Hattie’s story, part 1. Visiting SCOAN, first impressions

From the editor: SCOAN supporters often say that to have any basis for critisism you must first visit SCOAN and see what happens there for yourself. Hattie refutes this claim, but has actually been there and done that. We will be serialising her story over the next few days.

Why am I writing this? I have a unique viewpoint. I have been to SCOAN as a visitor and have been entranced by it. I have watched many videos and I have watched Emmanuel TV.  I was for a long time a sympathiser, never deeply involved but certainly deeply affected. I have known disciples (very well) both before, during and after their involvement and I want to bear witness to the truth, to share my story. I will also share my perception of the psychological and spiritual processes at work.

Why did I go?

SCOAN in Lagos

SCOAN HQ, Lagos

I am one of probably many thousands of visitors to SCOAN in Lagos. Why did I go? I went because I had heard from people I knew of the wonders God was doing there. I knew people well who were very involved and had great admiration for them. I felt I just wanted to see for myself. I was curious, needed a little faith boosting and I was disillusioned with the “Christianity” I saw around me. ( I now know that I was living my faith through the experience of others and this certainly looked like it was going to be one big experience)

I thought that by going I would see “evidence” and that it would boost my faith.  I am intelligent and well-educated. I thought I was discerning. I now know that I was spiritually very naïve and not grounded in Scripture.

What was it like?

I did have an incredible week. I went with a small group of visitors from the UK. We were all in search of something. Most of the others were going to be prayed for for healing. I was simply interested and intrigued. I wanted to see for myself.

From the moment we arrived we were treated like celebrities. We were driven back to the SCOAN in Lagos by a team. People were lovely and so friendly. We were shown. There was Christian worship music playing. Our days were spent together, watching incredible videos and speaking with the group leaders in preparation for the two big meetings we would attend. We were shown around the huge complex and told about all the work that SCOAN was doing. We were even taken to “prayer mountain” which was the place where TB Joshua would go to pray. We had a ride on his speedboat. I remember thinking how lovely he was. How kind he was and how humble to be taking some time out of his busy schedule to spend time with us. I was in awe of him. At the end of the week, each visitor even had an audience with the prophet himself. It made you feel special (special to God even) I thought that if TB Joshua had a “word for me”, it would prove that God knew about me and loved me.  I now know that this “celebrity treatment” and attentiveness is common in cults and is known as “love bombing” It gets you to lower your guard and it achieved that with me very well.

The videos, some of which I had seen before, showed miracle after miracle. I was hungry for more. I was excited and enthused. I remember reading the book of Acts in my dormitory bed. My experiences were shedding a whole new light on my Christian faith. I could see why so many were coming here.

In the meetings I saw more miracles and incredible supernatural phenomena. I saw one man literally be hurled across the room whilst being prayed for. I saw TB Joshua identify people in the church (with a “prophecy”, having incredible knowledge about them that astounded) It was exactly how I imagined the early church (in Acts) would be.

Meanwhile, back in the visitor room where we were watching videos, we were also given slips of paper to keep with our Bible/notes. I don’t recall them all. Some were Bible verses. Others were “quotable quotes”, phrases coined by TB Joshua and used alongside scripture by the disciples. I remember two distinctly. One was a short phrase about “doubting the doubt” e.g. when doubt comes “doubt the doubt”, the other was to do with accepting God’s prophet and receiving a “prophet’s reward” for doing so. The quotable quotes seemed to illuminate scriptures that I had previously known to mean something slightly different. To me, in this context, seeing all these amazing healings and miracles, the quotable quotes made complete sense.

The psychology of seeking healing and denying treatment

Looking at the context in which these quotes/teachings were given (i.e. most people were seeking healing prayer) I can see very much why people feel compelled to stop their medication.  There was a huge emphasis on faith and that without faith it is impossible to please God. There was a huge emphasis that you have to claim your healing by pressing on in faith. There was a huge emphasis on “doubting the doubt”, on the fact that God has healed you and that Jesus died for your healing, all of it (a twisting of scripture….not all are healed!) Some were apparently healed. For those that weren’t, it was very much implied  (though not stated explicitly) that it was their fault. So not only did they have to cope with the disappointment that they were not healed, they had to cope with the “failure” that they didn’t have enough faith. That somehow they weren’t deserving. This is very much how it feels and it is devastating.  I had prayer for a small matter  and I experienced it to some degree. I have seen people go through it and die with this burden. In my group, there was a person with a chronic illness who had to take life saving medications. They stopped their medications towards the end of the week and became visibly extremely ill. The disciples kept praying for the person and claimed it was the “demons coming out”. I never had the courage to find out what happened to that person. I imagine they ended up in hospital as they got off the aeroplane.  There was a lot of denial of what was actually happening. It was all this “doubting the doubt”. Accepting reality was seen as a lack of faith.

I have known people declared healed. Some stopped their medication as a result and some didn’t. In the group I was in there was no command to stop medication, rather an insinuation that if you believed your declaration of healing, you could claim it by “acting in faith”. They (the leaders at SCOAN) were however careful to say that it is up to the individual and I know some were actually told to go and see their doctor when they got home. (Note from the editor: This describes Hattie’s experience, others have had differing experiences as will be reported in future posts)

I suppressed some of my queries at the time. It was so awe-inspiring that it wasn’t hard for me to put myself down. I thought “who am I to question?”

Follow the link to read part 2 of Hattie’s story “Returning to the UK“.

18 thoughts on “Hattie’s story, part 1. Visiting SCOAN, first impressions

  1. Yes, but I received love bombing as a child from my mother and I did not consider it as cult. You put it in a special color ? People can see it just in the midle of text as what ? If you are treated bad it is wrong ? If you are treated good it is also wrong ? I remember Jesus somwere said something about it.

    • Did you try clicking on the “special coloured text”? I did – turns out its that colour because it’s a link! A link to a wikipedia page explaining “love bombing”. It’s a shame you didn’t notice this, because it would have helped you understand what Hattie meant a lot more. I hope your experience with your Mother was not “love bombing”, because love bombing does not describe an unconditional love, it describes a manipulative love designed to get a desired result out of the subject. It is a technique associated with cults and abusive romantic partners. It is very different from what Jesus was talking about, or what Jesus demonstrated.

      • I have only been to visit Lagos for one week. The hope that I had in going was to spend some time with family who were there as disciples. I was curious before I went but made a conscious choice that I was simply going to accept things as they were and not question. ( by my nature I am a person who questions everything) I was very aware that I was in a country and culture that I knew nothing about. I knew that there would be certain conditions in going such as not leaving the compound. I have a couple of examples of the expectation to behave in a certain way.
        During this visit something occurred concerning a relationship that I found to be very distressing so I went to the main Church with the aim of simply spending some time with God to find comfort. Two disciples came to me and said that I must come upstairs to watch some more videos. They really gave me no choice. Another incident was in the Sunday service when there was a line of people being filmed saying what had happened to them during prayer. I said the only thing that I could truthfully say which was that I did not understand what had been said to me. I was forcefully pulled out of the line. Once again no choice.

  2. Hi Visser
    I just wanted to say that I do believe the vast majority of people I met there were genuinely lovely. They no doubt believed that what they were doing was right. This is not a criticism of them. It is what they were representing that was/is wrong.

    • Hi Madeline,
      A similar thing happened to me the first time I went as a visitor (2003). He prophecied to me, and afterwards a disciple pulled me aside and told me what to say to the camera when it was my turn. To be fair, it was pretty much the same as what he said anyway, but I was not supposed to say anything else apart from that.

  3. Hattie,

    Can you write about teaching and preaching that you met in SCOAN? Did it point to Jesus as the Lord? Are people in SCOAN worschiping Jesus in health faith? What about Sunday service and thousands, are the trapped in a cult in your opinion?

    • Hattie only advertised Scoan.’FREE ADVERT’.every thing she said was under probability.i couldn’t see any evil or cult like behavior in the treatment she received as a visitor.what other treatment does she expect inother to believe its not a cult?
      Or are we also going to relate the love Jesus showed to the five thousand people as love bombing? two basic points i would love to speak about are;
      how she refered to the love and care she received as “love bombing”.
      how on earth would someone attribute an unconditional love to a love bombing?
      my question to Hattie is what string was tied to the love she received in Scoan for it to be categorised into Love bombing?
      Secondly, the person she said had a severe illness.
      There’s no point making an awareness when you didn’t witness the final end of the event.

  4. Pingback: Hattie’s story, part 2. Returning to the UK « TB Joshua Watch

  5. @Visser

    Yes the teaching and preaching seemed incredible at the time. To me at the time a lot of the messages seemed very simple and very to the point. I embraced everything TB Joshua said. I didn’t think that a man with such “evidence” could possibly be wrong or questionable. My faith was in TB Joshua. That is a massive issue for anyone involved, even peripherally. I believe that some of the scripture and the use of it, is subtly twisted, giving another gospel and pointing people away from the real Jesus.

    It was unthinkable for me to come to the realisation that this was not what I thought it was: jaw dropping and “turn your whole world upside down” stuff…The consequences are huge

    The people in the meetings…I can’t say. God knows our hearts and I am no judge. They are not subject to the same control that the disciples are, obviously. If their faith is in TBJ then that is deeply wrong. I believe that the majority are being thrown “off course”….undermined in their faith in Jesus Christ alone.

    @Doi
    Firstly to address your “love bombing” point. It was not major for me but I used the term to illustrate a point. I really feel that the celebrity treatment by both staff and TBJ himself was all courting approval, designed to create a favourable impression. It did work, it allayed my fears, lowered my guard and I accepted everything that was put to me. That is what I mean…I then went back and told everyone else to go. So it was in return for my support.

    About the sick person….my point was that I never had the courage to find out what happened. It was this doubting the doubt again. It was as if I didn’t want to know….to have known that they remained sick would have been troubling for me and I know I deliberately avoided seeking the truth about what had happened. That in itself is very telling to me now. It tells me I had big concerns but I had been taught not to question. My problem entirely…but I do not think I was alone in this mindset. If he was healed….then it doesn’t in any way remove the other concerns.

  6. Hattie,
    you said you are no judge.but you’ve already started judging by saying the treatment you received is equal to Love bombing.which is a cultlike behaviour.
    If i may clear my question cos you haven’t answered me.
    What other treatment would you have expected them to give for you to be convinced beyound all reasonable doubt that it isn’t a cult? Kick you out,Throw your things away?
    For goodness sake lets admit this.YOU WEREN’T SHOWED HATRED BUT LOVE.do not misinterpreat it to mean a conditional one!.no one deceived you. You were convinced in your own mind and told others about it.RIGHT?

    Am also saying don’t mention the situation about the person who was ill cos you have no evidence.
    You can’t be justified if we were in court.

  7. Pingback: Hattie’s story, part 3. Thought process « TB Joshua Watch

  8. Hattie,

    Every established Christian would say that you have to put your faith only in Jesus. Did you change your focus at that time?

  9. Pingback: Testimonies of ‘Healing’ at SCOAN part 1 « TB Joshua Watch

  10. I do not get what Hattie is real trying to tell or inform the world about SCOAN and everything taking place there.He/she should come out clear, he is hiding behind some words,expressions, phrases etc.Am sorry to say : What are you real trying to say Hattie? May you try to summarise it this time.

  11. Why are you even bothering to write so much about your ‘negative experience’ in SCOAN? If you did not like it then build a bridge and get over it. You had a good time, saw miracles, praised God, had a holliday, went on a jet boat ride and met a few good people. So stop your winging and enjoy the memory. Its better we have churches like SCOAN around the world than not have them at all and instead have lost people everywhere stirring crime and being completely faithless and negative. The few that dont get healed…it happens….so dont blame the church, believe anyway even if you diddnt get healed because who cares about the flesh, plus God is not a petrol station where you just take and leave so dont be a user be a real believer. The few that dont get jobs because they dedicated so much time to SCOAN…thats their choice that they wanted to dedicate so much time to the church, they could have gotten a job savings or education but didnt so thats their choice not the churches. No one should influence your life to the point where you might suffer in the future. God gave you a brain so you should have used it to decide what your future would be like once you left the wonderful place of God (SCOAN), live in reality not in dreams. Next, for the few that decide to think of TB Joshua as equal to Christ, thats their choice because those people obviously idolise someone other than Christ. Toughen up people and stop winging about good things in this world. So a church wants to get poverty sickness faithless people out of the streets and into the house of God….so what? For those who disowned their family, maybe they are avoiding their family because their family doesnt approve of their lifestyle and zeal for God…its natural to want to surround yourself with people who will encourage you not bring you down. To all the negative people out there, mind your own business and live the way God wants YOU to live and that is to be joyful in the Lord.

    • hello Haiti – regarding your comment about people avoiding their family. What is so fearful about family who are not in SCOAN? Why are they to be avoided if it is so wonderful? Why will keeping contact (even minimal contact) threaten their zeal for Jesus? Why is it assumed that family will bring them down? Is it that easy to be “brought down”
      How can it be known that a family does not approve?
      My family broke contact long long before I knew of anything about SCOAN to disapprove of. Do I conclude that they just made an assumption about my attitude. Did they have a conversation with me? – no.
      You started your comment saying that bridges should be built – can you suggest how that can be done?
      How can I communicate that I do not want to avoid them no matter how much they feel the need to avoid me?

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