Prophet T.B. Joshua and Rev. Isaac Owusu-Bempah

Prophet T.B. Joshua and Rev. Isaac Owusu-Bempah

GHANA?S RELIGIOUS sensibilities was seriously ruffled on Sunday May 19, 2013, when four people were trampled to death in a stampede at the local branch of the Synagogue Church Of

All Nations (SCOAN) in their quest to secure a free religious concoction popularly called ?Anointing Water?.

The gory incident has inevitably rekindled an old controversy about the legitimacy of TB Joshua (Temitope Balogun Joshua), the SCOAN founder who is revered globally. Critics from both within and outside the Christian community have, for decades, questioned the source of the astounding power that enables the Nigerian pastor to foresee events in the future and his uncanny ability to spiritually

heal virtually any kind of physical and spiritual malady.

His Cable television network, Emmanuel TV, makes sure these puzzling abilities are transmitted 24 hours a day to its teeming global audience, particularly those in Africa.

Indeed, TB Joshua is clearly considered as a Jesus incarnate by his followers.

The rawness of his miracles and the near accuracy of most of his predictions have intensified criticisms especially after the disheartening incident on the Spintex Road branch of the Church.

Critics have questioned why a Seer of his calibre got caught totally flat-footed about the stampede; It was obvious that he did not anticipate that his suggestions -during a Church service at SCOAN?s headquarters in Lagos-, that he might consider distributing his highly soughtafter anointing water free-of-charge, would send thousands of his followers scrambling.

The concoction is believed to hold immense healing properties.

According to reports, the church, which is built to house less than 10,000 people, saw over 50,000 rushing through its gates at the same time; a situation that resulted in the fatal stampede.

In fact, a similar situation was narrowly averted a week earlier when church faithful caught hint of a planned visit of the preacher to Ghana. Thousands stormed the Spintex Road, choking traffic and causing serious mayhem on the usually serene road.

Even though the church has promised to compensate the victims, critics are calling for TB Joshua?s head. Hopeson Adoryeh, a politician aligned to the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) suggests the highly charismatic preacher should be charged with manslaughter.

?Ghanaians have become hypocrites in the sense that if these four deaths have been recorded under any political party programme the blame would have been on the leaders of the party,? he said.

Immediately after the incident, a clearly embarrassed National Democratic Congress (NDC) government, ordered for the closedown of the church until the dust settles.

Information and Media Relations Minister Mahama Ayariga told newsmen recently that the government has ordered the police to mount a thorough investigation into the matter and appropriate recommendations

made for action to be taken. ?Any loss of life, needlessly, is of concern to government,? that is why the police have been asked to investigate the incident, he said.

Accra Regional Police Public Relations Officer DSP Freeman Tettey has confirmed that a full scale investigation is in full swing.

Explaining the incident to DAILY GUIDE, the Public Relations Officer of SCOAN in Ghana stated, ?Some of the members had already been around in the morning and it looked as if right in the night hours to the early hours of Sunday more and more people kept on trooping into the yard. And others were going in.

Those that were going in were workers who needed to arrange one or two things because we wanted to get our house ready for service to start. So it looked as if when people saw that others were going in and they were locked up in the yard they didn?t understand and they thought that there was discrimination.?

He continued: ?So many people were now as it were pressing in to make their way to the church house because they didn?t understand why they should be made to stand behind the barricade while others are going in, so they forced their way through the barricade in their attempt to, as it were, run towards the church building and as a result those who could not run fell and they trampled upon them and there were injuries and casualties and immediately we told our father in the Lord [TB Joshua] and he came on Emmanuel TV live and said that this is what he has heard happening in Ghana.?

The Nigerian miracle worker is undoubtedly popular among his followers for his miraculous deeds but attracts mixed reactions from the wider Christian community.

Demonic or Divine Powers?

TB Joshua has performed several unbelievable feats; from predicting winners in soccer games, bringing dead people back to life, healing HIV AIDS patients to predicting the recent Boston Marathon bombing in the USA, yet, not  everybody believes he comes with clean hands.

His critics conclude that his powers could not possibly be divine in nature and certainly issues about the source of his powers are as legendary as the man himself.

Several rumours have spurn out of this uncertainty, starting from Nigeria, where his humble beginnings have been carefully chronicled.

Outspoken cleric and founder of the Glorious Word Power Ministries International Reverend Isaac Owusu Bempah has a very strong opinion about TB Joshua. He did not mince words in describing him as a demon. He could almost swear that TB Joshua is an imposter pretending to be using the divine power of God in his exploits.

?That T.B. Joshua is a demon who is now trying to gain grounds in Ghana so he needs blood sacrifice before he fully establishes here. The four people who died were used as sacrifice because he wants to capture the whole of Ghana. If we are not careful and we give him the chance, more tragedies will happen in Ghana,? he told DAILY GUIDE.

Indeed, barely a week before the incident Rev. Owusu Bempah predicted that the inroads that TB Joshua?s SCOAN was making into Ghana could result in disasters.

?Some weeks ago when I spoke about what will happen if this man is allowed to operate in Ghana. Some people insulted me and said I was envious of him,? noted Rev Owusu Bempah who claimed he has seen visions of the Nigerian Pastor being controlled by demonic powers.

Incidentally, it is not only individuals who have expressed doubts about the legitimacy of the divine powers of the controversial Nigerian pastor. Recently, the Cameroonian government declared him a persona non grata in Cameroon and has banned SCOAN from operating in that country. The Cameroonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs described as ?bestial?the conditions its citizens go through trying to seek spiritual solutions to their problems.

?Women are raped; pilgrims dispossessed of their belongings by armed robbers and left to sleep in the streets at the mercy of gangs.

?Many cases of assassinations have even been recorded. And this is without other cases that are not recorded at the Cameroonian Embassy in Lagos with the victims too ashamed to narrate their infernal

odysseys once they are out of Hell, ?the Cameroonian government explained in a recent press statement.

?The Ministry of Foreign Affairs warns those who by naivety or deception of Emmanuel TV?s captivating images, or even those who by hopelessness, envisage taking the pilgrimage to Pastor TB Joshua?s Synagogue Church Of All Nations in Lagos that they will do so at their own risk,? the government warned.

?The Cameroonian government warns these pilgrims that they will face the consequences alone. This is motivated by the painful and shameful fact that Cameroonian men and women, in search of deliverance and blessings, once in that church, find themselves in bestial and pitiable conditions.?

Selective Forecasts

Those who doubt his abilities cite critical examples: the first one is the fact that Ghana?s erstwhile President John Evans Atta Mills, a devout follower of TB Joshua, was suffering from throat cancer but never got any healing from his spiritual godfather until he mysteriously died in power in mid 2012.

It is also believed that TB Joshua was close to Nigeria?s late Military despot, General Sanni Abacha, who also died mysteriously even though he was said to have been practically tied to the apron strings of TB Joshua.

F o r m e r Zambian President Frederick Chiluba?s association with TB Joshua could not avert the corruption albatross hanging on his neck until his consequent incarceration and eventual demise.

Others have rubbished his alleged prophesies saying that most of the time he only comes out to announce that he foresaw an event when it has passed.

?Just do your research well. Any president who befriends T.B. Joshua ends up dead. As Ghanaians, we need to be very careful about him,? Rev Owusu Bempah noted.

Doubters have continuously asked why he is unable to see doom heading for his key followers.

Apostle Samuel Yaw Antwi, general secretary of the Ghana Charismatic and Pentecostal Council, told The Guardian that he believes Christians in Ghana need to stop chasing after miracles and rather form a relationship with Jesus Christ.

?The problem we have in this country is the type of Christianity people are practicing whereby, instead of seeking to know God through his work and a relationship with the Holy Spirit which is assured to every Christian, they are running after signs of miracles,? Antwi told The Guardian.

?People want instant solutions to their problems, just like they want instant coffee. If anybody comes along offering instant answers to financial or health challenges, people want to go for it. But the Bible warns Christians about that,? Antwi added.

A Cameroonian newspaper which published the government communiqu? stated that the newspaper report said further:

?There are many here in Cameroon, convinced of the power and the blessings of this ?man of God?. However, they forget that Jesus Christ is in our hearts through faith and with our practice of the Ten Commandments and our relationship with one another. Before the publication of the communiqu? by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Bible said over 2000 years ago, ?And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceives you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many?.?

Cameroonian newspapers which published the communiqu? this week told tales of hundreds of Cameroonians who sold their properties or borrowed money in the hope of getting miracles in T.B. Joshua?s Church, only to be disappointed in Lagos.

It appears that whatever power TB Joshua wields will continue to be an enigma waiting to be unravelled.

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