Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke received a threatening email in spring 2001. The message instructed Bonnke to abandon plans for a Gospel Crusade in Sudan or be killed.
Opposition peppers the history of Bonnke’s 40-year-old ministry organization, Christ for All Nations [CfAN]. But the author of this particular email set the threat apart: Osama bin Laden.
“His fame had not yet been established worldwide,” Bonnke said in his autobiography. “But we had heard of him.”
Although Bonnke and his team resisted the threat of attack, the Sudanese government ordered CfAN to call off the crusades.
According to reports, “violence erupted” in the crowds upon cancellation of the event.
Bonnke returned to his home in Germany disappointed. A few months later, bin Laden became a household name after the 9/11 attacks.
Bin Laden’s name eventually faded from the headlines. CfAN’s influence, however, continues to reach into current events. Rev. Daniel Kolenda, CfAN’s current president, worked alongside Bonnke in the now Ebola-ravaged region of West Africa. “Ebola has gotten a lot of media attention lately, but it’s actually nothing new. We’ve ministered before in regions affected by it,” Kolenda said. “The people are in my prayers and I can’t wait to return.”
Kolenda said fear is a common response throughout the world. But it should not be the response of Christians as Ebola spreads and militant Islamist groups like ISIS and Boko Haram advance their agendas.
“All these challenges present us with historic opportunities to release the Kingdom of God on earth,” Kolenda said.
Since 1974, the organization claims to have ministered “to multiplied millions of people in Africa alone,” drawing crowds up to 1.6 million at a time. From these masses, over 74 million responded affirmatively to their message of salvation, according to CfAN’s website.
Kolenda met Bonnke after being hired to work in the CfAN warehouse in Orlando.
“I felt so happy. I felt like maybe this was the fulfillment of what the Lord had spoken to me all those years earlier. That I could somehow help to build God’s eternal kingdom, even if it was sweeping floors,” Kolenda said.
Bonnke saw Kolenda at work in the warehouse and asked him to be his traveling assistant. Bonnke began the process of handing over leadership duties to Kolenda. In 2010, Kolenda became president of CfAN.
“We minister side-by-side continuously. I love Evangelist Bonnke like a father,” Kolenda said. “In the ministry of Christ for All Nations, we work in tandem and everything is done as a unified team.”
CfAN continues its evangelical mission. In years past, Bonnke grew famous for his catchphrase, “Africa shall be saved!”
Now, Kolenda and Bonnke claim a different goal: “America shall be saved!”
“We have taken on a new vision from the Lord to move across the United States with Gospel Crusades,” Kolenda said. “It is a very big and risky undertaking, but the grace of God has covered us and we have seen amazing fruit so far.”
In June, CfAN held a Gospel Crusade in Miami. According to Kolenda’s website, 15,000 attended the event. CfAN will hold another Gospel Crusade in Houston, Feb. 20 – 21, 2015. The free event will be open to the public.