Memories of Nazareth crusade: When all Africans became ‘TB Joshua’

Posted on: July 9, 2021, by :

*Brought thousands of religious tourists to Israel

By Okorie Uguru

Nazareth, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the northern district of Israel is a city steeped in history. Every landscape-the hills, the valleys, the fields, the wells, the water, the ancient buildings are all landmarks that capture an aspect of this rugged ancient city’s rich history. The city is metaphor of Christianity because it is the birthplace of Jesus.

The ancient city  is used to visits of historical figures due to its significance to Christianity, but probably of recent, no individual’s visit had attracted so much passion and reactions like the late Prophet T.B. Joshua’s in June 2019.

The visit was tagged ‘Nazareth Meeting with T.B. Joshua’. For a man who was used to attracting extreme emotive reactions from people, the 2019 Nazareth crusade was no different.  It was tagged ‘meeting’ because the Israeli’s government was trying to avoid offending the sensibilities of the Orthodox Judaism religion adherents who are in the majority in Israel.

When this reporter arrived at Nazareth few days to the event, from Ramada Olivie Hotel in Nazareth Illit, he could feel a tensed atmosphere. This was not helped by a frenzy of media stories both in the local newspapers and online   in which the late cleric was labeled with different names. Further still, the undercurrent of the local politics of Nazareth between the Mayor, Ali Salam, and his opponents did not help matter. His political opponents accused him of bringing a shaman to Nazareth; some Christian religious groups in Nazareth were also lukewarm towards the meeting, although some equally decided to partner with him for the crusade.

 However, Mayor Salam insisted the meeting had economic  values to the city as the Nigerian prophet, who had built an amphitheatre at the historical Mount Precipice, was going to attract thousands of tourists, bringing in the much needed business.

The Israeli government was a little apprehensive about the meeting but had no reason to stop it as Prophet Joshua had followed all the laws and guidelines they had placed before him to fulfill.

However, a few days to the event which was to start on June 23,  Nazareth came to life. Thousands of people from about 50 countries had arrived the city taking up almost all the hotels.  Hundreds of luxury buses filled with religious tourists were being ferried from the Ben Gurion International Airport, to Nazareth.  The hotels in Nazareth and other nearby towns were having off-season boon.  It was obvious that the decision to bring the Nigerian cleric, from business perspective, was a wise one, but the city was still sitting on edge, not knowing what to expect at the crusade ground. It could all dissolve into violence and protests. The city was sitting on edge.

The last Christian clergy to hold such a programme on Mount Precipice in Nazareth was Pope John Paul 11 on Saturday, March 25, 2000. But the late Roman Catholic Pope was not dogged by controversy like  T.B. Joshua. All attention was on Mount Precipice which was close to the entrance to the city of Nazareth.

From Mount Precipice, located outside the southern edge, the ancient city of Nazareth spreads out like a painting on canvas. At night, the picturesque view transforms into thousands of tiny shiny light like stars in the sky. Mountain Precipice, other mountains and hills of Nazareth have made history and have also seen history being made. It was here, on Mount Precipice, according to the Bible, an irate mob attempted to throw Jesus Christ down the cliff.

On Sunday, June 23, 2019, the ancient town of Nazareth, with majority Muslim population, was agog as people from all over the world stormed the birth place of Jesus for the Christian religious programme tagged: “Nazareth Meeting with T.B.Joshua”.

More than 50 luxury and sprinter buses were put to use, conveying people to and fro the mountain. Tens of police personnel and private security providers were also on hand to ensure there was no breakdown of order. Vehicles were parked kilometres away from Mount Precipice, while every visit assessed the mountain using the bus shuttle. Due to well organized logistics, there was no breach whatsoever.

Although it was a 4pm to 8pm programme, as early as 11 am, many were already at the entrance of amphitheatre at the mountain top waiting for the gate to open.

The Mount Precipice amphitheatre has a capacity of 40,000. It was filled with thousands also sitting on the plastic chairs provided at the overflow.

Prophet TB Joshua’s message was titled: We Are Known By Our Love. He urged the congregation to love one another irrespective of religion or race and that love comes from God.

His words: “God measures our love for Him and for our neigbour. Any one who does not love his fellow man cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is His command: whoever loves God must also love his fellow man.

 “How do you access love, by the practical things in our lives? We assess our love for God by the number of times we lovingly think of Him daily, by the degree of hunger we have to read His word. The more we love Him, the more precious His word will become.”

The climax of each day’s programme was the prayer line where thousands of people from different continents with different diseases were prayed upon.

The stories and testimonies from the crusade on Mount Precipice quickly spread into the town. Some had watched the crusade through EmmanuelTV and on the net.

 The very well organized programme with very tight security and excellent crowd management also saw many natives of Nazareth among the crowd. The natives and tourists trooping to the town to see the birth place of Jesus, were confessing seeing the manifestation of the power in the name of Jesus Christ.

One of the natives at the event, Roger Wakim, a Christian Arab and a member of the Mother Church of the Holy Spirit in Nazareth Illit summed up the experience. “This is the experience when Jesus was on earth in Israel. He was sent to start ministering at the age of 30. For three and half years he was casting out demons and healing the sick. Deliverance and healing go side by side. Whenever there is deliverance, there will healing.”

Once of those who testified receiving their healing was Pastor Gregory Englert, an Indian based missionary.  He said: “I was hit  by a car. From then on, I started to have headache; my neck would go out of place and my back would go out of place, things like that. I started treating the ailment, but the treatments only give me temporary relief. It would periodically come back. It would leave and then come back. So, that was the problem. I also had some breathing problem, allergies and so on. It was glorious to come here.”

Asked why he decided to travel to Israel, he said: “I have read testimonies; I have equally seen people that go to Prophet T. Joshua crusades. They get the results that they’ve been looking for, or they will get the answers and reasons for certain things in their lives and the solutions. Whatever the problem, it will come to a grinding halt. So, I wanted to come here. I have attended many prayer conferences without getting the solution, but if there was any chance, I would have gone to Lagos, Nigeria because thousands go weekly in and out. I had to get a letter of invitation. So, this opportunity came. Just a week ago, I was there in the United Kingdom and I told God I would love to attend this event.  And he made this a reality.”

The Mayor of Nazareth, Mr. Ali Salam, said the visit and meeting of Prophet T.B. Joshua supports the city economically. His words: “This visit supports the city economically and some defeated politicians in the recent electoral battle, who are trying in vain for relevance, are now working to impede my work on peace. In order to support their weak position, they claim I receive and praise those who claim prophecy.

 “If you want to fight for peace, fight with funds not lies and fabrications. The people of the city will not fall into the trap you are trying to build. They love the mayor who works day and night to raise the city economically, culturally, ethnically and educationally.”

Throughout the two-day meeting on Mount Precipice, there was no protest, no security breach and no accident.  The mountain has made history, and has also watched history being made.  It was on this mountain, the Bible recorded, that mob attempted to throw Jesus Christ from the cliff.

After the first day of the crusade, many indigenes of Nazareth, once the see black Africans would beckon to them calling ‘TB Joshua!, TB Joshua!!’ It became a name most Africans, including this writer, had to bear until departure from the city.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *