By Prof R. A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria
mitope Balogun Joshua was born on June 12, 1963, in Arigidi Akoko now in Ondo State of Nigeria. When he was growing up at that time he was known simply as Francis Balogun. Records show that Francis Balogun attended St. Stephen’s Anglican Primary School in Arigidi-Akoko, Nigeria but could not complete even the first year of secondary school education. Those in Arigidi at the time didn’t appreciate the level of his economic background and many thought that he left secondary education level for other reasons. His mother was all he had and she was a kind mother doing petty trading. The name Temitope can best be described as a nickname at the time from his mother’s expression of joy when her son escaped death from a mysterious flying stone that broke the roof of their small home at Francis Balogun’s naming ceremony. Then she exclaimed, “E ba mi yo o, temi mo tope o”. That is, “Rejoice with me, mine is full of praise”. We also learned that the mother had a prolonged pregnancy but only known to her family, the then SIM (Sudan Interior Mission) Hospital Egbe now in Kogi State and a few family close friends. This to us is a fair description of the early life of young Francis Balogun, now worldwide known as Prophet T. B. Joshua.
Later we learned that he stole his way to Lagos and whilst in Lagos was learning furniture making. We also learned that he was staying with Arigidi people in Lagos. T. B. Joshua should be kind enough to explain his time between when he left Arigidi, how he paid his way to Lagos, who he was staying with in Lagos (Was it with Adojutelegan or Awolumate or who?), what he was doing in Lagos immediately he arrived, and the time he started SCOAN full time. I had been to the prayer grougs a few times and could see his starting house in the slum but turning to a tourist attraction. People really want to know. Not just those who remain doubtful of the whole concept of SCOAN, Emmanuel.tv or T B Joshua himself but also the genuine followers. I know he had a very rough start and lived on nothing in the past, but that is now a testimony. He is now a blessed man and not tossed here and there in faith. Other people will love to know about his “Secret Teachers”. Who taught T B Joshua so much? I have been very privileged to be close to him on a few occasions but I cannot but wonder where he schooled, and where he is still schooling. I will want to attend that School of Knowledge, Wisdom and of Discerning of the Spirit. Hence Prophet T B Joshua should allow the public men and women of the news media to ask him any questions of their chosen. I am proud of T B Joshua that he has answers to life problems.
Why is it that we have controversies and opposing views either about the Prophet T B Joshua himself or his ministry, the Synagogue Church of All Nations ( SCOAN )? The answer is simple and not in many parts. First it is only by a divine intervention that one would leave a poor village like our Arigidi Akoko, without completing proper education, and emerge a few years after with powers and wonders. Most people will like to fill the gap with what actually happened to Saul before he became Paul. Even this Paul learnt for a certain number of days in the Synagogue with Jesus’ disciples that were in Damascus at the time, he went to learn more in Jerusalem and later three more years of learning in Saudi Arabia. But who thought Moses, David, Daniel, Elijah or many others? The second component of this same answer to sources of controversy arises from contemporary so called popular pastors, some with big qualifications and including in divinity and very large following. Their words are laws to their followers. They can teach, oratory, controlling large crowds but can not heal, give prophecies, give sacrificially like T B Joshua to people. Hence we suspect that they bring up the theory of demon, idolatry and diabolical means. Then comes the next component and the demons themselves. Darkness and Light are perpetually at war. Interfering of Light in the activities of the world of darkness may result in persecution, crucifixion, beheading, beating, imprisonment, negative campaign, blackmailing and so on. We need to warn our readers to continue to test every spirit and hold on only to those that are true. The whole Bible will guide us. Meanwhile I will continue to personally refuse to accept that because the Bible says that, “In the last days false prophets will arise”, therefore anybody has a licence to label any of our prophets as false ones. No sir and no ma. Let them grow together until harvest time. Allow them to practice because only those who are born to be deceived would be deceived and those destined to be saved would be saved. Hence why are we fighting God’s battle for Him, why kill each other or hate each other? Let’s be tolerant like Jesus our example, or even like T B Joshua a follower of Jesus.
On the other hand why does Prophet T B Joshua and his Ministry attract a very large following especially outside Nigeria? I don’t have all the answers to this. Nevertheless I know that those who come to Jesus Christ are drawn by His Spirit. Of course if you haven’t been drawn to Jesus you should ask yourself the “Why not?”. There are unnumbered groups of people visiting SCOAN every weekend. They will comprise of those who have been watching T B Joshua satellite broadcast on Emmanuel.tv, those who have been fortunate to have personally encounter with the prophet directly or indirectly, those who may have tried many other avenues but have no solutions and many others. They come and for many of them it is a life pilgrimage. What you see, can experience and receive in SCOAN is unique and a resemblance of Jesus Christ’s gospel of old. You can’t get it anywhere, at least for now. What we that have the privilege to know T. B. Joshua first hand need to do is to work on improving access to the man of God for more people to benefit and for God to further reveal Himself in us here in Nigeria. We each have to wear garments of humility, garments of repentance, garments of true Jesus Kingdom seekers and garments of love, holiness and obidience. Those who attend SCOAN weekend in weekend out are from all walks of life, all religious beliefs, all nations and all creeds. I have been there a few times and still always yearning to go. I have been a student and product of the “Fellowship of Christian Students, FCS”, of the Northern Nigeria brand. In the South of Nigeria we had the Scripture Union, SU. But today in every campus every sect and faith is breaking away to form a lucrative money making centre and calling each other any name; No more a sense of unity and discipline in Fellowship.
Beneficiaries of SCOAN are becoming many. They include the disciples being raised by T B Joshua who are desirous to learn under him and receive his anointing, the sick physically or spiritually, the widowed and the poor including students unable to pay their fees, the physically challenged and the rejected, the demon possessed, yhe afflicted and addicted who submit self, those who need spiritual revival in their ministries and those who simply want to know Jesus and His power. There is a mighty power in that name Jesus and you need a unique opportunity and a conducive environment to realise your individual potential at that name Jesus. A visit to SCOAN will provide that. I was there recently from Friday May 20 to Monday 23 May 2016. On Sunday May 22 at about 4 am I woke up and looked down from my hotel widows withiin SCOAN and saw a great line of people already coming in for a service that was some 5 hours away. I wandered the reception we are going to give to Jesus that is surely coming soon. Nobody will be able to sleep again when Jesus is heralded to have come. We can settle our worries now by being part of the team eagerly awaiting His arrival.
Our message for T B Joshua as he marks the 53rd Birthday on Sunday June 12, 2016 is, “Keep on in the race until the crown is won”. You shouldn’t give up on a mission you have a call to do nor should you surrender to the devil or be detracted. We are aware of the opponents’ strength but confident that victory is assured at the end. Here in Nigeria we acknowledge that the harvest is getting more plentiful but the labourers are leaving the harvest fields because of seemingly unpaid wages, persecutions (we just read of beheading in Kano), temptations and worldly attractions. Many of us, we have inability to watch with Jesus even for one hour. But the joy of a prophet, arising in a hostile Nigeria environment, living up to 53 years should be great; where life expectancy is hovering around 50 years only. Thetefore many Congratulations to you prophet T B Joshua, to your lovely wife Evelyn Joshua, to your children Serah Joshua and the others and to us the growing SCOAN family and partners. Jesus shall be honoured even when He is the one doing the work through us.
As we look forward to seeing you continually in the ministry Jesus gave you before you were born, we in Nigeria are also looking forward for more fellowship and interaction with the Nigerian people, not for approval rating but meeting the sincere needs of our decaying society. We are a confused society driven by imitation and size of crowds rather than the truth and discernment of the Spirit. Our nation is sick spiritually and administratively. Many sects and missions have exploited these weaknesses to advance only their personal course and not even the course of Christ they claim. On our own a national crusade and open air programme should be carried out periodically to re-envegenlize Nigeria in the right direction, by way of preaching and teaching the truth, telling people about the universality of Christ and his power and that Christ is coming for all the people. There is henceforth no Jews or gentiles, no Christians or Muslims, no male or female, but Christ the author and finisher of our faith, the way and the truth, the same yesterday today and forever. This is what we seem to be seeing in the prophet in SCOAN and celebrating with him.
Prof R. A. Ipinyomi