Spreading the Word…Then and Now
By Karen Ehman

“He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Mark 16:15 (NIV)

As a family, we enjoy learning about great missionaries of the faith – whether from the pages of the New Testament and the travels of Paul, or from current day servants who try to spread the wonderful, life-saving news of Jesus in remote places. Did you know that this month there is another missionary we can glean from as we hear of his longing to reach others for Christ? I am talking about St. Patrick.

What do we really know of St. Patrick, in who’s honor patrons don green? To look around at the way modern day folk celebrate St. Patrick’s day, you’d think it all had to do with shamrocks, leprechauns, rainbows and the ever famous pot of gold at the end of them. Well, that and the traditional “wearing of the green” to prevent any pinching that might occur on March 17th each year. But there is actually some wonderful truth that we can celebrate at this holiday and can pass along to the children in our lives.

For as far as history can tell, the story goes like this: At about the age of 16, Patrick, a Scottish young man born into wealth sometime in the late fourth century, most likely around 385, was violently captured by Irish raiders and forced into a life of slavery. Patrick later escaped and was reunited with his family, but in a dream, felt called by God back to Ireland to spread Christianity to the people of that isle. So this godly young man set about to make this dream come true. He prayed for God’s strength and then studied scripture to ready himself. Then He was prepared to return to the land of his captivity. He preached the Gospel and built churches throughout the country until his death on March 17, 461. For the modern day Irish, St. Patrick’s Day is considered a time for spiritual renewal as they fondly remember the slave-turned-evangelist who spread Christianity to the Emerald Isle. For our family today, we feel we can use him as an example of what a young person, sold out for God can do in their generation.

Just think about this man. How many of us, after being captured and held as a slave and forced to work in a foreign land, when finally set free, would actually return to the very place where we were enslaved? It must have taken a great deal of maturity and immense faith in God’s protection to go back to that island. And Patrick must have known that spiritual bondage is far, far worse than physical slavery.

In some ways, don’t we see modern day examples of just such a story? The drug addict who finds freedom from a life of addiction through faith in Christ, sensing a call to return to their old neighborhood and preach the freedom and everlasting life Jesus offers. The women who made a bad choice resulting in her and her unborn child both being the victims of abortion. Now she longs to counsel young girls to choose life for themselves and for their precious baby. All of these people serve as wonderful examples of someone who found freedom and longed to lead others there as well.

So at this time of year, when you spy a leprechaun or see a shamrock, whisper a prayer that God continues to raise up men and women who have been set free to return to the land of their captivity and lead others to the same liberating, life-giving freedom.

Dear Lord, may I long to impart words of freedom to all those who will listen, helping to lead them from their land of captivity. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Homespun Memories from the Heart by Karen Ehman

A Life that Says Welcome by Karen Ehman

Do You Know Him?

Visit Karen’s blog

Application Steps:
With the children in your life, do an Internet search to see what other facts you can discover about St. Patrick. Talk to them about why He wanted to return to Ireland after being released. Ask what would they have done if they were him? You can even combine this discussion time with a just-for-fun activity like making Irish Soda bread, chopping veggies for Irish stew, or decorating shamrock sugar cookies.

In the past, what held you captive? How did God set you free?

Do you know others still in the same bondage you were in? What can you do to try to reach them and show them the way to freedom?

Power Verses:
Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (NIV)

Isaiah 61:1 “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…” (NIV)


Blogger hug said...

Thanks so much for that information about St.Patricks Day. It is good to know the real origin of it. I will spread this good story to my Christian friends so we can all pray when we see the various 'signs' of this day.
God bless you for sharing!
Hugs ML

Anonymous Anonymous said...

:) It's good to know there are so many people called by God to spread/share the good news!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really Powerful. I love they way you put that. I suppose we all just need to share the good news

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was a blessed devotion--I didn't read it on St Patrick's day, but it blessed me however and a learned fact to share. I always wondered and did a search on the internet, but that bit of information never came up about St. Patrick. God Bless and we do have a group of people who did just that--taken into slavery and we embraced the religion that was used to try and keep in bondage. The black people survived--only by the grace of God; some went back to Africa and most stayed in the US. Thanks again for that sharing

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for researching St. Patrick and sharing your findings. I had no idea that St. Patrick was so godly. My forefathers were Scottish and I always thought that St. Patrick was Irish. It is neat that he was actually Scottish. Praise the Lord for men like this and I do pray that God will raise up more like him. Blessings to you.

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