I’m almost through Reinhard Bonnke’s autobiography, Living A Life of Fire. It’s a huge book, but it’s a huge life. For the few who might not know, he’s a German evangelist who has spent his life holding massive meetings in many if not all countries of the African continent.
His story reminds me of when my husband and I hosted a young man, possibly in his thirties, who was traveling the world carrying a cross to bring the story of Jesus to a world who had never known it or had forgotten it. He had a very pleasant countenance, which often caused him to be mistaken for Mel Gibson, and his warm smile would certainly have overcome any concern people would have had with approaching a stranger carrying a cross.
Our whole church fell in love with him. As we visited with him at home, his demeanor was the same as it was in church. He was gentle and self-effacing, sure of his faith and his calling, and his face would shine as he told stories of the people he had prayed for on the streets throughout the nations. Our young brother challenged us.
These two men are the same in many ways. They have lived exciting, fruitful, challenging lives. They both take what might look like ridiculous risks. They both receive applause and criticism. Their lives would provide narrative for great, inspiring movies. Both are heroes of the faith, in my view.
But, years ago, after the Cross Carrier left town, I felt I might not even be truly a Christian! I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one who felt that way! After his visit, many of us were left with the sense that our lives didn’t in any way match up to his. In retrospect, while reading Bonnke’s book, even though I was challenged, I didn’t get the same feeling I had years ago. This different perspective might have come with age or experience in the Christian walk. Or it might just be because Reinhard Bonnke’s book went in to far more detail about his life, challenges, and experiences than that young man could over one weekend, or needed to, really. I’d like to think that it is because somewhere along the way, I have learned not to compare myself to others.
But of all that I have found so far in Bonnke’s book and what I learned from our young guest so many years ago, the most precious gift, at this point, is the lasting impression, “What a faithful God!” That thought brings a renewed sense that, no matter what one’s place or calling in life, to find God’s words and line up your decisions with what he says is, truly, to follow the most prudent and most exciting path possible.
It sure seems to have been so for Reinhard Bonnke and the young Carrier of the Cross. While, to many, it might appear to be a great sacrifice, my impression is that sharing the message of the cross of Jesus has not been not a burden to either of them. It is a joy.
“…who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God,” (Hebrews 12:2).