Tuesday, 8th June 2021: The place of interment and final rest of the controversial Nigerian televangelist, faith healer, and neo-Pentecostal pastor, Temitope Balogun (TB) Joshua is already generating issues.
While the church wants him to be buried in Lagos, his community in Ondo State want his final rest to be in his community like other popular pastors and evangelists.
The monarch of Arigidi Akoko, Oba Yisa Olanipekun, has appealed to the members of the Synagogue Church of All Nations. (SCOAN) to allow late Joshua be buried in his home town.
Oba Olanipekun said the traditional rulers in the four Akoko local governments had decided to give the late pastor a befitting burial and that he must be buried in the town.
According to him, “We can handle all his burial arrangements, not only Arigidi but all the Akokos’, comprising four local governments. We don’t joke with him; we know what he has done for us.
“Prophet had it in mind that he was coming home, so why would they bury his remains in Lagos? That is what he wants! He is from here. Look at these late pastors, Moses Orimolade was brought to Ikare, Ayo Babalola was taken to Ikeji-Arakeji, Pastor Timothy Obadare was taken to Ilesa in Osun state, among others, so why will ours be different?”
CEOAFRICA checks indicated that TB Joshua died on his way to hospital after haven been ‘secretly’ flown to Turkey to be treated of stroke about two months ago. The same man of God who asked his followers not to take medicine but only have faith in God for healing.
Many will remember him, and his church, from the widely publicised 2014 tragedy in which 116 people died when a church building collapsed in Nigeria. His handling of the tragedy was problematic. He initially claimed that the building’s collapse was caused by a “strange aircraft”.
Leaked audio recordings later suggested that he tried to alter the narrative about the building’s collapse by bribing reporters. It turned out that the building was poorly constructed and did not meet basic safety requirements.
That Joshua was able to continue his ministry after this debacle is quite remarkable. Very few business leaders or political leaders would be able to survive such a scandal. Yet, support and admiration for him remained.
Tech savvy televangelist
Joshua is part of a relatively new development in World Christianity. He was a media savvy televangelist, and more recently an internet influencer, known for advocating the prosperity gospel. The advent of YouTube, Facebook and Twitter has meant that there are more and more of these preachers popping up with followers numbering in the millions.
Promises of healing
Similar reasoning is used in relation to health and physical wellbeing. If you are sick, or under threat of getting sick, you can overcome illness by faith. These preachers claim that the clearest way to demonstrate your faith is to choose the spiritual over the physical. In more extreme cases preachers have told members to give their money to the Church rather than pay for medicines or necessary treatments.
Joshua’s church claimed that:
Divine healing is the supernatural power of God bringing health to the human flesh … Thousands who come oppressed with sickness and disease receive their healing at the (Synagogue Church) … Truly, there is never a sickness Jesus cannot heal.
These healings aren’t cheap. Many wealthy and notable Africans have sought Joshua’s “healing miracles”. They include the late Zimbabwean politician Morgan Tsvangirai, Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema, Malawian president Binguwa Mutharika, and the late African National Congress, (ANC) leader, Winnie Mandela.
There are also numerous sports stars who are known to have sought out Joshua’s prayers for healing. Some travelled to meet the church leader in person, others partook of healing prayer sessions virtually.
TB Joshua’s passing is bound to present some theological problems for his church and those who hold his theological views. Did God forsake him? Was he no longer blessed? It will be interesting to see what kinds of theological answers are given for his untimely death in the days and weeks to come.
Joshua held particularly unscientific and problematic views on disease in general, and COVID-19 in particular, claiming to be able to heal persons from the disease. He prayed:
By the power of the Holy Ghost, by the power of the Holy Spirit, that affliction, that COVID-19 be flushed out! Those viruses in their internal organs be flushed out!
T B Joshua died at the age of 57, a week to his 58th birthday. He was the leader of Nigeria-based The Synagogue Church of All Nations.
Meanwhile, condolence messages continued to pour in over the demise of the late televangelist. The Delta state governor, Ifeanyi Okowa in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Olisa Ifeajika, said the late cleric would be missed “for his humble teachings, meekness and wise counsels, and particularly for his good heart and grandiose philanthropy.”
He also commiserated with the government and people of Ondo State on the demise of the preacher.
“He was a strong voice in the Christian community where he commanded great following, performed miracles and taught the word of God with passion,” the governor added.
A friend of late TB Joshua, who is also the traditional ruler of Gedegede Akoko, Oba Walidu Sanni, said the downtrodden, widows, persons with disabilities and the elderly would miss him for his benevolence.
Also, the Chairman of the Akoko North West LGA, Ayodele Akande, who paid a condolence visit to the family of the late pastor in Arigidi Akoko, described him as “an exceptional humble and generous person.”
Meanwhile, hundreds of members and beneficiaries on Monday were at the church to pay their respect to the cleric, just as the family brought out condolence registers.
A member, Catherine Adeko, described the spiritual leader as a man of honor, saying, “I will never forget my man of God. He taught us so many things. Even if he is no longer here to lay hands on me, his teachings and training will forever abide with me”
Oba Ashimiyu Dada-Otta, the traditional ruler of Egbe, Elegbe of Egbeland, in the Ikotun area where the church is located also came to pay his respect.