On fire for the Lord: Reinhard Bonnke
Secret to Reinhard Bonnke’s Success: Fire of the Holy Spirit
In November 2017, Reinhard shared his farewell messages with 1,700,000 people over 5 days in Lagos, Nigeria. They documented 845,875 people who made salvation decisions. The new converts were ushered into 8,000 participating churches to be followed up and discipled into the kingdom of God. Hundreds of pastors reported that on the first Sunday after the crusade they were flooded with thousands of new church members! Many churches near the former crusade site began meeting together on the vacant field. People started streaming to these informal meetings and have been reporting healings and miracles that are still taking place!
Once when Reinhard was preaching at a meeting, some of the people did not believe in the power of the Holy Spirit. Suddenly, in the middle of his service, Reinhard says the spirit of the Lord fell and people began rejoicing as they were filled with the Holy Spirit. As he looked around, Reinhard says 3 or 4 people were standing and looking around instead of participating in the supernatural event. He says, “These people must be asbestos Christians. They were fireproof even when the fire of the Holy Spirit fell.” Reinhard says we need to be people who want to burn with the fire of the Holy Spirit. He reminds us that the book of Acts reads better than any modern-day novel. Reinhard points to the book of Mark 16:8 where the disciples, before Jesus ascended to heaven, did not believe. That unbelief is also shared in verse 13 – they did not believe. Then in verse 15, says Jesus said to them, Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. In verse 20, the disciples went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the Word through accompanying signs. Something happened between verse 14 and 20. Reinhard says the disciples walked out of weakness and arrived with the power to do what Jesus commissioned them to do. “Power is the essence of the Christian witness. Christianity is either supernatural or nothing at all.”
Reinhard says when he preaches the Gospel, it becomes an event. He says being baptized in the Spirit changes our very nature and surroundings. He likens the power of the Holy Spirit to an electric cable. It looks tame until it is touched. “Being filled with the Spirit is shown to have had a dynamic and energizing effect or power in the New Testament and in the lives of millions of people since then,” he says.
LIVING A LIFE OF FIRE
Reinhard Bonnke has been an evangelist to Africa since 1967 and is one of the world’s most successful promoters of the Christian message. Today, the Bonnke name is known around the globe and is synonymous with gigantic meetings in Africa where millions of people have been won to Christ – in a single meeting. Over 77 million people (and counting) in the last decade have committed their lives to Christ through his ministry. Men and women have been saved, delivered and literally rescued from certain death. Reinhard’s life story and mission to spread the Gospel is captivating, including one story of his team escaping by a breath, with only their lives intact, from the Muslim city of Kano, in Nigeria. The “fire” in Reinhard’s life refers to the continual partnership with and reliance on the Holy Spirit throughout his life and ministry.
When Reinhard tells of God calling him to a life of evangelism, it seemed God laid out what would be expected of him. Reinhard told God that he would obey and follow what God was asking of him, and before this extended conversation ended, God told Reinhard, “You weren’t my first choice.” Reinhard listened. “You weren’t my second choice either.” Later, there was a time when Reinhard hesitated to schedule a specific crusade. He says as he wavered, “God said, ‘You drop the vision and I drop you.’” The evangelist attributes the tremendous responses he has seen in ministry to simple obedience to what God requires.
Reinhard says the crusades in Africa are always the same, and that’s a very good thing. They are always the same in that the Holy Spirit woos the large crowds, and then large numbers of people respond to the gospel message of salvation and finally, signs and wonders of all sorts follow the salvations. Blind eyes see, deaf ears hear, the lame give up crutches and wheel chairs and get up from sick beds. Those with incurable diseases are made whole and those with demonic oppressions and possessions are set totally free. Reinhard just obediently does what the Lord has called him to do. He preaches the truth of God’s Word and invites those in need to come.
A MINISTRY OF HEALING
Reinhard is the youngest son of a German pastor. He gave his life to the Lord at the age of nine and heard the call to the African mission fields before he was a teenager. After attending Bible college in Wales and pastoring in Germany for seven years, he began his missionary work in Africa. Reinhard began holding tent meetings that accommodated 800 people. As attendance steadily increased, larger tents had to be purchased. In 1984, he commissioned the construction of the world’s largest mobile structure — a tent capable of seating 34,000. This tent was destroyed in a windstorm just before a major crusade. There was a question as to how to proceed. The team decided to hold the crusade “open air.” Instead of the expected 34,000 attendees, the event saw over 100,000 people, significantly more than the tent would have allowed. Crowds have been exceeding “tent” size ever since.
Reinhard founded Christ for all Nations with office locations in Johannesburg, South Africa; Frankfurt, Germany; Birmingham, United Kingdom; Ontario, London and Orlando, Florida. Reinhard passed the baton of ministry to his successor, Daniel Kolenda, who is now CEO and President of CfaN.