Renowned cleric and founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua, at a gathering marking his 55th birthday, recounts the mysterious events that surrounded his birth, the unusual activities that characterised his early years, the role his mother played in his life, and the depth of God’s grace upon his life. KEHINDE OYETIMI, who was there, provides excerpts.
JOURNEY TO THE MINISTRY
I found myself in a simple and humble family background. That reflects in me today. If you forget your source, you are finished. I found myself in that background. When I say humble and simple, I mean lacking basic things of life. You know what this means. When you go to my village today, you will find that the place is still the way it is. I asked that nothing should be done to change it. There was a very strong force which God is behind. That force kept telling me that what I was going through was a preparation for my future. I could not resist it. As I speak today, there is a force that is telling me that what you are going through may not be found tomorrow.
In those early years of my life, I knew I would be blamed if I gave my attention to what I was going through. Consequently, I did not want my focus to be broken. I directed my focus on the right path. This was because of the strong force that was directing me. I could not resist that force. Since God is behind, I cannot resist Him telling me the things to do. Each time I try to go wrong, he would say to me ‘no, go this way.’ Anytime I felt I was missing my focus, it became a very strong motivation to pray and be closer to God. There is still that mighty force telling me to concentrate on my future and to ignore whatever I am going through. The more I prayed, the less people would see me and the more isolated I became. This affected all of my social life. In those days, my colleagues, my friends around me complained that I was neither social nor civilised as they were. It kept me isolated. In this way, mistakes became an incentive that drew me closer to God. If you make a mistake, do not run from God; run to him.
I was a baby before the death of my father. He was G.K. Balogun. Consequently, I knew nothing about my late father. An entire family’s burden rested squarely on my mother’s shoulders. She was Folarin Balogun. She always advised me to look into my love walk; failing to do so could bring down our relationship with God. I salute her. She always advised us and encouraged us to pray before going to bed. Prayer from the heart; it is spiritual. It helped greatly. I often dreamt in which I was always taught the scripture. It happens till now. It gave me an edge over my peers in my class.
LIFE IN SCHOOL
I was the smallest in my class, but I always led prayers. My teachers and colleagues called me ‘small pastor.’ In human life, many things could cause one to stop between steps. My education suffered epileptic fits. Today I was in school, the next day I was out. I was very smart and brilliant, but the reason was beyond me. I attended six colleges in less than one year. I attended Ansarudeen Grammar School, Ikare, (AUD). I was one of the candidates who were admitted late. The classes were not expected to go beyond D, but they had to create Class E because of me. I spent nine months there.
When I got to Lagos, around mysterious circumstances, I attended Metropolitan College, Isolo. I was there for three months. I left for New State High School, Palm Avenue. I used a month there. From there, I left for Bishop Agah College. I spent three months there. I left. At Ikotun here, near Ile Iwe Bus Stop, there is Muslim College. We were the first to start. I was there for three months. The movement was beyond me.
I was at the first school in Ikare for six months. While there, something sudden happened. Around 3am, I was walking on the streets. It was a watchman, who saw me and rescued me. He placed me at his duty post till daybreak, after which he took me to the school authority. I was half balanced. I could not continue with my education. I was returned to my mother. I spent another two years at home. I attended six colleges in less than one year.
THE MYSTERY SURROUNDING MY BIRTH
The record of my birth is not to show that I have arrived, but to encourage the weak, the helpless and those without fast legs and human help that their hope is in Jesus. I stayed in my mother’s womb for 15 months. From the ninth month, my mother was moving from one medical centre to another, because she was in labour. She continued like this until she was carried to a place called Egbe Medical Centre. At that time, it was one of the best hospitals in Nigeria. When I was born, arrangements were made for my naming ceremony on the seventh day. Many people were coming for the christening, because they wanted to see the baby that spent 15 months in the womb. In my village, before you could get water from the ground, you would need to blast so many rocks to do this. It became a habit for people to blast rocks to get water. Opposite the house where I was to be named, there was a company that was blasting rocks for water. Suddenly, a very big stone flew from the blasting activities of the company directly to my home where I was in. The piece of blasted rock tore through the roof and landed on the exact net I was lying on. But nobody knew how the baby Joshua moved from where he was to another section of the room. My mother fainted and was in coma. She was taken to the hospital. The guests were shocked. Out of sheer wonder, they started reeling out different names: Temitope, Tope, Temidire, Temiloluwa, Temidayo. As I got older, I adopted Temitope of all that they mentioned.
A STORY OF HOPE IN GOD
Indeed the story of my life is an encouragement to the weak, to those without fast legs, without human help, underprivileged that there is hope and that Jesus is the hope. Live the Bible; we should not only read it. Whatever you do in the house of God, you are rendering it on behalf o yourself, your family and generation. In those days, when I was little, I would follow my mother to church. She was one of those who swept and cleaned the church. Whenever she was cleaning the seats, she would be singing and praying. I asked her out of curiosity why she did that. She told me that she was praying to God to clean up her life, her career and children and make all that concerns her meaningful, just as she was cleaning God’s house. I believe I am one of the people God gave to her in answer to that prayer. Get interested in God’s plan.