Imagine being kidnapped as a teenager. You are taken far from home to a land where you don’t understand the culture or even speak the language. You’re sold to a man and taken to his home. And through a series of gestures, grunts, and pictures you finally realize you will be spending most of the time outside watching your owner’s live stock. Alone. Afraid. So far away from your family and everything that is familiar to you.
This is the story of a boy named Maywin Socket.
In time he learned the language of his captors. He started to understand the ways of the people around him. Most significantly, Maywin grew close to God.
But how? He had no church. No Bible. No religious programming.
Theologians call it natural revelation. The psalmist says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1, 2 NIV) Yahweh is a self-revealing God and He revealed Himself to Maywin during his time in nature, in solitude, and in prayer.
One night, after six years a slave, Maywin had a dream about a ship anchored in the harbor near the pasture of his owner. In his dream the ship took him home. When Maywin woke up he made his way to peek out at the spot of the sea he saw in his dream. There was a ship! He took it as a sign and miraculously made his way aboard and it took him home to England. And Maywin was finally reunited with his family.
Nearing adulthood he felt compelled to go into the priesthood. It was then that his name was changed to Patrick. Rather than being angry or bitter toward the people who had enslaved him, he felt compelled to go back to Ireland as a missionary. Some recorded that he had another dream at this time. In the dream he heard the Irish saying, “We beseech thee holy youth to come and walk once more among us.”
Unfortunately the church in Rome had determined the celtic tribes were barbaric and unreachable. Patrick was undeterred. He was convinced that everything that had happened in his life was preparation for him to take the good news of Jesus to Ireland. Eventually the leaders of the church consented and Patrick, accompanied about a dozen others, departed on their missionary journey.
Patrick’s understanding of context was a gift to Christianity. I will unpack what we need to relearn from him on Wednesday and Friday. So today I urge you to wear green and celebrate his life and legacy with great joy!