By Ninyo Omidiji
When it comes to deception, he was the master of it. I kid you not.
When it comes to cunning craftiness, no one came close to him among the false prophets that have walked the soil of Africa. This is the reason why some who have been my friends in this space are going to be jolted by my writing of him.
His deceptive activities escaped the eagle 🦅 eye of many well meaning Christians who claim to fight deception and manipulation in the church.
When it comes to branding, or what is called “packaging” in colloquial parlance, he simply carried the cake 🍰. In spite of the fact that he was poorly lettered, his ability to evolve, to package and repackage himself to a sellable brand appears to be second to none on this divide of the Sahara.
Many of his followers and admirers will fight “tooth and nail” to prove he was a prophet sent by God. No surprises. By the kind of grip he had and still has on them, they are unable to think otherwise. They will, as a matter of fact, fight anyone who thinks their prophet was false.
By the way, when it comes to the supernatural, TB Joshua was one man who operated in it. He didn’t just start “yesterday”. No! When he was operating from a shrine like a voodoo priest or an unmistakable native doctor back in the days, the supernatural attended to him. At the time, he did not pretend to be a Christian. He was just doing his own thing and attracted his own kind. For those who started following him less than 20 years ago, what you knew was a well repackaged TB Joshua. At the time you knew him, he had been transformed and repackaged to appeal to the larger Christian community. When he did, his acceptability soared significantly.
It is not as if we haven’t seen Voodoo priests who got transformed after an encounter with Christ Jesus before. Hoardes of them have come to know Christ. But when they do, they would clearly renounce the past and expose such works of darkness. No serious minded Christian will argue against this position. No one that I know could tell when TB Joshua had an encounter with Christ. Ask him when he met Christ and he would tell you it was from his mother’s womb. This does not sound like someone who knew the first things about the Christian faith.
All we saw was that he transformed and started running what was called a church. Should anyone know or have any evidence of him renouncing darks arts openly, he should please send us a link to prove it. We shall be waiting for it.
During his transition, he was one of those few “prophets” who popularised what was popularly called Chrislam (a mixture of Christianity and Islam). This should not be surprising because he was a Muslim by birth. He used Qur’anic citations copiously and Bible verses scantily and engaged in all sorts of native rituals to initiate spiritual phenomena. Some of my readers might not have heard of “Chrislam” before. He practiced it openly. It was televised for a while back in the days when he was still learning the ropes.
However, this coincided with the period Penticostal movement was gaining traction and sweeping across the continent of Africa in the mid-late 90s. And as a smart man that he was, he knew the practice of Chrislam would not gain a wide acceptance. He quickly changed from wearing Jalabiya to wearing three-piece suits and carrying Bible in the late 90s.
Have you ever wondered why he had no obvious close interactions with the Penticostal papas and the “who-is-who” in the charismatic circle in Nigeria and Africa at large? It was largely because many of them knew the history of how he evolved and they couldn’t point to anytime that he renounced his dark arts. Do I blame them? No , I don’t! Did anyone of them call him out? Very few did. Arguably, the most prominent among them was pastor Chris Okotie. Details of what transpired is outside the scope of this write-up.
“And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
2 Corinthians 11:14-15 KJV
Time and space would fail me to chronicle all the tactics that TB Joshua employed to gain prominence and become the darling of many churchgoers. However, I will attempt to enumerate a few.
1. The supernatural: Most humans are gullible when they see supernatural happenings. They don’t care where it comes from. Believers in Christ are also not spared. They lower their guards. They tend to think that all supernatural phenomena are from God. This is why many “babalawos” who are capable of a few magical acts and who could see spiritual phenomena now wear jackets and carry Bibles. I can tell you for free that there are many sorcerers who currently operate churches today, having crowds of worshippers following….. They even preach in the name of Jesus.
In Acts 8 from verse 9, Simon the sorcerer was not actually known as a sorcerer until Philip showed up in Samaria with the gospel of Christ. He was popularly known as “the great power of God”. He amazed the entire city with magic. He was a wonder to behold. Both small and great in the city of Samaria ate from his palms. The true gospel brings light and exposes darkness. The fact that this truth about TB Joshua was hidden to many, including christocentric believers, suggests to me that something is amiss with our gospel.
2. The media: One of the ways TB Joshua warmed his way into the hearts of many Christians was through the generous use of the media. Only a few men could compete with the synagogue when it comes to using the power of the media to shape or launder the image of TB Joshua. The propaganda was intentional and well calculated. He knew that people love to see dramatic manifestations. Hence, aggressively, he televised deliverance manifestations and healing sessions, some of which he had with celebrities (who are natural influencers and image makers) that he had intentionally invited over to come receive healings.
Many cases of televised and celebrated healing at the synagogue eventually died quietly in their various homes and countries of abode. There were cancer and HIV/AIDS patients who abandoned treatment after an acclaimed healing at the synagogue only to die few weeks later. However, TB Joshua already televised their healings and “took the shine”. Some of these things made it to the media but their voices were drowned in the larger-than-life image of the prophet. If you did not know this, then, you have not been paying attention.
Furthermore, I am a medical practitioner and quite a number of my patients have had contact with the synagogue. The manipulation and the deception were real. I know patients who were deceived that they were healed, asked to drop their medications and then, they relapsed.
Should I also talk about his failed prophesies? I could count 5 among them straight up but I think it won’t be necessary. I have come to terms with the fact that many who are firmly in the grip of false prophets often give excuses for their failed prophesies as against biblical injunction that asked us to call them out as false.
3. Philanthropy: I have seen TB Joshua made a show of charity in a manner that is unparalleled in religious circles. For the undiscerning, it would be enough to capture their hearts and excuse all his shenanigans. Many Christians have fallen flat for this. while charity works is laudable as far as the Christian faith is concerned, there’s a “how” to it. Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of his days for making a show of charity works. But today, we celebrate them.
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.
Matthew 6:1-4 NKJV
In my view, there are clear red flags any believer in Christ can pick so as to not fall for falsehood carefully disguised as truth. There are basic things we should not have to keep reminding a believer in Christ. This is one of them. Personally, I take good gestures done for the optics with a pinch of salt. They are simply done for personal aggrandisement. I did not say so. Jesus said so.
4. Modesty: when stacked up against the ostentatious lifestyle of the bigwigs in church circles, the modest demeanor of TB Joshua could hold you spell-bound. For a man who was an institution of some sort; who single-handedly attracted so much businesses and foreigners to the Ikotun-Egbe axis of Lagos state and turned it to a Mecca of some sort, seeing video clips of him relating with the poor and the disabled and carrying out menial works around his church premises would naturally endear you too him. By so doing, TB Joshua won the admiration of many. However, what many forget is that all these things were done for the optics. Otherwise, cameras should not have been be there to start with. Jesus said:
“Be careful of false prophets. They come to you and look gentle like sheep. But they are really dangerous like wolves.
Matthew 7:15 ICB.
These four things that I enumerated above are among the factors that have shielded TB Joshua from both public scrutiny and spiritual discernment by believers. By the way, you could hardly catch him teach what one can call a controversial or false doctrine because, practically, when it comes to doctrine, he taught nothing. He only played to the gallery, Saying a few good words here and there. You could not be a child of God who is truly hungry for God’s word and sit under his ministration for long.
Additionally, there are a number of scandalous things about TB Joshua but I will not go there. It is not my call. I stick with the basics or the fundamentals. You can wait for the next few weeks or months when people who had been afraid to talk about their personal experiences when he was alive would show up with their tales. Never forget that some in the past brought up their accusations but they were carpeted. The man TB Joshua was too powerful, influencial and connected in this country to not influence the justice system. He probably would have gone the way of the notorious Reverend King.
Now, to those among us who think it is uncharitable to write about the dead, I do not share your sentiment one bit. I don’t know where you got such an idea from. Check your Bible. The books of Chronicles and Kings simply chronicled the life and time of men and women, whether they did well and goofed. The book of judges did the same thing about the prophets and judges. Why have you not challenged the Bible writers for writing about the dead? I do not understand this philosophical nonsense of not talking about the dead. It is rooted in nothing but deception and patently hypocritical. Besides, we see some of you write teachings making references to Paul, Judas Iscariot, Philip, Stephen, Ahab etc from the Bible. How come you did not feel it’s uncharitable to write about them? Are they not dead? Additionally, I do not believe in deodorising the dead. Death does not confer sainthood on anyone. If you were not a saint while alive, you would not be one when you are gone. Let’s get over this business.
There are also people who think they can blackmail us into an ungodly silence by saying “let the dead rest”. I would not know the meaning of such a statement. How are we keeping your dead restless? I’m sometimes inclined to ask where people get all these things from.
Furthermore, there are people who suddenly remember the word “compassion” when their favourite idol dies? Personally, I do not think they actually know the meaning of compassion. If they knew, they would be shouting at rooftops to deliver people who are trapped in satanic enclaves carefully disguised as house of God. They would be concerned for all the “Peters” that have been robbed to pay “Paul” in a showmanship disguised as charity works. They would be concerned for people who have lost their personal freedom because they signed up to be disciples of a prophet somewhere. They would be concerned for families who have lost their children to a religious organisation that had an uncanny hold on their lives. They would be concerned for those families who have lost their wards to sicknesses due to deceptive and manipulative practices of their prophet who wanted to make a name for himself.
And to those of you who would want to threaten me with death, your threats carry no weight. Zil! It’s even borne of complete ignorance and lack of insight on your part. Everyone dies! Your prophet just died for crying out loud. It’s a sign you were poorly taught by your prophet. You are in no position to threaten no one. Besides, have you heard of eternal life before? A man in Christ is not afraid of death. Selah!
Friends, I have taken time to document my unpopular position to raise an awareness that there are false prophets among us who are being celebrated as angels of light. This time, I am not talking about people who have testimonies of conversion but along the line got entangled in false teachings. Rather, I’m talking about those who never met with Christ, and who never changed their ways but changed their garments to appear like angels of light. I’m talking about those who use dark arts to hold worshippers spell-bound. I’m writing about those who learn Christian clichés and demeanor to appear like sheep while, inwardly, they are ravenous wolves. They are everywhere, all over the world and all over the continent of Africa. They are in Nigeria. They run an inner caucus reminiscent of a brutal master-servant relationship. While they win awards as deliverers all over the world, they are real time captors of many in their enclaves.
May God deliver their captives. May the light of God shine bright in them so they can find true freedom that is in Christ Jesus.
Before you get it twisted, I did not hate TB Joshua. It is my hope that he eventually met with Christ before he passed to the great beyond. So, kindly spare me your “judge not” mantra. I am a firm believer in the fact that there will be surprises in heaven. Afterall, the thief on the cross made a decision for Christ in his last few minutes of life.
However, I am not a friend of deception in any form. “Have nothing to do with the fruitless work of darkness; rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11)
It is a new day!
– Ninyo Omidiji