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Owen & Miriam Pugh with Ella, Charlie (at RVA) Imani & Cerys are serving as part of a Focus team working among the Alagwa in Tanzania.
“A farmer went out to sow his seeds…”
We are called to sow generously – to plant God’s word into many lives here. As we see seeds eaten from the path, or stunted in rocky soil, it is tempting to fall into disappointment.
Praying for families
Where community is of ultimate importance in decision making, our team is praying for whole families to come to faith. Here is a snapshot of one family:
An elderly couple have heard all the Bible stories from our team. The lady was very excited about following Jesus, although she is finding it hard to let go of Islam. Her husband had an irritating skin condition for a long time. He said that if God healed him, he would follow Jesus. A few weeks ago, God healed him…
One of their sons was alcoholic and in prison for a serious crime. Whilst there, he gave his life to Jesus. He is now back in this area. He loves Jesus and has a powerful testimony about what God has done in his life. Almost all his family will not help him until he returns to Islam. But he is standing firm. One of our team travels to his village every week, for discipleship and witnessing to his community.
Two of their grandsons (our neighbours) secretly want to follow Jesus. One has shared the Swahili Bible we gave him with his wife, who also has been reading it.
Six unfinished stories from one extended family. May they be part of the bedrock of God’s church among the Alagwa.
And yet… God is working in amazing ways. People are coming secretly to express their desire to follow Jesus. Others too have asked searching questions, or expressed a desire to study the Bible. A number of Alagwa are hearing Bible stories in their heart language. God’s word is powerful and many people have been impacted. People are hearing and understanding the gospel.
But we are in a battle. Choking thorns often grow up in the soil here. The pull of community and family is strong. There is so much fear – of rejection and isolation, of ancestral spirits, of the ‘majini’ spirits who can possess them and make them sick.
At least ladies from the story group in Ga/ara have said that they want to follow Jesus. Yet fear also holds them back. They also face the extra challenge of their husbands. Some of them were talking about this recently. One said: “If we want to follow Jesus, will our husbands allow us? If not, what can we do?” As I was searching for an appropriate answer, another lady there replied, “We can pray for them.”
Our shield against disappointment
Of course, she hit the nail on the head. We can and must pray. Prayer is the primary weapon against the enemy; our act of obedience, our shield against disappointment; our ministry to one another and our way to model that the God whom we serve knows us intimately and loves us completely.
Our Alagwa neighbour and brother in Christ has had a complicated journey of faith, full of extreme challenges, ups and downs, yet God has also moved in great ways. We have been worried about the thorns in his soil; he seems so often distracted and too busy for fellowship and discipleship. He seems reticent to fully declare his trust in Jesus. Our plan to teach and insist on the importance of prayer was recently blown out of the water by God, who directed us to inspire in him a desire to pray, rather than insisting he should discipline himself to pray. What a joy to have him join us in prayer, and experience once more the delight of God’s presence. How humbling to serve him best by simply inviting him to join us at the feet of Jesus. How encouraging to hear him pray for the souls of his neighbours and say that he wants more of God’s presence in his life.
Will you stand with us to pray for the Alagwa? Will you pray with us for spiritual breakthrough?
We know God’s word will one day produce a large crop – thirty, sixty, a hundredfold – we see the beginnings already.