The late Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua (12 June 1963 – 5 June 2021) was a Nigerian charismatic pastor, televangelist, and philanthropist. He was the leader and founder of Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN), a Christian mega-church that broadcasts the Emmanuel TV television station from Lagos.
Joshua was widely known across the world and had a large social media presence with 3,000,000 fans on Facebook. His YouTube channel, Emmanuel TV, had over 1,000,000 subscribers and was the most-viewed Christian ministry on the platform before the channel was suspended by YouTube in 2021 for alleged homophobic hate speech. Joshua was described by media outlets as the “Oprah of Evangelism”and “YouTube’s most popular pastor”.
Joshua 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.
During his lifetime, Joshua carried out series of commendable acts of philanthropy that touched the lives of the less privileged across the globe. Below are some of his astounding initiatives during his earthly stint.
A Forbes blogger estimated that Joshua spent $20 million on “education, healthcare and rehabilitation programs for former Niger Delta militants”. There is also a rehabilitation programme for militants from Nigeria’s volatile Niger Delta region, repentant armed robbers and sex workers who came to the church for ‘deliverance’.
Joshua provided financial aid to several communities in distress, notably providing two electrical transformers to a local community after theirs was burned beyond repair. He donated over N26m to help restore electricity and put an end to over two years of power outage in four councils in the Akoko area of Ondo State.The cleric has additionally made several large donations to police forces in Nigeria, Ghana and Colombia.
SCOAN has a ‘scholarship program’ which caters for the academic needs of students in their thousands, ranging from primary to tertiary education. In 2012, Joshua sponsored a Nigerian student doing a PhD in Oxford University, with Nigerian media reporting she received £100,000 from the church. He also gave a scholarship to a young Motswana to study at Harvard Law School in America.
After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Joshua sent a team of medical personnel and humanitarian workers to the affected area, establishing a field hospital called ‘Clinique Emmanuel’.
He additionally sent support to nations such as Philippines, India and Ghana in the wake of varying natural disasters. The ‘Emmanuel TV Team’ also assisted victims of the earthquake that struck the nation of Ecuador in April 2016, providing over $500,000 worth of humanitarian aid.
Joshua funded the building and running of a school in Lahore, Pakistan named ‘Emmanuel School’. He also rebuilt a school in a rural area destroyed by the 2016 Ecuador earthquake, travelling to Ecuador for the opening of the school in June 2017.
Support For Migrants And Deportees
Several groups of Nigerians attempting illegal travel to Europe through Libya have been supported at SCOAN following their deportation from the North African nation with only the clothes on their backs. Stories of the harsh conditions they encountered and Joshua’s subsequent assistance made headlines in several local newspapers.
In 2009, Joshua started a football club, My People FC, as part of efforts to help the youth. Two members of the team played for Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets in the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup. Sani Emmanuel, who apparently lived in SCOAN for several years, was Nigeria’s top-scorer and the tournament’s MVP. Emmanuel and his colleague Ogenyi Onazi signed professional contracts with SS Lazio, Onazi a key player for the Nigerian Senior Team, the Super Eagles.
WBO International Light Middleweight boxing champion King Davidson Emenogu said that Joshua has financially supported him throughout his career and purportedly prophesied that he would be a world boxing champion.
Joshua was involved in the meeting of the family of the late president of Liberia, Samuel Doe, with the former warlord Prince Yormie Johnson who was responsible for Doe’s death. During this meeting the family publicly forgave Johnson who said it was through Joshua’s prayers that he stopped drinking alcohol and turned to Christianity.
The cleric also played a prominent role in reconciling broken homes and restoring families torn apart by false accusations.
In recognition of his humanitarian activities, he was awarded a National Honour by the Nigerian government in 2008 as well as receiving a letter of appreciation from the United Nations. He was further honoured as an Ambassador of Peace by the Arewa Youth Forum, a predominantly Muslim organisation, as well as being recognised with an ‘award of excellence’ by ZAKA, Israel’s primary rescue and recovery voluntary service.
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 SCOAN a fact discussed in Zimbabwean parliament when addressing the economic potentials of religious tourism.
This Day newspaper reported that “about two million local and inbound tourists” visit SCOAN annually. The church’s popularity has led to an increase in flight routes to Lagos from several African countries in 2013.
Prophet TB Joshua might be physically dead, but his footprints will remain eternally etched in the sands of time, testimonies to a life spent in service to humanity; a life worthy of emulation. He will be remembered as a man whose charitable deeds brought succor to the less privileged and hope to the hopeless and dispirited.
Agenda Watchdog joins the rest of civilized humanity in condoling with the family of late Prophet TB Joshua and the entire SCOAN family as they mourn the passing on of their father, leader, brother and benefactor. May his sweet, gentle soul rest in eternal peace!