A story for St. Patrick's Day!
Maewyn Succat was born to a well-to-do British Roman family in roughly 400 AD in Kilpatrick, Scotland. He enjoyed the status of middle class wealth, and the prestige of having a preacher grandfather and a deacon father in the young Christian church. Maewyn, however, while reveling in the comfortable position of his family, rejected anything to do with their faith. However, everything changed for the young Britain when he was kidnapped by Irish pirates at the age of 16, and dragged to the neighbouring country where he was forced into slavery.
Once the son of a respected family, now a slave to Miliucc, a Druid tribal leader. Maewyn became a pig and sheep herder in the hills of what is now Northern Ireland. There, amongst his livestock, he spent weeks alone. It was also there God met him. Maewyn turned to the faith of his fathers, and cried out to God in his captivity. He spent six years in slavery, being discipled by the voice of God alone. Maewyn wrote : “The love of God ... increased in me ... and the faith grew in me, and the spirit was roused, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers … so that whilst in the woods and on the mountain, even before the dawn, I was roused to prayer and felt no hurt from it, whether there was snow or ice or rain ... because the spirit was then fervent within me.”
He remained under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, until one day, God spoke to him that it was time to leave Ireland and that his ship was ready. Maewyn returned the sheep and pigs to their owner’s farm, and slipped off the next day. He walked over 200 miles to the coast, facing starvation and even a brief recapture. With bloodied feet and wearied body, he stumbled to a port, where he was invited to sail with a crew headed for Britain. The ship landed right where Maewyn’s family lived and they were reunited.
Maewyn continued to pursue God, even going on to study in Gaul (modern day France), where he poured over the scriptures. After years of studying, Maewyn began to have a re-occurring dream. In the dream, he was given a letter, and each time he opened it, a thousand voices cried out in Irish saying, “Come and walk amongst us once more, holy youth.” Maewyn was being called back to Ireland — the country which enslaved him for years. He felt so very unprepared for such a task, as he was still learning the scriptures and there were minimal Christians in the country. Yet, he knew he could not deny God’s calling.
With that, Maewyn set sail for Ireland. He went on to preach in the country for 30 years, planted over 200 churches, saw the true conversion of over 100,000 people, ended Irish slavery, and settled tribal warfare. He was loved and hated by many. He suffered backstabbing from the church in England and was repeated persecuted by Druid tribal leaders. But all the while he held onto his calling, and effectively changed the course of history through Ireland. Maewyn eventually became known as Patricus. Or as we know him today, Saint Patrick.
Stories like Patrick’s have inspired generations of missionaries to serve God on the mission field. In fact, Patrick’s writing, Confessio, is known as some of the most passionate, heart-stirring, and honest writing of its time. Without his writings, the story of God’s work in Ireland would have been undoubtedly lost.
The kingdom of God needs writers to inspire and inform. You can learn to share stories like Patrick’s through YWAM’s Writer’s Workshop running in Au Cuan, Northern Ireland this May. Or, if you can’t make it to Northern Ireland, the workshop is also being held at YWAM Champagne and YWAM Restenäs.