Many myths surround Prophet Temitope Joshua, the youthful General Overseer of The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations. When cynics are not raising questions about his source of supernatural powers, they are perpetually wondering what manner of man is he. Yet, the more people seek to unravel or spin stories about this enigma, the more confused they get.
But apart from the astounding miracles that unfurl in the church every day, critics also never cease wondering if the man actually has any marital life.
Yet, they sure know he is not a monk, even though like a monk, he is holed up in his religious commune, devoting his time and substance to prayer, solitude and contemplation. But today, we unveil that vital aspect of TB Joshua that you never knew or know very little about…
A bevy of ladies, very beautiful ladies, strut elegantly into the penthouse presidential suite at The Synagogue Church of All Nation s where The Spectator team is patiently waiting, and watching videos of some of the explosive miracles the church has witnessed in recent times. At this hour, the team is watching the video of the special thanksgiving service held for the brand new Ghanaian President, Professor John Atta Mills, on his recent ascendancy to power.
When the door closes behind the ladies, the first thing you notice about Evelyn, the delectable wife of Prophet TB Joshua, the General Overseer of The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations, is her infectious radiance and unmistakable enthusiasm. Both attributes, even more, make her the most powerful, yet most adorable woman in the spiritual empire that her husband has built. An empire which presidents, kings and queens, princes and princesses, and assorted dignitaries from across the globe, routinely throng for their diverse spiritual needs.
Yet, not many among the teeming parishioners, even in the outside world, know that this absolutely delightful woman is the moving force behind the world acclaimed, yet much vilified prophet – Temitope Joshua. “Apart from God,” quips one worshipper, her voice barely audible, “this woman is the next most powerful force behind Prophet TB Joshua. She is a workaholic. She is a wonderful counsellor. She compliments her husband.”
Yet this self-effacing beauty carries none of these testimonials like a banner in the manner of some. Indeed, as the sultry lady struts into the suite, this cool afternoon, clad in a simple but colourful gown, she carries no emblem that usually typifies a powerful hand behind the throne. Rather, from the shining beads of sweat on her temple, you would need no soothsayer to tell you that the woman has been working herself to the bones. Even as she sinks into a settee opposite the team, an aide still wants her to attend to a detail. “But I can’t keep these editors waiting,” she retorts with her velvety voice. “I think that can wait.”
With that, she signals us to begin to fire our question. In one hour, the session is over. The product of that encounter is the stuff this superlative exclusive is made. Please, enjoy the interview, the first she has ever granted any Nigerian newspaper. And we are not blowing our trumpet.
Your husband made a promise about nine months ago that The Spectator would be the first Nigerian newspaper you would talk to. After waiting for so long, we thought it was never going to happen. But it is happening now. So, let’s start by asking you, how does it feel to be Mrs Evelyn TB Joshua?
I count myself very lucky among women. My husband is a man every woman will want to have as a husband.
That presupposes a serious contest over him (general laughter…). Seriously speaking, do you fight any battle to keep him?
Not at all. I know that every woman will desire to have him as a husband, but there are not struggles on my part to keep him.
Prophet Joshua is very handsome and a great instrument in the hands of God, sought after, all over the world, by presidents and kings. You mean there are no special battles you fight to gain his attention and also keep him from prying female eyes?
Not at all. But I know that when a man is hardworking and God-fearing, every woman will like to have him. But believe me, I fight no special battles to keep him. He knows who he believes and God whom he believe and serves so well is capable of keeping him, and has, indeed, been keeping him.
So, how do you cope with his tight schedule? This is somebody who spends every minute of his life in the church ministering to people’s needs and all that; and we do know that women need their husbands as much as their husbands need them.
We are into the same cause. So, I don’t have any difficulties handling that aspect at all because we are pursuing the same goal. God has so made it that we complement each other perfectly well in very many ways.
Are you a pastor, too?
No, but I am helping.
So, you never trained as a pastor?
We are many here; we are under training.
Yes, and it is a life-long training. It is a continuous, never-ending training like the school of life. Of course, as long as we are living, we will continue to strive in God’s will.
So, how exactly did you meet Prophet TB Joshua? We want to know the year, the circumstances and all that…
(laughs heartily…) It was around 1989
That was 20 years ago?
Twenty years now, yes. I visited a sister somewhere at Ikotun-Egbe, and, then they were talking about a particular man, a prophet to be precise. It was a kind of meeting to be precise. And it’s like everybody in that gathering, or at least half of the people in the room, had actually visited him. So, they were saying a lot of good things about him. I was thrilled. At the end of the whole thing, I called a sister outside and asked whether she could take me to the prophet. I didn’t ask to go there out of curiosity. I actually needed a guide at that point in time.
Were you at any crossroads at that point in time?
Not really. I wasn’t at any crossroads, but I desperately needed a guide.
Or were there some challenges you were facing and for which you needed to see this man of God?
Not quite so. But I had seen pastors. I worshipped in a church and I had read about prophets in the Bible, though I had never come across any. But at that particular time, I needed a guide, sort of.
Yes, a spiritual guide. A counsellor.
Could you tell us the church were you were worshipping before you suddenly and desperately needed this spiritual guide?
I was in Assemblies of God Church.
How long were you there?
As long as I can remember.
Were you born there?
No, I was not. Can we go back to my story, please? So, the sister and I scheduled a date. We got to his place and he was not around.
Not to The Synagogue, I believe?
No, to his house.
Okay, where was his house then?
Down in Ikotun-Egbe, at Agodo.
It was a mansion was it?
(Laughs loudly…) Yes, by the grace of God, it was.
If we may take you back, what things were people talking about that made you get interested in him?
Many things. This one said he prayed for him and things became okay from there. Another said her life was at a bend but straightened up when she met him. You know, things like that. So, we went there. Unfortunately, we did not meet him at home. But looking back now, I thank God that we didn’t meet him that day.
Because that would have been the end of this story.
Why would it have been the end of the story?
It would have been because what he told me the very first day that I set my eyes on him, if the sister were there, I would have believed that maybe she had gone behind me to tell him all about me. And that would have ruined it.
So, did the man of God tell you the story of his life?
Yes, of course.
Without any pre-knowledge of who you were?
Yes. Okay, I’m coming (laughs…). Some months after, I visited him. That was in 1990. I could remember that day was a public holiday. I remember also how I nearly lost my way because I had never been to the place before, except that day I went with the sister.
That is to say, this time you went alone?
Yes, I did. I went alone. But before I was able to locate the place, it was a bit difficult for me. When I got into the waiting room, I met two men waiting to see him. Before this time, the idea that I had about a prophet was that of an old man with a white, long beard and things like that. So, on that day, I was reading a novel that I came with when I suddenly saw someone come into the room, pick one or two things and went back. But the shadow of whatever I saw was not that of an old man.
Did you greet him?
No, I didn’t even look at his face. But when he left one, one of the two men was telling the other one, ‘that’s him. That’s him.’ I looked up but he had gone. They went into the consulting room before me. Finally, it was my turn, and I went in there. We sat opposite each other. And, he was gazing at me for about a minute and some seconds. I gazed at him, too. Transfixed as I was, I noticed that there was a piece of paper before him. Still looking at me, he wrote the word, ‘Ejide’, on it. (Transliterated, Eji de – twin has come). Lest I forget, I’m a twin.
And before then, you had not told him anything about yourself?
No, we were just looking at each other until he, at a time, wrote my name on the piece of paper. So, we started talking. He told me a lot of things about myself, both things that I knew, and those that I never knew. I was shocked. He told me about my family, about my past, my present and my future. Altogether, we spent about 45 minutes. At the end of the whole thing, he spoke to me in Yoruba and said: Joo ma binu o. Ma ro pe bi mo se nba gbogbo eniyan ti o ba wa s’odo mi soro ni eleyi o. Mi o ni ale, mi o dee fee ni ale. Sugbon, se oo fe mi? (Transliterated, this means: Please, don’t be annoyed. Don’t think this is how I talk to everyone that comes to me. I don’t have a concubine, and I don’t want to have a concubine. But can you marry me?)
Just like that?
Just like that. It was strange, but that gives us an insight into what the Scripture says that the Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. I think that was it. That was how I met him. Some months later, I asked him why he thought it was right seeing a lady for the first time and going on to propose to her. He said he had seen me four days before that very day.
I don’t know
In his dream?
I don’t know.
Or was it a revelation?
Honestly, I don’t know.
Okay, let’s go back to the time you entered his consulting room. You said you sat opposite him and looking at each other intensely, I believe. At that particular moment, what was going on in your mind?
A lot of things. In the first place, I was expecting to see an elderly man.
But instead you saw a dashing, handsome, young man?
(Laughs). Oh yes! That was it.
He too must have been captivated by a ravishing beauty like you…
(Laughs again…) I wouldn’t know. But like I told you, he wrote my name on the piece of paper before him. That was the first thing that really shocked me. And the fact that he proposed to me the first time that we met without waiting to know some things about me.
Wait a minute. Don’t you think that one of your friends could have had contact with him and told him about you?
Unfortunately, I don’t have friends. As I told you, it was a sister that I visited who took me there in the first place. So, there is no way anybody could have gone to tell him about me. And, when I was going there the second time, she wasn’t there. I went alone.
Why did you choose to leave where you were worshipping?
I’ve told you how I got to know about him. I told you too, that I didn’t go there out of curiosity. I needed a guide, whom, I believe, I could get from the prophet. That’s why I went.
In what area of your life did you need a guide before you went to him? Was it on marriage, business etc.? What area?
You know, life is full of challenges. As a young lady, I knew God was there. I have a Creator and I know He can guide me into the right path. So, I wouldn’t say business or marriage drove me to him. I just needed someone to guide me into the right path in life.
What were you doing in the secular world before this time?
Should I say as it was then, so it is now? After my secondary school education, at that time, you could get a job in a factory or whatever, hoping to be staffed one day. So after my secondary school education, life was like: today, you are in business; tomorrow, you are in a printing press, and so on. I think the last place I worked before I met him was in Nigerian Distilleries in Ota.
I was going to ask what you trained in because you are so fluent in expression and other things…
What qualities eventually cemented the relationship between you and Prophet TB Joshua?
As I told you, he is a very honest and humble man. Yes, he is a God fearing man too. I saw a kind-hearted man, a zealous man, a man of one purpose, a man with a sole aim: to please God at all times, with every other thing being secondary. I think those qualities were what cemented our relationship.
Okay, how were you convinced that he was the man that you were going to spend the rest of your life with?
When I woke up that very morning, I never knew. But something in me said: ‘Go to the prophet.’ And when he proposed to me, it was strange, but then, my heart agreed with it instantly.
Did you say ‘Yes’ there and then?
I don’t think I have said yes up till now! (General laughter)
You can say that again. So, from there, one thing led to another and then your marriage or wedding. When did it take place? How many months or years of courtship did you have?
I am not sure that we courted for long. The wedding took place the same year – 1990.
Where did you get married?
In my place (laughs)
Was it a church wedding or traditional wedding?
Let’s have you talk a little about yourself, when you were born and where, about your family and where you come from.
I was born about 40 years ago into a family of seven.
You don’t look it at all…
What’s your position in the family?
Fifth, my twin brother and I.
Twin brother? Where is he?
He is late.
What a pity.
There’s no problem. I was born to the late Mr and Mrs Nicholas Akabude in the quiet town of Okala Okpuno in Oshimili North local government of Delta State. I started my primary education at St. Emecheta Primary School, Ezi Town, also in Delta State. Years later, I came to Lagos, that was in 1977, and completed my primary education here at Orile Primary School, Oshidi, and my secondary education also in Oshodi. That’s all about my education. But a few years later, my husband sent me to Ghana and I was able to take some management courses there.
So, in what practical ways has your ministry complemented your husband’s? I know you are a minister in The Synagogue. What’s your own ministry? Tell us about your ministry.
It’s the ministry of reconciliation.
In all aspects – parents-children relationships, marriage and things like that. I think they go hand-in-hand with one another. You can’t actually separate them.
How does this ministry complement your husband’s ministry, bearing in mind that he is into a prophetic and healing ministry?
When we talk about reconciliation, you need a lot of time to listen to people, to hear them; they want to bare their minds and a prophet hasn’t got that time, especially after talking for hours. But I do that.
What are the peculiar challenges that face you as Mrs TB Joshua?
Yes, are there challenges that you face?
Life is all about challenges. All those problems and trials, I see them as challenges.
Maybe you are getting used to not seeing him regularly as you would have loved to…
No, no, no. What’s he doing? Whatever it is, he has my support.
Seeing a lot of people and having to minister to them…
You mean it doesn’t affect the home in anyway?
Not at all.
Okay, how come you have kept to yourself for so long, because if this is not your first interview with the press, you’ve granted very negligible few? Or is it that you dislike the press?
Stay tuned for part II of the interview