The interfaith organisation ‘Oodua Muslim-Christian Youth Dialogue Group’ (OMC-YDG) published a touching tribute to Nigerian cleric, T.B. Joshua, in Nigeria’s Nation Newspaper.
“Gold and diamonds we have not; this is the best we can do to show that we are part of your unending success story and that thousands of our members across Nigeria appreciate the humble manner in which you have touched the lives of many,” the statement began.
The group, which promotes interfaith harmony, stated that Joshua’s rise to international recognition from a poverty-stricken background is an inspiration. “Looking at your background, we hope many young people of today will learn, desist from evil, abscond from violence and brigandage and realise that poverty is not a justification for the wanton violence that many young people of today perpetrate, making our society a thorny place to live.
”They implored youth to learn from Joshua’s life. “Pastor T.B. Joshua was very poor, meaning that poverty cannot impede a person’s glorious future,” the statement proceeded. “Let us the younger ones learn. In his younger days, he dropped out of secondary school, due to poverty, the way many people drop out today without hope. His parents could not finance his education, yet he is today giving out scholarships to millions of people spread across the world, without discrimination as to race, religion or creed.
”Referring again to Joshua’s remarkable life-journey, the group continued, “He went to the extent of washing dirty, muddy feet of haggling market people, in the quest for survival. He even worked in a poultry farm, carrying chicken on his head. He woke up without food to eat, without a shelter over his head, yet his dignity was and is as white as snow.
”Specifically hailing Joshua’s nomination among the world’s most famous people last month, the statement continued: “Over the years, we have been watching you lift up the poor and the needy, bring back life into the hopeless, telling people of the backwaters, some of whom have taken to crime and drugs, that there is hope in them, that there is a potential inbuilt that could be developed in them, making you to set up schools where those that our society has condemned are re-energised and made whole.
”The group, based in Osun State and especially active in the South-West, went on, “We thank you for the amazing ways you have transformed the communities dominated by Muslims and the towns and villages where Christians eke out a difficult living. We commend you for giving religion a kind heart and for the reality you offer a famished generation.
”Further lauding the positive impact of the large numbers of foreigners trooping to Nigeria to attend Joshua’s services, the statement continued: “For young Christians and Muslims, here is a story that touches the heart that is worthy emulating. Today, millions of people visit Nigeria for a spiritual encounter the way they visit Saudi Arabia, Jerusalem or Egypt, courtesy of Pastor T.B. Joshua. This represents a source of strength for a weak and maligned country.
”The interfaith group lastly praised the actions of a young Nigerian named Smith Jadesimi, a member of Joshua’s church, who donated his kidney to a young Israeli lady he had never met before. “This single act has improved tenfold the image of Nigeria in Israel,” the group applauded.
Despite the controversies surrounding his ministry, T.B. Joshua recently received the accolade of ‘Yoruba man of the decade’, alongside commendation from another prominent Yoruba group, the Oodua Nationalist Coalition (ONAC).
Story by Ihechukwu Njoku