One of the most unusual phenomena that have continued to challenge the status quo within the space of Nigeria’s Christendom has been the sustained rise and development of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN). Given the humble beginning of the ministry and the meteoric ascendancy of the church, the bile of criticisms from various quarters has made the church the most disparaged, not only in Nigeria but across the world. Yet the founder of the ministry, Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua has remained undaunted by the barrage of condemnations. The depth of his commitment to the work before him, especially the evangelization of the world, the dispensation of grace, meeting the downtrodden at the point of their needs, the working of miracles have all marked him as been called of God. Through the years, with the demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit and the attendant gift of prophecy, his critics and even the most ardent of them have been proven to lack spiritual insight.
Unlike what obtains across many religious outlets, millions throng SCOAN year in year out for both material and spiritual help. Quite noteworthy is the humility that TB Joshua displays when attending to both his congregation scattered all over the world and visitors who daily visit the church. Yet in Nigeria he is condemned and vilified. Today, he remains the most sought after of all preachers across the globe.
In his remarks, a theologian, Reverend Mark Ngosit, distanced himself from the bundle of aversion meted out on Prophet Joshua. According to him, “People criticize what they do not understand. I am a theologian and have remained in the teaching ministry of the word of God for many years. I can say it without any fear of contradiction that God is at the centre of the ministry of TB Joshua. He has repeatedly demonstrated the power of God in his life. Unfortunately in Nigeria, we do not appreciate what we have until we lose it. God has blessed us with an instrument of grace and mercy and it is important that we guard it jealously. He had a very humble background. His display of the love of God is different from what other preachers and church founders do. In Nigeria today, it is almost impossible to see these pastors. Their members are impoverished while the church founders go about displaying wealth with pride and arrogance.”
On many occasions, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) demonstrated their dislike for the man in the Synagogue. It is clear that one would have expected such supposedly Christian associations to be more careful in judging what they do not understand. Despite these strong aversions, Prophet Joshua has kept a most positive outlook, choosing instead to pray for those who have chosen to be his enemies and traducers.
Pastor Eniola Richard of His Glory Ministries in Port Harcourt, stated that “God chooses the instrument that He wants to work with. We are just humans and are not limited by what we see and hear. Whether CAN or PFN like it or not, Prophet Joshua is ordained by God and there is nothing anyone can do about it. A man who is called by God does not need the validation of man t operate in the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit. In the early days of the apostles, people did not understand them and they therefore killed many of them. The early Christians displayed the power of God everywhere they went. They were bold in proclaiming the word of God and the love of His mercy. Today, we celebrate the apostles of old as we read about them. Prophet Joshua has continued to increase; his ministry has taken a global appeal. There is no living preacher, dead or alive, that is listened to in a very large scale like TB Joshua. Why should hatred then come in? But it is expected. I pray that God will continue to enlarge him and his ministry.”
Bishop Eke Otuya of Healing Words International, Lagos, strongly argued that what many do not understand is that God only operates with the meek and lowly in heart. “What we see today is that God cannot work with the proud and vain. God only works with men who fear and honour him. If you look at the way he operates, Prophet Joshua is very humble and disciplined. While others are bent on condemning him, he faces the work that God has sent him. Look at the manner in which he helps the sick and helpless. He not only send them money or foodstuff or other material things, he also ensures that he identifies with them. How many of our fellow preachers do that? They are very arrogant and you can see it in the way they carry themselves. Yet God is not moved. God remains God and He will continue to use the vessel that he so chooses. If you observe closely, you will notice that the more people criticize Prophet Joshua, the more works of healing, charity and philanthropy he engages in,” he said.
Today, with the immense flow of foreigners and tourists that flock Lagos, Nigeria, many attend the Synagogue Church of All Nations for various reasons. The economic implications of this have grown positively for the state and the country. But the criticisms have not stopped.
A few years back, many became sad when Prophet Joshua had indicated that he would relocate his ministry to Israel. According to him, “This is where my Father in Heaven came from – it’s non-negotiable. It’s the best place for you to meet Prophet T.B. Joshua. After your healing, blessing and deliverance, you can move around all the spiritual monuments which will establish your faith.
“This is the most persecuted ministry in the world. Who are the people persecuting the ministry? My people, Africa. That is why I choose to live a lonely life. If you want to see me, come to this church. I don’t go out. It has not been easy – because I don’t know who is a friend or who is an enemy.
“If you learn T.B. Joshua is not around, I am in a revival. I live in the church here. I don’t have a house outside. Anytime you pray, remember Africa in prayer. Many heroes and great people have been chased out of Africa. There are many geniuses in the Western world who are originally from Africa.
“What happened to me from the beginning of my ministry is enough to chase me out of this country – but I am still in your midst. Despite the persecution and hatred, I decided to follow the path of love. You show hatred; I show love. When I go for a revival, you will see the stadium full but I am not carried away by that. I leave where I’m celebrated to live where I’m persecuted. Where you are not celebrated is the best place to stay, to get strength. When you are in the midst of a battle, you are building yourself.
“That is why I decided to stay where I am not celebrated here in Nigeria. When the grace of God is amid challenges, it gets stronger. Your life can preach a better sermon than your mouth.”
While the criticisms continue, it is clear that the prophet would continue to toe the line of love, patience and forbearance knowing fully he is only responsible to God.
Oyetimi writes via email@example.com