Reinhard Bonnke

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Reinhard Bonnke
Reinhard Bonnke
Born(1940-04-19)19 April 1940
Died7 December 2019(2019-12-07) (aged 79)
WebsiteChrist For All Nations

Reinhard Bonnke (19 April 1940 - 7 December 2019) was a German-American Pentecostal[1] evangelist, principally known for his gospel missions throughout Africa. Bonnke had been an evangelist and missionary in Africa since 1967.

Early life[edit]

Reinhard Bonnke was born on 19 April 1940, in Königsberg, East Prussia, Germany,[1][2] the son of an army logistics officer. With his mother and siblings, he was taken to Denmark during the evacuation of East Prussia and spent some years in a displaced person center.[3][1] After his own war service, his father had become a pastor.[4] He became a born-again Christian at the age of nine after his mother spoke with him about a sin that he had committed.[5] He sensed a call from God to serve as a missionary in Africa from the age of 10 and said that he had the experience of baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Bonnke studied at the Bible College of Wales in Swansea, Wales, UK, where he was inspired by the director, Samuel Rees Howells. In one meeting Howells spoke of answered prayer; after this meeting, Bonnke prayed, "Lord, I also want to be a man of faith. I want to see your way of providing for needs."[6] Passing through London, he had a chance meeting with the preacher George Jeffreys, who prayed for the young student.[7] After graduation, he pastored in Germany for seven years.

African mission[edit]

His work in Africa began in 1967 in Lesotho. He subsequently held evangelistic meetings across the continent.[8]

In the first few years of his work, Bonnke encountered poor results from his evangelistic efforts and felt frustrated at the pace of his ministry. He claimed to have had a recurring dream featuring a picture of the map of Africa being spread with red and heard the voice of God crying "Africa Shall Be Saved". This led him to adopt large-scale evangelism, rather than the traditional small-scale missionary approach. He rented a stadium in Gaborone, Botswana, and preached with little cooperation from local churches. The first meetings saw about 100 people attending, but this number grew in time.[9]

In 1974, Bonnke founded the mission organisation Christ For All Nations (CfaN).[5][10] Originally based in Johannesburg, South Africa, the headquarters were relocated to Frankfurt, Germany, in 1986. This was done primarily to distance the organisation from South Africa's apartheid policy at the time.[5] Today CfaN has 9 offices across 5 continents.[11][12]

Bonnke began his ministry holding tent meetings that accommodated large crowds. 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 and therefore the team decided to hold the event in the open air instead. According to this account, the event was subsequently attended by over 100,000 people which is far greater than the 34,000 seating capacity the tents could have contained.[8]

In addition to South Africa, Bonnke would also hold many campaigns in other African countries including Nigeria and Kenya and became known as "the Billy Graham of Africa."[13][14] In the 5 February 2001 edition of Graham's Christianity Today, journalist Corrie Cutrer stated that Bonnke had set "record-breaking attendances" at recent events he held in Nigeria.[15] Bonnke announced his "farewell gospel crusade" to be held in Lagos, Nigeria, in November 2017. Lagos is also the location of a gospel crusade held in 2000 which, according to CfaN, is the organization's largest to date, drawing an attendance of six million people.[16] In 2019 Reinhard Bonnke was set to headline the G12 Africa Conference in Pretoria, South Africa.[9][17]


In 1991, during Bonnke's visit to Kano in Nigeria, there were 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.[18] A rumour 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, during which many Christians sustained various injuries and several churches were burned. Official reports state that at least eight people were killed,[10][19][20][21][22] although other research and reports place the number as being as much as 500 as many of the Christians who were killed were thrown into wells and the attacks were spread between multiple locations.[23]

Bonnke's subsequent attempts to return to Nigeria were denied, as the Nigerian Embassy refused his visa applications.[10]

In 2000, a new civilian government in Nigeria had been elected to power, and President Olusegun Obasanjo, a Christian, invited Reinhard Bonnke to return to the country.[24] Bonnke returned to Nigeria and held a crusades in Benin City in the south.[25][26] He would deny reports that the Northern Region of Nigeria's Council of Ulamas banned him from entering northern Nigeria.[27]

After 2000, Bonnke held several crusades in Nigeria. His final international crusade was held in Lagos in 2017.[28]

Personal life[edit]

After graduating from the Bible College of Wales and returning to Germany, Bonnke led a series of meetings in Rendsburg. He began receiving speaking invitations from all around Germany and the rest of the world. Bonnke met Anni Suelze at a gospel music festival and admired the grace which she showed when a mistake led to her losing a music competition. He offered to preach at the church she attended and over time they fell in love. They married in 1964 and had three children. [29]


Bonnke died on 7 December 2019.[30] The month before, he had announced on his official Facebook page that he had undergone femur surgery and needed time to "learn how to walk again".[31] Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who is Muslim, praised Bonnke for his frequent visits to Nigeria and described his death as a "great loss to Nigeria".[32]

It is estimated that over 79 million people converted to Christianity as a result of Bonnke's ministry.[33] He was called a "giant and a general in the Army of God".[29]


Bonnke wrote a number of books including;

  • Even Greater
  • Evangelism by Fire
  • Faith, the link with God’s Power
  • Hell Empty, Heaven Full
  • Mighty Manifestations
  • Raised from the Dead
  • Taking Action
  • Time is Running Out
  • Living a life of Fire (autobiography)


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.[5]


  1. ^ a b c Kürschner-Pelkmann, Frank. "Reinhard Bonnke's Theology" (PDF). Translated by C. Lies, Cynthia. Im Evangelischen Missionswerk in Deutschland. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 October 2020. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  2. ^ Synan, H. Vinson (2002). "Bonnke, Reinhard Willi Gottfried". In Stanley M. Burgess (ed.). The new international dictionary of Pentecostal and charismatic movements (Rev. and expanded ed.). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Pub. House. pp. 438–439. ISBN 0310224810.
  3. ^ Watt, C. Reinhard Bonnke: A Passion for the Gospel 1978 pp19-27 ISBN 0860657736
  4. ^ Gordon, Tamar; Hancock, Mary (1 November 2005). ""The crusade is the vision": branding charisma in a global pentecostal ministry". Material Religion. 1 (3): 386–404. doi:10.2752/174322005778054023. ISSN 1743-2200. S2CID 194083307.
  5. ^ a b c d Bonnke, Reinhard (2009). Living a Life of Fire: an Autobiography. Orlando: E-R Production. ISBN 9781933106816.
  6. ^ Maton, Richard (2012). Samuel Rees Howells : a life of intercession. ByFaith Media. p. 81. ISBN 9781907066139.
  7. ^ Watt, C. Reinhard Bonnke: A Passion for the Gospel, 1978, pp. 66-67 ISBN 0860657736
  8. ^ a b "Reinhard Bonnke: Setting Souls on Fire". The 700 Club. 5 February 2010.
  9. ^ a b "Life and Times of Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke - P.M. News".
  10. ^ a b c "The man who changed the face of Christianity in Africa". BBC News. 18 December 2019. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  11. ^ "Christ for all Nations - Contact Us". Christ for all Nations. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  12. ^ "Our Story". Christ for all Nations. 9 June 2021.
  13. ^ "Reinhard Bonnke: The man who changed the face of Christianity in Africa". BBC News. 18 December 2019. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  14. ^ Eddy, Melissa (11 December 2019). "Reinhard Bonnke, the 'Billy Graham of Africa,' Dies at 79". New York Times. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  15. ^ Cutrer, Corrie (5 February 2001). "Come and Receive Your Miracle". Christianity Today. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  16. ^ "Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke Who Led Millions to Christ Announces 'Farewell Crusade'". The Christian Post. 7 March 2017. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  17. ^[bare URL]
  18. ^ Marty, Martin Emil; Appleby, R. Scott, eds. (1993). Fundamentalisms and the State: Remaking Polities, Economies, and Militance. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 199. ISBN 9780226508849.
  19. ^ Boer, Jan H (2003). Nigeria's Decades of Blood: Volume One: Studies in Christian-Muslim Relationships. Bellville, Ontario: Essence Publishing. pp. 41–44. ISBN 9781553065814.
  20. ^ "Reinhard Bonnke". Deception in the Church.
  21. ^ "German Evangelist 'Banned'". World Watch Monitor. Archived from the original on 20 March 2014.
  22. ^ "At Least 8 Dead in Nigerian City As Muslim-Christian Riots Go On". The New York Times. Associated Press. 17 October 1991. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  23. ^ "Flashback: The day 500 people died for Bonnke in Kano - P.M. News".
  24. ^ "Reinhard Bonnke, special blessing to the world, say Bamgbola, Olaleye". The Guardian Nigeria News - Nigeria and World News. 8 December 2019. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  25. ^ "The Nigerian Outpouring". Christ for all Nations. 1 August 2013. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  26. ^ "Return of Reinhard Bonnke". Vanguard News. 26 October 2017. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  27. ^ Eyoboka, Sam (14 November 2000). "Nigeria: Bonnke Denies Ban By Northern Islamic Group". Vanguard. Retrieved 28 February 2023.
  28. ^ "Bonnke's Nigeria visit and the promise of fire". 1 October 2017.
  29. ^ a b "Remembering 'God's General' Reinhard Bonnke". CBN. 9 December 2019.
  30. ^ "Reinhard Bonnke: The man who changed the face of Christianity in Africa". BBC. 18 December 2019. Retrieved 27 December 2019.
  31. ^ "Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke Dead: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". 7 December 2019. Retrieved 7 December 2019.
  32. ^ "A great loss to Nigeria' - Buhari mourns Reinhard Bonnke". TheCable. 7 December 2019. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  33. ^ Shellnut, Kate.Christianity Today. "Reinhard Bonnke, record setting Evangelist to Africa" Retrieved 2 May 2020.

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