We just recently listened to an Adventures In Odyssey episode about the underground railroad. It was a great historical episode of runaway slaves finding their way up to Canada. Some died, some made it. It was a good teaching.
Today celebrates St. Patrick who was at one point a runaway slave. He felt called by God to go back - a free man, yet slave to God - and minister in the lands where he was a slave. That is pretty crazy. I don't think that is a call God makes to everybody who was once enslaved, and who could blame Him. Very few people want to put themselves back in that position. Yet situations and opportunities have arrisen throughout history where slaves and captives have also been the ones to forgive and evangelize their owners or captors. I can think of numerous stories from WWII where former POW's have returned to evangelize their jailors.
Forgiveness and reconciliation are an amazing thing. We're studying about this in our married's Bible Study. What has come forth in the study that God is principally interested in repairing breaches, both between Himself and humanity and between humans. What struck me yesterday was how differences between people can still produce good partnerships and cooworkers (particularly in Kingdom work) as long as there is mutual respect and forgiveness. Alas, there have been so many rifts between Kingdom workers that forgiveness is abated and bitterness is a slow-dying poison.
Today on St. Patrick's Day, I remember a missionary who was sent back to the place that he was a slave. That is hard reconciliation, yet a powerful witness. I also remember those stuck in modern day slavery and pray for global abolitionist movements (see Not For Sale by Batstone or Disposable People by Bale). I also pray that God would heal these slaves, reconcile them to Him and raise up a mass of voices who were once oppressed, now freed, that proclaim reconciliation and forgiveness.
When you see green today, think of the Irish. But also think of green as the color of liberty and liberty freed for submission to reconcile. When you see green today, think of missionaries called to be freed people yet slaves of God participating in global reconciliation of the world. And remember, as you where green today, you yourselves are a missionary of reconciliation to your family, friends, co-workers, the poor and the oppressed around you.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!