Nigerian Pastor TB Joshua has taught that a genuine Christian can fall sick with the dreaded coronavirus disease yet still be a “friend of God”.
In a question and answer session on his official Facebook Page, which has over four million followers, the cleric addressed the contentious subject in the wake of news that COVID-19 had claimed the lives of several pastors.
“Christians, do not make the mistake of thinking that you are 'out of touch',” Joshua stated, adding that God could use any circumstance “to preserve us and to strengthen our desire and determination for Him”.
The cleric divulged that COVID-19 can be regarded “just like any other affliction”, stressing that believers should not be misled by their situation to doubt.
“That should be the reason to look deeper, pray the more and dream of other ways you might have ignored,” he counselled.
“Do not measure your Christian life by your situation… As a Christian, what you see as COVID-19 or affliction—God may sometimes allow it as a trial,” Joshua continued in the session that was subsequently uploaded to Emmanuel TV's popular YouTube channel.
He added that believers often “run from the very things that will bring strength to our lives,” explaining that the afflictions of a Christian were meant for their “spiritual benefit” and served as a “test” of maturity.
He concluded by calling on believers to never misjudge or condemn themselves in such challenging circumstances.
“What we see as a disadvantage in our lives can be turned into an advantage. God is still saying something,” he stated in the Facebook post.
Joshua's assertion stands in conflict with recent statements by some of his fellow prominent Nigerian Pastors on the subject.
Pastor Enoch Adeboye of Redeemed Christian Church of God elicited controversy when he assured members of his church of immunity to the virus.
“I want to assure you that so far you are in the secret place of the Most High, no virus can come near your dwelling,” he declared in a video message posted to his official Twitter account on March 16th 2020.
In Bishop David Oyedepo's recent sermon on April 19th 2020 titled, 'Understanding Our Heritage of Dominion Over Sickness and Diseases', the fiery Winners Chapel cleric declared, “Not one member of your household will be affected by any virus including coronavirus!”
Pastor Chris Oyakhilome of Christ Embassy is also known for propagating similar messages. “I refuse to be sick because it's not in my nature,” he declared in a sermon recently posted to YouTube.
“The man that could get sick is dead; the 'me' that's alive today has the supernatural life of God that makes me invincible and impregnable to sickness, disease and infirmity,” Oyakhilome affirmed.
In an earlier post on Facebook, TB Joshua had personalised the question to reveal he also has fallen sick but it never stopped him from his God-given “assignments”.
“My outward part, the shell, sometimes falls ill but once it is time for an assignment, I am relieved,” he said, citing 2 Corinthians 5:1 for reference.
Mr Jojo Kwebena is a writer on African Affairs