Evelyn Joshua has become the head of one of the most influential evangelical churches in Africa, but the 52-year-old faces the challenge of safeguarding the legacy of his late husband.
TB Joshua died unexpectedly in June at the age of 57, sparking a succession dispute that took months to resolve.
But his huge gate in the Synagogue of All Nations (SCOAN) in Nigeria’s commercial capital opened again for the first time in five months to welcome believers.
Known for his prophecies and self-proclaimed miracles, he attracted tens of thousands of people from all over the world to Lagos, including top politicians from Africa and Latin America.
The Pentecostal Church in Nigeria rarely discusses the issue of inheritance, and it is often passed on to the spouse of the late founder without dispute.
But at SCOAN, Mrs. Joshua, the ordained pastor, faces competition because she is not a member of the church board.
Her opponents think this shows that her husband does not think she is his successor.
The Prophet and his “wise men”
Unlike the other wives of the Nigerian Super Pastor, she was mostly behind the scenes during their three-year marriage.
TB Joshua, referred to as a “prophet” by SCOAN members, works with a group of close disciples he calls “wise men”-one of whom is believed to be being trained to replace him.
But after his death, those who were loyal to Mrs. Joshua obtained a court order to make her a member of the board of directors, paving the way for her to take over control.
The church subsequently announced Mrs. Joshua as the new leader “under the guidance of God,” angering some factions in the church because they were dissatisfied with the lack of transparency.
In particular, the organization known as the Global Conference of SCOAN Members (GCSM), which is said to have the support of some senior members, questioned this choice.
But she didn’t let anyone doubt who was in charge. Since her husband died, she led the first SCOAN service on November 7th.
According to reports, she lost no time in stamping her authority on the church and used the past few months to clean up some houses.
The video showed some members, mainly foreigners, who had lived in this vast compound for many years and left in mockery.
One member euphemistically described it as an “audit.”
It is said that those who were driven out of the house opposed Mrs. Joshua’s leadership.
“After the death of the Prophet, some of his disciples did not approach Evelyn with respect and maturity,” Joshuas’ former media assistant Patrick Evelynmore told the BBC.
There were also allegations of fraud, and the Nigerian anti-corruption agency EFCC confirmed to the BBC that it was investigating the church theft.
Key members of TB Joshua’s inner circle are accused of fleeing with bags of cash after his death.
It is unclear whether this is the subject of investigation, although the Niger newspaper The Punch According to reports, this is why some members of the church go into hiding.
Marriage proposal after the first date
However, Mrs. Joshua’s biggest obstacle will be to prove her spiritual credentials to thousands of followers who adore her husband.
They came for his charm and self-proclaimed healing power, and their expectations of the new leader will not be lowered.
Gebenga Osinaik, the editor-in-chief of Nigeria’s “Church Times”, admitted that her appointment was unexpected.
“She preached from time to time, but TB Joshua never listened to her,” he told the BBC.
But he admitted that for a person who has been largely ignored by many people, “including her husband”, Mrs. Joshua has shown “inner strength and ability to handle the synagogue.”
She refused to inherit the title of “Chief Inspector” from her husband, saying that he was still in power and she just “started the journey from where her father left the baton.”
And TB Joshua still stands out in the church. His posters decorate every corner of the building, and his old sermons are replayed on his media platform.
Mrs. Joshua seems to have inherited his preaching style—singing worship songs intermittently—and her rhythm also reflects the style of her late husband at her inauguration.
The couple first met in 1990, when he told her life story and wrote her name on a piece of paper. She didn’t say a word, which left a deep impression on her.
They spent 45 minutes together when they first met, and finally he proposed to her.
She is twins and the first of seven children and grew up in Okala Okpuno in the Delta State of the southeast of the country. Although she did not start as a pastor, she received training and was ordained under her husband’s hand.
In 2009, she described herself as someone with special talents in the Ministry of Reconciliation-“parent-child relationship, marriage, etc.”.
Large pastors in Nigeria often say that they have a biblical call—just like the prophets Samuel and Paul—to serve God.
According to TB Joshua, he came here in a trance for three days when he heard a voice saying: “I am your God. I give you a sacred mission to perform the work of the Father. .”
Mrs. Joshua did not say whether she had received such a call, but for some people, her connection with her husband was sufficient.
“TB Joshua is a natural prophet, but his wife has become a prophet. The husband and wife have become one, so through this union, he extended the anointing to her,” Mr. Iwelunmo said.
Although some widows of Nigerian church leaders, such as Janet Onarapo of the Abundant Life Gospel Mission and Margaret Idahosa of the Church of God International Mission, have achieved success in their ministries, they are all Is an outlier.
Most Pentecostal churches in Nigeria are built around the charm of their founders and tend to decline after their deaths.
Mr. Ossinek hinted that this may be the fate of SCOAN.
“When it comes to church affairs, people are looking for solutions, they are looking for prophecies, they are looking for visions of who have seen them,” he said.
“time [at SCOAN] It will definitely fall. “
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