On May 7, Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua sent a condolence message to the family of Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), over the loss of one of their sons. Balogun had asked his congregation to observe a minute silence in honour of the deceased.
“Pray that the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, will strengthen the family and the ministry. Let us observe a moment of silence in remembrance of Pastor Dare Adeboye,” he had said not knowing that he had less than a month to spend on this side of the divide. The dead mourning the dead? Life is indeed nothing but vanity.
Joshua was looking forward to his 58th birthday, which is just about a week from now. He had told his followers to dedicate the day for prayers and fasting as a result of the tribulation across the world. “There would be more birthdays ahead,” he had said. But that was a wish which never came to pass. He is gone forever. For it was Joe Okei Odumakin, human rights activist, who said: “Time rolls into time and human beings dissolve into ordinary memory NOT to be felt in flesh ever again!”
Joshua’s admirers and followers can only reflect about him. While those who hated him could allude to a seer who did not foresee his death. Joshua was loved by many and loathed by a multitude. His was a life of controversies. Hated at home, loved abroad. Foreigners trooped to his Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) in Ikotun Egbe,a suburb of Lagos. Music stars, footballers, actors, kings, high-profile politicians, the list is endless.
Among the African leaders who courted Joshua were ex-President Joyce Banda of Malawi; ex-President John Magufuli of Tanzania; President George Weah of Liberia; and President Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan.
WIELDED INFLUENCE ON LATE GHANIAN PRESIDENT
The late President John Atta Mills of Ghana once flew many members of his cabinet to Joshua’s church for a thanksgiving service. While testifying before the congregation, he had said, “The Prophet”, that’s how many of Joshua’s church members refer to him, “did not only prophesy that I would win the election, he also said the manner in which I will win.” The late president said Joshua told him clearly that there would be a run-off election and that was exactly what happened before the deceased took the oath of office in 2008. But before you conclude that Joshua’s prophecies were accurate, fast forward to eight years after when Joshua predicted a win for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.
A MISS ON HILLARY CLINTON
Joshua had told his congregation that he “saw” a woman winning.
“Ten days ago I saw the president of America with a narrow win… What I frankly saw was a woman,” he had said in the message which was posted on his Facebook wall. But after Donald Trump won, the message was deleted from the preacher’s Facebook page following a huge social media backlash.
REJECTED AMONG HIS FOLD
One can write a whole book on the controversies of Joshua. He fought on all sides. Even his co-pastors did not spare him. From Adeboye to Ayo Oristejafor, Chris Okotie, Mathew Ashimolowo, name them.
Oritsejafor, who was president of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), was one of Joshua’s most vocal critics. He had threatened to expel any PFN members who fraternised with Joshua.
In an interview, he once said: “T.B. Joshua is not a Christian. If T.B. Joshua can show me his pastor who pastored him before he said he was called into the ministry; if T.B. Joshua can tell me when he got converted and how he got converted, then we would consider him.”
Like Oritsejafor, Ashimolowo also said Joshua was not a Christian because they couldn’t trace his roots.
“It is my personal conclusion based on my observation and that Mr. T.B Joshua, in the beginning never claimed to be part of us. Probably, because he needed credibility, he therefore began to claim to be part of us. There is no proof of his salvation. We don’t know his Pastor. You ask me who was my Pastor and I’ll tell you who my Pastor was.”
“Every man of God knows. We know the Pastor of Pastor Adeboye; we know the Pastor of Mike Okonkwo; we know the Pastor of Bishop Oyedepo we know the Pastors of all these men. We know where Chris Okotie began. I was in the same show with Chris Okotie. He didn’t know. In September 1979, when he just got born again and he was invited by Sunday Show NTA 10 , Tony Ogunlana, he was the producer in those days. He was interviewed for singing songs like ABC and so on. I was interviewed as a young pastor in 1979. I was only 25 years old or something. We were on the same show. So, you can trace the salvation of Chris Okotie. You can trace that of Oyakhilome. He comes from a family of Assemblies of God. The previous general supervisor was a Rev. Oyakhilome. Where is T. B Joshua’s local Church? So, we don’t know Joshua’s pastor, we don’t know where he was raised from. He doesn’t have a testimony, based. He has no testimony from where he got born again. He said he was born like that. So, we cannot accept that he is one of us. It is possible. I do not know; I have no proof,” he said in an interview.
THE HOLY SPIRIT HAS BEEN TEACHING ME
But Joshua addressed the issue in an interview he granted in 2011.
Asked if he had any pastoral training, the televangelist responded: “Apart from the little training in school, no other formal training. The Holy Spirit has been teaching me since then.
“I have been grossly misunderstood by fellow ministers of God, who are always asking who my mentor is. Apart from the Anglican Church in my village that I attended as a young man, I have no other mentor than Jesus Christ.
“Jesus Christ is my only mentor and he has been very faithful to me because when I look into the bible and look at God’s messengers, I look at the life of Elijah. In 1 Kings 17, the bible says: “And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead….” That was all we knew about Elijah’s origin. I challenge bible scholars to tell me more about Prophet Elijah. We do not know anything about his background, his parents. My fellow ministers have not asked who his mentors were.”
CONTROVERSIAL HEALING POWER
There were also doubts about Joshua’s source of power and his ability to heal the infirmed.
SCOAN had published numerous videos claiming that the late Pastor had the power of healing incurable disabilities and illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, blindness and open wounds. Several hundred Nigerians and international visitors came to the SCOAN each week to register for the prayer lines where the visitors are prayed over by Joshua.
In 2011, media houses in the UK reported at least three people in London with HIV died after they stopped taking life saving drugs on the advice of their pastors. The HIV prevention charity African Health Policy Network (AHPN) listed SCOAN as one of the culprits. But the church debunked the accusation.
SOUTH AFRICAN TRAGEDY ON NIGERIAN SOIL
Of all the scandals that shook Joshua, the death of over 116 persons, 87 of whom were South Africans, during the collapse of a guest house in his church shook him more. Over 300 South Africans were visiting SCOAN when the structure collapsed.
Ex-President Jacob Zuma had described it as the deadliest incident involving South Africans abroad in the “country’s recent history”.
The Lagos Statement Government had set up a coroner’s inquest but Joshua shunned repeated invitations by the panel, sending lawyers to represent him. After sitting for months, the panel indicted the church, attributing the collapse to negligence. It held that the church should be held criminally liable for the deaths.
But Joshua denied allegations of negligence.
CLASH WITH BENSON IDAHOSA
In 1997, fiery preacher Archbishop Benson Idahosa, allegedly had a faceoff with Joshua and proclaimed his death. The deceased was 34 at the time. A year later, Idahosa died aged 59. Some had linked Idahosa’s death to the misunderstanding with Joshua. But 23 years after the demise of Idahosa, and 24 year after the proclamation, Joshua died aged 57.
Another controversy that rocked Joshua in his lifetime was his prediction that COVID would disappear on March 27, 2020. This had sparked an outrage and to wriggle out, Joshua said what he spoke about was what the Holy Spirit gave him and that he wasn’t talking about the virus ending worldwide but in Wuhan, China, where it started.
He also accuse world leaders and scientists of promoting fear and panic.
“They know what they have done. Now innocent people are dying, especially the elderly. We can’t go near them because of fear and panic. Nothing is worth the blood of innocent people. There is no acceptable excuse for doing this,” said Joshua.
AN UNRELENTLESS GIVER
One thing the televangelist was known for in his lifetime was philanthropy. He invested a lot on people and assisted many to find their feet. His Akoko hometown was plunged into darkness for over two years but the preacher made a huge donation for the restoration of electricity.
He also donated vehicles to police stations and invested in infrastructure in the area. Many who get deported from overseas rush to his church for financial aid. He also sponsored many orphans and set up means of livelihood for widows.
Asked to comment on his philanthropy, Joshua said: “The SCOAN is involved in extensive humanitarian projects worldwide. We have expended more than $20m on charitable activities. The church has also donated large amounts of money to assist orphans, widows, elderly, physically challenged and destitute. There is also a rehabilitation programme for militants from Nigeria’s volatile Niger Delta region, repentant armed robbers and sex workers who came to the church for ‘deliverance’. I join my team in several of the humanitarian journeys we undertake to the less privileged. My followers celebrated my birthday on June 12th last year by assisting less-privileged individuals in their societies.
“My corporate social responsibility initiatives have taken me to several communities. We’ve come to the aid of several communities in distress. We provided two transformers to a local community after theirs was burnt beyond repair. Besides several donations to the police force in Nigeria, Ghana and Colombia.
In terms of scholarships and disaster relief, the church has a ‘scholarship program’ which caters for the academic needs of students in their thousands, ranging from primary to tertiary education. In 2012 alone, I sponsored a Nigerian student doing a PhD in Oxford University. I also gave a scholarship to a young Motswana to study at Harvard Law School in America. After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, I sent a team of medical personnel and humanitarian workers to the affected area, establishing a field hospital called ‘Clinique Emmanuel’. I equally sent support to nations such as Philippines, India and Ghana in the wake of varying natural disasters. The ‘Emmanuel TV Team’ also assisted victims of the earthquake that struck the nation of Ecuador in April 2016, providing over $500,000 worth of humanitarian assistance.”
‘I COULD HAVE ENDED ON THE STREET’
Joshua said he helps people because: “I am a man who has known what it is to lack, I do not close my eyes to the needy. Because I am somebody who has experienced what it is to be poor and without money, I give of what I have to help the poor, because I am a man who knows what it is to be hungry, I give food to feed the poor and those who are hungry, as a way of appreciating the grace of God upon my life because if not for the grace of God, I would be like any other man on the street.”
Joshua attempted to join the military but that was thwarted due to a train breakdown that left him stranded en route to the military academy. He would have perhaps ended up in the barracks.
Wife and Children
Joshua was married to Evelyn with, whom he had three children.
Serah Oyindamola Joshua, his first daughter, studied law at the London School of Economics. She was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2015 and in January 2016, she was called to bar at New York Supreme Court.
Joshua was born into the family of Pa Kolawole Balogun and Madam Folarin Aisha Adesiji Balogun of Arigidi, Ikare-Akoko, Akoko North Local Government Area of Ondo state, on June 12, 1963. He attended St. Stephen’s Anglican Primary School, Arigdi, and Ansar-Ud-Deen school, Ikare. He attended 10 different secondary schools under one year, according to records.
Joshua said more than 100 years before he was born, one Balogun Okoorun, a hunter who had prophetic powers, predicted that a young man would emerge from Oosin quarters, where his father was from, who would be powerful, famous and would have a multitude of followers, as well as that his life and works would explain that the human grace is one, notwithstanding different religions, culture and skin pigmentation.
He believed the prediction came to pass as he travelled far and wide and met with people of different creeds and belief. As stated earlier, Joshua was treated differently by different people.
In 2010, he was blacklisted by the government of Cameroon and termed a ‘son of the devil’ but if he was scorned by the Cameroonian authorities, the deceased was worshipped in Dominican Republic. President Leonel Fernandez invited him to the country in 2017. On his arrival at the Las Americas International Airport, Santo Domingo, he was received by top military generals, police officers and dignitaries amidst a carnival-like atmosphere. When he rounded off the crusade he went there for, he was honoured with the highest award in the land.
Tributes have been pouring in for him from all corners of the earth. In a statement, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu said Joshua was a great Ambassador of the Ondo State.
“Pastor Joshua was committed to giving and was more often, inexorably imbued with calmness while lifting the downtrodden. As a televangelist, he did not just win souls for Christ, he was passionate about changing lives.
“He demonstrated timelessly, an alluring service to humanity and compassion by assisting not only his home local government, Akoko North West. Other adjoining local governments in Akoko land benefitted from his large heart of benevolence.
“Of significant note too, Pastor Joshua never hesitated to assist in whatever manner the Ondo State Government desired such. To us in Ondo State, we consider this a personal loss. He was a pride to the Sunshine State.”
So long, TBJ.