Examining BBC’s Expose on Prophet T. B Joshua
By: Deji Yesufu
In April 2012, I was in Tunis, Tunisia, for a training from my place of work. Ten engineers from different countries in Africa had been picked by an organization to be trained in the use of a particular machine. The only lady among us was from Zimbabwe. One conversation I remember having with this lady was one where she asked me about Prophet T. B. Joshua. I was a bit surprised by this question, given that T. B. Joshua is about the last cultural icon that Nigerian would wish to sell to the world. But that question revealed one thing to me: Joshua, in his lifetime, carried out an aggressive marketing scheme among people from southern Africa and the man reaped a fortune in the process. I told this lady that while Joshua was indeed a preacher in Nigeria, he was a rather controversial figure who enjoyed very little acceptance among fellow Christians in Nigeria. There was too much darkness around his kind of ministry and it was safer if one kept one’s distance from him. I lost touch with that lady after that trip and I sure hope she never wasted her resources coming to Nigeria to see T. B. Joshua.
Yesterday, 8th January, 2024, the BBC published a three-part video on Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua, and also a blog. The investigations were thorough, taking no less than three years. The revelations were immense with allegations of sexual, physical, and verbal abuse; rape; abduction; bribery; arson; and cover-up. The videos revealed happenings on the 12th of September, 2014, at the Synagogue, Joshua’s Church, when a guest house, housing numerous foreigners, collapsed, and which led to the death of 115 people – most of whom where foreigners. The videos also unveiled the person of Ajoke, a product of one of Joshua’s illicit affairs, but whom he poured so much venom and hate on, that it is impossible to imagine that that girl made it out alive from Synagogue. If anyone wishes to know the making of a cult, you must see these videos. Those of us who are ministers and are in danger of controlling God’s people in the name of compelling obedience to God, should look at those videos and learn the things we ought to do and the limits God has put on us for ministry. Then there were the hundreds of girls, many of them foreigners, who lived at the Synagogue as Joshua’s disciples – some of them staying there for as long as twenty years. The penchant to call him “Daddy” – in fact, I think that following this video, churches should outlaw the calling of any man “Daddy” – who is not one’s biological father. The thing is being abused. Then the abortion mill – how Joshua abuses these girls sexually and then force them to abort the moment they are pregnant. The starvation and sleep deprivation were another thing entirely.
In this article, I want to share three thoughts essentially: there is nothing new that the BBC uncovered on Joshua. Second: the moment you call a man a prophet, you open yourself up to all kinds of deception. Finally, within so much falsehood and deception, there is truth.
There is Nothing New in the BBC Expose. Two individuals who had worked with T. B. Joshua, Agomoh Paul and Bisola were in the video. The two of them had left Joshua’s organization with the commitment to exposing the man to the world. Joshua had sought to discredit them and, in some cases, allegedly tried to kill them. These two individuals have published videos and evidence against Joshua; but the might of Joshua’s resources and influence silenced them. Besides these two, the Nigerian Christian community has never warmed up to T. B. Joshua. Joshua had sought to join the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) to gain some legitimacy with the Nigerian Christian public. Every effort he made to do this was thwarted on the grounds that the leaders of both CAN and PFN could not trace Joshua’s roots. No one knows where he is from exactly. He had no educational records, nor did he have any mentor in ministry. He appeared to have suddenly emerged on the Nigerian Christian stage, and his manner of ministry, when observed carefully, was no different from the ones that Shamans in India employed. So, while no one could find clear-cut proofs against Joshua’s ministry, there were also too many doubts around his methods. In 2006, Rev. Chris Okotie, the musician turned pastor, alleged that Joshua had been appearing in his bedroom, threatening his life, because he, Okotie, made Joshua’s association with Chris Oyakhilome public. That matter created a little furore in the Nigerian public scene then, and the Lagos State Commissioner of Police had to invite the two individuals to his office and sort an amicable settling of the matters. In summary, there is nothing new that the BBC said on Joshua. They simply used the credibility of their own platform to relay allegations on T. B. Joshua; allegations which are already in the public space.
The Dangers of Believing in a Prophet Today. In most religions, the office of a prophet is an exalted one. He is only one step below Almighty God. Islam regards Prophet Mohammed as the last of a series of prophets that God sent to the world. Orthodox Christians hold that Jesus Christ is the last prophet God sent into the world, while Christ’s apostles are the last set of people to bring divine revelation to our world. Regardless of what you and I believe, the moment you open yourself to believing that prophets exist today, you open yourself to fresh revelations from heaven. The dangers, however, is that while time has proven the veracity of Mohammed’s prophethood for Muslims, and similarly proven that Christ is the last prophet for Christians, the life of prophets of today is still being played out and only time will tell whether these men are true or not. Biblically, a prophet is regarded as true if his prophetic declarations come to pass one hundred percent of the time (Deuteronomy 18:22). If a prophet gets all prophecies right and fails in one, he is a false prophet. Even more still, as we are seeing with T. B. Joshua, the outcome of a man’s life will determine whether he was a true prophet or a false one. Following these allegations, whoever still thinks Joshua is a prophet, will remain deceived forever. One thing is clear: the safest position to take in religion today is to regard no man as prophet – because sincerely there are no more prophets. To believe there are still new prophets today is to open ourselves to new revelations which will certainly be false revelations.
Distinguishing Truth from Falsehood. Biblically, the one true prophet is Jesus Christ. Before the coming of Christ, God sent many prophets to Israel. The greatest of these prophets was Moses. Moses gave Israel, and by extension, humanity, the ten commandments. Moses also laid out for God’s people what the primary calling of a prophet would be: “The Lord your God will raise for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear… ‘I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him’” (Deuteronomy 18:15,18). God is saying here that when the prophet arrives, he will cause God’s people to hear God, and he would lead them to obey God’s commands. In other words, the primary duty of a prophet is not necessarily prophecy; the primary duty of a prophet is teaching God’s people God’s ways and guiding them on the path of obedience. In this passage, the prophet Moses is referring to is Jesus Christ. And when we examine the ministry of Christ, you see these two emphases: teaching and a call to obedience. Despite Jesus being a prophet, most of what he did was to teach people; while on very rare occasions, he gave prophecies. Also, a cursory look at Old Testament prophets will reveal that these men were continually calling God’s people to obedience and teaching the nations the ways of God. Prophecy was usually a last resort: a kind of warning of the consequences of disobeying God.
That leaves us with a fact: the true prophet today is not the person who gives New Year declarations; or, the pastor who stands at his pulpit, declaring good on people – calling it prophecies. The true prophet is the person who teaches the word of God – this is the reason the Bible calls false prophets false teachers (2 Peter 2:1). The minister who labours to give sense to scriptures and guides the people of God towards obedience is the true prophet. It is the reason why prophecy, biblically, is regarded as forthtelling and foretelling. Foretelling is prophecy; forthtelling is teaching. Both are the calling of a prophet. So, because the best of ministers today are still sinful men, whose minds are affected by the subjectivity of their own thoughts, it is best not to regard any man at all as a prophet. It is best not to regard any statement as prophecy – because the best of foretelling will still fail. However, it is my experience in ministry and my observation of years of historic preaching, that those ministers who spend time to teach God’s people the ways of God and help them to obey God, they, sometimes, have these very rare occasions when they say things that could amount to prophecies. For a long time, in America, for example, Christian ministers have been warning of the decline of the USA because of that nation’s imbibing liberal tenets. So that the emergence of China and Russia on the world stage today is not a surprise to many. If America does not repent of her sins, it will someday return to hunt her – her sins will someday dethrone her. This is a prophecy that will come to pass – sooner or later.
Conclusion. T. B. Joshua, like Old Roger in the nursery rhyme, is dead and has gone to his grave… he is today answering to his sins before a holy God. Biblically, hell has parts – there are some parts that burn hotter than others. Joshua, if these allegations are true, is today in the hottest parts of hell. Why? Because he used a veritable tool that God has given humanity, preaching, to save men from sin… he used this for his own personal lust, pursuit of fame, and self-aggrandizement. In the process of doing this, he left a trail of destroyed lives. The hundreds of his children that were aborted by those ladies are today crying into his ears, calling for his eternal burning. I would not be surprised if Joshua is in a worse part of hell than Hitler.
Jesus would tell us to “remember Lot’s Wife”. God’s words to us, following the BBC expose on Joshua, is to remember T. B. Joshua. While Joshua may stand as an extreme in this whole business of religion, there are others who are continually defrauding people in the name of Jesus: your judgement will not be any less than that of Temitope Balogun Joshua. The call to Christian ministry is an exalted one. Teachers will be judged more severely because we have been given so much opportunity to know and also practice what we preach. Let us keep Joshua on the extreme left of an example of what a minister should never do in Christian ministry. While we keep another “Joshua” – Jeshua – Jesus, on the extreme right of what we must all pursue to do in ministry.
May God grant his people ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.
Deji Yesufu is the author of the book HUMANITY.