“Nigeria: Number One On God’s Agenda” – Reinhard Bonnke
By James Dania
It was a special day, one that would probably be remembered for years to come by the people of Okene Town, all Ebiras and, in fact, the entire people of Kogi State. Traffic was held up for hours that morning; it was going at a snail’s pace. Yet, nobody seemed to be in a hurry, and no one seemed to mind.
Mammoth crowd welcomes Bonnke
The entire town was agog with drumming, dancing and singing and clapping of innumerable Christian faithful, who had crowded the streets to catch a glimpse of the August visitor. Everywhere one turned, there were people: on the balconies, on the roof-tops, on trees; there were people everywhere. Indeed, even the President of Nigeria himself couldn’t have been welcomed with greater honour than was accorded this man, whose voice and message had virtually shaken all the nations on the African Continent. It was an honour well-deserved by the day. And why not?
For an upward of three years, Christian leaders across Kogi State under the auspices of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) have been sending S.O.S. (save our souls) messages and appeals to Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke and his ‘Christ For All Nations’ organization based in Frankfurt, Germany, to come down to Kogi State and invoke God’s blessings and peace upon the State. But the globe-trotting evangelist could not find the time to attend immediately to the call. So they had to wait – and pray – and hope. And, while the long wait lasted, hope almost gave way to despair.
It was, therefore, with great joy that the news was received after Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke made known his preparedness to visit the confluence state at last. And the mother-of-all surprises was that, out of the major cities and towns in Kogi State, it was Okene Town that Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke was directed by God to come with the message of God’s goodwill to the people of Kogi State.
So, to say that the people were delighted or happy to welcome the great evangelist would have been an understatement. They were ecstatic; and it showed in the way they clapped and danced and sang praises to God; a crowd of joyful people – most of whom were dressed in specially-designed T-shirts and Face-caps, with pictures of Reinhard Bonnke and the ‘Christ For All Nations’ logo.
Ohinoyi Ado Ibrahim rejoices
It was indeed a special day, and it was also an epoch-making event. The great gospel campaign with Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke, tagged ‘Okene 2003,’ a five-day power-packed gospel crusade held at the open ground at Oziokutu, Kabba Junction, near Okene. And there was the evangelist himself, grinning from left to right and waving out of the window of an exotic-looking car to the people, who had lined both sides of the road to welcome him.
In front and behind his were almost endless convoy of cars, partly made up of police and army escorts and hundreds of well-wishers. It was a long, slow ride to the Ohinoyi’s palace, the Royal Father of Ebiraland, His Royal Majesty, Dr. Ado Ibrahim, where the evangelist stopped to pay homage to the monarch and appreciate the royal father’s efforts towards the hosting of himself and his crusade team in Ebiraland.
Governor opens crusade
It was a mammoth crowd that gathered at the crusade ground that Wednesday evening of 27th August, 2003. And that was to be expected, for people had come from the eastern and western parts of Kogi State and the neighbouring states of Edo, Ondo, Osun, Benue and Delta to participate in this crusade and share in God’s blessings. People also came from Zaria, Kaduna, Abuja and Lagos. After the preliminaries, the crusade was declared open by His Excellency, the Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Mr. Phillips O. Salawu, on behalf of the Executive Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris.
“And now, please, join me in welcoming to the microphone, the great man of God, Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke!” That was the voice of John Darku, the West African crusade director for Reinhard Bonnke. There was a thunderous applause, and Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke and his Ebira-language interpreter, Pastor Emmanuel Yusuf, strode briskly to the centre-stage.
That night, the German-born Evangelist exhorted the crowd to say ‘Yes’ to Jesus and ‘No’ to Satan and sin. When he gave the altar-call, thousands of people raised their hands and the evangelist led them in the prayer of salvation. Then it was time to pray for the sick and the physically infirm. A brief silence followed Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke’s authoritative prayer.
Suddenly, there was a penetrating outcry at one end of the gathering. Then another, and another, and another one. Miracles were happening so fast and to so many people that one could not keep track of them. And the crowd went wild in praise and jubilation. An old man in his sixties, blind for years, could suddenly see. An old woman threw away her crutches and slowly and steadily took a step, then another step; she could walk again! A deaf and dumb girl about 8 years’ old could now speak and hear. A few went to the stage to testify of their healing, amid tears of joy. It was indeed a night of heaven-on-earth.
Great prophecies for Nigeria
“Nigeria is number one on God’s agenda.” Those were the opening words of Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke’s message to the thousands of delegates at the three-day Fire Conference, which took place at Ebira Day Ground, Dabras Hotel in Okene. He challenged delegates to seek God’s power and have absolute faith in God’s promises so that His intentions and plans for the country would come to pass through them.
That Thursday evening, the evangelist expatiated on the power in the blood of Jesus during the crusade, and thousands more responded to the altar-call to yield themselves to God. It was a salvation and miracles galore night!
The second day of Fire Conference, Reinhard Bonnke spoke on ‘how Jesus calls and equips’ and gave conference delegates brief insights concerning his own call from God and personal life and ministry. His associate, Peter Van den Berg, concluded his previous day’s message on ‘steps to the power of God,’ urging delegates to persevere in their God-given purpose and enlarge their vision for God.
Friday and Saturday nights of the crusade saw thousands publicly renouncing witchcraft and other fetish practices, following Evangelist Bonnke’s exhortation to turn to God and his message on the power of the Holy Spirit. Thousands turned in their amulets, talismans, rings and other objects of idol worship and occultic practices, and these were burnt in large drums in front of the enraptured crowd.
Many more were saved, delivered and healed that night, such that time and space will not allow to be listed and described here. It was also on Saturday morning that the Fire Conference came to a close. Evangelist Bonnke’s message to the delegates that morning was, “How to receive the Fire from heaven.”
After the challenging message, the fire-brand evangelist led delegates in prayer to receive the fire from God that will enable them to “go and preach the gospel, with signs and wonders following them.” A copy of Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke’s soul-stirring book, ‘Evangelism by Fire,’ was given free to the thousands of delegates that attended the Fire Conference on that final day.
Sunday, 31st August, 2003, was the last day of the crusade. It is interesting to note that the crusade began and ended the same week that Kogi State celebrated her 12th Anniversary of statehood. To some, it was a mere coincidence; to many others, it was a divine arrangement, a pointer to the finger of God upon the State.
That night, the platform was graced by the presence of the Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Mr. Phillips O. Salawu, and his wife and other top government functionaries and Christian leaders from within and outside Kogi State. After the preliminaries, John Darku, Evangelist Bonnke’s West African crusade director, gave the vote-of-thanks and appreciated all the people and groups, who labored sacrificially to make the crusade a success.
The representatives and leaders of Christian women in Kogi State and members of the central planning committee presented gifts to Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke and his associate, Peter Van den Berg.
In his closing message, Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke urged the people of Kogi State to open the door of their hearts to let Jesus in and shut the devil out, in order to enjoy all the good things God has in store for them. Thousands yet responded to his invitation to receive Jesus as Lord and Saviour of their lives, and charms, talismans, amulets and objects of witchcraft were collected again in large quantities and burnt to the glory of God.
The evangelist then spent many minutes praying for the Governor and the Deputy Governor of Kogi State and their families, President Obasanjo and his Cabinet, and for the peace of Ebiraland, the Ohinoyi and, finally, for the prosperity of Kogi State.
The resuscitation of the Steel Mines at Itakpe and Ajaokuta were also included in the evangelist’s powerful supplication to God, likewise all the arms of Kogi State Government. Lastly, he prayed for the personal prayer requests written by thousands of people on the crusade ground that night and also for the sick and afflicted.
Many mighty miracles of healing and deliverance occurred that night, and many people went on stage to testify. It was a night of freedom and indescribable joy for the people of Kogi State. At last, with great reluctance, the German-born evangelist bade his brothers and sisters in Kogi State good-bye. And the crowd cheered and waved good-bye to the great evangelist as he walked off the stage; this one man whom they had come to love and adore so much and, who has now come to chart the path of a more glorious future for the people.
Culled from Our VISION magazine, Vol.4 No.9, 2003