Returning to Nigeria a year after so many attended his evangelistic crusades that 16 were crushed to death, German evangelist Reinhard Bonnke is expecting even more.

Bonnke—a German recognized throughout Africa for his charismatic crusades—drew a crowd of half a million people who came and stood shoulder-to-shoulder on 80 acres of open ground to hear the Pentecostal evangelist speak.

Last night, November 7, marked the opening of Bonnke's "Great Millennial Crusade"—a six-day meeting that most likely will result in Bonnke's largest crusade to date. By the end of the week, when attendance is predicted to exceed 2 million, it could also signify one of the largest Christian gatherings ever recorded.

The event is being held in the southern city of Lagos, Nigeria's biggest community with a population of around 13 million people. Poverty stricken and plagued with countless diseases, Nigeria is a breeding ground for religious and political turmoil. A British colony until the late 1950s, the country struggled severely under the leadership of harsh dictators after gaining its independence. Last year, Nigerians elected their first president, Olusegun Obasanjo, in a democracy that is still fighting to stay alive.

Along religious lines, the country is sharply divided by a Muslim north and a Christian south. In the past year, several northern states have implemented the controversial Shari'a law, a strict Islamic social and penal code that regulates the Muslim lifestyle and calls for stricter rules on women, segregation between males and females in schools, and stronger punishments such as stoning or beheading for criminals.

In a country with over 400 ethnic groups, different tribes are always at ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.