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The Best Way to Remember Saint Patrick
by Tom Goodman
March 17, 2011

Today is Saint Patrick's Day.  While some celebrate his day with green beer, probably the best way to remember him is by witnessing.

Chuck Colson tells us about Patrick of Ireland in his book, The Body:

Kidnapped by pirates as a teenager, Patrick was taken from his well-to-do home in Roman Britain in 405, transported to Ireland, sold to a farmer, and given responsibility for the man's livestock.

Patrick had grown up in a Christian home; his father was a deacon in the church, his grandfather an elder.  But the faith had not been real to him until one day, tending sheep in the barren hills of Ireland, he encountered the Great Shepherd and purposed to follow Him.

Eventually Patrick escaped from slavery and returned to Britain, where he became a priest.  Then in a dream he heard an Irish voice pleading with him:  Holy boy, we are asking you to come home and walk among us again.

Return to the land of his servitude?  An unlikely mission.  But Patrick was a slave to Christ now, and the Lord gave him a sense of compassion for the Irish.  I was struck to the heart, he wrote later.

Patrick returned to primarily pagan Ireland, determined to bring the gospel to people enslaved by superstition and Druid worship.  Traveling through the land, he baptized thousands of new converts and discipled new believers, trained church leaders, ordained pastors, exerted discipline on unrepentant church members, and commissioned more evangelists.  He started scores of churches and witnessed to kings and their courts, farmers and peasants.  He also forcefully protested injustices against the common people.  By the time he died, about 461, he had started a movement of the church that transformed ancient Ireland.

For more information on Patrick of Ireland, I recommend Stephen Lawhead's historical novel, Patrick: Son of Ireland.  At the recommendation of worthy reviewers, I have Philip Freeman's St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography on my "to read" list.  For lighter fare, the VeggieTales gang has created this entertaining 8-minute presentation of Patrick's life.


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