Well…I have been watching Prophet TB Joshua on Emmanuel TV for sometime now and I must say that I find his ministry pretty captivating.
Of course,being someone who believes in miracles,it is no news that I would want to be a TB Joshua fan.The simplicity,and graceful humility the man exudes in his ministrations causes my heart to warm.
Momma is due for return on Friday,so I decided to convince her to let us attend Sunday Service there 2 days ago and experience the raw glory of the prophet!
Ikotun is pretty far from central Lagos metropolis,so I had to arrange for my driver to skip his church and drive us down.
We left home by 3.30am to beat the sea of people that mill in there round the clock.
So here we are on Sunday morning at the popular Synagogue church.Driver finds a convenient parking space,and we all hop out and amble into the premises unashamedly awe-stricken at the impressive exterior decor of the towering buildings.
It’s around 5.30am.
A COLD WELCOME:
As we stroll past the first barricade to enter the front entrance of the church,a group of Ushers accost us,or rather halted us.They ask us if this was our first time,and when we affirmed it was–a mature looking female usher stepped forward and rudely ordered us to go to the back tent,that only full-time members were allowed to come into the main church.
This lady never even offered us a welcoming smile,or warm greetings to somewhat palliate us for all the traffic stress,painfully early wake-up,and hours of road journey we braved to be there.
She just stood there barking commands rudely at us like some aggravated platoon lieutenant calling to order a group of annoying rankless recruits.
I visibly winced at the cold welcome the widely acclaimed Synagogue Church accorded us on our visit,and I could feel the volcano broiling deep down inside me itching to vent.
Mannerless people don’t irritate me as much as mannerless people who don’t consider elderly people when they want to spout their insolence.
Be mannerless to me in public all you want—we can slug it out to the end all we want,and I can give you a healthy piece of my mind.But when my mother or any elder I respect or hold in high esteem is involved,just be prepared cos the bitch in me would be unleashed.
So it was with supreme effort that my mum and the driver dragged me past that saucy group of first Ushers.I was sure I wanted to get my ass back to the car and spirit myself home without further ado.I didn’t drive over 30 miles to come and be treated like horse piss,and I wouldn’t subject my mother to such crap either.
In all my years in this world,I had never seen such rudeness from church workers that were supposed to smile pleasantly at new-comers and welcome them into church.
So past the gate I reluctantly allowed myself to be led,wondering which of the ‘back-tents’ we were expected to walk into–cos there were several tent-like structures splattered around the premises,and not a SINGLE usher or warden to direct us.
The ones with tags we saw who looked important simply waved us aside or outrightly hurried past us when we asked for directions.
They all looked grim, furious and hostile.
Finally after wondering around in disjointed circles like 3 tropical millipedes with Jet-lag,we 3 were told by another new-comer that we had to obtain a permit/pass which would only give us access to the over-flow.
BAD BLOOD IN THE TABERNACLE:
As we herded into the crowded tent to queue up behind nothing less than 750 random new-comers,I noticed a female Usher yelling at a girl.
Everyone turned in their general direction.
Aunty Usher/women leader was rudely telling the girl that her skirt was too short and she shouldn’t linger around the queue or else she’d summon the police to drag her out of the premises.
I turned to look at the lady being harrassed.Her skirt was a little above her knees,but not overly vulgar or indecent per se.
I also noticed that she had one of the best pair of legs and figures I have seen in this part of the world.
Deaconess mean-faced usher was obviously envious that God wasn’t impartial when he was sharing out body parts and beauty.
But a new-comer?? Embarrassing her like that?Good grief!!
I was already feeling unwell by the time I joined the queue.
Eventually,we were carted to another tent and made to seat down for 2 hours waiting for the permits to be issued.
Suddenly a voice boomed out from the public address intercom in the hall and instructed foreign visitors/delegates to move to the left side of the hall,and present their ID cards for reception.
I was seated conversing with my mother when one dehydrated-looking male Usher walks up to me and lightly taps my shoulder,I swivel my neck around to him,and he asks me whether I heard the announcement.
I rooster my head quizzically at him,and he asks whether I’m Nigerian.I am recoiling my tongue in to mouth out some sarcastic retort at the rude clown when my mum intervenes laughing convivially and telling him that she’s my mother and I live in Nigeria.
Stale little prick deliberately ignores my mother and repeats his question to me.
I take a deep breath and bluntly tell him to go and anoint someone else with his mouth odour.I remind him that it’s only about 7am and my lungs deserve better.
Dude obviously didn’t see that coming.
He stands there like the confounded dolt he is,blinking his eyes methodically and saying,’EXCUSE ME?’ on a loop.
Momma is trying to pacify and mediate or explain or whatever when the announcement on the buzzer summons us all to re-queue for our passes.I help momma up and we begin to trudge towards the sea of bodies heading west.I think the Usher is explaining something to his colleague and pointing at me,but I am past caring at this point.
SECURITY HARRASSMENT AND SEGREGATION:
So we’ve obtained the passes and are queueing up again to enter the church from the rear wing and join the worshippers. Men and women are sorted into 2 separate rows where they are thoroughly frisked,and searched before being allowed entry.
My driver is right behind me on the queue,and as the person ahead of me steps into the church entrance archway to be cleared,I overhear the security man asking him where his copy of the ‘service guide’ or booklet is. He says he doesn’t have one and is shabbily asked to step back and return to the tents to buy one before he is allowed entry.
The man starts to explain that he doesn’t have extra cash except his offering and tithe,but the bouncer won’t hear any of it.
He gruffly and impatiently asks the man to step away from the line and not waste the time of others,that nobody without the booklet will be allowed into the church.
I step in to be cleared,and instantly,the head security personnel who is standing a little way off and observing the clearing process rushes forward and takes it up from the bouncer assigned to me.
He(Head security) doesn’t notice that I have a Nigerian flag clutched under my bible,and asks me what country I am from,that I should be on the queue for the foreign delegates.
He looks pretty important,so I patiently show him my flag and tell him I came from Nigeria.
Head security seems to have a problem believing this because he keeps staring at my hair.
Next he asks me where exactly in Nigeria,and I tell him Lagos city.He asks where in Lagos city,and I ask him how that piece of information helps or relates to the exercise on ground?Was there a problem? I came to your church for the first time and I’m being interrogated like a Boko Haram suspect?I frankly tell him that I do not appreciate the unnecessary questions and whether I should return to my car and go home?
A few back-and-forths and I’m through and into the hallway corridor that meanders into the expansive church auditorium.
Meanwhile,Dominic my driver has been asked to step aside for more questioning.He is asked all sorts of demeaning questions, and scrutinized like a homeless drunk who mistakenly stumbled into their church.
The security personnel asks me to move on and join the church leaving my driver to probably be escorted out of the premises into a black-Maria.
I am livid at this point.I walk back to the personnel-in-charge,and ask him why my personal driver is being humiliated that way. It is obvious that people are profiled and accorded respect based on how expensive their clothes looked,and it stunk.
It was apparent that the poor man that drove me down was being looked down on because he probably wasn’t dressed in Gucci designers and expensive accessories.
Eventually,we were let through and joined the line of people hurrying to another dedicated tent for new-comers beside the main church building. I was aghast.
Sweated,queued,endured rudeness from ill-mannered church staff….and still not qualified to sit in the church at the end of the day?
I was numb.
Sat down in the tent with my driver battling dejection,and dialled my momma’s number to know where she was.We hadn’t seen ourselves since we were separated.I was worried how she was faring in the midst of such hostile staff and scathing rudeness.I looked around.
There was not a single usher in the tent to ask for help or any assistance whatsoever.We were bundled like unwanted rags,shoved into a tent and totally forgotten.
All we had were the flat-screen plasmas which televised the Live service in the church auditorium.
THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER
It is so sad the horrible ways church workers can kill a pastor’s labour.
Most of the criticisms,and attacks that Christian churches and pastors receive is largely because of these workers.
They do all manner of despicable things under the umbrella of the church,embarrass and snob new-comers,extort money from gullible first-timer’s without the pastor’s knowledge and so on.
Let’s look at a few specific grey areas in my Synagogue church experience.
Nigerians are generally very uncivil people.The worst thing that a person can witness is people who were charged with welcoming new-comers to a church turning around and being rude to them.
It is shocking to see a beautiful global ministry like Synagogue church of all nations having such horrible workers strategically placed to receive first-timers.Gauging from what we see on TV,this indeed is an obstinate surprise.
(2) Racial segregation:
The racial segregation in S.C.O.A.N is jaw-dropping.Foreign delegate new-comers are treated like royalty,but Nigerians are treated like the sopping scum of the earth.
So heart-wrenching it is because foreigners treat Nigerians like scum in their own countries,and when we think we can fall back to our own people for more humane treatment,we receive the same treatment from our people.
How distasteful to note that this sickening trend can gain entry into the church as well.
(3) Condemnatory treatment:
Imagine the incident where the lady was embarrassed and sent back because of her supposed shortness of skirt.
Who gave these people the right to dictate who comes into the Lord’s house and who does not?Where do these workers pick up such satanic traits?
Even the bible clearly beckons on sinners to come as they are.In their rags,in their G-strings,in their mini-skirts,in their slim-fit trousers. It is an unforgivable abomination to drive away a new-comer from church on the grounds that he/she was inappropriately dressed.
A church isn’t a place for just the perfect.
a Church should be a place to make the imperfect to be perfect.
. Jesus never died for the perfect.It is for the imperfect that he sacrificed his life on the cross.
(4) Shabby dressing of staff,shabby treatment of invitees and poor ushering structures generally:
I detest seeing people in administrative positions dressing carelessly. One of the reasons I love Christ Embassy church is because of their articulate well-structured system and discipline.
Ushers are neatly suited up with tags,the royal guards,and logistics crew are properly dressed with labels as their departments require.There is an usher on every bend to direct new-comers on where to sit,and so on.
But not in Synagogue.
Staff dress in a disorderly array of casual wears,fly their shirts,chew bubble-gums noisily,wear black gloves like snipers and carry no legible form of identification whatsoever.Plus there aren’t any positioned to attend to newcomers and direct and assist them accordingly.
First-timers are abandoned to wander like lost sheep in the premises while the staff stand by to watch in indifferent disinterest—their attentions only being drawn when they wander into some ‘special’ room,and the ushers have to yell at the poor trespassing soul to get out or be thrown out by security.
Of course,they never fail to remember these ‘unimportant newbies’ when it’s offering time,and emerge from the bowels of the earth like evil spirits wielding bottomlessly deep offering-bags and basins–to vanish mysteriously again after you’ve outlived your monetary usefulness.
(5) Security harrassment,disrespect to elders and humiliating ‘clearance methods’:
I literally watched as a woman in her 80s was rudely warned to desist from coming to a particular section or else she’d be thrown outside.The lady warning her couldn’t be up to 27.
Additionally,no metal-detecting scanners,or bomb threat security measures are taken before admitting people in.
The security personnel simply frisk people roughly in an undignifying manner and shove them inside.Your ‘sacred areas’ are roughed-up,and your spirits are shattered.
Then brutish-looking policemen are standing by ready to drag you to their van if you don’t cooperate.
The entire staff work-force,or would I say–manpower of the church stand around scowling coldly at new-comers with seething and hateful suspicion as if they received intel that they came to cart away the loudspeakers and offering bags.
I saw these and more…and I groaned inwardly.
I am very sure that Pastor TB Joshua is not aware of these horrible ‘misdemeanours’ from the workers under him,and it saddens me to know that he may never know because these malevolent humans will ensure word never reaches him.
I can only sit and hope that a few of his members stumble on this rant of mine and relay it to his executive council or him in person.
Prophet TB Joshua is a great Man of God with a true heart of love for the sick and needy,and God is blessing millions through him..
…but he needs to call his workers to order.
Dear church worker in Redeemed,Synago
gue,Living Faith,Chosen,Assemblies of God etc,..
You think you are superior and loftier because you were placed in a prominent point of service,don’t you?
If these souls you embarrass and discourage from coming into church go to hell because of your sauciness and insolence;and you believe they are condemned to hell for being hopeless sinners—don’t get it twisted.
If these people wind up going to hell,you too will earn a luxury villa in hell as well next to Sani Abacha’s duplex.
Heaven will never condone your vile stench.You are every bit as hopeless as them,and then kilograms more wicked!
You people should stop giving men of God a bad name because of your evil and unruly characters.
How and why would you turn away a first-timer from church?
Is the church your father’s compound?
Who gave you that right?
Are you mad,for sanity’s sake?
(Ivan The Terrible)