J John on Reinhard Bonnke - a man of passion
Evangelist J John writes in appreciation of the German powerhouse, a man he describes as "remarkable, extraordinary and unique" ...
The end of an era: the passing of Reinhard Bonnke
J John writes:
“Reinhard Bonnke, the great mass evangelist of Africa, passed away on Saturday 7 December at the age of 79. In any account of him and his ministry in Africa you will come across the words remarkable, extraordinary and unique. They are all true. Reinhard had a phenomenal ministry in Africa and preached quite literally to millions. Indeed there’s a reliable claim that on one occasion he preached to 1.6 million people in a single night in Lagos.
“I knew Reinhard and spoke at two of his conferences. I always found him extraordinarily gracious and found myself very appreciative of the way that he affirmed and encouraged me.
“As I reflect on Reinhard, I’m struck by three powerful aspects of his ministry.
“The first is that Reinhard was a man of passion. He was, in a way, one of the last ‘good old-fashioned’ Pentecostal evangelists and, although born in Germany, I think it’s significant that he was trained at the Bible College of Wales in Swansea with its long traditions of preaching from the heart to the heart. He cared deeply about his hearers’ spiritual state and about the need for them to receive Christ. Preaching was his life.
“The second is that Reinhard was a man of vision. Although he preached in other continents, his ‘home turf’ was Africa. His vision there was nothing less than that the whole continent would become Christian. That vision, staggering in its extent, never left him and he played his part in making it happen. In some measure, the explosive growth of the Church in Africa owes a lot to him.
“Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Reinhard was a man of conviction. Over his long ministry I don’t think there was any great change in his preaching and, from beginning to end, he saw the world as a bitter battleground between God and the devil, with human beings caught between the two awesome destinies of heaven and hell.
“His unshakeable belief in these spiritual realities was something that was deeply appreciated in Africa. He preached Jesus as the one who saved men and women from evil through the power of the Holy Spirit with a single-minded and unshakeable commitment. Yes, there were healings at his meetings but he always saw them as demonstrations of the gospel’s power rather than as goals in themselves. His priority was always the preaching of Christ.
“It is often said of individuals at a funeral that ‘we will not see their like again’. It’s a cliché but it is probably true of someone like Reinhard: he was indeed a man of his time and the world generally, and Africa in particular, has changed. Yet as I think about what led him – his passion, vision and conviction – a troubling thought strikes me. These elements are there in the New Testament, they were there in Reinhard Bonnke, but do we have them? Oh, our gospel may be more seeker-sensitive and more sophisticated, but do we know anything of that same passion, vision and conviction? It’s a good question.
“I salute you, Reinhard Bonnke, and thank you for inspiring me to keep doing the work of an evangelist.”
Revd Canon J.John