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Family called to open church in old Penygroes pub

By Margaret Ogunbanwo
Margaret Ogunbanwo enjoyed holidays in Snowdonia, but had no plans to leave southern England until, she says, God intervened

Margaret and her family
Margaret is determined to learn Welsh now she lives in Penygroes

When we came here on holiday in 2005 I had a kind of epiphany.

One morning I was walking in the countryside between Criccieth and Porthmadog and I started crying really deeply. So I chatted with God and felt he said to me, 'I want you to pray for my people in Wales.'

I said, 'I don't live here, I live in Harlow and they need prayers too'. But there's no arguing with God,

I prayed for an hour and called a friend in Zimbabwe to pray with me. But when we returned home, it all settled down and I forgot about it.

Two years later we felt it was time to leave Harlow, but only for a nearby village because we had businesses. Then my husband decided we should move to north Wales.

I've got no problems living in an old pub. We take our magic with us and determine the spirit in the place we're living in
Margaret Ogunbanwo

I didn't want to go and, looking back, became a little depressed. But then I realised it was where God wanted me to go and I was reminded of what happened in 2005.

I would say it was God who led us to Penygroes. All the properties we wanted to buy in Snowdonia fell through, apart from the old Red Lion which we bought.

We knew God would lead us and we'd buy a property where we were meant to be, and that was Penygroes.

I've got no problems living in an old pub. Whatever has happened in a place, we believe we take our magic with us and determine the spirit in the place we're living in.

My husband has always worked in the ministry, so after we moved in we put up notices about prayer meetings for the wellbeing of the area.

We got differing responses, but a few came and joined us to pray, and that's how it started.

As far as I see, a church is a gathering of people of similar beliefs, and that's what we've got here, even if it's quite small. We're connected to the Hope Church in Bangor and my husband still preaches there.

We named the church Watersprings because there is a psalm which speaks of God turning the desert into springs of water and the dry ground into a green dwelling place.

The move was especially a shock for my daughter who was a teenager. We were not only a novelty, but a curiosity. People didn't know what to make of us, coming of African descent to Penygroes and probably being the only black people for quite a radius.

Exotic cooking

But we got involved in the local market and things and, after a while, people have come to know us and accept us.

My cooking has also opened doors. The Bible says, 'Man's talent will make room for him.' So people have come to hear of us maybe more in relation to my chicken pie than the church!

We're going to open a café as part of enhancing community life, especially as the Red Lion used to be somewhere people gathered.

We will sell local food, but also people know me for my exotic cooking. My plantain fritters and bean cakes are very popular in the local markets.

It certainly hasn't been easy, but we're convinced it's where God wants us.

I believe there are issues in people's lives where the gospel can make a difference. I've seen what it's done in our own lives, and those around us.

I've read one book six or seven times - Intercessor by Rhys Howells. I didn't know about religion in Wales before then. In the times of the religious revival here, people's lives were changed by not being chained to alcohol or where they lived.

There was a lot of healing and I feel that it's what God wants to bring again to the area.

It's definitely been a season of growing for us, but I feel that God has brought us here to help the community and we'll be here for good.



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