By Lisa Vives
“Time for everything—time to come here for prayer and time to return home after the service.”
With those words, Nigerian preacher TB Joshua, one of Africa’s most influential televangelists, ended his final sermon on Emmanuel TV, the broadcast arm of his megachurch. His death was marked by over 300,000 followers on Facebook within 24 hours of his passing on June 5. He was 57.
Temitope Balogun Joshua was the founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nations or SCOAN. Tens of thousands of people attended his weekly services in Ikotun-Egbe, in the city of Lagos.
His services drew African presidents, senior government officials, international soccer players, musicians and other high-profile guests seeking Joshua’s “healing miracles.” Among them were the late Zimbabwean politician Morgan Tsvangirai, Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema, Malawian president Binguwa Mutharika, and the late African National Congress leader, Winnie Mandela, according to a report by the South African news magazine, The Conversation.
He was popular in many African countries, and in South America where he held many religious crusades.
As news of his passing spread, a huge crowd gathered around the mammoth ornate church that towered over the neighbourhood, covering several blocks.
Crying in disbelief, women pulled their hair and men shook their heads. One follower, interviewed by the independent TV Sahara Reporters, compared Joshua’s philanthropy with the failure of government leaders. “People are suffering for this country and there’s no other hope,” he said. “You call yourself governor, you call yourself president, (but) you don’t do anything. You don’t help the people.“
Joshua’s rise to prominence in the late 1990s coincided with the explosion of “miracle” programs performed on national TV by various pastors. His ministry professed to heal all manner of illnesses, including HIV/Aids and Covid-19.
Joshua would have celebrated his 58th birthday on June 12. Church officials have not released a cause of death.
Joshua’s philanthropy was widely admired but his teachings from the “prosperity gospel”—often called the “health and wealth” gospel—were regarded by many Christians as heretical teaching based on manipulation rather than genuine care. And in April, YouTube shut down his account for videos claiming to ‘cure’ homosexuality. His internet platform had close to a million followers.
Facebook also removed at least one post showing a woman being slapped while TB Joshua said he was casting out a “demonic spirit”.
Joshua authored several books including Miracle Money, Bible Success, Magic Debt Abundance, Angels and Unexpected Income. According to Forbes magazine, his net worth was between $10 and $15 million U.S. He leaves behind his spouse, Evelyn Joshua, and two children: Serah Joshua and Promise Joshua.