By Ntando Makhubu
Johannesburg – When news of the collapse of a church guest house in Nigeria surfaced a year ago, the family of Mpho Mbedzi opened themselves to the possibility she had also perished.
“What followed was the most difficult time of our lives, but TB Joshua stepped in and made it easier to bear,” said Mbetse Mbedzi, father of the late 30-year-old.
The Limpopo man was one of the friends, families, survivors and loved ones who gathered at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand for the remembrance day for the martyrs of faith.
The event celebrated the lives of the 85 South Africans who died under the rubble of the guest house of TB Joshua’s Synagogue Church Of All Nations (Scoan) in Nigeria a year ago. Church representatives from Nigeria also attended.
The crowd sang and danced and gave testimonies about their love and devotion to Scoan senior evangelist Joshua, praising him for the support he had given them since the accident on September 12 last year.
“His support has helped us move forward and stop dwelling in the past,” said Mbedzi.
He said Joshua had kept them financially afloat as they waited for his daughter’s remains and had kept up the support after her funeral.
While singing and dancing were the order of the day, there were also speeches and testimonies and a chance for survivors and families to express their feelings for Joshua and his church.
On the big screens inside the auditorium and outside, they thanked him for being there for them, and for taking them along with him to Mexico in May.
“We went shopping; we ate anything we fancied and we got to spend time with him,” one teenager, whose sibling was killed, said during her testimony recorded on the trip back from Mexico and played back on the screens.
Being taken on an all- expenses-paid trip overseas was a rare treat, one mother said, adding on top of that she had visited Joshua in Nigeria and had been “spoilt rotten”.
“My daughter told me she was going to Scoan for me, and so the trips, shopping sprees and money I have received are evidence of that,” she said.
The church’s choirs sang and kept the mood vibrant and festive, but when gospel singer Lusanda took the stage and was followed by singer Bongani Nchang, the mood was upbeat as young and old abandoned their seats and danced.
“This is an indication their deaths were not in vain,” Thuli Lukhambule said.
She lost a cousin in the tragedy.
“Our lord and father (Joshua) has wiped tears and taken care of orphans. He is indeed a blessing,” she added.