Renowned German evangelist, Reinhard Bonnke has died at the age of 79. Principally known throughout Africa where he drew huge crowds over decades of preaching the gospel, Bonnke passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family, on Saturday, December 7.
The announcement of his demise was published on his Facebook page by his wife Anni Bonnke. The family lives in the United States.
“It is with sorrow that the Bonnke Family would like to announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, and grandfather, Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke.
“He passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family, on December 7, 2019.
“For the past 60 years he has preached the glorious Gospel of Jesus throughout the entire world. We want to thank you on behalf of him and our family, for your kind love and unwavering support, which enabled him to preach the matchless message of salvation to countless people,” the statement read.
He left behind widow Anni, three children and eight grandchildren.
The 79-year-old and his ministry, Christ For All Nations, are well known across Africa, where he frequented on crusades.
The Pentecostal preacher oversaw more than 79 million conversions to Christianity, his organisation claims.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that his work transformed the continent,” it said in a statement.
Bonnke was born in 1940 in Königsberg, in what was then part of the territory of Germany. The city on the Baltic Sea is now called Kaliningrad, and is part of Russia.
He became involved in missionary work in Africa at a very young age and in 1974 founded the Christ For All Nations mission organisation, which was headquartered in South Africa and later in Germany. He stepped down as the organisation’s leader due to health issues in 2017.
In 1991, Bonnke’s visit to Kano, northwest Nigeria, caused riots in the city as some Muslims protested over remarks he had reportedly made about Islam in the Kaduna. At least eight people were reported killed in the riot. In 1999, 16 people died in a stampede during a rally organised by Bonnke in Benin City, Nigeria.
Bonnke, however, continued to preach in Nigeria and, in fact, held his farewell crusade in Lagos in 2017 at which he announced his retirement from active preaching.