Reinhard Bonnke, the World renowned legendary evangelist known as “The Billy Graham of Africa,” was lauded at a memorial service today as “a giant and a general in the army of God.”
Bonnke passed away December 7, 2019, about 2 weeks after celebrating his 55th wedding anniversary with wife, Anni Bonnke.
The German evangelist died December 7 at the age of 79 in Orlando, where he moved his international ministry, Christ for All Nations (CfaN), in the early 2000s. He retired as head of CfaN in 2017, citing declining health.
During more than four decades of mass crusades in Africa, Bonnke preached in 51 of the continent’s countries and had over 79 million people convert to Christianity.
About 2,000 people gathered from around the US and around the world in the sanctuary of the Faith Assembly of God for a three-hour celebration of Bonnke’s life and ministry.
More than a dozen speakers, including a number from African ministries and denominations, lauded Bonnke, for both his zeal and his personal humility. Other Pentecostal leaders—including T. D. Jakes, Benny Hinn, and Paula White—appeared on the three large screens above the sanctuary’s stage with filmed tributes.
Members of the racially diverse crowd sang Bonnke’s favorite hymns, waving their arms.
A large, red floral arrangement in the shape of the African continent was placed on an easel next to the speaker’s lectern. Along the front of the stage, sheaves of wheat were arranged in containers, symbolizing the harvest of Bonnke’s evangelism.
Between the morning’s speakers, clips of Bonnke’s African crusades—some to audiences of hundreds of thousands—played on the screen.
The best known of these was in Lagos, Nigeria, in November 2000, when an estimated 1.6 million heard Bonnke preach. In 2001, Christianity Todaycalled Bonnke “one of the continent’s most recognizable religious figures.”
In a tweet after Bonnke’s death, Muhammadu Buhari, the president of Nigeria, said the country “joins Christendom at large in mourning the passing of [the] renowned evangelist.”
Bonnke’s death, Buhari said, was “a great loss to Nigeria, Africa [and the] entire world.”
Pia Sebastian, 46, came from Dallas to attend the celebration. In 2013, she gave up a corporate career to study evangelism at one of Bonnke’s training schools.
“I honor Reinhard Bonnke, and I believe that I’m called to carry the torch and fulfill the work of sharing the gospel,” Sebastian said.
Bonnke was the son of a German soldier who became a minister after World War II. Mesmerized by tales of 19th century European missionaries like David Livingstone, young Reinhard would later say he heard the voice of the Holy Spirit say to him: “Africa shall be saved!”