On Saturday May 16, 2015, WorldShine Ministries, a non-profit organisation in Ntinda, held a youth convention. It was there that Ivan Peter Otim met Joy Nakato. Ivan, who was working part-time did not want to miss the convention and asked a friend to sit in for him. Joy, who had just returned from a youth camp in Nairobi, decided to join her sisters for the youth convention. It was here that Ivan walked up to her, gave her a side hug and said hello.
“As we enjoyed the day’s activities, everyone else left, leaving just the two of us. Realising I did not know any other person around, Ivan kept me company,” says Joy.
After spending the day together and engaging in interesting conversation, Joy knew she wanted to keep Ivan as a friend and asked for his telephone number. One conversation led to another and eventually, they dated for four years as Ivan finished his Bachelors in Computer Science course at Uganda Technology and Management University.
Although Joy also eventually travelled to the United States for further studies, Ivan says she was worth waiting for because she was God-fearing, intelligent and trustworthy.
“We talked every day and I was always challenged by the experiences she shared with me and her perspective on life. She also added perspective to the decisions I was making and contributed so much wisdom to everything I opened up about. With time, I became comfortable, seeing her as a trusted friend, one I could share anything with,” Ivan says.
On the other hand, save for being great company, Joy found Ivan humble, and calm with a positive attitude towards life. “His passion for ministry and family showed me that he would make a great husband. He was also charming from the start, full of wisdom, tall and good looking,” she says.
Eventually, Ivan and Joy had their traditional marriage on September 14, 2019, and were joined in Holy Matrimony on December 7, 2019. Shortly after their wedding, the Covid-19 lockdown started, giving them a nearly year long honeymoon.
“We were so glad to have saved a lot of money from our wedding, that even when we were not working, we could sustain ourselves in every way,” Ivan says. Devoid of outside company, in their new home, the time was perfect for them to learn more about each other, plan for the future and share dreams.
Like any other marriage, Ivan and Joy have had their fair share of differences. Ivan’s challenge has been how to communicate with someone he sees every day.
“I grew up in a family setting devoid of a perfect image of what marriage is yet my wife grew up with the support and care of both Christian parents,” he says.
Knowing this shortcoming, Ivan sought out father figures and watched how they loved their wives and children. “However, since I did not get a chance to live with them to see every side of how they communicated with their wives and children, I had no practical example of what is real. For example, I never saw how they communicated through their angry moments,” he says.
Joy adds that they had gone through communication classes during counselling, and were really good at communicating before marriage. “I could not imagine it being different after marriage. However, on different occasions, I wondered why I got to know certain things later or found out after they had happened,” she says.
However, she capitalised on the fact that Ivan was a good listener and took her word seriously thus choosing to open up about how their inconsistent communication was affecting her.
“Then things began changing for the better. I am blessed that from our dating times, Ivan always expressed the desire to start a completely new generation of a family that fears God. It was and always is exciting to watch him learn from his mentors and teach me about God’s purpose for families. Opening our hearts to learning from different marriages, and doing life in communities of like-minded people has also helped us work on our communication, build our own family values and marriage resolutions we always follow,” Joy says.
Owing to his upbringing, devoid of a present and loving father, Otim has devoted his life to helping others find perfect love in the heavenly Father through Jesus. “Through ‘The DAD Base’, a non-profit organisation, we are rescuing boys to help them grow into their identity as opposed to being clueless men,” Ivan says.
Ivan says after becoming a Born Again Christian in 2012, he made a commitment to God that he would marry the first woman he dated.
“I also had a community of brothers and mentors I was accountable to, so all I did had to be in the open. I thus did not hesitate to introduce Joy to my brothers and assured them I was committing to her, ready to learn everything with her and wait for the right time to marry her,” he says.
Joy adds that they committed themselves to two married mentor couples, who guided and shared their wisdom during their dating and courtship. “They prepared us and shared their experiences that encouraged us to make a lifelong commitment to each other,” she says.
The couple is blessed with one child, Rohn Strong Otim.
Ivan says marriage is God’s idea and design, meant to be the perfect demonstration of the union between Christ and His church. “That union is the perfect manual for any other marriage on earth, thus the need to have an intentional relationship with God first, for He is our best guide in marriage,” he advises.
Joy says there is need to focus on preparing for your unique and special marriage rather than the wedding. “This means learning so much about your future partner and willingness to learn more on the journey. Marriage is more beautiful when God is at the centre of it, and two people are committed to learning and following everything from His word,” she says.