This week, I had the privilege of having a meal with my hero in the faith – the evangelist Reinhard Bonnke. What a man. What a legacy. At almost 80, he’s still lucid, still strong, still full of the Holy Spirit, and still on FIRE. I related this story to Bro. Bonnke, of how I first met him in 1998.
I was a young pastor, with a fledgling ministry, and I get a call inviting me to lunch with the evangelist. It was a dream come true. I remember driving to the luncheon, praying all the way there, hoping I wouldn’t say anything embarrassing.
There were eight of us and the conversation revolved around what was happening in Africa. I took a deep breath, and I asked Bro. Bonnke to explain how the anointing works and how I could flow in it. He literally started preaching. That’s what I love about the man – whether it’s eight people, 8,000, or 800,000, he’s the same. By the second question, he was ready to give an altar call. Then a third question and I’ll never forget the moment.
He looked me in the eye and said, “Young man, I want to pray for you.” He laid hands on me and, as long as I live, I’ll never forget what he said: “Many are called, but few are chosen, and the Lord says, ‘I chose you’.” I was wrecked. I went home and everything changed in my life – my prayer life, my preaching, my passion. There was a definite impartation when the evangelist laid his hands upon me.
Then in 2002, we had the privilege of hosting Christ For All Nation’s Fire (CfaN) Conference, in Singapore. Up to that point, we had never embarked on such a huge task. I was appointed co-chair of the organising committee and that conference propelled Cornerstone to greater faith. It was our first foray in a mega event. Then, again in 2005, we held a 2nd Fire Conference, this time at the Indoor Stadium, and again, God showed up marvellously.
All those years of training, stretching and sitting at the feet of one of the greatest evangelists of all time is a definite life-changing experience. In 2004, I remember sitting in my living room and watching a video of Bro. Bonnke preaching and he was sharing his well-known story about George Jeffreys and how he received a mantle from the man of God. As I watched it, the Spirit of the Lord came upon me powerfully and I broke and wept. I cannot explain to you what transpired but, in the Spirit, I was connected to Mr. Rees Howells and the Bible College of Wales. I just knew it. I know it sounds strange but there was this ‘knowing’.
Of course, I couldn’t have imagined it but in 2012, we were led by God to redeem and purchase the Bible College of Wales and God brought back to me that experience in my living room all those years before. You see, Bro. Bonnke is probably the most famous student who graduated from the Bible College of Wales and when we redeemed the college, I felt deeply connected in the Spirit to CfaN as well.
We had the opportunity to ask him several questions about his time as a student in the College and one of the things he told us was that they didn’t allow speaking in tongues in the College grounds. But he continued to pray in tongues and they allowed him to because they thought he was praying in German. But the most precious lesson he said he learnt was that of trusting God for finances. He was challenged to give all his money away and to trust God for his provision, a test which he said he passed, but with much struggle.
The lunch finally came to an end, but not before Bro. Bonnke said the most humbling thing to me. The great man of God said, “Brother, I honour the work you’ve done, and what God is doing through you all over world and I want to stay connected.” I was deeply humbled. Here’s a man totally committed to preaching a pure Gospel in the simplest of terms possible.
I end with a story told me by Pastor Larry Stockstill. At a meal with Bro. Bonnke, they discussed a pastor who had fallen into some sort of sin – and Bonnke seemed a little detached. Bro. Larry then asked Bro. Bonnke what he thought about the matter and Bonnke, looking upwards said, “All Africa shall be saved!”
That’s who he is. For him, plundering hell to populate heaven leaves no room for neutrality. It allows no stopping point. He’s Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke.