‘Early death’ of TB Joshua, who claimed to heal, stuns African Pentecostals

(Photo: TB Josua Facebook page)

TB Joshua the televangelist and philanthropist did not complete his secondary education but grew a massive following as a preacher, advancing Pentecostalism in Africa and many people view his death at the age of 57 as unexpected early.

Joshua founded the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos, Nigeria and evoked controversy, with his preaching of prosperity sermons and claims of performing miracles and his followers viewing him as a prophet.

He died after feeling unwell during an evening church service, six days before his 58th birthday.

“A Christian does not consider death to be his end but the end of his trouble, tribulation,” his Facebook page said after his death on June 5.

“Whether you die young or old, no matter the nature of death, death is sure to come. What matters is the grace to continue living hereafter. We need to be sure that we are ready to depart.

“Are you ready? Continuing to trust in God is the only way to get ready for the things we are not ready for.”

SYNAGOGUE CHURCH OF ALL NATIONS

Joshua founded the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), taking credit for performing many “miracles”, including resurrections and curing worshippers of AIDS, said The Africa Report .

It story was headlined: “Death of Nigeria’s TB Joshua: The controversial pastor will answer to God now.”.

His fans included many African sport stars, politicians and entertainment celebrities.

One of the many controversies he faced was in 2014 when one of his church buildings collapsed and killed 116 people, Joshua escaped charges and continued to grow in status, South Africa’s Star newspaper reported.

Extra floors had been added to the structure, but those responsible for its construction never obtained the required building permits or considered the risk of structural failure. The tragedy claimed 116 lives and a court recommended prosecuting the preacher along with two structural engineers.

Joshua maintained that it was an act of “sabotage”.

The BBC reported Joshua, born on June 12, 1963, came from a poor background and was raised by a Muslim uncle after the death of his Christian father.

He rose to prominence in the 1990s and was known for his claims to cure various diseases and perform miracles.

The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), shunned him, however as an “impostor”.

“He was rough. He was crude. His methods were unorthodox,” Abimbola Adelakun, assistant professor in the African Studies Department at the University of Texas, told the BBC.

George Nche, a postdoctoral research fellow in religion studies, at the University of Johannesburg, wrote in The Conversation that Nigeria’s Temitope Balogun Joshua had a huge influence and impact on African Christianity.

“Pentecostalism appears to be, among other things, a “problem-solving” (both spiritual and physical problems) movement which has miracle and healing at its heart,” wrote Nche in The Conversation on June 7.

Its origin and growth, especially in Africa, is largely driven by people’s expectations and beliefs in the healing and transformative power of the Holy Spirit.

“TB Joshua addressed these expectations. Numerous miracles in the forms of economic prosperity and divine healing were reportedly received in his church or remotely through his prayers,” said Nche.

Numerous personalities an celebrieties visited his church.

Among them were former Zimbabwe opposition political leader Morgan Tsvangirai, South African opposition party leader Julius Malema, and international footballer Joseph Yobo. Nigerian actor Jim Iyke reportedly visited him in search of healing.

PENTECOSTAL MOVEMENT IN AFRICA

This was a major way through which he contributed to the advancement of the Pentecostal movement in Africa.

Nche said that the nondenominational nature of the Synagogue Church of All Nations shielded the church from interdenominational tussles.

Joshua’s philanthroopic further portrayed the Synagogue Church of All Nations in a good light.

By giving to the poor, Joshua presented his ministry as a movement concerned not only with the spiritual welfare of the people, but also with their physical prosperity.

Joshua also made a substantial contribution to the advancement of televangelism in Africa.

For instance, the Emmanuel TV channel was founded in 2007 by Joshua and used it extensively to showcase the activities of the Synagogue Church of All Nations.

These activities include bible readings, teachings, testimonies of miracles, and Christian children’s programs like cartoons.

Before the suspension of his YouTube account for videos claiming to “cure” homosexuality, the Emmanuel TV channel had over 1 million subscribers, making it one of the most subscribed Christian YouTube channels worldwide.


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