Returning to the Alagwa

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Owen & Miriam Pugh and their children, returned to Ga/ara last September to continue their work among the unreached Alagwa. Here they share about fitting back in, the spiritual atmosphere and new opportunities…

The same things

Many things are the same; the same neighbours, the same house. We had an amazing welcome home, including a number of retellings of the (true) story of what happened when they discovered we had gone to England and left our back door wide open (oops, nothing changes there, then). The story includes a gang of neighbours, sticks brandished in case of intruders, the elders being called, a padlock borrowed to secure our door. We are grateful for our loving community, and it is certainly good to be back. Nearly the whole team is back, and we are still meeting weekly to encourage one another and pray together.


Stands firm in his faith

We thank God for a family of local believers. The husband, Joel*, is Alagwa, and has many relatives in the area. It has been encouraging particularly to see Joel grow in his relationship with Jesus and in his witness. He is illiterate and had struggled to understand the Swahili Bible, and therefore some aspects of his faith. Some of the team have been discipling him and his wife for a few years, reading from the Swahili Bible, but also using the Bible stories in Alagwaisa. They received an audio Bible this July and have listened avidly to it since. Joel has now heard the whole Bible. He quotes it and applies it to his own life and the lives of others in his community.

In August, they hosted a Christian version of a traditional service for a rite of passage. It was risky; would the neighbours join in knowing it was a Christian service? They did, and it was a wonderful example of culture redeemed and God’s love shared. One relative of Joel’s is a religious leader, and persistently asks him difficult questions to try to convert him back to Islam. However, he has recently said he has given up trying because Joel just stands firm in his faith.

*name changed

Also, we continue to learn by our mistakes, such as choosing thorns to guard our rainwater tank pipes. It turns out the thorns are a type that is taboo to lay near one’s house… who knew?

The different things

But things are also different. We now have two children in Ga/ara full time and two sharing their time between Rift Valley Academy, Kenya and Ga/ara. It’s an adjustment. This is on top of the readjustment of leaving our family and friends after being with them for ten months. We dearly love them and are built up by them.

Things also seem different in the spiritual atmosphere. More people seem open to talk about Jesus, and ask more questions. As a team we feel it is a good time to focus on prayer into seeking opportunities to intentionally share the gospel in conversations and by sharing the Alagwaisa Bible stories. Opposition is still very present, seen and unseen, and we need your prayers; we know this is God’s work, and any victories are his, not ours.

The routine is different too. The chance to reflect on three years of Training in Ministry Outreach (TIMO) has given us confidence in God and a fresh perspective on our community.

The new things


Two of the Pugh children are in Ga/ara full time with the older two split between Rift Valley Academy in Kenya and Ga/ara.

Post-TIMO, there is also no curriculum, leaving more time for projects. Owen is starting to farm using the conservation principles of “Farming God’s Way”. It is challenging introducing something different here, as people are very set in their ways, both spiritually and physically. Owen is encountering many reactions to the plot that he is preparing for the rainy season. These include ridicule, confusion and non-committal interest in a “let’s-see-how-this-works-out” way. The theme of perseverance is applicable in every area of our lives.

In all, we are thankful to God for the chance to join him in sharing his message of eternal love with the Alagwa; for another chance to work and witness among these precious people who so badly need Jesus.

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