An ex-disciple speaks #8: Life after SCOAN

Giles, who was  disciple of TB Joshua between 2005-2006, talks about why he finally left SCOAN and how he readjusted to ‘normal’ life. He also discusses the culture of secrecy that pervades SCOAN, and the mysterious deaths and suicide attempts that were ‘hushed up’ by the church. As usual, all opinions expressed are those of the author.

The second, and final time I left SCOAN was a year after the stupid ‘water bottle incident’ I wrote about earlier. After leaving, I spent a couple of months in the UK before asking to come back. I had mentioned before how disciples feel that SCOAN is the only place to get close to God, and more importantly, how it’s God’s will for you to be there if you’re a disciple. So it doesn’t take a theologian to conclude that I was outside of God’s will for my life. I had given it a while for the disciples to cool down over the last incident before asking TB Joshua if I could return as a disciple. He said yes, he would like that.

And so continued my Nigerian adventure. For the next 6 months, I changed game plan. I knew where I had gone wrong the first time, which had led to not getting work and being bored crazy all day. So this time I made it a point to throw around some quotable quotes, start talking TB Joshua messages, etc. It wasn’t long til I was involved in the youth and newcomers’ departments.

Later on that year, I asked if I could take a leave of absence for a couple of weeks to visit my family. My family are spread out across the world and it’s not often we’re in one place. TB Joshua said yes, no problem, and I left soon after. I had asked the disciples for a letter of invitation before I left, so I could show the Nigerian embassy, but they said no, we’ll email it to you. Maybe I was too trusting, cos it was the last time I ever heard from them. Two weeks later, I emailed saying I was ready to get back. No answer. I never would get a reply. Over the next few weeks, I had called, even the private numbers I knew, and emailed several times. After two months of waiting I finally gave up when I saw a certain disciple on Emmanuel TV back at the church. He had left Nigeria at the same time as me, yet he was back there and I was not.

Families are seen by disciples as a hindrance. When you go there as a disciple, you are strongly encouraged to cut all links with your family and friends. They will tell you that you are here in the first place shows that your family was unable to help you in what you are looking for, and that maintaining contact with family would only hinder you and make you lose your focus. I managed to get away with emailing about once a week or two, but alot of people – especially the female disciples – cut themselves off completely, only contacting or visiting their families on TB Joshua’s instructions. Some (again, females) had even forsaken their surnames and adopted the surname “Joshua”. I found that particularly disturbing, and usually got really angry when listening to how my family had failed me, how only TB Joshua could help, and how that was why I was there. So when I asked to go off to see my family on our reunion, it just showed to them how “unserious” I was.

In those few weeks afterwards, I was well and truly devastated. I quickly forgot about all my belongings I had left there. The rejection was a lot worse. Eventually I travelled back to the UK to try get my life on track, even though I had no idea what to do. When you go as a disciple, in a way you’re shooting yourself in the foot. You’ve left your job, your friends, and if you do things right, you have estranged yourself from your family. I had a year long gap in my work references, and no money of my own. I was living in the south of London in a flat share where everyone seemed to get drunk and high all the time, working in a minimal wage job. So, I ended up doing what most guys would have done if they didn’t know what to do with their lives. I joined the the Army.

At first, I had gone to the SCOAN UK branch for church. It seemed the best way to still get “the message”. I was still brainwashed in thinking that TB Joshua’s sermons were unique and no one else’s preaching would do. But Sundays just made me sad for the rest of the week, so I stopped and went to another one, where I got a bit of a pleasant surprise. The sermons weren’t all that bad; in fact, some of the messages taught the same things that TB Joshua’s messages did. It went a long way to show that TB Joshua wasn’t as unique as I had been taught. Disciples depend on TB Joshua’s message, and I’ve been told by a few that their personal fear in leaving was that they wouldn’t get such quality stuff anymore, that they’ll “shrivel up and die” spiritually. It’s just not true.

I have never, not once, heard anything positive about a single other ministry from disciples.

It wasn’t easy starting your life again, getting a bank account when you’re in your 20s and have no credit history for a year, or any references or even proof of what you were doing in West Africa. But it was definitely a good thing. Disciples live in a cut off social environment, where permission to do anything comes from just one person. To use the treadmill, I had to get written permission from TB Joshua. To call or email my family, permission. To get my hair cut, permission. Disciples are not allowed to read books written by anyone else like Joyce Meyers or Benny Hinn. They live in a Big Brother environment where they are encouraged to watch and report on each other to TB Joshua. The success stories like deliverances or miracles are shown again and again, but the untold stories of failures are hushed up. There are many secrets about SCOAN. For instance a pretty prominent disciple, a “junior prophet” died. That was hushed up. The Austrian branch got closed down, that too was kept from me when I asked how it was going. When I asked why a couple more junior prophets had left, I was told to just focus on why I was there. Another disciple tried to commit suicide by throwing himself off the roof, and that got hushed up real quick. There is so much secrecy about the place.

16 thoughts on “An ex-disciple speaks #8: Life after SCOAN

  1. Mr. Giles i am sorry about your experience if though it’s true,but i don’t think u as a human being is in position to pass judgement on a fellow man to say the fact”a man of God”anyway if this is true this means u have experienced the bad side of the ministry in your own knowledge but what about the miraculous work God has done through him?were u forced to do anything against ur will on any occassion?this shows me u are not a true child of God cause even if all u have said is true is this the best way to go about it!pls change your ways and stop condemming and tarnishing the image and personality of the prophet!i pray God be with u and really give u insight!like the man of God said ”your answer or reaction to a person who make mistake could also be a mistake”!please be warned cause a word is enough for the wise!please close this site soonest!thanks!God bless u!Amen!

  2. hi akagbosu osabohien
    to quickly answer your question – yes there are somethings you are forced to do – in my case against my will.

    You dont have any say about e.g. attending all night prayer vigils (you have to pray all night, non stop til the early hours).

    If TB Joshua changes your name, from then on you are called by that name. You dont get any say in this, and everyone will strictly call you by your tb joshua given name.

    My two friends who have also left didnt get any say about what they named their baby. TB Joshua did that for them (they have since renamed her).

    More worryingly, your passport is taken off you when you are a disciple there. So are your return plane tickets.

    • You also cant just get up, pack your bags and say goodbye. They wont let you go until you get “Daddy’s” permission.

  3. Sounds like Giles is feeling somewhat rejected and has become bitter. It happens a lot. It’s a natural human instinct to want to get your own back. But it’s not the best way of moving forward after a series of failures in life is it? My advice would be to just get on with your life and try and make it some other way. If you believe God is everywhere, leave TB Joshua alone, pray that God would heal your wounds and move on.

    • You’re right that Giles must have felt rejected and resentful after his treatment by his SCOAN companions. That’s the whole point- punishing dissent with ostracism and humiliation (which Giles describes here) is a classic tool used by cults to make people conform, as we show in this post.

      You say it’s natural for someone in his situation to become bitter and seek revenge. Not necessarily- the useful thing (from SCOAN’s position) about leaving someone humiliated, rejected and ashamed is that they’re unlikely to shout about it afterwards. Many more unhappy ex-disciples have chosen to stay silent. However, Giles has had the humility to describe his personal and painful story in detail. I hope it will make other disciples take a look at the environment and culture within SCOAN and ask themselves: Am I completely comfortable with this? And consider the possibility that these niggling doubts may be saying something very important.

  4. Hi Rachael,
    Yeah, I was anticipating people would read that into my motives when I started writing about my experiences there- the old arguement against all whistle blowers.

    Honestly, 2005-2006 is getting to be ancient history in my life. I know I was very bitter immediately after it, I can remember people at work commenting how unhappy and angry I always was. But, like you said, I’ve eventually just moved on with life. These days I hardly think about the SCOAN times.

    However, years later when I come across a website exposing what I know is a dodgey organisation…well obviously Im going to fill in some blanks and comment on it. I’m definately going to try warn other christians.

    • Hi Giles. Just to say, thanks for having the courage to tell your painful story. It is important that stories like yours are out there, so others can make more informed decisions about SCOAN.

    • Mr Giles,

      Thank you for your courage, I visited scoan 2010 in Dec- jan 2011.I have learned one thing never again will i put a man as a mediator in btn my God and i only Jesus. I am a very disappointed scoan visitor. seriously i have done research of all the ladies we went with(10) non of us have our stories changed back to the same old situations, others went back for the second time bt to no avail.
      I was wondering those female disciples and choir members are they married or are they allowed to marry? I feel sorry for wiseman Harry (of late he looks unhappy) i can tell you that TB joshua will never allow him to go back to his country, if he does he will cease to be a member of the church watch the space give it 24 months believe me what i say will come to pass.

      • Yeah, Harry was a new guy when I went there. He is a very likeable man, and we had plenty of chats about….well God, the Bible, our past experiences, etc.

        No disciple is allowed to marry without TB Joshua’s permission. End of.

  5. In every success their most be rumors,hatred,gossips,blasfaming,criticks to metion but a few.. if PROPHET T.B JOSHUA could be criticized it dosent make any different, even the Christ we claim to be His fellowers has never been recognised by many up to date people still go in search if he did really exist and if what was said of him in the bible was truth or not,PROF TBJ is a human like other Church leaders all over the world..they also commit atrosities that is hidden beneath their pants and no one says about it..you keep on and on saying that Prof TB Joshua is taking all your members! who are you! GOD or HIS BELOVED SON JESUS? why are concern about the souls taken!? Because all of you church leaders are after money..your customers are being taking tha’s why you come all this far to disturb our peace on the internate! f..k you make me sick! you Guys should stop using us in the name of an innocent,peaceful and gentle GOD pls!!! Do your businesses and leave us a lone.. But all i want to drop with you is these: Revelation : chapter 22:11-13 cheers

    • Thanks for commenting, Mr Robert. First, we do not represent any church or organization. Second, you’re correct to point out that TB Joshua is not the only church leader who hides atrocities beneath his pants (nice expression, by the way). Every church must realize that leaders are human and may abuse their powers, and should put in place a system to keep them in check. Anglican and Catholic churches certainly have systems to hold leaders accountable, though they have not always been perfect. But there is absolutely no system to hold TB Joshua to account, despite a list of serious allegations against him that keeps growing. If you believe TB Joshua is human and imperfect, why do you have a problem with him being held accountable for his crimes and deception?

  6. Pingback: The multimillionaire pastor TB Joshua- how did he make his fortune? « TB Joshua Watch

  7. I believe this! I was at the Lagos church for a week, just got back home! Everything was so secretive, the way you would be told not to go into a certain wing or how not to go up a certain floor was so threatening. What’s a man of God doing with a huge bullet proofed tour bus worth millions that’s hidden in the church? I was threatened when I tried to take a photo of it. Everything that can expose him is guarded! You who deny this guys testimony are all ignorant and too brain washed to believe it. I asked our care taker where the gym was, it was locked down and apparently it had been locked down a really long time! His hair needed grooming, he didn’t know when his next hair cut would be! Another fella got fired for giving his number to my uncle. One was fired for teaching me yuroba! Why is it that all you people can do is judge this guy instead of analyze the situation? Miracles happen there but it’s not because of T.B Joshua, it’s because of these people’s faith! God uses a voice you least expected to hear to wake you up! People, read your bibles, no prophet had riches in the bible, no prophet saw all this as a career! It’s a calling, You are God’s instrument but this man is a con! My father went with me, went there healthy, came back sick and his right leg swollen like mad, and he was not the only man who had that problem! Wake up people!

  8. Hi Katrina
    Yeah, I was banned from speaking to visitors and going in that room because i mentioned that one of the junior disciples had a cold and was bedded down (she asked where he was). Those disciples were furious, they were yelling at me “what were you thinking?!”
    Not sure why disciples are not allowed to get a cold…but like youyr care takers, I was not allowed to mingle with them.

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