Hundreds of members of the Synagogue Church of All Nations on Sunday mourned the passing of the church’s General Overseer, Prophet Temitope Joshua, aka TB Joshua.
TB Joshua died on Saturday after holding a service with members of the church.
Joshua, who was born on June 12, 1963, died on June 5 at the age of 57, a week to his 58th birthday.
Many of the members were inconsolable on Sunday, as they shed tears and shared how the cleric impacted their lives.
Widows, residents and business owners in the Ikotun area of Lagos, where the church is based, gazed into space in disbelief.
Our correspondents observed as some of the members wept on the church’s premises; the main church building was sealed by officials and manned by the police from the Ikotun division.
A woman, who did not disclose her name, said she came from Ilorin, Kwara State, adding that she was barren for many years before Joshua prayed for her.
“I am carrying my second child as I speak. So, how can such a man of God die like that? It is not possible and I don’t believe it,” she said as she fought back tears.
Another woman said, “My brother in the US and some relatives in Cameroon called me that he died. I told them to take the news back to whoever gave them because it was a lie. The devil has failed because the man of God that I know cannot die. He is not dead,” she said.
A widow and church member, who identified herself simply as Adelani, told The PUNCH that her only hope was gone.
“The prophet prayed for us, gave me food and even ate with us. Many children are on scholarship because of the prophet.
“I am a widow. How will I survive? Who will help us again? Who will help Nigerian widows? He cannot die now. He is not dead. He will come out to talk to us soon. My prophet cannot die like that,” she added.
An aged woman, who identified herself as Iya Mary, wept bitterly on the premises, as she recounted TB Joshua’s last word to the church.
She said, “He just returned from the mountain yesterday (Saturday). He asked us to keep praying and that there’s no time. Who will help us now?”
Another church member, Kunle Biyi, described the death as a big blow to the community, saying he wished he died with cleric.
He said, “Why will he die alone? He must go along with all of us. Ikotun is dead. Who will revive it? My prophet cannot go like this.”
The PUNCH observed that all national flags in the church were flown at half-mast.
A resident, Oluwafemi Regina, said she believed the good works of TB Joshua would continue to speak for him.
Another resident, Tajudeen Ajani, said the community had lost a big leader.
He said, “The man of God was the life of this community. He paid the power bills of many houses and put students in schools free-of-charge. The presence of his church has significantly contributed to the economic activities of this community. Every weekend, many hotels and guest houses rent out their rooms to those who will worship at Synagogue on Sunday.”
“This is the only church you’ll enter and see that everybody is equal. Whether you’re from Gabon, Ghana, or anywhere in the world, you are equal before God. Emmanuel TV is one of the most-watched channels in the whole world. Who will care for the masses?” a church member simply identified as Sunday, told The PUNCH.
While the cause of TB Joshua’s death remained unknown, the SCOAN, in a statement, said his last moments were in the service of God.
It reads partly, “God has taken His servant, Prophet TB Joshua home – as it should be by divine will. His last moments on earth were spent in the service of God. This is what he was born for, lived for and died for.
“As Prophet TB Joshua says, ‘The greatest way to use life is to spend it on something that will outlive it.’”
Losing loved one, not easy – Joshua’s widow
The late cleric’s widow, Evelyn Joshua, took to her Twitter handle, @MamaEvelyn, amid the ban by the Federal Government, to express her emotion over the loss of her husband.
She tweeted, “Losing a loved one is never easy; whether sudden or foreseen. It is always heartbreaking. Grief can wreak havoc on our overall well-being. That’s why it’s important to stay rooted to the Almighty. Only He can lessen our heartache and comfort us in these times. Seek refuge in him.”
Buhari, govs, others mourn
Meanwhile, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Sunday commiserated with the family and members of SCOAN on the death of Joshua.
His condolence message was contained in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, titled, ‘President Buhari mourns Pastor TB Joshua.’
The statement read, “The President notes that the renowned televangelist will be missed by his followers all over the world not only for his spiritual contributions, but for touching many lives through philanthropic gestures.
“President Buhari urges Pastor Joshua’s followers to take solace in the knowledge that life is not measured and defined by chronological longevity but by enduring legacies and lives touched positively.”
In the same vein, the Ondo State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu described the late cleric as a blessing to humanity when he was alive.
In a statement on Sunday by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Olabode Olatunde, Akeredolu said, “Pastor Joshua was committed to giving and was more often, inexorably imbued with calmness while lifting the downtrodden. As a televangelist, he did not just win souls for Christ; he was passionate about changing lives.
“Of significant note too, Pastor Joshua never hesitated to assist in whatever manner the Ondo State Government desired such. To us in Ondo State, we consider this a personal loss. He was a pride to the Sunshine State.”
Similarly, Oba Yisa Olanipekun, the monarch of Arigidi Akoko, in the Akoko North West Local Government Area of Ondo State, the hometown of Late Pastor Joshua , described the death of the cleric as a rude shock in a statement.
Oba Olanipekun said late Joshua “was a philanthropist and peace lover who had put the town’s name in global recognition. Let his body be preserved until arrangements are made to examine and certify the cause of his death and the body moved to Arigidi Akoko for final burial.”
An uncle to the late pastor, who is also Chief Imam of Agbaluku Arigidi Akoko , Alhaji Salisu Musa, lamented that Joshua passed away on Saturday without any sign of sickness.
Similarly, the Benue Governor, Samuel Ortom , in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, said, “The late evangelist will be remembered not only for spreading the gospel of Christ but also for his humanitarian works through which he positively touched millions of lives.”
Likewise, the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, in a Statement on Sunday by his Chief Press Secretary, Onogwu Muhammed, stated that the cleric “lived a fulfilled life by serving the call of his creator and impacting numerous lives individually and through his ministry, SCOAN.”
Also, the Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, in a statement, said, “Pastor Joshua deployed his gift of delivering the word of God in relatable terms to advance the church of Christ and brought laughter, solace and comfort to many with Christ’s message of love.”
Additionally, the leader of the Yoruba Self-Determination Group, Ilana Omo Oodua, Prof. Banji Akintoye, on Sunday described Joshua’s death as terrible loss to the Yoruba nation.
The renowned historian, in a statement by the group’s Communications Manager, Mr Maxwell Adeleye, said, “In many countries across the world, people watch his (Joshua’s) ministry on television as he brings his gospel message with hope and joy. We his people will miss him greatly. We all pray that God will accept him into the joy of heaven.”
Similarly, the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Aare Gani Adams, described Joshua’s death as a rude shock.
The Aare in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Aderemi, added, “It is very difficult for me to come to terms with the reality of his death. It is very sad. Prophet TB Joshua lived and died for God. His life was a complete definition of God’s generousity and philosophy.”
In the same vein, the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights on Sunday in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Gerald Katchy, said the late Joshua was “a philanthropist, helper who have touched many love lives around the world.”
Additionally,a South African civil society organisation, Economic Freedom Fighters, in a statement jointly signed by its spokespersons, Vuyani Pambo, Delsile Ngwenya and Sixilise Gclishe, on Sunday, said, “Millions across the world and in Nigeria particularly, will always remember him for the spirtual and pastoral care he ministered to the nation and the world with vigour and selfless commitment to the word of God.”
Lawyer recalls Joshua’s N53m gift
Also, a lawyer, Pelumi Olajengbesi, on Sunday in a statement recalled a gift of N53m that he got from the late pastor ahead of the 2019 general election.
He said, “Sometimes in the early part of 2018, I was aspiring for the position of House of Representatives to represent Oriade/ Obokun Federal Constituency in the 2019 general elections, and I went to Lagos to inform Dr Frederick Fasehun.
“Baba said to me, ‘Go and meet the man of God’, and he called ahead to Pastor TB Joshua that I was coming to him.
“I met with the man of God, he prayed with me and counselled me on the virtues of good leadership. He does not like to be part of politics and stressed that I develop my law practice, before handing me N3m cash in a paper bag. I thanked him profusely and he said I should drop my account details while leaving. I did.
“Just when I got downstairs, I received a credit alert of a shocking N50m. I immediately rushed back upstairs to thank him again and convey my surprise and great gratitude but by the time I got to the big sitting area, I was told he was already busy and cannot see anyone. Dr Fasehun died December that year, and I never got to thanked Pastor T. B. Joshua physically.”