The death of Prophet Temitope Babatunde Joshua on the 5th of June, 2021 at the age of 57 years was shocking as well tragic. Though his death was sudden, it was nonetheless inevitable and in alignment with the fact of Thomas Babington Macaulay's "To every man upon this earth Death cometh soon or late. And how can man die better Than facing fearful odds, For the ashes of his fathers, And the temples of his Gods."
Prophet T. B Joshua's death also brought into remembrance, the Yoruba philosophical saying that death is a debt owed by humanity; however, death becomes dignifying and honourable when one dies for something meaningful. Thus, it accords with the saying that it is not how long but how well one lives; what positive impacts had one made on humanity during one's sojourn on earth. The departed, unlike other pentecostal televangelists in Nigeria, was a cheerful giver whose philanthropy extended beyond the shores of Nigeria and his followership was race-neutral. In the short period of his worldwide evangelism, he had earned the love, the acclaims of his congregants, of the heavy weights of the political class or the high as well as the low cadres of the society. Nonetheless, he had also attracted the envy and virulent antagonisms of fellow Pentecostalists who had been judgmental with regard to his healing miracles and had insisted that by Belzeebub he healed and performed miracles that astound. This is in spite of the biblical injunction that we should not be judgmental because of the consequence. Do not judge so that you will not be judged (Matthew 7: 1-5). The distasteful accusation of the Prophet for the so-called unwholesome practices, the vehemence of opposition to TB Joshua could be a product of envy of the success of SCOAN, in spite of his humble beginnings and his relatively low educational background. In addition, he was not known for superficial or feigned American phonetics in delivering his sermons, nor was he in cahoots with the most sartorial of these pentecostal evangelists in glistering attires (local or foreign), artificial curly hairdo, a signification of inferiority complex, or the fluffy Afro hairdo, popularised by Ms Angela Davis, that was a reminder of the "Shout It Loud, I am Black and Proud", a necessary accompaniment and impressive complement of the Black American Consciousness Movement of the 1960s and 1970s that was intended to showcase Black beauty and pride as well served as a ponderous rebuttal of White American racist onslaught against Americans of African descent. In short, these prosperity pastors with phoney phonetics, felt that this churlish man from the rustic town of Arigidi Akoko could not be in or of their class. He must, therefore, be denigrated and cast as magician in the garb of miracle worker or a devil incarnate working in God's vineyards. But that is where their mistakes lie! We are therefore, obliged to remind them of 1 Corinthians 1: 26-31 (The Message [MSG] version), which says inter-alia thus, "Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have - right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start- comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.”
That Prophet T.B. Joshua was treated shabbily by the leadership of his own faith, though unfortunate, in any case, accords with the gospel of Mark 6: 4 that says a Prophet is without honour in his own country, and among his own kin and in his own house. Does it not explain why, ironically, T. B. Joshua was celebrated in faraway South America, South Africa, East Africa et cetera while he was roundly denigrated and treated without honour in his own country? The acrimonies of the pastors of Nigeria's mega churches, the creme de la creme of Nigeria's Pentecostalism who control the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) against Prophet T. B. Joshua, reached a frightening crescendo when it led them to play the Almighty God and to engage in actions or utterances that, undisguisedly smacked of holier-than-thou, apparently contradict God's words that enjoin us not to judge others, or that remind us that we are all sinners as exemplified by Matthew 7: 1-5, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged..." and by Romans 3:23, that says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”. Our Lord, Jesus Christ in demonstrating that we are all sinners had asked those present at scene where a woman who was accused of fornication was paraded thus, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her" (John 8:7, KJV) or “He who is without [any] sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7, AMP). But our evangelists of bread and butter who Prof Biodun Jeyifo also called evangelists of "holy" greed and graft" are oblivious of these divine words and are quick at condemning Prophet T. B. Joshua. However, the Nigerian public is not unaware that some of these men of cassock even paid nocturnal visits to Bar beach to acquire diabolical power; some of them could not make their marriages work while others have been accused of sleeping with the women of their congregations. Yet, they have the temerity to judge Joshua.
But these hypocrites often get away with their excesses because Nigerians are undiscerning, unsuspecting and uncritical of the guiding principles of these Pentecostal Evangelists, which are largely self-enrichment, the pursuit of unconscionable opulence and conspicuous consumption without the primary concerns for the redemption of the souls of their congregants nor for the necessity to accommodate the needs of these flocks. While these Evangelists are adept at enjoining members of their congregations to be cheerful givers; to never sow sparingly, on their part they are reluctant givers. Can we in good conscience blame these prosperity evangelists for our inability not to be swayed by their misinterpretations of scriptures that particularly, place a premium on materialism or on tithes and tithing? Though, on their part, our bread and butter pastors are more at home with buying customised jets that members of their churches cannot fly in or building universities with forbidden tuitions their members cannot afford, or building more churches, which some not-too-charitable individuals have described as business centres. That Nigeria's unemployment rate is 33.4% is of little or no concerns to these so-called big pastors of Nigeria's mega Churches, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN).
In Matthew 6:24, Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money”. Despite their pretensions to serving God, their greed, or their devotion to materialism has exposed them as lovers of the world with overarching preference for mammon. The love of money, materialism or the acquisition of wealth has become their master; as a consequence, they cannot be servants nor men of the almighty God.
I have never been to SCOAN; once in a while I watch Emmanuel TV. Apart from the controversial miracles, the objects of my admiration of SCOAN are; the huge transformation of the Church at such a short period such that it has become a haven of sort for religious tourists from all over the world; the bustling economies of the Ikotun environs of SCOAN; the conglomeration of races ecstatically worshiping together; the miraculous healings and the testimonies, and the many trailers/trucks loaded with essential foodstuffs for distribution to needy Nigerians near and far. All of these explain why I share in the sentiments and the disappointments of Nigerians by the failure of the so-called big pastors of our mega churches to send their condolences to the family of Prophet T.B Joshua on his passing away.
May the Soul of Prophet T. B. JOSHUA rest in peace!
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