Jesus the Game Changer | TBN

Jesus the Game Changer

Watch Jesus the Game Changer
October 10, 2019
26:57

Ireland

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Jesus the Game Changer

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  • St. Patrick is celebrated by over 8 million people who actively
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  • get onto their feet every March 17th or the closest Saturday to it.
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  • Snakes, shamrocks and green beer tends to be the way that we celebrate it.
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  • But a lot of people who celebrate it don't realize that at the heart of it
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  • there's a real message and a real story and a real person.
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  • This is Slemish. We know that this was where Patrick was brought as a slave.
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  • He was taken from his home, brought across the sea and sold into slavery.
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  • It was in this area, on these hills that he looked after the sheep or animals of the people who held him as a slave.
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  • He did this for seven years.
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  • On the 17th of March each year on St. Patrick's Day, they actually walk to the top of this hill
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  • to celebrate and be a pilgrimage to St. Patrick.
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  • You know, it seems to me that if I knew people that were taken as slaves and held
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  • against their will, that they would become angry and bitter about life and their lot.
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  • What we know about St. Patrick was that in this period of time,
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  • he actually deepened his relationship with God.
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  • He didn't blame God for his situation, he knew God from his childhood.
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  • But here, as a slave on these hills, he began to pray more, reflect more, and deepen his relationship with God.
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  • We know that the movement that St. Patrick started here when he came back here
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  • later in life as a missionary, to take the message of Jesus to the ends of the earth,
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  • started a movement that went from here in Ireland to Scotland and England and on into Europe.
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  • And what we could suggest, is that if Patrick here had have become
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  • angry and bitter about life, none of that would have happened.
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  • But because he deepened his relationship with God, his love for God
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  • and even his love for these people, a movement of the work of God went across the world.
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  • One of the most unexpected things that happens in the wake of the fall of the Roman Empire,
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  • is that an island that had never been conquered by the Romans becomes Christian.
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  • So, while the province of Britannia, the erstwhile province of Britannia,
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  • is being ruled by pagan Anglo-Saxon kings, in Ireland the roots of Christianity
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  • are reaching down and bearing remarkable fruit.
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  • So, for anybody in the Roman Empire, Ireland was outside the Roman Empire, and for them, there was nothing west of here?
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  • Nothing beyond. The Americas hadn't been discovered.
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  • They called it 'the land of the setting sun'.
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  • They said beyond Ireland, there is only darkness, a dusk and darkness.
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  • And they literally believed that the world dropped off at that point.
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  • We tend to think of them as pagans.
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  • We use this word pagan, which is a very much abused word.
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  • It came from the Latin 'pagani', and the 'pagani' simply meant the country people,
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  • those that were outside the Roman cities, outside the Roman civitas, so they were called 'pagani'.
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  • And they had a different religion based on the agricultural festivals.
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  • They used to venerate the sun and the moon and the stars.
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  • And they followed the seasons of spring and summer and autumn and winter.
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  • So, we call them pagans, which is we sort of demonize them a little bit.
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  • But in fact, I think that many of them were very, very spiritual people.
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  • Ireland is an island that is a patchwork of rival kingships and princedoms.
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  • And that means that to travel across it is often incredibly dangerous.
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  • You have to belong, to have a kind of status within a kingship or else you're in mortal danger.
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  • So give us a picture of St. Patrick as a kid,
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  • because often people think he's from Ireland and he's Irish, but he's not is he?
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  • He's the most famous Irishman who's not an Irishman.
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  • St. Patrick tells us quite a lot about himself.
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  • He tells us that he was born on the island of Britain, specifically in a place called Bannavem Taberniae.
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  • Problem is, we know what it's called we just don't know where it is.
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  • We think it's probably in the southern part of Wales.
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  • He tells us that his father was a cleric and that he grew up in quite a prosperous background in a big villa.
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  • His grandfather was a cleric and he was part of the Roman Empire.
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  • So, he tells us that whenever he was 16, the Roman Empire was disintegrating.
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  • So that must have been around 410 A.D.
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  • He tells us that he was kidnapped when he was 16 by people from this island,
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  • from the island of Ireland and brought here as a slave.
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  • It's his first time here.
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  • His first experience of Ireland was as a teenager and as a slave.
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  • In the story that he tells us, because he wrote two letters,
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  • and if you want to know anything about Patrick, really, you have to go back to those two letters,
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  • because that's where the truth is, because he wrote it himself.
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  • He was brought here to Northern Ireland, sold to a chieftain here.
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  • He was out through the summer and the winter on a mountain alone, herding pigs or sheep sometimes.
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  • And there he was held captive from the age of 16 to 22.
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  • I mean, Patrick was literally an historical victim of child trafficking.
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  • We know that he was a shepherd slave for 6 years on a mountain called Slieve Mish.
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  • During that time, he starts to remember his father's faith.
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  • He's cold, lonely, isolated, taken from a very prosperous background, and he starts to remember his father's faith.
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  • He prays, starts to pray up to 100 times a day, which is not even in those times conventional.
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  • But he starts to dialogue with God, and he believes that God tells him eventually,
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  • after 6 years to run away, that a ship has been made ready for his escape.
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  • Does it surprise you that a relatively young guy in an awful situation
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  • didn't become bitter and twisted, but actually deepened his faith?
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  • It's a huge surprise and it's one of the most amazing things about Patrick's story.
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  • When you read through his confession, which he wrote when he was an older man
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  • looking back on his life, he was reflecting on everything that had happened to him,
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  • the good and the bad, the good times, the hard times, and the difficult times.
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  • And he went through a lot of difficult times.
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  • He says that his life was threatened, that he went through
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  • the 12 dangers that threatened his life on many, many occasions.
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  • Patrick expects to face death almost at every turn.
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  • But he'd survived and he never, ever became bitter.
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  • I was angry. I was angry because I felt like a nobody.
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  • I had no friends. I wasn't part of a culture or a society.
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  • I didn't know how to be social with people.
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  • And so, it developed this anger, which was going to come out in a certain direction,
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  • and at 14 I found myself being courted and part of an organization where
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  • I'd met these guys who seemed to have everything.
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  • They were respected. They carried themselves well.
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  • People knew who they were.
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  • And they seemed to have an aura about them that, if I'm honest with you, I really wanted.
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  • Belfast was a completely different place.
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  • It was a place where people were together, but they were brought together because of the circumstances.
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  • I suppose some people called it 'The Troubles'.
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  • It was a place where on a daily basis, when you woke up,
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  • you checked the teletext to see who had been murdered the day before.
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  • There were bombings and killings every single day.
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  • And so, Belfast was a broken place, but it was a tight knit community that had come together because of awful circumstances.
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  • What exactly caused The Troubles?
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  • I suppose it depends whose perspective you look at it from.
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  • As you grew up, we were brought up in a Protestant working class community
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  • and our belief was that the IRA had made this decision that Northern Ireland would
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  • no longer be British, and they had this campaign where they would bomb and kill to force the British out of Ireland.
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  • Basically, the idea was that it was them and us.
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  • And the idea at that time was that at some stage people would have to stand up and be counted.
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  • Because at the time communities were so close together, on a virtual daily basis
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  • there were some horrendous things that went on every day.
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  • I left home, like a lot of 15 year old's, knowing everything there was to know about life.
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  • And I moved into a derelict house where I stayed for the next eight months.
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  • And at the same time, living and building relationship with guys
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  • who were quite serious characters in the loyalist scene at that time.
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  • And so, for me, it was a gradual thing where you're on the periphery of things
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  • to actually becoming quite seriously involved and ending up in prison.
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  • So, he's in the middle of nowhere. A ship is ready.
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  • There's a message. So how far does he have to run?
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  • Well, he tells us specifically, he says he runs 400 Roman miles.
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  • Now Ireland in those days had no roads, no towns.
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  • So it was very difficult to get about.
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  • It was a patchwork quilt of little kingdoms and slaves were treated very badly here.
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  • Had he been captured; he would have been treated very badly.
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  • But he managed to get through Ireland, goes to the south-eastern part
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  • and hitchhikes with some sailors and they get him off the island of Ireland.
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  • We want to go back in the story where he was a slave and he heard a voice.
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  • He goes and finds a boat.
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  • Didn't he have to talk his way onto the boat to escape from Ireland when he was a slave?
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  • He did have to talk his way on, and it didn't work out for him at first.
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  • In the story, the angel told him, when he had this vision from the angel, 'Your ship is ready'.
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  • And Patrick, I mean, what was going on there?
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  • He must have been really convinced that this wasn't just a dream like we would think, it was more like a vision.
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  • He calls it a night vision, where he sees the angel Victor.
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  • Because as soon as he'd had that vision, that there was a ship waiting for him and that it was time to escape, he just left.
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  • He says, 'I left immediately'.
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  • So when he gets to the ocean, there is a ship waiting?
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  • There is a ship waiting with some sailors.
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  • Now, we're not sure whether they're pirates or traders.
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  • Initially, they don't want to take him, but he prays, and they change their mind
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  • and eventually they rescue him and get him off the island of Ireland.
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  • There were many years between the time he escaped from Ireland when he was 23 years old.
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  • He probably didn't return to Ireland until he was about 43 years old.
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  • So, the real mystery question, the key question, is where did he go for those 20 years of training?
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  • And when I went to prison this time, I was so angry.
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  • I was angry just at everybody. I was angry with myself.
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  • I was angry because I'd met a lovely girl who I loved, and I'd let her down.
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  • And I was embarrassed.
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  • And I suppose it came to the stage for me, it became more personal, actually,
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  • because at one stage the prison had taken me out of the general population
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  • under a thing called Rule 32, where you would be put on your own in solitary confinement.
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  • That wasn't a new thing for me, I did that every week.
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  • I used to throw TV's at people and do some not very nice things.
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  • And you were adjudicated by the governor, so most weeks I was in solitary confinement.
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  • But this time they got fed up with me and I didn't realize, but I was going to be there for quite a while.
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  • So that was on the 17th of December.
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  • By the 31st of December, I was distraught.
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  • I couldn't understand, I could hardly eat, I couldn't settle, I couldn't sleep.
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  • And I'm flicking through the Bible and I'm thinking, 'Where do you start to read?'
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  • Because I knew it. Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Lot.
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  • I knew all about it.
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  • But as I flick through the Bible, half the pages of the Living Bible
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  • had been ripped out because people used them for rolling papers.
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  • And I didn't want to read it, so I put it down.
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  • St. Patrick was this incredible person.
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  • It took him some years to make his way back from Ireland, back to his homeland.
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  • Then he became a priest, a Catholic priest.
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  • And years later felt God calling him to return to Ireland to be a missionary to the people who had enslaved him.
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  • One of the amazing things about Patrick is his writings about his call
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  • to go to the ends of the earth, are really the first writings we have
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  • outside the Roman Empire of people being called to witness beyond the boundaries of what was then known civilization.
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  • And then he wants to come back here?
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  • In his dreams one night he believes that an angel called Victoricus,
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  • who keeps coming to him, Victoricus the angelic messenger.
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  • He comes to him and he says, 'Patrick, the people of Ireland, Vox Hibernicus,
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  • the voice of the Irish, are calling to you. You must come back to Ireland to save us'.
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  • So, Patrick decides, as a bishop later in his life, that he's going to come back to Ireland
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  • and bring the Christian message to the people who had enslaved him all those years ago.
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  • And, of course that's what's in the gospels, the commandment of Jesus
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  • to His disciples was, 'Preach My gospel to the ends of the earth'.
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  • And at that time, Ireland was known to be at the ends of the earth.
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  • It was the ends of the earth.
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  • It was virtually like a voice in my head where God was saying to me, 'I love you'.
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  • And that wasn't something I necessarily wanted to hear.
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  • I wanted to hear, 'You are a bad person.
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  • And you are rotten and miserable and I need to deal with you'.
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  • But it was as if God was saying to me not that I was bad, but that He loved me,
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  • and He wanted to make me the husband and the father that He had always created me to be.
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  • And a bit like Jonah, you know, 'I want you to be this, but you ended up
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  • going so far this direction and I want to bring you back'.
  • 00:16:48.210 --> 00:16:52.020
  • So actually, at that stage, I cried out to God, literally.
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  • The floodgates opened, I must have cried for an hour and a half.
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  • And from there things began to change dramatically.
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  • It's great to have that moment.
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  • But you're in solitary confinement, you've got a reputation to hold,
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  • you've got scores you want to settle, what do you then do?
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  • Surrender. So, my wife had left me a Bible, a study Bible.
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  • And I got my radio back.
  • 00:17:21.120 --> 00:17:24.090
  • So, from there I began, there was a pastor, Pastor McConnell from Whitewell Church, and he was on UCB Radio every day.
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  • So, I spent every day recording his word for the day.
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  • It was 15 or 20 minutes long on the radio.
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  • I spent the next day dissecting that and going through it where I prayed beforehand.
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  • And actually, I used to record, there was gospel time on downtown radio
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  • on a Saturday night, and everyone in solitary confinement they were
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  • literally round the twist with me because I used to play this gospel music.
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  • And a lot of it was, it wasn't like some of this new contemporary stuff,
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  • it was like The Gaithers and Reverend William McCrea, I mean looking back,
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  • it was some pretty heavy stuff.
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  • But I was beginning to learn who I was in the light of who God was and what Jesus had done for me.
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  • So, I began an oasis for me in this small room, where I could be alone with God.
  • 00:18:18.060 --> 00:18:23.000
  • I began to realize who I was and get a sense of my own identity.
  • 00:18:25.190 --> 00:18:29.170
  • Patrick coming here was actually coming to the ends of the earth, that was part of his thing, wasn't it?
  • 00:18:34.100 --> 00:18:38.250
  • Exactly. Very much so. And he writes about that in his letter.
  • 00:18:38.270 --> 00:18:42.230
  • He says, 'Now the gospel has been preached to the ends of the earth, to the place beyond which no one lives'.
  • 00:18:42.250 --> 00:18:47.170
  • And he just says, now he believed he'd fulfilled, he had fulfilled in his mission,
  • 00:18:50.230 --> 00:18:55.170
  • he had fulfilled the commandment of Jesus to carry the gospel there.
  • 00:18:57.110 --> 00:19:00.230
  • He sailed by boat from wherever he came from, in my view that was Brittany in France,
  • 00:19:00.250 --> 00:19:05.190
  • on the coast of Brittany, others say it may have been Britain.
  • 00:19:07.130 --> 00:19:10.220
  • But then he came back to Ireland, where he'd been held as a slave originally.
  • 00:19:10.240 --> 00:19:15.040
  • But this time he was coming back as an apostle, as a Christian apostle.
  • 00:19:15.060 --> 00:19:19.120
  • And in the story, he landed at the river just behind this little church,
  • 00:19:19.140 --> 00:19:22.280
  • down at the bottom of the valley, which is called the River Slaney.
  • 00:19:23.000 --> 00:19:25.270
  • Interesting that that comes from an Irish word, which means healing.
  • 00:19:25.290 --> 00:19:30.190
  • So, he landed on the river of healing and came up across the fields to this site here, where the church is.
  • 00:19:30.210 --> 00:19:35.130
  • And in the story that we're told, he met the local chieftain, who was called Dichu.
  • 00:19:37.100 --> 00:19:42.070
  • And they became friends, not enemies.
  • 00:19:43.140 --> 00:19:46.000
  • And Dichu, the chieftain, agreed to give Patrick his barn so that Patrick could use that for his first church in Ireland.
  • 00:19:46.020 --> 00:19:50.210
  • So really, it's an amazing story about new beginnings, about Patrick's first church in Ireland.
  • 00:19:56.110 --> 00:20:01.070
  • Traditionally, the date given is 432 A.D., 432 years after Christ.
  • 00:20:01.090 --> 00:20:06.000
  • And that first church that he had, that started his whole ministry,
  • 00:20:08.040 --> 00:20:12.180
  • was a very, very simple one, made of wood, not of stone.
  • 00:20:12.200 --> 00:20:16.110
  • A simple wooden barn.
  • 00:20:16.130 --> 00:20:19.130
  • It was the end of August, actually, and the governor came to see me one day
  • 00:20:23.200 --> 00:20:27.060
  • and he said, 'Look, Joe, we're going to take you out of solitary confinement,
  • 00:20:27.080 --> 00:20:29.250
  • you're going to be an orderly in the prison hospital'.
  • 00:20:29.270 --> 00:20:33.010
  • That was quite strange, because people like me didn't get orderly jobs, for starters.
  • 00:20:33.030 --> 00:20:37.270
  • I was seen as a terrorist, so you didn't give me that type of job.
  • 00:20:39.270 --> 00:20:42.210
  • So, when I went into the prison hospital, I thought, it's quite strange, but I'm liking it.
  • 00:20:42.230 --> 00:20:47.170
  • You know, it seems that maybe it's an opportunity, I thought it was good.
  • 00:20:49.190 --> 00:20:52.000
  • I met this guy who was a P.O., and he said to me, 'Look, Joe, you've been brought in here,
  • 00:20:52.020 --> 00:20:56.270
  • the prison are trying to work out how you go from someone who is fighting all the time
  • 00:20:59.030 --> 00:21:02.190
  • and is so angry, to someone who's putting everybody's head round the bend listening to this gospel music every day.
  • 00:21:05.140 --> 00:21:07.190
  • And every time they lift your flap up, you're reading your Bible or reading a book.
  • 00:21:09.220 --> 00:21:13.040
  • And you've become quite pleasant with people.
  • 00:21:13.060 --> 00:21:15.270
  • The prison feel you've had a break down, and we need to psychologically assess you to see what's happened'.
  • 00:21:15.290 --> 00:21:20.030
  • So I told him that I'd had an encounter with Jesus on the New Year's Eve and that I'd been left different.
  • 00:21:22.260 --> 00:21:25.260
  • And he told me, 'Praise God, I'm a Christian myself.
  • 00:21:28.170 --> 00:21:31.190
  • And, you know, that's fabulous'.
  • 00:21:31.210 --> 00:21:33.210
  • So Patrick comes to the northern part of Ireland where he had been a slave originally.
  • 00:21:38.270 --> 00:21:43.250
  • He comes here to the great Dún or fort, which is this settlement, Dún Pádraig, the Fort of Patrick.
  • 00:21:46.180 --> 00:21:49.030
  • Later it was named after him, because the high king of the northern part of Ireland lived here.
  • 00:21:51.260 --> 00:21:55.070
  • So, he came to influence the high king and he went around creating churches in a diocesan system.
  • 00:21:55.090 --> 00:22:00.030
  • There were many challenges for Patrick whenever he was trying to set up his churches.
  • 00:22:03.050 --> 00:22:07.210
  • Obviously, he was facing the Druids who had their own religion,
  • 00:22:07.230 --> 00:22:12.030
  • and the Celtic tradition had been here for thousands of years.
  • 00:22:12.050 --> 00:22:15.110
  • So, he faced many challenges.
  • 00:22:15.130 --> 00:22:17.140
  • He talks about being imprisoned many times.
  • 00:22:17.160 --> 00:22:20.030
  • And it seems to be the same pattern.
  • 00:22:20.050 --> 00:22:22.040
  • He would show up somewhere where they didn't like the look of him,
  • 00:22:22.060 --> 00:22:24.000
  • they would put him in prison, his previous converts would bail him out,
  • 00:22:24.020 --> 00:22:26.220
  • they would build a church, and then he would go on to the next little part of Ireland
  • 00:22:26.240 --> 00:22:31.140
  • where they didn't like the look of him, they'd put him in prison,
  • 00:22:31.160 --> 00:22:33.070
  • and the same thing would happen over and over again.
  • 00:22:33.090 --> 00:22:35.130
  • So, he was constantly battling with the old religion and bringing the new religion here.
  • 00:22:35.150 --> 00:22:40.100
  • We're sitting in the church that you now run, right in the area
  • 00:22:48.270 --> 00:22:52.240
  • that you were active as a paramilitary, so something radical happened.
  • 00:22:52.260 --> 00:22:57.200
  • I became part of a church not far from here.
  • 00:22:59.030 --> 00:23:01.050
  • And it was a church that had this real extreme grace message,
  • 00:23:01.070 --> 00:23:04.250
  • which actually at the time I thought the guy was completely nuts.
  • 00:23:04.270 --> 00:23:09.180
  • But I came to the stage where understanding the grace of God
  • 00:23:09.200 --> 00:23:14.170
  • meant that I had been forgiven, I'd just never forgiven myself.
  • 00:23:16.050 --> 00:23:20.050
  • And I was embarrassed because I'd done some awful things.
  • 00:23:21.220 --> 00:23:24.010
  • And I was embarrassed that I had hurt people, I'd hurt my family,
  • 00:23:24.030 --> 00:23:27.030
  • I'd hurt the people that had been involved in all the things that I had done.
  • 00:23:27.050 --> 00:23:30.060
  • And it wasn't until then, that I forgave myself.
  • 00:23:30.080 --> 00:23:35.020
  • This little church that we're in, Saul Church, there was an abbey here at one stage,
  • 00:23:37.070 --> 00:23:41.040
  • this isn't an abbey now but there was a great 12th century abbey
  • 00:23:41.060 --> 00:23:45.040
  • just outside the doors there, 12th, 13th century.
  • 00:23:45.060 --> 00:23:48.050
  • But it really goes back to simple beginnings, and the story of Patrick,
  • 00:23:48.070 --> 00:23:52.160
  • and how Patrick began his work in Ireland and began his ministry in Ireland.
  • 00:23:52.180 --> 00:23:57.110
  • You know, it's one of these famous thin places where heaven and earth are close together.
  • 00:23:59.160 --> 00:24:01.280
  • And the spiritual is here, you know.
  • 00:24:02.000 --> 00:24:05.140
  • So, no matter how many times you talk about it, and sometimes you do feel
  • 00:24:05.160 --> 00:24:09.100
  • a bit wooden getting up saying the same thing over and over again,
  • 00:24:09.120 --> 00:24:12.210
  • but actually the spiritual is there and sometimes it just catches you unaware in the most innocent moment.
  • 00:24:12.230 --> 00:24:17.150
  • What do you want to see in this environment now?
  • 00:24:22.190 --> 00:24:25.270
  • I want revival. For me, I want the people of this area to encounter the God
  • 00:24:28.040 --> 00:24:32.180
  • that arrested me from where I was, who gave me hope and who gave me a future.
  • 00:24:36.020 --> 00:24:40.260
  • And I want to see heaven touch earth in this area.
  • 00:24:43.200 --> 00:24:48.060
  • I came to know the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords who came,
  • 00:24:48.080 --> 00:24:52.250
  • set aside all of His glory, and who would have come just for me.
  • 00:24:52.270 --> 00:24:57.250
  • That made me a somebody.
  • 00:25:00.020 --> 00:25:02.150