His Life

Brief Biography of Rev. (Dr.) JOHN MICHAEL NENJI


The Birth

It was 1944, September 8th to be precise, just a year before the end of the Second World War, that joy flashed through the barren darkness of Pa and Ma Nenji at Mbube Ogoja Cross River State. It had been Fifteen solid years after the marriage of Pa Michael and Ma Monica Nenji and they had not received the much expected and sought for "fruit of the womb".  Tongues wagged, the water cluttered, the birds whistled and many waters kept passing through the bridge. It had become a norm for the Nanjis to be reminded that they had no child of their own. However, early that Tuesday morning, the cry of a child broke the silence of despair and turned around the ugly remembrance of childlessness’ John Michael Nanji was born.

The father, an African shrine priest yet a partisan catholic, did not hesitate to recognize the hand of a superior and supreme being who had done what many African gods he had venerated and appeased could not do, he gave him the name John the Baptist of the New Testament. This name to pa Nanji was practical and also prophetic. The name was prophetic in the sense that just like John the Baptist; John Nenji was a special child sent by the Almighty at this time to accomplish a purpose. John the Baptist was a herald for Christ, John Nanji is a herald for the light in the Nenji family and became the first of the five children born to Pa Michael and Ma Monica Nenji a thing ones considered impossible in the Moube community of Ogaja Cross River State.


At age 12 in 1967, John became consumed with the passion of his heavenly father’s business. Like Jesus, the Christ at age 12, he left home several times for the crusades and gospel meetings of Rev. Walter John Kornelson who picked interest in him and endeavored to disciple him. For this step, John Michael was flogged severally, but the scourge of the canes could not deter him from his commitment to Jesus his Lord, and Saviour whom he surrendered to. After watching "Burning hell" a film shown by his disciple, Rev. Kornelson in 1958. John Nenji got a spiritual lifting when he became baptized in the Holy Spirit with evidence of speaking with new tongues. This experience was a major trigger in his life that fired him to the desire for all there is in God. It was not long after and he was baptized in water by immersion on the 13th July 1958, along with a few others who shared the same experience.

John Michael Nenji's love for God and commitment to church grew stronger than could be deterred by the scourge of the Cain and any form of persecution. Thank God for Rev. Walter Kornelson a missionary and Amos Emang, an indigenous preacher who disciplined him.

As time went on, John Michael Nenji's doggedness, attracted peers who previously hatted his newfound faith. Together with these peers, they set Mbube and surrounding communities on gospel fire as they Combed each nook and cranny with their house to house; community to community foot evangelism which indeed yielded much fruits. As a result of this, John Michael Nenji desired for nothing more than to serve God completely. He refused to pursue secular jobs like other young men of his time, even though he was considered one of the finest brains and very energetic as a young man. He choose after primary school, to venture wholly into the gospel ministry work.

The Choice of Career

"I have always desired to serve God fully" are the words of Rev. Dr. John Michael Nenji. During his primary school days, he would constantly escape from the strict standard school community to attend the weekly teachings and meetings of either Rev. Walter Kornelson or Rev. Amos Emang at Ekumat, Mbube in Ogoja. it was an Assemblies of God church, derided by the members of the immediate and the surrounding communities who preferred the roman catholic church (the only other church available to the communities) to the “tongue-speaking and crying  Assemblies of God. The school constantly punished him for these and threatened severally to expel him but for God’s intervention, he was never expelled. In the school, he was known as and called "pastor", even the school authorities recognized that until he graduated.

In 1962, he was enrolled in bible school for training. He walked closely with Rev. Amos  Emang in 1961 and since it was mandatory for him to pioneer a church during his training, Rev. Komelson, took him to start his first church, February 11th, 1962.

During his training, in Central Bible School, Umuahia, he met with and studied in the same class (2nd year ) with Rev. Dr. Charles Osueke, Rev. Samuel Onoh, Rev. Nicholas Udeh, Rev. Simeon AKachukwu, Rev. Simon Okorie, Rev John IKoni, and several others. Other friends he met during the first-year class at Ogoja were Rev. Michael Ogbah, Rev. Godwin Osuchukwu, Rev. James Nedom, Rev. Benjaimine Tusiima, etc. He had previously met with Rev  James Nendom in 1962 and Rev John Ikoni in 1983 at eastern bible institute Ogoja.

He started teaching in the Eastern Nigeria bible institute in 1970, alongside Rev Dr. John Ikoni and his colleagues in the pastorate included Rev. Samuel Odok, Edibe Ntulamkpe, John Ekawo, James  Idiege, Elias Akpozi, Edward Ayuk, and others who have also gone to be with the lord.

During his formative years with regards to the choice of career, he learned that a pastor must prepare his message adequately and deliver it under the unction of the Holy Spirit. He also learned that a pastor is not supposed to joke with his bible class periods. In those years he learned early enough to be accountable and available to God. In his words; "I have always made myself available whenever I’m needed because I have always known that the will of God cannot lead me where the grace of God cannot keep me". Furthermore, Rev John Michael Nenji learned that he could not do without the anointing from the Holy Ghost. He will always pray “God give me enough light for my next step in following you.  keep me from sin and take not the holy spirit from me. Draw me close to you and keep me in the place of prayers".

The Spouse, The Marriage

Rev. Dr. John Michael Nenji met his wife during his third year period in the bible school at Ogoja. He had been invited to preach in one of the churches at Ogoja where he noticed his wife a Sunday school secretary, very committed to the Sunday school work. Theresa Noah as was fondly called was committed and zealous for God. As time went on, Her commitment and zeal for God lead her to enroll in the bible school where the would-be husband was teaching.  Without hesitation, Rev. John Michael Nenji cashed in on that opportunity and all of the protocols were duly followed till their wedding on the 10th July 1972.

Rev. Mrs Theresa Nenji, also now in the bosom of the Lord redefined life for John Michael Nenji. She became his best friend, the superlative confident and a ready co-burden bearer.. her humility, prudence, creativity, trite, and resourcefulness was superlative. She redefined womanhood and the place of a wife in a home. It is said, "Behind a successful man is a woman". However, to Mommy Theresa Nenji, "behind a successful man is not just a woman, but a successful woman". She was a conservative yet did not lose sight and touch with the changing times. She could fit into any situation, whether it was plenty or penury. She made the best of every circumstance without complaining. It was said that she made many fat but remained thin. Her desire was to see others better. She loved her husband whom she regarded as her physical lord till death. She was quoted to have once said, " I cannot live to have my husband die before me". This could have informed her desire to go when she did on the 9th April 2008. Their marriage was blessed with five children (four men and one lady).

Years of Advancement and Consolidation.

The Rev.( Dr) Nenji received the call into full-time ministry in 1962 at the age of 18, five years after his conversion. This call came quite early and timely too. The call came at a time when the contradictions of men against him and his new faith were at their peak, at a time when family members, guardians at school, and friends greeted him with nothing but rejection and persecution; a time when the experience of the Holy Spirit baptism had set his heart ablaze for God and for His work. Consequently, he was willing to go cheerfully through anything whatsoever for the sake of the gospel. No wonder he maintained his faith despite the physical torture and beating he received from parents, relatives, and primary school headmaster who at one occasion ordered his receiving 24 strokes of the cane in the school; in the view of all the teachers, pupils, and villagers for attending the Assemblies of God church instead of the church of Scotland mission as prescribed by the school which was owned by the mission. Truly the call came at a time when the joy of salvation in him had swallowed up the pain of rejection by parents and as the bible says "when my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up" ( Ps. 27:10). No wonder John Michael Nenji being rejected by his parents, found himself in the hands of God, a greater parent who saw something useful about him.

The call into ministry was so clear to him that he came to understand that his life was only worth living If it was lived for God’s purpose.

Rev. Dr. Nenji’s call culminated in his willingness to submit himself to be trained for the work.  thus in march 1962, he went into eastern Nigerian Bible institute, now AG seminary Ogoja, in Cross River State.

The educational Expedition

His basic education, which was with the primary school, Ekumtak-mbube, Ogoja Cross River State.,

Handed into his hand the first school Leaving Certificate (FSLC) in 1960. In 1969, John M. Nenji got his Diploma in bible/ Theology from the Eastern Nigeria Bible Institute, Ogoja. He proceeded to Lome, Togo, a few years later for an associate of Arts degree in Bible/theology which he bagged in 1977, from the West African Advanced School of Theology. Rev. Dr. John Michael Nenji also went beyond the African Continent in pursuit of more education. After studying in a very competitive environment with both blacks and whites in the United States of America, the Rev. (Dr.) Nenji came out as a top student with a BA(Hons) in Bible in 1979 and an MA in Bible literature in 1984 at the central bible college and the assemblies of god Graduate School respectively both in Springfield Missouri, USA.

His scholastic endeavor and academic excellence coupled with multiple achievements in the ministry, led to his award of Doctor of Divinity by the Evangel Theological Seminary, Jos. Plateau State, Nigeria in 2008 even while he was a Ph.D. candidate with the Pan- African Theological Seminary (PATHS) Lome Togo.

The Man

Rev. (Dr) John Michael Nenji is a highly motivated personality who was dedicated, hard-working, honest, humble, and disciplined. He was a renowned speaker and a scholar among the Evangelical Pentecostal churches and institutions. He attended several conferences and workshops in and outside Nigeria including  Lome, Togo, Ghana, Monrovia, Liberia, Nairobi, Kenya, etc.  While in the united state of America, he spoke at several missions’ conventions in Chicago, Illinois, San Diego, Costa Mesa, Los Angeles, North Holly Wood, Springfield, Missouri, Denver, Colorado, Richmond, Virginia, etc. he has served in several capacities within and outside the Assemblies of God, Nigeria. He was one time Christian Association of Nigeria  (CAN) Chairman  Ogoja L.G.A. Cross River State. Rev. Dr. Nenji also served in various policy-making committees of the Assemblies of God Church such as ;

  • Literature management Committee
  • Board of education
  • General  Council  Constitution  Review Committee
  • Eastern council constitution Review committee
  • General Council credential committee
  • Assistant  Professor of religion  Global University, Irving Texas, USA
He was also involved in Evangelism and church planting efforts which gave birth to the church at Okoride, Ntamante, Batang, Ogep, Osokom, Ekumtak, Odaje, Idum, Mfuma, Abakpa, all in Ogoja, Cross River State.

As a lecturer, he taught at the following places and time;

  • Eastern Bible College,  Ogoja, Cross River state., January 1970 to December 1979.
  • Senior Lecturer,  Nigerian Advanced School of theology (N.A.S.T.) Ewu, Esan Central, Edo State, July to December 1990.
As an Administrator, he led the following institutions at the giving times                                              - Eastern bible  College, Bekwara  Ogoja, Cross river state, as Principal. January 1980 to May 1988

-Eastern district Assemblies of God Nigeria, as District Superintendent, June 1988 to May 1990.

- Nigeria advanced School of Theology (N.A.S.T.)Ewu, Edo State as Executive  president January 1991 to December 1993

-Assemblies of God Bible College, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, January 1994, to December 1999 as Principal.

- Evangel  Theological Seminary (ETS). Jos plateau state, January 2000 – 2009, Where he retired from active ministry.

Rev. Dr. John Michael Nenji had written several articles that have been published in the Pentecostal Evangel, USA, Ghana Evangel, and the Nigerian Evangel, the official magazines of the places named Earlier. He has also published three books with titles

1.Receiving the baptism in the Holy Ghost

2.Servant Leadership

3.Assemblies of God Nigeria at 75 
- where did we come from?
 -where are we?
 -where do we go from here?

His Death

Rev. Dr. John Michael Nenji could be described as "God's Pet" and the particular pet, a cat with nine lives. Despite many battles common to man in this mortal body, the God he served whole-heatedly kept him.

Worthy of mention among many of his battles will include;

- A nasal infection triggered by an attempt to choke him to death with sand at one day old. This left him with a condition of severe pain under the sun and made him very bashful as a teenager. He was, however, miraculously healed without a trace as soon as he got into the gospel ministry.

- Not less than five car accidents that each time, left onlookers wondering how he made it out alive.

- An open-heart surgery in New Delhi India in 2008 at quite a cost ( many thanks to God and to the Assemblies of God church, which he served wholeheartedly till his last breath).

In all of the above, the good Lord in whose arms he lived, kept him for 77 years. 

Two weeks after his routine checkup with his cardiologist at JUTH and his drugs reviewed for another three months, that fateful day (6th of January 2021) came. God granted him a glorious exit as he took a bow and joined the saints gone ahead of us in the presence of all his four sons with nothing related to any of the conditions or battles mentioned earlier. He's survived by;

- Abuo Madona E. (Mrs.) - Sister

(Nee: Nenji)

- Elder Christopher E. Nenji - Brother

- Nenji Michael E. - Son

- Nenji Joseph A. - Son

- Nenji Jason U.   - Son

- Nenji Francis O. - Son

- Bello Grace O. (Mrs.) - daughter

(New: Nenji)

- Joe-Nenji Juanita Leshani-Ochuweh - Granddaughter

- Bello Adesire Ogbene - Granddaughter

- Joe-Nenji John7 Oyibo-Ochuweh - Grandson

- Bello Nkenu - Granddaughter

- Joe-Nenji Ihuoma U. (Mrs) - Daughter-in-law

  (New: Ken-Akparanta)

- Taiwo Bello (Dr.) - Son-in-law