LAGOS, (CAJ News) – REVILED locally, mostly in South Africa, for the death of over 100 worshippers at his church in 2014, thousands of kilometers away in South America, Nigerian church leader, Temitope Balogun (TB) Joshua, has earned some deity status by helping rebuild a country devastated by natural forces.
Joshua is one of the continent’s most divisive figures.
Popular among the elite and ordinary members of the public for his philanthropism and miracle works but blighted by a spat with other church leaders and a deadly collapse at his church premises, he has courted prominence and controversy in equal measure.
The Arigidi, Ondo State born’s name largely evokes memories of the September 2014, a guesthouse collapsed in his Synagogue Church of All Nations premises in Lagos killing at least 115 people, 84 of them South Africans, causing a spat between Africa’s two influential countries.
Controversy has overshadowed the 53-year-old’s humanitarian work such as providing food aid to poor communities in Colorado, USA, promoting women’s rights by providing funds to Nigerian widows to start small businesses and building a school in Lahore, Pakistan.
However, if there is a country where the intervention of the man also referred to as Africa’s most prominent “televangelist” has been warmly welcomed, it is Ecuador, the South American country that was shattered by a colossal earthquake in April.
An earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale reverberated throughout the entire economically-troubled country of more than 16 million people, leaving at least 500 dead and 27 500 injured.
Moved by the plight of Ecuadorians, Joshua – Founder of Emmanuel TV – sent a relief team to Esmeraldas Province, and dispatched a Boeing 727 cargo plane, which contained 20 tonnes of relief hygiene material, perishable, and non-perishable foodstuff.
The relief efforts have aided over 5 000 Ecuadorians, totaling over US$500 000.
Joshua’s team from Emmanuel TV Team has also extended its relief efforts to a remote village, Chachi de San Salvador, which had also been gravely affected by the quake in the areas of access to clean water and the destruction of its local school.
In response to this particular community’s needs, the team has supplied the community with equipment that converts river and unclean water into potable water.
Joshua’s team is also involved in a school construction project – at a cost of $262 000 – to rebuild the entire school complex that was destroyed. The reconstructed school will provide learning facilities for 350 students.
Mary-Jean Nleya, spokesperson of Emmanuel TV, said the mission of the organization was to “change lives, change nations and change the world.”
“Emmanuel TV has been in the business of rushing to the aid of individuals and communities that are victims of natural disasters, economic hardships or social vices,” she said in an interview with CAJ News.
She said for example, when a typhoon hit Philippines, where over 40 people were killed last year, Joshua’s station responded by sending emergency food aid and other supplies to Leyte.
Nleya added when the nation of Haiti was struck by the earthquake in 2010, Emmanuel TV responded by sending a relief team which helped to establish a medical clinic.
Similarly when a fire accident devastated a small village in India, Pallam Village in Andra Pradesh – the station supported the inhabitants of that village with food items as well as financial aid to rebuild the homes of those who were left homeless.
“These are just a few examples of various disaster relief initiatives we have embarked upon. Therefore, when the earthquake hit the nation of Ecuador, we deemed it a responsibility to respond to the plight of the Ecuadorians,” added Nleya.
The Ecuadorean Government recently expressed gratitude for the Ecuador Relief Project by Emmanuel TV, whose team’s Operations Centre is situated close to Esmeraldas City.
The Presidency also expressed the nation’s appreciation when Vice President Jorge David Glas Espinel and other government representatives visited the shelter camps where the Emmanuel TV Ecuador Relief Team was distributing supplies.
Meanwhile, a representative of the Ministry of the National Defence of Ecuador, as well as other military personnel, have welcomed the team to Ecuador.
A grateful beneficiary, from the Chachi community, summed up the country’s gratitude to the gesture by the Nigerians.
“This is the first aid we have received from another country,” he said.
Nleya said the team was humbled by the response.
“We deem it a privilege to be in a position to give when others are in need and do not embark on disaster relief projects, and other charitable works, to be appreciated by people. Instead we go about the mission of Emmanuel TV because we love God and that love overflows to people,” she said.
Nleya said ultimately, Joshua’s entity was simply living out its mission “one day at a time, one need at a time and one person at a time.”
“We use our media platform, as an international television network, to inspire others to reach out in their various communities to those in need of what they have to give.”
– CAJ News