A Tribute To Tony Rapu @ 50 By Felix Obi!

by Felix-Abrahams Obi

I was tired of the drudgery of church life, nay Pentecostalism. Like the
“rich young ruler”, I was keeping the rules of the Christian game but a
hollow widened deep within me. I needed something more than just being a serious Christian, despite being a cell leader in my local church. I
needed someone to stoke my interest and quest for God’s Presence. I
needed someone who is passionate about the outworking of the concept of “Social Gospel” which makes Christianity relevant to socio-political
issues and problems in the society like Jesus did during His time. I had
become sick and tired of attending Breakthrough seminars and
conferences, and the sight of Pentecostal pastors splashed on expensive
billboard had wearied me. Change I desired, and longed for….

I had heard little about Pastor Tony Rapu in passing from friends, and
when my disillusionment with playing church heightened, I decided to
accept an Invite from a close friend to join her for a Sunday service at
THIS PRESENT HOUSE. I was least prepared for the encounter that Sunday morning in December, 2001 at the Law School Auditorium in Victoria Island, Lagos. I had expected to see an archetype of a Pentecostal pastor with all the pomp and flamboyancy. I expected a pastor that would blow into the microphone and send people reeling under the anointing. I expected a pastor whose acolytes would carry his big bible and handkerchiefs. In short, my expectations were high considering the
church I was transiting from…!

A tall, bespectacled middle-aged man, wearing a simple waist coat was up
the stage, doing “mic-check” with the instrumentalists. I bet it must be
one of the deacons or the “praise worship leader” I had thought. At the
dot of 9am or thereabout, he asked the congregation to rise up in
worship of the Almighty God. As he led in worship, I shut my eyes and
tears flowed down my cheeks liberally. This man must have touched God I
sensed. He talked about the tangibility of God’s Presence; how
Christians should get involved in the transformation of the society; he
talked about breaking free from religious dogmas and traditions that
keep people bound. At the end of the service, I discovered to my chagrin
that the tall man was actually Tony Rapu. I sent him an email the next
day, and to my surprise, he replied immediately unlike any General
Overseer or President General of a Pentecostal Church would. Despite his
tight schedule, PT as he’s fondly called would not only reply mails, but
painstakingly replied the barrage of calls and text messages that hit
his private phone daily.

At the same church service was Lee Grady, a world acclaimed journalist
and editor of the foremost Charisma Christian Magazine who had been
trailing “this pastor who declined to be interviewed for Charisma
Magazine”. Lee Grady had flown in from USA to cover the 2001 Holy Ghost Festival at Redemption Camp as part of the exclusive report of revival in Nigeria which was later featured in the May 2002 edition of Charisma. Obviously benumbed, Lee Grady vehemently sought this elusive pastor and eventually met him after so many entreaties. Ostensibly his purpose was to have a close encounter and to understand this enigmatic figure, Tony Rapu. Lee found in him, a man whose heart beats after God’s heart, and thus was a unique friendship birthed. Both men would ride Okada from VI to MUSON Centre later in 2004 to beat the cloggy traffic jam. They were hosts and key speakers respectively for a family-oriented conference that evening!

Tony Rapu is a man who typifies a “Trans -generational Paradigm”. A man
with such mentality is not bound by the staleness of the past, and
neither is he stung by the hype of the present. Upon graduating from
University of Ibadan, he taught briefly at Kings College Lagos only to
go back for his MBBS at UI later, being a classmate to some of his
former students at King’s College. Interesting enough, UI authorities
broke a bye-law by giving him a new Matric number, thus departing from
the norms. By that act, it was easy for him to mix freely without anyone
knowing that he was a UI alumnus. He looked forward to having a
fulfilling career as a medical doctor upon graduation but would he?

His life’s course took a positive detour after he got “born again” in
the early 1990s during a small fellowship meeting hosted by his elder
sister. Then he was a young house officer at LUTH Idi-Araba, Lagos. A
cascade of events saw his life taking a steep turn. The smooth talking
“T-Raps” became a “Jew man” who joined the uneducated lowly mass that
flocked to the Headquarters of the Redeemed Christian Church of God at
Ebute Meta.His close friends thought he’d gone awry upstairs! With
vigor, he made efforts to bring his friends to have a taste of church,
which they reasoned was bland. But he was undeterred at the sound of
their mockery.

There came an opportunity to start a Model Parish in the Apapa area
after a failed attempt at Ikeja GRA and VI respectively. Determined to
make this work, he sold some of his personal belongings in order to pay
the rent for the Cinema Facility they’d use for the inaugural service to
be conducted by Pastor Enoch Adeboye, the General Overseer who usually appoints a resident pastor thereafter. Tony’s negotiation skills came to light when he and his fellow church workers met privately with Pastor
Adeboye. They wanted an understanding pastor who’d carry along the young professionals and students who had attended the service. Like a
spiritually perceptive leader, Adeboye shocked them to their marrows
when he announced that Dr. Tony Rapu would be pasturing the new Church even though he was a young believer, a spiritual rookie.

That singular decision would unleash the hidden potential in the young
Tony Rapu. He had to learn from the scratch, and had to develop
spiritual muscles commensurate with the responsibilities vested on him.
Like wild fire, the Apapa Parish which he pastured grew and spread,
attracting young professionals and students who hitherto loathed and
disdained born again Christianity. By mid 1990s, Tony Rapu had pioneered and planted branches of Redeemed in London, in Washington, in Israel, in Denmark, in Haiti among other places. At the same time, he
revolutionized the way church approached business by establishing Haggai
Community Bank as a resource base for financing pro-poor initiatives. He
also had programs that targeted Drug addicts, aside establishing a
Christian hospital, and Redemption Group of Schools. Through his
teachings and exemplary life, many a struggling graduate in the 1990s
built and became MD/CEOs of the New Generation Banks, and other
corporate organizations that have contributed to the economic
development of Nigeria.

Without a doubt, Tony Rapu had pushed the stakes higher and that made
his profile rise like a raging, but benign tidal wave. And as the
ovation rose high, so did the challenges that came with his success as a
pastor. The mid/late 1990s were the most challenging times, he’d hardly
talk about. After pioneering another work in London, he had cause to
“quit pasturing” for about 2 years in order to get a clear direction of
what God wanted him to do. To say the least, this was the most trying
moments for him, with no job and a young family to tend. However the
spiritual support from men like Noel Woodroof, and Tunde Bakare gave
him much props. While the wilderness experience lasted, God was birthing
in him a new vision, a new wine that tasted better than the old wine.

He relocated back to Nigeria in 1998 before the turn of the 21st century
with little or no financial means and mounting debts from failed
business ventures. He had given out his cars before relocating to London
earlier, and had to rely on taxis and help

from friends to move around.
By default he had to begin an amorphous ministry called THIS PRESENT
HOUSE to give succour and comfort to the disparaged and those who had become disillusioned with the wary ways of conventional Pentecostal
churches in Nigeria. Thus like David, he became a bastion of a new move,
a Trans-generational church without walls. He began to teach people on
being a “Governmental Church” that stays in touch with Heaven in order
to make positive impacts on the Earth…socioeconomic and political

To push his gospel of social reforms, Dr. Tony Rapu later established
The Freedom Foundation to provide a legal framework through which his
visions are being pursued and realized outside the walls of conventional
church. The various arms of the Foundation are: HELP ( for HIV/AIDS
related projects); BETHESDA ( to support the education of children from
poor families); HOUSE OF HOPE ( for rehabilitation of drug addicts);
KING SOLOMON’s FUNDS ( for economic empowerment and SMEs); PRESENT TIMES ( a sociopolitical newsmagazine). He has also contributed to the development of Music through his “African Music Redemption Project”. In addition, members of the mass choir he established, Lagos Community Gospel Choir (LCGC) has produced uplifting Praise/Worship Songs and held highly successful concerts at MUSON in the last few years. Some LCGC members like Modele, Efe, Tosin Martins, Segun Gilbert etc have gone on to pursue solo careers and have released their Cds into the market.

This Present House now has a model fully air-conditioned ,purpose-built
worship centre at Lekki in Lagos called FREEDOM HALL, which reflects his philosophy of bringing freedom to all that are bound by legalistic
religion, poverty and other social vices. But to shock many, he on the
1st of October 2006 “relocated” to the National Stadium Lagos where he
started a model “FREEDOM OUTREACH CENTRE”. With this project, he attempts to bring his “social gospel” to the layabouts, hungry, homeless
and the disparaged that had made the stadium a refuge home. They are
provided with free food, medical/counselling services, in an atmosphere
that provides spiritual nourishment for those who’d normally not step
into a conventional Church.

His clarion call has always been CHANGE, and he has not only changed how church is run and conducted in Nigeria, but also countless lives through his exemplary lifestyle, and writings which is published as Voice of One in This Day on Sundays. So when friends and well wishers of this urbane, polished, and trendy but humble pastor and medical doctor gathered at Freedom Hall on the 1st and 4th of January, 2007 to celebrate his 50th birthday, many felt he deserved much more than a birthday gig. For the past 15 years, his life and ministry had raised and nurtured uncountable numbers of mentees, spiritual figures and astute business men and women that have impacted many facets of our Nation’s economy, and

PT has been a great mentor and spiritual father to me, and I join
thousands worldwide to rejoice with him as he turns 50 years and wish
him many more years of fruitful service in the Lord’s vineyard, and the
development of our Nation. Kudos PT!

NB: The author, Felix Obi is a Physiotherapist and freelance writer who
lives and works in Abuja, Nigeria and can be reached via:

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Pamela Kalu September 10, 2012 - 6:49 am

I am his protogee,saw him yesterday my heart melted,and again God reminded me He is able to do all He said.No amtter hw the world see it

Peter Oluseyi June 18, 2011 - 12:47 am

You are a good writer. Very enjoyable piece

Uche March 7, 2011 - 9:58 pm

I am just seeing for the first time. PTR has been a MAN after God’s own heart. As a teenager at the then Freedom Hall, I used to look up to him and his wife pastor Nkoyo. He has proven that no mather where you find yourself and what others might have done to you, that you can turn around and be what God has called you to be. I love him and will visit This Present house whenever I come home. God bless you bro. Felix for sharing this wounderful article with us.

Phrancis January 7, 2011 - 9:00 am

I used to attend Freedom Hall at Jimoh Odutola street back then in the early 9O’s and listening to Pastor Tony was a must for me and all my friends from impoverished Orile Iganmu. PT taught us we could break out of the confines of poverty and make something good out of life. I’m grateful to God for letting me study and learn under PT. God bless and strengthen you now and always, Pator Tony Rapu!

Phrancis writes from China.

Michael January 4, 2011 - 6:10 pm

The writer really got his eyes of revelation of who God is in the life of real humble men shappened. God bless you for this article.

I met PTR in 1994 at Freedom hall, then the church on the move at the stadium.

This man has been an inspiration to his world. God bless your heart and soul Pastor Rapu.

I worshiped at Freedom Hall throughout 1994. Though l relocate to USA, my impact in ministry was predicated on the foundation PTR impacted when l was under his ministry influence.

It was a blessing knowing you and being impacted by your humility and rich divine network with heaven.

Damola September 27, 2010 - 7:40 am

Indeed PT truly depicts someone after God’s heart just like David. The story of my christian walk can never be complete without mentioning the role PT played in my life in Freedom Hall. Refreshing times indeed!! I bless God for the grace upon his life and that of his ministry and pray that he will continue to grow from strength to strength, from glory to glory.

Ifeanyi E. Onuoha September 26, 2010 - 9:14 am

I came to know through Ron Kenoly who will be performing live today 26 09 2010 @Tph.Tony Rapu is the kind of mentor every youth need.He champions marketplace evangelism.More anointing to you Pst. Dr. Tony Rapu.Shalom!!!.

Jennifer August 26, 2010 - 1:56 pm

Pastor Tony is indeed a voice in our generation. I make bold to say this because he has been my spiritual engine for about 2years. May God continuously Bless and protect him and cause His grace to shine upon him.

Adaku June 25, 2010 - 3:02 pm

I must say that PTR is an inspirational preacher. I can still remember most of the messages preached in Freedom hall, so original, down to earth. God would continue to increase his anointing and prosper his ministry. One thing i would like to point out is that some people misunderstood him, but I believe he is running with the vision God has given him. The best we can do is pray for him.

greg June 13, 2010 - 9:42 am

Excellent piece!!! I dont know of a man of God as sincere and passionate as PT. I have been a member of TPH for about 5 years now but have been out of the country for close to a year now. I deeply miss that environment, the worship, the people, PT, cant wait to get back. PT, may God bless you and the work he has committed into your hands.

Mra opara May 9, 2010 - 8:25 pm

God never leaves himself without a witness in any generation or season. how does one describe Pastor Tony? He’s a breath of fresh air, a confirmation that there is still hope for christendom. A true apostle of God leading & pointing people in the way of god without sleight 7 manipulation. God bless u, Pastor Tony, my pastor

Omo Faith Oshodin March 21, 2010 - 8:37 pm

For someone who is not remotely a church-goer, I was initially sceptical about attendong another church, where I have to listen to another “pocket preacher” (as I call them because they are always preaching to your pocket).

Then I listened to this man during a wednesday meeting, I met him one on one, and it was like seeing a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. It was a great environment full of people who tired of the showmanship and self-aggrandization in other churches.

Pastor Tony Rapu is a wonderful, enlightened, cosmopolitan and urbane human being and I am very happy, proud and priviledged to be part of THIS PRESENT HOUSE.

For once in a VERY long time, I look forward to my sunday mornings.

God bless Pastor Tony for the work he’s doing and for his ministry and for giving hope once again to humanity.

taiwo February 15, 2010 - 10:12 pm

This is one of the most interesting article i have gone through.

Olu-Victor February 11, 2010 - 10:43 am

This is an excellent piece, an a tribute to a man sold out to God.

God bless PT.

Lav November 26, 2009 - 6:59 pm

This is so wonderful. Creative writing too. Great impact people, especially REAL people like Jenny O and CAN. My case is similar to that of Jenny O. In fact, I was on the search for Tony Rapu Ministries when i found this golden script. Pls send me Jenny O’s email or give mine to her sir (lavsebastian@yahoo.com). I also need the address of TPH pls. Good to know that Mr Olu Ojedokun has also been influenced by Pastor Tony. Olu is also a great deciple of Jesus in the legal practice. Praise God.


Olumide Olusina October 15, 2009 - 6:14 pm

Pastor Tony taught me how to worship.He made me understand worship and the beauty of God’s presence.I will always respect him.

CAN August 23, 2009 - 4:29 pm

I have just moved back to Nigeria after 2 years in Europe, before then I lived in Port Harcourt. Now in Lagos, I’ve been looking for a church and This present House has come highly recommended. It’s my on-line search for info on the church that led me to this article and I think my mind is made up. Thank you Felix and Gob bless Pastor Tony Rapu.

kem azuike June 2, 2009 - 2:46 pm

i know its been quite a while since this was written but i read with keen interest. As a writter myself, i have been very impressed with this piece and what can i say about PT? May the Lord bless him and continue to give him the grace to do what his doing. I have no doubt he is alot wiser at 50. Glory to God

employlawone@aol.com March 12, 2009 - 2:03 pm

A Rapu, as we called him then was my biology teacher at King’s College, he was inspirational as a non Christian as he is today.

He makes it possible for us to advocate the total power of the gospel as the pratical model to cover the whole of humanity’s needs.

Thank you sir.

Manero October 29, 2008 - 5:48 am

right now we are on another level. Please next time you guys come around, check out the freedom foundation and see what you can do or where you fit in cos things are happening all around.

eki August 6, 2008 - 7:59 am

PT has been an inspiration ever since i readabout him in 1996.i left kaduna just to sit under him in 2004. even though i had to leave after 7months,i still read my notes and have carried this post penticostal experience everywhere i go.there is sure a remnant who will not conform to religion and traditions.good piece Felix.

Bonny Okonkwo April 24, 2008 - 5:35 pm

Thank you Bro Felix, reading your article took me back to when I joined RCCG – Freedom Hall @ Jumoh Odutola in 1993. I cant stop thinking about PT even though I live in far away South Africa. There is no other one like him. I have searched around, his unique personality and vision are proves that he is truely a man sent at such a time as this. I always pray that God will generate me in a unique way such as that to impact lives and have foot prints that will bring his face close to this generation. Regards. Bonnie2732@yahoo.com

Jenny O April 14, 2008 - 12:47 pm

I have been depressed for ages. feeling so very trapped in my local church and worse still i am in a leadership position just like the author. i have been dry and eating out…this article has blessed me as now i know where to go..? yes i knew it was time to move but stayed to know where. now i know where, but will wait for the ‘when’..i dont want my email published please.

modele May 14, 2007 - 9:22 am


bolaji January 19, 2007 - 1:27 pm



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