Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Retired Firefighter Becomes Deacon

My close friend, Pat Byrne, could be on the golf course every day, enjoying a quiet retirement.  Just before he retired, the worst fire in California broke out near his home.   He was separated from his federal firefighter buddies during the Cedar Creek fire and checked in with his chief, asking what he should do.

"Do anything you can to help," his chief replied.

Pat recognized his buddies needed food and water and he single-handedly organized a caravan supplying water and food to the front lines.  He purchased a blue flashing light at K-mart and placed in on his truck.  The light and his badge were enough to get him through the barricades to feed hundreds of firefighters scattered throughout the back country who refused to leave the blaze and get food at base camp.  I witnessed Pat's work first-hand while throwing water bottles and food to the firefighters battling the flames.  Pat paid for his own gas and logged over 1,500 miles to take care of his buddies.

Pat Byrne has always been a servant in our community.  Four years ago, he heard a voice calling him to become God's representative in our small town.  He went back to school and learned theology.  After passing all his classes, Pat was ordained as a deacon, which means servant.

I attended our church service and watched Pat deliver his first sermon.  He spoke of the love Jesus has for all of us.

"Even if you were the only person on the planet, Jesus would go to Calvary for your sins so you could be with His Father," Pat said.

When the service was over, our church family headed over to the social center for a potluck.  Pat asked me to serve as his master of ceremonies.  After the building filled to capacity, I walked outside to check on the waiting line which seemed to be without end.  Volunteers rushed in with chairs and tables and set up an overflow area in our pastor's back yard.  A cool breeze made this an ideal setting for the crowd.  A missionary who had flown in from Nicaragua led a prayer of thanks for the outside audience while Deacon Pat prayed inside.

Our pastor played a slide show after dinner showing pictures of Deacon Pat's family and his life as a firefighter.  I ended with a couple of personal stories about my good friend.

Deacon Pat, a retired firefighter at the celebration party.

A packed crowd celebrates Deacon Pat's Ordination.
Deacon Pat will continue the work he started in his first career.  His role as Deacon is "fire prevention."  May he lead many souls to Jesus as he ministers to the sick, the incarcerated, and the needy.  Thank you, my friend, for saying yes to Jesus.  Our community is better because you are a "super servant."


JP said...

What a beautiful message. May you continue to spread the Good News of the people of God doing God's work in amazing ways.

Michael Mulligan said...

Amen. I will do this with joy in my heart, knowing there are many answering the call to become the hands and feet of Jesus.