(Photo: Wikimedia Creative Commons/Sefirmelk)
The highly popular and equally controversial Nigerian self-declared prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua, otherwise known as T.B. Joshua, has announced a special service at his The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) branch in London, where worshippers have reportedly been clamoring to get a hold of the charismatic Christian minister's "new anointing water."
Just four months after a stampede for Joshua's anointing water left four dead at a church service in Accra, Ghana, SCOAN London has published an alert titled "T.B. Joshua Sends New Anointing Water To UK – Special September Service!!!" and that those who sign up for the prayer line will be granted access to the "new anointing water."
"Today, we are seeing the hand of God move mightily through the medium of the Anointing Water at The SCOAN (headquarters) in Lagos, Nigeria – an instrument God is using to bring healing to the afflicted, deliverance to those in demonic bondage and breakthrough to those struggling in a cycle of backwardness and limitation," the church states in the announcement. "It is not the water that brings the miracles; it is God Himself, since the anointing is done in Jesus' name. As Prophet T.B. Joshua says, 'The secret of all the miracles is Jesus Christ.'"
SCOAN has claimed years that its founder and general overseer has been imparted with a special gift from God and can use water to purportedly heal those suffering from various ailments, including HIV/AIDS. Joshua's SCOAN claims the practice is Biblical by pointing to handkerchiefs linked to the apostle Paul, Moses' staff, and other inanimate objects apparently used by God in miracles. A common refrain in SCOAN'S bulletins and videos is: "God can use any medium to express Himself." Joshua's anointing water is so popular that it is offered by scammers or dealers independent of SCOAN.
A video included with the alert about the Sept. 1 London church gathering shows various people being splashed and sprayed with the water and shaking or doubling over, purportedly being freed from demons. Others are shown walking or skipping after previously needing crutches to walk. Other promotional videos from the global ministry shows those who have purportedly been healed later affirming Joshua's anointing water as "sent by God."
Joshua and his anointing water are so popular that four people were killed and many others injured when thousands showed up in May for a service at SCOAN in Accra, Ghana. The injuries occurred when worshippers in the back of the church made a mad dash to get a hold of Joshua's anointing upon hearing that it would be handed out for free. The water is sometimes sold or given as a complimentary gift with the purchase of a SCOAN product or a donation to the faith healer's ministry.
The SCOAN Ghana representative, the Rev. Sam McCaanan, told the press he was "devastated" and "sorry" over the "unfortunate" incident. Joshua also announced that SCOAN would cover medical expenses for those critically injured in the stampede.
SCOAN has not been operating without controversy, and was criticized over the May stampede.
"I personally believe there is a level of exploitation going on here, with churches selling things like anointing water and car stickers. Jesus Christ never sold any of these things," said Apostle Samuel Yaw Antwi, General Secretary of the Ghana Charismatic and Pentecostal Council, according to The Guardian.
"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, are running after signs of miracles," Antwi added.
"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."
When asked by BBC News about its claims of Joshua's anointing water having healing properties, SCOAN insisted, "We are not the healer. God is the healer. Never a sickness God cannot heal. Never a disease God cannot cure." Representatives claimed that they don't ask people to stop taking their medication, adding, "Doctors treat – God heals."
Joshua, listed by Forbes.com in 2011 as one of Nigeria's top three wealthiest pastors, also founded Emmanuel TV, which broadcasts his programs around the clock. The minister, who founded SCOAN in 1987, is reportedly also quite popular with political figures and celebrities across Africa. Joshua's Facebook page, which has collected more than three quarters of a million followers, includes a photo gallery of the preacher purportedly delivering healings to people in South Africa, Holland and Singapore. Church services at SCOAN'S main location in Nigeria reportedly attract an estimated 15,000 worsippers.