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Temitope Balogun Joshua (born June 12, 1963), commonly referred to as T. B. Joshua, is a Nigerian pastor, televangelist and philanthropist. He is the leader and founder of The Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN),[2] a Christian organisation that runs the Emmanuel TV television station from Lagos.

T. B. Joshua
تى بى جوشوا.jpg
Born Temitope Balogun Joshua
(1963-06-12) June 12, 1963 (age 55)
Arigidi, Nigeria
Residence Ikotun-Egbe, Lagos, Lagos State, Nigeria
Nationality Nigerian
Occupation Minister, Televangelist, Philanthropist
Net worth US$10-15 million (Forbes, 2011)[1]
Spouse(s) Evelyn Joshua
Website The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations, Emmanuel TV, YouTube Channel

Joshua is known for his popularity across Africa and his online presence with 2,000,000 fans on Facebook[3][4] and over 400,000 YouTube subscribers.[5] Described as the "Oprah of evangelism"[6] and "YouTube's most popular Pastor",[7] Emmanuel TV is Africa's largest Christian television network[8]

He has been awarded various accolades, notably receiving the Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) by the Nigerian government in 2008[9] and being voted the Yoruba man of the decade by Pan-Yoruba media outlet Irohin-Odua.[10] He has been called one of Africa's 50 most influential people by Pan-African magazines The Africa Report and New African Magazine[11][12]

As of 2011, according to Forbes, Joshua was Nigeria’s third-richest pastor,[13] although the claim was immediately denied in a statement by the church.[14] TB Joshua, has been banned from several countries in Africa, received criticism from families of people he declared as "cured" from cancer who later died. He was 'blacklisted' by the government of Cameroon in 2010.[15] [16] [17]

Contents

Biography

According to Joshua’s official biography, unusual circumstances surrounded his birth. He says that he spent 15 months in his mother’s womb[18] and narrowly avoided death after a quarry explosion near his house sent rocks through its roof just seven days after his birth.[19] It is also alleged that Joshua's birth was 'prophesied' 100 years prior.[20]

Joshua, then known as Balogun Francis,[21] attended St. Stephen's Anglican Primary School in Arigidi Akoko, Nigeria between 1971 and 1977,[22] but failed to complete one year of secondary school education.[22] In school, he was known as "small pastor" because of his love for the Bible. He worked in various casual jobs after his schooling had ended, including carrying chicken waste at a poultry farm.[23] He organised Bible studies for local children and attended evening school during this period.[18] Joshua attempted to join the Nigerian military but was thwarted due to a train breakdown that left him stranded en route to the military academy.

The Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN)

Joshua wrote that in a heavenly vision he had received divine anointing and a covenant from God to start his ministry.[24] Following this, Joshua founded the ministry organisation The Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN). According to the organisation, more than 15,000 members[25] attend its weekly Sunday service; visitors from outside Nigeria are accommodated in the accommodation blocks constructed at the church.[26][27][28]

The Guardian reported that The SCOAN attracts more weekly attendees than the combined number of visitors to Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London.[29] The SCOAN's popular services have also resulted in an enormous boost for local businesses and hoteliers.[30]

Despite Joshua's popularity, the church only has a branch in Ghana,[31] Joshua stating that "it is not yet time" for him to have branches worldwide as "it will be too much for my character".[32]

Religious tourism

The SCOAN has been described as “Nigeria’s biggest tourist attraction”[33] and “the most visited destination by religious tourists in West Africa,”[34] with thousands of foreigners flocking to attend the church’s weekly services.[35] Figures released by the Nigerian Immigration Service indicated that six out of every ten foreign travellers coming into Nigeria are bound for The SCOAN,[36] a fact discussed in Zimbabwean parliament when addressing the economic potentials of religious tourism.[37]

This Day newspapers reported that “about two million local and inbound tourists” visit The SCOAN annually.[38] The church’s popularity has led to an increase in flight routes to Lagos from several African countries in 2013.[39]

Potential relocation to Israel

Joshua's contribution to Nigeria's religious tourism was highlighted[40] when the cleric hinted at the possibility of relocating his ministry to Israel during a Sunday service.[41] The announcement proved controversial with several prominent Nigerians[42] urging him to remain in the country, citing the economic setbacks[43] Nigeria would likely experience through his potential relocation.

Purported healings and miracles

SCOAN claims regular occurrences of divine miracles.[44] Several hundred Nigerians and international visitors come to the SCOAN each week to register for the prayer lines where the visitors are prayed over by Joshua. SCOAN has published numerous videos claiming to document the healing of incurable disabilities and illnesses such as HIV/AIDS,[45][46][47] blindness[48] and open wounds.[49]

Spiritual healing at The SCOAN has been the subject of several media reports, including a mention in Time Magazine,[50] an Associated Press interview[51] and an article by Foreign Policy detailing the tendency of Nigerians to seek 'spiritual' help due to insufficient medical facilities.[52]

A huge debate was stirred within Nigeria when the father of abducted school girl Ese Oruru stated his intention to take his daughter to T.B. Joshua for 'prayers' following her release.[53] Similarly, a leaked report stating the intention of Nigeria's embattled former petroleum minister Diezani Alison-Madueke to visit Joshua for 'spiritual support' in her battle against breast cancer elicited controversy.[54]

Anointing Water

Many have also claimed to be healed through 'Anointing Water' that has been prayed over by Joshua and given to those who are unable to physically attend his church in Lagos.[55][56] Others claim they were protected from deadly incidents because they had the water with them.[57][58]

In 2013, four people died in a stampede in Joshua's Ghanaian branch when an unadvertised service where it was being distributed drew huge crowds far beyond the churches capacity, bringing Ghana's capital city Accra almost to a standstill.[59]

Joshua also made headlines when he claimed his Anointing Water could cure the deadly disease Ebola. He subsequently sent 4,000 bottles of the water alongside a cash gift of $50,000 to the Ebola-stricken nation of Sierra Leone.[60][61] This came after Lagos State Health officials visited Joshua, requesting him to publicly discourage Ebola victims from visiting his church for prayers.[62] A Sierra Leonean politician later claimed the water helped stop the spread of the disease and cured several Ebola victims.[63]

Alleged exorcisms

SCOAN is also known for the purported "deliverance" of those allegedly possessed by evil spirits during its services.[64][65]

Strange occurrences have been reported during these deliverance prayers, including the case of a South African girl who allegedly 'cried blood'[66] and a Liberian man who began behaving 'like a dog'.[67] A young man allegedly delivered from a 'homosexual demon' at The SCOAN also attracted widespread media attention,[68][69][70] as did the 'transformation' of a Paraguayan transvestite.[71]

After 'deliverance', those involved often confess the atrocities which the 'evil spirit' allegedly pushed them to engage in, such as prostitution,[72] armed robbery,[73] internet fraud[74] and human trafficking.[75]

Celebrity 'Deliverances'

The wife of Ghanaian goal keeper Richard Kingson was delivered of an evil spirit which was supposedly behind her husband's inability to procure a contract.[76] Notable Ghanaian human rights lawyer Kwabla Senanu claimed that he was delivered from a spiritual problem.[77] Similarly, Ghanaian musician Denise Williams said she was delivered from a demon that had pushed her to become a drug addict and suicidal.[78]

Veteran Nigerian Nollywood Actress Camilla Mberekpe was also said to have been delivered at The SCOAN.[79] Popular Nollywood actor Jim Iyke also said he received deliverance at The SCOAN,[80] the video of the event subsequently going viral.[81]

A video of Kenyan Olympic athlete Mercy Cherono receiving 'deliverance' through Joshua's prayers attracted widespread attention in Kenya. She subsequently testified in the company of her husband how the 'evil spirit' had negatively affected her young marriage and career.[82]

Foreign visits

Although Joshua rarely goes abroad, he has travelled to Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Paraguay to hold 'crusades'. He also visited Israel to receive a humanitarian award from ZAKA and visit Biblical sites.[83]

Colombia

His 'Miracle Crusade' in Cali, Colombia in July 2014 was allegedly attended by 100,000 people and held in the Estadio Olímpico Pascual Guerrero.[84] He additionally held a meeting with Cali's police force, giving a donation of $100,000 to support the families killed or injured in the course of their duties.

Mexico

He travelled to the iconic Estadio Azteca in Mexico which was allegedly attended by 200,000 people over two days in May 2015.[85]

Peru

Continuing his travels across Latin America, Joshua's two-day visit to Estadio Monumental "U" in Lima, Peru, attracted nearly 100,000 in September 2016, making headlines in local Peruvian media.[86][87][88]

Paraguay

In August 2017, Joshua held a Crusade in Paraguay at Estadio Defensores del Chaco. His visit caused a media storm when the Paraguayan parliament approved that the cleric be awarded with the ‘National Order of Merit’, the countries highest honour usually reserved only for its own citizens.[89] Testimonies from those who alleged they were healed through Joshua's prayers at the crusade made headlines in local media.[90][91][92]

Humanitarian work

The SCOAN is involved in extensive humanitarian projects worldwide, a Forbes blogger estimating that Joshua has spent $20 million on charitable activities.[93] Several media reports show the church has donated large amounts of money in order to help orphans, widows, elderly, physically challenged and destitute[94][95] There is also a rehabilitation programme for militants from Nigeria’s volatile Niger Delta region, repentant armed robbers[96] and sex workers who came to the church for 'deliverance'.[97][98] Joshua allegedly joins his team in several of the humanitarian journeys they undertake to less-privileged communities [99]

Joshua's followers celebrate his birthday on June 12 by assisting less-privileged individuals in their societies.[100][101]

Community support

Joshua has come to the aid of several communities in distress, notably providing two transformers to a local community after theirs was burned beyond repair.[102] 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.[103] The cleric has additionally made several large donations to the police force in Nigeria,[104] Ghana[105] and Colombia.

Scholarships

The SCOAN has a 'scholarship program' which caters for the academic needs of students in their thousands, ranging from primary to tertiary education.[106] In 2012, Joshua sponsored a Nigerian student doing a PhD in Oxford University, with Nigerian media reporting she received £100,000 from the church.[107] He also gave a scholarship to a young Motswana to study at Harvard Law School in America.[108]

Disaster relief

After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Joshua sent a team of medical personnel and humanitarian workers to the affected area, establishing a field hospital called 'Clinique Emmanuel'.[109]

He additionally sent support to nations such as Philippines, India and Ghana in the wake of varying natural disasters. The 'Emmanuel TV Team' also assisted victims of the earthquake that struck the nation of Ecuador in April 2016, providing over $500,000 worth of humanitarian aid.[110]

Education

Joshua funded the building and running of a school in Lahore, Pakistan named 'Emmanuel School'. He also rebuilt a school in a rural area destroyed by the 2016 Ecuador earthquake, travelling to Ecuador for the opening of the school in June 2017.[111]

Support for migrants and deportees

Several groups of Nigerians attempting illegal travel to Europe through Libya have been supported at The SCOAN following their deportation from the North African nation with only the clothes on their backs.[112] Stories of the harsh conditions they encountered and Joshua's subsequent assistance made headlines in several local newspapers.[113]

Sports

In 2009, Joshua started a football club, My People FC, as part of efforts to help the youth. Two members of the team played for Nigeria's Golden Eaglets in the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup. Sani Emmanuel, who apparently lived in The SCOAN for several years,[114] was Nigeria's top-scorer and the tournament's MVP. Emmanuel and his colleague Ogenyi Onazi signed professional contracts with SS Lazio, Onazi a key player for the Nigerian Senior Team, the Super Eagles.[115]

WBO International Light Middleweight boxing champion King Davidson Emenogu said that Joshua has financially supported him throughout his career and purportedly prophesied that he would be a world boxing champion.[116]

Reconciliation efforts

Joshua was involved in the meeting of the family of the late president of Liberia, Samuel Doe, with the former warlord Prince Yormie Johnson who was responsible for Doe's death. During this meeting the family publicly forgave Johnson[117] who said it was through Joshua's prayers that he stopped drinking alcohol and turned to Christianity.[118]

The cleric has also plays a prominent role in reconciling broken homes and restoring families torn apart by false accusations.[119]

Humanitarian awards

In recognition of his humanitarian activities, he was awarded a National Honour by the Nigerian government in 2008 [9] as well as receiving a letter of appreciation from the United Nations.[120] He was further honoured as an Ambassador of Peace by the Arewa Youth Forum, a predominantly Muslim organisation,[121] as well as being recognised with an 'award of excellence' by ZAKA, Israel's primary rescue and recovery voluntary service.[122]

Claimed prophecies

SCOAN claims that Joshua has successfully predicted events in the lives of individuals who attend his church services[123] as well as worldwide events, including a purported prophecy of Michael Jackson's death,[124] and the outcome of two African Cup of Nations (AFCON) final matches, which were won by Zambia [125] and Nigeria[126] respectively. He has been voted by the public among the most famous prophets.[127]

His prophecy about the impending death of an African president was widely reported in African press.[128] Joshua's followers believe the prophecy concerned the former president of Malawi Bingu wa Mutharika who died in 2012, aged 78.

False rumors spread using Joshua's name are known to have caused widespread panic in communities,[129][130] affected sporting events,[131] music concerts[132] and led people to stop using social networks.[133]

When Hamza Al-Mustapha, the Chief Security Officer of former Nigerian President Sani Abacha, was released after eleven years of imprisonment, his first port of call was to Joshua's church in acknowledgement of a 'prophecy' the cleric allegedly gave him when Abacha was still in power.[134]

Critics argue that Joshua's predictions are too vague.[135]

Alleged MH370 prophecy

SCOAN released a video claiming that TB Joshua predicted the Malaysian Airlines MH370 event.[136] The prophecy received a lot of attention on social media and its accompanying YouTube video amassed over 1 million views.[137]

Terrorist attacks

Several terrorist attacks perpetrated by ISIS, Al-Qaeda affiliates and Al-Shabaab militants have allegedly been predicted by Joshua, including the November 2015 Paris attacks,[138] the Garissa University College attack in Kenya,[139] the Ouagadougou hotel siege in Burkina Faso[140] and the 2016 Brussels Bombings.[141] It is also claimed that he predicted the Boston bombing attacks in America.[142]

Ghana terror attack

Joshua's alleged prophecy in April 2016 that an impending terror attack would befall Ghana made national headlines in the West African nation and led the national police to issue a statement calling for the general public to be calm and vigilant.[143] 600 foreigners reportedly cancelled their visits to Ghana in the wake of the statement.[144] Days later, a captured Malian terrorist confessed that his group had planned to target Ghana.[145]

US election prophecy

Joshua incorrectly predicted that Hillary Clinton would win the 2016 US election. After this prophecy failed to materialise, with Donald Trump winning the election, Joshua stated that he was referring to Clinton´s win in the popular vote and any misinterpretation was due to a lack of "spiritual understanding".[146]

2017 Zimbabwe coup

A video of Joshua predicting "the military" of an undisclosed Southern African nation embarrassing, killing or capturing "a President or Vice-President ... or the First Lady of that nation‚” surfaced on social media after the statement, which was made and recorded in August 2014, was interpreted as a prophecy of the 2017 coup against Zimbabwe’s long-term leader Robert Mugabe.[147]

Notable visitors

Notable visitors to SCOAN have included late Ghanaian President John Evans Atta Mills [148] South Africa’s Winnie Mandela,[149] EFF leader Julius Malema,[150] the Zulu King, Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu,[151] former Malawian President Joyce Banda,[152] Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangarai[153] and the late Zambian President Frederick Chiluba who once stated that he watched 'Emmanuel TV' daily.[154]

Tanzanian President John Magufuli visited The SCOAN in 2011. Days to his inauguration in November 2015, Joshua visited Tanzania where he met Magufuli (who received him at the airport),[155] the outgoing President Jakaya Kikwete and opposition leader Edward Lowassa. His visit caused a media storm in Tanzania,[156] even though he did not publicly appear at the inauguration.[157]

Nigeria's former President Goodluck Jonathan visited The SCOAN in September 2014 following the tragic building collapse of a guesthouse within the church premises.[158] After Jonathan conceded defeat to Muhammadu Buhari in Nigeria's historic 2015 elections, Joshua controversially claimed he had warned him of his impending electoral defeat,[159] an assertion later corroborated by one of Jonathan's aides.[160]

Influence in African Politics

A BBC Africa journalist once questioned whether Joshua was “the most powerful man in Africa” due to his alleged influence in the African political sphere.[161]

Ghana

Days after the late John Atta Mills became President of Ghana in 2009, his first port of call was Joshua’s church for a thanksgiving service where he revealed the cleric had accurately ‘prophesied’ his ascension to power and specific details relating to his narrow victory over Nana Akufo-Addo. Joshua was a regular visitor to Ghana during Mill’s early presidency and allegedly organised prayer warriors to be praying in Osu Castle.[162]

Malawi

Joshua’s much-publicised prophecy concerning the death of Malawian President Bingu Mutharika garnered intense media attention and was subsequently the subject of a Malawian government inquiry as his successor, Joyce Banda, is a devotee of the cleric.[163][164] Banda claimed Joshua's prayers healed her husband after he suffered a stroke and regularly visited Joshua in Nigeria while she was Head of State.[165][166]

Tanzania

Joshua played the role of a peacemaker in the aftermath of the Tanzanian elections in 2015, visiting the country to meet and hold reconciliatory talks with President John Magufuli – a member of his church – and opposition leader Edward Lowassa. Commentators acknowledged his visit significantly reduced tensions in the country after the elections which the opposition party alleged were fraught with irregularities.[167]

Liberia

Joshua was a key influence in former Liberian warlord Senator Prince Yormie Johnson’s decision to endorse the candidacy of George Weah for president in the 2017 Liberian elections. His endorsement came days after the two were spotted publicly together in The SCOAN, a visit that caused a media storm in Liberia.[168][169] Weah's main opponent and current Vice President, Joseph Boakai, also allegedly requested to visit Joshua in lieu of the elections.[170]

Emmanuel TV

Emmanuel TV, the SCOAN television station, broadcasts 24/7. Its Sunday services are broadcast live. Joshua's programmes also air weekly on a number of local television stations across Africa. It debuted on DStv and GOtv in November 2015,[171] as well as StarTimes in February 2016.[172] In its profile on Joshua, the BBC described him as "Nigeria's best known televangelist".[173]

A Ghanaian psychiatrist in UK was controversially sacked from the NHS after recommending Emmanuel TV to a patient with a history of 'satanic abuse', although later cleared of any wrongdoing by a tribunal.[174]

Emmanuel TV's motto is 'Changing lives, changing nations, changing the world.' The station is also known for its catch-phrase, ‘Distance Is Not A Barrier’,[175] encouraging viewers to ‘pray along’ with T.B. Joshua by ‘touching the screen’. There are several claims of people receiving miraculous 'healing' through these prayers,[176][177] including popular Nollywood actress Tonto Dikeh who said Joshua's prayers ended her 14-year smoking addiction.[178]

Joshua has earned a reputation for not focusing on the 'Prosperity Gospel' and Emmanuel TV is known as one of the few Christian channels that does not engage in fundraising on air.[179][180]

YouTube channel

Emmanuel TV's YouTube Channel is one of the most subscribed Christian YouTube channels worldwide[181] and the most subscribed in Nigeria, having amassed over 700,000 subscribers and 300 million views since its inception.[182] Google ranked one of Emmanuel TV's YouTube videos as the fourth most viewed clip ever within Nigeria.[183]

Criticism and controversy

Joshua has many critics and is known to be controversial.[184]

Relationship with other pastors

Joshua has been publicly condemned by several prominent pastors within Nigeria, his most vocal critic being Pastor Kris Okotie who described him as a 'son of the devil'.[185] The Christian Association of Nigeria and Pentecostal Fellowship Of Nigeria have both acknowledged Joshua is not a member of either organisation and denounced him as an 'impostor'.[186]Enoch Adeboye, David Oyedepo, Ayo Oritsejafor, Paul Adefarasin and Matthew Ashimolowo are among the pastors who publicly denounced Joshua, as did disgraced American megachurch leader Ted Haggard.[187][188]

Blacklisted in Cameroon

He was 'blacklisted' by the government of Cameroon in 2010 and termed a 'son of the devil'.[189] Rumours of a visit by Joshua to Zimbabwe in 2012 led to an intense national debate, culminating with pastors and politicians strongly objecting.[190]

Spat with 'witch-doctor'

A popular Ghanaian 'witch-doctor' said he went to the Vatican City to 'report' Joshua to Pope Francis for his 'false' prophecies.[191]

HIV deaths In London

In 2011, several media houses in UK reported at least three people in London with HIV died after they stopped taking life saving drugs on the advice of their pastors. The HIV prevention charity African Health Policy Network (AHPN) believed that The SCOAN "may" be one of those involved in such practices although the three in question have no demonstrable link to the SCOAN. The BBC quoted The SCOAN as saying "No, we do not ask people to stop taking their medication".[192]

Private jet

On 14 September 2015 it was reported that Joshua "secretly purchased a $60 Million Gulfstream G550 Private Jet".[193] These rumors were dismissed as false by a media aide of Joshua.[194]

Boko Haram confession

A self-confessed member of the Islamic sect Boko Haram came to The SCOAN in March 2014, allegedly with plans to 'bomb' the church. According to him, it was Joshua's prayers that prevented the plan and later compelled him to confess.[195] The subsequent clip of the confession went viral on YouTube[196] and proved very controversial. A group known as the "Movement for Accountability and Good Governance", has called for the investigation of the incident based on the claims that were made.[197]

Collapse of guesthouse

On 12 September 2014, a guesthouse collapsed in the SCOAN's premises in Lagos killing at least 115 people, 84 of them South Africans.[198] Controversy has continued to swirl around the circumstances that led to the collapse, with the former Nigerian Minister of Aviation Femi Fani-Kayode alleging Nigeria’s intelligence agencies ‘blew up’ the building.[199]

Malawi president replies 'death' prophecy

In March 2016, the President of Malawi, Peter Mutharika, attacked Joshua as a 'false prophet' for allegedly predicting his impending death.[200] His comments were condemned by the Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM), especially as there was no record of the purported prediction.[201]

Panama Papers

Nigeria's Premium Times newspaper stated that Joshua incorporated a company called Chillon Consultancy Limited in the British Virgin Islands in June 2006, based on reports stemming from the Panama Papers leak. Joshua immediately denied his involvement, stating on Facebook, "I am not a businessman and have no business whatsoever. What God has given me is more than enough." [202]

Muslim Cleric Threat

A prominent Nigerian Muslim cleric, Sheikh Hussaini Yusuf Mabera, threatened to drag Joshua to court for "describing Jesus Christ as God".[203]

Personal life

Joshua is married to Evelyn Joshua. They have three children.[204] His eldest daughter Serah Joshua is a graduate from the London School of Economics, Department of Law.[205] and was 'called to the bar' in Nigeria in December 2015.[206] His second daughter, Promise Joshua, is studying Politics and International Relations at the London School of Economics.[207]

Books

References

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External links