Saturday, October 28, 2017 6:00 pm
By Ademola Adegbamigbe
Reinhard Bonnke, the German Pentecostal Evangelist and head of Christ for All Nations (CFaN), whose proselitising territory is Africa, will, between 8 and 12 November, storm Nigeria in what has been regarded as his final crusade. According to CFaN officials, headed by the African Director, John Darku, more than 10 million people are expected at the Isheri, Ogun State, venue. He revealded further that 500,000 counsellors, 200,000 intercessors, a choir of over 23,000 and a security force of over 10,000 would make the crusade a sprawling success.
Watch Bonnke here: https://youtu.be/Aso6PVcmLw0
The question remains: Why a farewell crusade? As a source close to the ministry told TheNEWS, Bonnke is an old man now, he does not have enough energy as before. He will be handing over to a younger blood, Daniel Kolenda. The new leader is according to CFaN, a graduate of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida and the Brownsville Revival School of Ministry in Pensacola, Florida, “but his greatest education has come from the years of ministry side-by-side with his mentor and spiritual father Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke.” Together, as the ministry puts it, they have circled the globe preaching the Gospel and continue to do so as a single-minded team with great effectiveness.
In the words of Darku too: “One of the highlights of the crusade (in Lagos) will be a Passing The Burning Torch Conference for leaders and church workers. Bonnke is believing God for many thousands of pastors and evangelists from around the globe to be inspired to evangelism.”
Darku told journalists that the crusade promises to be the best of its kind just as he hinted at plans to recruit more than 500,000 counselors, 200,000 intercessors, a choir of over 23,000 and a security force of over 10,000.
In this interview with ADEMOLA ADEGBAMIGBE, Editor, RICHARD ELESHO and ERNEST OMOARELOJIE, the German evangelist gives a blow -by- blow account of his life and the source of his power.
HOW I STARTED HEALING
Let us start with your background. You were growing up during World War 11. Narrate that childhood experience to us
I was born in 1940 in East Germany during World War II. That was when the war was going on. We had to flee and become refugees. We lost everything. We went with our mother, we were six children. I was child number five and just four years old when we ran for our lives. Somehow we crossed the Baltic Sea by boat just to escape the Russians – Soviet forces at that time. We landed in Denmark.
Actually, I was between my fourth and ninth year. All I knew was barbed wire in a refugee camp in a foreign land. So that explains why I have a very great compassion for displaced and poverty stricken people. I also remembered how we scratched for food just to survive. I had a very rough childhood.
We returned to Germany when I was nine and my father at that time was a Pastor. He has started a church in West Germany. So we were repatriated from Denmark after finding him through the Red Cross. That was how I grew up in Hamburg.
In other words, when you left Germany initially you didn’t go with your father?
My father was a soldier like everybody else during the war you know, they were drafted.
He was during that period a British prisoner of war (POW). He was prisoner of war for just nine months before he was released. Then he established a church as I have just mentioned earlier. That’s where I grew up.
You became born again at the age of nine. Is that true?
How was that experience?
Well, I tell you something Nigerians may not have heard. In the refugee camp, I never knew what money was because there was no money. We were just refugees. The Danish government gave us some food and we got some clothes and we lived four families in one room. It was a terrible thing. We were just surviving. When as a nine-year old boy, I got back to Germany, I discovered money, I realised that with money I could buy sweets. And I stole some coins from my mother’s purse. I went out and bought sweets. She caught me red handed but instead of punishing me, because that was what I deserved, she put her hands around me and said “Reinhard, you are on your way to hell, because you are a thief.”
That moment the Holy spirit touched my heart. I saw myself lost. And she said Jesus can save sinners and he cares for me. People think this cannot be real in a child’s heart and mind but that was the day of my new birth. And I never ever touched money again. It was absolutely fantastic but that was my conversation experience. I had made a petty theft; mother caught me and instead of punishing me she led me to Jesus Christ and I am eternally grateful.
We thought that since your father was a Pastor, you don’t need that born again experience. Or what do you think?
Oh! God has no grandchildren. So I cannot be saved because of my father. Everyone has got to get saved himself. And if my parents go to haven, I could still go to hell. It has nothing to do with even if my father was the Pope. Of course he (the Pope) doesn’t marry. I still would need to be saved.
And I was extremely focused. So, at age 22, I met my wife. She is the only woman I have ever kissed. That’s the truth.
That was a tender age to take such a conscious decision. Does it mean you never had childhood escapades – drinking, ladies etc?
Well, I got saved like I said earlier at nine. When I was 10, Jesus called me, I was in my father’s Church, a very small church because it was a small town just north of Hamburg. I don’t know how many people were there 20, 30 or 50. I think 50 was far too much. So let’s say 25. And there was somebody speaking. It was a guest speaker, not my dad. And I sat there as a 10-year old boy and suddenly the Holy Spirit spoke in my heart. I heard it as clear as a bell. And he said ‘Reinhard, one day, you will preach the gospel in Africa…”
I started to cry and I ran forward, hugged my dad. I said, “Papa, papa, papa, God had spoken to me.” Father said, “What did He say?” I said, He said that one day I would “preach the gospel in Africa.” And my father said to me, Reinhard, “your older brother is going to be my successor.” I thank God I never became his successor. Since then as I grew up to become a teenager of 14, 15,16, 17, 18, I always thought I cannot fool around with the girls like the other boys because I have to preach to those girls one day. And I was extremely focused. So, at age 22, I met my wife. She is the only woman I have ever kissed. That’s the truth.
How were you able to resist the temptations?
We are all tempted because temptation itself is not a sin only when we yield to it. I don’t want to put myself here as a great example but if you ask me so directly, this is my honest answer. It is the truth.
But I still was a sinner as you known and still need the salvation. So with God it is like that. You can have forgiveness for the biggest sin, as you need it for the smallest sin. So if you are a big or small sinner, to God it doesn’t actually matter. One thing matters, we all need the Savior, we all need forgiveness. If my little sins have not been forgiven, I would still go to hell. We all need Jesus-big or small sinner. We all need him.
Getting born again at that tender age must be a unique experience. What will you consider the most challenging moment of your life?
Well, I got to very difficult times you can imagine. I went to the Theological seminary in the United Kingdom when I was 19 years of age at last I was old enough. I was just dying for that day I wanted to get going on my way to Africa.
I never met at African until I was 19. That was in the United Kingdom. I was there with a youth group for a visit and in one of the churches, I saw an African. I ran to him. I said would you please allow me to take a photo with you? I still have that photo. Because I knew that God had asked me to preach the Gospel to Africa and I was so proud meeting an African for the first time, I was so blessed, I had a lot of trials after I was ordained as a minister of the gospel and I pioneered churches with great hardship, great financial hardship. My salary was a peanut. We just lived by faith and trusted in God. I knew I have a big heart for people who struggle. I got through it all and I can only say it is worth the while to keep trusting in God. I asked the Lord for silver and He gave me gold.
You had a specific call to preach the gospel to Africa. If you look back with your experience so far, do you now have an idea of why God asked you to come to Africa?
No, I think it is… I just view it as the great mercy of God. You know we were five boys I told you. I was not the best at school. My brothers were absolutely brilliant. So I always thought my brothers would qualify more for the service of God until I realised that mathematics does not save the world. You Jesus had to come and die and obedience to the Holy Spirit, yielding one’s life to God is what God is looking for. And then He gives us the Holy Spirit which is the equipment for this type of work. And I think it is the greatest honour in my life that He just chose me. God does not give explanation to us on why He chooses the one and not the other. He has no need to explain to that. His choice is His choice. He says I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious to. That’s all I can say for myself.