Those who do not believe that Christ can perform divine miracles regard SCOAN as a controversial place. BG reporter, DIKARABO RAMADUBU goes on a pilgrimage to Nigeria and finds that Prophet Tomitope Balogun Joshua is a true man of God.
TB joins the debate and argues that all one needs is to forget the fact that The Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) is situated in the heart of Lagos, in Nigeria, a country famous for harbouring all kinds of criminals who could rob you in broad daylight and later sell your shoes back to you.
Instead, one must remain focused on his Christian values by listening to only one voice, that it is your faith that has brought you to SCOAN and only listening to one voice, not that of prophet TB or his Wise Men, but that of the creator, then you will achieve your goals.
Even the church officials admit the problem that Nigeria faces with criminals who could even go into the church premises to steal. But, protected as the church premises are, still the administration has not left anything to chance. The church cautions all the visitors to resist giving personal particulars or ask for any assistance from any Jack and Jill.
Instead, visitors are asked to direct all their questions and or needs to church officials who normally carry some form of identification. The good thing is church officials are all over the show. Furthermore, all visitors are furnished with badges which clearly identify them and are under 24 hours surveillance which includes that of the Republic’s armed police at the entrance of the Church and hostels purely to ensure their protection.
As things stand, those who do not believe that Christ can perform divine miracles regard SCOAN as a controversial place. But, that has not deterred thousands of Nigerians and international visitors from coming to SCOAN every week to register for the prayer lines where the visitors, through their faith, receive what they ask for.
Attending a church session at SCOAN, arguably the biggest church structure in the world, could be compared to attending a meeting of the United Nations at its headquarters in New York because at any given time, the Arena of Liberty is packed to capacity by all kinds of people with different body structures, old and young, able bodied and disabled.
The difference between the UN session and SCOAN is that at the UN, the agendas are tabled and some thrown out after extensive debate, while at SCOAN, there is only one agenda, seeking to know God better through reading his word and all those present, be it inside the church or at the overflowing hall and makeshit tents situated at the Mainland premises, and or viewing on TV around the globe who follow the proceedings, are in agreement.
Entering the Arena of Liberty for individual prayers makes a Christian remember his or her roots. This is one place where you tend to forget that you are a shy person. Furthermore, if you are either not putting on your dancing shoes and or you believe that you can not dance, then you are mistaken as the same pair you are wearing quickly turns into your best dancing shoes, and you will soon realise how much of a good dancer you are.
The praise and worship session is the very moment when you will remember and appreciate the good work, which has been performed by all the past and present preachers or Pastors who have taken care of you and your faith thus far.
The Praise and Worship session is simply the best moment for anyone who needs to draw nearer to God. The music is very lively, performed by a professional resident band- who sing all types of songs from praise song on any rhymes and from reggae to soul and so on and so forth.
This without doubt is very much in line with the gospel as Psalms 150 states that one must Praise God in his temple. Praise him with trumpets, praise him with harps and lyres, praise him with drums and dancing, praise him with harps and flutes, praise him with loud cymbals.
If you have never been a Sunday school boy or girl and you are a first time visitor at SCOAN, then you may face a challenge during the praise and worship session as you may not be able to sing along, but one thing for a fact is, you can not resist dancing to the melodious tunes as it becomes just too good to resist.
The music inside the Arena is very much audible, in fact it is as audible as it is inside a theatre or studio as the huge arena is fitted with sound acoustics to avoid any unwarranted sound from outside and ensure maximum audibility.
The moment you step inside the Arena, there is that special feeling that goes through your body and, if you are a true believer, that is when you will realise that indeed the Holy spirit is within you. The difference between SCOAN and many other churches is the packaging of its teaching material which is done everyday and as such, one easily discovers the importance of having to leave their dreams and resist from listening to the voice of many, but instead rather listen to one voice of the creator.
What comes out clearly before the audience of between 12000 to 15000 who attend the SCOAN church session inside the Arena of Liberty per any given time is SCOAN is not a threat to any congregation around the world whose members, whether individually or as a group, decide to visit for their healing, deliverance and or salvation because Prophet TB and his five Wise Men - Wiseman Christopher, Wiseman Daniel, Wiseman Harry, Wiseman John Chi and Wiseman Racine, as well as the Evangelists who include his wife, Evangelist Evelyn, do not claim to possess any healing powers, instead, they are crystal clear, that it is one’s faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, which will deliver, which will heal and which gives one any breakthrough in life and encourage one to remain a God loving person within one’s own church.
Prophet TB and his team are crystal clear that the healing at SCOAN belongs to the individual. That it is your gift. However, he always reminds the audience before they go in a prayer line that for your needs to be met, you have a role to play, which is having faith, paying attention while reading your scriptures and listening to God’s voice.
Prophet TB himself is naturally gifted and blessed. He is not only an eloquent speaker who memorises his script very well before going for his sermon, which is often followed by his gift and or blessing of prophecy. But equally worth noting is that he is a humorous preacher, particularly during his prophecy sessions as he at times leaves the entire congregation in stitches by teasing those he is anointing especially when they are shy to openly about their problems.
On the Sunday and Monday that my wife, Mmapula, and I attended his two services, he was preaching about Discovering Your Purpose and read from the book of Job 1 verses 21-22 as well as Job 2 verse 10. He said the trouble that one faces prepares him for the extraordinary work ahead and raised a concern that people are afraid to openly declare that they are sick, when in actual fact our sicknesses as individuals are different from that of others.
We all need to glorify God in both good and hard times as God gives grace for every trial we face, he said. The sermon was great as he also reminded the audience that no one can hold the position of honour without passing through the position of persecution and gave examples of himself as he attracted a lot of bad publicity at the beginning and continues to, despite serving God.
On the other topic, he was teaching about relationships being strengthened by challenges, and said challenges force one to look deeper, explore possibilities, pray and dream over the lessons to learn. Here the lesson was that if you rely on God’s strength, he would not allow the enemy of your soul to weaken you.
When it was time to perform his God given blessings of prophecy, he proved himself to be the real man of God as he was accurate in all incidences. Although all cases were interesting as he revealed what the Holy Spirit was telling him about his fellow brethren, there are three particular cases that drew my attention.
The first was when he asked a local man to say what his problems were and publicly offered to assist him in whatever way he needed assistance. The man appeared to be just too shy, or perhaps he was scared to talk. But before long, Prophet TB told him that he was there because his sibling had passed on and was lying at the mortuary and that the man did not have money to pay for his release from the mortuary after spending all his money on other preparations.
After this prophecy, Prophet TB offered the man money to go and pay the mortuary so that they could release his brother’s body. Before he could do that, he had left the congregation in stitches by teasing this man for being shy to say clearly what his problems were. The second amazing story was about a Zimbabwean man who had been involved with three ladies.
The third was when my wife became among the anointed few, as the Holy Spirit led Prophet TB to prophesy on her. But I was not disappointed by the fact that our prophetic anointment was not made public because all he said to her was, “Lady I want to see you. Go and wait for me,” he then asked her where I was. This was the second historic moment of my faith where I spoke to the man of God face to face.
The Philanthropist /humanitarian work
Prophet TB is also a philanthropist who does not only confine himself to the borders of Nigeria, but has spread his assistance to the needs of the poor across the globe. The church undertakes projects catering to the needs of widows, the elderly, destitutes, the physically challenged and orphans. The church provides scholarships to orphans and children of the underprivileged, with educational support given from primary to tertiary levels.
There is also a rehabilitation programme for armed robbers, prostitutes and militants from Nigeria’s volatile regions. As they say, charity begins at home. On his home soil, his ministry is like a state within a state as he has gone in smart partnership with the government by offering a helping hand to fellow countrymen.
His mission has among other things bought 10 modern and well-equipped ambulances, which are placed at strategic points around the city of Lagos to help during emergencies. He has paid school fees for many children of all ages from the lower schools to tertiary that he first met through the anointing prophecy and got to know their needs.
He continues to dispatch bags and bags of rice to the needy. He is also a visionary as he has made his Church to be self-contained by ensuring that it has everything that the congregation needs on a daily basis. He has a fleet of all sorts of vehicles from cars to mini buses and trucks.
The church has its own mechanics, and workshop, as well as carpenters who design and repair everything from chairs, tables and furniture. A bakery makes bread everyday within the Mainland dormitory compound. All these help his humanitarian work; Prophet TB has been awarded various accolades, notably receiving the National Honour of OFR by the Nigerian government.