Stanley and Etta Todd (hereafter Dad and Mum) recently passed away, after serving the Lord in Nigeria, Ghana, Northern Ireland and Liberia.
Several years of increasing frailty meant that Mum died at the age of 91 on Boxing Day 2014 after a short illness. The next day Dad was rushed into hospital suffering from pneumonia. He never fully recovered, passing away on 8 January 2015, at the age of 84.
Coming from a farming background in North Antrim, near the picturesque Giant’s Causeway, in 1954 Dad left as a missionary to Nigeria with Sudan Interior Mission (now Serving in Mission).
After language study and helping with various administrative responsibilities, in January 1957 he was posted to the south-western Nigerian town of Oshogbo, with responsibilities for promoting and distributing SIM’s African challenge magazine in schools and colleges.
The magazine targeted the educated youth of Nigeria with a mix of general interest articles, a gospel message and helpful Bible study materials. Usually a Bible correspondence course was also offered.
Dad often had opportunity to get into classrooms and speak to students. He also carried educational supplies and a range of Christian books from Moody Press. It was a demanding task, requiring much travelling on difficult roads in hot, humid conditions.
In 1956 Mum left Belfast to be a nurse-tutor at the SIM Hospital in Egbe, a small rural town where SIM had established a hospital and Nurses’ Training School. It was about 70 miles, on dirt roads, from Oshogbo.
Eventually they met up, as Dad fell ill and needed treatment. They got married in Egbe, at the end of November 1957. Not long afterwards, they were asked to move to the south-eastern town of Aba, to open up African challenge work in that area. They stayed there until mid-1959, when, after the birth of Paul, they returned home on furlough.
In 1960 they were transferred to Ghana, where, initially in Accra and later further north in Kumasi (with occasional trips further north to Tamale), they carried on the same kind of work.
Here Dad introduced the book-selling side of the work and from humble roots, selling books and magazines from the boot of a car (a Ford Cortina Mark 1, if I remember right), Challenge Enterprises of Ghana grew.
In addition, this period was marked by the growth of their family with the births of David and Valerie. Mum and Dad were also known for their hospitality, reaching out to others in the international and Ghanaian communities. A Sunday school, which met on their veranda, eventually developed into a church.
After ten years in literature work, in 1967 the family came home for two years study leave. Then in 1969 they returned to Nigeria, where they spent the next four years engaged in Bible teaching in various government secondary schools in central Nigeria, again building relationships with church leaders, teaching colleagues and students.
In 1973 they returned to Northern Ireland, whereupon Dad took up the work of representing SIM in Ireland, a task he carried on until 1987 when Mum and Dad left to work with churches in Liberia.
Outside SIM, Mum and Dad became heavily involved in the work of Rosemary Park Baptist Church (now Bethany Baptist), Bangor, Co. Down, where Dad served as a much-respected elder for many years.
In 1987 they moved to work in Careysburg, a small town an hour’s drive north of Monrovia, Liberia. Here, while they taught the Bible in schools, their main work was to get alongside and mentor Liberian church leaders. They took an early furlough at the beginning of 1990, but due to the Liberian Civil War were never able to return as a couple to a people they had grown to love.
Around 2000, increasing health concerns required a move north from Bangor. Here, while joining Coleraine Baptist Church, they also attended Ballymoney Baptist Church. In June 2013, increasing frailty brought a move into a nursing home, which was to be their home until the Lord called them to their eternal home.