On April 1, this year, world-renowned Christian clairvoyant and miracle executor, Prophet T.B Joshua, had written on his twitter handle, “Anytime you encounter trials, take them as an opportunity for you to honour God before men.” Wittingly or unwittingly, that expression, coming from the founder of Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN)-a Christian body that has variously come under knocks or praises, might have indicated that there is yet, some fire on the mountain.
Joshua, a one-time rural dwelling cleric on the Lagos outskirts, is now a man being sought after, all over the world. No fewer than 20 heads of state and prominent world leaders had come visiting at his SCOAN headquarters in Ikotun-Egbe, Lagos, as they are either there to pay him obeisance, seek miraculous healing, or hanker for some foretell.
However, despite T.B Joshua’s soaring popularity and the several cocktail of affection from adherents of his genre of Christian religious worship, there is a pesky worry he may be silently brooding at the home-front; which to many who love him, translates to the biblical saying that “a prophet has no honour in his homeland.”
It is an open secret in Nigeria’s Christendom that Joshua’s formula of worship, with emphasis on the swift, seemingly dramatic ways his needy worshippers obtain their miracles, has met with an abiding rebuff and grinding resentment from many Pentecostal church leaders, who see that modality as hogwash and by implication, fetish.
Like a plague, therefore, the Pentecostal church leaders have kept their distance from Joshua, with a strict instruction to their members not to have any dealing with him and his team.
Only last December, at the Holy Ghost Congress of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), arguably Nigeria’s largest church, T.B. Joshua was sarcastically cited in furtherance to the hostility to his dimension to Christianity.
There, the RCCG General Overseer, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, remarked that the church ushers stumbled on key holders that were put up for sale bearing his (Adeboye’s) picture.
Adeboye said the production of the key holders with his picture “is an attempt to equate me with God.”
However, Adeboye was more displeased that apart from the sacrilegious dimension to putting his picture on a key-holder, on the flipside of the key-holder was also the picture of T.B Joshua! Looking worried, he then told the congregation, “And you know what that means.”
But objecting to Adeboye’s remarks at the period, the National President of the Association of Christian Theologians (ACTS), Prof Olakunle Macaulay, said the onus was to first prove if the key-holder emanated from TB Joshua, “before passing comments against his personality”.
“First, you have to find out the source of the key-holder before passing comments against Joshua’s personality. We must realise that because of the harsh economic situation in the country, people resort to various things to survive; including even kidnapping.
“People could decide to use the picture of T.B Joshua on their own, maybe because of the miracles in his church, and decide to place it with that of Adeboye, for market value. So, Pastor Adeboye should have investigated the source of the key-holder before coming out to pass comments that tend to denigrate T.B. Joshua.”
Macaulay added: “Even, if the key-holder had been traced to T.B Joshua, you have to find out his purpose for manufacturing it. Did he say it should be used for magical purpose? The scriptures told us to investigate thoroughly and hold on to the truth; not to pass judgment on feelings or hearsay.
“After all, people pray in the name of God of Oyedepo, God of Adeboye. Are these people not also idolising these men of God? That is, if that is the angle with which Adeboye wanted to view the key-holder controversy.”
In his inimitable character, however, Joshua has refused to react to the caustic remark from the RCCG leader, as he goes about his duties; attending to the hordes of visitors at his SCOAN headquarters, mostly foreigners. When this correspondent accosted him and wanted to hear his side of the story, a calm Joshua simply smiled, waving his hands to suggest, “Let’s forget about it.”
Defending Joshua still, another Bible scholar, Mr. Seyi Ologunaye, said, “The Pentecostal churches cannot decide for God on how He intends to carry out his miracles, and so, they should go and seek for forgiveness in criticising T.B Joshua.”
According to him, when Namaan, the leprous Syrian army general, came to Elijah, the prophet, in the Bible, the latter told him to go bathe seven times in River Jordan to get his healing, noting that if it’s by strutting fanny fingers and slapping heads that people get their miracles at the SCOAN, it’s nobody’s business.
“After all, I’ve listened to the man preach on many occasions and have not heard a single heresy from his words,” he stressed.
Plan to Relocate to Israel
Two years ago, T.B Joshua had hinted of his resolve to relocate to the State of Israel, in what he himself tacitly linked to his ordeals in the Nigerian environment.
Though he said the move was not connected to the “persecution” he had been witnessing in Nigeria, he also said the move would help people to “appreciate” what his ministry had been contributing to the local economy and Nigeria’s international image.
He said of Israel: “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.”
Joshua added a clincher though: “This (his SCOAN) is the most persecuted ministry in the world. Who are the people persecuting the ministry? My people, Africans.
“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.”
Not a few Nigerians were alarmed by his decision to relocate from Nigeria, thus eliciting a flurry of appeals to the Man of God, to reconsider his decision in the interest of Nigerians who derive spiritual benefit from him, and indeed, the Nigerian nation whose economy was benefitting from the influx of foreign worshippers to his SCOAN, in Lagos.
Reacting, a Lagos economist, Mr. Segun Oyeyemi said, “What people don’t realise is that, if the Man of God decides to leave the country, most of these foreign visitors who, while here, change their foreign currencies and storm our markets purchasing various items, will no longer be around. And that means loss of money.”
He also pointed the public attention to the fact that Joshua is a philanthropist, who has for many years, been helping the less-privileged who include widows, the motherless children, the maimed, and even, Nigerians stranded in the Libyan serfdom. “So, if you frustrate him out of the country, you can imagine what Nigeria is going to lose,” he cautioned.
Building Collapse Incident
What has indubitably become a sobering moment in the chequered history of the SCOAN is the church’s high-rising hotel building that collapsed on September 12, 2014, in which 115 persons, mostly South Africans, lost their lives.
While that particular incident is still under government probe, the SCOAN television station, Emmanuel TV, had shortly after the collapse, shown a CCTV footage depicting a “mystery plane” that flew very low, over the building three times before it finally went down. This revelation, at the period, sent tongues wagging that an explosive might have been deposited on the building, causing it to come tumbling down.
The SCOAN has ever since canonised the departed souls, remembering them as martyrs of faith. Besides, the church is reported to be providing some succour to their respective families without wanting any publicity given to the effort.
About T.B Joshua
Born on June 12, 1965 at Arigidi, a little community in the current-day Akoko North-East Local Government area of Ondo State, Temitope Balogun Joshua came to the world as a mystery child. As against the usual nine months, Joshua was said to be in his mother’s womb for 15 months, and that while growing up, he encountered so many life-threatening problems that he ended up overcoming.
Owing to financial difficulties, he couldn’t proceed to the secondary school, as he ended his educational pursuit at St Stephen’s Anglican Primary School, Arigidi. His parents could not afford his school fees.
Re-collectors say young Joshua was known among his peers as ‘small pastor’ because of his love for the Bible and the things of God. His several sorties to pursue a career in the secular world, it was learnt, crashed each time he attempted it.
Joshua had also striven to join the Nigerian army in his youthful days but the vehicle conveying him to Kaduna for the recruitment interview broke down on the way. And he missed the opportunity. As he waddled through the circumstances of life, the compass of destiny kept directing him in the direction of the vineyard. And on March 8, 2007, Joshua began the SCOAN in a jungle at Ikotun-Egbe, which is today, a beehive of activities for Christian pilgrims from across the world.
Kayode Fasua Thisday