Many people have expressed concerns about what happens to the Synagogue Church of all Nations following the demise of its founder, Prophet TB Joshua. Franktalknow.com digs out this interview with Saturday Punch, where the prophet spoke about what his daughter, a law graduate with PhD from Harvard, would do when she returned to Nigeria. He also cleared the air on myriads of controversies surrounding his person and ministry. Excerpts: People say that you are very humble despite your popularity, how do you achieve this?
If you have passed through what I have passed through, you will even be more humble than I am.
Things that can make people to be humble. You just think of it. I have good health and God shows me what I would have been in terms of sickness and death; it humbles me and I want to use my good health for him. At times, God shows me how people are suffering and the thought that it could have been me keeps me humble. For instance, if I did anything wrong during this interview, when you may have left, God will caution me. If I am not humble, I will be out of track. If I was not in the house of God, I would be one of the touts in the motor parks (the Agberos)
Why is it that your ministry seems to be more popular outside Nigeria than in Nigeria?
I want to offer the same prayer for you: that God should make you more popular outside your country than in your country. Let other countries introduce you to your country. I think that is better. As it is written in the Bible, a prophet has no honour in his country. I am not an evangelist or a pastor, I am a prophet. It is the word prophet that was used in that scriptural passage, not evangelist or so. If my people had understood the work from the beginning, it could have affected the glory of God in my life today. If people understand your vision from the beginning, you may not go far. It is better they don’t, they will understand later and by then, you would have been very strong and God would have strengthened your desire. Praises and adoration can make you a local champion.
Where are the people that Nigerians praised from the beginning? I can mention some – even men of God, who are no longer living today, so many founders – CAC, Cherubim and Seraphim, Church of the Lord and so on. We should get this understanding that those who were local champions in the past did not reach international recognition. Look beyond the ministry job to the secular world, was it Nigeria that introduced Prof. Wole Soyinka to the world? But when he became a Nobel Laureate, he became more powerful; when he talks, everyone wants to listen. Whereas there were some other local champions that even when they were dying, nobody took their news to CNN. They don’t know them. God has a way of raising people by throwing the image to the international community. Even the footballers that are notable became acceptable to Nigerians when they belong to international clubs. I may not be accepted by some people in Nigeria but my acceptance in the world has been announcing me to my world. When you look at the people working with me, you see that the ratio of Nigerians working with me is not more than 10 per cent.
What is the special attraction that brings heads of government to synagogue?
You have said it all, where there is demand, there is supply and in that place, there would be enough anointing to do the work. God will not allow people to go to a place where there is no supply. It is not possible. I observe that if three chairs are added to this church today, you suddenly find people filling it and if four are removed, it is just the number of people that will fill the chairs that will come. I have studied that from the beginning. Sometimes when I see some ministries printing handbills, using signboards to advertise the church, I say those things are not necessary.
God is the one inviting people, if you allow him to do it, the solution to their problems will be waiting for them. But if you take it upon yourself to do the advertisement, people that God is not expecting will come along with them and there will be crisis and trouble. You just continue doing your work and leave the advert for God, then those that God didn’t invite will not come and there will be peace and tranquillity. You should not go out to start saying ‘I can heal, I can deliver.’
At synagogue, our critics are our advertisement. They are people that don’t want to hear about us. They tell other people that ‘that church is devilish;’ unknowingly, some of the people they tell get inquisitive and they will want to come here and see what a devil looks like since they haven’t seen one before. God has been using this as advertisement for us. Ninety per cent of people who come here do so in the bid to come and verify what they had heard about this church. When some of them get here, they will sit at the back, fearing that they could be hurt. Some put on dark glasses or disguise in a way that will not allow people that know them to recognise them. But before the service is over, some of them will pick up their bags and move to the front seats. They eventually become my prayer warriors.
Let me tell you something that amazes me and that I always thank God for – those who are with me are more than those that are against me. They keep supporting me all over the world. I have more, more, more people around the world. Whenever I say this, tears flow from my eyes (sobs for a while). These are tears of joy. I get so sad when I hear people’s confession when their eyes become open to what God is doing here. Some say, ‘I wish I had known this, my mum would not have died. She asked me to bring her here but because of what I was hearing about this place, I refused until she died. I hope that she will forgive me.”’
Is President Goodluck Jonathan on the list of heads of government that patronise your services?
When it comes to relationship, I think he would be in the best position to answer that question. Since what we are doing is creating impact around the world, you should expect Nigeria’s president to also be part of it. We are praying for the nation and being a Christian acknowledges it. If Jonathan had been here, it would have been shown on our Emmanuel Television network. No president has ever visited this place in secret. The Bible says that if you confess me before men, I will confess you before my father in heaven. I am not a witch doctor; we have nothing to hide. If you have not read in the newspapers that your president came here, then that is that. Anytime presidents of other countries come here, Jonathan is usually aware. If he doesn’t believe in what we are doing, he would have told them that we constitute security risks.
What is your relationship with President Jonathan, Does he speak with you on phone?
Don’t rush me. Let me finish answering the last question. Now, you would answer the question yourself; have you read that he came here, have you? My sister, you have said it all. What phone call are we talking about?
How do you tell the president when you have an instruction for the nation?
I say it on the television and all over the world. I accept that is not enough; it is better to see him one on one.
But what is the essence of a president’s visit if he won’t follow what I will tell him? This kind of trend keeps staining my name. I will not mention anybody, when they leave here; they do not obey the instructions.
But what are these presidents looking for in your church?
The reason why people visit a man of God is to receive instructions, his opinion about them or their country. But if they don’t follow it, yet the whole world knows that they are close to TB Joshua, it has no benefit.
Are you saying it’s no big deal that presidents visit you?
It is no big deal. Except they obey the counsel given to them, it has no benefit. It is not something to be proud of. At least, seven presidents have visited this place since inception. But each time presidents come to this place, I get query from God. When they come around, you won’t have time to attend to other people. They will block the road with their security and at the end of the day, they won’t do what you advise them to do.
People say that your generosity is used to woo people to your church. How do you react to this?
How much will I give to the president of a nation to come here? Even when they come, I don’t get any financial gain but I incur cost because I want to ensure that they are well cared for. That is all; I even prefer to spend my time with the poor than to be with the presidents. If a president visits this place today, the whole of the day will be devoted to that visit, I would have lesser time for the poor people, who need my attention. God has been warning me over this trend so much that when some presidents said that they wanted to visit me, I said no. I said it would be better for me to visit them in their countries. Each time they visit this place, I receive query from God because of my time that should have been used to attend to the poor and the needy that are waiting for me. One soul is not superior to the other, why should I continue to receive query? Really out of three presidents that may visit, there will hardly be one that will show good example of the counsel that they received from me. If the needy are more receptive to God, it is better to give them more of my time.
Still on generosity, why do you ask people to display the items given to them live on camera, is it proper?
We do so to encourage other people to do likewise. Some of them are physically-challenged or indigent people who do not even have bank accounts, so we have to give them cash. We don’t want them to be duped, but we don’t do that often anymore.
Isn’t it a deliberate way of advertising what you are doing?
It is not so.
But we don’t see such things in other churches?
Every man of God has his own habit. Habit is a gift from God. Like Daniel, whenever he wants to pray, he will open his window, that is his habit. The disciples of Jesus prayed six times a day; that is their habit. It is not that we are showing off. When people see what we are doing, they learn how to be good givers. If you do everything privately, what will people write about? Jesus fed the 5,000 people in the open, not in secret. That is why it could be written. When the tax collectors came to him, he did not hide to say, ‘I don’t want them to see that they want to collect money from me.’ Even when he healed a man and they asked him how he did it, he asked them to go and ask the healed man.
You said God speaks to you, how does he speak to you?
Faith must first be in the heart before there could be an accepted confession. That means faith must first be in the heart before there could be an acceptance of prayer, request, talk from God. Faith is of man’s heart, which is spirit. Heart literarily means a different thing from the spirit. You use your faith to put a demand.
So, how do you get those prophecies – picture or voice?
I use my faith to place a demand. You don’t understand what I am saying. Let me put it this way, faith is a channel through which the anointing flows. That means you use your faith to put a demand and ask for whatever you want. If there is faith in your heart, you can close your eyes and make a demand that you want to know what is happening around the world and before you know it, you will see the vision. There is what you call a measure of faith – deep, deeper, deepest faith. I don’t know which level you belong. Faith grows as we hear the word and obey it. We are not all at the same level, but all things are possible to him that believes. What is possible for you may not be possible for me.
But many people see you as mystical, they think you are not a believer in Jesus Christ; that you belong to some other sect. What is the source of your power?
Your question is funny. We don’t get power, it is faith we have. The power in our life is released by faith through our mouth. The issue of getting power is wrong. We don’t talk about getting power here. If you don’t have faith, power will remain dormant. In Mark, Jesus said this kind won’t be possible but by prayer and fasting. The disciples had power but lacked faith to release it.
Coming from you directly, who are you?
Nigerians cannot tell me who I am. The percentage of my people around the world is more than those in Nigeria. I am celebrated around the world. Go on the internet, Emmanuel TV is the most watched. Forget about anybody, I don’t need to promote myself. Even Jesus could not win everybody’s soul.
Are you a Christian, do you believe in Jesus Christ?
The word Christian is a title. How do you know that those people talking believe in Jesus Christ when Christianity is a matter of the heart?
But are you a child of God…
That is what I am correcting you about; that someone said he is a Christian doesn’t mean he is. If somebody says he belongs to this or that fellowship, only God knows. It is not about confessing that I am a prophet, a pastor, only God knows who is serving him. A mango tree cannot bear coconut. What you believe radiates around you. I’m more than that kind of confession. If anyone doesn’t believe me, they would when the time comes.
But why don’t you belong to a Christian body?
Christianity is not an association. Let us talk about Christianity. I don’t celebrate religion. I am a follower of Jesus; I am a Christian, that is all I know. I will invite you to come and worship here this Sunday. I am known by my love, not by my association, so whether Pentecostal, Catholic, Charismatic, Methodist, who is serving God? I don’t judge people but people can judge me. All I know is that my persecution has been a blessing; I have been tamed by it. It has strengthened me. I am a Charismatic.
So, who anointed you into the ministry?
I have told you about faith. You know that Elijah anointed Elisha, but can you tell me who anointed Elijah? So you see God can choose to do it the way He wants. Because I don’t want to hurt you, I don’t know which circle you belong to, maybe your own pastor was anointed by a man.
Are you still very close to Pastor Chris Oyakhilome?
Please, don’t drag me into all that. I beg you.
What about the issue of Jim Iyke?
Oh please, don’t drag me into that. All I can say is that if a person needs to see a doctor, he should be free to do so. I like the young man. He has been defending himself on the internet. Is he not enjoying a better life now? Are things not working for him?
Why are all these stars always coming to your church?
Please I don’t want to talk about that.
What about your alleged link with the release of Major Al-Mustapha?
Which one are you saying again? Please spare me that. I will give you time to come back and talk on that.
You are reputed for predicting football matches correctly, how far will Nigeria go in the World Cup?
I can’t say that now. I will give PUNCH the privilege of getting my prophetic messages once they come out.
Why is it that people don’t know your family members?
I don’t expose my family. I hear people saying that I don’t have a wife and that I have no child. That is the news everywhere. You have seen my wife and this is a photograph of my daughter.
Why is it that your wife does not preach like other pastors’ wives?
My wife is a very wonderful woman. She believes in receiving her own call. She does not just want to hold microphone because her husband is a pastor.
Men of God need to take care of their children. My daughter studied Law she is doing her PhD in Harvard and she is coming back home to preach the gospel. She loves to preach.
Is your wife the one responsible for your looks?
I love to look good too; it is 50-50 anyway. She has been a great woman to me. She has been a great source of encouragement in the midst of my challenges. She is different in the sense that she said I was the one God called, so she is waiting until she is called by God to be a pastor. That is unlike what most men of God do, they believe that once they are called, their wives must be pastors too.
When are you buying your own private jet?
When one is at the airport to catch a flight, you see that many have become like Molue. They could disappoint you by saying the flight has been cancelled. Even when you eventually get on board, people keep thronging you for one reason or the other. The person serving you the meal may be someone that needs deliverance, by giving you food, she will deliver you. There was an experience I had when travelling by air for a trip of about nine hours. I was pressed but couldn’t go and ease myself because I had to queue like other people before I could use the restroom.
Besides, I thought that some of those people could go to the toilet immediately after I had used it in expression of faith, so I remained glued to my seat all through the journey. That would not have been if I was flying a private jet. Or if you are a man of God that snores and they see the pastor sleeping and snoring, they will think he shouldn’t snore. Meanwhile, he is human. So a man of God should have a private jet if the situation demands it.
Who should pay for it?
If the use is for the church, the church should buy it, own it and manage it. It should not be bought in the pastor’s name. When he is no longer there, the jet remains the church’s.
Big organisations have a need for crowd management, how did you handle the stampede case in Ghana over holy water?
I know where you are going, don’t go there. Why don’t you let’s leave that please.
What inspired you to owning a football club?
It is the desire to help people realise their dreams. There are other social platforms that we use to help people.
Still on prediction of football matches, is God not too busy to talk to you about that?
The same God speaks about everything. God is aware of everything. It is all about the faith that you have; it manifests even in small things. We need to know how much we need God.
But people said you see a crystal ball that aids your predictions?
Don’t you wonder why I am the only one saying it and it is coming to pass?
What about your influence on the stool in your village in Ondo State?
Don’t drag me into that, I will not go there, maybe next time.