Prophet Temitope Joshua of The Synagogue, Church of All Nations, Ikotun-Egbe, Lagos, explains the source of his strength and vision, and his care for the aged and needy, to The Week team of Clement Okitikpi (MD), Oluwasegun Abifarin (Editor) and Emeka Ngwei.
How did the ministry start?
Well, I want to start by saying that no one in the world is born with great knowledge. You become what you are; you discover what you know. But if I begin to tell you the genesis of the ministry, we won’t leave here today. Discovery is for forward lookers. So, no one is born with great knowledge.
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 immerse 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, which I believe 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 high heavens and 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.
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 fail the opposite would occur. I also heard a voice of the same tall man, I could not see His head, saying, I am the Lord your God who was and who is – Jesus Christ, giving orders to all 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, signs and wonders for the salvation of souls”.
Since then, I have been receiving in my vision, every year according to my faithfulness to God, a bigger cross that means to me more responsibilities.
What was on your mind when you started the ministry?
That is one important area. For instance, I have been alone here (in the prayer mountain) for the last five hours. I dreamt of a place like this – a swampy area, neglected, where people or government will not dream of coming. I come here, sit here, read and meditate. Above all, I know that I am a product of grace, not the works of righteousness which I have done. I am weak; I am nobody, without formal education. What I want to say is that God has manifested His strength in my weakness. It can also be explained that I am like a dog without teeth. When you have a house and you keep without teeth as a guard, each time the enemy comes, it will bark and then the owner will come out to do the work.
Sometimes, your miracles look like magic…
When it comes to power, God Himself is the power. God often uses foolish things to confound the wise. That is why people like me will ever be grateful to God. In terms of knowledge, education and name, I am nowhere – a neglected stone. I think that is why the persecution was too much. Everything about me is nothing, nothing. But I think no man should boast.
When you were young, did you have any idea that you will one day go into pastoral work?
Then, when I was very young, one thing I knew then and that still happens to me now, is that there is an invisible chain, invisible padlock. What I want to touch, I can’t touch; what I want to say is not what I am saying. Where I want to go is not where I am going. What I want to wear is not what I am wearing. It is like there is a restriction. That has been my experience right form when I was young. That is why you will never find or see me accusing or condemning somebody. I have always restored anyone who has done any wrong in a gentle way, instead of condemning the fellow, because I know it is not by my power that I am doing the right thing.
So, I will say the work of righteousness is not my work; it is my faith in His work. The work of healing is not my work, but by faith, healing is done. The work of deliverance, great and mighty deliverance is not my work, but is my faith in Him. It is not the works of righteousness which I have done, but according to His grace. I am a product of His grace.
What’s the difference between Joshua as a person and Joshua as a prophet?
You have two natures in one person – the human and divine nature. Take our Lord Jesus for instance, for his human nature – he was a descendant of David, and for His divine nature – he was raised from the dead by the power of God.
As for TB Joshua, I am a descendant of my family in Arigidi-Akoko in Ondo State, Nigeria – but as for the divine nature, the power of God affects my life to give peace to people, deliverance to people and healing to people. Apart from the power of God, nobody would have noticed me or known where I am. So, it is the power of God that brings the difference, the challenges and an uncommon persecution. Uncommon blessing attracts uncommon persecution. Common blessing attracts common persecution. Uncommon progress attracts uncommon attacks.
Is the Ikotun Headquarters the only branch in Nigeria?
No, we have branches in Akure, Port Harcourt, Jos, Kogi and outside the country also. When you get to the church there, you will see at least 30 different countries represented. There are here to take the ministry back to their countries.
You are on satellite with Emmanuel TV, which is quite expensive. Where is the funding coming from?
Money. Something unbelievers can have should not be a problem to a child of God. Dubious and unrighteous people, they have money. How much more a man of God? So, what are you talking about? Unbelievers, they have money and throw it about. So, let’s talk about something unique. Money is not a unique thing. It is common. You see, everybody talking about money, money, money. Anybody can have money – but let’s talk of what anybody or everybody cannot have. Even the cathedral, anybody can have it. Even satan can build a big mansion; it is a question of money.
It is like you are a prophet without honour at home and among your people.
Even Jesus Christ was not popular among His people. Even till today among some Jews. We thank God for that, because if Jesus had been restricted to only His people in Palestine and Jersualem, how will people like you and me know about Christ and the Kingdom of God today, not to talk of preaching the gospel and becoming a pastor or prophet.
And even here in Nigeria, most of the popular pastors at home anchor their popularity at home on their fame abroad.
Are you also planning to go to the Lagos-Ibadan Express Road to establish a camp ground, as it is the fashion today?
Right from my youth, I have learnt not to go with the crowd. If we are in the same business of selling shoes for instance, if you are selling in Tejuosho (Yaba) market, I won’t go there. I will find another market to sell my own. That way, we are spreading. This swamp, which is our prayer mountain, is our camp.
When you also look at the missionary works outside the country, you will see all the men of God going to Europe and America. I have decided to face the Asian continent. That way, we are fulfilling the mandate of our Lord Jesus Christ to take the gospel to the end of the earth and make disciples of all nations.
What is the motivation for your help to the old and the aged?
My help is not only to the old people, but to the lonely, the weak and the poor in society. The Bible says charity and faith in Jesus Christ go together. When you say you have Jesus by faith, without the work of charity, it is nothing. This does not mean however that charity alone is enough to bring us to salvation, but it forms the basis for judging our level of kindness – because looking the other way when your brother is in trouble is equal to rejecting Christ Himself.
Then, going to the issue of aged people, in this part of our world, it seems it has become a crime to be old and aged. Even many of those who are well to do in our society, the will build a house and put their old and aged in the backyard, as if they are no more useful. But we want to tell the world that it is not a crime to be old and aged. It is time to show appreciation to God for using them to bring us into this world.
The time they cannot work again is the time we should take it upon ourselves to take care for them, like babies. The life they gave us when we were newly born, it is time to give them back now they are old. It is not the time we should isolate them, put them in isolation.
Rejection and isolation are also deadly and incurable diseases like AIDs. We are even praying for God to give us the grace to build a beautiful resort where we can bring them together and properly take care of them, give them medical attention and those who have not travelled before, we fly them outside the country for them to enjoy the best of pleasure, before they die.
For how long have you been planning this?
We have been on this for the past 10 years. It is not just now. These people have been lonely and isolated for a long time, and that has killed many of them. It is not just now that we jump into it, we have been showing that love that Christ gave to us.
I want to tell you that our position in Christ Jesus is enhanced each time we help our fellow brothers.
What has been the reaction of these people and their relations to the program?
Some of them – in fact, many of them, don’t even know me. They only see me on the television screen.
Apart from the aged, do you have programmes for other categories of the needy?
Yes, not only the aged – the Lord is also using us to cater for other categories of people. We have a program for the dwarfs and the destitute. We have also given scholarships to many university students. I don’t know any of these people, and we are not doing it to receive ‘thank-you’ from them.
How did you locate these people?
I believe many of them are not in Lagos. You people live in Lagos, and put your old people in the village.
People say you appear to them in their dream. Can you clarify this?
When I am not God… God can also use you. Don’t be surprised that people can dream and see you. If God can use the pool of Bethesda, He can use anyone. He uses horses and camels. God can use anything. And I want to tell you that everyone is created with a gift, and each gift is meant to meet a need. It is your gift that God will use to bless others through you. So tomorrow, God can use you to appear to other people, and to pray for them.
How much is the church investing in this care of the aged project?
For the past nine years, we started the whole thing with about 1.5million but it has gradually gone up to N6million per month. But I must tell you, my brothers, that I don’t have enough to live a flamboyant life because of all these. I even have some students that I gave scholarship to in Ghana, and many other universities in Nigeria.
It is a rare privilege to do this. We may think we are helping them. No, we are not helping them. Our position in Christ Jesus is enhanced each time we help our fellow brothers. It is a real privilege to be in a position to give. This is what Jesus meant in Matthew 25:45, that whatsoever you do or fail to do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me. In other words, Jesus has no farm where He expects you to help Him or an office where he expects you to carry files. He said my farm and office are your fellow brothers.
A lot of churches are getting into the business of establishing universities. Are you thinking along that line?
What God has commissioned me to do here is to care for these people – the destitute, the needy and the poor. So that church here can have a theology school. That is all. I should not dabble into the issue of university. Theology, from primary school to university – that is my calling. I should not dabble into science or law. Anyone that wants to study law or science should go to University of Lagos!
SOURCE: The Week Magazine – Vol. 26 No. 26