By: Pastor Scott Brodd
Many of us who follow Jesus have learned to shun March 17th and all it represents because of what the secular world has declared it to be: "A-drink-and-party-all-day-to-celebrate-the-Irish Day." Even though the holiday wasn't even founded in the United States, it seems that our country has adopted it as another excuse to party. Most people do not realize that St. Patrick's day was a day instituted by Ireland to remember the guy the holiday is named after, Saint Patrick. It turns out, St. Patrick's day finds its roots in Christian history as one of the greatest missionary stories ever told. Here's how:
St. Patrick was born in the late fourth century, possibly around 385 A.D., into a Romanized "Briton" family of Christians in northeast England. Though his heritage was of service in ministry to the church, Patrick rejected faith in Jesus and led a life of his own. After 16 years of rebellion to God, Patrick was kidnapped by Irish raiders, barbarians who were unreached people, having yet to hear of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Irish raiders plundered Patrick's village, capturing him and taking him back to the island. Patrick was enslaved for six years under a tribal chief. During these six years, God began to pry open Patrick's heart of stone and turned it into a heart of flesh. Patrick, understanding Jesus was worthy of following, picked up his own cross and followed Jesus. As he served Jesus through human slavery, Patrick learned the foreign language and culture belonging to the Irish from the unique perspective of a slave. Eventually in his early twenties, Patrick escaped his Irish captors to return back to England to serve his new Master, Jesus Christ. Patrick studied vocational ministry, and led a parish in Britain for almost twenty years.
In his late 40's, Patrick received a Macedonian Call-like dream where a voice speaking in an Irish accent begged of him, "We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us." In obedience to the call of God, having already been familiarized with the culture and language of the Irish, Patrick returned to the land belonging those who had captured and enslaved him for six years so that they might hear and know of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. "The slave returned to his captors with good news of true freedom." He began by engaging individuals in villages by preaching the gospel and making disciples. When a village was reached, he moved on to the next village, repeating the process of preaching the gospel and making disciples. Much like searching for the "Person of Peace" (Luke 10:6), Patrick looked for those who were receptive to the gospel and invested time and ministry into their lives. Tradition has it that thousands were saved as a result of St. Patrick's ministry in Ireland.
So as we observe St. Patrick's day today in tandem with our church family's observance of Missions Emphasis Month, I would encourage all of us to use today to thank God for sending out St. Patrick into the harvest field of Ireland, and to pray that the Lord would send out more laborers into His harvest all around the world (Luke 10:2).
Source of Information:
Mathis, David. Remember Saint Patrick. http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/remember-saint-patrick. Desiring God Ministries. [Accessed March 17, 2015, 10:00am].