My wife and I are both devouring what we agree is one of the very best books we have ever read. It is the new autobiography of Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke; Living A Life of Fire. I consider myself an avid reader and have quite a number of biographies and autobiographies in my library, but they are usually my least favorite books, being full of statistics, dates and data that could only be interesting to the author.
This book is very different. It is 628 pages crammed full of some of the most fascinating and thrilling stories you will ever read…and they are all absolutely true! It reads like a sequel to the book of ACTS and every minister will draw courage and inspiration from its pages…especially evangelists.
My phone rang. Brother Harold Horn, someone I had known since my arrival in Lesotho, said, “Reinhard, come to Kimberly and preach to us.” I said, “I will come.”
…Friday night as I sat on the platform I looked across the gathering of 200 people. Not one young person did I see in the room. Not one. I leaned over to Harold, who was near to me, and asked, “Where are the young people?” He nodded sadly, acknowledging that I had correctly seen the problem. Every head in the room was gray. I preached. The service was closed, and the people filtered out to their cars to go home. When they had gone, Harold came to me.
“Reinhard, would you like to see the answer to your question? Would you like to know where all the young people in Kimberly are?”
“Yes, I would,” I replied.
“I will show you. Get into my car, and I will take you there.”
…He drove through the streets, turning this way and that until he came to a large building at the edge of a warehouse district. The building was ablaze with gaudy neon signs. One large sign blinked out the word, disco, disco, disco…The parking lot was jam-packed to overflowing with vehicles. …As he turned off the key I could hear the boom, boom, boom, of the heavy bass beat coming through the walls of that building. The so-called music seemed to shake the very ground beneath us with an ungodly spirit. “This is a den of iniquity,” I said sadly…He nodded. “This is the latest thing, Reinhard. It is called a discotheque, a dance club. It is a craze that is sweeping the whole world right now, and young people everywhere are very attracted to it…Let’s go inside.”
“Let’s take a look inside,” Harold suggested. Suddenly, this seemed exactly right. Everything in my spirit said yes. I nodded. “OK, Harold. Lets just take a look at this disco.” …We came to the door and stood there. I felt the Spirit say to me very clearly, Look inside. I will show you something you do not know. I took a deep breath then opened the door. The blast of music must have knocked the hair back from my forehead. I have never heard such volume in my life. It was deafening. But it was in that instant that I received a spiritual vision of the reality of the disco. In the flash of the strobe lights, I did not see young people dancing with joy. I saw frozen images of boredom, fear, loneliness, and insecurity, one after the other, captured on the faces of those young people. The split-second flashes of light revealed these images, over and over and over again, like stop-action. Each of those haunted faces spoke to me of emptiness. Pure emptiness.
…Suddenly, I could not care less what anyone thought of me. I knew that I would preach in this disco. Nothing could deny the love of Jesus that I felt. I shut the door and looked at Harold. I hear the Holy spirit say in my heart, Find the owner of this place. And so, I said to Harold, “Help me to find the owner of this disco.”
“What good will that do?”
“I must talk to him. Let’s find him now.”
“But what will you say to him?”
“I will ask him to let me preach in his disco.”
Harold laughed. “You won’t do that, Reinhard.”
“I will. I absolutely will.”
Harold followed me now. I inquired inside the disco, and we were led to an office at the rear of the building. The owner was a middle-aged businessman who looked to be very much a part of the rock-and-roll culture. He had long hair, gold chains around his neck, an open-collared shirt, and blue jeans. I said to him, “Sir, I’ve come all the way from Germany. I am asking you for permission to allow me to address the young people in your disco for just five minutes.” He looked at me from top to toe. “You’re a preacher,” he said. I was still dressed in my suit and tie. I nodded. He said, “If you want to preach you should preach in a church.”
“There are no young people in the church,” I said. “They don’t come to the church so the preacher must come to the young people. Now give me five minutes, only five minutes, I ask of you.”
“You’ve got to be kidding.” He shook his head in disbelief, then turned around and walked away. “There is no way, man.” He had no sympathy for my plea at all.
As he was walking, suddenly the Holy spirit touched me. He said to me, Tell him what you saw when you looked into his dance hall. I went after the man and took him by the arm. He turned to face me again. “One question, sir,” I said, looking deep into his eyes. “Do you think the young people find what they need for life in your disco?” Slowly the face of that man changed. He looked down thoughtfully. When he looked up again he said, “It is very strange that you would say that. I have children of my own. I’ve thought many times that the disco will not give the young people what they need for life.”
“I beg you, sir, give me five minutes with them.” He was thoughtful for a moment. “OK, but not tonight. Saturday night, tomorrow night at midnight, I will give you the microphone for five minutes.” I grabbed his hand and shook it. “It’s a deal, and thank you, sir. I will be here.”
…The next night I…dressed in casual clothes. I did not want to look like a preacher just coming from church. I needed disco camouflage….When at last the clock struck twelve, the music stopped. I jumped up and onto the stage where the records were being spun. I took the microphone from the disk jockey and shouted, “Sit down, sit down, sit down. I’ve come all the way from Germany, and I’ve got something very important to tell you.” Suddenly the young people began sitting down everywhere. It was then I realized I was not in church but in a dance hall. …Most of the young people plopped right down on the floor. There they sat, smoking cigarettes and chewing gum, waiting for me to tell them something very important that I had brought with me all the way from Germany.
I started to preach on minute, two minutes; suddenly the Holy Spirit was there; I mean the wind of God blew into that disco. Suddenly I heard sobbing. I saw young people getting out their handkerchiefs and starting to wipe their eyes, crying everywhere. …I had preached enough to know that when people start shedding tears, it’s time for an altar call. I said, “How many of you want to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior? How many want to find forgiveness for your sins and enter God’s plan for your life, as of tonight?”
Every hand that I could see in that place went straight up. I said, “Alright, repeat after me.” We prayed the prayer of salvation together. My five minutes were up. My work was done. I left walking on cloud number nine, rejoicing, absolutely rejoicing…
A year later I returned to Kimberly. Harold met me at the airport. He said, “Get in my car. I have a surprise for you.” I got in his car. He did not say anything about it; he just drove through the winding streets until he came to the warehouse district. The car stopped. I looked out of the window. I could not believe my eyes. I wiped them and looked again. Instead of seeing the big disco sign, there was a huge white cross on the front of the building.
“This is not the surprise,” Harold said. “Come inside.”
We walked up to that door where we had stood one year ago…”Are you ready for this, Reinhard?” Harold swung the door open, and I looked into a packed house full of young people. They were chanting, “Bonnke, Bonnke, Bonnke.” I cried out with joy. They rushed to me, hugging me and shaking my hands, bringing me inside. One young man said, “Remember me? I was the disk jockey that night that you came.” Another grabbed my hand. “I was operating the light show.” Another said, “We were dancing the night away. Now we are serving Jesus.”
“After you left town, the disco went bankrupt,” Harold shouted to me. “This disco is a church!” He was beaming from ear to ear.”…
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