Life for Lily Anek in rural north-west Uganda used to be a hand-to-mouth existence.
Getting by was the order of the day for the 57-year-old and her husband Owingo, but their limited horizons often meant they struggled – with few signs of improvement.
Climatic changes and the environment itself didn’t help. Minimal rainfall and poor farming methods led to low productivity, which meant food was in short supply.
But Lily’s eyes were opened to a new way of living after she did a Bible study with her church as part of Tearfund’s Church and Community Mobilisation process, known locally as PEP. *
Hearing the story of the feeding of the 5,000, Lily was struck by the compassion of Jesus for the hungry and how he was moved to act ‘because they were like sheep without a shepherd’. (Mark 6:34)
Moment of clarity
As someone who had known what it was like to be hungry, this proved to be an eye-opening moment of realisation – suddenly she saw that God hated hunger and poverty as much as she did.
She also realised that God was on her side and that when we become his co-workers, he can multiply even the most frugal of resources to enable the escape from life-limiting material and spiritual poverty.
If Jesus could multiply the fishes and loaves of the boy in the Bible story, Lily became excited at the potential for change he could bring in her life.
Lily learnt how to do tailoring and this soon became a more than useful money-spinner, which in turn boosted her confidence. As her savings grew, so did her vision for her family’s future.
A motorcycle was bought for Owingo who used it to earn money ferrying goods and people around the district of Wadelai.
Seeing from his wife what could be achieved through purpose and planning, Owingo soon profited from his new working opportunities. His self-esteem improved and his relationship with Lily was strengthened.
Fired up for God
Lily and Owingo are much closer now than before and their marriage has blossomed into a new era of love and respect.
This is reflected in their development of a three-year plan to improve the quality of their lives and those of their two daughters, which includes building a new, permanent house from bricks.
Seeing from the Bible what can be done with five loaves and two fish, they have bought a boat, which they hire out to local fishermen and also to ferry people around. They’ve invested in a fishing net too.
Lily said, ‘PEP has increased my financial income and built my spiritual life. I wish PEP came to my community 30 years ago as I would be a better housewife, mother and Christian.’
Spiritually, Lily is on fire for God. Now a regular churchgoer, she leads a prayer group and wastes no opportunity to tell those she meets how God has changed her life.
Acan Gosbert, the PEP officer for Lily’s district, said the couple had become an example to others: ‘I see a bright future ahead for Lily’s family. I believe the community is going to be transformed through the lifestyle of this family.’
Lily and Owingo are just one family in the area reaping the benefits of this transformation process. Elsewhere people are setting up poultry collectives, savings-and-loans schemes and livestock-breeding programmes – all resulting in change coming to their communities.
Thank you for supporting Lily and others benefiting from this life-giving work, which is helping transform Uganda.
Give thanks to the Lord that the power of his word has transformed Lily and her family and brought new life after decades of stagnation.
Pray that through her ongoing involvement with the local church’s PEP project, Lily will continue to strengthen her relationships with God, her family and the wider community.
Pray that PEP Bible studies will inspire and encourage participants to be salt and light in their communities, bringing healing and restoration.
Flooding has recently hit the Wadelai district and destroyed people’s crops and food stocks. Pray that those affected will recover quickly.