Renowned German Pentecostal evangelist, Reinhard Bonnke, is dead.
He died at the age of 79.
Bonnke passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family, on Saturday, December 7.
The announcement of his demise was published on his Facebook page. “It is with sorrow that the Bonnke Family would like to announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, and grandfather, Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke.
In the statement, his wife Anni said, “Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ. It is with sorrow that the Bonnke Family would like to announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, and grandfather, Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke.
“He passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family, on December 7, 2019. For the past 60 years, he has preached the glorious Gospel of Jesus throughout the entire world. We want to thank you on behalf of him and our family, for your kind love and unwavering support, which enabled him to preach the matchless message of salvation to countless people. He preached Jesus.”
In November 2017, Bonnke held what he called a farewell crusade in Lagos, where he indicated he was holding his last set of crusades in Africa.
Reinhard Bonnke was born on 19 April 1940 in Königsberg, East Prussia, Germany the son of an army logistics officer. With his mother and siblings, he was taken to Denmark during the evacuation of East Prussia, and spent some years in a displaced persons centre. He was born again at the age of nine after his mother spoke with him about a sin that he had committed He left for missionary work Africa at the age of 10 and says that he had the experience of Baptism in the Holy Spirit. After war service, his father had become a pastor.
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.” Passing through London, he had a chance meeting with the famous preacher George Jeffreys, who encouraged the young German student. After graduation, he pastored in Germany for seven years. He began his ministry in Africa, with which he is principally identified, preaching in Lesotho in 1967. He has subsequently held evangelical meetings across the continent.
Early on, Bonnke encountered poor results from his evangelistic efforts and felt frustrated at the pace of his ministry. Bonnke claims to have had a recurring dream featuring a picture of the map of Africa being spread with red and heard the voice of God crying “Africa Shall Be Saved”. This led him to adopt large-scale evangelism, rather than the traditional small scale missionary approach. He rented a stadium in Gaborone, and preached with little cooperation from local churches. Beginning with only 100 people, the stadium meetings grew.
In 1974, Bonnke founded the mission organisation ‘Christ For All Nations’ (abbreviated CfaN). Originally based in Johannesburg, South Africa, the headquarters were relocated to Frankfurt, Germany in 1986. This was done primarily to distance the organisation from South Africa’s apartheid policy at the time. Today CfaN has 9 offices across 5 continents.
Bonnke began his ministry holding tent meetings that accommodated large crowds. According to an account published by the Christian Broadcasting Network, in 1984 he commissioned the construction of what was claimed to be the world’s largest mobile structure – a tent capable of seating 34,000; this was destroyed in a wind storm just before a major meeting and therefore the team decided to hold the event in the open air instead. According to this account, the event was subsequently attended by over 100,000 people which is far greater than the 34,000 seating capacity the tents could contain.
Bonnke announced his ‘farewell gospel crusade’ to be held in Lagos, Nigeria in November 2017. Lagos is also the location of a gospel crusade held in 2000 which, according to CfaN, is the organisation’s largest to-date, drawing an attendance of 6 million people. In 2019 Reinhard Bonnke will headline the G12 Africa Conference in Pretoria, South Africa.
In 1991, during Bonnke’s visit to Kano in Nigeria, there were riots in the city as Muslims protested over remarks he had reportedly made about Islam in the city of Kaduna on his way to Kano. A rumor was spread that Bonnke was planning to “lead an invasion” into Kano. Muslim youths gathered at the Kofar Mata Eide-ground where they were addressed by several clerics who claimed that Bonnke was going to blaspheme Islam. About 8,000 youths gathered at the Emir’s palace and after noon prayers the riots ensued, during which many Christians sustained various injuries and several churches were burned. After nine years he returned to Nigeria to preach.