From Bonnke to Kolenda: A proverb to Nigerian Christian leaders on succession

Reinhard Bonnke and Daniel Kolenda

International Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke believes in the relevance of 2 King 2:9-11 as biblical example of incarnational transference of God’s gifts and calling even for today. Bonnke operated on this belief for 35 years in Christ for All Nation ministry. He stepped down in 2010 at age 70 and appointed 29 years old Daniel Kolenda as his successor.  Kolenda, a fifth generation preacher left the church he planted with his wife to joined Bonnke ministry in 2006. The testimony of Kolenda according to Bonnke is that ‘anointed must be appointed.’ Seven years ago Bonnke says of Kolenda, “I invited Daniel to travel with me in ministry. He has been shoulder to shoulder, stride for stride, learning, growing, preaching the gospel and seeing signs following, just as I have. It is impossible to be near a life of fire and not catch the glow. He is glowing, and so is this 70-year-old evangelist.” Bonnke is showing our church leaders in Nigeria how to turn ordinary people into leaders and not just for the highest bidders.

The emerging pastoral and succession paradigm in the Nigerian Church today is tragic and sad hence, Bonnke farewell crusade is saying to our leadership that no one is indispensable. Bonnke provides a model of intentionally orchestrating missional leadership succession as opportunities to re-energise vision, adapt mission, disciple the people for God’s next season of ministry and service. Bonnke’s leadership succession provides us ‘a unique opportunity to assess the current and future viability of the organisation including its mission relevance, functions, operations and structures.’ Bonnke’s provides us a proverbial successful incarnational leadership transition especially when it comes to how and when to say goodbye.

Kolenda has travelled side-by-side with Bonnke fulfilling the ministry’s mandate to spread the gospel to the nations with signs and wonders following them.  Bonnke says of his young successor, “Daniel Kolenda is an outstanding preacher with a message of salvation. He knows how to throw the net out and he knows how to pull it back in, … Many people are coming to salvation as a result of it. When I go [to the crusades] I will also preach, but he carries the heavy end of it—and I do that so there is some transition, so that there is some handing over. I want him to be established in his own right, in his own name, so that one day when I’m no longer in this world the harvest can continue.” Bonnke is making a proverb on the issue of healthy succession in the Nigerian Church’s leadership pipeline. Bonnke succession is about reproduction. It is about leadership development and not leadership placement of family members as successors. Bonnke has reproduced himself in Kolenda and not replaced himself with any of his biological children or family. To Bonnke, ministry is not a business empire nor a personal property. Bonnke succession plan is a proverb to our ministry’s replacement plans in Nigeria. One of the the area we are spiritually bankrupt is succession issue. We have forgotten that leadership fruit grows on other people’s tree just as Bonnke’s leadership fruits is growing on Daniel Kolenda’s tree. The healthy leadership fruit of Bonnke has reproduced Daniel Kolenda in continuity and cultivating the expansion of the ministry.

Success and power can be a great leader’s downfall. Bonnke is exemplifying to the Nigerian Church leaders the needed character to finish well. For Bonnke, the issue is not about the ‘fastest growing church’ or ‘the largest church with the largest auditorium in the world.’ Numerical growth does not reflect spirituality. People matters to him than propaganda. We need statements that reflects an attitude of brokenness. Enough of copycat mentality and cloning our styles and our ministries after another who has become so ‘successful.’ Bonnke has put forward a proverb to the Nigerian Christian leaders by introducing his successor in his lifetime while taking the back seat. Bonnke is waking up Nigerian Christian leaders to the fact that every church leader is an interim leader, nothing is permanent. ('Deji Okegbile Blog)


  1. If men are unable to say or find a single fault about the enitre life of Bonnke, the Bible passage of be ye holy as your God is holy is practicable. Hallelujah!

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