(ASSOCIATED PRESS) — By the time the Rev. Reinhard Bonnke edges toward the stage, anticipation in the thundering arena is swelling. A crowd of thousands has been told of his decades of preaching in Africa, the tens of millions of souls he has saved, the countless healings for which he has been a conduit and the modern-day Lazarus he saw risen. The floor is vibrating, the air filled is with fog, sleek videos are flashing on massive screens.
"This is an hour of salvation," he tells the crowd. "Miami shall be saved! Florida shall be saved! America shall be saved!"
Bonnke came to the cavernous home of the Miami Heat to launch his first great American crusade, even as his name is unknown to most in this country. After what he said was a childhood call from God to preach in Africa, it took years to find legions of receptive ears on that continent. Today, 74-year-old, German-born Bonnke is among the world's best-known faith healers, a Pentecostal minister who claims to have saved the souls of more than 72 million people in gatherings so large they've twice spurred stampedes.
Advertisement - story continues below