June 24, 2019 / 4:03 PM / a month ago

Worshippers seek Nigerian televangelist's blessing in Nazareth

A woman reacts as her head touched by T.B. Joshua, a Nigerian evangelical preacher as he leads a religious retreat on Mount Precipice, Nazareth, northern Israel June 23, 2019. Picture taken June 23, 2019. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

NAZARETH, Israel (Reuters) - Evangelical Christians have flocked to Israel for a mass faith-healing by a celebrity Nigerian pastor outside Jesus’s hometown of Nazareth.

Some worshippers sang in various languages while others collapsed and even vomited during Sunday’s event, presided over by T.B. Joshua, who has amassed millions of followers on social media from his base in the Nigerian city of Lagos.

“Jesus’s father, Joseph, and his mother, Mary, came from here. What a blessing. No other place would have been better for Jesus to come from. It was God’s design,” Joshua told the crowd gathered in a sun-baked stadium on Mount Precipice.

When the self-described prophet descended from the stage to bless attendees, placing his hand on their heads, several declared themselves healed from sickness or infirmity. Attendants stood ready to catch those who fainted in excitement.

Minerva Resendiz, from Mexico, said she had come to see Joshua as part of the two-day gathering “to ask for healing, for a breakthrough ... to resolve conflicts in the family”.

“I would like that (all people) could see a miracle through Jesus Christ,” Resendiz, 40, said. Other pilgrims came from China, Russia and African and South American countries.

Joshua founded and leads an evangelical ministry called The Synagogue, Church of All Nations. His Christian television network, Emmanuel TV, says it is Youtube’s most subscribed to ministry channel with well over one million followers.

Evangelicals made up roughly half of the more than 2 million Christian pilgrims who visited Israel in 2018, according to the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, which oversees evangelical outreach to Israel.

Writing by Rami Ayyub; Editing by Gareth Jones

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