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Oct22WedThrough all the twists and turns of her life, Lily Oatley's faith has kept her safe. October 22, 2014 by Diane Stark
"Whatever you have in store for me, Lord, I will do it,” a young Lily Oatley prayed at a Salvation Army church in St. George's, on the island of Bermuda. “I commit my life completely to You.”
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And she has. Lily, now 80, has kept this promise throughout her life. She's been active in her church, has volunteered at prisons, and has visited sick people in seniors' homes.
“There is a happiness that comes when people love God and do His work,” Lily states. “My faith has brought me much joy and I am blessed to have been able to serve others throughout my life.”
Born in England, Lily's family moved to Scotland when she was just a few years old. When she was 14, she was invited to Joy Hour, an evangelistic event at a Salvation Army church. “The people there showed me so much love,” Lily remembers. “They were so warm, and I just wanted to be there.”
Lily kept attending church and eventually became a Christian and an official member of the Army. “I knew it was the right thing to do,” she smiles.
She feels that God's presence often guided her and her family's choices and, in at least one instance, also kept her out of harm's way.
“While we were in Scotland during the Second World War,” she says, “my parents wanted to send us to live with our great-aunt, who lived in Montreal. We were supposed to go on this particular cruise ship that was evacuating children out of Great Britain, but my mom changed her mind and decided she didn't want to send us right away. Well, that same cruise we were supposed to go on was torpedoed and all those children were lost.”
Blessing in Disguise
The circumstances that eventually led her to Canada were also remarkable.
Lily suffered from frequent illnesses due to a lung condition. When she was 23, she was invited to go to Montreal to visit her aunt. “My mother was concerned that I wouldn't pass the medical tests that would allow me to travel,” she recalls. “But my X-rays came back clear and I took that as a sign that I should go.”
Unfortunately, the colder weather in Canada disagreed with Lily, and she fell ill again and had to go undergo surgery on both of her lungs. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise, however. While recuperating at a Montreal hospital, she got to know the older woman in the next room.
“She was a beautiful lady,” Lily remembers. “Her son came to visit her for a few weeks in October 1958. Around that same time, I was discharged from the hospital, so I showed him around town.” His name was Bernard and he was from Bermuda.
“I didn't think too much about it at the time,” she says. “Because of my poor health, I thought I'd never get married. But it wasn't long before we realized we'd fallen in love. I told Bernard about my condition, but it didn't matter to him.”
The couple were married in 1959 and Lily relocated to Bermuda. Bernard worked as a mechanic and Lily was the secretary to the Corporation of St. George's for many years, and served her Salvation Army church in a number of capacities.
Where Faith Has Led Her
Several years ago, Lily felt compelled to write about her life experiences.
“I wanted my grandchildren to know who I am and what I went through,” she says. “And I wanted to show people that faith can bring us through anything.”
It took a number of years, but Lily completed her memoirs. At first, she intended to write it just for her own family, but after some friends read and enjoyed it, she decided to find a publisher.
“I felt that this book could help people by showing them that if they trust God with their life,” she says, “He'll lead them where they need to go.”
Entitled Where Faith Has Led Me, the book is now available at four locations on the island of Bermuda, and Lily is hoping to make the book available on Amazon.
“I've given away so many copies to sick people and shut-ins,” Lily says. “I just want to use it to inspire and encourage others.”