THE PEOPLE COME FIRST – TB JOSHUA
He was born in an unusual circumstance in the rustic and sleepy community of Oosin, Arigidi-Akoko, Ondo State. His birth was foretold about a century ago by Balogun Okoorun, a great warrior and farmer, who prophesied that from that rustic community would emerge a man who would be powerful, famous and have great followers. Though his biological parents had no inkling about it, his birth was an unusual one as he stayed 14 months in the womb as against the normal nine months. Born June 12, 1963, he was christened Temitope Balogun. He is today better known as Prophet TB Joshua, founder of The Synagogue Church Of All Nations. Years after his birth, and having been prevented by poverty from having tertiary education, Joshua refused to say die and to Lagos, the city of aquatic splendour, he came. There he put into use the raw knowledge in him by being a private home teacher for some rich kids. As if in line with the prophecy of Okoorun at the back of his mind, he was always telling his pupils that one day he would become a great man. Today, he is not just great, he is helping others to achieve greatness. Indeed, Joshua is like the proverbial prophet who is not so much honoured at home but highly esteemed and honoured across the globe, including Europe, Asia and the United States of America. His preaching, which is accompanied with signs and wonders, is criticised by many other men of God on the local scene, but this has not deterred Joshua from doing the work of the Master, Jesus Christ. In short, he has taken the message beyond preaching to providing for the weak, the poor, the rejected and the forsaken. “With the increasing rate of orphans and the needy in the society, the church cannot afford to sit on the fence anymore,” he states. In this interview, the man of God sheds light on how God has been using him to cater for both the physical and the spiritual needs of the people. Excerpts: What are the challenges of being a man of God in a country like Nigeria? Let us put it this way: what are the challenges of being a child of God? Because if you say ‘man of God’, we are being personal. Well, the Bible says we are in the world, but we are not of the world. We are just passing through. I am a stranger here. So, what do you expect of a stranger? We are in a danger zone. The Synagogue Church of All Nations regularly caters for the less privileged. What informed this? The Bible says we will begin to succeed with our lives when the pains and problems of others begin to matter to us. In the book of Philippians 4:12-14, Paul the Apostle said, “I know what it takes to be poor, and what it is to have more than enough. In verse 12, he said, “I have learnt the secret of being disciplined, so I am content,” content in the sense that before you can become what you want to become, you must know what it takes to be poor and what it takes to have more than enough. If you have not tasted poverty, you will not be able to manage blessing when it comes. If you have not tasted humiliation, you will not be able to manage honour when it comes. It is better to say long in the dark so that we can recognise the light when it comes. Also in verse 13, it says, “I can do all things,” which means I have the strength to take care of everything. It is difficult to take care of the poor if we don’t know what it means to be poor. What informed your passion for the needy?
The Bible says, “Watch and pray…” – it means you need to look around before you pray. If there are people who need your help, do whatever you can to give them relief: love them. After this, pray – and your prayers would be answered. I know what it is to be in need. I have once been in this situation, asking for help. I know perfectly well what it means to be in need. I have tasted poverty, humiliation. I suffered dejection, neglect and what have you. But today, I am a product of grace. I do not blame anyone for being poor; I should not blame anyone for being humiliated. The fast runner does not always win the race. How long have you been involved in helping the destitute persons at Okobaba? I have been involved in this project for 17 years. Today, many of these destitute persons that I helped to school, to the glory of God, are graduates. They are well positioned in their various places of work. Recently, one of them called from Kano and said, ‘don’t I know him?’ I asked him to come down to Lagos and when he did, I discovered he was one of those I assisted to school then at Railway Crossing when he was following his father to beg for money. He is a Muslim. He told me that many of them have graduated and are working now. The set of people that were given school uniforms are a different set. You could see that majority of them are of primary school age. There are others, a hundred plus, that are with in the age bracket for secondary schools, and their uniforms have been given to them. When I saw that there is no one to take up this responsibility, I charged myself to do more because there is no amount of price one can pay that is enough. We thank God for the privilege to do this. In a month, we spend between N2 million and N3 million to cater for these people. My appeal to the government is to come to the aid of these people by renovating their habitation at Okobaba and providing more accommodation. The children cannot continue to live there. We cannot do it alone. We need good people, inspired people and other corporate organisations to build a future for these children. There are other projects I have also been involved in. I gave a building to the Muslim College, a school I once attended. There is also the distribution of food items and money for the aged, depending on their conditions and needs. That is also extended to other places outside the country. We begin to succeed with our lives when the pains and problems of others matter to us. The projects that I undertake have helped me not to live a flamboyant life: having fleet of cars, houses and the rest. It would surprise you that I don’t have a car or house of my own. Even the house in my hometown, I have not been able to complete it for the past 10 years. It is not that I don’t have money to build it, but I consider first the needy around me. My own is to eat, sleep and ensure the work of God is going on. There is nothing to be excited about in life. What other plans do you intend to pursue apart from what you are involved in now? I want to have a standard hospital to help the poor and the destitute, build standard schools for the destitute: primary, secondary and the university. I pray that God will give me the grace to do it. In achieving your aim of building schools, are you going to acquire hectares of land and centralise the schools, or the schools would be built around where the students stay? The weak have not hope, but Jesus is their hope. It is not my plan, it is God’s. Man proposes, but God disposes. God will give us the directives to be followed. The whole essence of this is to save our society from hoodlums and other social vices that may result if these people were totally neglected. If you ask armed robbers how they started, you will be shocked at the story of their lives. Your ministry to the aged, how has it been faring? The aged deserve all that can be given to them. Some of them are very old, in their 80s, 90s and 100s. Some have lost their children – no one to cater for them. We have made provision for monthly stipends for the aged. Bags of rice and other food items are distributed to them from time to time. This we have done to play our part in making them enjoy their old age. Not only the aged, we also have widows and dwarfs.
We have paid school fees for many of them and render assistance from time to time. The widows, as well as dwarfs, have special programmes from time to time. The widows, as well as dwarfs, have special programmes in the church to meet their needs. We have been doing this also for many years. Many other men accumulate wealth for the future; here you are spending yours on the people. Are you not scared of the future? I don’t have any money. If I have trillions of Naira today, there would be a trillion people around me to share the money with. I live my life as if there is no tomorrow. I sincerely believe that great man have great habits. This is my habit. I know everybody will give an account of what he or she did on earth. My reason for not being after wealth is because my desire and focus is on my destination. Whatever I am now, whatever I achieve now, I don’t concentrate on it. Therefore, there is no reason for wealth accumulation. Our spiritual walk with God is essential and should be paramount in our heart. It is not every man of God that is into philanthropic gestures such as helping widows, dwarfs and the destitute. What are the things you think men of God should be doing for nation building? Well, a point of correction – I want you to know that every man of God has habits. When you read your Bible, habit is a gift from God. If you are not a copy, you begin to do uncommon things because you take your directives from heaven. It is not what somebody has done before that you begin to do again and again. There is what we call supernatural gift of God and natural gift, and when you look at it, you see that divine wisdom tends to contradict the design of natural events. So, it is not just wisdom in the practical sense of it; it is pure wisdom of God. If you have such wisdom, others can copy; it is not for you to copy. I cannot do anything without the help of the Holy Spirit; I cannot do new things without the help of the Holy Spirit. So, the Holy Spirit teaches us new things. His mercies are new every morning. There is no repetition. We are created to change our world. There is no way we can change our world when we keep repeating what others have done. There will not be new things in the world if all we do is repeat what others have done… I think everyone has a calling. Ours is different from others. The way and manner God executes His plan in our lives differs. If others are not feeding the poor, it does not mean they are not people of God. Can you shed more light on what the church has done in the area of nation building? Like I said, if I begin to tell you all these, then it will look as if I’m boasting. I should not boast in what I am doing for God. I should boast in what God has done for me. Let’s give glory to God and thanks to God! SOURCE: Tell Magazine, No. 52, December 24 2007