By EMEKA EZEKWE
Late prophet TB Joshua did more to launder Nigeria’s image more than any other man of God that l know, before his demise. He succeeded in putting Nigeria on the global map of religious tourism through his ministry and evangelism.Though controversial to some people,TB Joshua made thousands of foreigners visit Nigeria for religious tourism and prayers. A lot associated economic activities and benefits also developed around his church environment as people built hotels, hostels, canteens and other business ventures to cater for his teeming adherents .He also established Emmanuel TV, a satellite broadcast station to support his ministry and evangelism.
For the first time in our history, pilgrims from all over Africa and beyond trouped into Nigeria for religious worship and in the process boasted our foreign exchange earning.Though, a rich man by every standard, prophet TB Joshua, appeared simple both in dressing and ways of life, shunning the extravagance ,opulence and flamboyance of his fellow Nigerian colleagues who flew privately or traveled first class. He released a lot of controversial “prophesies”,many of which went off the mark,and gathered more controversies in the process, as many more Nigerians doubted his prophetic gift as a visionary and seer,yet,this did not in anyway dim his popularity and mystery amongst his followers,an influential man,he was ,no doubt about that .He was also a philanthropist of note and assisted so many indigent countrymen and women.
As a frequent traveler and visitor to African countries,most people l run into often express their desire to visit Nigeria so they can go to the “synagogue “ and also to meet the “man of God “as they call him.To most Africans it is a life time ambition and a religious duty.A lot of my African friends are really surprised any time l tell them ,on inquiries that l have never been to the synagogue,they stare incredulously as if to say “how can you have such a major prophet in your country and allow only foreigners to enjoy his gift and grace “.Ironically,many Nigerians also have mixed feelings about prophet Joshua’s type of evangelism,maybe,a case of a “prophet being without honor in his own country “,but,to many foreigners,especially Africans,prophet TB Joshua remains God sent.
I remember hosting a business delegation from Angola few years back that included a serving Angolan military general.Though he doesn’t speak English and only communicated through an interpreter, my General friend insisted on visiting the “Synagogue Church of all Nations” before departing Nigeria. Arrangements were made for him to actualize this religious devotion. Though his entourage could not meet the man of God in person during their visit to synagogue after all efforts, they left nigeria fulfilled and satisfied that a religious obligation has been accomplished.I also remember that other African leaders and heads of government have in the past visited prophet TB Joshua’s synagogue for prayers,prophesies and healings.A man that could pull African leaders to his church is not a small man.
Sadly, the Nigerian Government in general and the Lagos State Government in particular still failed to recognize this man of God for his economic and spiritual contributions to the country. If Prophet TB Joshua was to be operating in a foreign land,he would have been recognized more for economic contributions to the development of tourism in Nigeria ,especially by not forgetting the fact that Nigeria as a country and Nigerians a people spend so much money traveling to other countries annually for same sacred religious duties.
May his gentle soul find solace in the bosom of his maker who he served so diligently.Senior prophet TB Joshua will surely be remembered and missed by his teeming adherents all over Africa and the whole world for his evangelism and remarkable work in the lord’s vineyard.