Patrick was a teenager, a 5th century preacher’s kid, in Romanized Britain, when he was kidnapped by Irish pirates and sold into slavery there where he stayed for six years until a vision guided him to escape.
I find his life and ministry to be a wonderful illustration of the Wesleyan understanding of Grace. So here are some ways that us Methodists (or Wesleyans) conceptualize grace with examples from Patrick’s life.
Prevenience: He had never really examined his faith as a teenager, rolling his eyes as he went through the motions of a “Christian” upbringing. Yet he found comfort and strength, praying without ceasing as a solitary shepherd on a remote hillside in Ireland.
Justification: He came to terms with his youthful ignorance and discovered God’s mercy and love for him. Upon his fantastic escape back home, he found no peace until he answered God’s call to return to the land of his captivity as a missionary. The institutional Church saw him as a poor choice because he had missed so much of the classical/ecclesial education during his enslavement. He was embarrassed by his poor understanding of Latin throughout his life. And yet, who could have been better equipped for work among the pagan Irish?
Sanctification: He worked tirelessly in dangerous circumstances to convert the same people who could have easily killed him all the while lobbying forcefully against politically connected English slavers and Church bureaucrats who began to prey upon the now vulnerable Irish people.
He was a humble, empathetic, and creative evangelist, both revered and reviled in his own time.