Temitope Balogun Joshua (born June 12, 1963), Died June 5th 2021 commonly referred to as T. B. Joshua, was a Nigerian charismatic pastor, televangelist and philanthropist.
He was the leader and founder of The Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN), a Christian megachurch that runs the Emmanuel TV television station from Lagos
Joshua was known for his popularity across Africa and Latin America and his social media presence with 3,500,000 fans on Facebook.
His YouTube channel, Emmanuel TV, had over 1,000,000 YouTube subscribers and was the world’s most viewed Christian ministry on the platform before it was suspended.
Described as the “Oprah of Evangelism”and “YouTube’s most popular Pastor”,
He was awarded various accolades, notably receiving the Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) by the Nigerian government in 2008 and being voted the Yoruba man of the decade by Pan-Yoruba media outlet Irohin-Odua. He was called one of Africa’s 50 most influential people by Pan-African magazines The Africa Report and New African Magazine.
As of 2011, according to Forbes, Joshua was Nigeria’s third-richest pastor, although the claim was immediately denied in a statement by the church.
He was known to be controversial, and was even ‘blacklisted’ by the government of Cameroon in 2010.
According to Joshua’s official biography, unusual circumstances surrounded his birth. He said that he spent 15 months in his mother’s womb and narrowly avoided death after a quarry explosion near his house sent rocks through its roof just seven days after his birth.
It is also alleged that
Joshua’s birth was ‘prophesied’ 100 years prior.
Joshua, then known as Balogun Francis, attended St. Stephen’s Anglican Primary School in Arigidi Akoko, Nigeria, between 1971 and 1977, but failed to complete one year of secondary school education.
In school, he was known as “small pastor” because of his love for the Bible. He worked in various casual jobs after his schooling had ended, including carrying chicken waste at a poultry farm.
He organised Bible studies for local children and attended evening school during this period.
Joshua attempted to join the Nigerian military but was thwarted due to a train breakdown that left him stranded en route to the military academy. He died on 5th of June in his home.
Joshua wrote that in a heavenly vision he had received divine anointing and a covenant from God to start his ministry.
Following this, Joshua founded the ministry organisation The Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN). According to the organisation, more than 15,000 members attend its weekly Sunday service; visitors from outside Nigeria are accommodated in the accommodation blocks constructed at the church.
The Guardian reported that The SCOAN attracts more weekly attendees than the combined number of visitors to Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London.
The SCOAN’s popular services have also resulted in an enormous boost for local businesses and hoteliers.
Despite Joshua’s popularity, the church only has a branch in Ghana, Joshua stating that “it is not yet time” for him to have branches worldwide as “it will be too much for my character”.
The SCOAN has been described as “Nigeria’s biggest tourist attraction” and “the most visited destination by religious tourists in West Africa,” with thousands of foreigners flocking to attend the church’s weekly services.
Figures released by the Nigerian Immigration Service indicated that six out of every ten foreign travellers coming into Nigeria are bound for The SCOAN, a fact discussed in Zimbabwean parliament when addressing the economic potentials of religious tourism.
This Day newspapers reported that “about two million local and inbound tourists” visit The SCOAN annually.
The church’s popularity has led to an increase in flight routes to Lagos from several African countries in 2013.
Potential relocation to Israel
Joshua’s contribution to Nigeria’s religious tourism was highlighted when the cleric hinted at the possibility of relocating his ministry to Israel during a Sunday service.
The announcement proved controversial with several prominent Nigerians urging him to remain in the country, citing the economic setbacks Nigeria would likely experience through his potential relocation.
SCOAN is also known for the purported “deliverance” of those allegedly possessed by evil spirits during its services. Strange occurrences have been reported during these deliverance prayers, including the case of a South African girl who allegedly ‘cried blood' and a Liberian man who began behaving ‘like a dog’.
A young man allegedly delivered from a ‘homosexual demon’ at The SCOAN also attracted widespread media attention, as did the ‘transformation’ of a Paraguayan transvestite.
After ‘deliverance’, those involved often confess the atrocities which the ‘evil spirit’ allegedly pushed them to engage in, such as prostitution, armed robbery, internet fraud and human trafficking.
Ghanaian human rights lawyer Kwabla Senanu claimed that he was delivered from a spiritual problem.
Similarly, Ghanaian musician Denise Williams said she was delivered from a demon that had pushed her to become a drug addict and suicidal.
Veteran Nigerian Nollywood actress Camilla Mberekpe was also said to have been delivered at The SCOAN.
Popular Nollywood actor Jim Iyke also said he received deliverance at The SCOAN, the video of the event subsequently going viral.
A video of Kenyan Olympic athlete Mercy Cherono receiving ‘deliverance’ through Joshua’s prayers attracted widespread attention in Kenya. She subsequently testified in the company of her husband how the ‘evil spirit’ had negatively affected her young marriage and career.