By IKENNA EMEWU
News maker preacher of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua (TB Joshua) came to the scene with shock on Nigerians, and in the same manner he left – unannounced.
Nigerians and mainly Lagosians, as well as hundreds of thousands of his followers would not believe the news early Sunday morning that the prophet was gone to eternity.
But the press statement by the church put the matter to rest as beyond rumour. Before we would ask further questions, the news was already on the official Instagram account of the SCOAN. No doubt, TB Joshua, the man beyond preaching the gospel of the Bible was known for his huge humanitarian service left many wailing.
At the neighbourhood of the imposing church Sunday morning, side talks proved that many who had been living at the kindness of the prophet are stranded and confused.
In the premises, from the major road, there seems to be a huge question mark hanging in the air on what next the church and members need to do or how they get on from here as TB Joshua is no longer there to direct affairs.
On the street in front of the huge church building that leads off the Ikotun-Isolo Road, the broad road with the church mansion taking the entire right hand side is filled with people in various moods.
The men walk around or stand guard silent. Some held each other like deriving strength in togetherness or finding a shoulder to cry on. Some women sprawl on the ground with tears in their eyes. As some wail aloud, some sulk and sob, while some others muttered words of prayers for the departed leader. But some few women were heard disputing the news. To such, it is all lies that their leader just left. They speak to themselves that ‘it is not true. The prophet has not died, he won’t die. I can’t believe it because it is a lie. How can the great prophet die?
With unkempt and unmade hair of the women looking disheveled, they sprawled on the ground wailing and some looking just blank into space. The faces and attire of the women indicate they were hurried out of bed by the news and dashed off to the church without any readiness.
Some of the people that arrived the premises were heard crying that they were actually there to keep an appointment with the prophet only to be shocked with the bad news.
As sign of the real mood, the front of the church building is lined with a large bunting. Starting from the Nigerian flag, the church flag, the United Nations flag, and many others not less than 50, all flown at half mast and lowered as mark of respect for the departed prophet who built the SCOAN empire over the years.
Beyond the preaching and healing miracles TB Joshua was known for, he was an icon and towering example of philanthropy that went beyond religious lines and boundaries.
At the gate as we visited were gathered people of other faith. Among them were three elderly women, one of who the other two called Alhaja, indicating she was a Muslim. They also came looking sad and disturbed, and some people identified them as some of the beneficiaries of the prophet’s goodness.
In the neighbourhood of the church, the residents say they enjoy non-stop electricity, a very uncommon benefit in Nigeria and all courtesy of the prophet. The streets in his neighbourhood are said to be constructed by him.
So many were actually crying for the loss of the benefits and mercy they enjoyed from TB Joshua. A man said that during the nationwide lockdown over the Coronavirus pandemic, thousands of people got succour from Joshua and his church and sometimes more than the government did for the poor masses.
His foundation is known for picking the education bills of hundreds of students in Lagos and his hometown of Arigidi Akoko, Ondo State.
For the years the church has boomed in the region of its location, it has been an economic factor for many. Within the area, there are 10s of hotels that service the bevy of pilgrims and tourists that come to the Synagogue from various countries.
Those hotels and their businesses have been made possible by the existence of the Church under the prophet and if his tempo of operation is not sustained, the pilgrimage horde would fizzle out and business goes down.
SCOAN unknown to many has been also a source of revenue to the country from travel experiences. Most times you fly the Ethiopia Airways, Kenyan Airway or the RwanAir that fly into Lagos from the eastern part of Africa, a good percentage of the passengers are people coming to the Synagogue.
International good image
Prophet Joshua in February 2010 won hearts all over the world when his Emmanuel TV dispatched a humanitarian team with relief materials to assist victims of the Haiti earthquake that dealt a terrible blow to the impoverished people.
Joshua’s Emmanuel TV Haiti Earthquake Relief Team was there for the crucial humanitarian service in the quake that killed 230,000 people and injured over 300,000. It was the only African group that mobilised support for that country at such trying time.
That gesture that kept the team working in Haiti for five weeks endeared Joshua and Nigeria to the world.
At the assignment, Joshua brought succour to orphans, the homeless, the wounded, the bereaved families and many more.
During his church missions, Joshua was a celebrated preacher in many countries like Israel, Australia, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Paraguay and many European nations where he visited for evangelical work. He also preached in crusades in some African countries and always hosted many leaders of African countries.
In all these countries, he garnered large following and membership.