Tent and Transition to Open Air
The campaigns in 1976 proved that the rental tents available in South Africa were far too small. CfaN had tried many different sizes ranging from a capacity of as little as 800 to as much as 3,000, but still the crowds grew and the 'problem' of overcrowding persisted. Pastor Richard Ngidi from Zululand, who worked alongside Reinhard at that time, suggested that the meetings had become an unexpected draw for locals because the word 'Bonnke' meant 'everyone' in the Zulu language. However, the power of the Holy Spirit being demonstrated in every meeting was a far more powerful magnet for the people with great needs.
An example of this was a meeting at that time in the 4,000-seat Centenary Hall in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, where Reinhard's preaching was interrupted as hundreds of people spontaneously rushed forward under Holy Spirit conviction to confess their sins and receive Jesus as their Saviour. All manner of stolen goods were returned and witchcraft fetishes were thrown on the platform.
As campaigns grew in this fashion, the search for a 5,000-seat tent intensified until the Lord spoke to Reinhard to trust Him for a 10,000 seat tent! In obedience to this word, Reinhard finally found a tent maker in Milan, Italy who would take on the job and the 10,000 seat tent was commissioned.
The 10,000 seater tent
Once again the crowds flocked to the meetings and more often than not, the 10,000-seat tent was packed to capacity with thousands standing outside. Once again the Holy Spirit spoke to Reinhard but this time to trust the Lord for a tent that would seat 34,000 people.
Such a monumental project had never been done by anyone and in 1984 the resulting massive tent, built entirely by CfaN technicians was, according to the Guinness Book of World Records the largest mobile structure on earth at the time.
Two years later the tent was retired from CfaN ministry as the crowds attending the meetings could not be contained by the massive structure. The tent was given to other missions organisations in Africa who use it for evangelisation of the continent.
From this point on CfaN would conduct Gospel Campaigns in the open-air using national stadiums or vast open areas that were cleared and set up specifically for the campaigns. Hundreds of thousands of people would come to CfaN campaigns.
The record breaking crowd of 500,000
CfaN's 1990 campaign in Kaduna, Nigeria attracted a crowd of 500,000 gathered to hear the Gospel. Stunned, Reinhard turned to the other ministers on the platform; they were weeping. Not understanding their tears, he asked, 'Why are you weeping? This is a day of great rejoicing. Look at the size of this crowd.' 'You don't understand, Pastor Bonnke,' a pastor replied. 'These people are nearly all Muslims. This area is totally dominated by the Muslim religion.' The pastors were weeping because the Muslims, who had shunned their churches, had been willing to gather on an open field to hear the Gospel preached.
The CfaN meetings concluded in Kaduna with a total attendance of 1,670,000! In this one campaign in Muslim Nigeria, Reinhard and the CfaN team had preached to more people than Reinhard and the team had preached to during the entire year of 1987, just three years before!