President Muhammadu Buhari and Fomer President Goodluck Jonathan are among prominent Nigerians that have commiserated with the family and members of the Synagogue, Church of All Nations on the passing of their father and founder, Pastor Temitope Balogun Joshua.
The President in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said the renowned televangelist would be missed by his followers all over the world not only for his spiritual contributions, but for touching many lives through philanthropic gestures.
President Buhari urged Pastor Joshua’s followers to take solace in the knowledge that life is not measured and defined by chronological longevity but by enduring legacies and lives touched positively.
He also condoled with the government and people of Ondo State and prayed that God Almighty would accept the soul of the departed pastor.
Former President Jonathan also expressed sadness over the death of the spiritual leader of the Synagogue Church, describing him as a devout man of God.
In a message of condolence to his family and the SCOAN congregation, the former President noted that Joshua who died at the age of 57 served God and humanity with relentless passion.
Dr. Jonathan also prayed God to grant millions of his followers across the world the strength to cope with his exit.
The former President stated, “I am saddened to hear about the death of Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua known as TB Joshua, the Spiritual Leader of Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), at a young age of 57.
“TB Joshua was a devout man of God who served God and humanity with relentless passion. He was a man of sound doctrine, meek and faithful to his call and passion of reconciling men to God and offering hope to humanity.”
Ondo State Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu said the deceased was a philanthropist whose exit would be missed by many.
Akeredolu, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Olatunde Richard, said the renowned man of God was a blessing to humanity and a great ambassador of the state.
“Undoubtedly, Pastor Joshua’s demise came as a rude shock. The pains are not mere emotional flashes; they are indeed piercing.
“He demonstrated timelessly an alluring service to humanity and compassion by assisting not only his home local government, Akoko North West. Other adjoining local governments in Akoko land benefitted from his large heart of benevolence.”
The Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Gani Adams, described Joshua’s death as an eclipse in God’s vineyard.
A statement yesterday by his media aide, Kehinde Aderemi, reads: “It is devastating to hear such sad news breaking like a wildfire. Prophet TB Joshua was an Iroko tree, an abode for many souls.
“The man of God has found favour in spreading the Gospel of God through his ministry. And according to the word of God, ‘The Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets’.
“It is very difficult for me to come to terms with the reality of his death. Prophet T.B Joshua lived and died for God. His life was a complete definition of God’s generosity and philosophy. He was very humble, gentle and generous to a fault. His large-heartedness knows no tribe, colour, ethnicity, language or religion. He was simply a winner of souls, even spreading beyond the shores of Nigeria.
“He opened a new vista in religious tourism, and Nigeria earned a lot of foreign exchange from his accommodating spirit. With his death, there has been an eclipse in God’s vineyard.
“I pray God to grant the family, kinsmen, church and the country the fortitude to bear the loss.”
‘He attracted the highest number of tourists to Nigeria’
The Zaki of Arigidi, Oba Yisa Olanipekun, said the community was still in disbelief over the news of Pastor Joshua’s death.
Oba Olanipekun said people had been coming to his palace to confirm the news as well as make arrangements to travel to Lagos where he died.
“We are very sad here in Arigidi and the entire Akokoland. Joshua was a good man to everybody. He has been helping everybody,” he said.
The Chief Imam of Arigidi-Akoko, Alhaji Salisu Musa, an uncle to late T.B Joshua, said the preacher died without any prior sickness.
Many members of the Synagogue Church broke down and cried uncontrollably on Sunday in Lagos when the news came that the pastor is dead.
Some of them, who were barely able to speak, told NAN that his death was unfortunate, especially at a time the nation was in need of strong voices to unite it and entrench love and genuine spirituality.
They said that he committed his time on earth to serve God and humanity.
Others, amidst tears, wondered what their lives would be like, in his absence, as he was their saviour in time of material need and in prayer.
The man and his ways
The late TB Joshua was born on June 12, 1963 in Ondo State. He was said to have stayed 15 months in his mother’s womb before he was given birth to.
According to the SCOAN website, Joshua attended the St. Stephen’s Anglican Primary School (Ikare-Akoko, Nigeria, 1971-1977).
He had only one year of secondary education before he left to work on a poultry farm.
While in school, he was known as a ‘small pastor’ because of his love for the scriptures and gift to predict things that would happen in his community; he was also said to have been the leader of ‘Scripture Union’ while in school.
He had taught children at evening classes and done some menial jobs before he had a revelation to set up a ministry while on a 40-day fast.
In 1987, TB Joshua founded the Synagogue, Church of All Nations under the bridge that links Ejigbo and Egbe in Lagos State with just a few members.
The church later grew to have a large number of members within and outside Nigeria, Africa and Latin America.
He later established the Emmanuel TV television station from Lagos which has wide viewership especially as it is on cable TV.
TB Joshua was a known philanthropist and noted for helping the needy and sponsoring persons.
‘My People FC’, a football club he started in 2009, was part of his efforts to help the youth and two members of the team, Sani Emmanuel and Ogenyi Onazi, played for Nigeria Golden Eaglets in the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Also, three players of the club were sponsored abroad to play professional football for Sweden.
The WBO International Light Middleweight boxing champion King, Davidson Emenogu, had said Joshua financially supported him throughout his career.
A man of many clouts, Forbes in 2011 wrote that Joshua was the third-richest pastor in Nigeria with an estimated net worth of between $10 million and $15 million.
He was so popular that Wikipedia documented his social media presence to be massive with no fewer than 3.5 million fans on Facebook.
“His YouTube channel, Emmanuel TV, has over one million YouTube subscribers. He was the world’s most viewed Christian ministry on the platform before it was suspended. He was described as the “Oprah of Evangelism” and “YouTube’s most popular Pastor”.
Like many influential men, TB Joshua was not without controversies.
On Sept 12, 2014, a guesthouse collapsed in the SCOAN’s premises in Lagos, killing no fewer than 115 people.
Speculations continued to trail the circumstances that led to the collapse, with the former Nigerian Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, alleging that “Nigeria’s intelligence agencies ‘blew up the building’’.
Also, his relationship with other clerics was not smooth and it was publicly criticised. The public also questioned the miracles that occurred in his church.
Yet, TB Joshua was unperturbed and in a 2006 book, “The Mirror”, he said: “Whatever I am today is a product of the conviction that victory through Christ Jesus is victory indeed”; “The rest is history.”
Nevertheless, Joshua made an impact in education, healthcare, peace and reconciliation, among others.
A Forbes blogger said that it was estimated that Joshua spent $20 million on “education, healthcare and rehabilitation programmes for former Niger Delta militants”.
He was receptive to repentant persons who cut across all walks of life including rehabilitation of repentant militants, armed robbers and sex workers who came to the church for ‘deliverance’.
The SCOAN has a scholarship programme that sponsors many students in the primary, secondary and even tertiary institutions.
In 2012, it was widely reported that Joshua sponsored a Nigerian student doing a PhD in the UK.
His humanitarian relief involvement was outstanding as Joshua supported efforts in the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and April 2016 in Ecuador, where he gave humanitarian aid worth over $500,000.
In Ecuador, he funded the rebuilding of a rural school destroyed during the earthquake.
Joshua had sent a team of medical personnel and humanitarian workers to the affected area in Haiti and also instituted a field hospital called ‘Clinique Emmanuel’.
He also supported several groups of Nigerian returnees to settle back into the country, following their attempt to travel illegally to Europe.
One of his most significant reconciliatory efforts was his involvement in the meeting of the family of the late President of Liberia, Samuel Doe, with the former warlord Yormie Johnson, who was responsible for Doe’s death.
The Nigerian government in recognition of his humanitarian activities, gave him a National Honour, Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) in 2008.
The United Nations also gave him a letter of appreciation.
The Arewa Youth Forum, the predominantly Muslim organisation, recognised him as Ambassador of Peace and ZAKA, Israel’s primary rescue and recovery voluntary service, gave him an ‘award of excellence.
Until his death on Saturday after one of his evening services, Joshua was married to Evelyn Joshua and had three children.
Prophet TB Joshua’s last words in public were “Watch and pray.” “One life for Christ is all we have; one life for Christ is so dear”.
Mr Kunle Olowoopejo, the Executive Chairman, Egbe-Idimu Local Council Development Area (LCDA) in Lagos, described TB Joshua as a complete definition of what humanity should be.
One of the mourners kept screaming that God should have taken her, instead of Joshua.
Mrs Melinda Soares, a member of SCOAN, who came in from Seme, said “Baba”, as Joshua was fondly called by his followers, died for Nigeria.
“Baba has finally died for Nigeria! This has always been his wish. I have never seen a man of God like him. He does what he says and says what he does.
“He still said the same thing yesterday on the mountain where we went. His death is a pointer to the fact that God’s will for Nigeria is finally coming to pass,” Soares said.
Mr Perter Lucas, another member, said God took Joshua at a very early age so that, through him, there would be peace in Nigeria.
Members who came to worship but couldn’t gain access to the Church auditorium continued to praise and worship at the Church entrance.
They prayed for the repose of Joshua’s soul and prayed that God would bring him back to life.
-Additional reports from The Nation