T.B. Joshua: Also Big in Paraguay

Back in June I noted Nigerian “Prophet” T.B. Joshua’s recent visit to Ecuador, where he received a Commendation of Honour from Quito government dignitaries. Joshua has now followed up with a trip to Paraguay, where was similarly honoured. Reports Afriques writes:

Nigerian televangelist, Prophet T.B Joshua has been awarded the National Order of the Communion Merit by the Paraguayan government.

The honour which is the country’s highest national honour was awarded to T.B Joshua earlier this week making him the first non-citizen to be awarded such a prestigious award by the Paraguayan government.

Joshua’s media handlers have produced a video, which starts with a short interview with Del Pilar Medina de Paredes, Secretary General of the Parliament:

I’m very excited and I can see a lot of expectation in the people from Paraguay because they are waiting for a spiritual transformation through the coming of this messenger from Chris. All of us are waiting for that spiritual transformation… We want to receive him very well; we want to be healed and as a member of parliament I appreciate his coming. We are a privileged nation to have him visit our country. His visit will also contribute to the National Police.

The video goes on to show Joshua being personally received by General Commissioner of Police William Gimenez and Commissioner of Police Jose Félix Vega, who were similarly effusive.

The parliamentary award was given by an MP named Bernardo Villalba, despite an objection from Avanza Pais MP that the honour should be reserved for citizens; there was also a note of scepticism from Asunción councillor Pepa Kostianovsky, who noted that “there are lots of prophets everywhere” and pointed out that Paraguay is a secular state.

Some background to the visit is provided by the newspaper HOY (TODAY), which explains that Joshua’s visit – which includes a “Crusade” – has been organised by the Iglesia Catedral Alabanza:

Un grupo de miembros de la denominada “Iglesia Catedral Alabanza”, cuyo líder es el pastor Bernardo Bobadilla, son los precursores de la venida del nigeriano Temitope Balogun Joshua, más conocido como T. B. Joshua, quien visita nuestro país. Serán dos funciones las que protagonizará el “profeta”, en el estadio de los Defensores del Chaco, mañana 11 y el sábado 12 de agosto.

El equipo incluye a otros miembros de la iglesia Jorge Checo, Carlos Miguel Alfaro Duarte, Floria Maricel Mena Cubilla, Santiago Ávalos además de Miriam de Bobadilla, quien según su perfil de Facebook, es “pastora” de Catedral Alabanza.

Sin embargo, los más activos en el comité de bienvenida de T. B. Joshua son el diputado Bernardo “Lalo” Villalba, quien promovió la distinción de la Orden del Mérito Comuneros para el “profeta”, además del autodenominado líder de la Asociación de Defensa al Consumidor (Asucop), Juan Vera, quien está vinculado a organizaciones conocidas por ser “pro familia”.

Another report published by Hoy describes Joshua as “el falso profeta que fascina a políticos” and overviews various controversies, while a third refers to Vera’s claims that Joshua can cure HIV and homosexuality. Vera also rejected claims that Joshua is a “witch”, presumably referring to allegations that he mixes Christianity with African traditional religion (some neo-Pentecostal pastors shun him for allegedly unorthodox teachings, although he was supported by the late Bill Subritzky and by C. S. Upthegrove, an elderly evangelist who was formerly associated with A. A. Allen).

Back in Nigeria, Joshua’s visit was heralded by Timi Frank, Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress party. As quoted in Leadership:

Frank said Paraguay’s honour on TB Joshua was not just for the man of God but “will definitely strengthen bilateral relationship between Nigeria government and Paraguay.”

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