Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Remember St. Patrick...Day

Why is an Italian boy like me excited about this very green, very Irish holiday in St. Patrick's Day? The reason is because Maewyn Succat or today as we know him St. Patrick (after becoming a Priest took a Christian name) is a Revolutionary that needs to be celebrated and remembered.

St. Patrick was British-born and was captured by pirates at the age of 16 and sold into slavery in Ireland. He was able to escape six years later, however he had a vision from God, where he heard the cries of the people of Ireland pleading for him to come back. He was moved by this vision of suffering and was struck with much compassion for the land that caused him much pain.

Sometimes our greatest tragedies can later be a catalyst for our greatest victories.

St. Patrick was one of the first recorded individuals who publicly took a stand against slavery, and by his death help put an end to slavery in Ireland around 461 AD.
(Interesting to note that it would take close to 1500 years later for slavery to be abolished in America.)

St. Patrick was passionate for those that many leaders in his day even Christian leaders overlooked; he was for women, the poor, and the marginalized.

He planted more than 300 churches and baptized over 120,000 Irishmen.

His humility and compassion lead him to be tremendously effective in Ireland and for the cause of Christ. "The early Irish Christianity planted by Patrick is much more joyful and celebratory [than its Roman predecessor] in the way it approaches the natural world," said by American scholar and writer, Thomas Cahill.

When we remember St. Patrick's Day may we remember a man...

Who was brave
Who was humble
Who was love the way Jesus was love.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sometimes An Email Is More Than An Email

I have been a Youth Pastor going on 6 years now and that is kinda freaky to see that typed out. Upon graduating VFCC I took my first Youth Pastor gig somewhere out in the "Boonies" of PA.
When I told God I would go anywhere, He wasn't kidding.

A city boy from Philly going to the "Sticks" of Central PA was a stretch and a challenge, but I was up for it.

I guess I am a little crazy because that year back in 2004 I got married, moved out, and took a ministry position all in the same month. Once God calls me to something my mind is made up and Im all in.

That first year of ministry was tough but worth it.
It was definitely an adjustment for sure.

I would hear gunshots every day outside our house from people hunting because our parsonage just happened to be across the street from Pinchot State Park. I heard gunshots in Philly but I don't think it was from people hunting.

As difficult as that first year was balancing ministry, family, and two jobs; we met some great people. My wife and I still keep in contact with a number of people from that church and we are really good friends with the Pastor and his family to this day.

I remember one girl...
She never responded to an alter call.
She never responded to calls for salvation.
She never gave me any sign that seeds took root.

She was the girl that was shy and a little out of place. Her home life was definitely "unique." Having a mom who was a "Dancer" (you can fill in the blanks there) and her Dad was the owner Bar where they had said "Dancing." If there was any student in that youth group who needed Hope it was her.

It's amazing that this girl was even in church.
The only reason she was there was because a family from the church took a special interest in her and would drive her to church (thank God for families like that).

My wife and I invested time in her in and outside of the church too. My wife would help her with Spanish homework from time to time. Which was good because the only thing I remember from my High School Spanish Class was "Donde el Bano?" (Where's the Bathroom?... Hey its good to know in a pinch right???)

A year and half later we left the country church to accept another Youth Pastor position and our Senior Pastor left to accept another position as well.

Sometimes I wondered if this girl would ever be more than what her environment would allow her to much potential, so many obstacles.

Well, 5 years later I found out (just last week actually) from an email she sent me that things have changed. It's one of those emails that you save and read with your wife on those tough ministry days.

She gave her life to Jesus in 2006 when working on job with the family that would take her church. Now she is currently enrolled at a Community College and is planning to transfer to a Christian College in the area, with a great scholarship!

The major she is planning to study is in Family and Consumer Sciences Education. This degree will allow her to be a teacher which focuses on child development and human relations, isn't it ironic...(don't ya think.)

She is living out one of my favorite verses from Romans "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. "

Sometimes it takes one family to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
Sometimes the ministry is more than an alter call.
Sometimes the longer it takes for a seed to sow,
the stronger the roots will be to grow.