I just got back from Detroit over the weekend, and had to share my experience. My friend and youth ministry mentor, Patrick McGoldrick, preached at Cornerstone Baptist Church after being diagnosed with the deadly disease: ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). It was the most incredible sermon I’ve ever witnessed in my life. Pastor Bob Johnson of Cornerstone said, “Preaching is always a dying man, to a dying people, about an undying gospel.”
I first experienced Patrick McGoldrick when I was a student at Baptist Bible College in Clarks Summit, PA. He came in to preach chapel for us that week. Our chapels were notoriously, ridiculously boring. There was a buzz when Patrick was there. Everyone else seemed to know to expect something great. I will never forget when he shared his life-changing testimony of Jesus getting a hold of him. I still remember thinking to myself, “If I ever had a chance to work with this man, I would drop everything to make that happen.” My senior year at BBC, I got a call from THE Patrick McGoldrick himself. I had several other options for ministry after college, but I ended up dropping everything else to work with him. Patrick’s testimony not only awakened our chapel sessions for that week, but it drove who he was and all he did. Patrick has never forgotten who he was before Jesus, how he felt before he was forgiven, and how the gospel brought hope into his life. Revelation 12:11, “And they have conquered [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”
Patrick invited me to come up to Cornerstone Baptist Church to be his youth ministry intern from August 2001 to July 2002. Most youth pastors treat their interns like dogs, gophers, or bellhops. From day one, Patrick gave me responsibility, ministry, and opportunity. Over time, he ended up giving me a huge chunk of ministry to bite-off and chew on…the middle school ministry. These rambunctious rascals quickly became the youth I would have the opportunity to disciple for Jesus. Patrick was unbelievably patient with me as well as faithful, personal, respectful, and prayerful. I can say with full assurance that my ministry today is everything it is because of the personal attention Patrick gave me in my life. He taught me how to teach students, how to organize ministry, how to lead volunteers, how to conduct a worship service, how to choose curriculum, how to make a calendar of events, how to counsel struggling teens, how to run mission trips, how to stay close to Jesus, and how to repent of sin. Today, my ministry looks like it does because of him. I don’t want to merely entertain teens, I want to see them saved and discipled. I don’t want to just have adult volunteers, I want to have adult leaders who love teens and are equipped to lead them. I don’t want to do youth ministry just for the sake of it, but I want to have a vibrant, life-changing, growing, and Jesus-glorifying youth ministry. I want to have interns and teach them what Patrick taught me so that more teens in many other places can grow in Christ as well! 2 Timothy 2:2, “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” 1 Thessalonians 2:8, “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”
I received an email several weeks ago explaining how Patrick’s ALS has been very aggressive, and that his senior pastor has given him an opportunity to preach on a Sunday morning before his body won’t allow him to anymore. I flew up to Detroit right after our high school ALl-Nighter event, and attended a dinner party for Patrick that was filled with past youth leaders, interns, pastors, and ministry associates who had served with Patrick over the years. Just being a part of that group was a huge honor. I thought of all the different lives that had been changed by the gospel through the men and women in that room. Amazing! The next day, Patrick preached. That dude got up with a smile on his face, a joy in his voice, and an urgency in his tone…and preached his heart out. He told the packed service of probably almost 2,000 people about how he came to believe the gospel. He preached the gospel for salvation for the unbelievers listening, and then he dropped the hammer. He ended his sermon with the call to trust God through our suffering because of His absolute sovereignty. He took us through passages like Proverbs 3:5-6, the life of Joseph, the life of Jonah, etc. Every person in the building was hinging on every word coming out of his mouth, leaning forward as they took in wisdom from a faithful yet suffering man. This was the best sermon I have ever heard in my life about the gospel, trusting God, and living faithfully for Him to the end no matter the situation. It was a sermon filled with truth, testimony, laughter, and tears. And it was an absolute honor to be a part of.
I don’t know if I’ll ever get to see my friend Patrick again. If I get the chance, you better believe I’ll drop everything to make it happen! But he is one of the few men that not only has changed the lives of people, but he has also changed the lives of leaders. Through Patrick’s legacy, countless youth ministries will never be the same. Countless youth pastors will be driven by God’s Word. And countless youth will know Jesus and have an opportunity to grow in Him. Hearing a dying man preach to a dying people about an undying gospel will forever be etched in my mind. And I’m so thankful to call that man my friend and my mentor. God bless you, Patrick. I love you, man!
Patrick’s Blog: http://www.patricksstory.com
Patrick’s Sermon: http://www.cbcroseville.org/sermons/audio/2012/2012-Apr-22a.mp3