We recently received the testimony of Beth, a young lady who spent 18 months as a disciple of TB Joshua at SCOAN. This is the second part of her account, in which she tells of the physical, spiritual and psychological damage that SCOAN left her with. See Beth’s story (part 1) for the first instalment and Beth’s story part 3 for the final installment.
Remember, this story is not unique. There are many other ex-disciples who have been through similar experiences. Many have told their stories on this site: Giles, Emma, Gareth, Graham, and Eddie, as well us other people who were closely involved such as Dr Hardaker, “Cautious” and Hattie.
Beth’s story – broken
After the relentless reporting, coupled with my second bout of malaria (I had been sent home with malaria once before about 2 months after arriving) and all the blame and humiliation that came with it, I was so weak I could not contribute to the work of the church. TB Joshua had prayed for me, and I was not healed. I was treated as an embarrassment to the church, and made to feel guilty for getting ill. I was prayed for and sent home.
I had been told to rest by SCOAN and to trust in God, not medicine, to make me well. But I was very ill, and spent most of the time unconscious. My parents were incredibly worried and, thankfully, ignored my protests that I didn’t want to be treated. They took me to hospital when I was too weak to object. Later, the doctor warned me I was close to having a stroke and could have died, but with treatment I recovered within a couple of weeks.
Looking back I feel lucky I was able to return for treatment, as I understand in more recent times at least one disciple has died from malaria whilst under orders from the Synagogue not to receive treatment. Being ill at SCOAN was considered having a lack of faith. It felt like failure. (Editors note: Although SCOAN officially deny telling people to quit their medication, we have of heard multiple cases where, like Beth this has been the case, for example: Anna, Judith and those reported by the BBC and Sky News)
I was not granted a letter of invitation (necessary for a Nigerian visa) from SCOAN to return. This caused me extreme distress. TB Joshua was giving up on me, therefore it felt like God was giving up on me. During my time at SCOAN I had been cut off from my world, my country, my family. I had been taught to believe they were out to negatively influence me. Then I was suddenly abandoned back into the world with no hope of getting out. The hold SCOAN had over me was powerful and frightening.
6 weeks later I was finally able to contact the church and was granted permission to return. When I returned to SCOAN, I was made to “confess” to having had treatment and was told I had not had enough faith. I was reprimanded, reported and was told that I was likely to have been infected by another person’s sin as I had had a blood transfusion. I went to the prayer line to be healed from this “sin”.
My return visit did not last long. I was too weak to be useful and was accused of being lazy. I was desperate to stay but TB Joshua did not permit it and was once again I was sent home. (Note: I had no control over my comings and goings from Lagos. The administration held my passport, and bought the tickets for me. I had to beg to ring my parents to tell them I was coming).
Once home, I spent a long time paralysed by the conclusion of my fight. I did not leave the house and was deeply traumatised by the abandonment. I was fearful of the “sinful” world around me and was convinced I could never be saved. Anyone who has held a strong belief and lost it will understand how devastating it can be.
I gave up hope at times and considered taking my own life. I drove out in my parents’ car several times with the intention of crashing it, hoping to make it look like an accident. But I could not bring myself to do it. What stopped me was not thoughts of my family or friends being upset (despite how loving and accepting they had been), nor even for myself. I couldn’t do it because I knew I would be connected with TB Joshua and SCOAN and that my death could damage their reputation. My fear of them simultaneously kept me alive and made me want to die. That is the terrifying hold they had over me.
After a while I gave up completely. I couldn’t end my life, so I lived hopelessly. I got close to no-one and let no-one get close to me. I was convinced that if I did then my sins would come back on them as well as me.