On The Porch With Pat - March 2023
March winds bring April showers or so the saying goes. This popular statement dates back to 1886 and in complete reads “March winds and April showers bring May flowers and June bugs.” It originated in the UK, because during spring the jet stream moves across the country, bringing more rain than usual.
How do the winds and the showers affect our Christian walk? What about the beauty of flowers and those pesty bugs?
What first comes to mind when you think of March? March winds? Perhaps Spring being right around the corner? For some it is shamrocks, parades, and green beer. On a deeper examination there is a treasure to be found.
As for me, my mind travels back to my first mission trip to Ireland. It was an adventure I will hold in my heart all the days of my life. This, the first of many international flights that would take me to the mission field where I thrive, yes, there in the center of God’s will. I recall checking into our first hotel encountering a boy of about 8 years of age, that I had the good pleasure of meeting. He was playing with the velvet rope that hung between two brass poles that separated us. I in the line for check-in and the boy amusing himself, as he waited for his parents. I ventured to say hello and was delighted at his response. “I am Tiernan O’Brien” said this bright eyed, red-headed, freckle faced child with a smile that wrapped around his face. He captured me, the sound of his voice steeped in a heavy Ulster accent left a lasting impression. He was the first Irishman I met independent of our host. I wrote his name on a sliver of paper and placed in my bible praying for him from time to time. I may never see him on this side of heaven but I do believe we’ll meet again.
Our mission found us in the middle of “the troubles” as the volatile conflict that arose from longstanding grievances between Catholics and Protestants who held deeply opposing views on Northern Ireland’s relationship with Great Britain. As we walked the streets praying there were soldiers with rifles held across their chests patrolling. It was a most sobering environment.
We visited St. Patrick’s, a small church in Northern Ireland that deeply touched us. I recall walking down a narrow path lined on both sides with towering green columns of cypress shadowing the way. Our small group entered into an overwhelming environment of God’s presence and we were captured, lost in His presence for some time. As we exited, I made my way to the hillside graveyard on the property and its panoramic view of the surrounding countryside. In the stillness, I prayed and in that moment my heart became a wee bit Irish and God instilled a love for Ireland, the beautiful emerald island.
What I had experienced piqued my interest in learning more about St. Patrick, who up until then had been somewhat dismissed, as another Catholic saint. First interesting fact is that St. Patrick wasn't Irish. St. Patrick born in Britain —not Ireland—to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century. He is believed to have died on March 17, around 460 A.D.
At the age of 16, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family’s estate. They transported him to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity. During this time, he worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his religion for solace, becoming a devout Christian.
After more than six years as a prisoner, Patrick escaped. According to his writing, a voice—which he believed to be God’s—spoke to him in a dream, telling him it was time to leave Ireland. To do so, Patrick walked nearly two hundred miles from County Mayo, where it is believed he was held, to the Irish coast. After escaping to Britain, Patrick reported that he experienced a second revelation—an angel in a dream tells him to return to Ireland as a missionary. Soon after, Patrick began religious training, a course of study that lasted more than 15 years. After his ordination as a priest, he was sent to Ireland with a dual mission: to minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to begin to convert the Irish.
Patrick was known as Christ’s Fisherman following true biblical principles with those in his care, teaching and tending to the development of those who became Christians. In other words, he taught and nurtured them in Christ. He was fully committed to bringing the gospel to the people who had caused him such hurt and distress for six years. St Patrick certainly bears all of the hallmarks of a great, generous and committed Christian worker, with the single aim to do his part in extending the Kingdom of God. Patrick took on the Druid Kings and saw the come to salvation. In one generation Ireland was turned from a heathen country to a Christian nation.
And He *said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.
Will you do your part?
Exerts taken from St. Patrick’s Spiritual Pilgrimage by Alfred Johnson
Pat Graham – Missionary Evangelist