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As a young boy Patrick lived a comfortable life near an English coastal city where his father was a deacon in their church. But at the age of 16, all that came to an end. Irish pirates attacked his village, abducting Patrick and many of the household servants. After arriving in Ireland, Patrick was sold as a slave to a Druid tribal chieftain who forced Patrick to work with a herd of pigs.

In the midst of all that pig filth, God began to transform Patrick's heart. In his Confessions he wrote, "I was sixteen and knew not the true God, but in a strange land the Lord opened my unbelieving eyes, and I was converted." Patrick became convinced that the kidnapping and homesickness were actually opportunities to know Christ better. "Anything that happens to me," he wrote, "whether pleasant or distasteful, I ought to accept with [serenity] giving thanks to God ... who never disappoints."

After serving as a slave for six years, Patrick escaped, boarded a boat, and found his way back home. Finally, he was back on British soil, warmly embraced by his family and his community. In his own mind, Patrick was finished with Ireland for good. Patrick was adamant: "It is not in my nature to show divine mercy toward the very ones who once enslaved me."

But once again, God changed Patrick's heart. Partially through a dramatic dream, Patrick knew that God had called him to return to Ireland--not as a slave, but as a preacher of the gospel. His family and friends tried to stop him, telling him, "Why does this fellow waste himself among dangerous enemies who don't even know God?"

Despite their objections, Patrick used his own money to purchase a boat and sail back to Ireland in A.D. 432. Patrick then spent the rest of his life preaching the gospel in Ireland, seeing many people come to Christ. He also passionately defended the human rights of slaves, writing a letter of scathing protest to King Coroticus after his soldiers had raided a village, slaughtered the men and sold the women into slavery.

Patrick never...

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