The reality of eternity without Christ compels me to preach the gospel
For the most part, the subject of hell has not been a topic of discussion in churches today. One of the reasons is that, in the past, hell was presented with a fire-and-brimstone, “you’re going to burn” attitude. As a result, it is a message perceived of as unloving and harsh. However, if it is presented as a message of warning, and not of condemnation, it is more readily accepted. A message of warning is a message of love. What loving parent wouldn’t warn his or her child not to play in a busy street? If a person truly understands what eternity might bring, they may be a bit more receptive to the gospel. God’s desire is to get people into heaven, not keep them out!
Another reason the topic is avoided is because of a lack of answers as to the “whys” regarding the extreme severity and eternal duration of hell. To many, God would be unloving to allow such punishment for all eternity.
This lack of teaching—and even ignoring of the subject altogether—is derived from a questioning of the morality of God. Some criticize His justice, stating that if they were God they wouldn’t allow someone to suffer forever, so then God certainly wouldn’t either. A lack of understanding causes silence on the subject. If hell is mentioned, it is downplayed in order to avoid offending anyone. The fear of loss of congregation members is on the minds of many pastors.
How the evangelistic spark of a mass crusade is fanned into a burning flame
As the gospel is preached clearly and concisely each night, hundreds of thousands of precious people respond to the call of salvation and receive Jesus as their Savior. Such is the dimension of this response that the hundreds of participating churches are each flooded with thousands of new converts and wonderful reports pour in from the leaders and members of participating churches.
Often we hear of congregations doubling and tripling in size during the weeks following the Great Gospel Campaigns. We have learned that this leads some churches to even start multiple branches to accommodate the new arrivals. On the CfaN team, we call this Spirit-enabled phenomenon “addition” to the kingdom of God.
But our ministry team feels a second responsibility, and that is to inspire and train others in the communities and nations in which we hold crusades to—as the Apostle Paul instructed Timothy—“do the work of an evangelist” (see 2 Tim. 4:5).
Think Reinhard Bonnke and his ministry are all about the numbers? You better believe it—and here’s why that’s a good thing.
I was a young journalist attending an international conference in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1984 when I saw fliers all over town for a German evangelist named Reinhard Bonnke, who was holding huge crusades throughout Kenya. Knowing Germany wasn’t exactly a hotbed of evangelism, I was curious. African friends told me about this man’s passion to see all of Africa saved. Soon we were covering his ministry in Charisma. One of our first stories was about his massive revival tent that held up to 34,000 people. In 1985, a storm destroyed the tent in South Africa—but in the end, it didn’t seem to matter since it couldn’t have contained the hundreds of thousands who showed up.
I first met Bonnke in Brazil in 1989 when he was there for his daughter’s wedding. My wife and I had flown down to attend a Charles and Frances Hunter crusade in Rio de Janeiro, and we stayed at the same hotel as Bonnke. A friendship developed that continues today. Little did I know he would one day move his international headquarters to Orlando, Fla., which allows us to interact several times a year—most recently when he wanted to introduce me last fall to his successor, Daniel Kolenda. I actually knew Daniel’s family and visited his dad’s church in Port Charlotte, Fla., when Daniel was a little boy. In Charisma’s March issue we covered the incredible story about how after some unsuccessful attempts to find a successor, God supernaturally told Bonnke that the anointed must be appointed. (They recount this story on page 50 of this issue.)
When I recently began inviting leaders to serve as guest editors for Ministry Today, I never dreamed someone of Bonnke’s worldwide stature would agree. But when we mentioned to him our vision to devote an entire issue to the topic of evangelism—and just how important it is for the church—he jumped at the chance. He has edited the issue with the same fervency he seems to apply to everything in life. And the idea of including Daniel Kolenda as co-editor appealed to us. Bonnke can explain better than I how Kolenda is transitioning to fill his huge shoes.
We must seize the opportunity of a lifetime—to win the nations for Jesus—during the lifetime of the opportunity
When my great-grandfather received the baptism of the Holy Spirit at an Aimee Semple McPherson camp meeting, the Lord gave him a life-altering vision. He saw what he described as an “ocean of humanity,” a multitude of people that stretched to the horizon. Their hands were lifted toward heaven and they were crying out, “Bread, bread—give us bread!”
For the rest of his days, he considered that heavenly vision to be his life’s calling. Even though my great-grandfather never witnessed the fulfillment of the vision God had given him, two generations later I have seen it with my own eyes as I have had the privilege to preach to millions of people in Africa alongside evangelist Reinhard Bonnke. There is a wonderful reality in the economy of God’s kingdom. His calling and promises never die with
the original recipient, and nothing diminishes in God. His desire is that each generation would seize the baton of the gospel from the previous one and carry it further so that in the end those who sow and those who reap will rejoice together.
Life-transforming power comes when intercession and preaching are fully connected
I was preaching to approximately 120,000 people in the stadium when a power cut suddenly bathed the entire crowd in pitch darkness. Then the emergency generators kicked in, and soon the place was all lit up again.
I can think of no better example of how intercession and evangelism work together. Regardless of what powerful lights we had, without electricity the place would have remained in darkness, the sound system powerless and the message unheard—regardless of how loud I tried to shout.
On the other hand, no matter how much electricity we were able to generate, without the lights and sound system it would not have had the impact desired. Intercession is the “powerhouse,” and the preaching of the Word of God is the “electricity” that projects the light of God into this world of sin and darkness.