By Emmanuel Umohinyang
“When we lose someone we love, we must learn not to live without them, but to live with the love they left behind” – Anonymous.
Perhaps, the greatest revelation about why Nigeria has failed to develop despite enormous potentials for greatness showed at independence was as witnessed in the life and times of the founder of the Synagogue of All Nations (SCOAN), Prophet T.B Joshua who passed on recently.
Though buried, his good deeds which took the world by storm will remain evergreen across the nations of the world because the man at the Synagogue was a global brand.
For some of us who were lucky to be very close to him, we usually watched in awe how he was able to combine many rare virtues, which were the major reasons he shook the world.
Joshua was not your typical Pastor who because of fame, money, connections, and what have you look down on anyone, irrespective of race, tribe, or religion. He was a citizen of the world. That his background as someone who rose from the ashes of his sleepy community of Arigidi Akoko shaped his worldview was never in doubt.
He saw his Pastoral calling as a task that must be done the exact way Jesus Christ did His and he committed everything that he had into that project until he breathed his last.
Watching him alone was evangelism itself as he did unimaginable things least expected of a man of his stature across the globe, even at great risk to his health and safety. Even when God started rewarding his efforts and enlarging his congregation worldwide, he allowed Jesus to show him to the world as he avoided the media like a plague.
Despite this, the media never left him alone, they used the Prophet to sell their stories as the mere mention of his name was enough to sell their papers.
Curiously, many of these stories were nothing but gibberish, concocted to tarnish his growing profile, locally and internationally, but he was never perturbed. For him, he had a job to do because he believed God’s work was too much to be set aside, to start fighting enemies who never saw anything good in what he was doing. He believed that he would be distracted, on too small a challenge to hinder the project assigned to him by the Almighty.
In fact, he used to tell us that distraction is a very powerful tool of the Satan to stop the children of God from getting to their destination. Curiously, some of his greatest traducers were enemies within the body of Christ who are obviously jealous of his profile.
These are influential Pastors who were never offended in any way by the Prophet but saw him as a man that needed to be driven out of the vineyard. They expected him to be angry, not Joshua, as he had even forgiven them before they asked to be forgiven because his heart would not harbor ill feelings against anyone.
He saw in their hatred the lubricant to fly even higher than they anticipated, even as the world became his church, to the astonishment of his enemies. Even when he had a medium to castigate his adversaries, Joshua chose to dedicate it to preaching messages of love, forgiveness and sacrifice.
Were he to sue the media, both Local and International for damaging his reputation he would have made a fortune from that alone.
Today, some of those media outfits have turned a new leaf, without the Prophet reaching out to them because he allowed his Creator to fight for him.
He believed our Creator is the ultimate fighter and has enough weapons to fight for everyone who has been wrongly accused as long as he keeps faith with him.
A journalist from one of the leading newspapers recently narrated how a member of the Prophet’s church approached him to do a damaging story on the man of God.
He later went to Joshua to balance the story only to discover that the widow was on Joshua’s payroll and her children were been sent to school by the Cleric.
The Journalist was stunned after the Prophet called the woman to come for more money, and had to challenge the woman who burst into tears and pleading for forgiveness after collecting the cash.
Of course, she was forgiven immediately by Joshua who counselled her to sin no more. That is the man at the Synagogue for you.
This was a man who saw the world as a stage to play his godly assignment saw and maximized the privilege to touch lives like never before. Despite being well to do, he was never ostentatious, and his hands were mainly to offer help, especially to the indigent.
He was not one of those Pastors living large in luxurious apartments, driving the best of cars and acquiring aircrafts while their people languish in poverty. Joshua was not one of those whose church established varsities that cannot be afforded by poor members of their church. He was in a class of his own.
A place like Lagos where he lived and died would have declared a public holiday in honour of such enigma, but not the present state government. While the nation, starting from the President to the National Assembly and most states rose to the occasion, conspicuously missing was Lagos, a state that prides itself as the “Centre of Excellence”.
To put it mildly, the state governor was simply lost at sea, from start to finish of all that concerned the Prophet’s passing and burial.
Even the press statement condoling with the church and family came only after many states and nations had done theirs.
Shockingly, Joshua’s contributions to the growth and development of Lagos cannot be overemphasized. In fact, no other state in this country benefited from his personae which attracted tons of cash in local and foreign currency to the coffers of the state.
That he was the single major revenue earner for the nation was not in doubt and all these came in through Lagos which was his base.
It was therefore immature and illogical on the part of Governor Babajide Sanwo- Olu of Lagos state not to have been a critical part of events before and during his burial which was graced by his colleagues from other states, including Ondo.
The Prophet’s philanthropy was legendary – Health, Education, Sports, empowerment, Infrastructure, evangelism, and many others’ too numerous to mention, of which Lagos was a beneficiary.
Were he to react, Joshua would have in his usual style smiled and brushed these aside, as he is not one of those men of God always in bed with the famous and affluent.
His greatest joy would be that he served his creator with all his might to the very end and that the poor, the weak, the sick, the homeless and the hopeless whom he loved so dearly were there for him till the very end.
He was more concerned about the stewardship he would render to his creator about his sojourn on earth. In fact, the deluge of tributes he has received across the globe since his demise is legendary. His burial took an International dimension as friends and well-wishers were physically present from all parts of the world to bid farewell in these trying times.
Indeed, a king would not have received the kind of honour given to him by the good people of Ikotun who shut down their businesses for one week in his honour. The take away from Joshua’s life and death are that we should remain committed to our convictions, not minding the distractions on our way, for that is the key to ultimate victory.
Adieu the man at the Synagogue.
Umohinyang, a Social Commentator and Public Affairs Analyst, writes from Abuja