Nigerian preacher T.B. Joshua, one of Africas most influential and controversial evangelists, died at the age of 57. Tens of thousands of people, including politicians and influential Africans, attended his services.
Hundreds of Christians from the Netherlands also travelled, especially at the turn of the century, to his church in the Nigerian city of Lagos to see with their own eyes the controversial and controversial prophet at work. Many people returned with stories about healings of cancer, AIDS, disability and infertility, as well as depression and possession. On social media, dozens of videos were shared of “miracles and healings.”
Joshuas teachings and practices were controversial and caused divisions, including within the Dutch evangelical movement. Proponents believed that the miracles came from God, opponents believed that the healings had an occult origin. Also often lacked medical evidence for healing.
Temitope Balogun Joshua became known in the 1990s by reports of healings that took place in the church where he was predecessor. Willem Ouweneel, preacher, writer and authoritative figure within Christian Netherlands, visited him seven times since 2002 and wrote a theological biography about him. This was rejected by Joshua himself, because it asked critical questions.
“ T.B. Joshua is undoubtedly the most controversial, remarkable person Ive ever met,” says Ouweneel. “I have heard him preaching many times. When people were healed, he never demanded honour for himself, but gave the honour to Jesus.”
Ouweneel met Joshua after his daughter had visited the prayer healer in Lagos. “She was cured of infertility, my granddaughter of visual impairment.” Joshua had Ouweneel walk next to him during the mass healing services, so that he could see everything well. “I have seen healings that were humanly impossible. Thus, a pregnant woman whose baby was in breech presentation, brought the child before my eyes smoothly and healthy. You cant fake that kind of thing.”
Need for miracles
“ Not everyone was cured,” says Ouweneel, who emphasizes not being completely uncritical of Joshuas ministry. Thats how he calls it “irresponsible” that some people stopped taking their drugs, while it was not clear whether they were cured.
Many evangelical predecessors felt that Joshua focused too much on the postmodern need of certain Christians for miracles and experiences. They called Joshuas method “tendentious” and “inhumane” because of the way he exposed people to the public during the healing services and felt that he was focusing too much on himself. It was also found that complaints returned to people who initially seemed to have healed.
On Facebook, Joshua had millions of followers. Nearly two million people subscribed to his YouTube channel, which was recently pulled out of the air for accusations of hate speech against gays.
According to Forbes, Joshua was the second richest minister in Nigeria. “I thought he was vain, yes. He had a huge wardrobe and lots of shoes,” says Ouweneel. “Yet I never heard him beg for money. He probably had many rich followers, because he himself gave away a lot of money to the poor.”
Cause of death unknown
Joshua died last Saturday. Shortly after speaking in a live TV show, his wife found him lifeless behind his desk. Cause of death has not been disclosed.
His brother brought the death on Twitter to the world: