This is an interesting and breath-taking interview with TB Joshua, the General Overseer of the Synagogue, Church of all Nations, Lagos Nigeria. He answered questions about criticism from other men of God, persecution, charity, the nation, economy and others.
Q: You’ve come under severe criticism recently and in the past years from other pastors and your former aides, but you never replied them. Why?
A: It is only when you don’t know where you are going you will reply them. When you don’t know where you are going, anything can overwhelm you, anything can provoke you. Look at what happened to Joseph in the dry pit; because he knew he was going to the throne; he was not overwhelmed. When he was on the floor, instead of looking at the floor – you know the prison floor is not smooth – the Bible said he opened the window and looked at the beautiful sky and he said to himself, “I know where I belong!” So when you know where you belong, nothing can overwhelm you, provoke you or discourage you. Therefore, if you know that there is a higher hand leading you and you know the protection you are under, you don’t fight for God, rather God fights for us. There are two ministers of God, those who fight for God and those whom God fights for. For me, God fights for me. You don’t fight for God, so when you are doing the work of God and people are fighting you, they are fighting God. Apart from healing, prophecy and Synagogue, if I withdraw now, nobody will talk about me. Definitely, it’s God in me they are fighting. So when somebody says you are this and that, it’s just a matter of time. Those persecutions, hatred and intimidation – you will realise that God uses them to prepare us and strengthen our desire for Him. When you are being persecuted, it’s time to praise the Lord. Time of intimidation is time to draw closer to Him. Therefore, it’s a tonic for our anointing. The persecution we suffer in the hands of our detractors causes us to be known.
Q: Some Pastors claim that you are evil. Is TB Joshua evil?
A: You know what happened to Peter and our Lord Jesus Christ. You know how close Peter was to Him and the question He asked in that Matthew 16 – “Who do people say I am?” Peter’s first answer was improper and Jesus said you are a tempter; you are a snare, get out of my sight. You should ever think of the things of God, not things of the world. You can imagine somebody who is close to Jesus and the Lord asked him, who do people say I am – and he could not see Jesus from God’s point of view but from a human point of view. Perfection eludes everyone. Because you bear pastor… what informs that word pastor? The issue of pastor is all about the anointing of God. So because somebody said I am a pastor, that does not mean his vision cannot be blurred – and when his vision is blurred, you will not see clearly the things of God. There are pastors that actually receive the message of God by mental assent. The actual message of God comes from the heart. It renews our strength. The one that comes from our heard you memorise the message, just like you go to school. What you have studied is in your heard and the moment you are not practicing what you studied in another two to three years, you have to rehearse it again, but the Words of God are always in our heart.
Q: Lagos State Government is talking about wealth of churches and they want to tax churches. Do you support this move?
The wealth of the church is the strength of the church, and the strength of the church is the Holy Spirit – so what are you talking about? How would you now tax the Holy Spirit? When you are out there looking at the church, it’s a place of refuge for everybody when there are economic crises. People are jobless; when you are given a sack letter, the next place you think of is the church, when you are sick, you run to the church. Somebody who receives a sack letter from his office, is the Pastor still expecting money from such person? A pastor that does that is receiving a curse. I will advise the government not to share a cruse from any minister of God that is collecting money from people they are supposed to give money to. Government should not join them in sharing the curse. People are being sacked and that’s what’s happening in the country today. If you are sacked, the Pastor is supposed to restore hope and strength to you, give you money to invest, go to their store and give you at least a bag of rice that will sustain you until you get another job. These people are a burden to the church – but when you are looking at the church from a distance, you will think they are bringing money… So, if any Pastors sees it as a means of extorting money from the under-privileged people, that Pastor is receiving a curse. There is no need to tax churches because they are not making money, and if anybody starts making money at the expense of other people, the person is getting a curse – and I don’t want government to share in that curse.
Q: You have other arms of the church like charity, deliverance, reconciliation, prophecy, healing and others. What has it been like over the years handling all these responsibilities?
A: This is the problem the country has brought to us; that is what we are talking about. Here we have a foundation for the youths, a football club. There are about 4000 of them that come from across the country, and we have a bus for them. We are also involved with the destitute in Oko-Baba, you saw the buses given to them and how they are being taken care of and we are giving them scholarships. We have people in Leeds University in London, which is one of the best universities in the world. There are also the widows, the physically challenged – and we have a warehouse where we keep the rice which we give to these people. Each trailer is N5million and we have about four trailers. There are also the aged people – we look for them and take care of them, even the ones that are sick. Of course, you know that to run a football club costs a lot of money. Even the PHCN where they train, we paid heavily to secure it. These are some of the challenges we are facing. So when you now talk about the issue of tax, does it means that we will withdraw all these and use it to pay tax? We are doing more than paying tax. I don’t operate any bank account, not to talk of keeping money here. These people are my bank account. I believe so much in this so that in the nearest future, people can stand and say, ‘I am now this through the grace of God in the life of TB Joshua’.
Q: Is that the basis for grooming these young ones around you from abroad?
I will not answer that now; let me finish the issue of leadership. Let’s move forward. One of the key issues why we are having problems, especially in Africa, is that there is no way Africa can develop without taking this pattern I am going to talk about now. In developed countries, they exchange their mineral resources with another one – but in our case, we exchange our mineral resources with money. Look at our oil; the Western countries come to take our oil and give us pounds and dollars. For Nigeria to develop, they should exchange oil for technology. Go to Russia, whatever mineral resources they have there, they exchange with American technology and whatever America needs from them, they exchange it with technology; the same thing happens in other developed countries all over the world – but our own is money. The gift of God to us, our inheritance, to develop people’s skills, we keep exchanging for dollars and pounds. And when we collect the money, we will not keep it in our banks here. We will still carry it back to the banks of the people that gave us the money, and they will say they are keeping it for us. They will say they are keeping it in foreign reserve, and that actually has kept us in the level we are today. So tell me how we can develop? From the beginning of this Niger-Delta crisis, if these boys had seen that their oil is being exchanged for technology instead of money, I tell you, there will be employment, light, improved telephone service, and good quality education – do you think they will fight? Look at our universities today. People go overseas to study. Well, it’s not too late because we have mineral resources and they should exchange it for technologies and other things we don’t have, not money. Don’t give us fish; teach us how to fish.
Q: With healing happening on a daily basis, on the average, how many people get healed here?
Since the healing is from God, do you need to test or examine and mark God’s work? The credit is for God. No matter how many people that are healed, you cannot mark God; it’s man we can mark. After we must have done everything humanly possible, we still need to leave it for God. For just coming here today, you have received healing.
Q: From a spiritual angle, how do you think the worldwide economic meltdown will have impact on Nigeria?
A: I think what is happening concerning the economy is a normal thing, because where the voices are not one, you expect things like this to happen. God is only very merciful – by now, we are supposed to be crying. Nigeria is not counted out of this. You are in this country; you know what is happening and you know the mismanagement. If you mismanage your product, you’ll get a shortage – that’s exactly what is happening.
Q: But you said in one of your prophecies that we are yet to see anything concerning this economic meltdown?
A: Yes, have you seen anything? What have you seen? You are only seeing the flame. When you see fire, you see flame – but we are yet to see the fire. There is no solution, there is nothing we can do – it’s a matter of time. But we will pass through it with a lesson. God wants to use it to strengthen our desire for Him.
Q: Has any of the world leaders called to ask you for a way out of this economic crises?
A: You want me to begin to mention the names of Presidents in your Newspaper (General Laughter)! My friend, when you talk like this, I know where you are going. I want to tell you that it is part of the gift; the anointing God has given to me. The way and manner God executes His plan in our lives differs. Some He sent them to the village to minister, some to the community and some among his own race, some to another race and colour, while some anointing touches Kings and Queens, Presidents. Therefore, by our fruits you know the kind of anointing we bear. We are anointing carriers, but when you look at us you know the kind of anointing we carry. So it’s not for us to begin to tell you – ‘this is what I am doing’.
Q: When is Nigeria going to have a leader that will take us to the Promised Land? There is poverty in the country…
A: Well, what do you mean by Promised Land? Until what they inherited from their past predecessors is no longer burdensome. Like the issue of administration, the person in power is still battling with what he inherited, he has not started a new thing. Some may continue battling with theirs throughout their tenure. I hope you understand what I am saying. It’s like somebody’s father dying and there is a huge debt to settle. You realise that either you denounce that father or carry the responsibility. You begin to pay the debt for his house and other things – and that may take your time and career.
I think the problem is that we have many leaders, but we fail to take time to develop people’s skills – they have no disciples. No one can go it alone, even Jesus Christ knew this and that was why He had disciples. But we have leaders without disciples in every area. Not in the political circle alone, but churches too. Take your mind back to some late great men of God in Nigeria, how many of them had disciples? Look at the political circle; take your mind back to the olden days – how many of them had disciples? It takes time to develop people’s skills, but how many people will do that? You will be persecuted and hated even among the people you are developing. Many of them will be Judas and in the process of developing them, they will go out and say all sorts of things against you, they want to bring you down- but at the end of the day, you still see one or two of them that are good. Of course, you know what happened to Jesus because He was developing skills, making disciples. People are afraid to develop skills, because in the process of developing people’s skills, you look at the repercussion. When you weigh the disadvantages and advantages, one would be afraid to go into it – but the future is great because you will live forever if you take time to develop people’s skills and make disciples out of them.
This is what the Bible said. It says – Go ye into the world and make disciples. Look at everywhere – even in your journalism circle. You know of great journalists, editors, publishers – but where are their disciples today? Those disciples either turned around to become senators, governors or others things, or they just abandoned their profession. Even if you become a senator tomorrow, that does not mean you should abandon your profession. It is your profession; you should establish it, employ people to manage it while you supervise. Look at farmers. Go to the village you hardly see anybody in the village today, all of them are coming to the city. We have leaders without disciples – and no one can go it alone. We need good people, inspired people and informed people to achieve our dreams and objectives – and Jesus knew this.
Q: Presidents have visited you from other countries and you’ve visited them also. Here in Nigeria we’ve not had a situation where any Nigerian President has visited. Is it a situation of a prophet not being recognised in his homeland?
A: A point of correction – to be conferred with the OFR is a recognition. I’ve never had any honour like that. That is appreciation, but the manner of approach differs. So I think it’s still normal. Everything big starts little. If something big starts big, it calls for concern.
Q: You appear too simple. Why?
A: It’s because I am in the midst of people. If you go out there, you will pity the people. People are there at the bus stops waiting for vehicles and they can stand there for hours. Sometimes I ask myself where these people work. What kind of job will you go to at any time you feel – that means a lot of them keep changing jobs. So how can their lives be stable – and success demands a stable character. When your character and attitude is not stable, you are far from success. You say ‘it’s good’ today, tomorrow you say ‘it’s not good’, you are far from success. God’s Word is constant; He is still the same yesterday, today and forever. What you need to do is to seek the things from above so that you may be comforted in the face of whatever situation you are in. Just like I said earlier – Jesus has risen. Therefore, let your mind rise and seek the things that are above so that we may be comforted in the face of our situation. You say people are suffering? Jesus has risen – tell your people to seek the things that are above so that they may be comforted in the face of their situation.
Q: How would you want to be remembered?
A: The Apostles paid the supreme price to bring the Gospel. Some were stoned, some were crucified upside down – so if you must be one of the disciples of Jesus, you must be ready to follow Jesus, bearing His cross, bearing His reproach. You must know the fellowship of His suffering.