U.K. health officials are now investigating the Nigerian Evangelical preacher Pastor T.B. Joshua, after allegations that he has been advising his HIV positive followers to stop taking their medications and rely exclusively on the "power of prayer."
BBC reports the investigation also includes some other Evangelical churches in Britain whose leaders have been making claims of HIV/AIDS "miracles." According to the report, the investigation was prompted after some AIDS patients died after they stopped taking their AIDS medications at the advice of their church pastors. Saharareporters say at least three people have died in London after they stopped taking their AIDS medication on advice of their pastors.
T.B. Joshua, millionaire preacher and head of Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), is well known to Nigerians and millions of other people for his expansive claims of "miracle healing." Pastor T.B. Joshua's ministry, according to Saharareporters, claims it has the prayer antidote for a wide range of illnesses, mostly those orthodox medicine find difficult to treat — arthritis, asthma, schizophrenia, and yes, AIDS.
The church posts videos of "miracle" healing services it holds in south London on internet. According to BBC, the website of the Synagogue Church of All Nations has been making claims of HIV and AIDS miracle healing. The church recommends its "anointing water" as remedy for HIV infection and AIDS.
BBC reports the case of Mary Buhari, a Nigerian woman living in London. Mary Buhari, who is HIV positive, said a representative of T.B. Joshua's Synagogue Church of All Nations told her in a phone conversation that church prayers could cure her of AIDS. The church website proudly proclaims its cures:
"Mrs Badmus proudly displays her two different medical records confirming she is 100% free from HIV-Aids following the prayer of Pastor T B Joshua."
When BBC made direct inquiry from the church on its claims of HIV and AIDS cure, the church responded evasively:
"We are not the healer. God is the healer. Never a sickness God cannot heal. Never a disease God cannot cure...We don't ask people to stop taking medication...Doctors treat; God heals."
Professor Jane Anderson of the Center for Study of Sexual Health and HIV, according to BBC, comments on Evangelical church claims of HIV and AIDS healing:
"We see patients quite often who will come having expressed the belief that if they pray frequently enough, their HIV will somehow be cured...We have seen people who choose not to take the tablets at all so sometimes die."
A British MP also commented on the practice of preachers telling their followers not to take their medication:
"It's dangerous to the public and dangerous in terms of public health....It's irresponsible...Pastors should instead come off the air on it, look at things much more seriously, and not give this completely wrong advice to the public."
T.B. Joshua's ministry began in 1989, after he claimed he saw a heavenly vision in which God spoke to him, saying,
"I am your God. I am giving you a divine commission to go and carry out the work of the Heavenly Father… I would show you the wonderful ways I would reveal myself through you in teaching, preaching, miracles, signs and wonders for the salvation of souls…"
He became immensely popular in Nigeria after his church began claiming power to heal illnesses such as AIDS, cancer, barrenness and paralysis. His church now has branches in Ghana, U.K., South Africa and Greece.