Today many countries are observing St Patrick’s Day. This was originally a religious holiday to celebrate the life and ministry of Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint. Now it’s largely regarded as a celebration of Irish history and customs.
Like most holidays, the historical basis of St Patrick’s Day has been lost. It’s so adorned with shamrocks and leprechauns that we forget its true meaning. For most, it’s just an excuse to attend a parade, wear green, and drink green beer. A lot of green beer!
But today isn’t about leprechauns. It isn’t even about beer. It’s about a courageous Christian who risked his life preaching the gospel to the Irish.
Prisoner Turned Preacher
Patrick was born in England in the fourth century. At the age of sixteen, he was captured by Irish pirates who sold him into slavery in Ireland. He was forced to be a shepherd for six years. During his enslavement, he became a Christian.
Through a series of dreams, God told Patrick he would escape. He ran away from his master and found a boat that took him back to England. After reuniting with his family, he studied to become a priest. Through another dream, he sensed God telling him to return to Ireland.
His family and church leaders discouraged this. The Irish were known for treating runaway slaves harshly. And their Druid priests were hostile to new religions.
But Patrick returned to Ireland anyway. He spent the rest of his life preaching the gospel to the pagan Irish. (It is believed he used shamrocks to illustrate the Trinity.) He also taught them how to read and write.
He faced much hardship. His preaching was often opposed, and attempts were made on his life! He was even briefly enslaved again. But he remained faithful in his efforts to evangelize the Irish until his death on March 17, 461.
Toward a Meaningful St Patrick’s Day
There are many like Patrick taking great risks to preach the gospel today. Ordinary Christians who sense God’s calling travel to remote or restricted villages to tell them about Jesus. Although it may cost their lives, they are willing to pay the price.
Voice of the Martyrs helps these bold Christians through its Front-Line Ministry Fund. This fund meets unique needs specific to their ministries. It provides them with evangelistic materials, leadership training, means of transportation – whatever they need.
You can “adopt” a front-line worker by committing to pray for them for one year. You can also make a monthly donation to further their ministry.
St Patrick’s Day is more than an excuse to get drunk. It’s an opportunity to grow spiritually by remembering Patrick’s boldness. And it’s a chance to advance the gospel by supporting those who follow in his footsteps.
Click here to support a front-line worker like Patrick in prayer!
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