The Early Years
1951 Reinhard Bonnke's First Salvation
The story of Christ for all Nations starts with the young Reinhard Bonnke. From an early age, Reinhard told everyone he would be a missionary in Africa. One day, young Reinhard headed out with his guitar to a street corner in downtown Glückstadt. Singing there until a small crowd gathered, he then opened his Bible and preached. He later reported, 'To my amazement one man knelt and prayed the sinner's prayer with me right there on the street!' Racing home, he exclaimed, 'Father, it works! A man came to hear me preach and accepted Jesus. The Holy Spirit really gives us the power to preach!'
1967 Ministry Apprenticeship
Reinhard and Anni, just before leaving for South Africa
Reinhard attended the Bible College of Wales founded by Rees Howells, upon completing his education he returned to Germany, where he met his wife Anni, they married in 1964 and began their family.
Meeting with the Velberter Missions Board, the missions arm of ACD Pentecostal denomination in Germany, Reinhard was told, 'We do not send missionaries to South Africa'. 'You say you were called to Africa when you were just ten?' Reinhard answered, 'Correct.' While the Board had no positions in South Africa, they offered one in Zambia which Reinhard turned down. 'God has called me specifically to South Africa!' After extended discussions, the Bonnkes were given a one-year South African apprenticeship with the Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) which would cover the then Transvaal and also Swaziland. In the midst of packing up, Anni discovered she was expecting another child. Their son, Kai-Uwe, was almost one; now another child was coming soon! Nevertheless, the couple embraced the challenge, bought a camper van that served as a household shipping container, reliable transportation and temporary living quarters once in Africa.
1968 First Assignment
Preaching to a small crowd in Lesotho, Southern Africa
Once Reinhard's apprenticeship was completed, the AFM Missions Board offered Reinhard a choice of four positions in South Africa. One position was with a large, influential and wealthy white church, which he rejected without serious consideration, surprising the local leaders. Least attractive of the four was the Kingdom of Lesotho, a small landlocked nation south of Johannesburg. With the Lord's leading, Reinhard became the AFM overseer of three small churches serving the indigenous Basuto people.
About the size of the state of Maryland and with the beauty of Switzerland, Lesotho became the circuit ride for Reinhard travelling from place to place in the VW camper van, or by mule or horseback across Lesotho's 1,200 miles of mostly unpaved roads connecting small villages of less than 250 souls. The 1,348,000 Basuto tribesmen were Africa's cowboys. While many were literate in English and Sesotho, educated at the century-old missionary schools, at least half of the tribesmen still worshiped ancestors. Those who had converted had become hardened to the Gospel. Their churches were spiritually dry and sparsely attended. The Bonnkes learned that Lesotho was known as the 'graveyard of missionaries'. At churches he oversaw, Reinhard encountered an elder who was a drunkard and another elder who espoused ancestor worship. Reinhard had to clean house, offending those still attending. One church's local pastor didn't understand the need to evangelise; only five souls filled his pews. Eventually, Reinhard told Anni he would not invest himself in dead churches. He did preach on Sundays, but weekdays he sought out new converts on the streets of Lesotho's villages. After many years, the street converts brought revival into those churches. These early years were a very discouraging beginning.
1970 Soweto Bicycle Campaign
In Reinhard's church and city, many young men were unemployed. Reinhard devised an employment plan to also spread the Gospel. Each young man would have a bicycle with a weatherproof box. Going village to village, they gave away the ministry's magazine, while also selling Bibles and hymnals. Reinhard travelled to wealthy outside churches presenting the vision and raising funds. Eventually, Reinhard had thirty young men riding and earning double Lesotho's wage for young men. Some became true soul winners and, eventually, pastors. In two years, those thirty had visited everywhere in Lesotho, exposing 1,348,000 to the Gospel.
1971 Birth of CfaN Press
In the city of Maseru, Reinhard began using their printing press extensively. During this time God gave Reinhard the name for the ministry and press - CfaN (Christ for all Nations) and CfaN Press. Throughout Maseru, CfaN Press and local radio publicised Evangelist John Bosman's upcoming meetings. The publicity urged people to come expecting to see God's miracles and healing. Excitement built until the weekend; many sick, lame and blind were brought. The church was packed out and overflowing. Through these meetings, great excitement for Christ swept through the region resulting in salvations, healings and the breaking of satanic power.
1973 Dream of a Blood Washed Africa
'I had a dream that changed everything. I saw a map of Africa. Not South Africa, not Lesotho, not Johannesburg, but the entire continent. The map began to be splashed and covered with blood. I became alarmed. I thought surely this meant some kind of apocalyptic violence was coming'”perhaps a Communist revolution. Then the Spirit whispered to me that what I saw was the blood of Jesus'”terrible violence had first spilled His blood 2,000 years ago on a cross. But then I heard the words, '˜Africa shall be saved.''
1974 Christ for all Nations formed
Christ for all Nations first office in Johannesburg, South Africa
Moving to South Africa in 1974 to focus more on evangelism after resigning his missionary position with the Velberter Missions Board, the Holy Spirit prompted Reinhard to go to Botswana's capital, Gaborone, and conduct a large campaign. So, Reinhard asked a pastor in Gaborone to help him meet the city officials, and book the National Sports Stadium for a meeting in four weeks. The pastor was startled. 'I am a pastor who has 40 people in church on a good Sunday. How do you expect to fill a stadium that holds 10,000?' The pastor urged Reinhard to host smaller meetings to build up to such a large gathering. Reinhard agreed and booked an 800-seat hall for the first of the week and then the 10,000 seater stadium for the final nights of the campaign. Then he got a list of all the Gaborone pastors and visited all of them one by one. All of the local pastors had various reasons to decline helping Reinhard. He thought, 'What an amateur mistake to plan a campaign before securing the cooperation of the local churches. But, Lord, You spoke to me and told me that I would preach Your name in that stadium. This is Your campaign. I will do the preaching, but You must fill the stadium.'
At peace, Anni and Reinhard prayed, fasted and then cranked up the CfaN Press. The pastors' congregation plastered the campaign posters throughout Gaborone. Meanwhile, at an AFM conference, Reinhard met with the great Zulu evangelist, Richard Ngidi, who excitedly asked to join up with the Gaborone campaign and CfaN for the next two years. Ngidi was known for the many healing miracles that accompanied his ministry. Reinhard would preach; Ngidi would pray for the sick; and having both black and white men together on the platform would be a testimony against apartheid.
Reinhard and Richard Ngidi returned to Gaborone to hold the first meeting in the 800-seat hall. Only 100 souls were present including all of the local pastors' forty-member church. Fighting back disappointment, Reinhard began preaching, and a woman stood up shouting, 'I've just been healed!' Soon another and then many stood testifying to spontaneous healing. A blind woman fell down blind, then stood up seeing. Within two nights, the 800-seat hall was filled. The campaign moved to the 10,000-seat sports stadium and was packed out by night two. Salvations and healings abounded.
The Holy Spirit asked a surprised Reinhard to pray for people to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. More than 1,000 came forward. After the meeting, 500 were water baptised. CfaN was more than formed, it was launched in fire.
CfaN then began to explore the area of Johannesburg where the Bonnkes now lived. One day as Reinhard drove past a large abandoned farmhouse, the Spirit said, 'That is your new headquarters building.' Its landscaping was overgrown and unattended but it fit the need. Without any money in hand, Reinhard went to the owners and made an offer. They accepted and Reinhard soon had received enough money to close the deal. The renovated farmhouse became the new CfaN headquarters.