By Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria
On Friday August 1 2014 I arrived at the premises of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) Ikotun Lagos Nigeria at about 5 pm to have a weekend fellowship and rival with the team at SCOAN. The central attention man remains the very founder of the sect Senior Prophet T.B. Joshua. I am glad to report that he is raising unnumbered disciples after him. For those who may need a brief introduction of the man and prophet T. B. Joshua we will let them know that he is Temitope Balogun from Arigidi Akoko (my late mother’s claimed placeof origin) Ondo State Nigeria. He went only as far as Form I (JSS 1) before he left the village and resurfaced to become a global Prophet more than 20years ago. In the village most people call him Synagogue because his church has become his identity and name. His parents’ old age house and his little upcoming house are located closely by within the Balogun family compound. Joshua is his prophetic adopted name.
A typical weekend at SCOAN would bring you into chains of events happening simultaneously and successively. You would come in contact with different nationalities, the sick and the looking well but could be spiritually sick also, visible and invisible signs and wonders, the Sunday festival of fashion of attires from different nationalities and cultures, the singing and the dancing, the prayers and the prophecies, knowledge that everyone of us may be harbouring (real or imagined) some degree of demons to be cast out by the prophet and his team, and the generosity of TB Joshua as if he is paying us to come. I saw much more than I can describe here. I was particularly fascinated by the contrasts of fashions and cultures, where a Ghanaian man tied rappers whereas his wife was in trousers and shirt, a couple from Mozambique whose wife was carried away in the singing and dancing but the husband seemed indifferent to her chanting, the different national flags symbolized in the real and expressed in the dressing, and then the appearance oneness of our souls and minds expressed in singing,dancing and prayers. I also experienced near what I love to see, that is when the entire universe will become one single choir to praise and adore its creator in unison and gladness. Because of the advantage front and central seat given to me in the reserved area I was only able to see a limited horizon but we were not fewer than 10,000 in the main auditorium and those outside in the arms and overflowing sections were equally as many and from at least 80 different nationalities. It was awesome, glorious and praise worthy. Why do we need to report this? Recently even Christian communities have been critical of each other giving names to those who would not worship like them. A number of Christians know that Jesus is the centre of attraction and that he is Almighty (my own position) others think that Jesus is very important and mighty but not the Almighty (perhaps Jehovah Witness, Islam and some others). In Nigeria in particular some think that TB Joshua must be using the powers of demons to cast out demons pretentiously. A few in my category would give the situation like this the principle of Lawyer Gamaliel (Acts 5: 34 – 40) believing that time would tell who is a true believer. Having come from Arigidi partly I don’t have to support him or argue for him but to make sure that he is right and preaching a balanced and complete Christian doctrine of the Word of Life. He too is working to get to heaven even when we know he may have a special message for the world. By far today TB Joshua is one of the Christians with reckless and dynamic faith in the Word of God which is Jesus. We have also found that those who prefer to criticize others refuse to start a cause that others can follow that would lead to salvation and deliverance. We mostly become Pharisaical because we fail to understand the antecedents of others or because we cannot compete with their work of faith or simply because we prefer to be a judge and forgetting about our weaknesses. Recently religion of all faiths has become suddenly financially lucrative and not as tasking as what the earlier missionaries encountered. Many of the early missionaries were shipwrecked and lost their lives in their attempts to bring the message while others who were successful did so in hardship and poverty, traveling on foot and boats at best. But their clothes did not wear out nor were their shoes torn while they preached the message that is enduring till date. They were able to raise disciples, provided spiritual and moral disciplines, devotion, dignity and duty. Of course they also left us with a high level of religious rituals, emphasis on doctrine that has led to seeming separation, and Pharisaical orders. Our continuous focus shall be teaching and knowing the truth that sets free. It has been difficult to know the truth because we want to take the broad way to the truth. We cannot take the teaching of Boko Haram as anything nearing the truth because their activities and practices are against the very human dignity it is to serve. Neither can we say that the prevailing politicking has the ability to point to the direction of the truth because these guys in politics are always untrue even to their own party manifestoes and natural laws of humanity. The United States of America cannot tell Israel the truth neither can Iran, Russia, Qatar, or others of their cohorts advise Hamas correctly. We allow the blind war to continue and the carnages to continue to pile up. Nigeria in particular is a blessed nation but where weakness and wickedness is allowed to rule and plunder. Unfortunately our only source of consolation, the Church (the faiths) has been run over by deception, greed, the devil and his agents. If the Church will once more agree with one accord we shall together command every mountain to give way and every valley to level up and it shall be so. Instead of the pursuance of justice, truth, oneness of the church so that we can solve every problem, considerable energy is dissipated on blaming others, labeling others as anti-Christ, prophet of doom or false prophets. Yet we all have come to realize one central truth, that is, no one is going to live unending and when we depart we depart with nothing more than we had brought at birth and then judgment will follow. The opportunity SCOAN has granted me has allowed me to continue to fellowship with TB Joshua and to keep sending him my suggestions and praying continuously for him. Meanwhile I notice that he does not always listen to me but to the Holy Spirit. I personally approve his Church for Bishops, Christians, young pastors, and others seeking to know the truth. He has a balanced doctrine in worship,teaching, giving, healing, reconciliation, and obedience to the Word of God. As Africa moves on this century the issue of proper evangelism will confront us in the conflicts of competition of religions, money and power. In that possible confused state we may advise the state authorities that those who criticize first, rather than live the truth, should be disqualified from practice. The very truth we are seeking is yet to appear but its heralds are already drumming that the King is about to arrive. Hence make sure you are not deceived because in the king’s court many servants there always dress up kingly but you need to look for the one on the throne before bowing.