Charisma News – 1/12/2013 – Reinhard Bonnke
“AFRICA SHALL BE SAVED.” I heard God’s message so clearly. In response my family moved from Lesotho to South Africa in 1974. But how was Africa going to be saved? Clueless, I sat with my head in my hands. As unknowns, we moved out into the unknown, with no prospects mapped out for us, hoping for further instruction from the Lord.
And sure enough, God spoke again. I was to rent the National Stadium in Gaborone, Botswana, for a gospel crusade. The only group willing to work with us was a church of 40 members.
I walked through the little city, not knowing how to put the loose ends together, and made a provisional booking for the stadium by faith. It was the right move.
To my disappointment the campaign began with only 100 people in attendance but then God entered the field. Before I had prayed for the sick or said anything at all about healing, my sermon was interrupted by dramatic healings. It was as if Jesus just could not wait to do His wonders! He was “itching” to start.
As a missionary I knew what it was like to preach to no more than five people at a time, but now I had 10,000 of them, with many receiving salvation and many being healed. As the news spread, the stadium filled up and the miracles of salvation and healing multiplied.
Then came another impulse from heaven: “Pray for converts to be baptized in the Holy Spirit!”
Where I come from, doing such a thing would be considered taboo-particularly in a stadium. But with my heart in my throat, I obeyed the voice of the Holy Spirit. The result almost knocked me off my feet. A vast roar of praise rose to God in “other tongues” as on the Day of Pentecost.
For me, that holy hubbub became a trumpet call announcing that this was what God wanted, to let His Spirit loose, and that I was never to feel embarrassed about anything He did. That day the ministry of Christ for All Nations was born.
Under that banner a river of Holy Spirit power has attended us. Tens of millions are turning to Christ and untold multitudes are being healed.
As a result, after years during which propaganda was spread that incited hatred in Africa, a God-ward mass movement is gaining momentum across that continent and in other places around the globe. Pentecostals and charismatics now account for one in every 10 people.
The Gift of the Spirit
For 1,500 years Bible standards and beliefs have laid the foundations of life in Europe and America. But that faith has an inner dynamic-namely, the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Christ challenged His followers: “’What are you doing more than others?’” (Matt. 5:47, NIV). Why should He expect us to do more than others? Because that is what He had planned. His work, death and resurrection completed a power circuit between Earth and heaven that relied on a new source of life and change: the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said, “’Ask, and it will be given to you’” (Luke 11:9, NKJV). However, He was talking about a specifi c request: “’If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!’” (Luke 11:13).
Being filled with the Holy Spirit is not an option; it is essential for authentic Christianity. Unfortunately, over the centuries the Holy Spirit became little more than a vague, mystical figure referred to in the creed; Holy Spirit truth was replaced with grace truth.
But Christ’s command to ask for the Holy Spirit must be followed if we are to live the lives He intended for us. The Sermon on the Mount and the Great Commission set goals that would be impossible to reach were it not for the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.
The apostle Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). David had said, “’By my God I can leap over a wall’” (2 Sam. 22:30), but for Paul there was absolutely nothing that could not be achieved in Christ. Jesus made the Holy Spirit an urgent requirement but assured us that “’everyone who asks receives’” (Luke 11:10).
Astonishingly, while Jesus was on Earth nobody made this request. John the Baptist, who was “sent from God” (John 1:6) to announce Christ, said, “’He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire’” (Luke 3:16), but Jesus never did that. The Gospel of John explains: “Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not been glorified” (7:39, NIV).
Previously, God’s Spirit had flitted here and there for special occasions, and prophets spoke when the Spirit moved them. For long periods there was no sign of the Spirit. Then Christ ascended to heaven, and the Spirit came for the dispensation of power.
What happened 2,000 years ago on the day of Pentecost happened for me when I was a mere child. As I called on God in a church service, suddenly all heaven seemed to crowd into my small frame. Without realizing what I was doing, I began praising God in tongues I had never learned.
Soon after, in a prayer meeting conducted by my father, a force within me became stronger and stronger. I felt a powerful tingling in my hands and with it came an urge to touch a woman across the church hall. I crept over to her quietly, concerned about my father’s disapproving frown. She was arthritic. I touched her, a jolt of divine life shook her, and she was healed.