Firstly, I'd like to thank Nigeria's former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
In 2004, he made a decision that has come to profoundly affect my life today. I
would certainly have no reason whatsoever to even consider writing this, talk
less discovering Nigeria's rich potentials, if not for that action. When he
instructed Nigeria's National Broadcasting Corporation to controversially ban
the showing of miracles on local programs, I'm sure he had no idea that what
would birth as a result would place Nigeria enviably on the world map.
On Tuesday 8th March 2016, a striking milestone will be
achieved in the history of Nigerian broadcasting. It’s the 10th
anniversary of a television station which boasts a reputation of being among
the fastest growing and most viewed in the whole continent (albeit loved and
loathed with perhaps equal ferocity). I’m aware of the popularity of Nollywood
films, and the following some Nigerian musicians have abroad – but this is on
another level entirely, a scale that is perhaps immeasurable. Never before has
content produced within the African giant had such a global impact in such an
escalating manner. Trust me – I have done the research!
To give some context, let me provide some background data. I am an
American working currently as a social media analyst in California, USA. My
interest in and knowledge of Nigeria up to about one year ago was sparse to say
the least. In USA, the picture painted of Nigeria generally involves some
starving children in an archaic, beleaguered village, cutthroat Islamic
militants chanting weird war-cries as they celebrate another merciless
decapitation or the son of a 'crown prince' who has sent an email requesting
‘help’ to release the 100 'gazillion' dollars his great-granddad has stored up
in a dodgy Swiss bank account. To put it bluntly, it’s grim. Certainly not a
It was, therefore, an unusual surprise to me when, in August last year,
I inadvertently stumbled across a video on YouTube showing a side of Nigeria I
had NEVER seen. After watching a clip of the Supernatural TV series, a video
with an alluring (and a little alarming!) thumbnail was ‘suggested’ to me
showing an alleged ‘miracle’ of a blind lady in Mexico. One nonchalant, cynical
click later and I was watching a crusade with a whopping 100,000 in attendance
led by guess who - a Nigerian Pastor. I internally grimaced. Theatrics and
theology should not be combined.
Now, I must confess at this point that although I am a professing
Christian, I have a firmly founded disdain for most American televangelists –
Benny Hinn and his ilk. The persistent emphasis on money, the lack of
authenticity when it comes to the alleged miraculous and the emotional manipulation
at play toward the disadvantaged in most of such services has left me highly
Initially, the thing that struck me with this particular YouTube clip
was the overwhelming makeup of the crowd – perhaps 99% Caucasian. It is
customary to see non-African preachers minister to vast African crowds – but
very rare to see vice versa. The ‘miracle’ that then happened seemed almost too
good to be true. This bearded black pastor, simply clad in jeans and a shirt,
basically tapped a woman on her head and she crumpled to the floor.
Jumping up, the expression on her face was priceless. Pure, unadulterated joy!
Speaking some ecstatic form of Spanish, she began to testify that her severely
diminished sight had just been restored. The crowd roared, as did my attention.
Could this be real? With interest sufficiently kindled, one video led to
another… and to another… and to another. My preconceived stereotypes slowly
began to fade as YouTube offered more and more weird yet wonderful clips from
this channel called ‘Emmanuel TV’. No wonder it had more than 300,000
subscribers and views in excess of 200 million!
There was something uncannily different about the pastor. In fact,
unorthodox is an understatement. The freedom with which he ministered, the
simplicity with which he taught, the remarkable results that followed… Well,
seven months later and I can categorically, unashamedly call myself an Emmanuel
TV addict. Pastor T.B. Joshua is a Nigerian I am not only proud to associate
with but have profound admiration and respect for. He has been a significant
source of ‘rebranding’ not just for his nation but for Pentecostal
An array of factors has led me to this weighty conclusion but none so
more than Pastor Joshua’s refreshingly unique approach to Christianity. For
example, in the countless thousands of hours of footage I have viewed, I have
not heard a SINGLE solicitation for money. Not one time. No bank details
scrolling across the screens or funding campaigns with multiple preachers using
their charisma to try and coerce cash under the premise of prosperity.
Contrarily, huge amounts are given to charitable projects which span continents
and make tangible differences. Even in his huge Mexican crusade, I have it on
reliable authority that not even an offering was taken by the pastor. That’s
practically sacrilegious over here.
Church here in USA usually comprises of some inspirational worship
music, a motivational feel-good message and then, of course, a well-hyped
offering to round up everything. One to two hours max. Sunday services shown
live on Emmanuel TV, however, literally last the entire day. Yes, a whole day
in church! Yet, they are so engaging and exciting, it feels almost timeless.
The messages are practical, the reconciliations poignant, the prophecies
pinpoint, the prayers powerful and the testimonies profound. T.B. Joshua
remarkably combines a deep spiritual authority with a down-to-earth approach
that is both endearing and eye-opening. When he speaks, it feels as if the
message is directed entirely towards you. When he prays, the impact hits you
right in the comfort of your own home. That's why I thank God for Obasanjo's
miracle ban which, according to Wikipedia, paved the way for Emmanuel TV's
This is my first time of writing to an African news outlet. I don’t know
if anyone will deem this worthy of publication but please let it be known to
all willing to hear – Nigeria has an incredible brand ambassador in T.B.
Joshua. Use him. I join the millions around the world to celebrate Emmanuel TV
as it hits a decade of existence! ‘Changing Lives, Changing Nations, Changing
The World’ is more than just a motto; it’s a vision which I consider myself
privileged to be a part of.
I find it strange to consider that this milestone may well be celebrated
far more abroad than in Nigeria. Well, to coin one of T.B. Joshua's
catchphrases, "Distance is not a barrier…"
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