By Dan Amor
Friday June 12, 2020 indubitably marked the 57th anniversary of the birth of Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua, the leader and founder of Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), a Christian organisation that runs the Emmanuel TV television station that beams the living rooms of people across the world from its headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria. It is no longer news that Prophet T. B. Joshua remains the biggest tourist attraction to Nigeria. It is also indisputable that Joshua heals the sick and delivers the satanically besieged across Africa and the world at large. Yet, what has not failed to amaze keen and unbiased observers of this great Man of God, is his unassuming simplicity and sterling leadership qualities.
There is something sublime about Prophet Joshua which reminds one of Joshua in the Bible who led the children of Israel to the Promised Land. It is humility and obedience. Look at every phase of the Biblical Joshua’s life and you will see a man who gave himself wholeheartedly to completing whatever task that was assigned to him. And he leads by example. Prophet T. B. Joshua, more than any of his contemporaries, has exerted a tremendous influence on the spiritual and economic life of his teeming congregation in particular and humanity at large. Admittedly, to offer an honest critical evaluation of the whole corpus of criticisms of this controversial pastor is certainly an ambitious undertaking. But it would be more rational to repudiate the cynical over-simplification by fifth columnists and court jesters whose major pre-occupation it is to ridicule someone who has practically and positively ministered to the vast majority of the downtrodden. It is certainly not my business to question the fabrics of the moving saga that wove into autonomous existence the circumstances that surround the dramatic emergence of this spiritual challenger.
But if you ask the thousands of worshippers and believers who troop into his church every week and on a daily basis, all you will hear from everybody is that this Man of God is God sent. And, truly, he is. If in doubt, watch Emmanuel TV, Africa’s largest Christian television network and see for yourself. Known for his popularity across Africa, and even Europe, he has an online presence of well over two million (2,000,000) fans on Facebook and four hundred thousand (400,000) You-Tube subscribers, which makes him You-Tube most popular pastor. In 2008, the Federal Government of Nigeria honoured him with the title of Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic. Because of his potential to attract visitors, the Israeli government recently tried to lobby him to open a branch of his church in Jerusalem. He is the only pastor in Nigeria who has attracted many presidents and heads of state to the country.
Amidst the ponderous saga of some “holier-than-thou” men of God who tax their congregations to build schools, colleges and universities to which they (members) cannot afford to send their children due to exorbitant fees, Joshua has awarded scholarships to thousands of his members and even beyond. His consistent life style has already given proof of his individuality as a true servant of God. And the manifest hand of God that radiates through his ministration has drawn many lost sheep back to the Body of Christ. A close look at the circumstances of his life shows that Prophet Joshua was born with the natural requirements for a calling of an ideal tendency. In recent times, I have heard not less than three pastors, hitherto doubtful of Joshua’s spiritual credentials, now testifying openly that TB is a true servant of God.
One of them even confessed at a meeting recently, where yours sincerely was in attendance, that but for his strong attachment and loyalty to his superintendent, he would have resigned to become one of Joshua’s ministers. Whatever is responsible for this bout of proclamation, the truth is that in spite of the antics of his detractors schooled in the pull-him-down (PHD) syndrome, Joshua possesses a heroic pathos, and has infested in our very eyes an uncommon spiritual candour. Had Thomas Paine watched Joshua closely during his day he would probably not have made his famous declaration that “religion is the opium of the masses.” A recent incident involving an accidental collapse of one of the buildings in his church complex resulting to the death of some members had seen a litany of detractors calling for his head. Yet, this does not deter the faithful from massing into the fold in their thousands.
As a testimony to his rising profile, Joshua has a large flock of Christian believers from Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America and his healing power makes headline news in media houses around the world. Again, The Synagogue Church of All Nations at its Ikotun, Lagos headquarters, has played host to very important dignitaries from across the world. The tremendous growth in population of his ministry apparently accounts for the equally large viewership of his television network programme known as “Emmanuel TV”. As a hard working, loyal and dedicated spiritual bulldozer who can shrink up the sundering seas, level all intruding mountains, bridge all gulfs and put a lamp in every dark tunnel, TB Joshua is undoubtedly a spiritual phenomenon whose corpus requires a large canvas. It is incontestable that the spiritual seriousness of the present times, so conspicuous in most Nigerian Christians, is due in no small part to evangelical Christianity, which has coloured the beliefs and practices of so large a segment of the populace. For, much as practical evangelism has nurtured the need for a religious faith in our society, it has inadvertently made allowance for the major ideological developments of the age.
One of such biblical injunctions which has become the foundation for human ideological creeds is the command by Jesus Christ for Christians to give to the poor and needy. On this score, Prophet Joshua dwarfs all superlatives, at least in Nigeria. Whereas most men of God tax their congregations (sometimes to breaking point) to acquire aeroplanes and jets to fly all over the world, Joshua is one of the few men of God who have seen the need to invest in human capital. In fact, Prophet Joshua, despite the material success of his ministry, drives a bus instead of a jeep or limousine. It is against the backdrop of this philanthropic activity that the Federal Government recently awarded Joshua the national honour of Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR).
Bamber Gascoigne, the British journalist and television personality, in his book, ‘The Christians’, says: “Whether He was God, man or myth, one thing is certain about Jesus Christ. He has made more impact upon the world than any other person in history.” In fact, if I am tempted to refer to Prophet T.B. Joshua as a bundle of sublimity, it is because of his vitality; and it is the sheer humility and gentility in him that make for this position. Nor is this vitality any less obvious in his actions. For anyone who has ever tried to explain the making of a complete servant of God knows that goodness must be allowed to speak for itself. In any case, those opposed to T.B. Joshua are entitled to their opinion. And if Jesus Christ was Himself called all sorts of names and ridiculed by His people, especially at Cappanum, who else is above human condemnation? God, alone, is the true judge! Happy birthday, great Servant of the Most High God, as you turn 57 today. Keep doing good like Jesus.
*Mr. Amor, journalist and public affairs commentator, lives in Abuja.