A startling confession left members of The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) in Lagos speechless on Sunday 10th April 2015, as a Nigerian university lecturer revealed her literal ‘journey through hell’.
Dr Azuh Mary Ifeoma said her battle with ‘demonic’ oppression had led her to practically all the major churches in Nigeria but it was the prayer of T.B. Joshua – whom she had been bluntly told was a devil – that finally set her free.
According to the academic, her problem began when her father, who was a pastor with the late Archbishop Benson Idahosa’s ‘Church Of God Mission’, decided to destroy the ‘shrine’ where a goddess was worshipped in her village in Aniocha North, Delta State, Nigeria.
Mary led the youth of that village in a triumphant dance at the scene of the destroyed temple, mocking the ‘gods’ the community had worshipped for centuries. Little did she know the horrific spiritual repercussions of her innocent actions that were about to unfold.
One unforgettable night in her mid teens, a female ‘image’ appeared physically to Mary. “She told me that my father burned her shrine,” she reminisced, describing the lady as old but extremely beautiful. That signalled the beginning of a tortuous journey.
With her uncanny academic proficiency, Mary quickly rose through the ranks to become a lecturer in Economics at Delta State Polytechnic in her early 20s. But it was in front of her students at the lecture hall that the ‘demons’ struck in the cruellest of manners.
“Each time I entered the lecture hall or I was in a crowd of people, the image would appear,” she solemnly recalled, stressing this was a supernatural phenomena she alone witnessed.
“It comes with a sound like the beating of drums. When she comes, she would stand and order me to be dancing in the way we danced before her shrine. I would abandon everything I did at that moment, start dancing and then collapse. When I opened my eyes, I would see myself surrounded by my students or in a hospital.”
Understandably, most onlookers attributed her eerily erratic behaviour to a mental breakdown but frequent visits to psychiatric hospitals left no discernible diagnosis of any psychological problem.
Abandoning her home in Delta State, Mary began a desperate search for deliverance that cost her millions, left her heavily indebted and took her as far afield as South Africa.
“The problem was beyond my pastor,” Mary acknowledged, adding that she was a faithful member of Faith Liberation Church. Her overseer directed her to Dunamis International Gospel Centre in Abuja to seek for spiritual help.
“Dr Paul Enenche prayed for me and told me that the case had been settled,” she recounted. “I thought the end had come but it continued.”
Dr Azuh was next advised to see to a female senior leader of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), who organised a special ‘day of deliverance’ for her.
Merely days earlier, the lecturer had been casually given an ‘Anointing Sticker’ from The SCOAN by a friend conversant with her unusual troubles, which she placed on her vehicle.
“I went to that place with my Highlander SUV,” she began. “When the pastor entered, she was climbing the stair case and shouting, ‘Who owns that car?’ When she learned I was the one, the woman burst into tongues. At a point, she spoke out – ‘The spirit of TB Joshua has possessed you!’ ”
Mary was perplexed. She had never visited The SCOAN or met T.B. Joshua before. “She told the pastors to form a circle and instructed I kneel down and confess everything I had to do with The Synagogue,” Dr Azuh recalled.
The angry crowd of pastors then led her to the car and demanded she give them the ‘demonic’ sticker. “They bought kerosene and poured it on the sticker. The woman started striking the matches but they all refused to light.”
The female pastor began shouting obscenities about Joshua at her failed attempts to burn the sticker before proceeding with prayers for Mary.
The night after this ‘deliverance’, Mary’s spiritual entanglements seemed only to worsen. She was then directed to Apostle Johnson Suleman of Omega Fire Ministries in Auchi, Edo State.
“I met the senior pastor of the church,” she revealed. “He said there was no way I could see the apostle unless I sowed a seed of faith.”
N50,000 later, Mary met with the charismatic ‘apostle’. “He said that he had known my case, that before his mentor, Archbishop Benson Idahosa, died, he warned him not to have anything to do with TB Joshua. He said deliverance was a small matter. He prayed for me and told me the problem was solved and it would never happen to me again.”
That night, still in a hostel belonging to Suleman, Mary said she was almost strangled to death by the strange forces that had possessed her.
After complaining that the deliverance ‘did not work’, Suleman asked Mary to follow her to Lagos where she met with ‘Nigeria’s biggest pastor’, presumably referring to Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church Of God.
“He prayed for me and assured me all was well,” she narrated. Alas, the attacks continued unabated.
“I was just like a mad person, looking for a solution at all costs to this problem,” Mary described, adding that she had sold or mortgaged most of her properties to finance her various church trips.
Her next port of call was to the church headed by the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
The same rhetoric was repeated. “Why will you have anything to do with T.B. Joshua? That man is demonic. What you are seeing are tricks. He is not recognised. He must show us the one mentored him before he became a pastor.”
Invited to Oritsejafor’s ‘Jubilee Program’ in Word of Life Bible Church, Warri, Mary says she was ‘anointed’ by ‘blood of Jesus’ that was especially brought in from Jerusalem. The day after the program ended, she was sacked from her place of work.
On the verge of giving up, Mary then decided to ‘try’ another upcoming pastor in Warri known as ‘Prophet Jeremiah’ of Christ Mercyland Deliverance Ministries. “They sucked all the money from my pocket,” she revealed, explaining that she was at his expensive ‘mountain’ for 14 days without any improvement to her condition.
A friend then financed a trip to South Africa for Dr Azuh to meet with Prophet Shepherd Bushiri of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG). However, it was only ‘general prayer’ and ‘laying of hands’ that happened and no change materialised.
Losing hope in ‘pastors’, Mary went to a graveyard with a spiritualist who said she must sleep on the tomb of someone who had died at her age.
In the process of performing the diabolical ritual, a security man monitoring the graveyard discovered the duo, causing the herbalist to run away in fear.
The final straw came in March 2016 when Mary was ‘attacked’ inside a stadium where she was about to present a speech. Getting home, her fifteen year old son confronted his mum angrily, saying the shame and embarrassment of her problem had made him a mockery in school.
“Mummy, if you don’t go to The Synagogue, I will never eat food again,” he defiantly told her. Penniless and hopeless, she decided to visit the place she had been warned never to step foot into, resolving that if this failed, she would flee Nigeria for good.
Arriving at The SCOAN on Sunday 3rd April 2016, as T.B. Joshua began to move around during his time of ‘prophecies’, something remarkable happened.
“When he got closer, I was not seeing the prophet; I was seeing a pillar of fire. The next thing I knew was that I saw myself on the floor.”
Unbeknown to her, in the time-frame of her lost consciousness, the ‘demonic goddess’ within Dr Mary had confessed before Joshua intricate details of the destruction it had wrought in her life, career and family.
The Federal University of Imo State lecturer testified that since her ‘deliverance’, there was not a single ‘demonic encounter’, adding that she visited the local market amidst people without any qualms for the first time in well over a decade.
To cap it off, she reconciled with her brother who assumed she was dead and had even conducted a traditional burial ceremony in the light of her strange disappearance nearly 17 years prior.
“We searched almost all of the cities in Nigeria – all in vain,” Azuh Don Uche tearfully testified as he embraced his sister.
“Then, we gave up. The trauma of that killed both of my parents. The year we ‘buried’ her was the year my mother died. Four years later, my father also died.”
Surprisingly, one of the first people to contact Mary after her ‘deliverance’ was a senior pastor of Oritsejafor’s church, stating that they had seen her live on Emmanuel TV
“Don’t allow somebody to deceive you,” Dr Azuh concluded. “I went to many churches but none showed me love like what I received here. Love is the greatest.”
Surprisingly, T.B. Joshua was absent for the entirety of her testimony.
Ihechukwu Njoku is a freelance Nigerian journalist.
Pictures courtesy of TB Joshua Ministries Facebook Page
NB – some of the pastors names mentioned in this article were inferred and not directly mentioned by the testifier at The SCOAN.