That the late founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), Temitope Joshua, popularly called TB Joshua, was one of Nigeria’s controversial yet revered preachers was never in doubt.
Charismatic, yet somewhat mystical especially to his critics, Mr Joshua had an uncommon feat or as some would say an uncommon power.
It was his miracles and an influence that extended far beyond the shores of Nigeria.
In fact, he could be likened to that prophet who wasn’t respected at home.
This was because congregants who thronged his Ikotun-Egbe, Lagos church were predominantly foreigners.
The church’s neighbourhood also became a tourist haven because of the influx of persons seeking miracles including heads of governments, celebrities, and football stars.
Many residential buildings in the area have long been converted to hotels and inns because of the presence of the church.
At a Nigeria Travel Week (NTW) event held in Lagos held in 2018, it was revealed that the church ”receives the highest number of tourists in Nigeria”.
The tourism operators said the ”SCOAN receives more weekly attendees than the combined number of visitors to Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London”.
He was that influential.
But not many know that the church began after the late prophet received ‘divine anointing’ and a covenant from God to start his ministry in 1987.
Emmanuel TV, a cable television station owned by his church, shared a clip that captured his humble beginning as a young pastor in Lagos.
In the late 1980s, Mr Joshua and a small gathering of eight members came together to hold their first meeting at a ‘‘humble shelter in a squalid, swampy jungle’’, in Agodo-Egbe, a Lagos suburb.
It was a makeshift tent with a thatched roof and wooden benches.
Mr Joshua was 32 at the time.
His message at the time, typically bothered around salvation especially the need to become born again.
In the video, he could be seen addressing the elders with an urgency in his voice and reminding them to give their lives to Christ.
He said, ‘‘My coming to your midst is just to lay a foundation and today we start a synagogue here. I have to lay the foundation for Synagogue today. You need to repent and give your life to Christ and the reason why Jesus isn’t coming is that he doesn’t want you to perish. His coming has been delayed because he wants you to repent’’.
As his influence grew, he moved to a second and then third location.
Over the years, the physical structure of The SCOAN has experienced significant changes. The roof of the first church was blown off by a storm, the second church was washed away by a flood while the third church also collapsed due to severe weather conditions.
But the soft-spoken prophet always insisted on rebuilding his church himself with the help of his members.
As outstanding miraculous occurrences began to arise, his membership soared in an unprecedented manner.
And so, by 1994, the church moved to its present location because of the growing population of worshippers. It was the fourth building of SCOAN and the first at a new site.
The church would later found its only other branch in Ghana.
After each service, he hopped on a motorcycle and went off to his own sanctuary, a special place of prayer. It was a 15-minute drive from the church.
He cleaned the church’s toilets, cleaned the church’s sewers by hand and the gutters daily for three years.
Not only did he minister to his congregation, but he also cleaned the fans and benches daily.
There were hundreds of them, he cleaned them all. He was an integral part of every department of his church.
He died on Saturday at age 57.