St. Patrick

Happy St. Patrick’s day! Today I am here to tell you the real story about St. Patrick, one of the greatest men who ever lived, and some say one of the greatest Christians who ever lived. His story is amazing, and true.


Patrick spent most of his life in Ireland, but he was actually born in England, who were the enemies of Ireland.


Patrick was born around the year 390 – over 1600 years ago.  His grandfather was a Christian pastor, and his family went to church, but he himself did not believe in God or believe in Jesus as his Lord and savior when he was young. When he was 16, his life changed forever: he was kidnapped by pirates and taken to Ireland, a wild and crazy place with wild and crazy people.


In Ireland he became a slave, and he was forced to work as a shepherd in the wilderness all alone. While he was all alone in the wilderness, he began to pray, remembering what he heard about Jesus when he was young. God answered his prayers, and eventually Patrick trusted in Jesus for the forgiveness of his sins, and in faith Patrick made Jesus the king of his life, turning from his sin and becoming God’s child. He remained a slave all alone in the wilderness, yet he trusted God and prayed day and night.


Eventually God spoke to Patrick in a wonderful dream, telling him to go back home to England. So Patrick escaped from slavery, and God protected him on his long walk across Ireland, and provided a ship that was sailing to England. God had rescued him twice: first from sin and death when he believed in Jesus, and now from slavery in a strange land.


Back home in England, Patrick joined the church, studied the Bible, and after many years became a pastor, leading his church. He was so full of Jesus’ love that he wanted to share it with everyone. Life was surely good for Patrick back home.


Eventually, God spoke to him in another dream, and this time it was much harder than before. God told Patrick to go BACK to Ireland, to the place where he was a slave, to the land of his enemies, a place with wild and crazy people who did wild and crazy and evil things.  God wanted Patrick to share Jesus love with his enemies. What should he do?


People in his church surely told him that he should not go. They knew how wild and crazy and evil the Irish people were. They were sure no one would listen, and that Patrick would be hurt and killed. Yet Patrick obeyed God, because he loved God, and he loved the Irish people, even though they were the enemies of his people. He knew that Jesus tells us to love our enemies. Patrick knew that he must tell the Irish people that God loved them so much that He sent Jesus to die for them, and live again, and if they believe in Jesus they can have eternal life, be God’s children and know God’s love too.


And that is just what he did. Patrick sold his land and all his things and moved to Ireland, leaving the safety of his home in England. God protected Patrick from being killed by the wild and crazy and evil Irish people, although they did throw him in jail at times and did try to kill him! Patrick preached and taught the gospel all through Ireland. He told them to turn away from their false gods, turn away from their sin, and to believe in Jesus, the son of the one true God, who alone can save us from our sins. He used music and art to share the gospel. He took care of the poor. He prayed to God to heal the sick, and God did powerful miracles through him. He even used the 3-leaf clover, which is found in Ireland, to explain the Trinity, that there is one God in 3 persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


God blessed Patrick, and through him many, many people became Christians in Ireland. He started about 700 churches and thousands of people had eternal life in Jesus. Patrick died and went to heaven at age 77, having served his whole life for the people who enslaved him, so they might have eternal life.


This is the true story of St. Patrick, but the story gets even better. If St. Patrick was here, he might tell us his story, but he wouldn’t stop there, he would tell us an even better story. He might say something like this:


You know how I listened to God? Jesus listened to God the Father, who sent him to rescue us!


You know how I left my safe home in England? Jesus left his home in heaven to come down to earth, to rescue us!


You know how I showed love and forgiveness to those wild and crazy and evil Irish people? Jesus came to show us love and forgiveness, even though in our hearts we are wild and crazy and evil


You know how I helped the poor and sick? Jesus came to rescue the poor and heal the sick, and especially to heal our sick hearts.


You know how I gave my whole life to serve those I loved, even though they were my enemies? Jesus gave his life for us, even though we were his enemies. Isn’t Jesus wonderful?


So even though God used me in amazing ways, please don’t think I am anything special. I am nothing. Jesus is everything! As the Bible says: look at Jesus, turn from your sin, trust in Jesus for forgiveness and love Him with your whole heart.


I write now to update everyone on a significant time in our lives. In short: we’re moving to Portland, Maine!

Of course the back story is much longer than that, so allow me to give you a few details. About a year ago I (Bob) began to wonder if I should pursue another line of work (I’m a computer programmer), perhaps in Christian ministry. For the past couple years God has grown in our hearts a desire to serve him more and more, specifically in outreach and evangelism through the local church. If you know me well, you know that this is not something I am prone to do, but as we prayed, God used us in small and big ways and grew our desire to serve him more.

So we started to pray and seek wisdom from others. I was then given opportunities to participate in more ministry at our church, specifically preaching Sunday morning sermons. The Lord blessed that time and much to our amazement we felt a stronger call to such work, and perhaps toward pastoral work. God so orchestrated various events that it became clearer and clearer, so we were thinking about attending seminary. We set our sights toward New England, where there’s a good seminary, and where I visited every summer growing up. We also learned that by percentage, there are very few Christians in that part of the country.

Then an unusual opportunity came up, where I could take part in a new “seminary alternative” at a church in our denomination up north. I would keep my “day job” and transfer to our office in Portland, Maine, while taking part in practical and theological training for the next 8 years or so. This would be at Christ the Redeemer church in Portland, where they are establishing a church planting and pastoral training center. So at the end of our time there, if the Lord wills I will be ordained as a church planter in northern New England. What an exciting opportunity, and the Lord has provided all along the way.
We are now on the doorstep of the biggest part of the plan so far: our house is under contract to sell at the end of April, and we are shopping for a new home near Portland. We are sad to leave the only home we’ve known together, and overwhelmed at times with all the details ahead. But we know the Lord is with us and His promises are good.

So will you pray for us? We are gathering a prayer-supporter team. We send out regular updates with prayer requests and praises, and ask you to pray for us regularly. If you’re interested, please sign up here: http://bit.ly/fafsWM

Thank you for your prayers and love this past week. As many of you know it was Michelle’s birthday this weekend and we had a lovely time, and we are so thankful that her back is healing and she is doing much better. Please continue to pray for health and strength.

The big news for this week is that our house is officially for sale. (here’s a link if you’d like to see: http://bit.ly/hHwt71) Please pray that the Lord will send the right buyers at the right time, and we hope that will be soon.

Again let me emphasize that we are so thankful for each of you. As of now we have 40 individuals and families signed up to pray for us regularly. That is so encouraging! As we were reminded yesterday at our missions conference in church, it is “only God who gives the growth” (http://esv.to/1Co3.5-9) even as we are called to plant and water. It is so good to be “God’s fellow workers” with you, so keep planting and watering with your prayers, your words and your good works and trust that God will give the growth. He is good!

We are so thankful and humbled that 29 families have agreed to partner with us in prayer so far. God loves to hear the prayers of His people, so remain in Him and ask boldly according to His promises and His will.
So please pray:
  • That God’s name would be hallowed among us and in Portland, Maine and the surrounding area
  • That His kingdom would come in greater Portland more and more
  • That His will be done in our lives, specifically that our house would sell in His perfect timing, and we would trust Him through it all
And praise Him for answered prayers, as Michelle’s back is doing better, although keep praying for her too.
Finally, I read this today from author and pastor David Hansen. I found it startling and encouraging at the same time. I hope you do too:
We can expect and we must expect to wield the power of the Spirit. It is a sin for God’s servants not to expect the power of the Spirit. Shirking responsibility because we do not expect God to act through us with the power of the Spirit is a great sin. The Bible calls it fear.


prayer support needed

As I mentioned previously, we received the final confirmation from the church in Portland, Maine (Christ the Redeemer PCA) to take part in ministry training there. Here’s more details:

Here’s the plan:
They have invited us up to take part in a new program of mentored ministry training. In short, I will be keeping my day job with Unum, transferring up to our office in Portland, and I will be trained in church planting in New England for approximately 8 years (in lieu of formal seminary). This will involve mentoring and training both in practical matters as well as theological study, etc, all while we get to know the people of the area. God willing, after the training we will be ready to plant a church in New England (the Northern New England presbytery has a comprehensive plan for church planting in the region). We are ready to go as soon as our house sells, and it will be on the market soon (tell your friends!)

Here’s our need from you:
We need your prayers! We don’t feel like we’re leaving you as much as being sent by you (and of course clearly led by the Lord). So as you help send us, please do so with consistent prayer. We feel like we’re being sent to the “front lines” of one of our domestic mission fields, so we need the prayers of God’s people. To that end, we’re raising a prayer support team.

If you feel so led, please sign up herehttp://bit.ly/fu5dWE

Humbly yours,Bob, Michelle, Caleb, Alice, Selah and Gideon

p.s….If you’ve made it this far, allow me to be a little thought-provoking:

  • Did you know that our two favorite mission sending agencies do not require their missionaries to have a particular amount of committed prayer supporters?
  • What would you consider more vital to missions: money or prayer?
  • God has seen fit to provide for our finances ahead of time (many thanks to Him!). But we need your prayers!

It’s official: we’re going to Portland! We’ve been invited to take part in a mentored ministry program at Christ the Redeemer Presbyterian Church, so I will transfer my job up there as soon as we sell the house. So this blog will likely evolve into a repository of prayer requests and updates. I don’t know if anyone pays attention here anymore, but either way it will be good to record what God is doing on this adventure. He is good!

This month I preached on James 5:7-11

The sermon is titled “Actively Patient for Jesus’ Return”

You can listen here