Bonnke: World Evangelist Answers The Homecall

Reinhard Bonnke, the German evangelist whose record-setting crusades led him to be nicknamed “the Billy Graham of Africa,” died Saturday at age 79.

While some hail him as a spiritual giant, others scoff when he promises miracles and anointing. Critics say the last thing African Christianity needs is more preachers who focus on spiritually shallow events. They say the quality of disciples, not the quantity of the crowd, is the key to reaching Africans. Still, ordinary Africans adore him.

Bonnke himself is as complex as he is controversial. While his crusades are often high in hype and hoopla, the evangelist is a caring pastor, single-minded in purpose and genuine in nature. Both on and off the stage, his goal is simple: to win the heart of Africa for Christ.

The son of a pastor, Bonnke felt the call to African missions as a kid, going on to attend seminary in Wales and become ordained in the German Pentecostal Church. He led a congregation in northern Germany, then became a missionary in the tiny nation of Lesotho in southern Africa. There, the Spirit gave him a vision of the African continent “washed in the blood of Jesus,” leading to his mass evangelism ministry. He founded CfaN 1974.

He told CT in 2013, “Some people call me a healing evangelist. I do not like that. I define myself as a salvation evangelist who also prays for the sick. Wherever we go, 95 percent of the meeting is a clear preaching presentation of the gospel.”

“Billy Graham has inspired me personally,” Bonnke wrote on Facebook after Graham’s death in 2018, “when he preached in a tent in Hamburg, Germany. I always felt connected to him.”

Bonnke was the author of 40 books and wrote in his 2009 autobiography, Living a Life of Fire,”I still have only one sermon. I preach the simple ABCs of the gospel.” He died at home, surrounded by family, and is survived by his wife, three children, and eight grandchildren.

President Muhammadu Buhari while reacting to the death of popular evangelist, Reinhard Bonnke, described it as a particular loss for Nigeria and the African continent.

In a statement issued by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, and made available to State House Correspondents in Abuja on Saturday evening – Buhari commiserated with his family.

“President Muhammadu Buhari joins Christendom at large in mourning the passing of renowned evangelist, Reinhard Bonnke, 79, describing his transition as a great loss to Nigeria, Africa and entire world, the statement read.

“The President condoles with government and people of Germany, family and friends of the great preacher and teacher of the Bible, and all his co-labourers in the vineyard, praying that the good Lord will comfort all those that mourn him.

“President Buhari affirms that Bonnke’s crusades in Nigeria, across Africa and the globe strongly accentuated the message of Jesus Christ, and his vision and zeal for the salvation of souls clearly helped the world in understanding the power of love and kindness as universal language.

“The President prays that the Almighty God will accept the soul of the departed preacher, believing that his legendary contributions to the body of Christ in teaching and writing will always be remembered by posterity”, the statement said.

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