Our greatest misfortune can catapult us into our greatest service for the Lord. Consider Joseph and Daniel, two Old Testament teens whose kidnappings took them to distant countries where they later become God’s ambassadors in strange lands.

Saint Patrick died March 17, 461, a day that has since borne his name. Patrick was born in the year 385 in Britain. His father was a deacon and his grandfather a priest. Roman protection of England had deteriorated, and bands of Irish pirates tormented coastal areas, pillaging farms, slaughtering villagers, kidnapping teens. Patrick was taken at age 16. The Irish farmer who bought him put him to tending sheep, and somehow through all this Patrick found Christ. “The Lord opened to me a sense of my unbelief, that I might be converted with all my heart unto the Lord.”

Following a daring escape at age 22, Patrick returned home to joyous parents who prayed that he would never again leave. But Patrick’s heart burned for his erstwhile captors, and one night he dreamt an Irishman was begging him to return and preach. After several years of Bible study, Patrick returned to Ireland as a missionary. The Irish were almost wholly unevangelized at the time, worshiping the elements, seeing evil spirits in trees and stones, and engaging in magic, even in human sacrifice, performed by the druids. “It very much becomes us,” he said, “to stretch our nets, that we may take for God a copious and crowded multitude.” And so he did, planting 200 churches and baptizing approximately 100,000 converts, despite a dozen attempts against his life and violent opposition from civil authorities. In his Confessions, he wrote, I am greatly a debtor to God, who has bestowed his grace so largely upon me, that multitudes were born again to God through me. The Irish, who had never had the knowledge of God and worshipped only idols and unclean things, have lately become the people of the Lord, and are called sons of God.

Jesus said to them, “You don’t need to know the time of those events that only the Father controls. But the Holy Spirit will come upon you and give you power. Then you will tell everyone about me in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and everywhere in the world.” After Jesus had said this and while they were watching, he was taken up into a cloud. (Acts 1:7-9a)

Robert J. Morgan, On This Day: 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). Mar.17.

*Note: Picture in Header by Nheyob – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39732088

ALSO ON THIS DAY

1649 – Martyrdom in Ontario of Jesuit priest Gabriel Lalemant, who prayed for the souls of the Iroquois as they slowly tortured him to death with ingenious torments. He was canonized by Pope Pius XI on 29 June 1930.

1840 Lady Lucy Whitmore, author of prayers and hymns died in Shropshire, England. The most famous of the latter is “Father, again in Jesus’ name we meet.

1856Amanda Smith, living in Pennsylvania, goes to a cellar and prays, saying she will be saved or die. She soon experiences the glory of the Lord.

1902 – Death in New York City of George W. Warren, an outstanding organist who served at several large Episcopal churches in Albany, Brooklyn, and New York City in the second half of the nineteenth century. One of his hymn tunes is still in use, that to which we sing “God of Our Fathers, Whose Almighty Hand.”

1960 – Bishop Kung Ping Mei of Shanghai is sentenced to life imprisonment because he refuses to head a Communist church-control movement.

Accessed ChristianHistoryInstitute.org 16 March 2022.

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