On St. Patrick’s Day my family hosted a “corned beef and cabbage dinner” for some international friends from Cuba and the Ukraine who, being new to our country, were unfamiliar with all the rituals around this holiday.
In doing some research I learned that St. Patrick was actually born in Roman occupied Britain around 390 A.D. When Irish marauders raided his home, he was captured and taken to Ireland where he was enslaved as a shepherd. It was during this period of enslavement that the hungry, frightened, lonely and bitterly cold Patrick sought out a relationship with his heavenly Father.
In the book How the Irish Saved Civilization, Thomas Cahill writes that, “Six years after his capture, God spoke to Patrick in a dream, saying, you are going home. Look—your ship is ready.”
Inspired by this word from God, the young Patrick walked nearly 200 miles to the Irish coast where he boarded a ship and returned to Britain.
It was upon returning to his homeland that Patrick experienced the call on his life to pursue the priesthood which eventually led to his becoming ordained as a bishop.
Thirty years after God led Patrick away from Ireland, he called him back to the Emerald Isle as a missionary where he brought thousands to faith.
As we were enjoying our St. Patrick’s Day meal with our new friends, one of the young men shared his story of growing up in the Ukraine. As a young child he and his sister were abused by his father; abandoned by their mother; only to become a ward of the state in a government run orphanage. At one point he and his sister were given to a foster family who “enslaved” them on their farm for two years before returning them to the orphanage.
It was at that point that a family from the United States heard about these two children and pursued adopting them.
Today the young man has a high school diploma and a meaningful job in the construction industry where he continues to be given additional responsibilities.
As he was concluding his story, my wife asked him if he believed in God? Without hesitating he said, “No, I have given up on god. If there was a god, my sister and I would never have had to endure the pain and suffering we experienced as children in the Ukraine.”
After a brief pause during which no one knew what to say, my mother who is in her mid-nineties and is struggling with cognitive issues simply said, “Well God hasn’t given up on you!”
Something to remember no matter what day we are celebrating.
Excerpts of this story were taken from www.breakpoint.org .