In another explosive and exciting interview with This Day Newspapers, TB Joshua chronicles the trials and troubles that characterised his journey through life, and shared the principles of faith that helped him to maintain his stand to become what he is today…
There can not be a better way to start than to ask; who’s T.B Joshua?
Well, there’s nothing spectacular about Prophet T.B Joshua. He is just like every other human being. But if there is any difference, it is the grace of God; the righteousness of God. It is a product of the grace of God. So, I am a product of the grace of God.
So, how did your ministry start?
The Church started just like other ministries. And if there is any difference, it is the way and manner God executes His plans in our lives. And of course, you know the way and manner God executes His plans in our lives differs. Sometimes, God can use foolish things. Our God is awesome. So, in a nutshell, that is just it.
As a person, how was growing up like?
In summary, let me say, I have tasted what it takes to be poor; humiliated, embarrassed and all what not. And of course, I have tasted what it takes to be honoured. So, I think it is that grace that gives me the strength to face all conditions today. It is the grace of God. I have tasted what it takes to be humiliated and poor and also what it takes to be honoured and have more than enough. And that is the grace to face all conditions.
Can one then say it is that tough background that gave you the grace to truly believe and face God?
I think it is just the will of God because for anyone to march for God, you must first march with Him. For me, I have marched with Him and this is the time I am marching for Him. To march with God is the time to sacrifice and to march for Him is the time of grace and blessing.
When did you get the calling and what was the sign like?
It was about 23 years ago when it all happened. For instance, many will say they encountered God through a man of God to do this and all that, but in my case and I know many must have had the same experience that I had, it was a personal encounter. It was not that one man of God came to me to say this and that. It was a personal encounter. And if you look at my birth, it is a story people like to read and listen to also. Concerning my calling, I was in a trance for three consecutive days, then I saw a hand that pointed a Bible to my heart and the Bible entered my heart and my former heart seemed to have immersed with the Bible immediately. Then, the awareness came and I saw the Apostles and Prophets of old with someone whose head I could not see because he was tall to the heaven and suspended in the air. I believe it was our Lord Jesus Christ sitting in their midst. I also saw myself in their midst. After a while, I saw a hand of the same tall man, I could not behold his face which was glittering with an unimaginable light; tall to the heavens and still suspended in the air. But other Apostles, I could see their faces, particularly Apostles Peter and Paul, Prophets Moses, Elijah and others. Their names were boldly written on their chests.
So, I heard a voice saying “I am your God. I am giving you a divine commission to go and carry out the work of the Heavenly Father”. At the same time, the same hand of the tall man gave me a small cross and a big Bible, bigger than the one that entered my heart with a promise that as I keep pressing in his time and Name, I would be given a bigger cross but if I failed, the opposite would occur. I also heard a voice of the same tall man but I could not see his head, saying “I am the Lord your God who was and who is- Jesus Christ, giving orders to the Apostles and Prophets.” The same voice said to me “I would show you the wonderful ways; I would reveal myself through you, in teaching, preaching, miracles and signs and wonders for the salvation of souls. Since then, I have been receiving in my vision every year and according to my faithfulness to God, bigger cross that means to me, more responsibilities. The Bible that entered my heart symbolise spirit and life (the Holy Spirit). God’s Word is Spirit and life. He does nothing without His Word. The book of Romans 8:16 says “God’s Spirit joins himself to our spirit to declare that we are children of God.”
If you were not doing God’s work, what would you have been doing?
The question you just asked me is purely divine because I don’t know. Listen, we are created in God’s image and what matters to God is not our physical or mental disposition, but to be one with Him in terms of love, kindness and so on. It is the goodness of our cause that interests God and not our physical or mental disposition. Really, not that our physical and mental dispositions do not have roles to play, just that the goodness of our cause interests Him more than that. And since we are created for the glory of God, no one can say what he or she would like to be. We are created for His glory and we must live for His glory. Our lives are in God’s hands. We have no control. We can’t control Him by using the Bible or cross as a good luck charm without a thorough reformation of heart and life. So, I think that question is for Baba God.
Before that encounter with God some 23 years ago, who were you?
When we talk of encounter, there are different stages of encounter. The one we are talking about is the deeper encounter. You know, there are deep, deeper, and deepest; that is the three stages in the life of a Christian. So, every Christian must go through the stages. It is about our responsibility to God; how we obey His rule. We have many Bishops who are just deep in the Lord and we have many Christians, just ordinary Christians without any title whatsoever either as a pastor or Bishop who are deeper in the Lord. We have many pastors who are deep and their members are deeper.
But before I got the calling, I was a member of the Anglican Church and participated actively in many Church activities. On three different occasions, I was appointed the chairman of children’s Harvest/thanksgiving ceremony. During my primary school days at St. Stephen Anglican primary school, Agbaluku, Ondo State. I was the leader of Student Christian Fellowship. I taught my colleagues the scriptures without formal Bible training. In my dream, I was always taught the scriptures, and that gave me an edge over the other student colleagues, even above my teacher. I was the smallest in the class and I led the prayer during school devotions. My teacher, Mrs. Margaret Tolani Adejumo and my colleagues usually called me small pastor. So, it is God himself who performs the divine anointing on all who have the wonderful privilege of becoming His children.
The essence of the question is to know if you have lived a kind of life that negates outright, the life of a Christian before you were called to serve. So, who were you before you became a man of God?
That’s a nice question. When you look at my life, you’ll see that there was no opportunity to live a funny life. I don’t know my father. It was very, very difficult. In fact, there was no opportunity to live a funny life because all through, it was rejection and isolation and it really helped me. It was not by power of mine, so, we should not make jest of those who lived funny lives because the book of Galatians 6, says, if one is caught out of sin, you that caught him should take him gently; restore him gently so that you also will not be tempted. For instance, you saw someone smoking and you began to make jest of him; saying, ‘Ha, you are a smoker.’ Be careful because you also may be tempted. For anyone to live right, it is not by his power or by his might, it is the grace of God because without God, no one can live right. The Bible says ye should be careful because the first may be the last and the last may be the first.
It’s Christmas. Let’s talk about its essence. What does Christmas connote?
Well, I would not want to say anything that will run contrary to the theology, but I’ll put it in a way that a scholar of the scriptures will understand. Christmas is the period of opportunity for everyone to show true remorse for our unworthy past. I don’t want to say anything that will elicit controversy but it is an opportunity to show true remorse, and not an occasion to show off. Simply put, God has a Son and he planted Him in the earth to produce a family. Today, millions are born again through this seed. And if that is it, how then do we celebrate Christmas? How do we register our appreciation to him? That’s the question. If God has a Son and planted Him in the earth to produce a family, and today, millions are born again through this seed how do we show appreciation? We show appreciation to him by giving every good thing God has given us: our love, our time, our strength, our faith, our loyalty and our money. You see, there is what we call humility; total humility and submission to his will. That’s our offering and when you want to give Him, you should remember the quality ones – because for instance, in Nigeria today, we are good givers, but we do give when it is convenient. That is Nigerians for you. But as true Christians, do not give only when it is convenient for you. You should give even when it causes some pains. Even when you are not happy, people can rush to you and say please help me, I have not eaten today and you say leave, go, I am not happy, why should you ask me for money? But even when it causes pains to do, please do because God has only one son and He planted that son in the earth. You can imagine that. So, when you give when it is not convenient, your offering will be a sacrificial giving. So, as we go out to celebrate Christmas, we should remember the weak, the poor and the lonely in the society. It is praise-worthy to give, not only to our power but also beyond our power. If this is our aim and objective of giving, even if we gave out a little, that offering will be acceptable to God. That’s Christmas for you. Some may say where is it written in the Bible, but the truth is that it is an occasion for us to truly show remorse our unworthy past. What this means is that a time of giving is a time to show true remorse, not the time to show off.
But don’t you think your analysis of the significance of Christmas would have been apt for Easter?
Sometimes, I wonder if we don’t read our Bible. Jesus Christ fasted for 40 days and 40 night and you have also been doing the same. But the same Jesus Christ walked on the sea, why can’t you walk on the sea? But Jesus was led by the Spirit to do so. He was not led because someone was doing it; he was not copying people. If you begin to look through the Bible, all the events that happened were not repeated. Look at it; He walked on the sea, He turned water to wine. But who else repeated this? Also, in the Bible, Peter said to the people at the beautiful gate, “Silver or gold I have not, in the name of Jesus…” – but no other man of God has done that. This is because they received from heaven. They came to change the world, but today, we are copying. And when we keep copying, we cannot change our world. We’ll continue to live the same world. We are sent to this world to make a difference, but we cannot make a difference because we no longer hear from God. When you read the Bible, you are reading the Holy Spirit and not history books. When you read history books you are reading about events, but the Bible is not an event. So, when you are reading the Holy Spirit, you are supposed to be carried along by it. So, the whole thing has become conventional; this is the song we sing going out of Church and this is the song we sing coming in. Everything is in the paper. The person who will preach next Sunday has been given the message to preach about and he will read and read as if he is going to the classroom. But that is not supposed to be. The normal thing is that he should receive from heaven and with that, there is no manipulation. So, these are the things that happen that visions are no longer clear. People will now begin to wonder if it was God or satan talking. For instance, if they hear ‘Come’, they will be wondering if it is the voice of God or satan because they cannot recognise the voice again. And because the visions are no longer clear, they begin to blaspheme and say all sorts of things. They will now rely on what they read in the newspapers. But whatever you read in the newspaper, as a Christian, you are supposed to examine it in the light of God’s work and that’s the only way we can get the true picture. Feeling is not faith, faith is not feeling. Feelings are influenced by what we hear, what we see and what others tell us.
So, what does it take to be Christ-like?
They are virtues.
And what are the virtues?
The opposite of the lives we live today.
Again, many of the pastors in the country do not fancy your style of ministering and by extension, do not see you as one of them as you are not a member of the (Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria) PFN. What really is the problem?
Let me tell you something; Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Every minister of God has his habit and this habit is a gift from God. It is all about our habit. If my habit is different from yours, it does not mean you are not from God. And what do I mean by habit? If you built your Church on a platform and I built my own on the rock, that does not mean the one on the rock or platform is not of God. If you, like Daniel, each time he wanted to pray, he was always on his knees. He would not stand up. And he would never limit God to certain answers. Daniel, even when he was facing trouble and the decree was published that he should not call any other God except their gods, he went to the altar and said God thank you. But that was not an occasion to say thank you because there was nothing to be thankful about. And when he gets to his upper room, he would open his window to Jerusalem. That was his habit. Why Jerusalem? Today, if he does that, they would call it occultic. All these are habits that make us different. God does not actually want us to be repeating ourselves, but we are repeating ourselves today. You are Pastor John and I am Pastor Moses. If you started the job before Moses, and God now sends Moses too, I should not begin to look at the way you drive your ministry so that I can do the same. No, you did not send me. We received that call from the same source but He will send us differently. God can say you go and do the foundation and he would tell the other person to go and roof the house and another to go and clear the bush. That is the job. He would not ask two people to do the same thing because it will not make any difference in the work. But the problem we are facing today is all about habit. And when you look at your bible, the disciples of Christ met once and prayed. The same thing happened in Psalms. So, everybody has his or her habit. Even the people we see put on white garment; the fact that they put on white garment does not mean they are not serving God. The question is that are they following the standard; the Bible? Is the Bible the standard of what they are doing, that is all I need to know not the garment they put on.
But how do you feel when they say ungodly things about you?
The question now is that do those things affect the work that I am doing? You see, when you are going in a direction, whatever can stop your mission should affect you. But anything that cannot stop your mission should be seen as one of those things. The Bible says if your mission is from God, there is a strong desire to make it happen. It is the compulsion, the driving force you cannot resist, even if the whole world is against you. You see, if God wants to use you to do a different thing, you receive uncommon attack. I know God is using me in the ministry today and I am not here to boast. So, if you are to do a different thing, you receive uncommon challenge except you are not ready for something new. Let me just take you to that book of John 7. You’ll see that if anyone would come after Jesus, there will be division amongst his people. Some will say, he’s a good man. How do you recognise a true man of God? You recognise them when there is division amongst his people.
What’s the challenge of running this Church like?
What challenge again when I am not the general overseer? Jesus is the general overseer.
But who signs the Cheques?
You see, those things like money and material things are what ungodly people too can have, even more. So, we should not begin to make brouhaha on it. If you see some dubious people who are thickly rich, if they want to build a cathedral, they will build better than what we have built. But the Bible says the temple we are talking about is in the heart. It is not that physical structure we see. We just have to get our people a place to worship but this is the temple of God (pointing to the heart). That I have the cathedral and what have you is not it. When you talk of crowd, allow Michael Jackson to come to Nigeria and see whether anybody can pull a crowd like him. He does not need much of an advert and under two days, you’ll be surprised at the crowd. So, what are we talking about crowd again? But how many are being saved is what we should talk about. Many can be there but at the end of the day, it might be two or one that are being saved. So, what are we pulling them together for? You have branches everywhere and every corner, but how many are being saved for God’s sake? That is it.
Can you let us into your family? How come nobody knows anything about your wife and children? Is the prophet married with children?
I don’t need to start telling you how kind and nice my wife is. But I know it takes a good wife to stay with the most persecuted pastor. This is because if she is not good, she will not be able to stand it. So, I don’t need to start describing her. You can help me with your descriptive power. In Yorubaland, they say, won kin ka omo fun olomo, (meaning you don’t count children for their parents). So, do I start counting my children now? But really, I have thousands of children as a man of God. You’ll be surprised that I love children that are not my biological kids more. I have my own kids but I don’t want to bring them into this interview. But one of my daughters is on Emmanuel TV. You see, I believe in the way I was brought up. Every Christian should know what it is to be humiliated and poor because if you don’t and you are now in a position… even in our spiritual walk with God, there is good time and hard time. When you don’t know what it takes to be poor and you are in a position, when the hard time comes, you are likely to say let Jesus be cursed. And we should keep the profession of our faith which is when the going is good, Jesus is the Lord, when the going is tough, Jesus is the Lord. My wife is currently under going training and by next year, you’ll begin to see her on the screen. And my daughter (Serah) too. We thank God but it is a question of as you lay your bed, so shall you lie on it.
Let’s talk about the speculations that you and pastor Oyakhilome derived your power from the same source.
No, it is not the issue of power. There was no controversy over the issue of power. God is power himself. So, how can somebody own God.
So, what is your relationship with him?
If there is anything at all amongst the pastors, it is all about faith. There is what you call necessary faith and faith. There is what you call some measure of trust in Christ Jesus and absolute trust in Christ Jesus. That’s all. The Bible says some measure of trust will enable you do some and the Bible says everything is perfect for him through Christ Jesus. This is absolute. So, when you are doing some and some are doing nothing, yet, others are doing absolute, there is bound to be controversy. You know, the world is demanding and when there is demand, there is bound to be controversy. Emi ni mo ju e lo, iwo lo ju iyen lo. There is no enmity in what is going on.
SOURCE: This Day, Nigeria