Nigerian Healer Disputes Claims That He Is a False Prophet
"It is a great offense to speak against a man of God. But the more you accuse a man of God, the stronger he will be," Joshua told "Charisma" magazine during an interview inside his newly constructed, 30,000-seat The Synagogue, Church of All Nations in Lagos.
Daily thousands of Nigerian and foreign pilgrims visit the unusual building, which was constructed by volunteers who consider Joshua their spiritual leader. Those who seek healing are asked to wear paper signs that describe their ailments.
Others come wanting prayer for guidance, financial blessing or pregnancy. Joshua's critics, including prominent Nigerian pastors, won't deny that he heals people. But they say he draws his power from indigenous African occultism -- not from the Holy Spirit.
"People need to know that Satan can also perform miracles," Bayo Ajede, 37, who served as Joshua's assistant for four years, told "Charisma" in the December issue, out now. "The Bible says that in the last days even the elect will be deceived."
In 1996, Ajede ran away from The Synagogue -- fearing for his life -- and eventually became a Christian. However, Joshua denied knowing Ajede to "Charisma."
Photographs obtained by "Charisma" prove that Ajede lived and worked at The Synagogue. Also, Ajede's current pastor, Ladi Thompson of Living Waters Unlimited Church in Lagos, said he has indisputable evidence that Ajede worked for Joshua.
"It has been confirmed by people who saw [Ajede] regularly during those years," Thompson said. "T.B. Joshua is lying through his teeth."
Many charismatic Christians, though, are firm believers of Joshua. Since the mid-1990s they have flocked to The Synagogue from Europe, Asia, North America and Australia. They come in large tour groups and are offered housing on the expansive compound, which is equipped with a dining hall and bread factory.
When visitors arrive they are shown videotaped scenes of Joshua praying for the sick. The videos also include glowing endorsements of Joshua's ministry from international church leaders including Bill Subritsky of New Zealand, South African journalist Flip Lewis, Canadian pastor John Arnott, evangelist D.G.S. Dhinakaran of India and pastor Joseph Garlington of Pittsburgh.
When "Charisma" visited The Synagogue in August, several young women and one man, all in their 20s, were serving as Joshua's personal aides. They lived communally inside the compound and referred to Joshua as "the prophet" or "the man of God" when discussing their loyalty to him.
Thompson, meanwhile, along with dozens of other Nigerian pastors, said international visitors are being deceived by African spiritism -- which is covered with a Christian veneer.
"I had hoped that T.B. Joshua's original doctrines were simply because of his ignorance in his early days," Thompson said. "But now I know that he is a false prophet."
The full report on T.B. Joshua can be found in the December 2003 issue of "Charisma" magazine.
[Source: Charisma News Service at www.charismanews.com/a.php?ArticleID=8338 ; 12/9/03]