By Banky Wellington
Fairly recently, while delivering a TedX speech in Lagos Nigeria, I said something along the lines of…“In Nigeria, it feels like we have mastered the scripture that says ‘pray without ceasing,’ but we have forgotten about the one that says ‘faith without works is dead.’” I referenced those scriptures to make the point that while Nigeria is indeed filled with a majority of her citizens claiming to be people of faith (Christians, Muslims, and others)… the truth of the matter is that faith should not just be about what you say, or how often you pray, but also, and most importantly, about what you do. The proof should not just be in the words of your mouth, but also in the works of your hands..as they say, actions speak much louder than words.
This very sentiment is what now inspires write-up about the great man known as Dr. Tony Rapu. At a time when many young Nigerians are frustrated with the actions (or the lack thereof) of many of their country leaders – both in Government and in Religious or Spiritual matters – Dr. Tony Rapu’s ACTIONS are what continuously set him apart from almost everyone else.
PT (short for Pastor Tony) – as he is fondly referred to, is a Medical Doctor, Filmmaker, Life Coach, Reformer, and the Senior Pastor of The House of Freedom (a network of Faith based-initiatives, Churches, and several Non-Governmental Organizations). He is a man whose vision extends far beyond the physical walls of the church buildings, and whose legacy is evident in the countless lives God has used him to reform, rescue, impact and improve throughout his career in Ministry.
While some Pastors may restrict themselves to their work on the pulpits, PT has gone so much further by tirelessly devoting his life to community development and empathy-driven reform. You’re just as likely to catch him delivering life-changing sermons to congregations in This Present House or The Waterbrook, as you are to see him physically present in Grassroots communities, changing lives by spearheading initiatives to reform and rescue young people struggling with drug addiction, crime, and so many other less fortunate people that society has forgotten, ignored or discarded.
He personally oversees the work being done at the Genesis House, a halfway house that rehabilitates young girls and women who have been forced into sex trafficking work or have been victims of sexual assault; he also founded the Bethesda Child Support Agency, which works to create a safety net for at-risk children in disadvantaged communities, funding their education and empowerment. His work through the Freedom Foundation has been documented in critically acclaimed film documentaries, showing how he has counselled and reformed scores of people who were drug and alcohol dependent, helping them kick their addictions, and reintegrate into society. Most recently, he was one of the few high profile Church leaders to publicly support Busola Dakolo, speaking out about the need for the Church to side with and protect victims of assault at the hands of oppressors, even if those oppressors are also high profile Church leaders themselves.
He is a husband to Dr. Nkoyo Rapu, and a father to 3 children by birth, and to millions of people by his undeniable impact in their lives. He’s a leader, and a reformer; a Pastor, and a Mentor. He is a blessing to this generation and an asset to Nigeria, Africa and beyond.
Dr. Tony Rapu is my YNaija Person of the Year.