By Sola Ojewusi
Well, finally, I have enough strength and fortitude to write this tribute in honour of my friend, mentor and benevolent supporter, TB. Joshua. I must confess it’s been so difficult for me to come to terms with the rude shock of a passing so monumental. It took me this long because the sledgehammer of his passing on the heart, the psyche was just unimaginable. I just didn’t have enough presence of mind to put the right words on paper. Or how do you begin to write in the past tense, the life of a man you spoke with few days earlier and who never showed any inkling of the sad epiphany that the end in this mortal terrain was near? How do you string together enough words to tell the world that this man they knew was more than the man they knew? How do you recall the wonderful times when a man’s humanity truly shone like millions of watts of light?
TB Joshua was a man of astonishing mould, a non-pareil specimen of God’s deft creative hands. He was the cornucopia of man’s true rise from grass to grace. He was a guy who defied unimaginable poverty to carve a niche for himself, choosing the path of service. From what seemed like a crude, rustic beginning, this man surprised us by rising through the doldrums of obscurity to the high pedestals of international renown. He was our Number 1 religious tourism ambassador. From the far reaches of the world, pilgrims came in droves in search of compassion and redemption. Through him, our nation Nigeria, in spite of the sham caused by political maladventure, became the bride of millions of citizens of the world who craved to see the very land that produced such a man.
You may not like his style of Christianity but you can never deny his place as a true pride of our nation. At least he made the world believe that something good can come from this hapless land! TB Joshua’s ministry was that of God’s compassion and His unimaginable love. He made charity look so effortless and selfless-giving a way of life. His passion for the downtrodden and underprivileged warmed our hearts.
TB Joshua’s door was open to the High and Mighty just as it was always ajar for the ordinary folks in the streets. He dined with the physically challenged, transforming their lives in many amazing ways. The elderly had a dream life with TB Joshua. His memorable trips to the homes of the aged and dying, giving them joy brought tears of joy to our eyes. His snuggling up to the leppers and mendicants of Oko-Oba settlements remain unsurpassed by his contemporaries. His eye-goggling display of practical Christianity and the power of grace and Chris-like redemption amazed even the worst of sceptics.
Even those who were not of the Christian faith were awed by his acts of faith and love. According to one Suleiman Alhassan on Facebook, “Not minding my religious background, I had always loved his commitment and dedication to the service of God and humanity. He lived for others and though died in his prime, he recreated himself in a lot of people through his selflessness. I use this opportunity to condole the family and indeed his multitude of members across the world. May he find eternal peace with the Lord. Amen.”
Popular TV man BABAJIDE KOLADE OTITOJU could not contain his respect for Joshua. He wrote: “Prophet TB Joshua. You will be sorely missed for your philanthropy. My last two bibles were gifts from your humble self. RIP.” Another observer of this unique life, Adisa Oluwasegunfunmi Edwards wrote, “We lost a real and rare gem. Ìgbà táa bá kú tán là ń dère (We only become idolised after we’ve gone). May his gentle soul continue to rest peacefully well.”
These were just a few heartfelt tributes in a deluge of effusive commendations from the nation and the world’s high and mighty and the millions of ordinary folks on our universal streets. According to a man who lived around the precincts of the church headquarters in Lagos, one of the thousands of Joshua’s neighbours who had over the years been beneficiaries of a man’s amazing love, “We are all orphans with this singular death.”
TB Joshua was a man of huge and practical faith. He was a Prophet who believed that as God’s children, in spite of the drudgery and vagaries of life, we must live in eternal mornings. That was why there is never afternoon nor evening when you’re greeted or welcomed to the church. So it should not surprise you when you visit at twilight and you are welcomed with the greeting, “Good Morning.”
This at first was unclear to me personally. Why would these people keep greeting me “Good morning in the afternoon”? In time, deep reflection on this symbolic gesture made it all plain to me! With Joshua, life was always a new opportunity, a fresh day in the hollow of God’s hands. He never believed in the dusks, the dark parts of existence. He wanted the world to know that in faith, man will never have to wallow in the harsh realities of life’s afternoons or the dampening happenings of dusk. To him, a Christian’s life deserved to be spent in the freshness, the calm and the soothing dews of perpetual mornings.
When he was hit by tragedy and those he considered his children died, he expected his nation, his own people to understand, to commisserate even when they tried to unravel the truth. He was like a voice crying in the wilderness. The prophet’s homeland refused to come forward with the love the prophet deserved. What message has his Maker now sent to us as a nation? Is it not something like, “Since you do not value this immeasurable gift, let me as well bring him back into my bosom of true love.”
Despite his immense acts of unimaginable love, many despised him, many pilloried him, many excoriated him but he was unperturbed. He never replied his critics directly as far as I know. He carried on with the act of faith, carrying his own cross with admirable calm and equanimity. He ignored his own human frailty while his devoted his body and soul to the welfare and not of others. Even when he hurt, he never showed it publicly. He immersed himself in the deluge of his mission, soothing, helping, healing and making the burden of others his own. One day I saw him looking really tired and, worried, I told him to try and take some vacation. His response was his infectious smile and the quip: “How can a pastor rest when there are so many souls to win and many to help?”
If there was any tragedy in the glorious passing of TB Joshua, it was the tragedy of a man who gave his last drop in the service of others. His passion about the gospel of redemption was amazing; his commitment to the salvation of errant souls was unmatched. For over 20 years I watched him from close quarters. There were no airs around him. He had a good laugh and infectiously funny. He was always curious about events in the nation and the world. He was always concerned about the tragedies that have befallen our nation in recent years. His love for his nation was deep.
And it showed when other nations asked him to relocate to their climes, desirous of tapping on the anointing and his immense popularity. But he refused to abandon his motherland. He showed that his National Award of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic was no fluke, one of the exceptional and truly deserved gesture of a grateful nation when things were normal at the top.
His love for people would be his immediate legacy, his acts of astonishing philanthropy and his generous disposition. The fact that thousands besieged the church wailing and rolling on the floor with a deep sense of loss was no fluke. Those were among the thousands of souls he had impacted on so deeply. How many scholarships for the poor? How many hungry home he had returned the smile of love to with timely donation of money and food items, and how many homes on the verge of wrecking he had helped to get away from the precipice! How many dreams on the verge of despair he truly restored to the path of fulfillment! How many forlorn hope, racked by poverty he did restore to the path of hope attained! TB Joshua helped many of us, so many of us achieve our rendezvous with destiny.
Since he died, Oh! did he really die? some fellows, so puny in number and in true humanity, now have the balls to wait till a man is gone and is unable to reply before you attack him? What manner of minds are those?
How many of these critics were really there for the people like Joshua was? How many times did they impact on people, loving their neighbours like themselves. It’s not for me to judge TB Joshua but as a journalist, I was living witness to many of his good deeds. Let me reveal this to you.
I went to him about one of our colleagues, a former ThisDay Marketing Executive who was very sick and needed an urgent operation. He never met her. She never wrote anything for him. She needed N5million and she had exhausted all her means. TB Joshua asked me and some other journalists to come back the next day with the lady’s husband. I called my colleagues and we went. When we got there we were shocked to see N5million cash waiting for us. He prayed and said go and do your best for her. The husband nearly collapsed with shock. He had gone through hell for months, incurring enormous debts and here was a sudden act of compassion that erased so many of those debts! We never published the N5m story because he said he didn’t want his token publicised. He pleaded and we respected his wishes. But now that he’s no more, I think it’s better to let the world know another side of a truly amazing human.
So many such interventions over the years. He might have had his weaknesses which is not my position to judge but his humanity, his compassion for others was real. When God said “Judge Not”, He really knew what He was doing? Who gave these people the right to judge? And how best can a man display his faith if not through unalloyed love and compassion? TB Joshua was the practical symbol of God’s unspeakable love.
To Mama Evelyn TB Joshua, his family, disciples, all I can say is that you must brace up for the challenges ahead. If it has been very difficult for me to come to terms with the harsh reality of the Prophet not being physically here, and have not even had the courage to go to his home and not meet him, I can imagine the situation you great people must be in now. But I admire your courage and the impressive fortitude with which you have handled this monumental transition.
I thank you for holding the fort so well. The Prophet’s work of faith and charity must not stop. Sometimes, when you suffer a loss this monumental, you may think that all has ended. No, my friends, it’s just another beginning, always another beginning. You have a huge legacy to keep alive. Your work has already been cut out for you. You must sustain those great works of philanthropy. Giving was TB Joshua’s exceptional ministry. Compassion was his forte.
That compassion must not fizzle out. You must hold the dream and sustain the fire of love that burned so brilliantly in your founder’s heart. Mummy Evelyn TB Joshua, Prophet Chris, Prophet Racine, Prophet Angela, Prophet Bisola, Brother Joseph, Sisters Lamide, Elizabeth, Cindy, Brother Shina and all those wonderful people I met along the wonderful paths of my relationship with this great soul, you must come together to sustain this church under the guidance of God Almighty. Never let the kind of compassion that was the hallmark of your church fizzle out.
The good Lord gave us TB Joshua, the good Lord has now decided to take home his beloved. We are grateful, Lord, even as we have tears in our eyes, for this immeasurable gift.