‘Living a Life of Fire’ is the name of a new book that my wife Dorothy and I have been reading together. It is the autobiography of the famed evangelist Reinhard Bonnke. We have not quite finished it yet, but we already found it very inspiring. We also found that some of the points made in the book line up with teachings I have long time given on the ‘The Release of One’s Calling.’ Let me outline the teachings and then illustrate it from Reinhard Bonnke’s story.
THE RELEASE OF YOUR CALLING
There are steps that people typically go through to see the release of God’s calling upon their lives, fulfilling their destiny.
The Call – Beyond the general call to be like Jesus, a call to holiness and maturity in Christ, there is a specific call God puts on individuals. Often this will be confirmed by others, sometimes in a dramatic way.
The Preparation – Before God does anything significant, He usually takes people through a period of preparation to make them ready and equip them for the task.
The Anointing of the Holy Spirit – Beyond receiving the Holy Spirit at salvation, there is the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the anointing for the particular calling God has for us.
The Affirmation of the Body of Christ – There comes a confirmation of the call of God upon a person’s life for a particular calling. It may come from an anointed individual, or through a corporate group of leaders.
The Release of the Calling – Finally, the time comes when a person is released, sometimes thrust into their calling, which results in the fulfillment of their destiny in God.
A couple of things to note here. Firstly, although ‘The Call’ and ‘The Release of the Calling’ come at the beginning and the end of the process, the other steps may be in a different order. Also, the call of God can come at any age. Then too, the process is often repeated as God enlarges one’s calling to embrace more visions.
Let us see how this worked out in the life of Reinhard Bonnke.
Reinhard Bonnke was born in Germany. His grandfather August Bonnke was miraculously healed through the ministry of Luis Graf, who had been impacted by the revival in Auza Street in California. In turn, his father was a Pentecostal pastor in the years following World War II.
THE CALL OF GOD
As a young boy, he “attended a life-changing Sunday service. On this particular day, a husband and wife missionary team had been invited to speak. Bonnke wrote, “I do not remember much about them because, as they were speaking, the Spirit of God spoke to me in my heart. It was as if He said very clearly, ‘Reinhard, one day you will preach My Gospel in Africa.’ Until that moment, I had been a boy born in Germany, with very little exposure to the larger world. My mental picture of the continents was not well schooled, but in my heart, it was as if Africa was suddenly written there.”
That is how it all began – a call to preach the Gospel in Africa. It was later confirmed at a weekday evening service at the end of the prayer meeting. He writes, “I was standing with mother and father ready to be dismissed. The pastor made an announcement that Grandma Bauszuss, an elderly lady in the congregation, had experienced a vision. On his invitation, she stood and related her vision to the members of our little group.
‘I saw a crowd of black people. A very large crowd. They were gathered in a semicircle around a little boy with a big loaf of bread. He was breaking the bread and giving it to the people, and as he did, the loaf continued to increase.” Then she turned to me and pointed, ‘The little boy I saw was this one.'”
Bonnke writes, “I cannot adequately tell you what happens inside a boy when something like this occurs. It was like pouring hot oil over my head, anointing me to see the vision from God confirmed and fulfilled in my life.”
Truly, Reinhard Bonnke was called as a young boy. I believe God wants to do that with more young children and young people today. Let us pray for that to happen. Also, note it was an elderly Grandma who brought a confirmation. If you are older, God can still use you to help release young people into their destiny.
Preparation can and does include many dimensions as God prepares His servant for service. In Bonnke’s case, it also involved going away from home to a bible college in Swansea, Wales. Interestingly, the bible college was established by Rhees Howells after he returned to Wales, following years of ministry in Africa, where he had been used of God to bring revival. You can read his story in the book ‘Rhees Howell Intercessor.’ A great book!
It might be noted that initially, Reinhard did not receive support from his father, who did not want him to go to the college in Wales. Sometimes the people closest to us in the natural take the longest to embrace our calling.
In 1951, as a young boy of 11 years old, Bonnke experienced what he described as “the first day of the rest of my life.” It happened at a farmhouse where a visiting minister was speaking.
“As soon as I entered the room with those saints, I felt something begin to tingle inside of me. Incredibly, it was a growing expectation that I would receive the gift of the baptism this evening. My heart trembled to think that God would do such a thing. I began to be excited, and I felt broken inside. It was a good feeling because I felt broken before God, and I began to sense His love for me as a broken boy. Surely this gift would lift me above the string of failures I had wracked up.
As Arthur Kukula spoke, my faith leapt up and shouted ‘yes’ within me. The words of Scripture seemed to come alive in my chest. Suddenly the entire experience was no longer about me. It was about God and His great love for His children. When Arthur invited those seeking the Holy Spirit to kneel and pray, I did so immediately. No sooner had I reached my knees that I was overwhelmed with an incredible sensation. No one needed to lay hands on me to pray. I received the gift of speaking in tongues spontaneously and burst out in a heavenly language.
How can I describe it? Let me say first of all that there are many who have experienced the Spirit baptism in a quieter and less dramatic fashion. What follows is not a ‘how-to’ receive . . Rather, it is a description of how it happened to me at the age of eleven.
It seemed to come from beyond me and from within me at the same time. My mind began to receive a stream of pure light and love from the very throne of God. It flowed over me and went straight through me simultaneously.
The word love is inadequate to describe it because that word has been so abused and misused. Yet that is what the power and Spirit of God is – His pure, selfless agape love poured onto us.”
Bear Bryant, the famous football coach of yesteryear, had a saying, ‘It’s not the will to win, but he will to prepare to win that makes the difference”(saturdaydownsouth.com).
Billy Graham is reported as saying on one occasion that if he had his ministry to do all over again, he would study three times as much. “I’ve preached too much and studied too little,” he said. He went on to quote Donald Barnhouse’s statement, “If I only had three years to serve the Lord, I would spend two of them studying and preparing.”(craigthompson.org)
God always prepares a person before He releases them to a lifetime calling. Are you being prepared right now?
In the next Langstaff Letter we will look at the other two steps -the affirmation and the release, as seen in Reinhard Bonnke’s story.
Bonnke, R. (2019). Living a life of fire. Jupiter, FL: Harvester Services.