than the traditional small scale missionary approach. He rented a stadium in Gaborone, and preached with little cooperation from local churches. Beginning with only 100 people, the stadium meetings grew to crowds of tens of thousands after stories of miraculous healings and salvations spread across the city.
Bonnke began his ministry holding tent meetings that accommodated large crowds. As attendance steadily increased, larger tents had to be purchased. According to an account published by the Christian Broadcasting Network, in 1984 he commissioned the construction of what was claimed to be the world’s largest mobile structure — a tent capable of seating 34,000. This was destroyed in a wind storm just before a major meeting. The team decided to hold the event in the open air instead. The subsequent meetings stretched to crowds of 150,000 which was far greater than the 35,000 seating capacity the tents could contain.
Bonnke's visit to Kano in Nigeria in 1991 was marred by the outbreak of riots in the city, as Muslims protested over remarks he had reportedly made about Islam in the city of Kaduna on his way to Kano. A rumor was spread that Bonnke was planning to “lead an invasion” into Kano. Muslim youths gathered at the Kofar Mata Eide-ground where they were addressed by several clerics who claimed that Bonnke was going to blaspheme Islam. About 8,000 youths gathered at the Emir's palace, and after noon prayers the riots ensued. 
After nine years he returned to Nigeria to preach.
In the early 1990s Bonnke, who had prophesied a major world revival which would start in the United Kingdom, was involved in an initiative to reverse the decline in church attendance there. This involved the distribution of millions of copies of a booklet he had written called Minus to Plus to homes throughout the country, which was hoped to win 250,000 converts. However, only 20,000 were claimed to have been 'won over', and these were mostly those returning to the faith rather than coming to it for the first time. Church attendance in the United Kingdom continued to decline.
After graduating from the Bible College of Wales and returning to Germany, Bonnke led a series of crusade meetings in Rendsburg. He began receiving speaking invitations from all around Germany and the rest of the world. Bonnke met Anni Schulze at a gospel music festival, and admired the grace with which she recovered from a wrongly pitched music performance at the expense of losing the competition. He offered to preach at the church she attended one Sunday and fell in love with her.
Reinhard Bonnke's Autobiography, "Living a Life of Fire" is a collection of stories of his life including accounts of his childhood growing up during the Second World War and living in prison camps to his early years in ministry and how he believed God used him to bring the gospel of salvation to Africa.
- Synan, H. Vinson (2002). "Bonnke, Reinhard Willi Gottfried". In Stanley M. Burgess. The new international dictionary of Pentecostal and charismatic movements. (Rev. and expanded ed.). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Pub. House. pp. 438–439. ISBN 0310224810.
- Samuel Rees Howells: A Life of Intercession, by Richard Maton, 2012, ByFaith Media, p. 81.
- The 700 Club: Reinhard Bonnke: Setting Souls on Fire
- Marty & Appleby 1993, p. 199
- Boer 2003, p. 44
- Boer 2003, p. 42
- Boer 2003, p. 41
- Hunt 2004, p. 10
"Living a life of Fire" Autobiography by Reinhard Bonnke
- Jan H Boer, Nigeria's Decades of Blood: Volume One: Studies in Christian-Muslim Relationships, Essence Publishing, Bellville, Ontario, Canada, (2003)
- Stephen Hunt, The Alpha Enterprise: Evangelism in a Post-Christian Era, Ashgate Publishing (2004)
- Martin Emil Marty and R. Scott Appleby, Fundamentalisms and the State: Remaking Polities, Economies and Militance, University of Chicago Press (1993)
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