Most people associate St. Paddy’s Day with Ireland, shamrocks and the color green. It’s a fun holiday, but unless you’re of Irish descent and can celebrate your ethnic heritage, it’s not necessarily very meaningful.
At least, not until you hear the story of St. Patrick.
Patrick lived in Britain back in the days when it was part of the Roman Empire. At age 16 he was taken by pirates to Ireland, where the native Celtic people followed the pagan Druid religion.
After spending six years in Ireland, Patrick finally got back to his homeland. But then a funny thing happened — God placed a burden in his heart to reach the pagan Celts of Ireland with the gospel. So in the year 432AD Patrick followed the call of God to return as a missionary to the land where he had formerly been held captive.
For the remaining 29 years of his life, Patrick labored for the gospel in Ireland. Even the opposition of the Druid priests could not stop his powerful witness for Christ.
Through his missionary service, Patrick changed a pagan island into a stronghold for Christianity. The vibrant Celtic church which he left as his legacy became Northern Europe’s brightest spot during the Dark Ages, both culturally and spiritually.
How did I find out about St. Patrick? Well, ever since I took a church history class years ago, I’ve been somewhat of a church history buff. I’ve especially enjoyed reading about missionaries who have been used by God, because their stories encourage me in my Christian service.
Though I doubt that I’ll ever change a whole nation for Christ like Patrick did, I can be faithful in following God’s call for my life — and so can you. I hope Patrick’s story encourages you as it does me.
(By the way, did you know the significance of the shamrock? St. Patrick used it as an illustration of the Trinity in his witnessing!)