TB Joshua invites victims of church collapse to spend 'black' Christmas, new year with him
Nigerian preacher TB Joshua is flying the families of the victims of his church's collapse to Lagos to spend Christmas and the new year with him, the Synagogue Church of All Nations said.
"The prophet has invited the families of the deceased to come and spend time out there at the synagogue with the other church members for Christmas and very importantly... the end of the year candlelight services," said church spokesman Kirsten Nematandani.
Forty-four family members who had accepted the offer would fly out on Christmas day and return on January 2.
It is believed 85 people from South Africa were among those killed when a multi-storey guesthouse attached to the church collapsed in Lagos on September 12.
"The purpose is to spend time with the families. As we know the families are going through a difficult time... this is part of the process the church is undergoing," he said.
The church would offer the bereaved families spiritual and emotional support and they would have a chance to interact with Joshua.
He would fund the entire trip including all transport, accommodation, meals and visa applications.
Nematandani said Joshua had always been open about the incident and that he would "walk this journey with the families... and continuously support them".
Those families who were unable to visit the church because they did not have documentation or already had other plans were invited to come to the church at a later stage, Nematandani said.
The families visiting the church would spend their time attending services and programmes run by "evangelists and wise men".
"They will have time to go to the prayer mountain to have quality time as an individual and talking to God."
Nematandani expressed condolences on behalf of the church for the families of the 11 victims whose bodies had not yet been returned to South Africa.
"[We] want to express messages of sympathy and condolences to those families and hoping that the time will come when those bodies will come home."
He said Joshua would not rest until the bodies were sent home.
Members of the church would spend time with those families over the festive period to support them.
"The church will be on the ground with them, sending them love and support from TB Joshua, [even though] it could be seen as a black Christmas," he said.