The German Pentecostal evangelist, Reinhard Bonnke, has warned members of the public and, especially, participants at his ongoing Farewell Crusade holding in Lagos, that he does not collect offerings during his crusades.
“We are here to bless you; we have brought you gifts of salvation and deliverance; we are here to give and not to take anything from you.
“Anyone who asks you to give offering for this crusade is a thief and should be reported immediately,” the sponsors of the crusade, Christ for All Nations, warns participants on Thursday at the crusade ground.
This is coming on the heels of suspicion that certain unscrupulous persons might want to malign the credibility of the preacher by seizing the opportunity offered by the huge crowd at Bonnke’s crusade to raise money for personal use.
Observers opine that Bonnke’s decision is a radical departure from what critics see as “normal practice” by some open-air preachers who urge crusade participants to donate money for offering and other projects.
A respondent, 50-year-old Mr. Ifeanyi Duru, said Bonnke’s decision to not raise offerings at his crusades is “an attestation to his sincerity” in only being concerned about “the salvation of souls.”
Duru recalled that as a student in the University of Benin in the mid 1980s, a popular preacher from the region (name withheld) had to contend with the activities of people he described as “rogues” who tried to raise unofficial offerings from the crowd.
“The preacher, who is now late, had decided to collect offering during his open-air crusades, but some unscrupulous persons tried to outsmart him,” Duru said.
He added that the popular preacher beat the thieves to their game by having different colours of offering bags for each night of the week-long crusade.
“The colours to be used were announced just a few seconds to the commencement of each offering collection; and because the rogues had no prior idea, they were defeated in their purpose,” Duru said.
He, however, commended Bonnke’s “caring heart” for refusing to succumb to what he called “the temptation to exploit the crowd,” who he said would have given “generously” if asked.