Reinhard Bonnke, the German Pentecostal evangelist who died today at the age of 79 was a refugee during World War 11. He once narrated his experience to TheNEWS when he visited Nigeria.
In his words: “I was born in 1940 in East Germany during World War II. That was when the war was going on. We had to flee and become refugees. We lost everything. We went with our mother, we were six children. I was child number five and just four years old when we ran for our lives. Somehow we crossed the Balfic Sea by boat just to escape the Russians – Soviet forces at that time. We landed in Denmark.
“Actually, I was between my fourth and ninth year. All I knew was barbed wire in a refugee camp in a foreign land. So that explains why I have a very great compassion for displaced and poverty stricken people. I also remembered how we scratched for food just to survive. I had a very rough childhood.
“We returned to Germany when I was nine and my father at that time was a Pastor. He has started a church in West Germany. So we were repatriated from Denmark after finding him through the Red Cross. That was how I grew up in Hamburg.
He added that his father was drafted as a soldier like everybody else during the. “He was during that period a British prisoner of war (POW). He was prisoner of war for just nine months before he was released. Then he established a church as I have just mentioned earlier. That’s where I grew up.”
He further explained how he became born again: “Well, I tell you something Nigerians may not have heard. In the refugee camp, I never knew what money was because there was no money. We were just refugees. The Danish government gave us some food and we got some clothes and we lived four families in one room. It was a terrible thing. We were just surviving. When as a nine-year old boy, I got back to Germany, I discovered money, I realised that with money I could buy sweets. And I stole some coins from my mother’s purse. I went out and bought sweets. She caught me red handed but instead of punishing me, because that was what I deserved, she put her hands around me and said ‘Reinhard, you are on your way to hell, because you are a thief.’
“That moment the Holy spirit touched my heart. I saw myself lost. And she said Jesus can save sinners and he cares for me. People think this cannot be real in a child’s heart and mind but that was the day of my new birth. And I never ever touched money again. It was absolutely fantastic but that was my conversation experience. I had made a petty theft; mother caught me and instead of punishing me she led me to Jesus Christ and I am eternally grateful.”
Read the full interview here