By Sarah Adegboyega
Agony, distress, gloom, distraught, pain, are some likely synonyms that probably describe the sorrow of members of the Synagogue Church of all Nations (SCOAN), Ikotun-Egbe, Lagos, Nigeria over the sudden demise of their well cherished leader and founder, Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua on 5th of June, 2021.
TB Joshua who founded the church in 1987, came to limelight in the Nigerian gospel industry few years back, and since grew in strength, popularity and power in spite of many controversies surrounding his sudden emergence and popularity in the Nigerian church. Ever since his presence, Joshua did not only influenced the Nigerian Christian worshippers but also many foreigners who identified with the SCOAN, Lagos, Nigeria.
In a telecast on Emmanuel.TV, an electronic medium of mass communication owned by the deceased prophet, as well as an online source Prophet TB Joshua’s last words was said to be: “Watch and pray.” One life for Christ is all we have; one life for Christ is so dear.’’
Prophet TB Joshua, who happened to be one of the most controversial man on the pulpit especially in Nigeria, was openly mourned by many members of his church and in the environment where the church is situated. Eulogies from the elderly, the young, the middle aged, people of all class and race poured in for the late televangelist who some of his followers believe will ‘resurrect.’
However, since TB Joshua’s death, a common phrase popping up from many is that the late prophet was a philanthropist and one who was indiscriminately compassionate. Some Nigerian elites for example, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (Aketi) of Ondo state and some other leaders, agreed as sourced from the news media that Prophet TB Joshua was a humble, consummate preacher, and a renowned philanthropist who will be sorely missed.
Before Temitope Balogun Joshua’s unexpected and shocking exit from planet earth, and as testified by many, he evidently fulfilled one of God’s great mandates as written in the Bible from the book James 1:27 (NKJV):
Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble… and as the New International Version of the Bible puts it to ‘reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight…’ the same Biblical command that birthed CBN Pat Roberson’s 700 club; with sister ministries, the ‘Orphan Promise’ and the ‘Operation Blessing’ respectively.
It’s therefore clear from this passage that God cares about our attitudes and actions towards the hungry, the oppressed, the widows and the orphans. There are also Bible verses that chastised people for not treating poverty survivors as equals.
Peter Maurin, in his online poem titled Passing The Buck said:
In the first centuries of Christianity
the poor were fed, clothed, and sheltered
at a personal sacrifice
and the Pagans
said about the Christians:
“See how they love each other.”
But the unfortunate thing is that shifting responsibility, (philanthropic gestures) called buck passing, is now a common phenomenon in religious outlets, in this case, the Christian body, Peter Maurin ended his article with these sad words:
…And because the poor
are no longer
fed, clothed, and sheltered…
Pagans say about Christians:
“See how they pass the buck.”
Proverbs 19:7 NIV:
The poor are shunned by all their relatives– how much more do their friends avoid them! Though the poor pursue them with pleading, they are nowhere to be found.
One common deed, despite many other controversies surrounding the late Temitope Balogun Joshua, that cannot be taken away or deleted from his biography and from the minds of many that came in contact with him during his lifetime, was that he lived for others. He was said to be a humble, selfless, and a kind man who understood the pulse of the masses and was ever willing to be of assistance to the needy. His foundation of selfless service to others especially to those who are marginalized cannot not be wiped out even in years to come.
Revelation 14:13, NIV & KJV:
“Then I heard a voice from heaven say, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. ‘ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘they will rest from their labor(s), for their deeds (works) will follow them. ‘”
Sometimes people ask, “What is the relationship between social action (as demonstrated by TB Joshua) and evangelism?” Perhaps these Bible passages will help us think through and answer the questions:
Proverbs 19:17 (NIV):
“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.”
Before you think of casting aspersions, unfairly criticize and even ‘rejoice’ over the death of Prophet and author TB Joshua, think about how well you’ve fared in this biblical command as a religious leader of taking care of the poor, the homeless, the orphans, and the widows. How compassionate are you to those who are poverty-stricken and the vulnerable? Do you even remember your humble beginning as well as your modest background before God brought you to limelight? What biblical foundations are you laying in your ministry for others to follow after you bid planet earth farewell? The Nigerian news media as well as the global media is filled with this singular fact that Prophet TB Joshua lived a life worth of emulation in humility and in his service to humanity. The televangelist did the best he could in taking care of those marginalized and other less privileged in our society especially, around his church location. What will you be remembered for? Or who amongst the Nigerian clerics do not have issues (controversies) surrounding him/her. The lesson here is see the good sides of the now late TB Joshua, his humility, philanthropic deeds which are worthy of emulation. Help promote others and do not cast them down. Do not gloat over other people downfall and/or death because death is a common denominator and the ultimate terminator. Remember the wise saying, those who live in glass houses, do not throw stones.
Sun ‘re o oko Evelyn
Sun ‘re o baba Sarah ati Promise
Sun ‘re o Woli Agba Synagogue Church of all Nations
Sun ‘re o omo won ni Ondo
Rest on Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua