Here are some excerpts from a two-part interview Prophet T.B. Joshua granted the ‘Daily Champion’ newspaper in March 2010. The contents are packed full of practical lessons of life and leadership, and mirror the prophet’s words this Sunday on the importance of love: “We are love’s products – the sons and daughters of love. Therefore, let love lead. Follow in the light of love.”
As you read, may you be inspired to love your neighbor as yourself, and make a difference as a leader by example in your respective community…
What is your take on the recurrent religious crisis in Jos?
As a clergyman, I don’t want to believe that the crisis has to do with issues about religion – there is more to it and it goes beyond religion. You need to go to the north and see the reception you will receive there; it does not matter whether you are a Christian or a Muslim.
Unless these people who are involved in this act are not living in the cities, except they are living in other places outside the cities. Don’t forget that Christians and Muslims have been living together over the years. So, it is surprising to hear that Christians and Muslims are killing themselves. Do you think that this can ordinarily happen like that? No, so it is not the issue of Christians and Muslims? This is purely political. There is a political undertone to it.
Can you elaborate on that, political in what sense?
When I say that it is a political issue, what I mean is political crisis in the country and how it has virtually affected every area of our lives. Look at the state of education in this country. Because of politics, look at what education is suffering in this country now! The university education today is not what it used to be in the past. The university we are used to is not the university that we are seeing today.
Even in the area of sports too, politics has also destroyed virtually all the areas of sports in the country. Look at how the game of football is going in this Nigeria. It is all political and it has also affected our image outside this country. So, let us remove the issue of Christians and Muslims fighting, it is purely political and by the time they go deep down to discover why the people are killing themselves, you discover that it is because somebody wanted to be in-charge or in control.
The issue persisted because some people want to be this or that; we should not use the issue of religion as a cover up in this matter.
Are you saying that what is being experienced is as a result of bad leadership?
I will not say yes or no, but I want to take you back. When you talk about leadership, can we call it bad leadership? We have had leaders in the past without disciples. When you are a leader without disciples, you are alone and one person alone cannot rule.
But our leaders have long chain of advisers, ministers and aides…
That is what I am saying, leaders without disciples are what we have had in Nigeria for the past number of years now, we have been having leaders without disciples. So if a leader is good, without disciples, it is also bad.
Who then are these disciples considering the fact that we have ministers, many aides and special advisers?
I am talking about the cabinet. I am talking about the ministers. What does it take to be a good disciple? A good disciple must be a good reporter. A good reporter must be a good assistant who must report accurately and must be objective in his reports. He must be able to tell his boss the truth and nothing but the truth and if you give your boss a good and objective story and he rejects it, you can put in your resignation letter, which means that you are not a party to what he is doing.
If we have people like that around our governments, then things will change. Have you ever seen the president go to the market to find out prices of commodities, or how things are going there? The disciples are the ones going about to see true position of things. The cause of the problems we have in Nigeria is leadership without disciples.
How do we get good disciples then?
Before I will answer this question, I will like to go this way; Nigerian leaders have been using other people’s disciples for the past years. People that you don’t know, whom you have not worked with before are other people’s disciples.
Before you get to such a position of authority like the president, you are supposed to have a platform of meeting people, both privileged and less privileged. One does not get to such position of authority over night, it takes time and preparations and a leader without preparation will use others’ disciples to work for him and using others’ disciples always cause disorder in the society.
In other words, you are faulting the Constitution that allows for federal character and nomination of ministers from different states of the federation?
Let me come in here. There are core disciples and there are disciples. When you become the president of a nation like Nigeria, no matter the ministers they send to you to form your cabinet, you as a person must prepare your own personal team which may consist of five, six or 10 people who are on ground, their job is to go to different areas to monitor the ministers and give you the true report of what is on the ground. The federal character does not affect these people at all so far you use your own personal money to pay these people their wages.
You mentioned the effect of politics in our sports; apart from your football team, My People’s Football Club; recently in your church, an individual testified that you supported him to become a boxing champion. How did you develop this interest in sports, were you a sport person as a youth?
It is not that I have a special interest in sports but I want people to succeed as they develop their talents in whichever field, so that they can be successful in life.
Do you have any problem with the current political arrangement as a way out of our political logjam?
Nigeria knows the right thing and until they put the whole thing right, presently the referee cannot blow the whistle. But I want to say that God loves this nation. What is happening to Nigeria is meant to strengthen our desire for God and I want Nigerians to know that everything will gradually settle down.
When a situation like this occurs in a good nation, they pray the more and fast the more and draw closer to God but we have not achieved that. Have we drawn closer to God or are we still asking ourselves, ‘Why all these things?’
Can’t we use the number of churches that we see around and Nigerians that are now turning to the churches as evidence that Nigerians are drawing closer to God?
Well, the position of God is not who worships Him but who worships him in truth and spirit. So let us look at the position of God that we are worshiping. His position is not about the number of churches or number of people that worship Him but His position is how many people worship Him in spirit and truth. This is the position of God.
If Nigerians worship God in spirit and truth, then we are worshiping Him – so the issue now is not how many churches but how many people worship Him in spirit, truth and faith.
Politically, I have said it before that there is so much hypocrisy in this country and that is part of our problems. Last time we talked about the crisis in Jos and wanted to relate it to religion. But if you look at the gathering of the political party like the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and other parties, you see Christians and Muslims sitting down together and eating at the same table.
In business circle, you see Christians and Muslims working together but when we get back to our places of worship, it is a different thing all together. Why do I say that it is a different thing all together? We should not allow this crisis to come up at all because our Bible made us to understand in Matthew, Chapter 5 that you should love your neighbour as yourself and your neighbour could be those who do not share the same faith with you, people that profess other religions.
Your neighbour could be your enemy. Your neighbour could be your friend – but the Bible says that you should love them all and pray for those who hate you.
So what is the solution…?
Just as the Bible says, we should hold love. Love is lost, let us look for it. We should not be talking about Christian or Muslim but we should look for love because love is lost, let us look for it.
Let us forget about being either Muslim or Christian; North or South, East or West. We should forget all those names, those names are just symbolic. God will not ask you whether you are from Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa,’ or whether you attend Redeemed Church or Christ Apostolic Church or Synagogue Church. God will not ask you any of such questions; the question will be based on righteousness. I repeat, love is lost and because of this love that is lost that is what is bringing up these problems.
Let me tell you about love. Love sees beyond hatred, it sees beyond religion. If you love me so much, you are not even going to care whether I am a Christian or a Muslim. Can you see that love is beyond religion? Love sees beyond geographical location or ethnicity. Love is the greatest of all the virtues.
A child of God is known by his love and not by the title he bears – that I’m a bishop or a pastor’ or I’m Joshua or that I own a big church or say that I am the owner of the biggest ministry in the world; those things don’t impress God.
If you love your neighbour, you will not like to speak evil against that neighbour. If there is anything that your neighbour had done against you, you will be looking for a way to help and do what is right so that your neighbour will be at peace.
What matters is the hope of glory. Whatever name we bear is symbolic. If I say that I am Pastor T.B Joshua, it is a mere claim until that name is tested in a real situation. I can say that I am T.B Joshua and no one will arrest me for that – it is a mere claim, until it is tested in real situation.
What is this real situation?
Real situation is a situation that you cannot pass through if you don’t have the grace of God. Trials, difficulties, persecutions hatred and intimidations are all part of real situations. I said this because a man may be a pastor by profession, but not such in heart.
Real situations are those situations, which, without the power of God, you cannot survive. It is what I mean by a real situation, it is not just any situation but real one.
Let us talk about your work of charity and your passion to reach out to the less privileged members of the society.
Whoever you see me caring for here, I was once like that. If you don’t know what it means to be poor, when blessing comes, you will not be able to manage it. I know what it is to be poor, I know what it is to be disabled and I know what it means to be an orphan and to be in need. I was once like that.
So, each time I see these less privileged members of the society, I remember those days when I had no one to take care of me. I always feel what they feel. I don’t know of any difficult situation that I have not passed through.
Talk about those who suffer unjustly for the crime they did not commit, those they lied against and persecuted. I know what it means. And when you know what it is to be poor, when you see people suffering poverty, you want to come to their aid.
Can you take us back to your early days and the nature of suffering you passed through?
If we begin to talk about it, we are not going to leave here today. I am a medium, an object that God has changed, in terms of needs or poverty; just name it, that is why I have to go down to raise people from their less privileged position by supporting them. I know that if God had allowed me to have a mentor, I would not have been in the position that I am today because I don’t know where the mentor would have started.
In fact, the mentor would have given up, it is only God that can take one from the scratch. Today, nobody is ready to take you from the scratch – they only want to take you when you are already made.
The church started with eight members. This is the fifth church. The first church was destroyed by storm, the second one was destroyed by rain. The third one was destroyed by Omonile before we arrived here. The whole thing is on record, including my school days. I attended seven to 10 secondary schools.
In most cases, there were no school fees and I resorted to sports. I was running 1, 500 meters and if I ran for my school, they would forget about the school fees – something like scholarship. But at a point I knew that if I kept running that I would not be able to concentrate on my studies.
I later started going for extra lessons; attending evening classes so that I could work during the day. I worked in many poultry farms and in some other places. Many of the poultry farms that I worked at are still there.
How do you manage the name-calling and criticisms around your person?
If you ask me how I manage persecutions and criticism, intimidation and foolish things, the question you will also ask me is how I manage the good side as well, especially when people praise me.
The Bible made it clear that in our spiritual walk with God, that there are good times and bad times alike. Have you not read about Job, when the wife was telling him ‘Can’t you deny God, look at the wounds on your body, look at the troubles?’
And Job asked her, ‘Can you eat salad, and when it is time for bitter leaf, you run away? You enjoyed the good times, but now it is time for another chapter.’ So, when you are able to eat salad, when bitter leaf comes, you should also chew it. If the question is ‘Why me of all these persecutions’, you should also also ask, ‘Why me of all these blessings’. God will never stop giving us reasons to praise Him.
Have some of these your persecutors ever come back to apologize to you?
I am not God. When you speak against a servant, you go to the Master and apologize. I am a servant and a servant cannot be greater than the master.
But do you forgive them as the Bible says we should?
A person who cannot forgive will not be entrusted with the power of healing or deliverance. This is why you cannot see healing everywhere. The person who cannot forgive his neighbour cannot be entrusted with power because he can use it against others.
There is power in our tongue, power to build or destroy. Look at what transpired between the Prophet (Elisha) and those children who were calling him bald head; he called bear to consume them.
What I am doing is not mine – the work of healing and deliverance is not mine.
Apart from the work of God, what other thing do you enjoy doing?
One life for Christ is all that I have and one life for Him is so dear. He is my joy, my working time and my all in all. So, which other work are you talking about?
How do you finance these projects that you have at hand and is the global economic crisis in anyway affecting your ministry?
Thank you very much for this question. Looking at the whole charity work we are doing in Haiti, My people FC, feeding the needy, assisting the widows and scholarship to the orphans, your question is how we finance these things.
The whole thing started in a little way. One thing I want you to know today is that it all depends on what you are giving. You can give what you do not need and you can give what you cherish most. You can give what your life depends on, but after giving, God continues the supply. If you give what you don’t need, God will continue to supply you what you don’t need.
Those things like used clothes or worn-out tyres, if you give such things then God will give you what you don’t need. When you give what you cherish, God will supply you what you cherish.
What we are giving out here are those things that we cherish and it takes faith to do that. On the global economic crisis, we are not giving out of wealth but we give as it comes. When we give out of wealth, then we can talk about economic meltdown.
Tell us the type of food that you enjoy most?
When you look at my stature, I don’t need to tell you because my body will tell you the type of food that I eat because the nature of my job does not permit me to eat anything that I want to eat. What I have to eat is not what I am eating.
I love African food so much but if I try it, it will collapse my system. So, I have to submit myself to the food that can carry my flesh because we also need flesh to carry on
What then do you eat?
Well, I eat vegetables; I eat fish, meat, and chicken. I am not a vegetarian but I eat vegetable so much. I eat Asian foods also. Our African foods here attract comfort in the sense that immediately you begin to eat it, you begin to sleep and before you know it, you may even be sleeping while you are eating. Talk of pounded yam, egusi and ogbono and others.
When you are eating them, you forget that you still have much to do for the day, but to meet up with your assignments, you don’t need such. I used to advise our people not to eat something because you want to eat it, or because it is sweet, eat because of your health.
Do you exercise?
May be next time when you come, I will take you to my gym. When I wake up in the morning, I have to exercise – it is very important that I must do that.