by Reinhard Bonnke
Thirty years ago, as a young missionary in Africa, I sometimes preached to five people. I had mocked the bland little moral essays preached from thousands of pulpits every Sunday as having as much dynamite as chewing-gum in Sunday School.
Now, in the "proven" tradition of foreign missions, had come my opportunity to see the impact of the glorious Gospel. With five people? Beyond our mission, 450 million souls in Africa were ignorant of salvation through Jesus Christ. Certainly they could all be evangelized in the way we were tackling it, if they obliged us by staying alive for about 5,000 years.
However, small audiences did not dismay us. After all, we reasoned, revival could come and save us a lot of trouble. God could rouse Himself to battle. This hope kept us patient and starry-eyed. With unquestioning faith, it had been banked on since the days of our spiritual great-grandfathers.
Lately, however, I had begun questioning. It struck me that the Gospel is not good news to people who do not hear it, that an unpreached Gospel is no Gospel at all. Another small ray of illumination penetrated my heart: We never read in the New Testament of God going forth on His own, but rather "They went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them" (Mk 16:20). God acted when they acted, as Smith Wigglesworth said: "The Acts of the Apostles was written because the Apostles acted!" "For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe" (1 Cor 1:21, NIV).
So ... He was waiting for us, and - I couldn't get away from it - that included me.
I set up a postal Bible course, and 50,000 enrolled. So many! Like a periscope from a submarine, it revealed that I was submerged in an ocean of salvation-needy humanity. In addition, a vision followed me. Night after night I saw the entire African continent, washed in the blood of Jesus, country after country. Wait for revival? We had! Waiting had been done, thoroughly and long, with a hundred years of earnest prayer. Surely God must answer now? However, one more fact faced me: there had never been revival without aggressive evangelism.
So, on a seemingly wild impulse, which proved to be of God, I booked a 10,000 seat stadium for a campaign with a church of 40 members, and ... 10,000 people came! The first ripe wheat. For the first time I witnessed thousands running forward to respond to the call of salvation. God opened my eyes and for the first time I actually saw an invisible, mighty wave of Holy Spirit power arrive - in the stadium. A mass baptism in the Holy Spirit, accompanied by many healing miracles, took place. I wept like a boy and vowed to the Lord that in obedience I would move across the whole of Africa to bring the vision to pass. I reasoned that what God can do for 10,000 people, He could do for 450 million.
What we are seeing God do today in Africa is breathtaking. Following the footsteps of giants, we reap with joy where they once sowed in tears. We went to Bukavu, first visited by missionary C.T. Studd, in the remote rain-forests of Zaire. There we saw 70,000 people respond to the call of God's love. David Livingstone prophesied that where he saw hardly a convert, later there would be thousands. So it was. At Blantyre, Malawi, named after the town in Scotland where Livingstone was born, several hundred thousand responded to the call of salvation.
Witchcraft, occultism and evil make the Gospel today as vital as a gun in a snake pit. The devil is on the run as Jesus sets the captives free wholesale. Cool and casual Christianity will do nothing. Nations need the flaming evangel of the Cross - urgently, not at our leisure.
State presidents and leaders observe the benefits conferred by the Gospel upon their peoples, and welcome us personally. In March 1990, our northward thrust reached almost to the Sahara Desert at Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta), noted for its occultism. The President invited us twice into his home. Gatherings totaled 800,000 people in six meetings, with almost a quarter of a million in the culminating service. Most of them professed Jesus Christ, including many Muslims and animists. Similar things happened in October 1990, when in the Nigerian city of Kaduna 500,000 people gathered in a single service, a total of 1.67 million in six meetings. The response to the power Gospel is absolutely awesome!
Today there is a divine promise in my heart that we shall see one million souls converted in a single meeting. We are acquiring sound systems to reach crowds bigger than perhaps ever addressed before on earth by one man face to face. Arrogant presumption? If the Crucified One is to "see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied," as Isaiah 53:11 states, dare we think in smaller terms? Would He be "satisfied" with anything less? Why should the servants of God plan like Lilliputians?
God envisions the earth "filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Hab 2:14). How do the waters cover the sea? So thoroughly that there is not a single dry spot on the bottom of the sea! This clearly illustrates God's plan. The knowledge of His glory, power and salvation will be spread across the world like a flash-flood. There will not be a single dry spot, no ignorant country, city, town, village, family or individual. "The whole earth is full of His glory!" cried the seraphim (Is 6:3).
This decade must become the culmination of a century of global evangelism and revival, the consummation of the toils and tears of former generations of God's anointed. The church is a lifeboat, not a pleasure boat. Entertainers are neither needed nor wanted. From the captain to the cook, all hands are needed on deck for soul-saving. The church that does not seek the lost is lost itself. Some excuse themselves by saying that in today's pluralistic societies the Christian half can never penetrate the other half. Was then our situation not anticipated by God?
People ask, "What is God saying to the Church today?" Why is that a problem? Does God speak so inaudibly? He says nothing today that is not in His Word already. I know one thing that God is saying. If our prophets are true they will be voicing the same urgency as Jesus Christ, and echoing the same Great Commission: "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature" (Mk 16:15).
Evangelists? They must be reinstated! Thousands are in church jobs to which God never called them. The fact remains forever that God's concern today, as at Calvary, is the salvation of souls.
The past holds tragedies. When doors opened, jealousy found Christian workers guarding their monopoly like diggers their gold-rush stake-out. Rivalries sometimes ruined revivals. The harvest must not go unreaped while reapers merely defend their patches. Christ did not die to give people a career but to save the lost.
We need more imaginative approaches, rather than people doing things by "tried and tested" methods - even methods I have tried and proved. Methods which have made little impact in the past are not likely to produce an impact now. Plodding along "mechanically" might be called faithfulness, but our primary concern in evangelism is effectiveness, not this twisted type of faithfulness.
During my years as an evangelist and missionary I have discovered a number of limiting factors hindering the Gospel. Although I do not address these directly here, I know from experience that many of these are the "traditional and accepted" methods of evangelism which have remained unchanged for generations. Others are doctrines and sentiments which tell us to "leave it all to God." Some insist God's way is revival, but they fail to carry out the Great Commission in the meanwhile. Some think that if people are to be saved, they will be saved anyway.
Suppose such theories are wrong! What an awful risk - to rest the eternal destiny of souls upon a controversial interpretation of a Scripture or the turn of a Greek verb. One can be dead right, but dead nonetheless! We dare not neglect the task of evangelism. I would rather use a method despised by man but approved by God, than a method approved by man which gets no results.
It is for this reason I make no apology. I am not writing to be approved by man. I am writing to share God's anointing on all those who are ready to step out in faith.
My message is not onesided, but it does come from a singleness of heart. I hammer away at the Great Commission, for I know it cannot be overemphasized. I cry to God day and night for greater effectiveness in winning our generation for Him. Evangelism By Fire is the only feasible solution.
I constantly scan the horizons for other anointed men and women who may take up this challenge of the Word of God for Holy Spirit evangelism. I believe the best is yet to be. The time is coming soon when the whole world will resound with the praises of our God and Savior. In all nations and in every tongue, the day is almost here when every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The angel who appeared to Cornelius in Acts 10 was not allowed to mention the Name of Jesus, or to speak about salvation to the man. That high and holy privilege was (and is) reserved for men - people like you and me. All the angel was allowed to say was, "Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter" (v. 5). This mighty seraph from highest heaven had to bow to Peter's higher privilege. It pleases God to call and to send people like you and me.
It has always been this way. God used four evangelists - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - to write down the story of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Such a pattern is linked, in my mind, to the four men in Old Testament times who carried the Ark of the Covenant. Carriers of the Gospel change from generation to generation, but the Gospel remains the same. Now we are here, and today it is our turn. God has called you and me. The Gospel needs to be taken to the ends of the earth. This is the Great Commission of the Lord to us - and the King's business requires haste.
This has been written because I do not believe that God's plans call for hell to be bigger than heaven. Although Scripture speaks about "many" who are on their way to eternal destruction (Matthew 7:13), these same people must be intercepted by men and women preaching the original Gospel. Provision has been made to bring "many sons to glory" (Heb 2:10), and, praise God, Revelation 7:9 speaks of a successful conclusion.
"Go and disciple all nations," Jesus instructed. There is no alternative plan in case the Gospel fails. It won't! More people are being saved, healed and baptized into the Holy Spirit today than ever before in the history of mankind. The tempo is increasing, leading to but one conclusion: Jesus is coming soon.
We are not called to go into a battle with the outcome yet to be decided. The battle was won at Calvary.
Jesus commanded the disciples, "Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers," and added, "Go!" He is still saying it. It is a transferred mandate.
Revival comes from God. Yes, but when? When we repent of our plain disobedience and return to the basic task, Evangelism. Every single church activity should tend toward the task of turning the world back to God. Why are we waiting? "Rescue the perishing," or need rescue ourselves. When you give revival, that is when you shall receive revival!
Written by Reinhard Bonnke