One month after death: We miss T.B. Joshua already —Ikotun residents, church members

BARELY one month after the death of the founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua, residents, especially business operators in Ikotun, Lagos where the deceased’s church is located, are already counting their losses.

ON Friday, the curtains were finally drawn on the one-week funeral rites for the founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua, popularly known as T.B. Joshua, with his interment at the church premises.
The funeral activities were not without their cheers and tears, especially on the part of residents of Ikotun in Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State, where the church is located. They lamented that the exit of the cleric has left a huge vacuum in the socio-economic development of the area.

“It would take a lifetime to get over the shock created by the sudden exit of this great man of God. We will miss him sorely. In fact, we miss him already,” said a resident who was part of a crowd that thronged the venue, despite the restrictions imposed on movements in and around the area.

That has been the feeling in the wake of the death of T.B. Joshua. For Mrs Ayoola and a few other female members of the church, it took days before they could come to terms with the death of the man of God.
Her team had in the morning of one Tuesday, a few days after the death of the cleric, gone on the usual self-imposed task of cleaning up the church. That had been the routine every Tuesday when T.B. Joshua was alive. Interestingly, that practice of the women has never gone unnoticed. Besides enjoying the blessings and benevolence of the late cleric, they took delight in leaving the premises of the church cleaner than they met it.

But that particular Tuesday was different. After completing the day’s task of keeping the church and the environments spick and span, they waited at the usual place for the usual gratification that ministered to both body and soul. After waiting for what looked like an eternity, one of the pastors, usually referred to as ‘disciple’, in the church came down, appreciated the women, prayed for them and dispersed them without the usual largesse.
“It was at that point that it dawned on us that ‘Prophet’ had actually died. Normally, besides coming down to share the word with us, and pray for us, after we must have finished, he would make sure that we didn’t leave the church premises empty handed. If it was not cash, it would be bags of rice.

“But last week’s Tuesday was the first time it dawned on us that he’s no longer with us, and that such privileges might no longer come or be long in coming. After waiting for what seemed an eternity, when the day’s task had been accomplished, instead of the prophet coming down, it was one of the disciples that prayed for us, and dispersed us. It was the first time we would leave the place empty handed. It was so unusual. Honestly, we’ll miss him,” she concluded.

Interestingly, the mother of three’s story only captures the sentiments within the church and the various communities in Ikotun, where the church had been in more than three decades.
Petty business owners complained about a sudden drop in patronage, immediately the man passed on. According to them, the usual hustle and bustle the area was noted for had suddenly disappeared, and businesses had started counting their losses already.

Christie, who runs a beauty salon on the street, lamented the sharp decline in patronage immediately the news of the death of the prophet was broken on Sunday, June 6, this year. She was sitting idly, chatting with her friends on the development.
“This place used to be very busy o! Our proximity to the church had been of huge benefits to us, especially we that run petty businesses here. This salon has suddenly become a shadow of its old self, since it was announced the death of the man was announced.

“We just pray that the old times would be brought back, because Prophet T.B. Joshua had been of tremendous benefits to this community,” stated Christie, who hails from Benue, and has been on the street for some years now.
Mrs. Nike Ogunyemi, who runs a provision shop, on the street, also believes the late T.B. Joshua’s passing has created a vacuum, within the community which would be very difficult to fill.

“He was such a nice man. His presence here had been of great economic and social benefits to we residents. There is hardly any business that you embark upon here that would not move, because of the church’s presence, and the founder’s favourable disposition to the people in the community, especially the common man,” she stated.
She also confirmed that the business activities had been a bit quiet since the death of the late prophet.

“The fact remains that these environments were usually a beehive of activities when the man was around. The streets were always besieged by church members and visitors to the church from far and near, especially whenever there were activities going on in the church. But all that has reduced now,” she stated.
Kingsley Chinedu runs a cosmetics shop on the street, too. He shares a similar story of his business suffering a setback, immediately the man in the Synagogue died.

“I wasn’t around when this happened. But it was when I came back, and saw the situation on ground that I realized his death would have grave consequences for us here, but I know God would see us through,” he stated.
When asked by Newmen of the difference the demise of the Synagogue Church’s founder would make to residents and businesses in the area, Chinedu simply replied that ‘When he was around, we did sell more than this. His death has affected businesses in the area because most of the people that were coming then to patronise us, were coming because of him and the church.”

Mrs. Salami, a muslim, also lives on Adekunjo Street. But for her, sharing a different religious sentiment with the late prophet, is not really an issue, while discussing the life and times of the Akoko-born prophet. For the SCOAN’s founder was simply a good man, ‘who derived joy in helping the people’.
According to him, the late prophet never discriminated on the basis of religion.
“We all benefitted from his large heart largesse, especially during festive periods. He would give us rice or cash during Christmas despite knowing that some of us belonged to other religions.

“I tell you if we had two or three individuals like him in Lagos, the level of poverty being experienced here would not be as high. The communities would even be crime-free. He was generous to a fault,” stated Mrs. Salami.
Mama Adama, a trader in Ikotun Market, strange as it sounds, still believes the late prophet would come out ‘soon’ to refute the news of his death, since the man was too nice to have died suddenly.

According to the Delta State- born woman a lot of people in Ikotun market, benefitted immensely from the generosity of the man, who she would prefer to call ‘Synagogue’.
“We have started missing him. Look at the whole place now, (point to the street), no life again since this man died. You know many of us had been looking forward to that June 12 date of his birthday, before fate played a cruel one on us. You know, ironically, on that day, while others in his shoes would be expecting gifts from the people, he was always giving out gifts on such occasion.

“For instance, on that date, the widows, the handicapped, the needy and other less privileged in the community usually gathered at the church’s premises to felicitate with him. And he would make sure he attended to them. He was so good to us and the people in the community,” she added.
Adama insists one of those things she would miss about the late prophet would be the periodic gifts he normally doled out on those special occasions.

She added that those into logistics business would also miss the man of God, because the activities of the church usually provided opportunities for even landlords and tenants, in the area, to make brisk businesses, especially when the hotels in the vicinity had been fully booked.
“Some landlords will quickly create a space in the building and rent them out to make quick money,” Adama stated.

Checks within the communities also revealed that tenants in the area normally targeted such periods. Interestingly, one does not have to be in hospitality business to make money during such times.
“Some landlords would quickly clear some of the extra rooms in their buildings and rent them out during such times. Some tenants also did that, too” said a resident who would not want his name in print.
Mr Suberu Bello, the Manager of Cross Country Motors, located on Ikotun Isolo Road, believes T.B. Joshua’s death has started taking its toll on transportation business in the area.

“In the past, this place (referring to the company’s premises) used to be jam-packed, especially when he organised crusades or Sunday services. You know such programmes would attract foreigners and people from within the city and other parts of the country. People coming for these activities would surely patronise us. People coming from Uyo, Calabar, Kano, Sokoto, Jos, name them, coming for these programmes. We have already started missing him. But the fact remains that when it comes to the work of God, it continues, and things would move up,” he added.

Business operators in the area are hoping that the lull in the socio-economic activities in the area is only a passing moment.
THE interment service of late popular cleric and renowned televangelist, Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua, fondly known as TB Joshua, on Friday, was filled with celebration and emotions as a large number of dignitaries and followers could not control their emotions as he was laid to rest at the church premises in Lagos.

The seven hours event was graced by people from all walks of life and delegates from several countries and races. They converged on the Synagogue Church of all Nations (SCOAN), Ikotun, Lagos State, to celebrate and pay last respect to the deceased.
Ondo State governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN); Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, represented by the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Prince Olanrewaju Elegushi; the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, represented by his wife, Olori Naomi, were among dignitaries that graced the event.

Other dignitaries at the event include HRM, King Willard Mswati Gomani from Malawi; Pastor Robert Acosta from Argentina; President, Economic Centre for Peace, Israel, Mr Ayoob Kara; Bishop Steven Ogedengbe from Ondo State and Bishop Trevor Williamson from the Bahamas.
In his tribute, Akeredolu described TB Joshua as a proud and dear son of Ondo State, who is a gift to the world, adding “I am proud to be here in person to honour our dear son because he came from us and he is a gift to the world. Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua, the people of Ondo State, Nigeria have lost a rare gem.

“He is a special breed, a worthy citizen and a true son of Ondo State. His passing is indeed a great loss not only to us as a people in Ondo State or his town in Arigidi-Akoko, but a loss to humanity. “He is a man of humble beginnings. The indelible print and impact of TB Joshua are visible not only in Ondo State but in several parts of Nigeria and throughout the world. No wonder this is a world congregation. “I am not too sure that we have had the world congregated of this number from different countries in many of such services and probably that of Nelson Mandela, but the world is more represented here than when Mandela was buried.

Indeed, he was acknowledged globally today.” Akeredolu also noted that the cleric contributed greatly in uplifting the downtrodden, especially in Ondo, and also touched lives economically and spiritually and also contributed greatly to the emancipation of the underprivileged, widows, orphans, and special people and even touched the lives of the privileged. He said he (Akeredolu) was a beneficiary of his philanthropic gestures. “He was not born with a silver spoon, but according to the facts I gathered from his peers, he was a special man. He was special from birth and has been performing miracles maybe unconsciously from his primary school days. Perhaps that could have been a reason for his great adventure that we are all witnessing today,” he added.

In his tribute, Sanwo-Olu noted that TB Joshua ran a purposeful race and was intentional about his pastoral ministry, just as he on behalf of the Lagos State government commiserated with the widow, Pastor Evelyn Joshua, the children, family, and the church at large, while he prayed that they will feel God’s love and find comfort over the loss.

“I choose to dwell on his phenomenal impacts across the world. His demise will be certainly remembered in the chronicles of the Synagogue Church of All Nation as a significant occurrence that saw his losing his amiable leader, a visionary prophet, and a general in God’s army.

“We should, however, celebrate the life of this global evangelist who emulated Apostle Paul by fighting the good fight of faith, by completing his race and tenaciously keeping the faith until God called him home. His life is worthy of emulation. His story is inspirational. His love for God and humanity made a difference.

“He lived with the common man, but became an uncommon minister. He was a man from a humble beginning who never forgot his roots even after he became a renowned preacher and a global evangelist; he still identified with the poor, fed the widows, and played the role of a father to many orphans. We must perpetuate his legacies by keeping the faith alive.
“I urge all Christians to adopt TB Joshua’s spirit of dedication, love, and sacrifice which endeared him to his members and indigents. He fulfilled destiny by living for others.

“His life should encourage us to renew our hope in Christ, our love for others, and our faith in Nigeria. We must be determined to make Nigeria our pride among other nations with unity, peace, and progress as our watchword. Prophet TB Joshua’s charitable deeds and love for humanity should open our eyes to the possibility of a world where we all live in pace regardless of racial or religious differences,” he stated.

© Tribune

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