The passing of popular Nigerian pastor and televangelist TB Joshua came as a surprise to many worldwide. On June 6, 2021, members of Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), took to their official Facebook page to announce his death on June 5, 2021.
The news was received with mixed reactions. For some, his death at the age of 57 was too early. There were lingering questions why God allowed one of his own who serviced HIS message vigorously to die.
Yet for others, his untimely death wasn’t about sadness but a celebration that he had lived a fulfilled life and remained steadiest in serving the Lord. An eerily video surfaced in which Joshua might have known his death was near when he spoke about “time to come here and time to return home.”
Despite what he stood for, Joshua was riddled with criticism and controversy. He was arguably the most disliked pastor in some African countries. In 2010, Cameroon Foreign Affairs minister Henri Eyebe Ayissi referred to Joshua as “son of the devil,” pretending to be “a man of God.”
The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigerian and the Christian Association of Nigeria, who are the leading Christian bodies in the country, echoed Ayissi’s thoughts and called the late pastor an impostor and said he was not part of them.
Joshua was renowned for his “deliverance sessions” which many critics have described as exorcism. He performed questionable miracles such as curing people of deadly diseases like HIV/AIDS.
A significant controversy he faced came on April 2021 when YouTube suspended his channel. It was reported that Joshua claimed to deliver men from homosexuality tendencies for which the pastor said was a result of those men being under the influence of demonic possession.
“We noticed at least seven videos. In one video, T.B. Joshua slapped a woman and her partner whom he called her ‘second’ (partner) at least 16 times,” editor of Africa of OpenDemocracy Lydia Namubiru told CNN.
“He said he was casting the ‘spirit of woman’ out of her,” Namubiru said as she narrated the content of the footage flagged to YouTube and Facebook by her organization.
The woman later told Joshua that she no longer felt affection for her partner because of his intervention Namubiru said. YouTube decided to suspend Joshua’s channel in which the pastor had over 400 million views and 1.8 million subscribers.
In 2014, his church was hit by a major scandal when one of their guesthouses collapsed. The mishap allegedly claimed the lives of over 100 people and the real cause was never disclosed.
In fairness to Joshua, many of his critics might have expressed such dislike because of his high-profile status. And unlike some well-known preachers, Joshua took a special interest in the welfare of others and believed in his conviction; some reports say Joshua’s net value was equated to $150 million US dollars at the time of his death. And his charitable efforts were on a global scale and spoke volumes of his selflessness in service to God’s mission.
In 2010, he sent over $20 million to rehabilitate former Niger Delta militants. In 2016, his Emmanuel TV team offered over $500,000 worth of humanitarian aid to assist victims of the earthquake that happened in Ecuador. SCOAN has a scholarship program to support thousands of students nationwide.
Joshua received several humanitarian recognitions and awards, including a National Honor by the Nigerian government in 2008. He was given a letter of appreciation from the UN and an Ambassador of Peace Honor by the Arrest Youth Forum.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is a South African left-wing to far-left pan-Africanist political party members said in a statement, “Millions across the world, and in Nigeria particularly, will always remember him for the spiritual and pastoral care he ministered to the nation and the world with vigor and selflessness committed to the word of God.”
Since his death, many prominent people from different parts of the world have sent their tributes about his goodness. Among these persons are former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan and current Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.
Joshua was born on June 12, 1963, in Arigidi, Ogun State. He reportedly stayed in his mother’s womb for about 15 months— suggesting that he was not an ordinary child. When he was an infant, it was reported that he miraculously survived a deadly accident that would have claimed lives.
Like many Nigerians, Joshua suffered hardship. His father died while he was in primary school, which promoted him to later move with his uncle, a Muslim. He would later drop out of school and took menial jobs to survive and that’s when he founded the ministry SCOAN, in 1987.
The life of Prophet TB Joshua is an inspiration to many worldwide. Like him or not, Joshua’s legacy will be that of encouragement, purpose while encouraging people to live their dreams. He is survived by his wife Evelyn and their children Joshua and Serah.