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.
Partners With History
I will never forget the first time I attended an evangelistic campaign in Africa with evangelist Bonnke. As we pulled into Ogoja, the small, remote village in Nigeria, we were greeted by a group of elders who were overwhelmed at the sight of our arrival.
“No evangelists ever come here,” they said.
The population of the region was so small that the elders immediately began to apologize to us in advance for what they believed would be the slim attendance at the minor crusade in their village.
One night, as we were driving to the crusade field, evangelist Bonnke told me about the discovery of an unpublished journal belonging to the great pioneer missionary David Livingstone. Of his labors in Africa, Livingstone had written that there were not many conversions and the going was very difficult. And then he wrote that he believed one day there would be other missionaries who would come to Africa and experience greater success than he had.
He believed that in those days to come, sinners would be converted with every sermon. And then he said words that shook me: “When that day comes, let them not forget us ... the watchmen of the night.”
When we arrived at the crusade ground, I walked up the steps leading to the platform, and for the first time in my life I saw a crowd that looked like an “ocean of humanity.” Four hundred thousand people attended the final meeting in that “minor crusade.” Tears were streaming down my face as I recalled something that one of the pastors had told me earlier.
He said that in Africa there are entire cemeteries devoted to the missionaries that came generations ago and gave their lives for the cause of the gospel. He told me that in these graveyards there are no names on the tombstones—only numbers indicating how many days the missionary survived upon arriving in Africa.
They said goodbye to their families and their homelands. They boarded a ship with a one-way ticket to a place they had never seen, prepared to pay the ultimate price because they considered the preaching of the gospel and the souls of the African people to be worth the cost of their very lives.
I realized, as I was standing on that platform, that this awe-inspiring sight before me was not the result of clever marketing schemes or great publicity stunts. What we were witnessing was the harvest that many generations that had come before us had wept, worked, prayed and longed for. I felt the incredible weight of the evangelistic mandate, and I heard the Lord speak to my heart, “You dare not fail now, in the season of harvest.”
Our Race Has Begun
Hebrews 12 describes a “great cloud of witnesses” gathered on the bleachers of heaven watching our generation, with great interest, as we run the relay race of the ages.
The baton has been passed down through history from one generation to another. Moses passed it to Joshua. Elijah passed it to Elisha. Jesus passed it to His disciples.
And now, stained with the blood of martyrs and the tears of saints, it has landed in the hands of our generation. We have a sacred responsibility to all those who have gone before us and—most importantly—before God, to reap with joy what other generations have sown in tears.
The prophet Jeremiah foretold a dreadful day that is fast approaching when multitudes of eternally lost souls will cry, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved!” (Jer. 8:20).
The stakes could not be higher, and the privilege could not be greater. As the next generation, we must rise up, take the baton of the gospel and go into all the world. The opportunity of a lifetime must be seized during the lifetime of the opportunity. We dare not fail now, in the season of harvest!
About Our Guest Editor ...
Daniel Kolenda is a missionary-evangelist who has led more than 10 million people to Christ through massive open-air evangelistic campaigns, many of them held in some of the world’s most dangerous and remote locations. As the successor to evangelist Reinhard Bonnke, founder of Christ for all Nations (CfaN), Daniel is today the president and CEO of CfaN. He has spent years ministering side-by-side with Bonnke, his mentor, preaching the gospel worldwide. Daniel is a fifth-generation preacher whose ministry is marked by a powerful anointing for evangelism and miracles. In the mass crusades CfaN holds, he sees the lame walk, the deaf hear, the blind receive their sight and even the dead raised. Most importantly to him, the poor have the gospel preached to them. Daniel served previously as a pastor and church planter. He is a graduate of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla., and the Brownsville Revival School of Ministry in Pensacola, Fla. He and his wife, Rebekah, and their three children reside in Orlando, Fla., where the U.S. office of CfaN is based.