Patrick is a man shrouded in many myths and legends. But behind the many misconceptions lies a man who had a true love for God and the people of Ireland. Drawing from the few remaining writings of Patrick, historians have been able to reconstruct much of the life, actions, teachings, and beliefs of this man.
Patrick was born in the town of Dumbarton on the River Clyde in the south of Scotland about the year 389 A.D. His father was a deacon and his grandfather was a pastor in the ancient church of Britain (regardless of common belief, Patrick never served under the Roman Catholic Church. He always worked under the authority of the independent British churches.) But as a young man, Patrick had no desire to learn of God or get involved in his family’s religious ways. The life of the world had too strong a pull on the young man…
At the age of sixteen, Patrick was captured during a pirate raid and was taken as a slave. The pirate took him, along with many other slaves, across the water and sold them as slaves to the Irish chiefs. This slavery brought Patrick to his knees. Having lost everything, he looked to the God who he had spurned for so long. Patrick wrote that “frequently, in the night, I prayed and the love of God and His fear increased more and more in me.” It was on the rolling, green hills of Ireland that the young British slave gave his heart to God and trusted in Him for his salvation:
And there the Lord opened the understanding of my unbelief, so that though late, I might summon my faults to mind and turn with all my heart to the Lord my God, who regarded my low estate, and pitied my ignorance and youth, and kept watch over me before I knew him or had attained discernment or could distinguish good from evil, and fortified me and comforted me as a father his son.
After six years of slavery, Patrick escaped his Irish master and made his way back to England, where he had a joyous reunion with his family and friends. But he could never forget the people of Ireland, who practiced their dark, druid religion and had never before heard the truth of Jesus Christ. A burning desire began to burn in his heart to return to the place of his physical slavery to reach those in spiritual slavery.
At the age of forty, Patrick set out to Ireland with a group of young men he had specially trained for the task ahead. And it would be a difficult task. The druid priest and chiefs opposed the new missionaries violently. But Patrick met them boldly. He would often go directly against their superstitious laws and ideas, proving to the masses how powerless their religion really was. Because of his stand bold against the druid priest, some of the high chiefs began to inquire of him in their courts, where he boldly preached the gospel to them. Several of these kings believed and so did hundreds of their people. Soon, hundred of churches dotted the Island.
But I pray those who believe and fear God, whosoever has deigned to scan and to take this writing which Patrick the Sinner, verily of no education, composed in Ireland, that none shall ever say it was my ignorance which achieved whatsoever tiny success was mine or whatever I showed in accordance with God’s will; but make your judgment, and let it be most truly believed that it was the Gift of God.
The Simerwells soon became invaluable to the work among the Native Americans. The started several other missions among the Indians and wrote several religious resources in their language to strengthen the churches there. Aside from all there other missional responsibilities, they would often take care of orphan Indian children. A friend wrote of them once:
In those days, Mr. and Mrs. Simerwell, with two or three children of their own, could take the trouble of feeding, clothing, lodging, and teaching thirty-seven Indian children, besides such as were occasionally absent, making the whole number in their charge between forty and fifty.
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