Joseph and Mary live in Uganda with their three young children: Faith, Joy and Rachel. They run a successful farm (home to 6,000 turkeys), have a lot of happiness in their lives and are in a position to help people around them. But it wasn’t always like this.
Joseph had an extremely difficult childhood. He was physically abused by his step-mother following the death of his father, and finally ran away to the city when she tried to kill him. He lived on the streets for a number of years, nearly died several times due to the dangers he faced and even attempted suicide. But he survived.
When he was a teenager, Joseph decided it would be safer to return to the countryside. After a lot of searching, Joseph found his birth mother, who he’d been separated from as a baby. They set up home together with his brothers and sisters, but struggled to grow enough food and earn money.
Joseph didn’t give up and started to explore other ways of making a living, eventually finding a job as a driver with Tearfund’s local church partner. Not only did Joseph start to earn more money to support his family, but his confidence was boosted. In fact, through his relationships with the staff and his involvement with their community development work, including Bible studies, his whole world view started to change.
The power of love
Joseph began to realise that he was loved by God, whereas before he’d believed that God only cared about other people. He also started to view his resources in a new way, seeing that his time, energy and even the grass outside his home could be useful tools to improve life for his family.
Newly inspired, Joseph, his mother and siblings all started to put more thought into how they farmed their small piece of land. First they started to grow more and save money, and then they branched out into breeding turkeys to sell at market. Soon, they were able to send the younger children to school for the first time.
It was during this time that Joseph met Mary. She too had gone through a lot of suffering, and had been on her way to drown herself in the river when she met Joseph. They eventually married, and are now flourishing with the love and support they give to one another.
Anyone for turkey?
The family have gone from strength to strength, and today Joseph and Mary have a whopping 6,000 turkeys, providing them with a solid income! They employ vulnerable young people on the farm, ensuring that the transformation they have experienced benefits others too. And they are saving up to build a new school for the village.
Despite this amazing turn around, Joseph hasn’t forgotten his past. Every year at Christmas, he goes to the city with food and gifts for street children. It’s Joseph’s birthday on 24 December, and he sees these visits as the ideal way to mark it.
‘I know how it feels to not know where you belong,’ says Joseph. 'We share some lunch, share personal stories with them, pray with them, share the word of God with them. We help to reconcile them with those who have hurt them. Many end up going back to their homes.’
Joseph and Mary have now started another business too, employing people to make roof tiles to sell. Again, they are using the proceeds to help others and invest in their community, rather than build their own wealth. ‘I want to die empty!’ says Joseph.
The transformation doesn’t stop there. Joseph came back into contact with his step-mother, who had treated him so badly as a child, and was able to draw the grace and strength from God to forgive and build a new relationship with her. She now lives with Joseph and the wider family.
- Praise God for this inspiring story, which shows the power of his love, reconciliation and hope, and his ability to restore lives through us his church.
- Pray for Joseph, Mary, their children and the rest of the family this Christmas. Pray for continued flourishing, so they they can lead secure and fulfilled lives as well as keep on reaching out to help others.
- Lift up Tearfund’s staff and partners in Uganda, asking God to guide them as they work to see lives changed and poverty overcome.