Here is an article from Tiko Emmanuel Okoye of the Daily Independent, Nigeria, who shares his experience of meeting Prophet T.B. Joshua, celebrating his life as he is about to turn 48 on June 12th 2011.
My most accomplished Christian mentor is wont to say that men come in sizes and live their lives in phases. There is no way you can come under his tutelage without becoming a voracious reader – especially of biographies. He posits that since the secrets of men are in their stories, reading the ‘his story’ of a successful person makes you literally stand on his shoulders to grow without sweating into your next bigger size and see into the next higher phase.
One Nigerian whose ‘his story’ keeps fascinating me is Pastor Temitope Balogun Joshua a.k.a. Prophet T.B. Joshua or ‘The man at the Synagogue.’ Born on June 12 (as in MKO!), 1963, in Arigidi, Osun State, to typical poverty-stricken parents, T.B. Joshua was a school dropout who engaged in several menial jobs to help support the family and keep body and soul together. Today, he is a Christian minister with global name recognition. His world-class television outreach ministry, Emmanuel TV, and Web-based Streaming Faith portal beam activities and services conducted at his Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) to a global audience. His great works of charity, undertaken through Another Ministry, the humanitarian arm of his octopus organization, and promotion of youth sports clubs, have positively projected Nigeria’s image abroad and touched millions of lives.
His success has not come without attendant controversies. Quite regrettably, there are still many Pharisees among us who prefer to seek the man in god rather than the God in man! But just as Jesus was not deterred by those who accused him of performing miracles under the aegis of Beelzebub, “the chief ruler of demons,” T.B. Joshua has refused to allow a well-orchestrated character assassination to undermine his vision and purpose.
He has admirably exhibited the pinpoint focus of a champion athlete, ever mindful of the fact that in order to win an important race one must not allow one’s self to be distracted by hecklers and red herrings in a packed grandstand. The admonishments of Jesus to his disciples, when they banned a preacher for “not belonging to our group” (Luke 9:49-50), and of Moses to Joshua and his ‘fellowship council,’ when they urged him to query God for bestowing the gift of prophesy on two ‘disobedient vagabonds’ (Numbers 11:24-29) are very germane to honest soul-searching on the part of those concerned.
The first and only time I visited his office at Ikotun-Egbe, a suburb of Lagos, I asked the young man at the ‘front desk’ to inform the prophet that I wanted to see him. I was momentarily lost for words when he announced that “I’m the one you seek”! You cannot blame me; I least expected to see a casually-dressed, world-famous faith healer like T.B. Joshua, who I easily recognized after he had spoken, in such a tiny office. Such humility is very rare among other movers and shakers in his class. At the end of the visit, he gave me an electronic bible as a parting gift. The convenience it afforded me made the bible my ever-constant traveling companion.
During one of my frequent trips to the South-East, I forgot a handbag containing the electronic bible and a wallet stuffed with thousands of naira in a commercial vehicle. As a pall of despondency and great dread threatened to envelop me, I said a prayer: “God of heavens, if T.B. Joshua who gave me the electronic bible is indeed your prophet and servant, then let it be a point of contact for the full recovery of my valuables.”
The next day, while I was asking around for the offices of the Road Transport Workers Union at Nkpor motor-park – my disembarkation point – an okada came to a screeching stop at the place where I was discussing with a group of drivers. The out-of-breath rider identified me as the passenger that forgot a handbag in his vehicle! He further disclosed that he was not supposed to be at the motor-park that very day because his vehicle was undergoing maintenance service, but that ‘a force’ had compelled him to ‘rush’ the handbag straightaway to the park!
My very tight job schedules – as a Visiting Member of the Editorial Board of Daily Independent newspaper and President-General of my town – made it impossible for me to attend his 47th birthday anniversary celebrations. But I am very determined to procure a return ticket from Anambra State to attend this year’s, as well as grace the Sunday service as a first-timer. Meanwhile, I heartily congratulate a great achiever, frontline philanthropist, televangelist extraordinaire, anointed exponent of the Scriptures and God’s servant, on his 48th birthday anniversary!