March 12, 2019
By Steve King
This coming Sunday, March 17, is Saint Patrick’s Day. Did you know Patrick was neither Catholic nor Irish? He was an evangelical church-planter used of God to bring the gospel to Ireland.
Patrick was born on the northern coast of Britain in the early 400’s AD and raised in a Christian home. His father was a deacon and his grandfather a pastor, but Patrick had a nominal faith and ran with the “fast crowd.”
At sixteen, he was taken captive by a band of Irish raiders and sold as a slave to a ruthless warrior-pig farmer. During his six years of harsh slavery, he turned to faith in Christ, prayed constantly, and mastered the language and culture of his captors.
He had a vivid dream in which he was instructed to flee to the coast where a boat would be waiting. He walked over two hundred miles and boarded a boat headed for Gaul (modern day France). Upon landing in Gaul, the men faced starvation and appealed to Patrick to call on his God for help. Patrick prayed, and a herd of pigs appeared—they had a feast!
Patrick made his way back to Britain where he trained for the ministry. He had a vision, much like Paul’s Macedonian one, in which the Irish appealed for him to come back to them with the gospel. Patrick’s appeal to go was rejected by church leaders who sent a more “qualified” man in his place. That man died shortly after arriving in Ireland. In his late 40’s, Patrick was finally appointed to lead a missionary team to Ireland.
For almost three decades, Patrick and his team planted over 700 churches, ordained over 1000 pastors, led over 40 of the 150 tribal chiefs and their people to Christ, and led an anti-slavery movement that lasted. The Celtic Church—which he founded—was evangelical and sent missionaries to Britain, Scotland, and Europe. The Celtic churches did not agree to abide by Roman Catholic traditions until 664 AD—170 years after Patrick’s death. He was made Ireland’s patron saint by popular demand.
As Saint Patrick’s Day approaches, tell others his story and thank God for his life.
The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Reach the West . . .Again by George G. III Hunter