Reinhard Bonnke

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Reinhard Bonnke
Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke.jpg
Reinhard Bonnke
Born(1940-04-19)19 April 1940
Died7 December 2019(2019-12-07) (aged 79)
OccupationEvangelist
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,[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 persons centre.[3] He became a born-again Christian at the age of nine after his mother spoke with him about a sin that he had committed.[4] He left for missionary work in Africa at the age of 10 and said that he had the experience of baptism in the Holy Spirit. After war service, his father had become a pastor.[5]

Bonnke studied at the Bible College of Wales in Swansea, Wales, where he was inspired by the director, Samuel Rees Howells. In one meeting after Howells spoke of answered prayer, 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 famous preacher George Jeffreys, who encouraged the young German student.[7] After graduation, he pastored in Germany for seven years. He began his ministry in Africa, with which he was principally identified, preaching in Lesotho in 1967. He subsequently held evangelical meetings across the continent.[8]

Death[edit]

Bonnke died on 7 December 2019,[9] surrounded by his family according to a statement signed by his wife.[10] Bonnke had announced on his official Facebook page in November 2019 that he had undergone femur surgery and needed time to "learn how to walk again".[11]

African mission[edit]

Early on, Bonnke encountered poor results from his evangelistic efforts and felt frustrated at the pace of his ministry. Bonnke claims 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. Beginning with only 100 people, the stadium meetings grew.

In 1974, Bonnke founded the mission organisation Christ For All Nations (abbreviated CfaN).[4] 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.[4] Today CfaN has 9 offices across 5 continents.[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 contain.[8]

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 organisation's largest to-date, drawing an attendance of six million people.[13] In 2019 Reinhard Bonnke was set to headline the G12 Africa Conference in Pretoria, South Africa.

Controversy[edit]

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.[14] 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, during which many Christians sustained various injuries and several churches were burned.[15][16][17] After nine years he returned to Nigeria to preach.

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 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. They married in 1964 and had three children.

Autobiography[edit]

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.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kürschner-Pelkmann, Frank. "Reinhard Bonnke's Theology" (PDF). Translated by C. Lies, Cynthia. Im Evangelischen Missionswerk in Deutschland. 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. ^ a b c d Bonnke, Reinhard (2009). Living a Life of Fire: an Autobiography. Orlando: E-R Production. ISBN 9781933106816.
  5. ^ Gordon, Tamar; Hancock, Mary (2005-11-01). ""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.
  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. 2010-02-05.
  9. ^ "Reinhard Bonnke: The man who changed the face of Christianity in Africa". BBC. 2019-12-18. Retrieved 2019-12-27.
  10. ^ "Popular evangelist, Reinhard Bonnke dies". punchng.com. 2019-12-07. Retrieved 2019-12-07.
  11. ^ "Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke Dead: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Heavy.com. 2019-12-07. Retrieved 2019-12-07.
  12. ^ "Christ for all Nations - Contact Us". Christ for all Nations. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  13. ^ "Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke Who Led Millions to Christ Announces 'Farewell Crusade'". The Christian Post. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ "Reinhard Bonnke". Deception in the Church.
  17. ^ "German Evangelist 'Banned'". World Watch Monitor. Archived from the original on 2014-03-20.

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