By Sam Eyoboka
TO the journalist, Monday is not regarded as an ideal day to hold a press conference but the Sheraton Hotel and Towers hall was already filled to capacity last week Monday for a rescheduled Christ for All Nations,

Reinhard Bonnke

CFaN Press Conference ahead of the epoch making return of world renowned German evangelist, Reinhard Bonnke to Nigeria come November. Born April 19, 1940 in Konigsberg, East Prussia, Germany, Reinhard Bonnke is a German Pentecostal evangelist, whose principal focus was to drive the devil right out of Africa from Cape Town to Cairo, in Jesus’ precious name.

He has been evangelizing the continent since 1967. He was born again at the age of nine, after his mother spoke with him about a sin he committed. After attending Bible College in Wales, and his ordination in Germany he pastored a church and then went on to start missionary work in Africa. His first point of call was Lesotho, where he received the vision of “the continent of Africa, being washed in the precious Blood of Jesus,” from Cape Town to Cairo and from Dakar ro Djibouti that needed to be reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ. He began holding meetings in a tent that barely accommodated about 800, but as attendance steadily increased, larger and larger tents had to be constructed, until 1984 when he commissioned the world’s largest mobile structure with the capacity for 34,000 people.

Salvation  decisions

The now 77-year-old founder of Christ for All Nations, which has assisted over 75,913,155 people make salvation decisions over the last three decades, will return to Nigeria early next month to hold his “Farewell Gospel Crusade,” where he plans to “pass the burning torch” to a younger generation of evangelists led by CFaN’s lead evangelist and Bonnke’s successor, Daniel Kolenda.

The five-day farewell crusade is expected to hold from November 9-12 beside Sparklight Estate, Opposite OPIC Events Centre, Isheri along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway where over 10 million persons from across the West African sub-region, are expected to attend daily and submitting to the majesty of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The son of a German Pentecostal pastor had felt the call to mission work in Africa at age 10, one year after he accepted Jesus as his Lord. As a youth, public declarations of missionary ambitions brought knowing smiles from adults and mocking from his peers, but little Reinhard felt he’d heard the Lord’s call.

In his teenage years, the urge toward Africa grew stronger. He went to college to study for the ministry – all the time telling his lecturers that he was going to evangelize Africa. With a diploma in hand, 25-year-old newly wed Bonnke finally arrived Africa in 1967 with support of $110 a month. Reports have it that Bonnke’s missionary outreach in Africa began in 1969 when he and his wife, Anni, and their son moved to Lesotho and served as missionaries there for seven years.

It was during that time that Bonnke said he developed a vision that he was to help win over the African continent in the name of Jesus and he started praying for souls to be saved across Africa. There were no tangible successes in the first years of his African ministry and quite naturally he was frustrated. Bonnke had no church nor pulpit. His only gospel tool was an accordion which he played to attract African crowds at city bus stops and street corners. Once a “congregation” gathered, he preached to them.

“Night after night, I saw the entire African continent, washed in the blood of Jesus, country after country,” said Bonnke even while preaching to small groups of people Sunday after Sunday. According to a recent Charisma report, after years of subtle and not-too-subtle ridicule for his lifelong desire to preach in Africa had humbled him, as had years of asking the Lord “when?”- when would he be permitted to finally go to the ‘Dark Continent’?

He was ingrained with a deep determination not to boast of his great ambitions for the evangelism of Africa, nor to bask in the praise of those who approved of his dream. Bonnke was and still is a self-effacing man who unexpectedly tells listeners of his desire to become “truly led” by the Holy Spirit – that is, led in all things, not just a few.

He was unmoved when in the early hours of Sunday, May 6, 1984, a freak 90-m.p.h. wind whipped suddenly across South Africa’s Cape Peninsula tearing down his ministry’s 438-foot-long, 300-foot-wide tent pitched on the Valhalla Park Sports Field outside of Cape Town and there was insidious laughter from witch doctors. The African witch doctors, shamans and voodoo practitioners, threatened by the emerging superior force, had bragged among the people that they had superior powers than the Jesus, the white German evangelist was preaching across the nation.

Despite numerous threats to his life and ministry, he remained undaunted but committed to his vision and calling. He described Nigeria as a “trigger” (referring to Nigeria’s location on the map of Africa). Sixteen Nigerians died and hundreds were injured during an opening rally for a five-day revival organized in 1999 by Reinhard Bonnke. The deaths occurred in Benin City when a surge in the crowd of 550,000 turned into a stampede. Despite the tragedy, crowds grew even larger in subsequent rallies.

Earlier in 1991, Bonnke’s mission to Kano sparked violent crisis between Christians and Muslims, resulting in an undisclosed number of deaths. “You have to be extremely careful when you do evangelism so you don’t offend the Muslim populations,” says Abe Vreeke, director of Christian Reformed World Missions in Nigeria, who added that Bonnke’s open-air crusades in Nigeria were “probably more negative than positive.”

Vreeke was barred entrance to Nigeria in 1992 as part of a missionary crackdown by the government after Bonnke’s 1991 crusade. Despite the controversies surrounding his crusades, Bonnke is believed to be the only European evangelist to effectively work harmoniously with local churches, which account for more than one-third of active church members in Africa.

“We’re going to drive the devil right out of Africa from Cape Town to Cairo, in Jesus’ precious name,” Bonnke recollects some of the mandates he got in his early mission to the continent, as he returns to where CfaN held its largest crusade to date – the Millennium Crusade in 2000.  Over the span of the five-night crusade, over six million people attended, while as many as 3.4 million were said to have made decisions to accept or reaffirm their faith in Christ.

Hear him: “The Lord spoke to me, that I should go back for one more crusade in Africa,” Bonnke said in a statement. “I want not only to see a gigantic harvest of souls, but to pass my burning torch to this generation. Recently, I travelled to Lagos, Nigeria to meet with the spiritual leadership there and they gave their unanimous support. I believe God is going to do something I have never seen before.

Bonnke’s return could inspire another historic global attendance as that of 2000, the press release claimed, stressing that the November 2017 crusade will also include day sessions that will focus on “passing the burning torch” to other leaders and church workers. “This crusade will be like none we have seen before,” CfaN African Director John Darku said in a statement. “There is great excitement from all the churches in the country, and we are expecting a spectacular harvest of people coming to Christ.”

Darku added that CfaN will recruit over 500,000 counselors, 200,000 intercessors, a 23,000-person choir, and a security team of over 10,000. “I’m thrilled to join with Reinhard in this vision, and know that the results of this crusade will be farther – reaching and of even greater consequence than we can even imagine,” Kolenda said in the statement.

“We must be poised, ready to take the baton from Evangelist Bonnke, and work the work of our Father. God is calling on you and I, even though we may be imperfect, to join with Him, to reach the unsaved with the word of salvation and cause great healing unto the souls, bodies, and spirits of the people of a decaying and reprobate world,” he said.

Also speaking on the crusade, the Chairman of the Central Working Committee of Bonnke Farewell Crusade 2017, Apostle Alexander Bamgbola stressed the importance of the event, saying there will be healing for the nation currently plagued by socio-economic corruption and spiritual pollution. According the Lagos State CAN chairman, Evangelist Bonnke said repeated believed that Nigeria has great potentials but she is being held down by demonic forces that can dealt with. The result is what we see as social vices that have held down economic growth. Inflation has remained high at double digit, just as unemployment rate ensures that more than 29 million employable youths remain jobless,” he noted.

According to Bamgbola, the news of social crimes including kidnapping, rising incidents of armed robbery as well as rape and sexual harassments, against minors have reached the German evangelist, just as youth restiveness across the country which have created pockets of violence in some regions, “forcing the Army to take certain measures to police the country. While these persist, we see Government struggle with lean resources and rising corruption in private and public sectors.”

Continuing, the chairman of CWC outlined several social crises bedeviling the country to include that “the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs which was introduced by the United Nations did not achieve much in Africa, stressing that by the time it was rested in 2015, the level of success of its eight goals in Africa was dismal, to say the least. As the curtains were drawn, 65 per cent of Nigerians still remained in poverty.

Spiritual  underpinnings

“Only six of every 10 Nigerian children were in school; combat against HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, mortality of mothers, and of children under five years was merely tolerable. There was no progress in efforts to provide access to safe drinking water for all, or to significantly stem erosion and coastal flooding. Clearly, pursuing material and physical projects without combating the spiritual underpinnings, will eventually end-up feeble and of non-effects eventually,” he pointed out.

“Evangelist Bonnke is aware of Badoo Boys of Ikorodu, the ritual killings and armed robbery in some parts of our country, the scourge of primordial killings and unrelenting attacks by those called “herdsmen”, and the ethnic disturbances and secessionist tendencies,” he maintained, urging all those who are down with any sickness or afflicted by any form of challenge to take advantage of the explosive God-ordained crusade to receive their miracles of deliverance.

Contending that Jesus specifically sent the German evangelist on this last mission to be God’s mighty instrument in healing the land, Bamgbola noted “he is coming here for this farewell crusade, that will bring succour to troubled souls. Bonnke is coming is coming with the gospel to set the captives free. He is coming to Nigeria because God wants to restore hope and cleanse the air from spiritual pollution,” he explained.

According to him, the crusade will unleash the power of God on Nigeria and liberate it from the very present demonic forces eating up its socio-economic and spiritual potentials.

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