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Author tells how faith has shaped her life

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‘Faith is the light that guides you through the darkness' — said an unknown author.

For Lily Oatley, her faith is what helped her to bounce back from several near death experiences and always served as a compass to guide her through challenging stages in life.

Mrs Oatley, who was the secretary to the Corporation of St George's for many years, decided to pen her life story with the aim of inspiring and encouraging others.

‘Where Faith Led Me', available at four locations on Island, recounts Mrs Oatley's fascinating journey from childhood in the UK, to adulthood in Canada and Bermuda. She originally set out to write it just for her family members, but after a few friends read it and enjoyed it she decided to find a publisher.

“What I hope the people will take from this book is that if they trust God with their life, He is going to lead them where they need to go and where they can experience real happiness,” she said. “I am not saying you can't be happy without this, but there's a happiness that comes when people love God and do His work.”

Born in England, Mrs Oatley's father was a military man and the family spent years living in army barracks.

Her family later moved to Scotland, where she was first introduced to God as a teenager at a Salvation Army ‘Joy Hour' event.

“I went to the evangelistic event because they had singing, told stories and had lots of other activities to entertain young people,” Mrs Oatley said. “And that night they asked anyone who didn't go to Sunday School if we would like to come to church and I thought I would try it.”

One thing that drew her to the church and kept her coming back was how warm the people were.

“There was something different about them,” she said. “It was then that I felt the need to accept the Lord into my life because even though I hadn't got into a lot of trouble as a young child, I felt there was still sin in my life because everyone is born with the ability to sin.

“I also believed it was the right thing to do — to ask God to forgive me — and go the way He wanted me to go.”

Mrs Oatley said God's presence often guided her and her family's choices. It has also kept her out of harm's way.

“Everybody that has read the book has found it very interesting because of a lot of things happened that were near-death experiences, not only for the family, but for myself,” she said.

“In one instance when I was in Scotland during the war, my parents wanted to send us to live with our great aunt, who lived in Montreal, Canada.

“We were supposed to go on this particular cruise ship taking children out of 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.”

The circumstances that led her to Canada — where she met and fell in love with her husband, Bernard Oatley — were also quite remarkable.

Mrs Oatley had been very sick with pneumonia and pleurisy while in Scotland, but in order to travel she had to undergo medical exams and X-rays.

“My mother didn't think I would pass the tests because I had problems with my lungs,” the author said.

“But when I received my X-ray results the answer came back that said they couldn't find anything to stop me from going to Canada. That alone was a sign to me that it was okay for me to go and He has been opening up doors ever since.”

Once she arrived in North America, Mrs Oatley had fallen ill again. After having lung surgery, the 23-year-old had to stay at a Convalescent Hospital in Montreal, Canada.

While recovering she got to know an older female patient at the hospital — not realising that woman would later become her mother in-law.

Mrs Oatley said: “When her son came up for a couple of weeks I was able to show him around Montreal because it was around that time I was discharged [in October of 1958]. It didn't take long for us to fall in love.”

That following summer they were married and have been together for 55 years.

Mrs Oatley said her faith has brought a lot of joy and happiness into her life; and feels blessed to have been given the chance to serve others.

She has volunteered at the prisons and seniors' homes visiting people who are sick and taken them flowers or small tokens. And she hopes the book will be another way for her to help and inspire others.

Mrs Oatley's book will be available for $20 at Robertson's Drugstore and The Book Cellar in St George's; as well as at Brown & Co's Bookmart and the Bermuda Book Store in Hamilton. Mrs Oatley will also be on hand for a book signing at Brown & Co today from noon until 2pm.

Lily Oatley, the former long-time secretary for the Corporation of St George's, has written a book about her spiritual journey called ‘Where Faith Has Led Me'.
Lily Oatley, the former long-time secretary for the Corporation of St George's, has written a book about her spiritual journey called ‘Where Faith Has Led Me'.
Lily Oatley, the former long-time secretary for the Corporation of St George's, has written a book about her spiritual journey called ‘Where Faith Has Led Me'.

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Published March 10, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated March 10, 2014 at 9:32 am)

Author tells how faith has shaped her life

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