The son of a German pastor, Reinhard Bonnke himself became a pastor in his home country for seven years before sensing a call of God to begin a mission work in southern Africa. Starting with a tent seating 800 people, his crusades attracted such crowds that he eventually commissioned construction of the world’s largest mobile structure -- a tent that could seat 34,000 people. Today, however, most of his crusades take place in giant stadiums across Africa, where they draw hundreds of thousands across the continent. A Pentecostal preacher who sees healing miracles as a critical element of his African crusades, he nevertheless believes that preaching is the key God uses to draw people to salvation. Preaching editor Michael Duduit recently visited with Bonnke.
Preaching: You have become known for the evangelistic crusades that you lead around the world, particularly in Africa. Is there is still a place in the 21st century for evangelistic preaching?
Bonnke: Oh yes! God’s Word is still calling for them and the scripture says that God has sent the gifts of the Spirit for ministry and the Evangelist remains a part of it no matter what or how things are changing in the culture. I actually believe with all of my heart that the ministry of Evangelism, of the Evangelist, is the most important of all because he is out to rescue the perishing and to save the drowning. This is the heart of God. Salvation cost him everything -- His only begotten Son.
When God created the world, He didn’t sweat -- not one drop of perspiration. But God was sweating blood at the cross. That’s what it cost Him to save us. That’s not a small thing. So proclaiming the cross is not a side thought, an afterthought. It’s not on the back burner; it must be the front burner. It stems from the greatest word that Jesus preached from the Cross: “Father, forgive them for they know not for what they do.”All these things stir my heart, and when I see how souls are coming to the arms of Jesus by the hundreds of thousands in my own crusades, I’m awed. And I know that there’s great joy in Heaven.
Preaching: Has your evangelistic preaching changed over the years? With the variety of cultures and settings to which you go and preach, do you find that you have had to adapt you approach to evangelistic preaching in any way?
Bonnke: To be honest, the Gospel I preach in Africa is the same Gospel I preach in America. I cannot use the same illustrations, maybe, because people may not understand things. But the message is absolutely the same. And I find I get the same kind of response from the people because we are all sons and daughters of God. I’m not coming with a different Gospel but to different people. It’s the same message: Christ crucified, risen from the dead; we must repent and believe. Sin and salvation to face, turning from doubt and darkness to light, from the power of sin to the power of God -- it is the same message and it has the same glorious effect.