By Makweembo Manasa – Lusaka, Zambia
In an age where most teens can be found sprawled on the sofa watching comedies, movies, soap-operas or other mind-numbing and reality-dimming programs, Christian television with a growing passionate following is indeed a rare phenomenon. It is in fact an African phenomenon…
Emmanuel TV is an evangelical enigma. Quite frankly, it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Both raw and radical, it’s definitely not your run-of-the-mill religious content. It’s the station of the famous Nigerian Prophet, TB Joshua – one of the most debated and berated African characters in recent history, the storm still raging and the records still writing.
In recent months, Emmanuel TV has captured the African spirit in an almost baffling fashion, celestially arresting their attention and further stirring dispute and fuelling repute. The compelling synergy of unique and captivating Christian content sends countless tens of thousands of Africans scurrying to their television sets every Sunday, choosing to participate in the live service broadcast from The SCOAN (that lasts almost the entire day) than even going to their churches or engaging in social activities. And it’s growing at an astonishing rate both in awareness and acclaim, each week unveiling scores of new avid devotees.
Even the most unlikely and ‘unreligious’ sit in front of the box to watch his prophetic time, fetching out people and telling them their life history with uncanny accuracy and extraordinary effect. It’s a lifetime of experience served live and direct, the amount of specific detail coupled with the shock of the persons concerned bold statements that pre-arrangement has no involvement. A real eye-opener for those scores of sceptics, provoking even the most hardest of atheists to review their stance and ask some fundamental questions.
Prophet Joshua then puts his entire ministry on the line in releasing prophetic messages to nations, oftentimes mentioning specific places and dates. Their consistency in accuracy is clear proofs that such declarations cannot but be a product of divine instruction, direction and revelation. Envious fellows even abuse his repute to spread rumours of prophetic fallacies, word often spreading to such extent that fears and strife are rife in communities and even countries as a result. People fled home, schools closed down and business ground to a halt in a Nigerian state of late because mischievous men peddled a rumour that Pastor Joshua had said lions would come out and attack! Such is the gravity with which people view his prophecies.
Then there are the miracles that seem almost too instant and incredulous to be true, yet with such alarming consistency, widespread testimony and lasting result they just can’t be disregarded. Be it HIV/ AIDs, cancerous sores or those restricted to wheelchairs – testimonies resound unanimous.
Then there comes charity. A ministry where partners can truly see the fruit of their offerings, the evidence of their sacrifice. Multitudes of less-privileged given scholarships, provided with housing and welfare, taken care of on literally a weekly basis. And no monotonous call for funds, no bank details stuck on the screen at every availing instance, no subtle undertone of financial obligation.
What of the demonic deliverances, with human beings previously calm suddenly catapulted to the floor, contorting and contracting with animalistic instincts, groaning and grimacing with venom in their croaky voices? Certainly not for the faint in heart! With self-professed witches openly confessing, repentant robbers forsaking their old ways and unveiling their gruesome tales, broken homes and relationships restored and reunited, it’s a station that defines the term ‘unexpected’.
Exciting as the latest blockbuster, heart-wrenching as the latest thriller – yet edifying, encouraging and experience-injecting all at once, Emmanuel TV is the station of the moment in Africa. In my native Zambia, Emmanuel TV is practically our national station – the people’s station. And each week there’s something new, something fresh, something unique to astound and confound. These weekly events form the basis for lengthy discussions, feeding disagreements and building unlikely unions cutting across tribe, race and even religion. Everyone has their own opinion, many having heard unfounded rumours and reports of TB Joshua’s ‘devilish’ activities before, but time and the sheer consistency of the prophet’s words and works continue to sway more and more people to believe this is not another ‘pick-pocketing’ religious hoax, but a practical living reality.
Yes, it appears we have a 21st century prophet in our midst, greatly misunderstood and gravely underrated, the types and likes of which are seldom seen in our technological and self-serving generation. Not convinced? Have a watch yourself…