Reinhard Willi Gottfried Bonnke
April 14, 1940 – December 7, 2019
"Anyone can believe when God is already moving. But real faith is when you step out when it seems that God is not moving."
Reinhard Bonnke is truly a man with great faith. Reinhard is known as one of the most influential and successful evangelists on the planet today. With meetings held where the masses of up to the millions come to hear the word of God spoken and manifested, Reinhard is at the helm. Since giving his heart to the Lord at the age of 9, Reinhard true objective has always been to obey and be great for the Lords purpose. It is quite obvious that between raising of the dead, healing the sick, and losing the power of the Holy Ghost over the crowds that attend, Reinhard has truly been a conduit for the power of the Lord in his life time. With a passion for Jesus and the amazing abilities God has given him, it is our honor that we declare Reinhard Bonnke as one of Gods great generals.
History: Reinhard Bonnke was born on 19 April 1940 in Königsberg, East Prussia, Germany. Bonnke was one of 6 children born to Herman and Meta Bonnke. Bonnke’s father was in the military as well as a pastor in his home town. Both of Reinhard ’s parents loved the Lord and taught their children about him from a very early age. Reinhard had a great childhood up until the 2nd world war hit his home. He and his family evacuated at the age of 5 due to the violence taking place by Russian attacks. Reinhard recalls quit vividly the terrors that took place, and the faith of his mother constantly praying to Jesus for guidance and protection. He shares the power of that testimony and that difficult time in his book “Living a Life of Fire”. By the time Reinhard was 9 years of age he gave his life to the Lord, and by the age of 10 he started of having experiences with baptism of the Holy Spirit. Shortly after his experiences he felt the call to preach, however when he told his Father, his father did not take him seriously what so ever. However, One day, young Reinhard headed out with his guitar to a street corner in downtown Glückstadt. Singing there until a small crowd gathered, he then opened his Bible and preached. He later reported, 'To my amazement one man knelt and prayed the sinner's prayer with me right there on the street! Racing home, he exclaimed, 'Father, it works! A man came to hear me preach and accepted Jesus. The Holy Spirit really gives us the power to preach!
By the time Reinhard was 19 years of age, he made the decision to attend Bible College. Bonnke studied at The Bible College of Wales in Swansea, where he was inspired by the director Samuel Rees Howells. In one meeting after Howells spoke of answered prayer, Bonnke prayed, "Lord, I also want to be a man of faith. I want to see your way of providing for needs." After graduation, he pastored in Germany for seven years. Bonnke also led a series of crusade meetings in Rendsburg. He began receiving speaking invitations from all around Germany and the rest of the world. In 1967 Reinhard and his wife Anna made the decision to move to Africa. They were led to the Kingdom of Lesotho, is an enclaved, landlocked country in southern Africa completely surrounded by South Africa, to start their mission.
Ministry and Impact: Bonnke and his wife’s mission first started with one-year South African apprenticeship with the Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) which would cover the then Transvaal and also Swaziland. Once Reinhard's apprenticeship was completed, the AFM Missions Board offered Reinhard a choice of four positions in South Africa. One position was with a large, influential and wealthy white church, which he rejected without serious consideration, surprising the local leaders. Least attractive of the four was the Kingdom of Lesotho, a small landlocked nation south of Johannesburg. With the Lord's leading, Reinhard became the AFM overseer of three small churches serving the indigenous Basuto people.
About the size of the state of Maryland and with the beauty of Switzerland, Lesotho became the circuit ride for Reinhard travelling from place to place in the VW camper van, or by mule or horseback across Lesotho's 1,200 miles of mostly unpaved roads connecting small villages of less than 250 souls. The 1,348,000 Basuto tribesmen were Africa's cowboys. While many were literate in English and Sesotho, educated at the century-old missionary schools, at least half of the tribesmen still worshiped ancestors. Those who had converted had become hardened to the Gospel. Their churches were spiritually dry and sparsely attended. The Bonnkes learned that Lesotho was known as the 'graveyard of missionaries'. At churches he oversaw, Reinhard encountered an elder who was a drunkard and another elder who espoused ancestor worship. Reinhard had to clean house, offending those still attending. One church's local pastor didn't understand the need to evangelize; only five souls filled his pews. Eventually, Reinhard told Anni he would not invest himself in dead churches. He did preach on Sundays, but weekdays he sought out new converts on the streets of Lesotho's villages. After many years, the street converts brought revival into those churches. These early years were a very discouraging beginning.
In 1970 Reinhard felt the need to do more and serve in his city. The issue was in his church an in his city, many young men were unemployed and very poor. Reinhard devised an employment plan to also spread the Gospel. Each young man would have a bicycle with a weatherproof box. Going village to village, they gave away the ministry's magazine, while also selling Bibles and hymnals. Reinhard travelled to wealthy outside churches presenting the vision and raising funds. Eventually, Reinhard had thirty young men riding and earning double Lesotho's wage for young men. Some became true soul winners and, eventually, pastors. In two years, those thirty had visited everywhere in Lesotho, exposing 1,348,000 to the Gospel.
In 1971, the lord started to birth “Christ for All Nations”. In the city of Maseru, Reinhard began using their printing press extensively. During this time God gave Reinhard the name for the ministry and press - CfaN (Christ for all Nations) and CfaN Press. Throughout Maseru, CfaN Press and local radio publicised Evangelist John Bosman's upcoming meetings. The publicity urged people to come expecting to see God's miracles and healing. Excitement built until the weekend; many sick, lame and blind were brought. The church was packed out and overflowing. Through these meetings, great excitement for Christ swept through the region resulting in salvations, healings and the breaking of satanic power.
With ministry starting to move forward, things really changed in 1973 when one night Reinhard was given a dream from the Lord. Reinhard saw a map of Africa. Not South Africa, not Lesotho, not Johannesburg, but the entire continent. The map began to be splashed and covered with blood. Bonnke became extremely alarmed. He thought surely this meant some kind of apocalyptic violence was coming or perhaps a Communist revolution. Then the Spirit whispered to him saying that what he saw was the blood of Jesus and the terrible violence he had seen was the spilling of His blood 2,000 years ago on a cross. It was then that he heard the words, '˜Africa shall be saved.''
Moving to South Africa in 1974 to focus more on evangelism after resigning his missionary position with the Velberter Missions Board, the Holy Spirit prompted Reinhard to go to Botswana's capital, Gaborone, and conduct a large campaign. So, Reinhard asked a pastor in Gaborone to help him meet the city officials, and book the National Sports Stadium for a meeting in four weeks. The pastor was startled. 'I am a pastor who has 40 people in church on a good Sunday. How do you expect to fill a stadium that holds 10,000?' The pastor urged Reinhard to host smaller meetings to build up to such a large gathering. Reinhard agreed and booked an 800-seat hall for the first of the week and then the 10,000 seater stadium for the final nights of the campaign. Then he got a list of all the Gaborone pastors and visited all of them one by one. All of the local pastors had various reasons to decline helping Reinhard. He thought, 'What an amateur mistake to plan a campaign before securing the cooperation of the local churches. “But, Lord, You spoke to me and told me that I would preach Your name in that stadium. This is Your campaign. I will do the preaching, but You must fill the stadium.”
At peace, Anni and Reinhard prayed, fasted and then cranked up the CfaN Press. The pastors' congregation plastered the campaign posters throughout Gaborone. Meanwhile, at an AFM conference, Reinhard met with the great Zulu evangelist, Richard Ngidi, who excitedly asked to join up with the Gaborone campaign and CfaN for the next two years. Ngidi was known for the many healing miracles that accompanied his ministry. Reinhard would preach; Ngidi would pray for the sick; and having both black and white men together on the platform would be a testimony against apartheid.
Reinhard and Richard Ngidi returned to Gaborone to hold the first meeting in the 800-seat hall. Only 100 souls were present including all of the local pastors' forty-member church. Fighting back disappointment, Reinhard began preaching, and a woman stood up shouting, 'I've just been healed!' Soon another and then many stood testifying to spontaneous healing. A blind woman fell down blind, then stood up seeing. Within two nights, the 800-seat hall was filled. The campaign moved to the 10,000-seat sports stadium and was packed out by night two. Salvations and healings abounded.
The Holy Spirit asked a surprised Reinhard to pray for people to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. More than 1,000 came forward. After the meeting, 500 were water baptised. CfaN was more than formed, it was launched in fire.
CfaN then began to explore the area of Johannesburg where the Bonnkes now lived. One day as Reinhard drove past a large abandoned farmhouse, the Spirit said, 'That is your new headquarters building. Its landscaping was overgrown and unattended but it fit the need. Without any money in hand, Reinhard went to the owners and made an offer. They accepted and Reinhard soon had received enough money to close the deal. The renovated farmhouse became the new CfaN headquarters.
From there on out Rinehard started doing tent meetings. CfaN had tried many different sizes ranging from a capacity of as little as 800 to as much as 3,000, but still the crowds grew and the 'problem' of overcrowding persisted. The power of the Holy Spirit was demonstrated in every meeting and was a far more powerful magnet for the people with great needs than what they had expected. An example of this type of power was a meeting at that time in the 4,000-seat Centenary Hall in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, where Reinhard's preaching was interrupted as hundreds of people spontaneously rushed forward under Holy Spirit conviction to confess their sins and receive Jesus as their Saviour. All manner of stolen goods were returned and witchcraft fetishes were thrown on the platform.
As campaigns grew in this fashion, the search for a 5,000-seat tent intensified until the Lord spoke to Reinhard to trust Him for a 10,000 seat tent! In obedience to this word, Reinhard finally found a tent maker in Milan, Italy who would take on the job and the 10,000 seat tent was commissioned.
Once again the crowds flocked to the meetings and more often than not, the 10,000-seat tent was packed to capacity with thousands standing outside. Once again the Holy Spirit spoke to Reinhard but this time to trust the Lord for a tent that would seat 34,000 people.
Such a monumental project had never been done by anyone and in 1984 the resulting massive tent, built entirely by CfaN technicians was, according to the Guinness Book of World Records the largest mobile structure on earth at the time.
Two years later the tent was retired from CfaN ministry as the crowds attending the meetings could not be contained by the massive structure. The tent was given to other missions organisations in Africa who use it for evangelisation of the continent.
From this point on CfaN would conduct Gospel Campaigns in the open-air using national stadiums or vast open areas that were cleared and set up specifically for the campaigns. Hundreds of thousands of people would come to CfaN campaigns.
CfaN's 1990 campaign in Kaduna, Nigeria attracted a crowd of 500,000 gathered to hear the Gospel. Stunned, Reinhard turned to the other ministers on the platform; they were weeping. Not understanding their tears, he asked, 'Why are you weeping? This is a day of great rejoicing. Look at the size of this crowd.' 'You don't understand, Pastor Bonnke,' a pastor replied. 'These people are nearly all Muslims. This area is totally dominated by the Muslim religion. The pastors were weeping because the Muslims, who had shunned their churches, had been willing to gather on an open field to hear the Gospel preached.
The CfaN meetings concluded in Kaduna with a total attendance of 1,670,000! In this one campaign in Muslim Nigeria, Reinhard and the CfaN team had preached to more people than Reinhard and the team had preached to during the entire year of 1987, just three years before!
In 1999 after nine years of forced absence from Nigeria, Reinhard Bonnke and the Christ for all Nations team were invited back into the country by president-elect Olusegun Obasanjo. In October, the country welcomed Evangelist Bonnke back to Benin City. This open door to Nigeria triggered what is arguably one of the greatest periods of recorded salvations in the history of the Christian Church.
By the year 2000 the largest meetings took place in the history of the ministry with over 1.6 million people attending one single meeting. With the Lord performed the most wonderful miracles, not least of which was the organization of such a crowd. An astonishing 230,000 counsellors and ushers were trained. Witch doctors confessed Jesus, wheelchairs were held aloft, and crutches bristled above the crowd like scattered stubble. Logically impossible, even more so in Nigeria, the crowd arrived, rejoiced, and left without disaster. By the end of the week, 3,461,171 salvations were recorded.
For the next 10 years the lord would continue to bless and increase CfaN. By By the end of 2011 we had recorded 60,862,305 salvations in Nigeria!! Truly this was a decade of God's outpouring on this amazing nation and these amazing people. We give God ALL the glory for what He has done in Nigeria and we pray that the move of God would continue in that nation. In 2012 the ministry felt God telling then that their time in Nigeria was coming to a close and they felt led to journey West to Burkina Faso, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
To this day the progress continues and more and more of Africa is being led to the lord by Reinhard and all his staff at CfaN.
Family Life: Rinehard Bonnke is a husband and a father of 3 children. Bonnke met Anni Schulze at a gospel music festival, and admired the grace with which she recovered from a wrongly pitched music performance at the expense of losing the competition. He offered to preach at the church she attended one Sunday and fell in love with her. In 1964 Anna and Reinhard were married, and from that marriage they produced 3 children, Kai-uwe (1966), Gabriele (1967), and Susanne (1969).