“My mother,” said Paul, “gave birth to nine children. All of them died around the age of three months except for me. I alone survived.” God spared Paul’s life for a special reason.
Paul was born in the Nupe village of Kpatsuwa in Kwara State near Jebba in 1937. His mother had already lost five babies, so when Paul was a few months old, she took him to the lady missionary at Jebba. He and his mother stayed in the mission compound, and the missionary tenderly watched over baby Paul’s development. He lived and grew. When he was about two years old, the missionary left for America. Before she went, she asked a Christian who often visited Kpatsuwa to preach to take special care of Paul. Paul and his mother went back to Kpatsuwa.
Paul’s mother gave birth to three more children, but they all died. Then, when Paul was about five years old, his mother died too. The missionary heard in America that Paul was left motherless. She wrote to the missionaries in Mokwa to look after Paul. He went to Mokwa for a while, but his father refused to let the missionaries put him in school, so he returned home to his father. His father attended church every Sunday in Jebba, and Paul went with him.
When Paul was twelve years old, his lady missionary came back to Nigeria with her new husband. Paul was happy and he started going out with them on weekends when they went out for village evangelism. Three years later, when his missionary friends returned to America permanently they asked Paul to pastor the church in Kpatsuwa and continue the work of the gospel.
But now there was a time of spiritual confusion in his life. His father, who had never been truly converted decided to go back to Islam, and took his son along with him. Together with Islam, he was also practising their traditional religion (Kuti). Paul was sent to Quranic school, and followed his father in traditional worship. But he kept going to churcb on Sunday as well.
Paul was in his early twenties when some of the missionaries (Miss Wilson and Miss Yeo) and Rev. D. O. Sunmonu came to his church for a revival. Paul’s heart was pierced as he heard Rev. Sunmonu preach on “Without Christ there is no salvation.” Right then and there, Paul made the decision to be done with all other spiritual powers and follow Jesus only. He kept close to the Lord for five more years, until his marriage in 1964.
Then the devil brought another temptation. The years started to pass but the marriage produced no children. There was pressure from all sides and Paul gave in and went to the traditional powers to try to get a child but nothing worked.
Then one August night in 1967, as he lay in his bed in Kpatsuwa, Paul had a vision. He saw a huge crowd of people and, facing him, three people in particular. One of them handed him a Bible and told him to preach to the crowd. In the vision Paul began to preach. When he woke up his wife told him that he had preached aloud in his sleep! This was a great turning point in Paul’s life. He knew then that God’s hand was on him for a special calling and since then he has never turned back.
Two days later, he went to his pastor and asked him to allow him to preach in the church on Sunday. Every day after working on the farm, Paul began going out to preach and evangelize among his neighbours and in the surrounding villages. He told his pastor he was ready to go to Bible School. Until that could be arranged, he was sent to a village called Gbajibo where he pastored for a year before starting Bible School in Tsaragi in January 1969.
The Bible School course was four years long. Every weekend, the students went out to villages for evangelism. One day, a man from a village called Kusomunu came to them to pray for a swelling he had on his leg. The sore was large and full of pus. The dispenser who was treating the man said that it was cancer, for which there was no cure. When the dispenser saw Paul and one of his schoolmates praying for this man, he doubted if their prayer could do any good. He said, “If your God really has power, let us see some result within five days!” On the fifth day, Paul and his friend went to see the man early in the morning to pray for him again. While they were praying, the dispenser came in. As he heard their prayer, God touched his heart with faith and he believed the man would live. From that time, he started dressing the leg again, and soon after, it was healed completely. This was the first miracle of healing that God did in answer to Paul’s prayers and since then there have been many more.
In Paul’s last year in the Bible School, he went to visit his father. His father asked him to come back in 15 days time, as he had something he wanted to say to him. But 15 days later was in the middle of a weekend and Paul had to wait until the weekend evangelism was over before he could go home. When he got back to school to prepare for the journey, he was given the news that his father was dead and had already been buried. He never knew what his father had wanted to say.
Upon his graduation from Bible School, Paul applied to the UMCA to become an evangelist or church planter. Since they were short of pastors, they sent him for two years to pastor the church at Buka. Finally, however, they gave him his heart’s desire and sent him in 1975 as a pioneer evangelist to Kusomunu, the village of the man whose leg had been healed.
The story of that healing was well known in Kusomunu, and although there was no believer there yet, Paul was received by the people. One of the missionaries, Rev. Fretz, gave Paul a new bicycle so he could start work in the neighboring village of Ginda as well. Within nine months, he had twelve converts at Kusomunu and soon the churches there and in Ginda were growing well. A year later, the believers laid the foundations for church buildings in both places. The powers of traditional religion became alarmed and started their attack.
One night, Paul’s wife awoke screaming that the witches were trying to kill her. She became deathly ill. Paul gathered the believers and they prayed all night until she was delivered. Then two weeks later, as he was coming home from preaching at Ginda, he felt an invisible fire burning his body. At home, he prayed with his wife and the pain died down and he went to sleep. Later when he went out to ease himself, he fell down and his wife had to carry him into the house. Again they prayed. Later he was carried to Ilorin to see a medical doctor. The doctor could not find anything medically wrong. Some elders prayed over him, and in faith he went home. For almost three years, Paul could hardly sleep at night. He could eat and he could preach so he kept on with the work in faith.
The work in Kusomunu and Ginda was God’s work, and it could not be stopped. The believers finished the church buildings and became strong enough to support pastors. This was what Paul wanted, as he was longing to start pioneer evangelism in another place. When the two new pastors arrived, Paul went to Gbaguta for evangelism.
But not all the pastors had discovered how to stand in the power of Jesus against the powers of darkness. The new pastor at Kusomunu was returning from church one day when he stepped over some “medicine” placed on the road by the enemies of the truth. Both his legs swelled up so badly that his trousers had to be cut off his body with scissors. Rather than withstanding these powers, the new pastor left the work. So Paul was called back to continue for two more years at Kusomunu.
God had a special blessing planned for them in that place, like a reward for their perseverance. The following year, in 1979, Paul’s wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. They named her Leah Iye Tsado.
Then in 1980, Paul was released for more work. From Kusomunu he visited Minna, the capital of Niger State, to plant a church there. In 1982 he was able to move fully to Minna. In 1983 he started visiting Bida and won converts there. The UMCA church in Bida began. Then he started to go on exploring trips out in the rural areas beyond Minna to see if he could find villages without Christ where he could evangelize and plant more churches. He was the one who started the UMCA outreach to the area around Lashi, one of the mission fields of the UMCA Missions and Evangelism Board. The people of that area are Gbagyi (Gwari) by tribe.
In Bida, Paul met a group of zealous Christians from all three of the main denominations working in Nupe land (Anglican, ECWA and UMCA). They called themselves the Nupe Christian Fellowship and their mission was to do open air preaching and outreaches in Nupe villages. The Nupe people are mainly Muslim, with a lot of traditional practices still carried on. The brethren soon realized that Paul had unusual gifts of evangelism and was a powerful preacher in the Nupe language. The spiritual power of his deep walk with God made him able to withstand the attacks of witches, who are so greatly feared in Nupe land. So the Nupe Christian Fellowship soon started inviting him to preach in most of their crusades. Since then, he has been out preaching with them somewhere almost every week. Cassette tapes of his messages are listened to throughout Nupe land. Many people have been converted, healed and delivered from demons and witchcraft through this ministry.
For example, in one village a woman newly converted confessed to pratising witchcraft. She brought out the clothes and charms she used for it and they were burned. On Sunday she gave her testimony in the church and received forgiveness. In another village, a blind woman was prayed for after the service. Some months later when Paul visited that village again, a woman shouting “Hallujah!” ran to meet him. “Don’t you recognize me?” she said. “I was that blind woman you prayed for. Soon after you left, I received my sight.”
In another village a girl being attacked by witches was being treated by traditional medicine to no avail. Paul was called and when he and the team prayed for her she was set free. This girl and her husband wanted to be Christians, but their parents forbade them to leave Islam. Many of the young people want to follow Christ, but the elders hold them back.
In 1993, Paul moved fully to Bida to nurture the new church there, and continued looking for new places to take the gospel. He found a village in the Federal Capital Territory called Gwagwa. The people there are Gbagyi and Gwandara. He started dividing his time week by week between the work there and the church in Bida. His desire was to get pastors for these two churches so that he could go on to new places for the Lord.
The following year, the Nupe Christian Fellowship asked Paul to join them full time. Since he had been doing a lot of work with them already and the Lord was blessing it, he decided to do so. Today he works as an evangelist with the Nupe Christian Fellowship based in Bida and his ministry is a blessing all over Nupe land.
Compiled by Lois Fuller from an interview with Rev. Tsado and adapted from the book “Adventures for God: Stories of Missionary Pioneers.”
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Faith of Our Fathers: Life Stories of Some UMCA Elders, copyright © 1999, edited by Lois Fuller, Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria. All rights reserved.