Jake Walker | Category: Culture; Mission
What does Saint Patrick’s Day make you think of? For most, it's shamrocks, the color green, and drinking. Sadly, the majority of people who celebrate St. Paddy’s day have no idea who Patrick really was. Even those who know about the man Patrick are most likely confused by the myths that surround his name. Two common legends about Patrick are that he drove all the snakes out of Ireland (although it would be awesome if this happened) and that he used a shamrock to teach the Trinity.
So, who was the real Patrick? Born in 415 A.D. in Britain, Patrick's hometown was raided by Irish pirates when he was teenager and he was taken captive to be a slave. During the time of his enslavement, Patrick was saved by Christ. Patrick says this about his time of bondage, “The love of God was thus growing stronger and stronger, and the fear of Him and faith were increasing, and the Spirit, so that in a single day I have said as many as a hundred prayers.” After six years, Patrick escaped from his captors in Ireland and made his way back to Britain to be reunited with his family.
Sometime in the 440s A.D., God called Patrick back to Ireland to share the gospel with the people of the country that enslaved him. Patrick was a man who knew his unworthiness for the mission God had given him. He starts his Confessions by saying, “I am Patrick -- a sinner -- the most unsophisticated and unworthy among all the faithful of God.” In spite of his weaknesses, God used him to save thousands of people in Ireland as he went from tribe to tribe preaching the gospel. “Wherefore, behold, how the Irish who never had the knowledge of God, and hitherto worshipped only idols and unclean things, have lately become the people of the Lord, and are called the sons of God.”
Patrick’s ministry was difficult as he endured much persecution from the Druids (i.e. Celtic priests). He writes, “Daily I expect murder, fraud or captivity, but I fear none of these things because of the promises of heaven. I have cast myself into the hands of God almighty who rules everywhere.”  By God’s grace, the gospel went out to many in Ireland because of the courage, faithfulness and love of this former slave, and in time, the bishops in Britain installed him as bishop in Ireland. In 492 A.D., Patrick died, having completed his call to ministry in Ireland.
As we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, let us remember the life of a sinner saved by God’s grace who reached many for Christ. The real Patrick did stand up and he gave his life to proclaiming the gospel to the lost of Ireland. When we see the shamrocks and put on our green clothing, our celebration should be for God's mercy showered down on Patrick and on us and for opportunities to share the gospel with the lost as he did over 1,500 years ago.
To read The Confession of Patrick online see the link below:
 Saint Patrick, The Confession of St. Patrick with an Introduction and Notes, trans. Thomas Olden (Dublin; London: James McGlashan; James Nisbet and Co., 1853), 52.
 Patrick, The Confession, 43.
 Patrick, The Confession, 67.
 Mark Galli and Ted Olsen, “Introduction,” 131 Christians Everyone Should Know (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 230.
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