By Simeon Mpamugoh
The uniqueness of Temitope Balogun Joshua’s crusades is anchored on the fact that rather the blacks having to travel to Europe, America and other developed countries to experience God’s grace, it is the other way round. Joshua and his team have been known to visit countries, which hitherto hardly ever recognised any good thing coming out of black soil to touch lives in foreign lands.
T.B. Joshua has at many crusades, healed the sick, delivered the satanically besieged and helped the needy, the helpless and the hopeless.
Through missionary activities, thousands of blind, hearing impaired, sick, crippled, diseased and infirm have been known to respond to God’s grace and mercy when touched by the right hand of God. Some often get converted to the faith – prominently those initially opposed to the Christian faith.
The cleric has often been well accepted not only by the commoners, the orphans, widows, widowers and the needy but also by the political stakeholders, leaders, military leaders, foremost religious leaders, ministers in government and members of parliament in foreign lands. This is a man who comes from a land where young boys and girls are sold into slavery in Libya, Italy, Switzerland, Oman and Saudi Arabia.
In most countries of the world, blacks are disregarded, trafficked, abused, terrified, insulted and blacklisted. But, in what the world has seen of Joshua’s programmes at foreign crusades, he has emerged as a progressive and fruitful positive image creator for Nigeria and Africa. No wonder, Israel – the birthplace of Jesus Christ – has shown interest in having him as one of its citizens with the hope of having his powerful ministry established there.
Joshua has demonstrated clearly that Christianity is a relationship and not a religion. His crusades have proved this. It is a relationship between Christ and man; between man and man; between man and the Holy Spirit; between the seen and the unseen powers. Christianity connects us to the reality of Jesus’ being and establishes the connection between the past and the present. Jesus existed yesterday. He exists today and tomorrow. His love, generosity and forgiveness still uplift us as His people.
The Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCAON) receives some of the international visitors to Nigeria – the strongest religious tourist attraction in Africa and beyond! Its reputation keeps expanding daily all over the world. The latest crusade was at Dominican Republic, on the invitation of President Leonel Fernandez. On his arrival at the Las Americas International Airport Santo Domingo on November 22, 2017 the great man of God, televangelist and philanthropist was met by top Colombian military generals, police officers and dignitaries amidst a carnival-like atmosphere.
When he rounded up the crusade on November 25 at the prestigious Estadio Olimpico Felix Sanchez, he was honoured with the highest award in the land, donned with attractively golden plaque by the members of the parliament.
The 54-year-old missioner who was born in a rustic village of Arigidi in Akoko, Ondo state, Nigeria, was said to have spent 15 months in his mother’s womb. His birth and early development was also said to be shrouded in mysteries after narrowly escaping a boulder from a nearby quarry which came crashing inches near him in his parents’ house hence the name ‘Temitope’, meaning “what you (God) has done for me is worthy of thanks.” He attended St. Stephens’ Anglican Primary School but failed to complete secondary school due to poverty. While in primary school, he was referred to as the small pastor and led evangelical activities. His ambition to join the Nigerian Army went crashing after the train that was to convey him developed fault along the way and left him stranded for six days. Prophet T.B. Joshua also washed people’s feet on the muddy corners of Lagos and worked as a poultry attendant to earn a living. His ministry, The Synagogue, Church of All Nations, alongside the Emmanuel TV Partners, has become synonymous with acts of charity, healing and humanitarian efforts across the globe. Two years ago he was listed among the world’s famous people.
Known for his popularity across Africa and his online presence with 3,000,000 fans on Facebook and over 600,000 YouTube subscribers Prophet Joshua has been described as the “Oprah of evangelism” and “YouTube’s most popular Pastor.” His Emmanuel TV is Africa’s largest Christian television network and the most subscribed Christian ministry channel on YouTube with videos amassing more than 240 million views. He has been awarded various accolades, notably; Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) by the Nigerian government in 2008 and Yoruba Man of the Decade by Pan-Yoruba media outlet Irohin-Odua. He has also been named one of Africa’s 50 most influential people by Pan-African magazines The Africa Report and New African Magazine
The SCOAN has been described as “Nigeria’s biggest tourist attraction” and “the most visited destination by religious tourists in West Africa“ with thousands of foreigners flocking to attend the church’s weekly services. Figures released by the Nigerian Immigration Service showed that six out of every ten foreign travelers coming into Nigeria are bound for The SCOAN, a fact discussed in Zimbabwean parliament when addressing the economic potentials of religious tourism.
It was also reported in one of the national newspapers that “about two million local and inbound tourists” visit The SCOAN annually. The church’s popularity has led to an increase in flight routes to Lagos from several African countries. Prophet Joshua has also remained altruistic. The SCOAN is involved in extensive humanitarian projects worldwide. Several media reports also showed that the church has donated large amounts of money in order to help 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’.
His corporate social responsibility initiatives have taken him to several communities. He has come to the aid of several communities in distress, notably providing two transformers to a local community after theirs was burned beyond repair. He donated over N26m towards restoring electricity and putting an end to over two years of power outage in four councils in Akoko area of Ondo State. The cleric has additionally made several donations to the police force in Nigeria, Ghana and Colombia.
The church has a ‘scholarship programme’ which caters for the academic needs of students in their thousands, ranging from primary to tertiary education.
Mpamugoh writes from Lagos