Temitope Balogun Joshua of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, SCOAN, is undeniably a global brand. His Emmanuel TV is watched by millions across the world. Joshua recently made headlines when he announced his intention to immigrate to Israel, adding that his ministry is the “most persecuted in the whole world”. He had been on pilgrimage to Israel a few months earlier and met with the Mayor of Jerusalem and other prominent Israeli figures. It was after that visit that he threw his bombshell: “This is where my Father in Heaven came from – it’s non-negotiable”. We understand that authorities in Tel Aviv have already allocated land and facilities to him in an area not far from the Sea of Galilee.
I first met T. B. Joshua sometimes in the year 2008. A friend who happened to be a senator asked me to accompany him to see the Prophet. To be transparently honest, I was sceptical. I went more out of curiosity than anything else. I had watched his performance on Emmanuel TV and thought the whole thing was, at best hocus-pocus, or worse unbridled shamanism.
My evangelical upbringing steeped in Anglicanism was more philosophy and theology than spirituality, if I must come clean. I always thought miracles and prophecies ended with the Age of the Apostles. You can therefore imagine how awkward our encounter must have been. Temitope Joshua does not talk theology. He lives and breathes the Word. He is worth more than a thousand pontifical prelates.
During our first meeting, what struck me was his humility, which St. Augustine of Hippo declared humility to be “the mark of Christ”. Another great attribute of his is loving-kindness. He is a profoundly loving and compassionate man. He had sent a driver and police escort to bring us to Ikotun where we were put up in his residential accommodation and well taken care of. We never paid him anything. He never talks about money, in contrast to so many devourer pastors who think nothing of fleecing widows of their meagre savings. Instead, he gives generously to the poor. After Sunday service, he gave us yet another driver and police escort to take us back to Ikeja Airport.
One late afternoon I received a call from the Prophet saying hello and asking after my father. I replied that Daddy was doing spritely well. He asked me to extend his greetings and to let him know that “it is well”. When I called home I was told father had just collapsed and being rushed to the hospital. He survived it. He passed away five years later in December 2014, age one hundred.
A prophet is not without honour safe in his own country. Prophet T. B. Joshua has suffered more persecution than most. He was once handcuffed and jailed on false accusations of being a drug dealer. Mainstream churches look askance at him, if not with envy. Many hate him bitterly. Some say he is an agent of the devil; others, that he gets his powers from a snake. Boko Haram agents were intercepted on several different occasions with bombs as they attempted to gain entry into the Synagogue.
Things reached their high water mark with the collapse of one of his buildings in September 2014 in which 115 people died, most of them South Africans. An inquest followed. Recently I made it a point to speak to the structural engineer of that inquest, who happened to be a brilliant professor with a doctorate from Imperial College London. He mumbled something about the pillars being “inadequate”. I asked if the mystery plane that hovered over the building minutes before its collapse provided any clues and if he could explain why the building came down in the fractal shape of a controlled demolition. Silence.
Remarkably, he never joins issues with his persecutors and traducers. He only preaches love and forgiveness. And he has a special love for Muslims – even for the Boko Haram agents who came with intent to wipe him out. Six out of every 10 foreign tourists in our country are bound for SCOAN. It’s a major contribution to inward capital flows. And when he ventures out to such countries as Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, Colombia, Mexico and Peru he is received with the protocols reserved only for Visiting Heads of State. He has brought nothing but honour to our country.
To be fair, Nigeria has not been altogether ungracious to him. In 2008 late President Umaru Yar’Adua conferred on him the honour of Officer of the Federal Republic of (OFR); the pan-Yoruba media organisation Irohin-Odua voted him Yoruba Man of the Decade. He has also been listed among the 50 most influential people in Africa.
My studies in the philosophy of science have led me into the world of elementary particles, quantum gravity, parallel universes and black holes. Albert Einstein was wrong: God does play dice with the universe after all! The miracles performed by T. B. Joshua are too astonishing to be dismissed as mere gimmicks. Beelzebub cannot continue to cast out Beelzebub. It would be like squaring a cycle.
In a hundred years, future generations will be talking about the mighty deeds performed by this servant of the Lord. He has not only brought honour to our country; he has singlehandedly redeemed our image as a lawless, corrupt people.
Israel is a place of pilgrimage for Christians. But it is more anti-Christian than Christian. When the venerable Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri left his posthumous testament in January 2006 in which he claimed he saw the Messiah and that his name is Yehoshua, it sent shockwaves throughout Israel. There is a growing number of Messianic Jews; but many complain of discrimination. I love Eretz Israel, but I would be sorry to see T. B. Joshua go. The Israelis, ever an astute people, will do all it takes to bring him to their country, knowing what an asset he would be. Their gain will be our loss.
Obadiah Mailafia is a public affairs commentator and a columnist with Vanguard, where this article was first published.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.