Evangelist and Christ for All Nations founder Reinhard Bonnke has died at the age of 79.
In a statement, Bonnke's wife, Anni, said he "passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family." Bonnke is also survived by his children, Kai-Uwe, Gabrielle and Susie, and eight grandchildren.
"Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, it is with sorrow that the Bonnke Family would like to announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, and grandfather, evangelist Reinhard Bonnke," she said.
"He passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family, on December 7, 2019. For the past 60 years he has preached the glorious Gospel of Jesus throughout the entire world.
"We want to thank you on behalf of him and our family, for your kind love and unwavering support, which enabled him to preach the matchless message of salvation to countless people."
The Bonnke family have asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be given to Christ for All Nations' Gospel Crusades — large scale evangelistic events held in Africa.
News of his death Saturday was shared by Daniel Kolenda, Bonnke's successor as president of Christ for All Nations.
"It is with great sadness that I and Christ for All Nations announce the death of our founder, friend and spiritual father, Reinhard Bonnke," he said.
"All told, more than 79 million people made Christ their Lord as a result of evangelist Bonnke's ministry. Bonnke was best known for his Gospel outreach campaigns throughout Africa. It is no exaggeration to say that his work transformed the continent," Kolenda added.
Bonnke spent six decades preaching around the world, but Africa was a particular focus of his ministry. He stepped back from full-time ministry several years ago for health reasons, passing the reins of Christ for All Nations to Kolenda.
In October 2017, he held a farewell crusade in Nigeria attended by over a million people.
A number of high profile African politicians and Christians from many denominations worldwide were among those paying tribute to him on Twitter.
"To me he was one of the greatest evangelists, if not the greatest, that ever lived," said GOD TV President and CEO, Ward Simpson. "All of us at GOD TV send our sincere condolences to Reinhard's wife Anni and the Bonnke family."
Jentezen Franklin, the senior pastor of Free Chapel, a multi-site church based in Gainesville, Georgia, described Bonnke as "An amazing friend and one of the greatest soul winners in history, Reinhard Bonnke’s ministry literally changed our world. We will miss you, but our loss is heaven’s gain."
Pastor Brian Houston of Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia, added: "I’m sad to hear of the passing of Reinhardt Bonnke. He was a very good friend, a mighty preacher, and a powerful evangelist. He spent his life “populating Heaven” and now he has joined Heaven’s population."
Televangelist Benny Hinn said of the late evangelist: "The home-going celebration for my dear friend Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke has begun. Few have touched my life as he did. My heart is broken for his wife Anni, and his family, yet I join them in honoring the remarkable legacy of a life well lived!"
In a post on Twitter, Paula White, one of President Donald Trump's spiritual advisers, said: "I pray for all the family, friends and lives that you profoundly impacted with your life and ministry. You served Jesus well and finished your course. You were one of the greatest evangelists of our time! I was honored to minister with you on several occasions."
Kipchumba Murkomen, majority leader of the Kenyan Senate, said: "Fare thee well Ev. Reinhard Bonnke. You touched many lives. For me after Billy Graham it was Reinhard Bonnke. You are safe at home. Rest in Eternal Peace!"
Ifeanyi Okowa, the governor of Nigeria's Delta state, said: "My prayers are with the family of Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke of Christ for All Nations, who passed away earlier today. Bonnke's work all over the world, especially in Africa, supported the faith of millions of Christians across several generations. He will be dearly missed."
Kolenda added: "This day will go down in history as the day one of God’s greatest generals went home. When I woke up this morning, I had no idea that my day would end with such a whirlwind of emotion. I have both deep sorrow and great joy. Sorrow because Reinhard Bonnke was more than a great man, powerful preacher and influential leader.
"To me, he was like a father and one of my dearest friends. The Apostle Paul tells us that such gifts in our life are incredibly rare. 'Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers…' (1 Cor. 4:15). The sense of loss I feel in this moment is profound. But I am so happy that evangelist Bonnke has finally entered his eternal reward. He is now with the One that he loved so much and that he lived his whole life to please. I am sure that all of Heaven is rejoicing. And from Heaven’s grandstand he is cheering us on. We must continue to run with patience the race set before us until we all meet again at the feet of Jesus."
This article was originally published at Christian Today here.