his first, second and third churches, drowned in flood waters.
In contrast to those humble beginnings, today’s Synagogue Church of All Nations is an intimidating edifice that has become one of the world’s biggest tourist destinations! If there is anything I have learnt from the story of Pastor Joshua, my interactions with the prophet and his church, it is the humility and faithfulness of God Almighty Himself, towards those that maintain abiding faith in Him, in the face of all odds. This is what Prophet TB Joshua always teaches: “Of all graces, FAITH honours Christ the most; of all graces, Christ honours FAITH the most.”
Those who today want to give Christianity a highfaluting image and discriminate against their fellow men either do not know, or simply forget its humble beginnings. The cross, the banner under which all of Christendom gathers derives from an ancient mystical symbol, which many may refer to as (sorry for that derogatory word) pagan.
The Celtic cross, a religious symbol seen all over Britain, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, has a long history that presages Christianity itself. Its four arms are interpreted as the four elements of earth, wind, water and fire. It also represents the four directions of the compass – north, south, east, west – and the four parts of man – mind, soul, heart, and body.
This is also the basis of the Jewish Tetragrammaton, represented by the Hebrew letters, Yod, He, Vau, He, with the last He, bearing a dot, symbolising completion, just like the shoot of a dormant seed. Those four Hebrew letters, together, spell out Yahuvah, or Jehovah, the elements that emanated from the Divine Essence at the point of Creation, as documented in the first chapter of Genesis. I had written extensively about this in the past and the correlation between this Biblical account of the beginning of space-time and the Quantum Theory in particle physics is indeed amazing!
One and the same concept runs through most major mystical-religious concepts of all civilisations, worldwide, from ancient, so-called primitive African and Amerindian cultures, to Indo-Chinese, European and Arabic cultures and more. This universal symbolism is seen in the Popol Vuh, the Holy Book of the Quiche Maya of South America. It is the Yin and Yang of Taoist China, also symbolised by the Dance of Shiva, in the Indian Sanskrit.
Back here, in Africa, this same symbolism is seen in the ancient drawings of the Dogon of Mali, as it is in Ghana’s Adinkra culture. It is the Creation Snake that Wole Soyinka talks about in his “Idanre and Other Poems”, which the Igbo celebrate in the New Yam festival, the basis of their four market days and their lunar calendar, depicted by the Uli motif of the kola nut head.
Ancient Egyptians equally celebrated the feast of Eostre in honour of the goddess of fertility and the endless cycles of the death of winter and the birth of spring. The Romans borrowed the same practice and baptised it Saturnalia. It is this very old belief, depicted by the image of the Egyptian Ankh or the Crux Ansata, which found its way into Judaeo-Christian theology, that the first Christians adopted and celebrated as Easter, directly borrowing its name from the goddess: “Unless the grain falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies it brings forth much fruit.” (John 12:24).
To think that the symbol of the very basis of the Christian faith, the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary and the power of New Life in the Risen Christ, had its humble beginnings in the faiths of peoples we would now rather turn up our noses at, as pagans, is a lesson in God’s own humility and mysterious but wise ways. It teaches us never to look down on anybody but rather, to embrace all. From the high priests of quantum physics, to the lowly African chief priests and sages, to our modern, “funky pastors”, we should have nothing but respect for our fellow man, for it is only God Himself who can tell who worships Him in truth and in spirit.
This is another major lesson that Pastor Joshua teaches everyone with his unique ministry. At the Synagogue Church, you find people of all races and creeds. You find the very rich and the very poor, the homeless, beggars, everybody, side-by-side. You even find grandmasters of the occult that have come to receive deliverance. Nobody discriminates against anybody and people are actually encouraged after receiving their healing, to go back to their respective churches or mosques.
I am yet to see this in other Pentecostal churches and this ecumenism, I believe, is the message of Christ’s mission while on earth.
It is absolutely impossible for a man to be ‘upright’ and ‘evil’ at the same time, just like we are yet to see one who I tall and short all at once. Also, while we may not be able to easily fathom the machinations of the human mind, we can see a man’s actions and hear his utterances.
We can therefore reasonably gauge an individual’s personality from his traits and utterances or what we may generally call his or her character from the consistency with which those tendencies would have persisted over the years. If a man has maintained a certain stance all his life, it would indeed be difficult, if not impossible, to ‘learn an old dog new tricks’ as the Americans would say. “Even so, every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit… a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit… “(Matthew 7:17-18)
It could thus be inferred that those who indulge in running down Prophet TB Joshua do not seem to have seriously pondered nature and the several basic principles that govern it. Their reason for criticising that which they apparently do not understand, appears to be either simple ignorance or sheer malice.
All of these people that bandy false tales about the man and his church have apparently never been to The Synagogue Church to investigate the rumours they have heard. Anybody who does so, or even merely follows the activities of the church, beamed to audiences worldwide through Emmanuel TV, would see the glaring truth. No evil man would be capable of faking the personality of Prophet Joshua – his self-denials, his love for man and nature, his charitable disposition, his prophecies and healing and the fact that he does them in the name of Jesus Christ – and above all, his highly inspired interpretation of the Gospel.
Like I have said here before, apart from his amazing miracles, two striking qualities mark Pastor Joshua out as you encounter him are his disarming humility and childlike simplicity, as well as the depth of wisdom in his preaching and interpretation of the Bible.
The man’s entire life is a study in humility. Despite his enormous capabilities, you sometimes even catch him in excitement as he himself watches with the rest of the congregation when some of these miracles happen. He would often remind you that he is only a medium of communication, a servant. “I am not the healer, but I know the healer: Jesus Christ is the Healer.”
Down to even his private life, I doubt if there is any PFN pastor in this country who can meet the very high standard of discipline that Prophet Joshua has set for himself, for all to see. The man lives right inside his church and hardly step out of the premises because 24 hours, seven days a week, he is always available to thousands of people that throng the Synagogue Church from all over the world – the sick, the distressed, the widowed, the poor, everybody, people with all kinds of personal and communal problems, even financial problems.
Only last week while I was with him, his aides came to tell him that a batch of over 100 South African who he had hurriedly spent all day ministering to so they could return home, had missed their flight. They were caught in the notorious Isolo traffic. When he told me he would have to cater for these people fro two days, I was surprised – but that’s the kindness of the man we are talking about. At first, I could see he was a little disturbed, but then he shrugged it all off in his usual ‘God will provide’ manner.
Instead of collecting and amassing fortunes like those who accuse him of evil, Joshua the pastor, the father figure, keeps giving away. If that man were after money and the material things of this world, I doubt if any human being alive today would be half as rich as he could get, given the capabilities of a man with his healing powers and ability to prophesy for the whole wide world as well as individuals, with pinpoint accuracy.
On one particular occasion, I had been at The Synagogue Church all day, going through archival material at the Emmanuel TV studios while waiting to see him. There were hundreds of visitors from around the country and the world over, with various pressing needs to whom he must minister, individually. He still eventually made out time to see me quite later in the night, with his usual apologies.
When I returned the following day to continue my work where I stopped, he was already down in his office. When I asked after the army of visitors of the previous day, I was told he saw them all and only retired to his private quarters by about 7am! This kind of timetable is routine for a man who has no life of his own. When I expressed shock when I first found out where he lives, he resignedly asked me: ‘Where do you want me to leave my people and go?’
In his tiny office that may not even be big enough for the personal assistants of some of our ‘funky pastors’, the prophet, too busy to even stand up sometimes, eats his meals, prepared from the same source that he serves – even street beggars. The man who lives by example is yet to outgrow the standard he set for himself in the very early years of his ministry when he had to do