The remains of the founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua, were laid to rest on Friday, watched by thousands of his followers and admirers who defied a mid-morning rain to pay their last respects.
They came from all walks of life.
Hundreds of thousands of others across the globe watched the funeral proceedings on television with Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, Joshua’s home state, saying the world was better represented at the burial than that of former South African President, Nelson Mandela.
The televangelist was interred at 2.53 pm at the Ikotun, Lagos headquarters of the church he founded in 1987.
The burial was the climax of an all-week funeral programme.
There were tears shed by mourners, many of whom were direct beneficiaries of his philanthropy, simplicity and friendship.
The outpouring of testimonies to his kindness also continued.
Listening with rapt attention was Evelyn, Joshua’s wife of 31 years, as well as their children.
Flags of many countries fluttered at half-mast around the church premises.
Nearby shops and markets were shut for business.
Security was very tight in and around the church premises.
Soldiers, police personnel and those of the Lagos State Neighborhood Safety Corps (LSNSC), Lagos State Traffic Management (LASTMA) and the Department of State Security (DSS) were strategically deployed to ensure orderly conduct by the crowd.
Commercial activities in his Arigidi-Akoko home town in Ondo State were paralysed.
Schools in the town were also shut to enable the students watch the funeral rites on television.
Leading international gospel singers, Shirley Murdock and Byron Cage, were among those that performed at the funeral.
The first Bible reading, taken from 1 Corinthians 15: 51-57, was done by Governor Akeredolu, after which Bishop Stephen Ogedengbe of the Wisdom of Chapel Ministry explained the passage.
The cleric urged Christians to emulate the exemplary life of love lived by the late founder of SCOAN.
Ogedengbe said: “The character of a true believer is to find refuge in our Lord Jesus.
“That is why children of God are not afraid in reaching the final destination – death.
“Heaven is our home, our dwelling place.”
According to him, Joshua had always said that those from above longed to be there.
Minister Ayoub Kara from Israel took the second Bible reading from Revelation 21: 1-7, while Pastor Robert Acosta from Argentina preached a sermon from it.
Acosta said that Christians should follow Christ “because outside Jesus there is no reality”.
He said that Joshua did so many miracles and showed much love to many people.
One of Joshua’s disciples, Prophet Chris, attributed the miracles performed by the deceased during his life time to his relationship with God.
He said T.B. Joshua drew his power from love for God and humanity.
“The secret of Prophet TB Joshua’s ministry in front of this altar is his lifestyle behind the altar,” he said.
Continuing, Chris said: “The remarkable results we all see on Emmanuel TV – effortless healing, instant deliverance, accurate prophecy, profound teaching, spontaneous miracles – is just an overflow of his relationship with God.
“In a generation so full of fake things, Prophet TB Joshua was the real deal.
“He did not see any fight as a personal challenge but one against his God.
“He left every battle for God and let his future answer the questions.
“He gave himself to prayer and refused to be offended.
“He was accessible but untouchable – tested by the fire of life and proven by the test of time. His consistency testified to his authenticity.”
Although many of Nigeria’s leading pastors did not show up at the funeral, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), which had disputes with TB Joshua in the past over his style, sent a delegation to the burial.
After the sermon, Akeredolu and the representative of the governor of Lagos State delivered speeches.
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu was represented by the state’s Commissioner for Home Affairs, Mr Olarewaju Elegushi.
Sanwo-Olu told the congregation that the late prophet fulfilled his destiny on earth by living for others.
He encouraged Christians to long for the spirit of dedication shown by SCOAN founder.
“His life should encourage us to renew our hope in Christ.
“Unity, peace, progress and love should be our watchword as Christians,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu urged Christians to emulate the late prophet’s life and live in peace with everyone without discriminating.
In his speech, Akeredolu, described the death of Joshua as a huge loss to the people of Ondo State, Nigeria and the world at large.
Akeredolu said that Joshua contributed immensely to the emancipation of the downtrodden, orphans, widows and other less privileged people.
He said that the late prophet touched the lives of many people economically and spiritually.
He said: “The people of Ondo State, Nigeria and the entire world have lost a rare gem, a special breed and a worthy citizen and a true son of Ondo State.
“His passing is not only a loss to the people of Ondo, his own town Arigidi-Akoko, but a loss to humanity. The indelible prints and impacts of our dear brother, T.B Joshua, are visible not only in Ondo, our state, they’re visible in many parts of Nigeria and, in fact, throughout the world.
“No wonder this is a world congregation. I’m not too sure we’ve had the world so congregated in this number from different countries in many such services. Maybe that of Nelson Mandela, but the world is more represented here than when Nelson Mandela was buried. Indeed, it was and is being globally acknowledged today by all of us.”
“He was not born with a silver spoon but from what I heard, he was a special child because he performed miracles even from primary school.
“He was born with a special gift, and his love was not only for the less privileged.
“Even those of us who are privileged benefitted from his love.”
The governor recalled how the deceased visited him after he won the governorship race.
He, however, did not say whether it was in 2016 when he got his first term mandate or last year when he was reelected.
His words: “I can testify personally to the good things I have benefitted from him.
“When I won the governorship election in Ondo State, he drove to Owo and something went wrong with his vehicle in Akure.
“He told me he had come to wish me well and pray. And when he was leaving, he put something in my pocket. I won’t tell you how much he put in my pocket.”
Akeredolu also told of how the deceased once paid the electricity bills of four local governments in Ondo State and donated transformers to some communities.
Schools, markets shut in Akoko to view funeral
Arigidi-Akoko, hometown of the late Prophet Temitope Joshua, was like a ghost town yesterday as commercial activities came to a halt.
Schools and markets were shut as residents trooped to his country home to virtually participate in the burial.
Many were moved to tears as they watched the event beamed live from Lagos.
Residents from other neighbouring communities in the four local government areas, including Muslims and politicians, were present.
The early morning heavy rainfall did not deter the people from paying respects to a man they described as their benefactor.
Those who spoke urged both the state and federal government to immortalise him.
The Chief Imam of Arigidi/ Agbaluku Central Mosque, Alhaji Salisu Musa, said the Muslim community was very sad about Joshua’s passing because he never discriminated against them.
He said: “T.B. Joshua was the person helping me.
“You know I am not paid for being an Imam. Prophet Joshua bought me the current car I am using despite the religious differences.
“He believed we are one. He never discriminated when sharing palliatives to the downtrodden. “Irrespective of religion, he would help without hesitating. He also gave me a personal house I now stay.”
TB Joshua died on June 5; a week to his 58th birthday.
He was revered by people from around the world and tens of thousands of people attended his weekly services.
Known as the “Prophet” by his followers, he also founded the Christian television station Emmanuel TV.
He regularly went for crusades in Africa, the US, the UK and South America.
Many of the mourners at the funeral came from as far as the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and South Africa, where he was hugely popular.
The people of Ikotun-Egbe, the suburb in Lagos where the church is located, came out in large numbers on Thursday to watch his hearse go past, while many more lined the streets yesterday.