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Because of her outgoing nature, Irene was accustomed to drawing attention wherever she went. When Emma did not show any interest in her the first time they met, she purposed to find out more about this indifferent man.
It is often said, we ought to get married to our friends. But then friendships do not just happen; they need to be worked on. For Emmanuel and Irene Achola King, it started at a worship fellowship.
Six years ago, Emma served at Teen Challenge Uganda a ministry under Victory City Church (VCC) as a men’s residential director. On this particular day, the ministry had taken the students under their wing for worship at VCC.
On the other hand, Irene had been invited for the night by a friend that knew of her desire to worship.
“As I sat waiting for the worship fellowship to start, a Teen Challenge student came to talk to me. It was heart-warming and a blessing to hear about all that the Lord was doing in his life. Somewhere in the conversation, the leadership team from Teen Challenge arrived and this student asked if he could introduce me to which I agreed. Emma, one of the leaders, said hello but did not show any interest in me,” she shares.
His reaction struck Irene who was accustomed to drawing people’s attention owing to her loud and energetic character.
“I wondered about the identity of this calm guy that was not thrilled to see me. However, I moved on swiftly, indulging in the fellowship as it flowed beautifully. Afterwards, the student took my phone number and said he would invite me to visit the programme,” Irene shares.
A month later, the student called Irene, inviting her for another activity; a Teen Challenge campaign dubbed ‘the Shs1000 campaign’, geared towards transforming the life of an addict.
“It was a pleasure to attend the campaign because they were changing lives for Christ. It was the stories of these students that caught my attention, challenging my Christian life; former addicts who were hungry to serve Jesus,” she says.
The invitations became more often and seeing that Irene was drawn to supporting God’s work, she was hooked.
During the campaigns, Irene met Emma again and with time, conversations between them started which birthed a friendship. This grew into a relationship.
“I often joke with him that God practically brought me to him. The more I interacted with him, the more our friendship grew. Additionally, we were mature; each aware of what they wanted having discovered ourselves, especially in the Lord. He later introduced me to his friends, siblings, and parents. We also had several opportunities to hang out and spend more time with each other which strengthened our relationship,” Irene shares.
Emma is drawn by Irene’s love for God, as well as her vibe and energy.
“She is also a hard-working person and loves family to the core which is crucial for the grounding of our family. I also felt free around her because she liked me for who I am. We thus talked endlessly on several topics, most especially about God,” he says.
Irene was drawn by Emma’s love for God and for men, especially those that were struggling with addictions and life-controlling issues.
“He gave himself fully to this ministry to see to it that the lives of these men are transformed. I was also attracted to his calm character. For one that usually talks a lot, I love that he compliments me well by being such a great listener,” she laughs.
While the practice of proposing is seemingly getting ingrained in society’s fibre, Emma only informed Irene about the fact that they were getting married.
“No, he did not propose to me. He just told me we are getting married, set the date, and told me to inform my parents and see how arrangements can be made,” she shares.
Irene intimates that she loved the way the relationship progressed.
“From when we started relating; past friendship, he told me he was going to marry me. I just did not know exactly when the marriage would happen so I am grateful he fulfilled his promise,” she says.
If he was to propose, Irene says she would have loved it to be private.
“It was also beautiful of him to go on his knee during the introduction and officially ask me to marry him. I said, ‘Yes’. I guess the proposal was covered one way or another,” she smiles.
Emma adds that with marriage at the fore front, he had budgets way before the actual date and kept praying for the right time.
“I researched on what was expected of me and when I thought I was ready, I asked Irene to talk to her parents as I did mine. Having talked about getting married often and telling her I was going to marry her, I knew it would not come as a surprise. Additionally, our relationship grew from friends to best friends and there is nothing I do not tell her. For Irene what you see is what you get, no pretence,” he shares.
The duo enjoys eating out, traveling, and doing ministry activities such as reaching out to addicts in communities, slums, and ghettos.
“We preach the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to them. We also do school outreaches on awareness of alcohol and drug abuse,” he says.
Being genuine friends calls for candid moments as well as trust and this is what the Kings had. That way, while they had to adjust to living as one, Emma says it was an easy transition.
“As friends, we enjoy each other’s company. Additionally, we met with a marriage counsellor for almost a year besides the counselling from our church leaders.”
One of the greatest lessons Irene learnt was the importance of putting God first and keeping intimate with Emma.
“When we put God first, He will always help us sort out any issues. For instance, my husband always says, “As long as my wife is in the presence of God, I know God will sort her. Additionally, usually, the Holy Spirit convicts me on how to improve in certain areas or on how to love, serve and honour my husband.” She also learnt the importance of not overlooking issues; talk about them, resolve the issues or talk through them rather than avoid them.
Emma learnt that a husband greatly determines how the marriage should be.
“The husband is the head of the family, he carries the vision and the leadership of the home. So, it is critical how the husband leads because it determines submission to each other,” he says.
Irene is forever thankful and is blessed to have Emma for a husband because is supportive.