The remains of one of Africa’s foremost and renowned televangelists, Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua commonly known as Prophet TB Joshua were finally interred today, July 9, 2021 at premises of his Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), where thousands of mourners including high profile government officials and other dignitaries graced the occasion.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State led an array of top government officials that also included Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State where the late Preacher hailed from as well as Mrs. Patience Jonathan, wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Reports from the elaborate laying to rest ceremony which was also beamed throughout the world via the Emmanuel TV and other international channels live have it that the times and legacy of the fallen Prophet dominated the tributes that came from far and near.
Until his demise on June 5, 2021, barely a week shy of his 58th birth anniversary, Prophet Temitope Joshua, commonly known as TB Joshua a leading televangelist with a global following, followed by some 5 million people on the Social media and thousands of worshippers attending his services weekly. From an obscurity leading a very tiny ban of worshippers in a makeshift structure somewhere in the Agodo Egbe suburb of Lagos, the late Man of God rose to prominence to lead a megachurch at Ikotun-Egbe, another remote area of Lagos that he managed to turn to some sort of tourist attraction to people who came from virtually all parts of the world to seek spiritual healings and guidance.
There are series of stories flying around about him, and based on one’s perception of him, one of them could be reliable. But who really is the man TB Joshua who died recently after holding service with his people that got the whole world talking? The Analyst was able to put together pieces from multiple sources about him, his beginning, his ministry and some of the many controversies that trail him while he was alive as he takes on his final journey today.
Born Temitope Balogun Joshua on June 12, 1963, in Akoko, Ondo state, Nigeria where he was said to have a humble upbringing. It was said that his mother carried him in her womb for 15 months before he was born. His father, Kolawole Balogun, who predeceased him, worked in the colonial civil service as a translator for the British colonial administration. He started his early education at St Stephen’s Anglican Primary school at Arigidi, where according to sources in Bible Knowledge and was often called upon to lead prayers during school devotions.
The death of his father at an early age negatively impacted his early religious life and education. He went to live with his uncle, a devout muslim who put him in a strict muslim school that made it impossible to practice his Christian belief. He left school to find some menial jobs to support his education and also to practice his faith.
He moved to Lagos and took a job as a poultry attendant where one of his main job descriptions was to clean the wastes of chicken with bare hands and take them to designated places where poultry owners come to buy to be used for manure.
Multiple sources confirmed that he went back to school from the little he was able to save and it was at this time that things changed for him. On a particular day while in class and the teacher was busy on the blackboard, a mentally deranged person or madman entered the classroom armed with dangerous objects in his hand. The teacher and students all fled and left the classroom empty with only TB Joshua and the madman. People having fled outside were concerned about him because it was reported that the madman had been a very violent person. But TB Joshua prayed and the madman became calm.
From then on people in the school and around called him a small pastor. And during school assemblies the school principal will call him to open the school’s activities with few scriptures and a word of prayer afterwards. TB Joshua reportedly told people that was where the awareness of God’s presence started with him.
Good news does not hide and so the news spread around and people came to him for prayers. From these humble beginnings came the establishment of the Synagogue Church of All Nations and Emmanuel TV, one of Africa’s largest Christian television networks.
RISE TO PROMINENCE WITH HIS MINISTRY AND CLOSEDNESS TO POLITICAL LEADERS
In 1987, at 24, TB Joshua and eight other people formed The Synagogue, Church of All Nations. They operated from a dilapidated house in the Agodo-Egbe neighbourhood of Lagos. As the stories of miraculous healing and prophecies spread, more people visited the new ministry. The Synagogue, Church of All Nations later relocated to the city outskirts to accommodate a growing number of congregants.
TB Joshua significantly transformed African Pentecostalism into a transnational global movement with branches in Austria, Ghana, the UK, South Africa, Canada, South Korea, USA, Gabon, Greece etc.
TB Joshua’s ministry continued to grow. An astute leader and entrepreneur, he leaves behind a vast business empire, spanning media, communication and real estate
TB Joshua wielded immense political influence in Africa. He enjoyed close relationships with elites across the continent. He provided spiritual guidance to many African heads of state, politicians, business executives and celebrities.
Politicians regularly flocked to consult him on issues affecting their daily life.
For instance, the former Ghanaian president John Evans Atta-Mills was a regular visitor at TB Joshua’s church. Other prominent people who had close ties with him include the Liberian president George Manneh Weah, the former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan and Tanzania’s late president John Magufuli.
TB Joshua topped Africa’s hierarchy of charismatic Pentecostal clergymen. He had a vast network of preachers who identified as his “spiritual sons” in many countries across the continent. Prophets visited his Synagogue for spiritual mentoring and apprenticeship.
This network is likely to continue with his brand of Pentecostalism.
A SELFLESS SERVANT, UNMATERIALISTIC PREACHER AND AN HUMANITARIAN TO THE CORE
When all is said and done, there is a sharp difference between the late TB Joshua and other pastors around the world, especially in Nigeria. Unlike others who personalized their churches and ministries, own universities and schools, exotic cars and private jets and taken to acquiring earthly wealth, the late Man of God lived an exemplary life. From multiple checks made, he was not into personal aggrandizement. He gave virtually what he had to the needy and maintained a simple lifestyle.
He positively impacted communities and people, donating to their development, providing scholarships to poor students to acquire education and skills, he was father to the fatherless and went beyond the shores of Nigeria to provide hope to hopeless people worldwide. He was one of the first major donors to the disaster in Haiti years back when he took plane loads of food and other relief items to the suffering people in that country when his counterparts were personalizing name, fame and glory to themselves.
TRIBUTES FROM FAR AND NEAR
Meanwhile, tributes came from far and near since his death.
Speaking before an audience across the globe that gathered for an all day tribute service held in TB Joshua’s honour, his widow, Madam Evelyn Joshua said.
”it’s sad, very sad that I Evelyn will not see you again physically,” she said. The children may not see you again. Your spiritual sons and daughters will not see you again, but we know that you are not dead. Sleep on my love. Sleep on My God’s general.”
“We will keep the fire burning. We will keep your hopes alive. I shall forever be proud to be your wife”
President Muhammedu Buhari of Nigeria speaking through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina said,
“The President notes that the renowned televangelist will be missed by his followers all over the world not only for his spiritual contributions, but for touching many lives through philanthropic gestures.
“President Buhari urges Pastor Joshua’s followers to take solace in the knowledge that life is not measured and defined by chronological longevity but by enduring legacies and lives touched positively”
For his part, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, the Governor of his native Ondo State while paying tribute for his fallen indigene, said “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.”
Several high profile government officials including state governors, senators, representatives, ministers etc all made glowing statements that eulogized the life and time of the late televangelist.
Additionally, a South African civil society organisation, Economic Freedom Fighters, in a statement jointly signed by its spokespersons, Vuyani Pambo, Delsile Ngwenya and Sixilise Gclishe, on Sunday, said, “Millions across the world and in Nigeria particularly, will always remember him for the spiritual and pastoral care he ministered to the nation and the world with vigor and selfless commitment to the word of God.”
The sudden demise of TB Joshua leaves a huge question in African Christianity. How will the second generation of Pentecostal pastors who have established megachurches and created a transnational network of adherents prepare for succession and ensure their legacy continues after their demise?