Chiji Okafor adds more reflections on Prophet TB Joshua at 46, as published in today’s edition of ‘The National Life’…
It is amazing that anybody who lays claim to being a pastor of God (like Pastor Oritsejafor of the PFN does) should be talking about mentoring in matters of the faith as if talking about some rookie artisan being shepherded into ‘freedom’ from his master’s workshop. Such drivel simply speaks volumes of the man who utters it. It reveals the depth of vulgarity to which our ‘modern’ men of God have allowed the gospel of Jesus Christ to sink.
Anybody who boasts in God’s vineyard about his mentor and such other inane subjects as earthly endowments has simply not imbibed the lessons of Christ’s personal life. Jesus Christ the Son of God could have been born a prince, if He so chose. On the contrary, God made man, decided to come into this world, the son of a wretched carpenter born in, of all places, a manger and side-by-side animals! He had neither an earthly mentor, nor did the Bible tell us that He had doctorate degrees in sacred theology and dogmatic philosophy.
In His divine wisdom, God chooses whom He crowns king and decides whom He endows with any gift He likes – and we all have our different gifts. Anybody who challenges this wisdom of God Almighty blasphemes against Him, by querying His authority.
So, why would God choose a humble, even innocent, or bucolic Temitope Balogun Joshua for the enormous anointing he has received? Why didn’t He pick one of those blue-blooded, Oxford-trained peers of the realm?
One cannot exactly tell and neither can anybody else, for that matter. However, having watched Pastor Joshua very closely these past few months, followed with keen interest, the documentaries of his early ministry and his teachings and other activities on Emmanuel TV, physically witnessed his Sunday healing and miracle services at the Synagogue Church and had numerous private audiences with him, I have been privileged to glean a few facts and to learn a very important lesson about faith, from this soldier of Christ.
As humans, we usually crack in the daunting face of adversity. In fact, at some point, many of us not only give up on God, we even dare to turn against Him. In the case of Prophet Joshua, the harder the battle to survive, the greater his loyalty to his God appears to be. I have never seen anybody with such unshakable faith in what he believes, such optimism that may even look to an observer during those his ministry’s early years as mere folly.
Anybody who has seen that documentary on his early ministry, of his first church (a miserable looking shack, with about 20 worshippers) and the optimism with which he prophesied how the whole world would soon come to Synagogue Church, would simply be awed by the power of the living God and testify to His glory. A little later during those early years, Prophet Joshua who leads by example went down to such fine details as personally cleaning the toilets of the church for three long years. As he says, “In order to be able to manage success, I had to first learn how to manage poverty”. As bad as things were then, Pastor Joshua was always seen ministering to his flock with a broad smile, even as his first, second and third churches, drowned in flood waters.
In contrast to those humble beginnings, today’s Synagogue Church of All Nations is an intimidating edifice that has become one of the world’s biggest tourist destinations! If there is anything I have learnt from the story of Pastor Joshua, my interactions with the prophet and his church, it is the humility and faithfulness of God Almighty Himself, towards those that maintain abiding faith in Him, in the face of all odds. This is what Prophet TB Joshua always teaches: “Of all graces, FAITH honours Christ the most; of all graces, Christ honours FAITH the most.”
Those who today want to give Christianity a highfaluting image and discriminate against their fellow men either do not know, or simply forget its humble beginnings. The cross, the banner under which all of Christendom gathers derives from an ancient mystical symbol, which many may refer to as (sorry for that derogatory word) pagan.
The Celtic cross, a religious symbol seen all over Britain, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, has a long history that presages Christianity itself. Its four arms are interpreted as the four elements of earth, wind, water and fire. It also represents the four directions of the compass – north, south, east, west – and the four parts of man – mind, soul, heart, and body.
This is also the basis of the Jewish Tetragrammaton, represented by the Hebrew letters, Yod, He, Vau, He, with the last He, bearing a dot, symbolising completion, just like the shoot of a dormant seed. Those four Hebrew letters, together, spell out Yahuvah, or Jehovah, the elements that emanated from the Divine Essence at the point of Creation, as documented in the first chapter of Genesis. I had written extensively about this in the past and the correlation between this Biblical account of the beginning of space-time and the Quantum Theory in particle physics is indeed amazing!
One and the same concept runs through most major mystical-religious concepts of all civilisations, worldwide, from ancient, so-called primitive African and Amerindian cultures, to Indo-Chinese, European and Arabic cultures and more. This universal symbolism is seen in the Popol Vuh, the Holy Book of the Quiche Maya of South America. It is the Yin and Yang of Taoist China, also symbolised by the Dance of Shiva, in the Indian Sanskrit.
Back here, in Africa, this same symbolism is seen in the ancient drawings of the Dogon of Mali, as it is in Ghana’s Adinkra culture. It is the Creation Snake that Wole Soyinka talks about in his “Idanre and Other Poems”, which the Igbo celebrate in the New Yam festival, the basis of their four market days and their lunar calendar, depicted by the Uli motif of the kola nut head.
Ancient Egyptians equally celebrated the feast of Eostre in honour of the goddess of fertility and the endless cycles of the death of winter and the birth of spring. The Romans borrowed the same practice and baptised it Saturnalia. It is this very old belief, depicted by the image of the Egyptian Ankh or the Crux Ansata, which found its way into Judaeo-Christian theology, that the first Christians adopted and celebrated as Easter, directly borrowing its name from the goddess: “Unless the grain falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies it brings forth much fruit.” (John 12:24).
To think that the symbol of the very basis of the Christian faith, the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary and the power of New Life in the Risen Christ, had its humble beginnings in the faiths of peoples we would now rather turn up our noses at, as pagans, is a lesson in God’s own humility and mysterious but wise ways. It teaches us never to look down on anybody but rather, to embrace all. From the high priests of quantum physics, to the lowly African chief priests and sages, to our modern, “funky pastors”, we should have nothing but respect for our fellow man, for it is only God Himself who can tell who worships Him in truth and in spirit.
This is another major lesson that Pastor Joshua teaches everyone with his unique ministry. At the Synagogue Church, you find people of all races and creeds. You find the very rich and the very poor, the homeless, beggars, everybody, side-by-side. You even find grandmasters of the occult that have come to receive deliverance. Nobody discriminates against anybody and people are actually encouraged after receiving their healing, to go back to their respective churches or mosques.
I am yet to see this in other Pentecostal churches and this ecumenism, I believe, is the message of Christ’s mission while on earth.
SOURCE: Chiji Okafor – The National Life