Books that save lives

Paul Todd was born in Nigeria, but grew up in Ghana, where he can still vividly remember events surrounding the 1960s coup: “Dad came over to my school mid-morning to take me home because their colleagues in Accra had been driving through the city when they encountered a shoot-out between the Ghana Army and the Presidential Guard,” he recalls.

Paul first started working in theological education with SIM UK in 1984

“It was very hard to buy anything in the supermarkets at that time and I remember long empty shelves and our friends helping us with supplies from the British military shops.”

As the son of missionary parents, Paul admits he sometimes felt like ‘a square peg in a round hole’ in the UK, so it was no surprise that God called him to follow in their footsteps when years later, after graduating, Romans 10:14 confirmed his call into mission.

“But at 22, I felt I was too young and inexperienced to consider being a pastor, so it was natural to think of working with SIM especially in theological education,” he recalls, “and Nigeria had the greatest range of opportunities to do so.”

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? Romans 10:14

On SIM’s advice, Paul then did a year of missions studies before moving to Nigeria where eventually, he served teaching at ECWA’s (Evangelical Church of West Africa) Bible College in Billiri.

In July 1987, Paul left for his first furlough and with support from SIM, began a two-year Masters of Theology research degree at Queen’s University in Belfast.

“I completed this by July 1989 and returned to Nigeria, but this time to work at the Jos ECWA Theological Seminary (JETS),” says Paul. “I really enjoyed that period, but by the end of 1999, I was somewhat exhausted physically and intellectually, so I returned home for Christmas.”

While back in the UK, Paul married Tricia and the couple moved to Ballymena, Northern Ireland.

Paul and Tricia Todd are sent by High Kirk Presbyterian Church in Ballymena, Northern Ireland

“At this point, SIM UK required that I take a leave of absence but in the back of my mind, I was still interested in missions,” adds Paul.

“I knew I needed to work on a PhD if I was ever going back into theological education and started doing one part-time.”

In 2005, the couple moved to Nigeria and Paul did field work for his PhD, while also lecturing at JETS.

Five years later and no longer SIM members, they returned to the UK, little knowing that an unexpected encounter at the Portstewart Keswick – Northern Ireland’s smaller version of the Keswick Convention – with the then Executive Director of ACTS Sid Garland, would lead them into a new area of ministry.

“I’d just completed my PhD but was waiting on heart bypass surgery – so the future was somewhat uncertain, but I offered to do some manuscript editing for Sid,” recalls Paul.

“Later, I agreed to take over the publishing side of the business and after consulting our church, came back into SIM with the plan to do editing work from our house in Northern Ireland and travel to Nigeria a couple of times a year to meet people and liaise with ACTS staff there.”

Since 2019, Paul has combined being Publishing Director at ACTS with his role as the SIM Nigeria Deputy Director. Using his editing skills, he helps to provide affordable books that encourage Nigerian Christians in their faith, witness, and ministries.

In 2018, a seven-year project he managed, finally came to fruition when ACTS published a translation of the Africa Bible Commentary (ABC) in Hausa – the heart language of more than 20 million people in the northern half of the country.

With many Nigerian Christians having a poor understanding of English, the ABC translation has become one of the most important theological resources for the church

Today, aged 65, Paul says he’s thankful that he can help to provide academic, affordable books that change lives and enable students to learn and teachers to teach more effectively.

“In the same year we celebrate SIM’s 130th anniversary, ACTs also marks a historic milestone as it celebrates 30 years of publishing and the Lord has truly blessed its work over the years.”

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • For Paul’s work in theological education to continue equipping the Nigerian church.
  • For the country as it endures increasing security and economic instability.
  • For SIM’s new Faithful Witness teams expressing Christ’s love and compassion to communities without the gospel.

This was posted on 19 September 2023 in Ministry stories and Translation.
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