My Synagogue Church Story By Ezeani, Chukwunonso Elvis
Perhaps, a remarkably huge incidence of misplaced priorities is what has caused and is causing most of our religious leaders who ordinarily should be Christ like to jettison that attribute in favor of a mad chase for vain wealth and luxury. Mark you, I have no disdain for wealth, riches, fame and fortune; in fact, at a stage in life when I could barely separate my right from left, I made up my mind to make real wealth and fortune in quantum. But a man that preoccupies himself with the crave for such at the detriment and neglect of his immediate neighbor is in himself an enemy of humanity. Pray, wherein lies the justification in taxing members of the body of Christ many of whom are members of the lower class to contribute into a pool of funds for the purpose of building a university only to peg the costs of attending such an essential institution at a height that an intimidating percentage of donors who funded it will be unable to afford? The crave for luxury apartments and private jets are fast being seen as ideal in our circle of religious leaders where contentment and modesty should be standard.
Of the frontline clerics abound in Nigeria that profess the doctrine of Christ, Temitope Balogun Joshua of the Synagogue Church of All Nations impresses me the most. Maybe my links with Agodo, the Lagos surburb where he started off and still lives in till date is responsible for this. Beyond everything else, that the man in the Synagogue upholds salvation and righteousness above prosperity is sufficient for me to grant him a listening ear whenever and wherever he teaches. Though not privileged to posses the regular doctorates in theology which most of his contemporaries adorn themselves with, I stand to be corrected that I am yet aware of a sentence in English language T.B. Joshua made incorrectly whenever and wherever he talked.
To be exact, I am a Roman Catholic by birth. I am not a member of the Synagogue Church of All Nations and know next to nothing about the doctrines of that church but I am a fan of Prophet T.B. Joshua; a big one for that matter and the reason for this is not farfetched. In most of my discussions on government matters, I had always argued that government at every level most first and foremost be in the interest of the weak, the poor and the ordinary/vulnerable members of society as a result of which I hold that any government that promotes the interest of the rich over the poor is anything else but government. This view of mine is remotely linked to the reason why I am and have remained a huge fan of T.B. Joshua.
On the 12th of September 2014, I was in a relaxed mood on the Lagos Victoria Islands when a follower of mine on twitter @OfficialDesola mentioned to me in a tweet that “Synagogue Church Building Is Collapsing”. I waved off the caption instantly. I thought such a huge edifice cannot be counted in the category of structurally defective buildings because of the level of expertise that has been sunk into in. Notwithstanding my doubts, @OfficialDesola’s tweet turned out to be true though not in its entirety. As the day went on, it emerged that a six (6) storey hostel building in the Synagogue Church of All Nations had caved in. Even though details remained sketchy, the ever subjective and gullible Nigerian press fell over themselves to give an account of how many persons were trapped under the building even though no one cared to tell how many people were in the building who survived the accident. That incidence will remain green in the memory of residents of Segun Irefin Street, Ikotun where the Synagogue Church of All Nations is situated. The rest as they say is history.
Wednesday, 3rd December 2015 gave me a chance to have a personal evaluation of the entire collapsed building issue. On that day, the South West Zonal Executive Committee of the Peoples’ Democratic Party National Youth Frontier paid a condolence visit to Prophet T.B. Joshua and the Headquarters of the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Ikotun, Lagos. Contrary to the falsehood peddled by a section of the Nigerian press on the manner activities in the Synagogue Church of All Nations is shrouded in secrecy, the Synagogue Church of All Nations I saw was a huge organization which attracts tourists and pilgrims from around the world and is as such a security conscious organization. Perhaps the writers that reported the secrecy story had their agendas.
To start with, getting an appointment to visit the church was as simple as ABC and the reason is simple; while I and my organization are real and our identities can be verified and confirmed from the government and security agencies, I cannot say the same about the writers who claimed they were denied a chance to visit the church. Once our appointment was confirmed by email and telephone, we set out to the church premises and in no time were ushered to the famous GATE 5 through which several global political, business, entertainment and sports leaders from Africa, Europe, North and South America, Asia and the Caribbean have been ushered. Normal security checks were carried out and we were approached by a representative of the Church who took us straight to the site of the accident for an on-the-spot assessment. He had greeted us by saying good morning which we thought was weird at that time of the day. We went on to correct him but after he explained the reason for that form of greeting, we adapted.
At this stage, I disregarded the second lie a section of most online columnists told. While they said stern looking security men were on guard to turn back visitors who approached the site, my team and I only met a relaxed officer attached to the Nigeria Police Force (Mobile Unit), who after confirming our identities threw the gates open for us and our guide. As we moved from one location to the other, several persons who had genuine reasons to be allowed in joined us. I also noticed that pilgrims were allowed to gather and form small discussion groups undisturbed. As we toured the large compound housing the main auditorium and other facilities in the church, several pictures were freely taken (a third lie I must dispel) of the remnant of the building, the church canteen and overflow tents that served as annexes during service days.
With the tour over, we were again ushered into a session with some officials of the church that gave us an account of everything that happened on the fateful day of the collapse and the role the Lagos State office of the National Emergency Management Authority played after they arrived the scene very late and announced that they had limited time to “do their job”. During that session, I gave an account of our decision to stand by Prophet T.B. Joshua and the Synagogue Church of All Nations in their time of distress to the extent of making it known that if we had 50 other frontline clerics who are as involved in charity as Prophet T.B. Joshua is, Nigeria will be better off as to me, a church should be where burdens are lifted and not multiplied as the case seems to be with some churches in Nigeria.
At this stage, it’s necessary I encourage Nigerians that still hold the view that the building under reference collapsed due to structural defect to visit the church and avail themselves copies of the CCTV recording that aptly covers the entire moments before during and after the collapse at no cost. In this time of trial for Prophet T.B. Joshua and the Synagogue Church of All Nations, what is most important is not joining the band of uninformed Nigerians to cast aspersion on a man and institution that have suffered a loss of this magnitude because if we did, we will only succeed in playing the role of judges on the basis of crass ignorance and negative propaganda.
If anything, this man should be shown support, love and solidarity because they are the least the Nigerian society can afford to pay back Prophet T.B. Joshua and the Synagogue Church of All Nations with in view of the unconditional love, assistance and support him and his organization have shown the physically despaired and spiritually broken in our midst. That Prophet T.B. Joshua is humility personified is no longer news and this has largely rubbed off on his staff. In the course of our visit, while they addressed I and my team, I noticed meekness in their eyes; in their carriage, I noticed a harmless people who would not embark on project of that nature with substandard materials hence my pondering over allegations which suggest that the materials used are substandard. If a church can afford to put up a structure as breath taking as the main auditorium of the Synagogue Church of All Nations in view of its costs, I wonder why anyone would suggest they took the easy way out by building a mere six (6) storey building with substandard building materials.
As at now, I am aware of most of the laughable insinuations in some quarters about this accident some of which amount to a direct accusation of complicity on the part of Prophet T.B. Joshua in this matter especially as they relate to his attempt to “bribe” some journalist who visited the church earlier so they could give his account of the story. I not only find this laughable but I consider the Premium Times Reporter who told this lie mischievous because I once read an online material wherein I gathered that as a member of the online blogger team that visited Ekiti State on the invitation of former Governor Kayode Fayemi, he gladly received a brown envelope containing the sum of N50,000.00K only and was openly joyful and thankful to the giver. Now I ask; why would the man in the Synagogue attempt to bribe journalists to lie about this when he himself have released CCTV recording/video clips of the accident to the public?
On the note of finality, I must encourage members, partners and associates of both Prophet T.B. Joshua and the Synagogue Church of All Nations to stick together and remain united in the face of this huge test on their faith and trust in. This is essential because unless there is togetherness on the basis of faith and absolute trust in God, chances exist that whatever or whoever is responsible for this unfortunate incidence will have succeeded to a large extent. As the Prophet would say “God is still saying something.”
Ezeani, Chukwunonso Elvis is the South West Zonal Director for Communication, Research & Strategy at the Peoples Democratic Party National Youth Frontier. He can be reached via @NonsoEzeani1
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