I challenge every preacher to study his sermons and read his books. We often hear of best-selling authors being those who have sold hundreds of thousands of books or a few million copies. There are more than 200 million copies of Rev. Bonnke’s books in print today!
Throughout the years, Reinhard Bonnke continued to grow his life and ministry. We surprised him with a huge birthday cake for his 65th birthday. During the birthday party, someone asked him, “Do you plan to ever retire?” His answer was, “The large 747 planes are accelerating and going faster at take-off. I expect to be going forward and faster, when it is my time to take off for heaven.” I thought that was a classic answer!
His ministry increased the number of crusades held per year in Africa and began to branch out to Asia by holding one crusade per year in that part of the world. Crusades followed in Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore and India, with three or four taking place in South America as well. Each event resulted in tens of thousands receiving Jesus Christ as their Savior, and multitudes were healed and delivered from demon forces.
In the industrialized world, the literature outreach known as “From Minus to Plus” has reached into 95 million homes in twelve different countries with tens of thousands of churches receiving converts from the resulting inquirers. Those countries include the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Hong Kong, Canada and the United States of America. This outreach actively continues at this present time in Finland, Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands.
When I first connected with Reinhard, it was during a time at Christ For All Nations when he was equipping fellow evangelists. I watched him pour out his heart with wisdom and words. On one occasion, we worked together to invite evangelists to come to CfaN to be equipped for ministry.
Evangelist Bonnke was all about multiplication of Christian leaders worldwide. While he hosted crusades at night, he would teach pastors during morning sessions. The morning sessions were called Fire Conferences. I write more about the Fire Conferences in the next section. The point is: Though it was most demanding, he knew that pastors needed to be equipped if the work was going be multiplied. Only eternity will record how many thousands of churches were started through the crusades and how many new converts ended up in new and existing churches.
It was a joy to partner with Reinhard when U.S. pastors chose to join us for two different crusades in Nigeria. In addition to challenging pastors during crusades, he was deeply committed to encouraging U.S. pastors. I heard him express on different occasions his burden for America to experience revival and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as he had seen in other nations.
I witnessed firsthand the absolute, phenomenal unleashing of God’s power through Rev. Bonnke’s life and ministry. During the Abuja, Nigeria Crusade, he hosted a three-day Fire Conference for pastors and Christian leaders. On the last day of the Fire Conference, we began just after sunrise due to the intense heat during the day. While the crusade took place more than 20 miles outside of the city, the Fire Conference took place near the city. We met in a large asphalt area with a high fence around it. By 7:00 am, there were more than 100,000 leaders in attendance! I watch leaders climb the fence to get into the conference. They were so desperate to be touched by God.
At the close of his message, Reinhard announced, “When I begin to pray for you, you will hear a thunder in the sky, like a lightning bolt hitting the ground here.”
I remember looking up into the clear blue sky, thinking, “Did he say a thunder and a lightning bolt?”
Then, Reinhard said, “When I begin to pray for you, if you wish to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, reach out to the Lord! He wants to empower you today, like they were empowered on the Day of Pentecost.”
Next, when he began to pray for this massive crowd, I heard with my own ears a thunder in the sky and felt the power of God hit the pavement all around me. I looked at the sea of people with their hands lifted and watched as tens of thousands of them instantly began to pray in “new tongues.”
Reinhard said to me, “James, come with me. We are going to lay hands on as many as possible.” It was common for Reinhard to pray for as many as possible wherever he went. As we began to move through the huge crowd, pastors and leaders began passing out under the power of God. There were thousands of people laying on the asphalt across the open area.