Closer to “Daddy”: Rivalry among SCOAN Disciples
Giles was a disciple of TB Joshua in SCOAN, Lagos, for two years. Here is another instalment of his account of disciple life there.
Disciples in Scoan are locked in an unspoken competition with each other. Everyone’s desire is to become the number 1 disciple closest to “Daddy”. In the mornings, the phone will ring and an “office worker” would announce the Man of God is in the office. Everyone drops what they’re doing and runs to the office. If you’re not there fast enough, you can stand for literally hours outside the office door waiting with a crowd of people to get in and say good morning, or to see TB Joshua about certain things. Once the doors open, everyone pours in and quickly fills the room, standing in front of TB Joshua. Some say good morning and then leave, but a lot stay. Some would have written passes -permission for various things – and he’d sign them all. Some disciples would stay. They’d just stand there in the office, trying to be unnoticed in a corner somewhere so they can be in TB Joshua’s presence.
The disciples see themselves as TB Joshua’s children. He is their “father in the Lord”, and they call him Daddy. Strange as this may seem though, it is just a cultural thing. People in Nigeria of high esteem are referred to as Baba, or father. Hence, Daddy. I still always found this a bit too close for comfort though.
When you get there as a disciple, you’re encouraged to “try move close to the Man of God”, i.e. get some face time with him. In other words, try get noticed by him. One method is to get up and preach in those disciple meetings. This love for their father also feeds the snitch-culture they have there. Old timers become fiercely loyal with protecting him and the ministry. I noticed it was the females who were far more fanatic about it than the guys. I remember a conversation with the foreign disciples who were talking about how they should become less “wierd”, or less SCOAN-ised when on assignments in different countries – for instance, calling him TB Joshua, and not “Daddy” in front of people – how “we must protect Daddy”. Ive heard songs sung praising him, how he “was sent by God to us”, and how “we love you, TBJ”. This love the disciples have for TB Joshua can excuse him of some quite serious things. I have seen him in a fit of rage hit a woman, hard on the face. It wasn’t a fist, it was open handed. But it was really hard, and I remember looking around at everyone’s reaction. I was pretty shaken by that, but one of the disciples explained it with me afterwards- the need for discipline, how he does this cos he loves us, etc. Thats what they do. They defend him. They explain things. They protect him.
Though I did not go as far as calling him Daddy, there was a time when I was also TB Joshua protective. I dont know how many arguments I have had with other non-SCOAN, ‘blaspheming’ Christians, defending him. I remember my mother even telling a couple of dinner guests to leave when they started speaking ill of him. I myself broke up with a girlfriend over this issue. I even went as far as to lie to protect him. Someone asked me, in one of these TB Joshua arguments, if I had ever seen TB Joshua hit a woman (someone else had apparently seen this on another occasion). I straight up lied to him. I said no.
When sexual allegations start flying around the place, the disciples close ranks. They dig around in their archives and play confession videos to discredit the ex disciple who speaks out. I was never as fanatical about TB Joshua as other disciples. Not by half. But when I was confronted with a straight question and had to give a yes/no answer, I chose to lie. I have no doubt that the same thing happens all the time. Personally I suspect other female disciples have experienced the same sort of things as others who ended up going back to their countries. Like so many other things in that ministry, it’s being hushed up.