How to Win Your Friends and Family to Christ
- 2005 17 Aug
In large parts of the world, the name Reinhard Bonnke needs no introduction - his reputation goes before him, opening doors closed to most men. His massive crusades in which millions attend and millions receive Christ are divine illustrations of what God can do through those who listen and obey. He is a man with a single purpose, "plundering hell to populate heaven!"
Bonnke was born in Germany in 1940. He came to Christ at the age of 9 and in 1967 God's call to the mission field took him to Lesotho, a tiny country within South Africa. There God gave him a vision, the vision of 'a blood-washed Africa' and his life was changed. He knew he must preach the Gospel wherever God led, and the ministry of Christ for All Nations was born.
More than 30 years later, the CfaN team has held crusades around the world, published 178 million books in 138 languages, and trained countless leaders in Holy Spirit directed evangelism. Now located in Orlando, Fla., CfaN has been directly responsible for over 35 million registered decisions for Christ in just the last four years
Crosswalk: As an evangelist, you've won literally millions to Christ in huge crusades. Are there common principles you see between winning the masses, and personal evangelism?
Bonnke: Absolutely. It's not how the Gospel is preached or shared, but that it is preached! God has given us His principles in His Word and these apply to all situations equally, to all people without exception, to every people, tribe and nation - even your spouse or neighbour!
Crosswalk: Many Christians find it challenging to "preach" or even share the Gospel to people who are close and in their sphere of influence. When you invest in relationship, you are naturally cautious of "disturbing" that relationship. What can you share with our readers that will help them be more effective in reaching those around them?
Bonnke: Well, you've asked the right question - after all I am an evangelist and my heart burns with this subject night and day. Let me begin with some background. There is every reason for our friends and families to know Jesus. For a start, God wants us to know him: "I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord" (Jeremiah 24:7). Seven times in Exodus God says, "They will know that I am the Lord" while Ezekiel contains some 70 references to knowing the Lord.
Normality is oneness with Christ, him and us together. Our human minds cannot conceive a higher relationship than with God. It is the ultimate, the Everest of possibility. It would be impossible for us to scale those heights unless we are equipped by God who desired it. God descended to our human level in Christ, who said, "I will draw all men to myself" (John 12:32). When divine passion brings such an opportunity, if we do not want to belong to him, it can only be because Satan and sin have muddied our view and confused our thinking - no one knows what it is like to know Jesus until they actually do. Multitudes do know Jesus but find the experience impossible to convey. Words are not enough to convey what everlasting life is really like. And that is why God equips us with this "divine passion" and why he "draws men to himself." You see the Holy Spirit works two angles - He empowers you to share the Gospel, but He also creates a hunger in those you share with.
Crosswalk: That's a great perspective, most of us feel the burden to share the Gospel is completely up to us - but you are saying we are not the only one participating in the process?
Bonnke: That's exactly right. The Holy Spirit is the one doing the "heavy lifting," we just need to be available to speak as directed. The burden of success or failure is not ours, but the responsibility to speak to those around us is.
Crosswalk: Can you tell us why families are so important to God?
Bonnke: Scripture uses the word "father" 1,700 times, "son" 2,200 times, "family" 400 times, "house and household" 2,600 times and has 2,000 references to children, amounting to nearly 9,000 allusions to family life, one in every 82 words in the Bible. From a statistical perspective alone, it suggests that God is "in his element" in families and with his children. When people are saved, godly dynasties are created.
So the answer to this is apparent, God has relations - children. He is a family God. The only true way we can relate to him is as children of the Father. Jesus, who came to show us what God was like, never called God anything other than "Father".
What God is makes the world what it is. The Father's nature is reflected in the whole of life. The Father makes fathers. He has patterned everything after himself - a fact which surfaces in nature and in family ties. All people on earth are probably related to each other as distant cousins. DNA science reveals that we have a pair of common ancestors. "We are his people, the sheep of his pasture" (Psalm 100:3). On the loom of creation family relationships were woven into the very fabric of life.
Crosswalk: What else can you share about God's perspective on familes?
Bonnke: There is lovely warmth about the Father's work. Jesus talked about heaven as a home: "In my Father's house are many rooms" (John 14:2) - places where people can live, family centres. God's sons and daughters have a home ready for them at the end of their journey. The future is not populated by bloodless spirits, unrelated, cold, clinging to the outer edge of existence. The Bible picture is of a warm, gathered household where everyone feels at home. "In the coming ages he (will( show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:7).
The sons of God have the perfect destiny; they have been designed for a God-made future. There is no other future, anyway. We either steer in that direction or have no direction other than that of following a mirage, false trails, paths that circle back on themselves. Those are the godless ways offered by money, self-gratification, power, prominence and pride, hard paths that peter out in a trackless eternity.
God is the architect of his own purposes. Nothing we can do can disrupt his plans. He makes his family inheritors of glory, light, life, and wonder. Jesus said that we will sit at his table and be waited on (Luke 12:37). This is the Christian hope. It is not an alternative hope - there is no other.
Crosswalk: If I understand correctly, you are making this new booklet, "Winning Your Friends and Family to Christ" available to anyone free for the asking, is this correct?
Bonnke: Yes, anyone can call, write to us, or visit our website and we'll send one out immediately.
Find out more about Reinhard Bonnke and Christ for All Nations by visiting www.cfan.org.