15 HOURS WITH SENIOR PROPHET T. B JOSHUA (1)
BY UBAKA OKOFU
Many were here before him. There is no doubt too that the departed Senior Prophet had enormous impact on his flock until he breathed his last. It’s also not much speculation that few before him suffered as much rejection and indeed vitriol as the General Overseer of the Synagogue Church Of All Nations.
Senior Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua had a full dose of deep-seated diatribes from the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN. Both as a body and individually, members of PFN rebuffed, condemned and refused to identify with the practices of the General Overseer of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, SCOAN. PFN had to cross the line to issue open air warning to members not to worship at SCOAN or have anything to do with Senior Prophet T.B Joshua whom they claimed was using powers from Beelzebub.
To douse the activities of his ministry – though it was vehemently denied by those fingered in the ban – the Nigerian government reportedly slammed a ban on Television programmes with healing or miracle content. Christian crusades on local television stations were proscribed. And this was what led to the establishment of Emmanuel TV. Precisely on the 8th of March, 2007, Emmanuel TV, owned and operated by the Synagogue Church of All Nations was birthed and licensed to operate from Ikotun-Egbe, Lagos, Nigeria.
Ironically, President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua under whose watch churches were banned from airing miracles in our local TV stations was the same person who singled out Senior Prophet T.B. Joshua for a national award. It was discovered that the number of foreigners who visited the Synagogue Church of All Nations weekly was unprecedentedly higher than foreign visitors to all other churches put together in a year. The man of God was conferred with the Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria ( OFR ).
This treatise does not seek to eulogize Senior Prophet J.B Joshua or compare his time and ministry to other great men of God, dead or living. However, if one dares to compare the time of this great Prophet and those before him, it will be difficult to say that perhaps only a few others have made as much impact on the lives of their followers as T.B Joshua had done.
Essentially, his ministry was a giving and healing ministry. He was one prophet who never discriminated against those of other religions. His focus was humanity and Christianity. Squarely, his approach to winning souls for Christ was not the radical human effort of ‘you must give your life to Christ’. He once said: ‘ I preach and the Holy Spirit converts’. His acts of love and kindness had won many people the world over to Christ without much ado. During one of his philanthropic interventions, he said, while fixing his gaze at a Christless crawling cripple: ‘how do I preach Jesus to this man without first providing his basic needs? I must prove to him that God is love and is able to do all things before asking him to surrender to Jesus. Apparently, there might not be any reason to tell him to repent and accept Christ as he would do so on his own voluntarily’.
Salvation was not really one of the reasons I travelled the over 420 kilometers to Ikotun to meet with the Senior Prophet T.B Joshua in the wet season of 2013. His humility, act of kindness and the condemnation by the Nigerian public nudged me to embark on the trip. Above all, there was the innate rumbling to put to rest the story of the huge python at the church and several other mysteries milling around about the Synagogue Church of All Nations. The end point was that I must go to Lagos and see for myself.
On the eve of our meeting, sleep was hard to find. My head was crowded with thoughts. All racing through at the same time. My heart pumps at an alarming speed that l felt I might become hypertensive before dawn. The fear that except I got to the church premises at 4am on the dot or I might not gain entrance into the church auditorium was terrifying. Gaining entrance into the church auditorium puts you just a step away to meet with Senior Prophet T.B Joshua.
Somehow, I found the sanity of thought to sleep over my worries. Everything was stable and under control. And sleep came almost immediately. Albeit, like a soldier on sentry. At 4am on the dot I was at the church premises. A fellow from Ghana who was on a pilgrimage there had arranged for a tricycle to pick us at dawn. Kwesi had a terminal disease, and was at SCOAN for a miracle. I had lied to him that what brought me to SCOAN was career stagnation. He was great company, and took me for my words. Ilewura Guest House was a short walk from Segun Irefin , the street playing host to the Synagogue Church of All Nations.
By the time Prophet T.B Joshua mounted the altar to minister, it was almost 4pm and I was not in doubt that my over 8 hours journey to Lagos was a colossal waste. By 8pm, my hope of meeting with the Prophet had crashed completely. After all, only foreign visitors were going to see and meet with Prophet T.B Joshua. Those of us without international passports as proof of our nationality were given postcards and asked to go home and pray along with the man of God on Emmanuel TV.
Luck smiled on Kwesi. I am a Nigerian living in Nigeria. I can make the trip again without all that vagaries and diplomatic routine, I said to myself. The likes of Kwesi must be attended to.
All the time the Prophet ministered, my gaze was focused on his forehead, and the more I looked at his forehead, the less I could observe any growth as I had been made to believe. It was obvious. There was no sign he was going to have horns there. I was also vigilant in case the huge python that was said to have been lodged there decided to crawl out from the greenish altar. At least, the doubting Thomas in me will have something to tell when I get to Delta state. But, that was not going to be my story. Neither was it going to be if Kwesi was healed of his terminal disease or not. However, six months after my trip to the Synagogue Church of All Nations, I discovered I had completely lost appetite for alcohol and other frivolities.