Richie Shilliday, CIY’s mission partners in Northern Ireland, hosts many Engage teams throughout the year and said students are always surprised to learn about the rich history of Christianity in the country. It all started with St. Patrick. Here are six things Shilliday said most students are surprised to learn about one of Christianity’s most prominent ancestors.
1. He was not Irish. He was from Britain. At the age of 16 he was captured by Irish pirates and brought to Ireland to be a slave.
2. He never talked about shamrocks. (Though some legends say he used them to explain the Holy Trinity.)
3. He was poor – Contrary to what we might imagine a saint would look like.
4. He was a visionary in how to love to learn about God touching lives with dreams. We know this because his letters spoke of it.
5. He didn’t fear death, Druids or Chieftains.
6. He knew God has a plan and a purpose for all our lives and he gave his all to serve the Kingdom.
Legends continued to form after his death on March 17, 461. His greatest feat was that he spread the Gospel message to Ireland – the country where he was enslaved for years. He established Christian monasteries, churches and schools in his lifetime and told people he encountered the Lord as a shepherd.
Today is a great opportunity to lift prayers to the Lord to ask for the same qualities of St. Patrick. Ask for an enlightenment or a rekindled passion to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. Ask for strength in endeavors you face to serve the Kingdom. Ask for love and forgiveness – the way St. Patrick loved the Irish people.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone around the world! May you find encouragement and inspiration from this extraordinary Kingdom worker whom God used to change the world.