Renowned German-American Pentecostal evangelist and one of the greatest preachers of the Gospel in the world, Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke, recently passed on in the United States at the age of 79. In his death, Nigeria and indeed Africa have lost a man of God, who dedicated his entire life preaching the good news throughout Africa. Born on April 19, 1940, in Konigsberg, East Prussia, Germany, Bonnke became a born-again Christian at the age of nine when his mother confronted him with a certain ‘sin’ in his life.
He was said to have given his life to Christ immediately after and never looked back. He studied at the Bible College of Wales in Swansea, Wales. After graduation, he was a pastor in Germany for seven years. He began his ministry in Africa by preaching in Lesotho in 1967. Later, he held crusades across the continent. In 1974, Bonnke founded the mission organisation known as Christ for all Nations (CfaN). No doubt, Bonnke had great passion for Africa and dedicated a good part of his life evangelizing the people of the continent.
In the process, he drew millions of souls to Christ. Perhaps no one brought the gospel of Christ to Africa the way he did in contemporary times. Adhering to the mandate that he got, he prioritised large-tent crusades, instead of the small ones that were in vogue at the time. He came to Nigeria several times and his impact was so much. He had a crusade in Kano in 1999 and in Lagos in 2000.
In fact, no part of the country was left out of his visitations and crusades as Onitsha in the South-East and Warri in the South-South also felt his remarkable presence. His last crusade in Nigeria in 2017 was prophetically entitled “Farewell Crusade.” His Christ for all Nations (CfaN) has offices across the world, including, the United States, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Czech Republic, United Kingdom, Nigeria, South Africa, Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong. About 185 million copies of CfaN follow-up literature have been published in 103 languages and printed in 55 countries.
His death has attracted encomiums from world leaders. In his tribute to the world-class evangelist, President Muhammadu Buhari observed that “his crusades in Nigeria, across Africa and the globe strongly accentuated the message of Jesus Christ.” To Pastor Daniel Olukoya of the Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries (MFM), the Evangelist was a “great tool and instrument in the hands of God.”
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) said Bonnke was “a true father of faith, a soldier of Christ who never allowed any distraction to sway him from preaching the authentic gospel.” It, therefore, urged its affiliate members to honour the late evangelist with a minute silence in their assemblies.
Called the “Billy Graham of Africa,” Bonnke was a man of notable signs and wonders, which attended his crusades wherever he went. He performed great miracles. His ministry was not spared its own share of controversies. Reinhard Bonnke was a great evangelist and a man of faith whose Christian vision has transformed modern day Pentecostal churches in Nigeria and other parts of Africa.
He also mentored many evangelists in Nigeria and Africa. He would be remembered as a man who saw the vision of saving many souls in Africa and did not hesitate in taking the plunge. We believe that History would be kind to him whenever the activities of men of God are chronicled in Africa and elsewhere in the world. He was a great prophet, a teacher as well as a role model.
We urge all evangelists, especially the aspiring ones, to emulate his worthy examples. There is no doubt that he would be greatly missed by many followers of the gospel in Africa and elsewhere. We commiserate with his family, friends and the Christian community on the great loss. May God grant his soul eternal repose.